This Saturday, March 14th, we head to Brasilia for UFC Fight Night 70. Featuring a surplus of fan-favorite Brazilians. Such as veteran Francisco Trinaldo, up-and-coming goofball Johnny Walker and the legendary Damian Maia. The main event features a clash of ranked lightweights. Both on the cusp of breaking into the top half of the division rankings. Kevin “The Motown Phenom” Lee takes on Charles “Do Bronx” Oliveira.
As the UFC comes off of UFC 248, a pay-per-view card that actually delivered, the fights keep on rolling in. With this being the 6th consecutive weekend with action in the octagon.
Kevin Lee finding his stride
Ever since Kevin Lee made his debut in the UFC back in February 2014, his career has been filled with highs and lows.
After suffering a loss to Al Iaquinta in his first fight inside the octagon, Lee won his next four fights. Then after a KO loss, he went on a tear and won his next five. including finishing Jake Matthews and choking out Francisco Trinaldo (in Brazil) and Michael Chiesa. All of whom were much higher quality opponents. Lee was on the cusp of fighting for an interim title.
That title shot came in October 2017, where Lee found himself across the cage from Tony Ferguson. Lee was considered a heavy underdog and wasn’t really given a chance to win. The Motown Phenom started the fight off well, but over time it was obvious that Ferguson was the better man on the night. Tony eventually got the finish in round three via triangle choke. Lee noticeably gassed out quick and had an obvious staph infection on his chest which couldn’t have helped things out either.
Lee Bounced back eventually. In his first fight after the loss to Ferguson, he handled Edson Barboza and got the fight stopped in the fifth round after bloodying the Brazilian up.
Lee out of sorts
But instead of starting a new win streak like Lee was used to, the opposite happened. He had the opportunity to level the score against the man he made his debut against- Iaquinta. Lee didn’t look right on the night and once again lost to Iaquinta via unanimous decision. He then went back to the drawing board and decided to move up a weight class to welterweight. He managed to secure a big fight in his 170 debut, facing off against veteran and former lightweight champion, Rafael Dos Anjos. Again, Lee wasn’t up to the task. He was submitted by RDA in the fourth round.
Then came what could become the best decision Kevin Lee has made in his career. He switched camps and moving over to TriStar.
Being with Firas Zahabi and training with guys like Georges St. Pierre has already shown to be beneficial for Lee. He looked like a different animal in his next fight. Lee dropped back down to lightweight and took on a young killer in Gregor Gillespie. People saw this as a trap fight for Lee, and one people were pegging Gillespie to win.
Enter a lethal head kick and a limp body, and Kevin Lee had put away Gregor with ease. This KO almost stole the show on an amazing fight card that was headlined by the “BMF” championship. Just like that, Kevin Lee was back in form and has prepared himself for another run at UFC gold.
Potential breakthrough for Oliveira
After making his debut in the UFC nearly a decade ago, Charles Oliveira has accumulated a 16-8 record with the company. Do Bronx has never been one to run from a fight. Always accepting whoever the UFC throws in his way, while simultaneously being a guy that guys have tended to avoid.
Oliveira, known for being a submission specialist, has a record 13 submission victories inside the octagon. He is currently on a six-fight win streak, all of which have been finishes.
Safe to say, this is Oliveira’s biggest fight in his career since he last fought in a main event against former featherweight champion Max Holloway, back in 2015. Oliveira finally has a chance to really make a move in the lightweight division and get his stock up.
Due to COVID-19 terrorizing the sports world, this fight will take place with no fans in attendance.
Without sugar coating things, this fight favors Kevin Lee.
Lee has a great ground game and can wrestle the will out of an opponent. The one thing that has held Oliveira back over his career is that it seems like when the going gets tough, Charles gets going.
Looking back at the previously mentioned fight against Holloway, Oliveira seemingly quit after claiming an esophagus injury, that still hasn’t been uncovered to this day. There have been multiple other bouts where fighters have been able to pressure Do Bronx until he ultimately wilts away and goes down.
Kevin Lee under a new camp and with new goals and initiative seems dangerous. Charles Oliveira on a six-fight finish streak with one last chance to make a move towards a UFC belt seems just as able.
Expect Lee to push the pace, but not necessarily shoot for a takedown early on, because of the dangers of Do Bronx on his back. Oliveira is keen to throw down and bang but doesn’t have the same kind of power Lee has.
This fight will be won in the clinch and who can get better position when the fight hits the ground. If Lee can maintain top position and wear down Oliveira, this could be a long night for the Brazilian. If Oliveira can keep the fight at a distance, win some striking exchanges early and stuff some of Lee’s early takedowns, he could position himself to the biggest win of his UFC career.
Oliveira hasn’t gone to a decision in his last 13 fights, and Kevin Lee has defeated a Brazilian in his home country before. I would expect these trends to continue. I think history will repeat itself, and Kevin Lee’s pressure will be too much for Oliveira, and he will wilt away and get finished in the championship rounds.
Prediction: Lee via 4th round TKO