Charles Oliveira didn’t get to bask in front of his home country fans, but he kept his winning streak alive with an impressive third-round submission of Kevin Lee in an empty 16,000-seat arena on Saturday night in Brasilia, Brazil.
It should have happened in front of a massive amount of his countrymen, but Oliveira had to settle for keeping the streak alive, as coronavirus preventative measures nixed the live audience at UFC on ESPN+ 28.
UFC officials, determined that the show must go on, declined to cancel the event, instead moving forward with no fans in the arena after the Brazilian government implemented a ban on public gatherings of more than 100 people. The move was in response to concerns about the spreading of the coronavirus (COVID-19).
With no fans to cheer him on, Oliveira was still sharp straight out of the gate, attacking early with a straight left punch and a jumping knee, driving Lee into the fence. He followed with another jumping knee, which connected with force.
Oliveira shot and secured a single leg takedown. He attacked with multiple heel hooks and other submission attempts, but Lee scrambled out and eventually into top position, where he scored a few hard punches and elbows as the round came to a close.
Oliveira attacked with intensity early in round two, wobbling Lee on a couple of occasions. Midway through the round, Lee turned the tables, shooting and putting Oliveira on his back.
Oliveira attacked with numerous submissions as he did in the first frame, eventually escaping to his feet. Lee, however, immediately planted him back on the canvas, occasionally dropping punches on him for the final minute or so of the round.
The third round proved to be the final moments of the fight, as the two opened with a heavy punch exchange. Seconds later, Lee shot for another takedown, but Oliveira sunk a guillotine choke as they hit the canvas. Lee tapped out almost immediately, improving Oliveira’s winning streak to seven consecutive fights.
Oliveira now has to be thinking of charging into title contention as lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov readies to defend against Tony Ferguson in the UFC 249 main event on April 18.
“Tony Ferguson and Khabib I’ll be sitting there first row,” Oliveira said after the fight. “There’s no denying it, I’m one of the best in the world. The belt will be mine.”
In a battle of two of Brazilians best grapplers ever, Gilbert Burns signaled a changing of the guard with his victory over Demian Maia.
Maia took burns down early and got a hook in, but couldn’t find the finish. Burns escaped to his feet and a short time later he landed a left hook that dropped Maia to the canvas.
The referee didn’t immediately stop it, so Burns dropped down and unloaded on Maia with an onslaught of punches and hammerfists, forcing a TKO stoppage at the midway point of round one.
“I’ve been following this guy his whole career. I have a tremendous amount of respect. I think he’s a future Hall of Famer,” Burns said of his compatriot.
He then turned his attention to Colby Covington, calling out the former interim welterweight champion.
“You’re gonna see me. I’m gonna…. beat you up. You’re lucky we’re on ESPN.”
The UFC is next slated to land at the O2 Arena in London for UFC Fight Night: Woodley vs. Edwards. Company president Dana White intended to move forward with a live audience in London, but reports say that the U.K. is likely to move to banning large gatherings early next week, as has most of the world.
UFC on ESPN+ 28: Lee vs. Oliveira Fight Card
Main Card (6 p.m. ET on ESPN+)
Charles Oliveira def. Kevin Lee via submission (guillotine choke) at 0:28, R3
Gilbert Burns def. Demian Maia via TKO (punches) at 2:34, R1
Renato Moicano def. Damir Hadžović via submission (rear-naked choke) at 0:44, R1
Nikita Krylov def. Johnny Walker via unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28, 29-28)
Francisco Trinaldo def. John Makdessi via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28)
Prelims (3 p.m. ET on ESPN+)
Brandon Moreno def. Jussier Formiga via unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28, 29-28)
Amanda Ribas def. Randa Markos via unanimous decision (30-26, 30-25, 30-25)
Elizeu Zaleski dos Santos def. Alexey Kunchenko via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
Enrique Barzola vs. Rani Yahya ruled a majority draw (29-28, 28-28, 28-28)
Mayra Bueno Silva def. Maryna Moroz via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
David Dvorak def. Bruno Silva via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
Bea Malecki def. Veronica Macedo via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)