“He’s tough, he’s dangerous… probably the tallest guy I ever fought,” former UFC Lightweight Champion Frankie Edgar says of his UFC 162 opponent, Charles “Do Bronx” Oliveira. “Pretty good Muay Thai, mixes it up well, punches, kicks, knees, elbows, and he’s got a very slick submissions game.”
Frankie “The Answer” Edgar is looking for a new start. He made his name at lightweight by beating the legendary BJ Penn in two bouts, then getting the last laugh against an old nemesis in Gray Maynard. He was known for not only NCAA All-American wrestling skills and clean, fleet-footed boxing technique, but a never-say-die attitude. The latter attribute inspired UFC President Dana White to famously compare Edgar to his fellow New Jersey resident, International Boxing Hall of Famer Arturo “Thunder” Gatti.
Unfortunately, Edgar hasn’t had an answer for a recent bad run of luck: losing three straight bouts including his debut at featherweight against José Aldo in February.
Now at 31, the former champion is looking to rebound with his first three-round bout in three and a half years, as he faces the 23 year old, promising but not-yet-proven Oliveira.
Is Oliveira a soft touch for Frankie Edgar? That may seem to be the intention here, and odds makers have Edgar a big favorite.
But, as Edgar describes, Brazil’s Oliveira is a very interesting opponent. So interesting, I’m thinking of taking the odds makers on.
The 5’10” Charles “Do Bronx” (his nickname is a reference to his unlikely rise from the impoverished ghettos of São Paulo) approaches standup in a classic Muay Thai style, standing in an upright posture and looking to use his reach. That traditional stance leads to stinging, accurate leg kicks and solid combinations. Sure, that stance would appear to be vulnerable to takedowns, but the Jorge Patino black belt is deadly off his back — and in scrambles.
His “Submission of the Night” performance last year against Eric Wisely at UFC on FX: Evans vs. Davis in Chicago was a great example. Wisely missed a kick and Oliveira pounced on the opportunity to put his opponent on the mat. There he rocked back for a heel hook, but although Joe Rogan (and bless his soul he does this every other fight, it seems) yelled out “It’s over!” as Oliveira struggled to cinch it in, Wisely was able to roll out and alleviate the pressure. Oliveira adjusted his grip to try and secure a knee bar, but Wisely managed to bend at the knee and turn from the hold. But Oliveira held steady, entangled Wisely’s leg with his own, and pulled himself up to his opponent’s back. He rolled forward to complete the “reverse calf slicer,” and finish the fight in dramatic fashion.
(Incidentally, this is explained better by Rener and Ralek Gracie as a part of the excellent Gracie Breakdown series in this video , and also by Oliveira himself in Portuguese here ).
Can he catch Edgar in scramble? Use his reach to victory? Perhaps, take an advantage of his advantage in youth?
The X-factor could be the switch to the three round bout. Sometimes in recent bouts (the third bout with Maynard comes to mind), Edgar hasn’t seemed warmed up until midway through a third round.
Only 23, Oliveira is humble in interviews and seems to be growing in maturity with each outing. At introductions, he bows to the four corners like a classical martial artist. Can he paint a classic on Saturday, his 24th pro bout?
It may be a good day for the kid from the ghetto to again beat the odds.