- Date & Location: Sat., March 14, 2020, @ Nilson Nelson Gymnasium, Brasilia, Brazil
- Odds: Kevin Lee -140, Charles Oliveira +110
- Prediction: Oliveira via submission.
On Saturday, Kevin Lee looks to capitalize on his “Performance of the Night” bonus-winning knockout of Gregor Gillespie when he heads to Brazil to face Charles Oliveira, who has quietly put together a six-fight winning streak in the top-heavy lightweight division. Oliveira’s 15 stoppages are second most in UFC history.
Both fighters are ranked in the top 15 in the UFC lightweight division. Lee checks in at No. 8 while Oliveira is ranked at No. 13. The winner of this bout could earn a shot at a top-five-ranked opponent later this year.
Lee vs. Oliveira odds, prediction and the pick are explained in greater detail below.
LEE VS OLIVEIRA ODDS
LEE VS OLIVEIRA PREDICTION & PICK
Lee is a very good all-around fighter, when he loses, it’s usually due to a mistake or because his cardio fails. That’s an important thing to consider in this matchup. If Lee runs out of gas in the later rounds, he could provide the opening Oliveira needs to lock up a submission. During his six-fight winning streak, Oliveira has won four fights by submission.
Lee is an active striker on that mat, which usually serves him well. If he goes that route against Oliveira, he must be aware of his striking technique because if Oliveira has the chance to lock up a limb — even when he is getting hit — he won’t hesitate to do so.
Judging from history, Lee will provide Oliveira the opening he needs late in the five-round fight.
Pick: Oliveira (+110)
BETTING VALUE WITH OLIVEIRA
The 30-year-old Oliveira seems to be hitting his stride after nearly 10 years with the UFC. His current winning streak is the longest he’s had with the promotion. In his past two outings, Oliveira scored the first two knockout wins of his UFC career, which only gives his opponents more to worry about other than his submission skills.
Lee has good takedown skills and he averages 3.23 takedowns per 15 minutes. It would not be a surprise to Oliveira strike with Lee until Lee’s cardio begins to fail and then allow Lee to take the fight to the mat. Once on the ground, Oliveira’s odds of winning by submission increase exponentially.
There’s a chance this could go the distance, but the fight is more likely to end with Oliveira, who is the underdog, getting a submission.
WHO HAS THE EDGE?
If this were a three round fight, the pick might be Lee via decision, but with the headlining bout being five rounds, that makes things a lot more intriguing. With Lee’s tendency to fade and Oliveira seeming to be reaching the pinnacle of his career, it’s hard to pick against Oliveira in this matchup.
Statistically, Oliveira is also improving. During his winning streak, Oliveira has averaged 4.46 landed significant strikes per minute and absorbed only 2.99 per minute. The only fighters who have a higher striking differential in the division are current champion Khabib Nurmagomedov and former interim champ Tony Ferguson.
When you add in the fact Oliveira has the most active submission game among ranked 155-pounders, the statistical edge favors him even more.
Lee’s knockout of Gillespie was just what he needed in November. Lee was 1-3 heading into that bout. He was submitted late in two of those fights and his other loss was a decision setback. His win was a doctor stoppage victory over Edson Barboza in a fight Lee was winning before the stoppage. The Gillespie knockout was definitely a confidence builder for Lee.
Speaking of confidence, it’s hard to believe that Oliveira’s could be any higher right now. With no losses since 2017, he has to believe he’s well on his way up the UFC rankings and closing in on a title shot.
FIGHT STATS: LEE VS OLIVEIRA
|Kevin Lee||Category||Charles Oliveira|
|3.90||Significant Strikes Landed Per Minute||3.21|
|3.18||Significant Strikes Absorbed Per Minute||3.03|
|3.23||Takedown Average Per 15 Minutes||2.77|
|0.87||Submission Average Per 15 Minutes||2.77|
WHAT’S AT STAKE
With such a deep division, what’s really at stake in this fight is momentum and rankings placement. If either of these men hope to get close to a title fight in the 155-pound weight class, they need a win this weekend. A slip up in this fight won’t be a total disaster because both fighters are still relatively young, but with a deep pool of talent nipping at their heels, they will have a tough time getting back into the mix with a loss.
The matchup between Lee and Oliveira might not have the allure of a UFC title fight, but to these men, this fight should be approached with that level of seriousness and focus.