PHOENIX – One of the UFC’s most dynamic and popular weight classes takes center stage Saturday, with Charles Oliveira (32-8) prepares to enter the Octagon against Justin Gaethje (23-3) during the UFC 274 main event inside the Footprint Center. However, Oliveira slipped in the weights on Friday, leading to him being stripped of his lightweight title. Gaethje, who did weight training on Friday, qualified for the title on Saturday night.
Gaethje, of Arizona, is a former interim champion whose only loss in four years is against Khabib Nurmagomedov in the last battle of Dagestani. Until the weight missed, Oliveira has done a tremendous job stepping into the champ role, recording exciting finishes before Michael Chandler and Dustin Poirier.
And fan favorite Chandler (22-7) and Tony Ferguson (25-6) can steal attention from major and co-main events.
Follow Brett Okamoto and Jeff Wagenheim with live updates below or watch matches on ESPN+ PPV.
Fighting: Heavyweight: Blagoy Ivanov (18-4, 2-3 UFC, +130) vs Marcos Rogerio de Lima (19-8-1, 8-5 UFC, -155)
Light-weight: Andre Fialho (16-4, 2-1 UFC) defeat. Cameron VanCamp (15-6-1, 0-1 UFC) by TKO (Watch on ESPN+)
Fialho got his second UFC win with a left hook that sent VanCamp to the ground. Much more comes from Phoenix.
Female fly class: Tracy Cortez (10-1, 4-0 UFC) lost. Melissa Gatto (8-1-2, 2-1 UFC) by unanimous decision (Watch on ESPN+)
The biggest applause early in the evening from the Phoenix crowd welcomed Cortez’s departure. As the preseason got underway, the Scottsdale, Arizona boxer lived to the fullest with enthusiasm in this meeting of these rising 125-pound athletes.
The 28-year-old Cortez was unafraid of Gatto’s struggles, knocking her out early and often, dealing damage while in the frame and defending well whenever the Brazilian was submissive. All three judges gave the fight a 29-28 rating to Cortez, who has won 10 in a row since dropping out of his MMA debut in 2017.
Gatto, 28, suffered the first defeat of his career. She threatens several times but seems to be a step behind in position, constantly being reversed.
Male fly class: CJ Vergara (10-3-1, 1-1 UFC) loser. Kleydson Rodrigues (7-2, 0-1 UFC) by branch (Watch on ESPN+)
CJ Vergara and Kleydson Rodrigues back and forth on the ground in an interesting exchange.
In essence, a split decision depends on a difference of opinion. In this case, the division could allude to what looks like two completely different fights between these men.
Vergara, 30 and from San Antonio, Texas, earned his first UFC win with his brutal job in Round 2. He dominated the canvas, elbow-to-elbow to the head and pushed Rodrigues back into his corner at the end of those five minutes. with a weird bump on his forehead. It was most likely a 10-8 round, but none of the judges saw it that way. All three scored 29-28 fights.
Rodrigues, 26, from Brazil, made his UFC debut amid high expectations while on a seven-fight winning streak. He displayed a strong offensive ability in the first inning and had moments in the third, a testament to his tenacity. But it was not enough to bring him victory.
Straw weight: Loopy Godinez (8-2, 4-2 UFC) lost. Ariane Carnelossi (14-3, 2-2 UFC) by unanimous decision (Watch on ESPN+)
Loopy Godinez didn’t give up as she continued to pressure Ariane Carnelossi with a barrage of punches towards the end of their fight.
The later evening co-main event would have been a strawweight title fight, but those two women had the ultimate task of trying to hit the 115-pound mark the night after what Godinez had done in the first phase. this stub.
The 28-year-old, born in Mexico and fighting out of Vancouver, Canada, outscored Carnelossi from the start, securing a knockdown in the first seconds of the fight and maintaining top control throughout the entire 1st Round while fighting a steady dose of ground and pounds. Rounds 2 and 3 played out the same way, as Godinez completely dominated every second of the match by splitting 8v8 with kills. The judges all scored her in a round-by-round manner, two of them giving her a 10-8 card.
Carnelossi, touted for his physicality and ferocity, cannot exhibit both. The 29-year-old Brazilian went on to win 14 of 15, but a dominant performance by Godinez halted that streak.
Men’s middleweight: Newson’s Journey (10-3 1 NC, 1-2 1 NC UFC) lost. Fernie Garcia (10-2, 0-1 UFC) by unanimous decision (Watch on ESPN+)
Newson hasn’t fought since September 2020, and during his lengthy layoff, he showed urgency, as he faced Garcia for most of their 15-minute time inside the Octagon and claimed the clear decision for his first win in his fourth UFC fight.
Newson, a 33-year-old from Portland, Oregon, attacked Garcia with a series of punches and kicks, attacking him with shots before wounding him twice in the final – once with a punch, once with a kick. Two of the judges scored all three rounds his way, and the other 29-28, also in favor of Newson.
Garcia, 30 years old and from Dallas, ended a five-fight winless streak on his UFC debut. He soon showed some boxing skills but never ramped up his aggression to the point of putting Newson in danger.
Still to come:
(c) = defending champion
* = Only Justin Gaethje can win the lightweight belt at UFC 274