Editor’s be aware: Kevin Lee missed weight on Friday, however the battle will nonetheless occur on Saturday. Lee is anticipated to present Oliveira 20% of his purse.

Combined martial occasions in Brazil have at all times been one thing particular. The passion of the sector crowds, in full-voiced assist of their nation’s fighters, has made it that approach.

Saturday’s UFC Battle Evening in Brasilia will likely be completely different. In response to the coronavirus pandemic, the promotion introduced Thursday that its 12-fight card will play out in an empty Ginasio Nilson Nelson.

These are issues far larger than the 2 fighters who will compete in the principle occasion, however the lack of spectators within the enviornment will run counter to the unique intention of Kevin Lee (18-5). The American light-weight faces Charles Oliveira (28-8), a Brazilian, within the headlining bout of a card that may air on ESPN (6 p.m. ET important card, Three p.m. prelims).

This weekend’s UFC Battle Evening contains a loaded important card, topped by Kevin Lee and Charles Oliveira in the principle occasion. There are three different bouts between fighters ranked within the high 15 by the UFC, together with Demian Maia vs. Gilbert Burns within the co-main occasion, Amanda Ribas vs. Randa Markos and Johnny Walker vs. Nikita Krylov.

UFC Battle Evening: Lee vs. Oliveira
• Saturday, Brasilia, Brazil
Prelims: ESPN/ESPN+, Three p.m. ET
Most important card: ESPN/ESPN+, 6 p.m. ET

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Lee, 27, is coming off a head-kick knockout of beforehand unbeaten Gregor Gillespie in Gillespie’s house state of New York. This week, Lee is in Brazil to problem a Brazilian. And Lee has already mentioned that if he wins he desires to face Russian phenom Islam Makhachev later this yr, ideally in Central Asia.

There are loads of “ifs” right here, however think about if Lee went by way of Gillespie, Oliveira, Makhachev, all on the street. Even with this weekend’s fights taking place in an empty enviornment, and the instant future past that unsure, it nonetheless can be a powerful street present by Lee. It might be like happening tour to battle solely the blokes no person else desires to.

On the opposite facet of this important occasion you’ve Oliveira, who someway simply turned 30, regardless of his intensive profession. When Oliveira made his UFC debut in 2010, Conor McGregor had simply 4 skilled fights to his title. Khabib Nurmagomedov was two years away from even stepping foot into the Octagon. Tony Ferguson was an unknown, making an attempt to earn a spot on “The Final Fighter” actuality sequence.

Oliveira has grown up within the UFC. Saturday will mark his 26th UFC look. He has fought three former champions. And he has by no means appeared higher than he has throughout his present six-fight win streak.

This weekend’s important occasion will not decide the subsequent light-weight title challenger. That is simply the unlucky actuality for Lee and Oliveira. Nonetheless, it’s a actually marquee matchup at 155 kilos, with loads of narratives to comply with on both facet.

By the numbers

ESPN Stats &* Data

11: UFC light-weight victories for Lee, tying him for the second most within the division since his debut in 2014. Beneil Dariush is the chief with 12 wins at 155 kilos, and Ferguson and Francisco Trinaldo even have 11.

Donald Cerrone 16
Charles Oliveira 15
Anderson Silva 14
Vitor Belfort 14

5-0: Oliveira’s UFC file in his native Brazil. In fact, in these bouts he had the assist of an enviornment filled with compatriots.

6: Consecutive finishes by Oliveira, the longest energetic streak within the UFC. General, the Brazilian has 15 UFC finishes, only one behind the promotion file of Donald Cerrone.

6: Most important occasions for Lee since 2017, tying him with Cerrone and Junior Dos Santos for many throughout that point.

8: Consecutive light-weight fights during which Lee has not allowed a takedown. His 81.2 takedown protection share places him fourth amongst energetic UFC lightweights, behind Cerrone (90%), John Makdessi (86.8) and Thibault Gouti (83.3).

Sources: ESPN Stats & Data and UFC Stats

A glance again

5 vs. 5

Kevin Lee’s most up-to-date outcomes
Win: Gregor Gillespie (KO1, Nov. 2, 2019; Watch on ESPN+)
Loss: Rafael dos Anjos (SUB4, Might 18, 2019; Watch on ESPN+)
Loss: Al Iaquinta (UD, Dec. 15, 2018)
Win: Edson Barboza (TKO5, April 21, 2018)
Loss: Tony Ferguson (SUB3, Oct. 7, 2017)

Charles Oliveira’s most up-to-date outcomes
Win: Jared Gordon (KO1, Nov. 16, 2019; Watch on ESPN+)
Win: Nik Lentz (TKO2, Might 18, 2019; Watch on ESPN+)
Win: David Teymur (SUB2, Feb. 2, 2019; Watch on ESPN+)
Win: Jim Miller (SUB2, Dec. 15, 2018)
Win: Christos Giagos (SUB2, Sept. 22, 2018)

Combating phrases

“I am the one which’s gotta take fights like this. I do not get to battle ‘Cowboy’ [Cerrone] coming off two losses and looking out a little bit chinny. I’ve acquired to battle the man that is arising in his prime, with an entire lot of expertise behind him, fought an entire lot of huge names.” — Lee, talking to ESPN about matching up with Oliveira

2 Associated

Brett Okamoto’s prediction

Not a simple one to choose. In any respect. On paper, it is simple to say the matchup advantages Lee. He is the stronger wrestler and is considered the extra highly effective puncher. I am not so certain that final half is appropriate, although. In pure energy, he might need an edge. However Oliveira’s placing has been so spectacular these days. He is frequently hurting opponents on the ft, and it looks like he is doing so very effectively. Lee is the favourite, as he needs to be, however with this battle being in Brazil, 5 rounds, I am going with the slight underdog. Oliveira submission, second spherical.

What else to search for … past the principle occasion

The remainder of the cardboard, co-main occasion on down:

ESPN, 6 p.m. ET
Demian Maia vs. Gilbert Burns | Welterweight
Renato Moicano vs. Damir Hadzovic | Light-weight
Johnny Walker vs. Nikita Krylov | Gentle heavyweight
Francisco Trinaldo vs. John Makdessi | Light-weight
ESPN, Three p.m. ET
Jussier Formiga vs. Brandon Moreno | Males’s flyweight
Randa Markos vs. Amanda Ribas | Strawweight
Elizeu Zaleski dos Santos vs. Aleksei Kunchenko | Welterweight
Rani Yahya vs. Enrique Barzola | Males’s bantamweight
Maryna Moroz vs. Mayra Bueno Silva | Ladies’s flyweight
Bruno Silva vs. David Dvorak | Males’s flyweight
Veronica Macedo vs. Bea Malecki | Ladies’s bantamweight

Grounds for pleasure over the co-main occasion

In Maia’s final battle, he submitted Ben Askren, a former Olympic wrestler who constructed a storied MMA profession on his floor recreation. It was spectacular however not surprising. Maia, whose submission grappling résumé consists of gold medals at ADCC, the Mundials and the World Cup, is probably the game’s most extremely esteemed practitioner of Brazilian jiu-jitsu.

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Contained in the Octagon, Maia has tapped out a number of guys who’ve in any other case made an excellent dwelling on the canvas. Askren. Carlos Condit. Chael Sonnen. The Brazilian has 11 submission wins within the UFC, the second most ever.

Burns is just not shaking in his boots. To begin with, he is not carrying boots. Jiu-jitsu black belts carry out barefoot.

And Burns, who faces Maia within the middleweight co-main occasion, is not only any black belt. He’s a three-time Brazilian jiu-jitsu world champion. In MMA, he has eight profession submissions, 4 of them within the UFC.

Maia enters Saturday on a three-fight win streak, and Burns has gained 4 in a row.

Neither man has ever been subbed in MMA.

Odds ‘n’ ends

Some undercard tidbits from Andrew Davis of ESPN Stats & Data:

  • Maia vs. Burns is the one Brazil vs. Brazil bout on Saturday’s card. However 11 of the 12 fights characteristic no less than one Brazilian. The lone bout and not using a consultant of the house nation is the opener, a girls’s bantamweight battle pitting Colombia’s Macedo in opposition to Malecki of Sweden.

  • In the event you’re in search of a foreigner to seize a win over a Brazilian, Kunchenko could be your man. Together with having a 20-1 file, he’s Russian. Why is that vital? Among the many six international international locations to have had athletes in no less than 5 UFC fights in opposition to a Brazilian in Brazil, solely Russia has a successful file, at 12-8. Kunchenko faces Elizeu Zaleski dos Santos, who’s 3-1 within the UFC when combating in Brazil. Dos Santos is coming off an August loss to Li Jingliang, which snapped a seven-fight UFC successful streak.

  • Moicano comes into his assembly with Hadzovic on a two-fight shedding streak, faltering in opposition to top-10 featherweights Jose Aldo and Chan Sung Jung. Regardless of that, Moicano is the largest favourite on the cardboard, at -310, based on Caesars Sportsbook.

  • Walker, who fights Krylov, is trying to get again within the win column after getting knocked out by Corey Anderson in November. Walker is considered one of solely 11 fighters who’ve began their UFC profession with the primary 5 fights ending by knockout, win or loss. Krylov has gained 4 UFC fights by submission, one behind the sunshine heavyweight file, shared by 4 fighters.

  • Trinaldo will likely be making his 21st UFC look, with a file 16 of these coming in Brazil. He’s 12-Three in his UFC profession in Brazil, successful his final three fights there.

  • Formiga has gained 9 fights within the UFC, leaving him one shy of becoming a member of Demetrious Johnson and Joseph Benavidez as the one flyweights to win 10 fights. He’ll tie Johnson for the second-most Octagon appearances in flyweight historical past, with 15.