Is Charles Oliveira the greatest lightweight to ever compete in MMA?
The debate has certainly gained traction following Oliveira’s first-round victory over Justin Gaethje at UFC 274, which boosted his winning streak to 11 straight. It’s a run that includes former UFC, Bellator, and World Series of Fighting champions as victims, veterans like Dustin Poirier, Michael Chandler, Tony Ferguson, and now Gaethje. He entered Saturday’s contest as the No. 1 ranked lightweight in MMA Fighting’s Global Rankings.
Only two of Oliveira’s 21 octagon wins have come via decision — an incredible feat that puts the 32-year-old at the top of many of UFC’s all-time record lists.
“Most bonuses. Most submissions. Most finishes. What else?” Oliveira said on this week’s episode of MMA Fighting’s Trocaçao Franca. “I’m breaking records. There are no arguments against facts. I’m the chosen one. That’s the reality.”
When asked flat out if he has already surpassed BJ Penn and Khabib Nurmagomedov as the best 155-pounder in the history of the sport, “do Bronx” gave two answers.
First, Oliveira began to say he is “the greatest of all-time.”
Then, after a brief pause, he continued his answer.
“I’m getting there,” he said. “I’m becoming one of the best of all time. I don’t think [I am] yet. One step at a time. I’m up there. We have to keep our feet on the ground, be humble. Let people think that. What do you think, am I the greatest of all time? That’s the question.
“My age, 32, with records of most submissions and bonuses and so many other things I have to start writing down so I don’t forget. Lightweight champion, 11 wins in a row. Of those 11 wins, only one decision. We’re happy.”
On paper, however, Oliveira is no longer the UFC lightweight champion after coming in half-pound over the lightweight championship limit the day before UFC 274 following some confusion with the hotel scale. That doesn’t change a thing for the Brazilian though, who continues to refer to himself as the UFC champion.
“I’ll still make more history,” Oliveira said. “No one took my belt from me. I made weight, I’ve always made weight. There were those big problems but no one will get this off my head. The champion’s name is Charles Oliveira, and I’ve shown that one more time.
“The reality is I made weight. There were this issue with the scale, but I showed who’s the champion. Half a pound wouldn’t make any difference in the fight, it didn’t make any difference. I went there and did what I had to do, won, and showed who’s the champion.”