5 Losses Charles Oliveira Overcame To Win UFC Gold
Charles Oliveira’s long and truly remarkable UFC career is a total oddity.
He has lost eight times, been stopped seven times, been TKO’d or KO’d on four occasions, and strangely enough, been submitted three times.
In his 41 career fights, he has only been to the judges’ scorecards on four occasions - leading to an early reputation as bit of a wildman.
But as time went on, this unlikely champion began to round out his skillset, improving his durability - his mentality.
And the end result - the fight who rules the lightweight division - he’s nearly unrecognisable from the lanky youth who entered the promotion.
So with that in mind, here are a 5 losses that Charles Oliveira had to overcome to win UFC gold.
It’s crazy to imagine now, but there was point in Charles Oliveira’s career where he was unbeaten at 14 and 0 - with a 2 and 0 record in the UFC - on the back of two straight submissions, with seven total subs in his career.
And he was doing this as a purple belt.
So, in 2010, when they opted to set him up for a clash with his fellow lightweight Jim Miller - about a minute in - even Joe Rogan made a point of noting just how unlike a purple belt Oliveira was - how elite his movement seemed in comparison to most purple belts.
Charles threatened Miller with a range of dynamic submissions - putting his black-belt opponent in some very tricky spots - moving from arm, to triangle, back to arm, before eventually attempting to lock up a leg-lock.
The problem? Jim Miller was and is a stellar submission artist in his own right and countered Do Bronx by setting up a leg-lock of his own - quickly forcing the tap out of his adversary.
It was Oliveira’s first career setback and his first defeat in the UFC.
Thankfully, he was only 21 years of age at the time - but things would get a hell of a lot worse before they would get better.
After the loss to Jim Miller - Charles’ rebound fight ended under unfortunate circumstances when a submission he scored before Nik Lentz was overturned due to an illegal knee.
In front of Oliveira next time around was a young and hungry Donald Cerrone - who had transitioned seamlessly over from the WEC on the back of a 2 and 0 stretch of form.
And there was just a difference in confidence between these two guys that was on full display when the time came to fight.
Largely a striking matchup - Cerrone’s muay-thai mastery allowed him to put it on Charles from range - but also punish him with knees in close whenever Oliveira tried to tie him up.
It just looked like pairing of two guys on very different trajectories - and once Cowboy’s coach Greg Jackson told him to focus more on straights when punching - the results were immediate.
Dropping Charles with an uppercut after pressuring him with straights - Cerrone went in for the kill - unleashing a relentless barrage that saw the fight stopped in the first round.
After leaving the lightweight division in favour of a dip into the 145lb class - back to back submission wins were enough to see Charles get a nice bump into the upper echelon.
Unfortunately, the man who stood between him and a spot in title contention was the legendary Cub Swanson.
And while this, by no means was a terrible performance by Charles Oliveira - after a few minutes of feeling each other out - Cub started to loosen up - attempting many huge, and some might say wild, power shots before eventually finding his mark with a massive overhand - causing a delayed reaction from Do Bronx - but it was a one-shot KO, that much was clear.
This marked yet another setback for this future champ - and by this time, we had seen him get finished too many times to really see his championship potential as clearly as would a few years later.
Jump forward to 2016 - and we all knew who Charles Oliveira was.
At this stage, we had seen enough - and in our infinite knowledge of MMA and its repetitive patterns, though it was easy to get excited about an Oliveira fight because of the high probability of a finish - our wisdom told us that this was a crazy fighter, an electric talent, but a guy who would never reach the top because of his tendency to let himself down in big moments.
And boy, did that show in the Anthony Pettis fight.
As Showtime’s 145lb debut - the narrative going in was all about the former 155lb king - how now, at a crucial crossroads in his career - he needed to really turn things around.
But after a strong opening five minutes for Pettis - things began to get dicey as Oliveira came on strong in the second.
By the time the third-round arrived, it seemed as though the number 6 ranked Do Bronx was about to score a huge victory - but on a takedown attempt, Pettis locked onto his neck, jumping to a guillotine that forced the tap.
In a fight that he really should have won, Oliveira had faltered. And though it wouldn’t be the last time, soon, things would begin to look up.
But before his now-legendary resurgence began, Oliveira was set up for a fight with everyone’s favourite fighter-turned-commentator Paul Felder.
And though it took a rewatch to really grasp it - the fight largely a very strong showing from Charles - where he did the Charles Oliveira thing, chaining a wide range of submission attempts together - which was coupled with some improved physicality at 155lbs.
He looked good in spots - really testing the submission defense of his opponent.
But again, even with momentum and the fight’s rhythm going his way - Oliveira faltered once again - eventually letting The Irish Dragon posture up - raining down fiery death in the form of some brutal elbows from guard to finish the fight in the second.
The year was 2017 - and Oliveira would not lose another fight.
Going 10 for 10 with 9 finishes from there onwards, Oliveira has pulled off a career comeback for the ages!
The point here wasn’t to draw attention to Do Bronx’s shortcomings - but instead to highlight just how far he has come - what it was that he needed to grow beyond in order to become the champion.