2021 is quickly becoming the year of the lightweights, as yet another star matchup looks set to be booked. With McGregor vs Poirier headlining the first PPV card of the year, and Chandler vs Hooker co-headlining, the future of the lightweight division is completely unpredictable. Now MMA Junkie have reported that Charles Olivera is likely to face Justin Gaethje next.
In a Q&A with ESPN+ subscribers, Laura Sanko asked Dana White about the future of ‘Do Bronx’. White replied “If everything works out, it will probably be Justin Gaethje.”
The fight makes sense within the rankings. Charles Olivera is coming off a dominant victory over former interim Champion Tony Ferguson. He also clinically dispatched Kevin Lee in early 2020. Whilst Olivera was initially aiming for a title shot in 2020, a win against Gaethje would undeniably secure him a shot in 2021. Gaethje is also coming off a win over Ferguson in 2020, when he accepted the interim title fight on short notice. However he subsequently lost the title unification bout to current Champion Khabib Nurmagomedov.
It certainly would be a unique matchup in terms of styles. Gaethje is notorious for his heavy leg kicks, and his boxing has recently improved significantly. His background in wrestling is also often attributed to him impressive takedown defence. However, when Khabib was able to take Gaethje to the ground, it appeared that the ‘highlight’ had little to offer against the champion’s Jiu-Jitsu. Olivera may have the best Jiu-Jitsu in the division, which could cause major problems for Gaethje. However, Do Bronx’s upright Muay Thai stance may well leave him open to Gaethje’s chopping leg kicks. Whilst there is no date set currently, it is undeniably a potential fight of the year candidate.
Who do you see winning this exciting matchup?