Featured in this article:
  • Oliveira moved up to No. 4 in the UFC’s pound-for-pound rankings following his victory against Justin Gaethje
  • The betting favorite for Oliveira's next opponent for “do Bronx” is Islam Makhachev at -150
  • Makhachev does not have a title shot in the UFC, but is on a 10-fight winning streak

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Paul Felder, top, punches Charles Oliveira during a UFC 218 lightweight match mixed martial arts bout, Saturday, Dec. 2, 2017 in Detroit. (AP Photo/Jose Juarez)

Who will No. 1 UFC lightweight Charles Oliveira fight next?

When is a title fight not really a title fight in mixed martial arts or boxing? When one of the competitors comes in overweight, he/she is ineligible to win the belt.

That’s what happened last Saturday at UFC 274 from Phoenix. Lightweight champion Charles Oliveira missed weight by half a pound for his fight against Justin Gaethje, meaning only Gaethje could win the belt and that if Oliveira won, it would remain vacant.

There was no doubt who the better fighter was as Oliveira submitted Gaethje via rear-naked choke just 3:22 into the first round. Thus, there is no lightweight champion in the UFC currently and it was the first time in the organization’s history a defending champion missed weight and lost the belt on the scale. UFC president Dana White told Oliveira after the fight he is a No. 1 contender and not a champion.

So who will Oliveira fight next? Oddsmakers have a prop out.

McGregor Is the Biggest Name

Conor McGregor poses for weigh in

Conor McGregor poses during a ceremonial weigh-in for the UFC 246 mixed martial arts bout in Las Vegas, Friday, Jan. 17, 2020. (AP Photo/John Locher, File)

Oliveira moved up to No. 4 in the UFC’s pound-for-pound rankings following his victory. A rematch with Gaethje is not even a betting option because the fight was so one-sided. Oliveira is going to take some time off in his native Brazil after three fights over the span of 12 months and probably return to the Octagon in November or December.

The betting favorite to be the next opponent for “do Bronx” is Islam Makhachev at -150. The 30-year-old from Dagestan is ranked as the No. 4 lightweight. Makhachev has yet to get a title shot in the UFC but is on a 10-fight winning streak since a loss to Adriano Martins in October 2015.

Makhachev’s training partner, former UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov, urged White to give his protege the title shot at UFC 281 later this year, but White seems inclined to have Makhachev fight Beneil Dariush first. Dariush, ranked sixth in the division, is +700 on this prop. Makhachev and Dariush were to fight in February, but Dariush withdrew due to an ankle injury and Makhachev easily beat replacement Bobby Green.

No MMA fighter is a bigger draw than former two-division champion Conor McGregor (+225), but the Irishman has fought only four times since 2018 and lost three of them – most recently to Dustin Poirier in a July 2021 rematch. Oliveira did issue a challenge to McGregor after beating Gaethje.

Michael Chandler, ranked as the No. 5 lightweight, is +550. He snapped a two-fight losing streak with a spectacular Round 2 knockout of Tony Ferguson at UFC 274.

Rafael dos Anjos (+900), Alexander Volkanovski (+1000), and Max Holloway (+2000) round out the betting options. Volkanovski is the featherweight champion and No. 2 pound-for-pound fighter and faces Holloway for a third time in July. Volkanovski won the first two, and if he does again and wants to move up in weight, that may be the smart wager as Oliveira’s next foe.

James Guill

James Guill is a former professional poker player who writes fro GambleOnline.co about poker, sports, casinos, gaming legislation and the online gambling industry in general. His past experience includes working with IveyPoker, PokerNews, PokerJunkie, Bwin, and the Ongame Network. From 2006-2009 he participated in multiple tournaments including the 37th and 38th World Series of Poker (WSOP). James lives in Virgina and he has a side business where he picks and sells vintage and antique items.

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