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UFC Brasilia: Lee vs Oliveira

Stiff Competition

Saturday in Brasilia two contenders clash at Lightweight, the UFC’s most talent dense division. Collectively 155lb divisions across most major promotions arguably hold the most talent within them. Consider this when evaluating where Lightweights are in their career after losses. 

A post shared by Kevin Lee (@motownphenom) on Feb 11, 2020 at 1:15pm PST

A human body can only take so much. Regardless of the fighting style, everyone will take damage. Sometimes fighters get hit on the button, sometimes they get caught in submissions. This will happen regardless of their approach to combat. Just because fighters are elite does not mean that they cannot or will not lose. Talented fighters can capitalize even on scarce opportunities. In the UFC the best fight the best, and the cream of them all compete at Lightweight.

Oliveira’s Recent Triumph

A post shared by Charles Oliveira (@charlesdobronxs) on Mar 11, 2020 at 12:51pm PDT

Charles Oliveira has been competing in the UFC since he was about 22 years old. He has some knockout and submission losses, but still has a lot to give to the sport. At the age of 30 he has put together a nice win streak. With six finishes in a row, he looks to establish himself as a real contender. None of the wins in this run are against top competition. Honestly they are on the lower end of the talent pool in the promotion. But at least he has pierced the top 15. 

Oliveira usually only loses to guys who have had great careers. Therefore, brushing Oliveira off based on his record and fight history is a bit unfair.

Kevin Lee’s Struggles

A post shared by Kevin Lee (@motownphenom) on Nov 2, 2019 at 9:56pm PDT

Standing across from Oliveira is Kevin Lee. He has shown flashes of greatness already against stiff competition. Even in the bouts he lost, he won rounds and made the fight exciting. He lost to Dos Anjos at Welterweight but looked good considering Lee started to get tired in the second round. He pushed through and still fought to finish, but by the end of the fourth he just had nothing left. Many fighters tire quickly when going up in weight for the first time. Fighting a top guy like Dos Anjos made the transition that much more difficult.

Real Tragedy

The point is, Kevin Lee never just goes in there and gets destroyed. He has been without a head trainer for quite some time and that has been very limiting for him at this level. However, when you consider his overall performance despite his trainer’s absence, he looks promising. Any top fighter, including Jon Jones, Demetrious Johnson and Dominick Cruz would decline a bit if their head trainer committed suicide.

It’s something people chose not to discuss but it has done Lee a lot of harm. This suppression of the trauma experienced by losing someone precious in that way has likely taken a heavy toll on Kevin Lee. His focus and confidence over the past few years have been shifted at the very least. With his new trainer, Kevin should reach the potential within him at Lightweight.  

Get the Win

Oliveira is not much of a fan of how vocal Kevin Lee is. This is not uncommon for fighters who have been around for a long time but have consistently come up short. Oliveira must find some peace in the fact that the media day for this event has been canceled. Lee will not fail to mention Oliveira in the future if he defeats him.

Usually the prospect of a war is exciting, but there is no need. All either of them needs to do is get the job done. Hopefully someone will get a finish and move closer to a title. Decisive ascensions up the rankings are good for the fighters and more exciting for their division(s). ■

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