At just 22-years-old Charles Oliveira is one of the youngest fighters in the UFC. He made his debut for the organization just two months shy of his 20th birthday when he defeated Darren Elkins via armbar just 41 seconds into the first round in August of 2010. He also took home the submission of the night bonus, not bad for a guy who wasn’t even legally allowed to drink alcohol.
Just six weeks later he fought The Ultimate Fighter season eight winner Efrain Escudero in what was supposed to be a lightweight bout, but turned into a 159lb catchweight affair after Escudero failed to make weight. In what was considered an upset at the time, Oliveira submitted the much larger fighter in the third round with a standing rear naked choke.
Everyone was soon jumping on his bandwagon, but everything cooled down a bit when he faced Jim Miller in his next fight at UFC 124. The rouged veteran took Olveira down and submitted him with a kneebar just 1:59 into the first round. After two more fights as a lightweight, the San Paulo native decided to drop down to featherweight and is 2-0 so far fighting at 145 lbs.
He will look to make it three straight wins this Saturday night at UFC 152 in Toronto when he faces Cub Swanson in a main card matchup. The winner will move up the featherweight ranks while the loser will be forced back to the drawing board. Oliveira is primed and ready for what should be an extremely tough test against the always dangerous Swanson.
BJPenn.Com: What have you been up to since your fight with Jonathan Brookins?
Charles Oliveira: I have been spending time with my family and my girlfriend. I still train hard every day. I also bought some horses after my last fight.
BJP: In your first fight at 145 you became the first fighter to ever submit his opponent with a calf slicer, where did you learn that and how difficult was it to pull off?
CO: I learned the move from Gold Team; we practice it all the time. I used the heel hook to set it up. Everyone knows the heel hook, but not many people know the calf slicer. Wisely did a great job countering the heel hook, but he put himself in great position for me to apply the calf slicer. Some people now call it the Oliveira knee cracker, but I like the calf slicer better.
BJP: What do you feel has been the biggest benefit since you dropped down to featherweight?
CO: It’s just nice to know that my opponent will not be that much bigger or stronger than me. There are some really big lightweights in the UFC and now I can face guys my own size.
BJP: You’ve won your first two fights as a featherweight, how many more wins do you think you’ll need before you are considered for a title shot?
CO: If I put on a good performance against Cub Swanson and come out with another win, I’m hopeful the UFC will give me a title shot.
BJP: Where are you currently training? Who are some of your trainers and training partners?
CO: I have been training in Brazil. Erickson Cardos and Jorge “Macaco” Patino are my trainers; I train with Felipe Arantes, Flavio Alvaro, and everyone else at Gold Team.
BJP: What can you tell me about Cub Swanson?
CO: Cub is a great fighter; he’s very experienced and has fought in big fights. He likes to make all his fights exciting. I believe his style and mine will make for a great fight.
BJP: Where do you feel you hold the biggest advantages?
CO: I think my submission game and ground game are my strengths. I think we are pretty close in our stand up.
BJP: What has been your best fight in the UFC thus far?
CO: I would have to say the Nick Lentz fight. He was on a big winning streak and it was before I dropped down to featherweight. I was able to knock him down and I was also able to take him down.
BJP: What the biggest lessons you learned in your losses to Donald Cerrone & Jim Miller?
CO: I learned when you are at this level you can afford to make any mistakes. You can get caught anytime. The fighters here will take advantage of the smallest mistake you make.
BJP: What is your opinion on the cancellation of UFC 151? Do you believe the UFC should have found a way to go on with the event?
CO: I am not sure about these things I am concentrating on my fight. I am sure the UFC did what they felt was right.
BJP: Do you believe Jon Jones did the right thing by turning down the fight with Chael Sonnen?
CO: Like I said I can only worry about what I do. As far as I am concerned I do not pick who I fight, I will meet anyone the UFC wants me to face.
BJP: Who are some of your favorite fighters to watch when you are not fighting?
CO: That’s easy; I enjoy watching my trainer Jorge “Macaco” Patino and my partners, Flavio Alvaro, and Felipe Arantes.
BJP: What are your thoughts on Frankie Edgar dropping down to the featherweight division?
CO: I think it is very good for the division. It will bring more attention to the fighters in this weight class.
BJP: Where do you see yourself in the next 12-18 months?
CO: I hope by then I will be fighting for the UFC featherweight title.
BJP: Is there anyone you’d like to thank? Maybe some friends, family, coaches, training partners or Sponsors?
CO: I would like to thank Head Rush, Venom, Training Mask, Best Bet and my coaches Erickson Cardoso, and Macaco. I would also like to thank my manager Wade Hampel.Tags: Chael Sonnen, charles oliveira, Cub Swanson, Donald Cerrone, Efrain Escudero, featured, Jim Miller, jon jones, Jonathan Brookins, UFC 152