Although he is no longer the official lightweight champion, his arrival in the first round of Justin Gaethje cemented Charles Oliveira‘s as the most dominant lightweight in the world right now. Many fans are even taking the leap to call him one of the greatest lightweights of all time, if not the greatest. The other obvious contender for GOAT status among lightweights is of course Khabib Nurmagomedov. This article will highlight various aspects of Oliveira and Nurmagomedov and present arguments as to why it is not unreasonable to say that Oliveira is the greatest lightweight of all time as things stand and how he might be wise to say he will overtake Khabib. in the future.
Who is Lightweight’s greatest of all time?
Charles Oliveira: fighting style
Although Oliveira and Khabib are both grapplers by nature, they have remarkably different styles. Oliveira’s main weapon is his jiu-jitsu, which is among the best in the entire organization. There is absolutely no one in the lightweight division who can match Charles when it comes to submitting submissions and making smooth transitions on the court. This is evident as Oliveira owns both the records for most finishes and most submissions in UFC history with 19 and 16 respectively.
Oliveira’s stand-up has also improved dramatically in recent years during his title run. Now a comfortable muay thai practitioner, the Brazilian regularly uses his knees and elbows to inflict damage on his opponents. Olivera also has plenty of power, as evidenced by the fact that he dropped Gaethje decisively in round one and finished Michael Chandler in the second round of their fight.
Despite his addiction to his jiu-jitsu, Oliveira has never suffered the same fate as other jiu-jitsu fighters – labeled as boring, indeed it is anything but. Of Oliveira’s aforementioned records, “Do Bronx” is also on par with Donald Cerrone for the most Fight Night bonuses in UFC history with 18. Oliveira is constantly involved in exciting fights; however, for a fight to be exciting, both combatants usually take damage. In his last three fights, Oliveira has absorbed plenty of big punches and taken massive amounts of damage. Oliveria was almost finished by Chandler and Gaethje in the first round and took many big hits from Dustin Poirier. That’s what made Charles a crowd favorite, as his fights are always exciting and you never know exactly what’s going to happen.
Khabib Nurmagomdeov: Fighting style
When Khabib fought, everyone knew exactly what was going to happen. The Russian became infamous for his Dagestan brand of wrestling, which basically consisted of pushing your opponent towards the fence, knocking them down, holding them there, and just unloading off the ground and slamming them round after round or up. until the adversary is “crushed”. Khabib’s striking never evolved too much and even though he improved over time, he always returned to his daily bread which was his wrestling. While Khabib’s fights might not have been the most exciting to watch for the average viewer, or for those who didn’t appreciate the technical aspects of wrestling, there was something very impressive about watching him. thoroughly roughing up fighters that we, as fans, had come to consider the best. in the world. He had an uncanny ability to make the rest of the roster look average in front of him and certainly created an air of invincibility around him. It was very hard to imagine someone beating Khabib.
When it comes to fighting styles, Oliveira is rightly seen as more entertaining and crowd-friendly, but Khabib’s was so impressive because of how he utterly mauled opponents who had looked unbeatable in previous fights. . There was a sense of impending doom in the fight against Khabib, that once he knocked you down, it was over, you were over. Your goal would be to survive until the next round where you’d hope to deal foot damage before being downed again. Stylistically, both fighters are very successful. Oliveira scored a record number of finishes but took a lot of damage. Khabib, while perhaps not as entertaining, suffered virtually no damage throughout his career and completely dominated his competition.
Those who argue that Khabib is the division’s GOAT will point to the admittedly impressive 29-0 unbeaten record. It’s so impressive because unlike boxing, MMA is a sport where it’s normal to have several defeats on your record. Due to the variety of styles and disciplines a fighter faces, it is almost expected that he will lose at least a few fights, especially early in his career or when transitioning from the regional scene to higher levels. higher competition.
Khabib was one of the first fighters to develop a truly impressive record and the first top fighter to maintain his 0 apart from maybe Jon Jones to keep their zero intact. However, arguments can be made when analyzing Khabib’s case. By comparing Khabib and Oliveira’s first 15 fights, one can see the difference in quality of opponents each man has faced. Khabib’s first 15 opponents held a combined record of 63 wins and 48 losses. Not very impressive. Khabib regularly fought rookie fighters or fighters with one or two fights while having fought more than ten himself. In contrast, Oliveira’s top 15 opponents hold a combined record of 75 wins and 20 losses. It’s much more respectable and shows the higher level of competition Oliveira faced. Oliveira has faced 10 fighters who fought for a UFC championship and 6 former champions/interim champions. In comparison, Khabib has fought 4 former champions or interim champions. Most were defending his title during his reign and did not become champions until his retirement. The exceptions to this being Conor McGregor and GDR. Again, when looking at their records, it’s clear that Oliveira has fought better overall competition throughout his career and his 8 losses are not an immediate reason for Khabib to be considered better than Charles. , although that certainly plays a role.
It’s a difficult area to explore at the moment as Charles is still at the peak of his career while Khabib has retired. However, as things stand, Khabib undoubtedly has a bigger legacy than Charles. He currently holds the record for most title defenses at lightweight and his iconic rivalry with Conor McGregor has brought so much attention to the sport that it would be foolish to say Charles had a bigger impact than Khabib. Khabib also entered the UFC Hall of Fame just two calendar years after his last fight.
However, that’s not to say Charles can’t or won’t be able to overtake Khabib in the future. With Khabib claiming he is done with competing and Charles is at the peak of his career, one or two more wins at the top level of competition for Oliveira could see his stock soar. Although not officially a successful title defense, many fans will consider his win over Gaethje a second title defense and one more win would tie him with Khabib’s record. If this win was also against Khabib’s protege, Islam Makhachev, many would consider it the closest to a hypothetical match between Oliveira and Khabib. It’s clear that while Khabib holds the greatest legacy, Charles is progressing slowly, and a few more significant victories will surely see him overtake Dagestan.
Ultimately, an argument can be made by both sides as to who is the greatest lightweight of all time. As Khabib’s career draws to a close, it’s clear what “The Eagle” has achieved. For “Do Bronx,” the future ultimately hangs in how it will be viewed in terms of legacy and the greatest conversation of all time. Will he return with a successful title defense? Will he make weight in the next fight? How many more fights will he play? Will he win the rest of his fights? Who will he face? All questions are relevant to the conversation
Perhaps the easiest way to settle the debate is to have the two lightweight superstars collide in the Octagon. Of course, the likelihood of that happening is slim to none. Who knows though, maybe we the fans might get lucky and witness the showdown that would be the most publicized and monumental fight in the history of the division.
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