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LineStar® Weekly Knockout (UFC) -UFC 274 Gaethje vs. Oliveira

Chris Guy (MMA Expert)
Chris Guy (MMA Expert)
We’re Back With Another LineStar Weekly Knockout!
Written by LineStar contributor, combat sports enthusiast, and practitioner, Chris Guy.
Instagram: @therealsethgeko & Twitter: @DadHallOfFamer

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Main Card
“There’s a war going on outside no man is safe from / You can run but you can’t hide forever” – Prodigy of Mobb Deep
The last twenty-four hours, the air sirens have sounded, screaming banshees.  Up and down every street, the poor shmucks who drew the short straws yell into bullhorns the State’s compulsory propaganda from the back of conscripted civilian pickups.  The enemy is near.  Everyone must do their part.  This is a call to arms.
On the horizon, all points of the compass aim toward destruction.  It rises into the air, periscopes scouting.  With every passing hour the shelling creeps closer.  The last flicker of electricity passed through the veins of modern civilization days ago.  It took only hours for the clocks to turn back, decades, centuries: life by candlelight.
Empty shampoo bottles, pots, Tupperware, sinks, and bathtubs; they all hold water.  Anything that can be is filled to the brim.  7-11, Bring Your Own Cup Day.  Before being buried under the rubble of their once humble abodes, people bury themselves in their basements.  The hatches are battened, but it’s just a formality.  The hatches can’t withstand a howitzer.
A stampede of machinery, the earth shakes as the Abrams announce their approach.  Wind chimes chime without provocation.  Look, mom, no wind.  Finally, the sirens fall silent.  It’s quite obvious now.  The impending is no longer.  It’s here, and it’s right outside.  This Saturday, we’re going to war, homies. 
Justin Gaethje (+145) vs Charles Oliveira (-165)
Gaethje: DK: $7.7k | Oliveira: DK:$8.5k
Banger.  F**king banger.  Grab your Thomas Brothers, your TomTom, or ask Siri, but you won’t find any other way around it.  Justin Gaethje vs. Charles Oliveira is an absolute banger.  A style matchup of sorts, Gaethje is a savage marauder on the feet, and Oliveira is an evil necromancer on the mat.  Like Powerman 5000, worlds will collide at UFC 274.
Justin Gaethje is entering his third title fight after winning the interim belt against Tony Furguson in 2020.  They’re still shoveling heaps of shit out the Octagon since Gaethje’s most recent fight against Michael Chandler at UFC 268.  It was a straight dogfight, on some Ace and Goose type-ish.  What makes Gaethje special is that he doesn’t give a fook.  It’s not just a repeated mantra or platitude; he really doesn’t.  Only the US government has waged more war than Justin Gaethje.  There’s no easy way out against Gaethje; you might beat him, but you will have to strap on your gasoline boots and walk through hell to do it.
An ambidextrous Nolan Ryan, Gaethje throws one hundred mph fastballs with both hands.  He ducks his head and no-looks overhands and hooks from every angle, and every one of them has the grim reaper touch of death behind it.  The Tony Ferguson fight ushered in a new and improved, more patient Justin Gaethje that refused to get drawn into his patented firefight.  Instead, Gaethje displayed highly refined boxing techniques, slipping/countering, rolling off punches, and stepping off at angles.  He engaged on his own terms and controlled the fight from the opening bell.  That all went out the window against Michael Chandler.
Gaethje busted out the Ouija board, stood in front of the mirror and repeated his name three times, and resurrected the old Justin Gaethje.  F all the fancy slips and counters, it was straight bomb-throwing from the jump. Which Gaethje will show up against Oliveira?  A combination of both will be needed.  He’ll have to pick his moments of recklessness wisely, but those moments of recklessness are what make him the most dangerous.  
The disheartening thing about Gaethje’s performance against Khabib was how he completely froze both times the fight hit the mat.  The first time was with thirty seconds left in the first round, but it looked like he quit immediately.  Khabib took his back with the quickness and would have ended it right then and there if time permitted.  In the second round, Khabib took Gaethje down and played eenie meenie miney moe to decide how to submit him.  It was almost as if Gaethje broke as soon as he hit the mat.  
Charles Oliveira has entered the chat.  Oliveira has the best submissions in the UFC.  Twenty of his thirty-two career wins have come by turning his opponents into Chong Li and making them say “matte!”  Oliveira has the most active guard you will see.  “Do Bronx” sets traps like the H.H. Holmes Mansion from his back.  He feints one submission while setting up another.  You’re constantly tied up with Oliveira’s limbs and defending submissions and never able to mount your own offense.
At all costs, Gaethje has to avoid the cage.  He has to dominate the center of the Octagon and make Oliveira score open mat takedowns.  Oliveira’s go-to maneuver is shooting a double to gain underhooks and pressing the opponent against the cage.  From there, he works his way behind and takes the back.  Michael Chandler escaped Oliveira’s back mount, but that was in the open mat, not against the cage.
In his first title defense against Dustin Poirier, Oliveira got pieced-up Willie in the first round.  He had success marching down and suffocating Poirier with pressure, but he got battered and beaten up on the feet for the most part.  Oliveira’s success on the feet came with standing knees from the clinch and a nonstop barrage of teeps to the body that looked to slow down Poirier by the end of the round.  Charles can’t take those kinds of shots from Gaethje.  Had it not been for a fluke takedown after holding Poirier’s gloves so he couldn’t disengage, Oliveira may not have survived much more of Poirier’s shots.  Oliveira has to stay in Gaethje’s chest and get this fight to the mat.
Oliveira will be a submission threat early.  If it goes to the third round and beyond, Oliveira will likely have sustained heavy damage, and his chances to score a finish late will dwindle.  Gaethje will be a finishing threat for the full twenty-five minutes.  But I think the odds are against a full twenty-five minutes.  At the opening, Gaethje is the (+145) dog, and Gaethje at plus money is always Robert De Nero in Heat, straight robbery.
The main event-losing streak now sits at two.   To my credit, I would have changed my pick after Rob Font missed weight by almost four pounds.  That’s never a good sign.  But we take our lumps as they come and fire back Gaethje bombs.  Justin Gaethje via TKO, round three.  On wax.
Winner: Justin Gaethje | Method: TKO Rd.3
Carla Esparza (+180) vs. Rose Namajunas (-220)
Esparza: DK: $7.3k | Rose: DK: $8.9k
This is a rematch from 2014, which saw Carla Esparza crowned as the inaugural women’s strawweight champion after submitting Rose Namajunas in the third round.  Rose went on to win the belt twice, while Esparza has been making a slow, steady climb back to the belt ever since losing the title in her first defense to Joanna Jedrzejczyk.  This is the classic grappler vs. striker matchup.
The female Belal Muhammad, Carla Esparza, only has one narrow path to victory.  Any deviation from that path will lead to massive search parties, including bloodhounds scouring the terrain for any signs of survival.  Esparza would be forced to survive the extreme temperatures by using the insides of scavenged animal carcasses as shelter.  It’s wrestling or bust for Carla, but luckily, her wrestling is the best in women’s MMA.   If she gets hold of any part of you, you’re going to the mat.
From the top position, Esparza can old school Tito Ortiz you with heavy elbows and punches from inside the guard, no passing necessary.  Esparza accumulates significant strikes and top control time as her primary means of securing victory.  She finished her most recent bout against Xiaonan Yan and showed improved heavy ground and pound, but that was her first finish since she beat Rose in that first meeting eight years ago.
The problem for Esparza against Rose this time around is that she has to wrestle for twenty-five minutes to be successful.  Usually, there’s a point late in her fights when she can no longer secure takedowns and has to limp to the finish line on her feet.  It happened against Marina Rodriguez.  If/when there comes a point when Esparza can’t drag Rose to the mat any longer, the odds will dramatically swing in Rose’s favor.  The key for Esparza will be causing damage from the top position.  She has to grind and wear down Rose and hope Rose doesn’t have enough left in the tank to mount a comeback.
Rose Namajunas steps into the Octagon with Thug Life tatted across the belly.  She’s been tested in every way a fighter can be.  She’s won fights and lost fights.  She’s won titles and lost titles.  Every wave, every up and down, she’s ridden like Kelly Slater.  Rose etched her legacy in stone with two wins against one of the best female strikers of all time, Joanna Jedrzejczyk.  A woman who annihilated Carla Esparza.
Rose has excellent bilateral movement and is a sniper from the outside with her hands.  She is not quite a combination striker; Rose throws single shots in quick succession that aren’t quite combinations, there is a difference in cadence.  Like a traditional boxer, Rose slips and rolls off her punches and ducks her head off the centerline when she throws her right hand.  Pay attention to that right hand.  Rose throws it with a slight hitch; her elbow flares out before the hand is propelled forward, and it creates a delay that is a lot like a pitcher throwing a changeup.  
The key to retaining her title will be forcing scrambles from her back.  It’s wishful thinking anticipating she can keep the fight standing for the duration.  She has to count on being on her back and needs to threaten with submissions to create opportunities to stand up.  Doubling and tripling her jab on the feet and targeting the chest will help Rose maintain distance on the feet and force Esparza to shoot from long range.  The championship rounds will be all Rose if she can avoid trouble on the mat.
There’s definitely value in Esparza dominating this fight on the mat and securing a choke finish.  She’s already beaten Rose in that manner.  The weakest part of Rose’s game is her ground game, and this is a very dangerous fight for her.  In the end, I think Rose can survive on the mat and score heavy damage on the feet in between grappling exchanges.  Esparza tends to fade, so a late finish is in the cards for Rose.  On wax, Rose Namajunas via TKO, round four.
Winner: Rose Namajunas | Method: TKO Rd.4
Tony Ferguson (+310) vs. Michael Chandler (-410)
Ferguson: DK: $6.6k | Chandler: DK: $9.6k
The fans’ entertainment is squarely in the hands of Michael Chandler for this one.  Will he choose to stand and trade with Tony Ferguson and leave us all Cheesing like Kenny McCormick in a state of complete bliss afterward?  Or will Chandler choose to double leg and ground and pound the hell outta Ferguson pretending he’s Lebron and Ferguson is Delante West?
After a historic twelve-fight winning streak in the toughest division in the UFC, Tony Ferguson has fallen on hard times.  Fallen and struggled like a Life Alert customer to get back to his feet and dust himself off.  Because I’m a negative f**k with no flaws, I like to point out other people’s shortcomings.  Here’s Tony’s: He doesn’t have the fundamental techniques to fall back on when all the C-Walkin’ and Cha-Cha-Cha’ing wild ish doesn’t work.           
Ferguson is unique in that his strengths double as his biggest weaknesses.  His ability to freestyle in the cage makes him unpredictable while at the same time there’s not enough method to Tony’s madness, and it becomes apparent that he has no real game plan.  Tony has been known to use fancy footwork and will bust out the cardboard scrap and boombox and breakdance in the middle of fights to mesmerize the opponent, but he also lacks fundamental footwork and often ends up off balance.  He leaves himself open and vulnerable and unable to defend himself.
Tony used to be known for his dangerous guard and ability to strike from his back while being especially deadly with D’arce chokes.  Tony Ferguson, aka The D’arce Knight.  We haven’t seen that dangerous guard since he pieced up Kevin Lee from his back and won the interim belt. 
Create chaos and bait Chandler into some trench warfare; that’s Tony’s only shot to win this fight.  If he acquiesces to a traditional kickboxing match, Chandler’s right hand will eventually find the mark and end the fight.  If he isn’t active from his back and willing to risk ending up in bad positions, Chandler will beat him up from the top position for three rounds.
So it’s all up to Michael Chandler.  He said after his last scrap with Justin Gaethje that he just wanted to go out there and entertain the crowd.  What ensued was madness and both fighters spitting their best pick-up lines at unconsciousness.  They slid up in disaster’s DM’s and shot their best shot.  If that’s Chandler’s mind state for this fight, it’ll be a stand-up war, and my neighbor’s Calico better stay on its side of the fence.  
Is there any value in Ferguson?  You can always expect the unexpected from him.  Which lately has been doing absolutely nothing for three rounds.  If Tony pulls this off, it will be with a choke.  He’ll catch Chandler being lazy in a transition and grab his neck.  If I were Tony, I’d be hunting for that D’arce/Anaconda all damn night.  Michael Chandler via decision.
Winner: Michael Chandler | Method: Decision
Michael Chandler
Michael Chandler
Shogun (+190) vs. OSP (-235)
Shogun: DK: $7k | OSP: DK: $9.2k
What’s The Weekly KO’s first rule? 
Rule number one: Never ever ever in your life bet on OSP.  
Yet, I continue to do it.  And I wrote the damn rule.  I’ll probably do it again within the next three hundred words.  There are two different OSPs: The first one looks like a top ten fringe contender with dangerous kicks and heavy one-punch boxing.  The other looks like a Coachella hologram that stumbled upon a hippie drum circle on his way to the main stage.  He often looks like the last thing in the world he wants to do is fight another grown man.  
After his last performance, I thought OSP’s time in the UFC was up.  He’s lost two in a row and five of his last seven.  The crazy thing about OSP is that he has underrated wrestling and submissions.  He has eight career wins by submission and often has a path to victory on the mat but tends to stray right passed it as if it’s covered with heavy underbrush.  
The UFC managed to match OSP with the only fighter on the roster I’d give him a shot to beat, Shogun Rua.  That’s because he’s already beaten Shogun Rua, and this is a rematch from a meeting back in 2014.  OSP KO’d Shogun quicker than a Pop-Tart will burn.  That, and because Shogun is forty-years-old going on one hundred and seventy-six in fight years.
The big question is how much Shogun has left, and why is he still fighting?  He’s had a solid 5-2-1 record in his last eight fights and has remained competitive, but he’s also taken a lot of damage.  The last time we saw Shogun in the Octagon, Paul Craig was on top of him and beating him like it was Walmart self-checkout.  If he can channel the old uber-aggressive Shogun and pressure OSP, he can definitely win this fight.
If OSP shows up with the Ralph Wiggum fight IQ and decides not to clinch and drag Shogun to the mat, Shogun will have plenty of opportunities to not only out-work OSP, but also finish OSP.
Dammit, I hate this fight.  I feel manipulated.  OSP via TKO, round two.  
Winner: OSP | Method: TKO Rd.2
OSP
OSP
Von Preux Choke
Von Preux Choke
Joe Lauzon (+150) vs Cowboy Cerrone (-170)
Lauzon: DK: $7.4k | Cerrone: DK: $8.8k
This is a fight straight out of 2012.  We missed the boat on this fight by about a decade.  Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone’s riding a six-fight winless streak like a bucking Bronco and has managed to stay mounted well beyond the eight-second time limit.  Four of his five losses in that span have come via TKO, and three of those were in the first round.  Cerrone has always been plagued by slow starts.  You have to bust out the jumper cables, roll him down hill, and hit the clutch to get Cerrone started.  Homie adds forty-five minutes to your morning routine just so you can clock in on time.
I say that to say this: Donald Cerrone is a double O-G.  He’s the Dan Marino/Charles Barkley of the sport, an all-time great fighter who never won the title.  He could have navigated his way to multiple title shots over the years by handpicking opponents and turning down unfavorable matchups.  But then he wouldn’t have been Cowboy.  Unlike a lot of actual titleholders, Cerrone fights any and all challengers.   
It hurts to say this, but Cerrone’s like Jordan on the Wizards, Emmitt Smith on the Cardinals, Ken Griffey Jr. on the Reds; he isn’t the same guy.  There’s very little of the old Cowboy left.  He’s always been a notoriously slow starter, but now he’s also begun to show diminished skills.  His reactions have slowed in tandem with his hand speed, and he clearly can’t take the same punishment that he used to.  Cerrone was rolled up and smoked by Alex Morono in his last outing.  I don’t think Cerrone even landed a strike.
Joe Lauzon made his UFC debut in 2006 against Jens Pulver.  Pulver was considered one of the best lightweights in the world at the time and was known for his battles against BJ Penn.  Lauzon pulverized Pulver in under a minute, and it remains one of the biggest debuting upsets in history.  Fast forward sixteen years later, and Lauzon will be making his twenty-eighth appearance in the Octagon.
Lauzon has always been a scrappy, aggressive fighter anywhere the fight goes.  He has excellent grappling with heavy ground and pound, and on the feet, he throws caution to the wind and engages in wild firefights.  He isn’t very technical and staunchly refuses to vacate the pocket.  J-Lau camps out in the pocket, Bear Grills eating dung beetle dung to survive.   Lauzon is most dangerous from the top position, where he specializes in delivering nasty elbows.
The question for both fighters is how much is left in the tank?  Lauzon is coming in off a win but has lost three of his last four.  I think Lauzon has a little more in the tank and takes a shot better than Cerrone does.  Joe Lauzon via TKO, round two.
Winner: Joe Lauzon | Method: TKO Rd.2
J-Lau
J-Lau
Prelims
Highlighted Fighter
Randy Brown (-105) vs Khaos Williams (-115)
Brown: DK: $7.9k | Khaos: DK:$8.3k
 Bust out the galoshes and rubber ponchos; there’s a high chance of heavy meteor showers during this one.  This is a matchup of two dangerous strikers that’s guaranteed to produce some drowsiness.  Randy Brown is longer than Pinocchio’s nose while giving the State of the Union Address.  He can hit you with his jab or a teep from across the cage.  You’re never out of range against Randy Brown.  Brown will be the more technical striker and uses classic boxing footwork and head movement.  His biggest hole is that he tends to move his head without moving his feet, which leaves him vulnerable during exchanges.
Khaos Williams is a Homer-Simpson-jumping-the-gorge daredevil striker, an Evel Knievel, if you will.  He drops his hands to his waist and sticks his chin straight up in the air, and dares you to punch or kick him in the face while he throws bombs at you.  
Williams’ major malfunction is that he uses his power as a crutch to make up for technical flaws in his striking.  He doesn’t just have holes; he has black holes that swallow entire galaxies.  But Khaos doesn’t lack aggression and is a combination striker, two traits that can mask defensive shortcomings.  Williams will chase opponents with alternating hooks like a 90s slasher movie.  Watch Williams’s hands when he engages; they drop to his waist.  I get sweaty palms watching him fight, anticipating a Ned Stark beheading.  Spoiler alert.
Have one of these guys on your roster.  You have technical ability vs. Dim Mak touch of death power.  The long-shot bet is this one going the distance.  I’ll take technique over power.  Randy Brown via TKO, round two.
Winner: Randy Brown | Method: TKO Rd.2
Randy Brown
Randy Brown
Twenty-Twen-Twen Sleepers
Twenty-Ten-Twen Sleeper
I went heavy on the underdogs last week and paid the price. I lost my poise and got sucked into a firefight. After an early knockdown, I never recovered and woke up back at the Holiday Inn. This week we’re getting back to the Bod Man cologne spray and LA Looks Gel, the shit that got us to the dance.
Justin Gaethje (+145). That’s all that needs to be said. Justin Gaethje at plus money with a big advantage on the feet. If he can survive the first two rounds without giving up his back, I like his chances to finish mid/late.
Carla Esparza at (+180) against a fighters she’s already beaten and finished. That was eight years ago, but as much as things change, they also tend to stay the same. Esparza will have this fight on the ground early; the only question is, what will she do with it? Cause damage or play for position?
Joe Lauzon (+150) against a guy who hasn’t won in six straight fights and looks like a war vet having flashbacks as soon as the fists start whizzing by his face. Cerrone can’t take a shot anymore and got every freckle on his ass kicked off by Alex Morono last time out.
Shogun (+190): Why? He’s fighting OSP. And what’s rule number one of the Weekly KO?
Pick ‘Em
Andre Fialho (-350) vs. Cameron Vancamp (+270)
 
            Winner: Andre Fialho
            Method: TKO Rd.3
Macy Chiasson (+180) vs. Norma Dumont (-220)
 
            Winner: Norma Dumont
            Method: Decision
Brandon Royval (-240) vs. Matt Schnell (+195)
    Winner: Brandon Royval
            Method: Rear-Naked Choke Rd.2
Blagoy Ivanov (-150) vs. Marcos De Lima (+125)
    Winner: Blagoy Ivanov
            Method: Decision
Francisco Trinaldo (-115) vs. Danny Roberts (-105)
    Winner: Francisco Trinaldo
            Method: Decision
Tracy Cortez (-165) vs. Melissa Gatto (+145)
    Winner: Melissa Gatto
            Method: Decision
Kleydson Rodrigues (-360) vs. CJ Vergara (+265)
    Winner: Kleydson Rodrigues
            Method: TKO Rd.3
Ariane Carnelossi (+150) vs. Loopy Godinez (-170)
    Winner: Loopy Godinez
            Method: Decision
Journey Newsom (+125) vs. Fernie Garcia (-150)
    Winner: Fernie Garcia
            Method: TKO Rd.2
Thanks for reading LineStar Weekly Knockout! We’ll be back next Thursday with another one. Until then, good luck and support your local MMA Gym.
About Me
My name is Chris Guy, and I’m an avid combat sports enthusiast and practitioner. I’ve been a fan of MMA since the early 2000s when Limewire was still around, and I downloaded Bas Rutten’s Big Book of Combat. In 2004, I started training Muay Thai at City Boxing in San Diego, CA. I competed as an amateur for many years, and I’ve also dabbled in Jiu-Jitsu. I follow many different disciplines, such as Combat Ji-Jitsu, Muay Thai, Glory Kickboxing, Boxing, and MMA.
I’m equally as enthusiastic about the craft of writing, and in addition to writing about combat sports, I also write short fiction and music. I hope to bring unique prose to sports writing, and along the way, encourage people to not only become Martial Arts fans but to also become Martial Artists themselves. 
In the future, you may see me refer to the Thunderdome; it’s an ode to the old Mad Max movie and refers to the world-class training facility I built in my one-car garage. It’s complete with throw dummies, wrestling mats, heavy bags, and six months’ worth of Chef Boyardee cans from when I thought the world was going to end back in March. I hope you enjoy my work, and if you don’t, the Thunderdome has an open door policy. 
Check out my Podcast The Whiskey (S)ick Podcast on Apple and Spotify. Parental Advisory Warning
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Chris Guy (MMA Expert)
Chris Guy (MMA Expert) @LineStarApp

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