MMA stars make predictions for Oliveira vs Gaethje at UFC 274

UFC 274 PREDICTIONS: Robert Whittaker says Charles Oliveira’s ‘next level grappling’ makes him favourite to defeat Justin Gaethje while Curtis Blaydes backs the ‘much more powerful’ American to overcome the Brazilian in Phoenix showdown

  • Charles Oliveira is a marginal favourite to defeat Justin Gaethje at UFC 274 
  • He won the belt against Michael Chandler and defended against Dustin Poirier 
  • Gaethje has the power advantage but Oliveira is better on the ground  
  • MMA stars struggled to pick in what is shaping up to be very close encounter 

Charles Oliveira has looked sensational as the lightweight champion but does not appear to match up well with Justin Gaethje on paper. 

The Brazilian is a grappling genius but his American opponent at UFC 274 boasts superb defensive wrestling and the power to trouble a man who regularly gets hit. 

That said, the bookmakers are siding with the lightweight champion but not by any confident margin. 

Many fighters found it difficult to make a prediction for UFC 274’s main event 

Henry Cejudo believes Gaethje’s style could be Oliveira’s kryptonite on Saturday

A number of fighters have weighed in with predictions ahead of Saturday’s main event in Phoenix, with some finding it almost impossible to choose. 

Jared Cannonier was among those who told Helen Yee Sports: ‘It’s going to be a good fight, it’s going to be a banger. Gaethje goes in there and is always willing to slug it out with anybody. 

‘He’s got some of the best defensive wrestling in the world and it compliments his striking so well. It is always fun watching him go in there and go to work. And Oliveira, he’s shown he’s one of the best if not the best on the ground. It can go either way but will be super exciting.’

Decorated coach Javier Mendez was slightly more decisive without picking a clear winner, saying: ‘The last two fights Oliveira had he got hurt, he got hurt pretty badly against Chandler but came back super strong and with Dustin the same thing. 

‘The only difference in my personal opinion is that I think Justin is more of a killer. If he hurts Charles, he just might finish him. Early, I give it to Justin, late, I give it to Oliveira.’

Former two-weight champion Henry Cejudo favours Oliveira but thinks Gaethje could be the perfect fighter to undo him. 

He said: ‘Charles is big at 155-pounds. Gaethje is really going to have to kick that leg. He could break him but if he doesn’t Charles is too technical and has so many ways to win. But I do think his kryptonite is Gaethje.’

And both Sean O’Malley and Kevin Lee also sided with the champion. 

Georges St-Pierre was on the fence and unable to choose a winner for the main event 

O’Malley added: ‘God I like both of them so much. It’s really cool to see what Charles is doing. I’m a huge fan of Justin too. Charles is a killer right now. It is hard to say but I could see Charles submitting him.’

And Lee, who suffered defeat by Oliveira in the UFC, went on: ‘I knew during the second round of my fight with Oliveira that he was going to be a champ and I see him being a champ for a few more years.’

UFC legend Georges St-Pierre refused to give a definitive pick even when pushed. 

‘The way I see it, Oliveira has more tools in terms of how he can win the fight but you can never count Gaethje out. He is just so durable and hits so hard’, he told MMA Pros pick.

Australian stars Robert Whittaker and Alexander Volkanovski slightly favour the Brazilian too. 

Robert Whittaker (left) and Alexander Volkanovski are both tipping Charles Oliveira 

‘The Reaper’ was unconvinced by his selection but believes the technical superiority of Oliveira should come through. 

‘I would have to say Oliveira is the favourite just because of how technical and straight up he is and the grappling game is next level,’ he said. 

‘He might be able to pick Gaethje apart. Gaethje looked really good so it is hard. Oliveira, maybe!’

While Volkanovski added: ‘I’m going to go with Charles Oliveira. It is a tough one that could go both ways but Charles is pretty dangerous in a firefight as well. But the fundamentals on Charles’ end might get him over the line.’

Joining the two antipodeans was Chase Hooper. The American was more confident than most in selecting Oliveira and even went as far as to say the champion will finish Gaethje earlier. 

He said: ‘I don’t think Oliveira gets enough respect for how good he is, I think I’ll take him. The Poirier fight showed how good Oliveira is. I think he’d have a harder fight against someone like Islam Makhachev. I think he takes him out with a first or second round submission.’

Curtis Blaydes believes Gaethje is significantly better in the stand-up department 

Light-heavyweight star Jamahal Hill was torn and admitted Gaethje could knock out his opponent early in the fight but still sided with the champion, offering: ‘I think Oliveira’s grappling can maul him. I think honestly, with the level he is, he’s taken from what Khabib was doing to people. 

‘He can bring a ground assault that is difficult to deal with. But I think Gaethje could knock him out early. He does get hit and you can’t do that with Gaethje. But that said, I’ll go with Oliveira.’

Although most fighters sided with Oliveira, there were some who back the American. 

Curtis Blaydes went against the grain in saying Gaethje is the more technical striker of the two. ‘It is going to be a scrap,’ he argued. ‘You know Oliveira is the better grappler so if I’m him I want to get him on the ground. 

‘Gaethje has to be more aware of the takedown. But if he can keep it on the feet I think he’s the much more powerful and technical striker too.’

The former UFC champion-turned-commentator Michael Bisping picked Oliveira

And Neil Magny simply said: ‘Justin Gaethje by KO all day. That one’s easy.’

Michael Bisping also weighed in with his verdict. He is concerned about Oliveira’s propensity to take punishment but refused to back against the man with a 10-fight winning streak. 

He said on his YouTube channel: ‘I’ve got a good feeling that Gaethje will do it but I’m not going to pick against the champ. I’m going to say Charles Oliveira gets the job done. We’ve got to respect this man on a tear since he came up to 155. He does take damage and that gives me cause for concern.  

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