MMAOB staff writer Adam Martin takes a deeper look at the main event of UFC on ESPN+ 28, a five-round UFC lightweight bout between Kevin Lee and Charles Oliveira. The event takes place on Saturday, March 14 at Ginasio Nilson Nelson in Brasilia, Brazil.
Kevin Lee (-140)
Lee (18-5) is the No. 8 ranked lightweight in the UFC. The 27-year-old American is 11-5 overall in the UFC with all but one of those fights coming at 155lbs. “The Motown Phenom” has been a top lightweight for several years now and has picked up some notable wins along the way over Edson Barboza, Gregor Gillespie, and Michael Chiesa. Lee is an excellent athlete and a very well-rounded fighter. He has a really solid wrestling base, a strong submission game, and improving striking. He’s fought a high level of competition in the UFC and has performed well for the most part. Although Lee suffered through a tough 1-3 stretch at one point, he rebounded in a big way his last time out when he beat Gillespie with a head kick KO. He seems to have gotten his confidence back and a confident Lee is one of the most dangerous fighters in the UFC lightweight division.
Charles Oliveira (+120)
Oliveira (28-8, 1 NC) is the No. 13 ranked lightweight in the UFC. The 30-year-old Brazilian has been in the UFC since 2010 and has accumulated a 16-8, 1 NC record over that time. Some of his notable wins include Jeremy Stephens, Clay Guida, and Jim Miller while fighting between both 155lbs and 145lbs throughout his UFC run. Oliveira is one of the greatest submission artists in UFC history and holds the record for most submissions in the Octagon with 13. Considering ground greats such as Royce Gracie and Demian Maia have fought in the UFC, the fact Oliveira has the record is incredible. Anytime Oliveira goes to the ground he’s a threat to submit his opponent, but in his last few fights, he’s shown huge improvements with striking. He’s coming off of two straight knockout wins, proving that he’s not just a one-trick pony. Oliveira has never been able to break into the elite of featherweight or lightweight, but a win over Lee here would help push him right up there.
Fight Breakdown: This should be a very interesting fight between a wrestler in Lee and a submission ace in Oliveira. If this fight goes to the ground there’s a very good chance Oliveira will be able to grab the neck of Lee and choke him out. If it stays standing, though, I have to favor Lee. I believe he will try to use his wrestling in reverse and keep the fight upright, where he possesses more power and a better chin. Oliveira has never been known for having a durable chin and if Lee connects on it he could knock his opponent out. As good as Oliveira has looked standing in his last few fights, I still don’t completely trust his chin. With 25 minutes to work with, I think Lee is going to catch Oliveira on the chin at some point and finish him off with strikes for a TKO win.
Prediction: Kevin Lee wins via TKO