The usually inconsistent Charles Oliveira went 3-0 in 2018 with three submissions for his best win streak since 2015, becoming the man with the most submissions in UFC history in Sao Paulo and extending his lead in Milwaukee. To start 2019, Oliveira fights in his home country of Brazil against an understated yet streaking prospect in David Teymur.
Oliveira has been looking to drop back to featherweight since weight cutting woes forced him up to lightweight, and yet a win here could get him into the rankings at 155; meanwhile, Teymur has the opportunity to defeat a well-respected opponent who’s dangerous at every moment of the fight, perhaps to enter the rankings himself.
David Teymur gained some acclaim for his win over former top prospect Lando Vannata, but has gone a bit under the radar since. After the Vannata fight – the co-main event at UFC 209 – Teymur has fought twice on the prelims with two wins over relatively esteemed fighters in Drakkar Klose and Nik Lentz to move to 5-0 in the UFC. Teymur is, for the most part, an outside kicker if his opponents allow him to fight at his pace; Teymur doesn’t generally engage the pocket unless he knows that his opponent is very hurt (such as when he finished Jason Novelli), and he’s happy to punt at his opponent’s body and legs if given the openings and not given a reason to do anything else. Teymur is laterally very active, and this was the crux of his win over Drakkar Klose; when Teymur was able to land a left kick and immediately circle away, Klose was largely unable to do anything but glare menacingly and appeal to the referee.
Teymur’s best moments in the open come with the counter left hand that he uses when his opponent tries to press into him; Teymur is a relatively versatile counterpuncher with his rear hand, stopping Svensson with an uppercut as Svensson looked to grapple, stopping Novelli with a straight left as Novelli looked to enter with a front kick, and cracking Nik Lentz early with a short left hand as Lentz came forward (giving Lentz the outside angle in the southpaw-orthodox matchup, but pivoting into Lentz to take a different angle that shortened his own left hand). Teymur’s performance in the Vannata fight was most impressive in regards to his clinch fighting; billed as a Muay Thai striker, Teymur used a collar tie to great effect to pull Vannata into knees to the body.
Charles Oliveira is a serviceable striker, enough to consistently find grappling opportunities, but he doesn’t do many noteworthy things on the feet. He was able to hurt Clay Guida to draw a takedown attempt and he threw spinning backfists at Christos Giagos, but for the most part, Oliveira’s standing game is underdeveloped and his defensive instincts are virtually always to get his hands up in a tight high guard.
Where Oliveira shines is as a grappler, so the result of Oliveira/Teymur largely depends on whether Oliveira can consistently find takedowns on a fighter as hard to pin down as Teymur. Oliveira isn’t sharp enough as a pressurer to consistently stand Teymur in place and find takedowns on the lead, and Teymur’s longer-range style is relatively difficult to punish with reactive takedowns (which is how Oliveira took down Giagos both times), especially considering that the southpaw-orthodox matchup forces Oliveira to cover more ground before being able to consolidate a double.
Teymur isn’t an inept wrestler as seen in the Vannata fight, and he’s very good in the clinch, so Oliveira is likely to just take damage if he can’t finish shots and is forced to clinch-fight for the takedown (although Oliveira has some crafty work from the double-collar-tie, such as the guillotine he used to finish Nik Lentz, Teymur’s skill in the clinch would make breaking his posture to find such possibilities low-percentage).
Overall, unless Oliveira shows some reasonably surprising craft, Teymur should be able to traverse the outside safely and out-kick Oliveira.
Prediction: Teymur via third-round knockout. This writer caps Teymur at -170.
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