Before a fifth round TKO loss to Justin Gaethje at UFC 249 in May, Tony Ferguson was riding a 12-fight win streak.
With the lightweight division unclear at the moment, you can at least bank on veteran fighters Tony Ferguson and Charles Oliveira to put on a good show in the co-main event of UFC 256. They’re jockeying for position in a tight lightweight division.
Coming off his first loss in eight years, Ferguson will have something to prove on Saturday. He’s fighting an opponent in Oliveira, who has finishes in all seven of the fights on his current win streak. Ferguson is a -190 favourite on the MMA odds, while Oliveira is a +145 underdog.
Tony Ferguson UFC 256 Odds
Ferguson (25-4 MMA record) is as dominant as he is entertaining. All of his fights dating back to February 2015 have earned him either Fight of the Night or Performance of the Night honours, sometimes both. Before a fifth round TKO loss to Justin Gaethje at UFC 249 in May, Ferguson was riding a 12-fight win streak and had won 18 of his previous 19 fights. There’s still fire in the 36-year-old’s belly and every loss of his career has been followed by an even longer win streak than the previous one. Expect Ferguson to come out looking for a dominant win on Saturday.
Regardless of if he’s the one giving or taking the hits, Ferguson is a forward pressure fighter who relentlessly attacks. He averages 5.81 significant strikes landed per minute, compared to 3.18 for Oliveira. Often tiring his opponents out with a wide variety of strikes, including brutal elbows, front kicks and spinning kicks, Ferguson also has a 63 per cent significant strike defence (54 per cent for Oliveira). He can take a shot too absorbing 3.55 significant strikes per minute (3.01 for Oliveira).
Charles Oliveira UFC 256 Odds
The fact that Oliveira (29-8 MMA record) is only the No. 7 lightweight contender, speaks volumes about how tight this division is. Oliveira is the most prolific submission artist in UFC history. His 14 UFC submissions, including a submission win in his last fight against Kevin Lee in March, is a UFC record and his 16 UFC finishes are tied with Donald Cerrone for most in UFC history. Coming into this fight on a seven-fight win streak, Oliveira has spent the better part of the last three years looking like he’s ready for a title fight.
While submissions are clearly Oliveira’s bread and butter, he’s been showing huge improvement in his striking. That will help as his reach is about 2.5-inches shorter than Ferguson’s. Standing up, Oliveira is smooth on his feet and able to keep striking exchanges at a distance he is comfortable with, landing 50 per cent of his significant strike attempts (Ferguson lands 44 per cent). The ground, however, is where he is most comfortable. Oliveira averages 2.8 takedowns per 15 minutes (Ferguson averages 0.6) and 19 of his 29 professional wins have come by submission.
Ferguson vs. Oliveira UFC 256 Prediction
Regardless of the result, this will be an entertaining fight. This likely comes down to how Oliveira deals with Ferguson’s unpredictable style. Ferguson has the potential to end this by KO/TKO, but it seems more likely that it’s Oliveira’s time for the spotlight. Expect this fight to end in an Oliveira submission win near the third round.