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5 fighters worth watching at UFC Fight Night 170: Lee vs Oliveira

  • The UFC heads to Brazil this weekend for UFC Fight Night 170, and these 5 fighters are all worth keeping an eye on.
Scott Newman
SENIOR ANALYST
Top 5 / Top 10
Modified 12 Mar 2020, 17:45 IST

Kevin Lee faces Charles Oliveira in a Lightweight clash this weekend
Kevin Lee faces Charles Oliveira in a Lightweight clash this weekend

The UFC heads to Brazil for UFC Fight Night 170: Lee vs Oliveira this weekend, and the show appears to be flying under the radar for the most part, likely due to the fact that unlike last weekend’s UFC 248, it doesn’t feature any big title fights or big-name stars, and of course, people are more fixated on whether the threat of the coronavirus could have an impact on some of the promotion’s upcoming events.

However, there are still plenty of reasons to watch this show – the card features some of the most exciting fighters on the entire UFC roster, and should be chock full of action and perhaps some highlight-reel finishes.

Here are 5 fighters to keep an eye on at UFC Fight Night 170: Lee vs Oliveira.


#1 Charles Oliveira

Charles Oliveira has the most submission wins in UFC history
Charles Oliveira has the most submission wins in UFC history

Brazil’s Charles Oliveira is a truly ruthless finisher, as evidenced by the fact that he’s won a total of 15 post-fight bonuses– including 9 Performance of the Night awards – and also by the fact that he’s got the record for the most submission wins in UFC history with a total of 13.

‘Do Bronx’ has been around for a long time now – almost a decade – but right now he’s on his hottest run to date, winning his last 6 fights, all by either TKO or submission. You have to go back to December 2017 to find the last time he suffered a loss, and at the age of 30, he could well be just hitting his prime.

But his recent opponents all come with a caveat; they were either past their prime or largely unproven at the elite level. Kevin Lee on the other hand is in his prime and is ranked as one of the very best 155lbers on the planet. If Oliveira can beat him, then he’ll almost certainly rise into title contention – but if he loses, it’ll be hard to consider him more than an action fighter. As always with Oliveira, who has only been the distance twice in his 25-fight UFC career, this one will be worth watching.


#2 Kevin Lee

Kevin Lee is coming off a violent KO win over Gregor Gillespie
Kevin Lee is coming off a violent KO win over Gregor Gillespie

The other half of the main event on Saturday, Kevin Lee has had a strange couple of years after failing to capture the UFC Interim Lightweight title in 2017. He beat up Edson Barboza to affirm himself as one of the world’s top 155lbers, but a disappointing loss to Al Iaquinta left him at a crossroads. A move to 170lbs looked to reenergise his career, but then he was badly beaten by Rafael Dos Anjos, putting a stop to that idea.

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But ‘The Motown Phenom’ looked phenomenal in his last fight back at Lightweight, as he knocked out the previously undefeated Gregor Gillespie with a brutal head kick. One of the most dynamic fighters in the division, Lee is offensively brilliant, equally capable of smashing his opponents from the top position and latching onto dangerous submissions.

He’s not unbeatable, though, and has been susceptible to running out of steam and getting caught in the past. So against a ruthless finisher like Oliveira, he’s going to have to keep his wits about him. If he can unleash the same kind of form he did against Barboza and Gillespie though, we might end up seeing something special from ‘The Motown Phenom’ this weekend.


#3 Johnny Walker

Johnny Walker will be hoping to get his hype train back on the rails this weekend
Johnny Walker will be hoping to get his hype train back on the rails this weekend

No Light-Heavyweight was hotter than Johnny Walker coming towards the end of 2019; the Brazilian had burst onto the scene with three straight first round TKO victories, as he’d taken out Khalil Rountree, Justin Ledet and Misha Cirkunov, but it was the manner of those victories that garnered him so much hype.

Walker took them out with insane aggression and low-percentage moves – standing elbows, a spinning backfist, and a flying knee – and his explosive nature made him stand out in a thin division. But a loss in November to Corey Anderson derailed his hype train, and suddenly he’s got his back against the wall coming into this weekend’s fight with Nikita Krylov.

If Walker can take out ‘The Miner’ – a fighter just as aggressive and reckless as he is – then the hype will start again. Lose, however, and the Brazilian could end up looking like a flash in the pan. Either way, this looks like the fight to keep an eye on this weekend; the duo have 16 UFC fights between them and only one has gone the distance.


#4 Renato Moicano

Renato Moicano is moving to 155lbs for the first time in his UFC career
Renato Moicano is moving to 155lbs for the first time in his UFC career

Renato Moicano entered 2019 on the verge of a title shot at 145lbs, and he probably would’ve been granted it had he defeated legendary former champ Jose Aldo last February. But the Brazilian fell to ‘Junior’ and was knocked out for the first time in his career. And then the second time swiftly followed, as Chan Sung Jung turned out his lights just 4 months later.

Moicano returns this weekend, but in a new division, as he’ll be moving up to 155lbs for the first time in his UFC career. The Brazilian is faced with a seemingly-beatable foe in the form of Bosnia’s Damir Hadzovic, who has a middling UFC record of 3-3 and was defeated in his last fight, but there are always questions around a fighter moving up in weight.

If Moicano can impress this weekend, then it might not be long before he’s considered a contender at 155lbs given his well-rounded skills and aggressive nature. But if he loses, then he’ll need to re-evaluate things entirely – and could find himself on the verge of being released by the UFC. That makes him a fighter with a lot to prove – and one worth watching.


#5 Francisco Trinaldo

Francisco Trinaldo is a big cult favourite with Brazilian crowds
Francisco Trinaldo is a big cult favourite with Brazilian crowds

Longtime veteran Francisco Trinaldo has quietly built up a solid career for himself in the UFC; since his debut in June 2012 he’s put together a record of 14-6 and has become a huge cult favourite with Brazilian crowds, hardly surprising given that 16 of his 20 Octagon appearances have come in his home country.

Now 41 years old, ‘Massaranduba’ is not only faced with a tough opponent every time he steps into the cage, but he’s also faced with Father Time. Thus far he’s been able to belie his advanced age and appears to still be in his prime, but how much longer he can keep that up for is anyone’s guess. This weekend he’s back for his 21st UFC fight against a tricky striker in John Makdessi, and it’ll be a fascinating fight for a number of reasons.

Firstly, ‘The Bull’ is renowned for a style that relies heavily on counter-punching – meaning it’s common to see fights involving him descend into dull staring contests. ‘Massaranduba’ will want to buck that trend – but he’ll have to be careful with his aggression if he wants to avoid a knockout loss. If Trinaldo can pull out his 15th UFC win though, expect the roof of the arena to metaphorically blow off due to his popularity with the Brazilian crowd.

Published 12 Mar 2020, 17:45 IST
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