Boardroom games out the full MMA multiverse of possible outcomes at UFC 274, from the likely to the absolutely ludicrous, with an assist from FanDuel Sportsbook.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Charles Oliveira missed weight for the fight; he vacates the UFC lightweight championship and is unable to win it back Saturday night. If Justin Gaethje wins, he becomes the new champ.
Saturday’s UFC 274 features a lightweight scrap with title implications — but not the kind we anticipated in the run up to fight night in Phoenix. Do you like madness? Fans will witness now-former 155-pound champion Charles Oliveira, who lost his belt on the scale, and Justin Gaethje, who can still claim the title for himself with a victory.
FanDuel Sportsbook has established moneyline the odds for the close matchup at Oliveira -146 and Gaethje coming back at +124. With such close odds, the fight truly could go either way, weight miss or no.
With that in mind, let’s embrace the multiverse by exploring every possible fight result we can, from ultra-realistic outcomes to absolutely bonkers outcomes that could change the entire landscape of the lightweight division — or perhaps all of MMA, or perhaps all of culture and history and space and time — moving forward.
Most Likely Win Scenario for Oliveira: Submission
FanDuel odds: +160
The most obvious conclusion is “Do Bronx” doing what he does best: making his opponents tap. The third-degree Brazilian Jiu-jitsu black belt has 32 victories in his MMA career, with 20 coming by submission. Sure, Gaethje will be the toughest test for Charles up to this point in his career, but Oliveira has proven that even if he’s standing across Dustin Poirier and Kevin Lee, he can still snatch necks and cash checks.
The UFC will have some challenging choices for the champion’s next title defense if this happens. If Tony Ferguson can defeat Michael Chandler in dominating fashion on that same night, the UFC could make that fight. Both Oliveira and Ferguson are cardio machines who also happen to be wizards on the ground and sharp with their striking.
If Charles beats Gaethje by submission easily, the conversation changes when it comes to all-time greats in lightweight history. The win would also extend the UFC record for most submission finishes (currently 15) and most overall finishes (now 18), which Oliveira has already held.
Most Likely Win Scenario for Gaethje: KO/TKO
FanDuel odds: +165
This comes as no surprise with the sticks of dynamite that Justin Gaethje has for fists. The human highlight reel only resorts to world-class offensive wrestling when he has to and will bite down on his mouthpiece and throw down.
Out of eight UFC fights, Gaethje has recorded four knockouts. Oliveira could easily be on the opposite end of one and become an internet meme.
Gaethje winning the lightweight championship would be well-earned, further solidifying his previous time as the interim champion in the division as far, far more than just good luck or good timing. From there, the UFC could create a fresh matchup with a surging contender in Islam Makhachev or go with the winner of Chandler vs. Ferguson.
Shocking-but-possible Outcome: Oliveira by Points
FanDuel Odds: +600
Both competitors are aggressive and are always on the hunt for a finish. However, both men have technical skillsets that could allow for a methodical pace to last all five rounds. Only four of Oliveira’s 41 professional matches have gone the distance, and it’s only happened once during his time in the UFC.
It would be shocking if this fight went the distance. However, in MMA, anything can happen. If this matchup goes the distance, let’s pray that it’s an action-packed slugfest that is difficult to judge.
MULTIVERSE OF MADNESS Mind-blowing Scenario: Gaethje by Submission
FanDuel Odds: +3400
The chances of Gaethje subbing a third-degree black belt are nearly impossible. Not necessarily due to a lack of skill on the ground, but more so the style he chooses to fight and his opponent. Gaethje has been fighting for a decade, and within that period of 21 fights, he has one submission credit on his resume.
If Justin Gaethje were to collapse the sport of MMA upon itself and submit the just-stripped champ, the water cooler conversation about his greatness would get real hyperbolic, real fast. The talk will be about how he should use his ground skill more often and how if he did, he could have won fights against Eddie Alvarez and Poirier.
Any way you spin it, UFC 274 is a card stacked with close matchups. Honestly, the possibilities are endless for a fight that is virtually a toss-up.
Regardless of the results, a heap of new storylines will emerge from the UFC’s lightweight division. And we had better prepare for madness.