Saturday night saw Charles Oliveira secure an exhilarating first-round submission win over Justin Gaethje in Phoenix, Arizona.
As three-minute-long contests go, this had it all; pre-fight drama, submission attempts and knockdowns, with both fighters having golden opportunities to claim victory.
The Brazilian came into the Octagon knowing he would not be leaving as UFC champion. He was stripped of his title the day before after missing weight at 155.5lbs.
Conversely, a win for Gaethje would have seen the American secure the belt – and he wasn’t far off.
‘The Highlight’ took the early advantage and landed a right uppercut and left hook, dropping Oliveira twice in the first minute.
Unable to consolidate the pressure through ground-and-pound, though, the American would soon be made to pay.
The response inevitably came as Oliveira rallied, applying persistent pressure to his opponent through combination boxing and flying knees.
‘Do Bronx’ eventually landed a right hand, which seated Gaethje and presented him with the perfect opportunity he had been looking for.
Oliveira offered less compassion than Gaethje had done before, immediately engaging on the ground and resorting to his trademark rear-naked choke.
He transitioned into an armbar and a triangle armbar, before reverting back to the rear-naked choke, which ultimately forced Gaethje to tap out.
The victory sees Oliveira extend his unbeaten run to 11 wins and reinforces his place at the top of the division – despite losing the belt.
“Hey there is something here,” Oliveira said post-fight. “This is a message to the entire division. I am problem for the entire division. Look at this team, look at me. I am the enlightened. That is my title. It should be here.”
Attention swiftly turned to Oliveira’s next fight, where he will be looking to reclaim his title. The nature of his title loss will undoubtedly serve as motivation for the Brazilian, who was keen to call out Conor McGregor.
“Hey Conor McGregor, are you coming up or are you going to run away?”