Charles Oliveira picked up the biggest win of his career with a unanimous-decision win over Tony Ferguson in the co-main event of UFC 256 from the Apex Facility in Las Vegas on Saturday.
Do Bronx utilized his dominant grappling throughout the three-round bout to build the insurmountable lead on the scorecards and get the biggest win of his career.
Oliveira couldn't have asked for a better start to the fight. He showed he more than belonged with Ferguson in the standup, landing some impressive boxing combinations but most importantly he got the fight to the ground.
It was there that he nearly ended the fight, getting full extension on an armbar attempt before Ferguson was saved by the bell.
The second frame was more of the same. Domination was the name of the game for Do Bronx as he took Ferguson down once again and simply controlled him while applying pressure with his ground-and-pound game.
Luke Thomas @lthomasnews
I don't know if there's carryover from the prolonged beating from the Gaethje fight. I do know that he was beaten badly on the feet then & is now being dominated on the ground. Of course, he isn't fighting chumps. It's all elite fighters, but this is who he used to outclass.
In the third round it was evident that Ferguson was going to need to make something happen. But that "something" never came. Oliveira showed the first two rounds were no fluke and made an emphatic statement he's as dangerous as anyone in the lightweight division.
Oliveira has been in the UFC since 2010, but we are finally seeing him at the peak of his powers. He has always had prodigious talent, but he's put it all together to win eight fights in a row with the first seven of those wins coming by way of knockout or submission.
Do Bronx has been a player in the rankings, but with Khabib Nurmagomedov announcing his retirement after beating Justin Gaethje, Oliveira believes he should be involved in the fight to crown a new champion.
"He promised his mom. A man must keep his word. If he sworn on his father's grave that he wouldn't fight again, he sure won't fight again," he told Combate (h/t Hiergesell) of Nurmagomedov's surprise retirement. "There's nothing you can do. Who wins between Charles Oliveira and Tony Ferguson, and I'm sure that'll be me, is the next title challenger. Then there's Dustin Poirier vs. Conor McGregor. Who wins that gets to fight me (for the title) in the middle of next year. There's nothing else to be said."
McGregor and Poirier are set to fight in January. Despite fighting in the division for the better part of a decade, Oliveira has never seen either McGregor or Poirier in his career.
While Dana White will ultimately be the deciding party for who will fight for the championship, Oliveira's plan makes the most sense. Prior to losing to Gaethje, Ferguson owned a 12-fight win streak that put him in a position to fight for the belt multiple times, although injuries always ended up canceling those opportunities.
Now Oliveira takes over that mantel of underrated contender who just keeps winning fights. He can't be ignored as a part of the lightweight title picture anymore.