Charles Oliveira vs. Justin Gaethje Odds & UFC 274 Prediction: Find Value on a Finish in Main Event (May 7)

Charles Oliveira vs. Justin Gaethje Odds & UFC 274 Prediction: Find Value on a Finish in Main Event (May 7) article feature image

Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC. Pictured (L-R): UFC opponents Charles Oliveira and Justin Gaethje.

  • Charles Oliveira -- now the former lightweight champion -- will face Justin Gaethje in the main event at UFC 274.
  • Oliveira missed weight and was stripped of his title on Friday, which means only Gaethje can walk away with the belt on Saturday night.
  • Sean Zerillo gives three ways to bet tonight's main event.

EDITOR'S NOTE: After failing to make the lightweight limit, Charles Oliveira vacated his title on the scales. Only Justin Gaethje is eligible to win the belt on Saturday.

Charles Oliveira vs. Justin Gaethje Odds

Oliveira Odds
Gaethje Odds
2.5 (+125 / -175)
Footprint Center, Phoenix
Approx. 12:20 p.m. ET
Odds as of Friday and via BetMGM.

Two of the most exciting action fighters in the MMA world square off for the UFC lightweight championship on Saturday night — former interim champion Justin Gaethje faces current champion Charles Oliveira in Gaethje's home state of Arizona.

These fighters have entered a UFC octagon 36 times, and 32 of those bouts (88.8%) have ended inside the distance. Oddsmakers anticipate a similarly violent outcome on Saturday, setting the bout as high as -600 (85.7% implied) to end by finish.

Who has the edge in this highly volatile title fight? Below, I’ll provide my analysis and projections for Saturday’s matchup and utilize those factors to bet on the UFC 274 main event.

Tale of the Tape

Record32-8 (1 NC)23-3
Avg. Fight Time7:0210:19
Weight (pounds)155 lbs.155 lbs.
Reach (inches)74"70"
Date of birth10/17/8911/14/88
Sig Strikes Per Min3.447.50
SS Accuracy53%60%
SS Absorbed Per Min3.137.81
SS Defense52%55%
Take Down Avg.2.50.0
TD Acc41%0%
TD Def57%73%
Submission Avg2.80.0

To be blunt, I expect a violent fair, and I'm betting the unders in this bout.

I consider Oliveira the more technical and diverse striker, but his durability is a serious concern. Charles doesn't move his head off the center line in extended striking exchanges, and he reacts very poorly after absorbing clean shots — often ending up on wobbly legs or getting knocked down.

Oliveira managed to recover in both of his most recent wins against Michael Chandler and Dustin Poirier -before bouncing back to finish those opponents.

Still, his striking prowess and tendency to pressure could ultimately cost him against Gaethje, a superior boxer who fires off lethal combinations and capitalizes by countering overly aggressive competition.

Gaethje rarely cedes control over the center of the octagon, but he does tire when placed under constant pressure and when he's forced to retreat. Moreover, Oliveira will put in attritional work — with teep kicks to the body and knees in the clinch — that can serve to tire Gaethje rather quickly.

Many consider Gaethje to have superior cardio in this matchup – but I don't necessarily agree, even though Oliveira has never been to a fourth round in his career. And if Charles can land shots to the body – consistently – while crowding Gaethje against the fence – or forcing him to be on his bike – I expect Justin to wilt rather quickly.

Conversely, Gaethje can slow Oliveira's effectiveness by hammering him with early leg kicks -which is something that Poirier never did, despite turning the tide on Conor McGregor in the second fight with calf kicks. If Gaethje can hammer that lead leg, it will create openings upstairs and limit Oliveira's ability to get this fight to the mat — where he should have a massive advantage.

Gaethje is an excellent counter-wrestler with solid first-level takedown defense (73%). Still, once you can get him down to the mat, it appears that he offers little resistance – and Charles might be able to pass his guard with relative ease.

Optimally, after fighting from the clinch to a body lock, Charles should look to grapple right away – and try to take Gaethje down or look to take his back up against the fence. However, he prefers to strike early in his fights until he gets hurt — and that tendency could end up costing him here, given his lack of durability.

Perhaps Justin will be tentative to throw leg kicks out of fear that Oliveira catches a leg and uses that to initiate a takedown, which could be game over.

Ultimately, the clinch battle will determine the winner in this fight. If Justin can shrug Charles off of him and keep this fight at range, I expect him to land some massive combinations in the early rounds. That said, if Charles is the stronger man in the clinch, he will abuse Gaethje's body with strikes before slipping to the back and submitting him.

Either way, this is a high variance fight that could finish in various techniques or positions.

The nightmare scenario – for Gaethje backers — is if he hurts Charles and follows him to the ground to try to finish — only to get caught in a submission.

Oliveira vs. Gaethje Pick

I projected Charles Oliveira as a 61% favorite in this fight (-155 implied), and I don't see value on either side of the moneyline.

Furthermore, I projected this fight to end inside the distance 83% of the time (-490 implied), and I don't show value on the fight to end inside the distance at very juice odds.

Still, before breaking anything down or digging into the odds, I suspected that the total would be set at 1.5 rounds (-110) and was surprised to find a plus sign next to that line instead.

I bet the Under 1.5 rounds (+160 at Caesars) smaller, but prefer the Under 2.5 (-135 at DraftKings) or the Under 3.5 (-209, at PointsBet).

Given the anticipated pace – and the relative strength and weaknesses of both fighters — I would be relatively shocked if this bout went the full 25 minutes.

I played all three of those unders but staked the Under 1.5 smaller.

The Pick: Under 1.5 Rounds (+155, 0.25u) / Under 2.5 Rounds (-135, 1u) / Under 3.5 Rounds (-209, 0.5u)

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