Charles Oliveira vs Justin Gaethje: Michael Bisping 'not confident' picking the winner

  • Tom Ward

Michael Bisping is ‘not confident’ that Charles Oliveira will beat Justin Gaethje – but if he had to pick anyone he is backing the Brazilian.

Oliveira, 31, has been the UFC lightweight champion since May 2021, while American Gaethje, ranked at No1, finds himself mandatory challenger for Oliveira’s gold-plated strap.

The pair will lock horns in an eagerly-anticipated match-up on Saturday night in the main event of UFC 274 in Phoenix, Arizona.

Paddy Power have ‘Do Bronx’ the favourite at 1/2, while Gaethje is seen as the underdog at 6/4.

However, Bisping doesn’t believe it is as straightforward as the oddsmakers are making out, as he insists Gaethje is more than capable of shocking the world and beating Oliveira.

Speaking to BT Sport, the British MMA icon also admitted he is not confident about picking the winner of Oliveira vs Gaethje.

Bisping said: “On the feet, Oliveira has shown that he can handle himself.

“Of course, the big question is can he take the power from Justin Gaethje? Hey, listen, why would we go against him?

Charles Oliveira is set to take on Justin Gaethje on Saturday night

“The man is on a 10-fight win streak, and I believe as the fight goes on throughout five rounds, I believe Oliveira can take Justin Gaethje down if he wears him down on the feet a little bit.

“And again, it all comes back to that jiu-jitsu ability, as well.

“So, I’m going to say – and it’s not a confident pick … it’s not a confident pick – but I’m going to say Charles Oliveira, and he gets another submission in the later rounds, four and five.”

“On the feet, Justin Gaethje hits incredibly hard – crazy leg kicks, awesome ground and pound, gas tank for days, and he knows that the pressure is on because he lost the world title fight against Khabib [Nurmagomedov], right?

“Now he’s getting a second shot. Third title fights, I don’t know if they come around. So [there’s] a lot of pressure [on Gaethje] in this one. I cannot wait.”

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Meanwhile, Bisping also believes Oliveira deserves to be in the pound for pound conversation following back-to-back wins over Michael Chandler and Dustin Poirier.

The Count continued: “This man is in discussion for pound-for-pound.

“10 fight win streak, nine of them stoppages, and when you look at the level of competition it’s unbelievable.

“Now, for Justin Gaethje, it’s a very very difficult fight obviously, and then when you look at the competition on paper as well I think it’s fair to say that Oliveira has probably fought tougher competition.

“I’m looking at Justin Gaethje here; Tony Ferguson – great win; [Donald] Cerrone, [Edson] Barboza, James Vick – all guys that are very, very good, but are they championship material? Not right now – maybe once upon a time.

“So as I said before going into this one I think Justin’s going to feel a lot of pressure.

“Everybody wants to be the champion. He fell short against Khabib. If he falls again this time, he’s in Dustin Poirier territory – a good fighter, top of the division, will still be able to make money, still sells out arenas and draws fans, but will he be champion of the world?

“That’s what everybody wants, and that’s why I think this fight is going to deliver, because I think Justin is going to come in and put on a performance like we’ve never seen.”

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