Kevin Lee Favored Over Charles Oliveira as UFC Fight Night 170 Goes Forward Despite Coronavirus
Posted on: March 14, 2020, 01:00h.
Last updated on: March 16, 2020, 09:57h.
If you’re looking for a sporting event to watch this weekend, you may be hard-pressed to come up with something more relevant than UFC Fight Night 170, which is taking place in Brasilia, Brazil this Saturday.
The headline fight features lightweights Kevin Lee and Charles Oliveira, both looking for a signature win that can propel them further up the UFC rankings. Lee is a -148 favorite over Oliveira (+119), according to DraftKings Sportsbook.
UFC Moves Behind Closed Doors
The UFC is closing the event to the public because of orders handed down by local officials in light of the coronavirus pandemic. But fighters will still compete in largely empty arenas.
According to UFC president Dana White, only essential staff and television crews will be on hand for the card.
Oliveira (28-8) has been with the UFC for nearly a decade, and has long been one of the top lightweight talents. A rocky start and losses to nearly every notable name he faced in the UFC slowed his ascent to the top.
But Oliveira is now riding a six-fight winning streak, with his last two wins over Nik Lentz and Jared Gordon coming by early stoppage. Now, the No. 13 lightweight contender has a chance to break into the elite ranks of one of the UFC’s toughest divisions.
“I’m not sure how rankings work,” Oliveira told MMA Junkie. “In truth, I just want to keep winning so I can reach my goal. My eventual goal is to be the UFC champion. My focus now is only on Kevin Lee.”
Lee Comes in Overweight for Fight vs. Oliveira
Lee (18-5) comes into the fight already knowing that he won’t be able to keep all of his purse. He came in at 158.5 pounds at the weigh-in, 2.5 pounds above the maximum allowed for a non-title lightweight fight. While Lee had another hour to drop the weight, the Brazilian commission determined that it wouldn’t be healthy for Lee to do so.
The fight will go on, with Lee surrendering 20 percent of his purse to Oliveira.
Lee told ESPN’s Ariel Helwani that it was important for the fight to continue, even if most of the sports world had shut down because of the coronavirus.
It’s important that we show we’re not gonna stop living,” Lee said. “If it’s in front of empty seats, that’s cool with me. It honestly makes the fight bigger. Especially with the NBA shutdown, this is gonna be one of the most-watched fights ever. It’s gonna be like old-school martial arts days, you just gonna hear the punches and kicks, and when I hit Oliveira, the whole world gonna feel it.”
The co-main event also offers an intriguing matchup, as welterweight contenders Gilbert Burns (17-3) and Demian Maia (28-9) face off in what could be one of the final fights in Maia’s career. The 42-year-old Brazilian jiu-jitsu master is riding a three-fight winning streak, but Burns (-190) is still considered a modest favorite over Maia (+151).