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UFC 274 will be must see TV!
This Saturday UFC 274 will feature intense bouts in the main and co-main event. Lightweight champion Charles Oliveira versus Justin Gaethje is sure to be a barn burner of a main event. Each man employs a pressure style and neither will back down from a firefight. The co-main event features strawweight champion Rose Namajunas in a rematch with former divisional queenpin Carla Esparza. Who wins at UFC 274? Let’s take a closer look.
Charles Oliveira vs Justin Gaethje
The lightweight title fight between Charles Oliveira and Justin Gaethje is sure to produce fireworks. The two battle tested veterans will no doubt engage in a battle on the feet, for at least the beginning portions of the bout. Despite Gaethje calling Oliveira a coward and a quitter, the champion has a dog in him and a willingness to throw himself into the fire. Gaethje has a similar ability to throw caution to the wind and take the battle to his opponent.
With the most submissions in UFC history you would think Charles Oliveira would be a takedown artist. Instead it’s Oliveira’s striking ability that often forces his opponents to shoot for a takedown or force them to make a mistake to initiate a wrestling exchange of his own. Oliveira pushes the pace and has an aggressive style which often forces opponents on the back foot. Because he’s such a submission threat opponents often find themselves avoiding a ground battle with the jiujitsu wizard.
Justin Gaethje will no doubt embrace a toe to toe battle with the champion. Since Oliveira has a tendency to get a bit careless in the pocket, Gaethje will look to use wild exchanges as an opportunity to counter. Oliveira has a brilliant jab but often times leaves his head on the line leaving him open to overhands over the top. It also will leave him heavy on the front leg. Gaethje will take those opportunities to both chop on the champion’s lead leg and bomb over the top with a cross/overhand counter.
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This will likely be a war of attrition and if Charles Oliveira feels the heat he’ll shoot for double under hooks or a single leg. Justin Gaethje will look to chop the legs out from the champion and go toe to toe to prove who is the real dog of the lightweight division. It will certainly be fun while it lasts.
Rose Namajunas vs Carla Esparza 2
This rematch has been years in the making. When Rose Namajunas and Carla Esparza first stared at each other across the octagon it was under far different circumstances. Esparza was an eleven fight veteran with a strong wrestling pedigree, having fought high level opposition. Namajunas on the other hand was the young talented upstart who burst onto the scene with a ton of promise but only three fights into her career.
Both Rose Namajunas and Carla Esparza fought through the Ultimate Fighter 20 tournament to see who would be crowned the inaugural strawweight champion. Both women tore through the competition and eventually met in the finals. But it would be Esparza who came out on top with a rear naked choke finish of Namajunas. Years later the two meet again this time with Namajunas as champion and Esparza as challenger.
Rose Namajunas has vastly improved since their first meeting, learning more patience and streamlining her striking style. Carla Esparza has improved herself but her style has remained mostly unchanged. Esparza wants to get her opponent down and rain down continuous blows. Namajunas would much rather pick her opponent’s apart with strikes opting to switch things up as needed.
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If the match up stays on the feet expect a long night for Carla Esparza. Should things hit the ground Rose Namajunas has the skill to swim in deep waters, but it will be to her opponent’s benefit. While both women are well rounded this is still a striker versus grappler match up at the end of the day. The story of the fight will be about who can control the distance. Can Namajunas stay long and pick her opponent apart to set up a finish? Can Esparza crash through the distance into the clinch and smother the champion to the ground? We’ll have to wait and see.
Carla Esparza defeats Rose Namajunas by split decision.
News and Editorial Writer at Generation Iron, Jonathan Salmon is a writer, martial arts instructor, and geek culture enthusiast. Check out his YouTube, Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and Sound Cloud for in-depth MMA analysis.