Charles Oliveira could very much be the dark horse of the UFC lightweight division.
The UFC veteran has been chipping away at the rankings for the past two years and believes now is his moment to shine.
Oliveira is riding a seven-fight win streak with seven straight stoppages to his name and is confident that he has done more than enough to earn a title shot at this stage in his career.
Speaking to MMA Fighting’s Guilherme Cruz in a recent interview, ‘Do Bronx’ explained why he ought to get the next crack at the lightweight title, which is now up for grabs following Khabib Nurmagomedov’s shock retirement at UFC 254.
“For everyone that loves fights or makes a living out of this, MMA reporters, that’s easy math,” Oliveira said. “I have the longest winning streak today, I don’t leave it in the hands of the judges, I finish them all. Everyone ranked ahead of me is coming off a loss (in the division). The only exception is Dustin Poirier. I think it’s only fair that I’m the next challenger, that I have a chance to fight for the belt.
“I know I’m No. 6 today and I know there are a lot of fighters ahead of me. Like I said, Dustin Poirier is coming off a win. Conor McGregor said he retired and now he’s booking a fight with Dustin Poirier. We don’t know who should be the other guy, but I think I deserve this. It’s seven in a row, not one, and I don’t go the distance. I just need an opportunity.
“But it’s not up to me or my team, it’s up to the UFC to look and analyze — but if they do it right, they’ll see it’s 10 years in the UFC, a 10-year road, and I’ve never turned down any opponent. This is my moment.”
Although Oliveira’s resume certainly qualifies him for title contention, the Brazilian is ranked below the likes of Dustin Poirier and Conor McGregor, who are the strongest candidates for the vacant belt.
If Poirier vs. McGregor does get booked, Oliveira is willing to step in and fight anyone who is ranked ahead of him.
“Justin Gaethje, Dan Hooker, Tony Ferguson, I want to fight someone ranked ahead of me,” he said. “Charles Oliveira is ranked No. 6 now. Between No. 1 and 5, (bring) any of them. Dan Hooker said he’d fight in late-November and we’re almost in November now. I’ll fight him, no problem at all. I don’t want to fight someone ranked below me. I’ve been saying this since the beginning of the year. I’m not asking for too much.”
Oliveira, 30, is currently #6 in the UFC lightweight rankings.