2 December 2022

Who Is Charles Oliveira? The Former King Of Lightweight In The UFC

Charles Oliveira is one scary man. A Brazilian mixed martial artist and the former Lightweight Champion of the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC), he is best known for his world-class Brazilian jiu-jitsu, holding the record for most submission wins in UFC history at 16.

Oliveira recently headlined UFC 280, where he squared up against Russian fighter Islam Makhachev to try and regain his lightweight belt back, in one of the most hyped events of the year. But, it wasn’t to be, as Makhachev came out victorious.

So, who is Charles Oliveira? Read on as DMARGE tells you everything you need to know about the Brazilian fighter.

Charles Oliveira Quick Facts

Name: Charles Oliveira da Silva
Age: 33
DoB: 17 October 1989
Nationality: Brazilian
Birthplace: Guaruja, São Paolo, Brazil
Height: 5 feet 10 inches / 178 cm
Weight: 155 lbs / 70.6 kg  – fights in lightweight division
Reach: 74 inches / 188 cm
Nickname: “do Bronx”
Record: 33 wins – 8 losses – 1 no contest
Instagram: @charlesdobronxs – 4.9 million followers

Who is Charles Oliveira?

He has fought in the UFC for over 12 years, making his debut back in 2010. During that time, he has racked up the most finishes of any fighter in UFC history at 19.

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A Brazilian jiu-jitsu specialist, he particularly adept at making people tap out, amassing 16 submission victories in the promotion, a UFC record.

He first gained the UFC lightweight Championship back in 2019. Although he has never officially lost to anyone since then, he had the belt stripped in May 2022 at UFC 274 against Justin Gaethje for missing weight.

Early life

Charles Oliveira was on 17 October 1989 in Guaruja, São Paolo, Brazil. He grew in a poverty in the Brazilian capital’s favelas. Charles’ nickname – “do Bronx” – is in reference to his poor background, the name stemming from the impoverished Bronx area in New York City.

Oliveira was very sick as a child, having been diagnosed with rheumatic fever and a heart murmur, almost rendering him unable to walk. He also has very poor eyesight, which was only corrected six months ago. It’s a miracle he’s even been able to fight this long without his glasses!

Due to his poor background, he was introduced to the workforce early, helping his mother sell cheese salads from a trailer. It was here, aged 12, that he made friends with children who trained jiu-jitsu and was invited to train with them.

Originally, his family could not afford the tuition, but the instructor let Charles train on a scholarship status; and we’re very thankful that he did.

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Oliveira began training with jiu-jitsu coach Roger Coehlo, and showed his potential early, winning his first major title as a white belt in 2003. He continued to win tournaments, winning 16 medals in major tournaments in 2006 alone.

He was awarded his Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt in 2010, aged only 21.

MMA career

Charles Olivera made his debut in 2010, and fought mostly as a featherweight until 2017. Image: @EstherLin, UFC 152

He began training MMA around this time, making his professional debut in 2008. On multiple occasions he fought, and beat, multiple people on the same night.  Amassing a record of 12 wins and zero losses he was signed to the UFC in 2010.

Starting his MMA career so young – the average age of fighters in 2010 was around 28 – the early days of his career were a mixture of wins and losses.

Although starting his career in the lightweight division (155lbs), from 2012 to 2017 he fought in the featherweight division (145lbs). However, during this time period, he had trouble making the featherweight limit, missing weight four times.

His career really changed around when he came back up to lightweight. From 2 December 2017 until 22 October 2023 Oliveira was unbeaten, racking up a crazy 11-fight win streak in one of the most competitive divisions in the UFC.

UFC Lightweight Champion

Charles Olivera defeated Michael Chandler to win the UFC Lightweight Championship at UFC 262. Image: @UFC

In 2021, on the back of defeating former Interim Lightweight Champion and UFC fan-favourite Tony Ferguson, Oliveira was offered a UFC lightweight title shot against former Bellator Lightweight champion Michael Chandler at UFC 262.

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The lightweight belt had been held by Russian smashing machine Khabib Nurmagomedov before he retired, vacating the belt.

Despite almost being knocked out by Chandler in the first round, Oliveira rallied in the second, knocking the American down and finishing the fight by technical knockout (TKO).

His next two fights, against Dustin Poirer and Justin Gaethje ended in a very similar fashion. Despite being knocked down in the first round, Charles found a way to win, submitting both fighters by rear-naked choke.

However, in the fight against Justin Gaethje, Charles once again missed weight, weighing 0.5lbs over the 155lb Lightweight Championship limit. Charles Oliveira was stripped of his belt, making him ineligible to win the title even if he won. Nicknamed “scale gate”, this proved to be controversial, as other fighters on the card also reported issues with the scales being off.

Charles Olivera’s hair

Charles Oliveira’s hair has not always been the platinum blond which has now become synonymous with the Brazilian fighter.

In fact, he only started dying in 2020, first starting to perform the trend in his fight against Kevin Lee.

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Since then, both he and his coaching staff and team have died their hair for every single fight he has taken part in. The ritual may, or may not, have been inspired by the Romanian football team at the 1998 FIFA World Cup.

Charles Olivera has died his hair every fight since his bout with Kevin Lee in 2020. Image: @AlexBehunin

Speaking on the trend Olivera said:

“It sounds crazy, but I only do it on fight week to travel, on fight week I do it. Then the fans start saying “You still didn’t dye your hair? Where’s the Saiyan? It’s not going to work out if you do not.”

Whether or not it gives Charles Olivera Goku-like super Saiyan powers on fight night, it still looks pretty cool.

Charles Olivera’s wife

Olivera has been married to fellow Brazilian jiu-jitsu practitioner Talita Roberta Pereira. She is also from Guaruja and the pair have been married since 2014. The couple still near the same neighbourhood they grew up in.

In a loving gesture, Oliveira never forgets to give his wife a shoutout in his post-fight interviews. They have a child together, Tayla, born in 2017.

Charles Olivera’s tattoos

Olivera has his surnamed tattooed across his upper back. Image: @UFC

Charles Olivera also has multiple tattoos across his body.

He has several horse tattoos on his arms, stemming from his love for the animal and for harness racing. Other animal tattoos Oliveira has inked on his body include a lion, elephant and gorilla.

As is the trend with some MMA fighters, Charles also has his surname “O-L-I-V-E-I-R-A” tattooed in big letters across his back. A tattoo of his daughter Tayla sits on his left pec.

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