Charles Oliveira vs. Jonathan Brookins
In a matchup of fighters trying to establish themselves in the 145 pound division, former Ultimate Fighter winner Jonathan Brookins returns to the octagon to face Brazilian prodigy Charles Oliveira. Both fighters are coming off of rebound victories in their previous appearance with Brookins defeating Vagner Rocha in February and Oliveira defeating Eric Wisely in January.
Brookins is a well rounded fighter who has shown the ability to finish with both strikes and submissions. He seems to lull opponents to sleep with his calm approach and unassuming personality. I would imagine fighters have a difficult time working up any animosity against Brookins who is one of the more humble and peaceful competitors in the UFC. But despite his personality, he has finishing instincts as he showed in his previous fight when he took out Rocha with ground and pound in the first round. Brookins seems to be confident wherever the fight goes so I expect him to stand with Oliveira until he feels threatened. If he starts to lose in the standup game, look for him to try to push Oliveira against the fence and turn the fight into a dirtier game of clinch work and scrambles. Oliveira appears to be the more talented fighter but that hasn’t stopped Brookins in the past and look for him to do whatever he can to take his young opponent out of his gameplan.
Oliveira is one of the most exciting young fighters in the UFC. He burst on to the scene at age 20 with an explosive armbar submission victory over Darren Elkins. After another victory, he lost two out of three fights against title caliber fighters Jim Miller and Donald Cerrone with a no decision against Nik Lentz due to an illegal knee sandwiched in between. I question why the UFC was putting him against that type of competition at age twenty one but it may turn out to be for the best as he has decided to move down to the featherweight division and was dominant in his first fight at that weight against Wisely. He made quick work of his overmatched opponent with a ridiculous calf slicer that most fight fans including myself had never seen used to finish a fight. This fight represents an appropriate step up in competition. He should have the advantage over Brookins wherever the fight goes but he will need to stay tight with his technique to earn the victory. Look for Oliveira to utilize his excellent striking game while being perfectly willing to display his grappling gift should Brookins decide to take the fight in that direction. Either way, Oliveira has the potential to give the fans an explosive finish.
Oliveira is a solid favorite at -200 with Brookins the underdog at +170. Oliveira has the talent advantage everywhere in this fight and I’m actually surprised the line isn’t a little more one-sided but I don’t blame the bookmakers for being wary of underestimating Brookins who has a habit of upsetting more talented opponents. Oliveira should have opportunities early against Brookins but if he doesn’t take advantage or if he gets sloppy or overconfident, Brookins can steal this fight. A longer fight benefits Brookins and if he can turn this into an ugly scrap with lots of close fighting against the cage, he might be able to grind his way to a decision.
By Alan Wells