Brazilian lightweight Charles Oliveira picked up a third-round submission win over Las Vegan Kevin Lee in the main event of Saturday’s UFC Fight Night 170 card that would have had the Brasilia crowd in a frenzy under normal circumstances.
There was nothing normal about the event.
Oliveira’s win took place in a virtually empty arena after the Brazilian government’s restriction on large gatherings due to the worldwide coronavirus outbreak.
“We spent the whole week not knowing if this was going to happen or not,” Oliveira said after the win. “I came to make history again, this time without anyone cheering. But as my team likes to say, it was written. We came to get what is ours. Of course I wanted everyone to be there, but I’m sure that an audience that didn’t know me yet had the opportunity to meet me today.”
The event was moved from ESPN’s streaming platform to the main network with the dearth of sports programming.
It was the seventh straight win for Oliveira, who locked in a guillotine and forced the tap in the third round of a bout contested at a catchweight after Lee was unable to make 156 pounds on Friday.
The first two rounds featured several back-and-forth grappling exchanges and crisp striking from both fighters, with Oliveira winning both rounds on each of the three scorecards.
Oliveira extended his record for most submission wins in UFC history and equaled Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone’s mark with his 16th finish overall.
“My team never lets it go up in my head that I am a record holder,” he said. “This is just one more. I always enter to put on a show. I don’t come with the goal of submitting, knocking out or getting bonuses. I come to do my job, to show that a humble guy can chase what he wants. I’m very happy.”
Also on the card, Gilbert Burns knocked out veteran Demian Maia in the first round of a welterweight bout.
The loss snapped a three-fight losing streak for the 42-year-old Maia and marked the fifth consecutive win for Burns.
“I think for you to become a legend, you need to beat legends,” Burns said. “Demian is a legend, and I knew I could knock him out or submit him. I know my strength. I don’t want to underestimate anyone, but I know my potential. I did what a lot of tough guys didn’t, and I went there and did it in less than a round. I am very excited, very happy with my performance.”
Burns, a Rio de Janeiro native, said he wants to next fight top contender Colby Covington, citing the anti-Brazilian comments Covington has made publicly.
Lightweight Renato Moicano, a Brasilia native, needed just 44 seconds to submit Damir Hadzovic with a rear-naked choke.
“I’m very frustrated because I’m in my hometown and I look around and I don’t see any of my family or my friends,” he said after the win.
Nikita Krylov picked up a unanimous-decision victory over light heavyweight Johnny Walker, and lightweight Francisco Trinaldo took a unanimous decision over John Makdessi.
“I have a lot of stories to tell,” Trinaldo said. “Besides being one of the athletes with the most number of fights in Brazil, I now had the opportunity to fight in an event without any fans. It was really cool; it felt like I was fighting in a closed-door gym.”
All seven fights on the preliminary card went the distance, with bantamweights Enrique Barzola and Rani Yahya fighting to a majority draw.
Brandon Moreno, Amanda Riba, Elizeu Zaleski dos Santos, Maryna Moroz, David Dvorak and Bea Malecki all picked up wins.