When names of possible opponents for Khabib Nurmagomedov’s return are brought up, Georges St-Pierre and Conor McGregor are the usual frontrunners. But one of the outliers is Charles Oliveira, whom “The Eagle” personally mentioned during his recent sit-down with UFC president Dana White.
Thank you @TeamKhabib. All due respect, I delivered, and I feel ready to challenge you for the gold. Let's go!— Charles Oliveira (@CharlesDoBronxs) January 16, 2021
I hope to see you soon.#UFCnoCombate #ESPNPLUS
@UFCBrasil @SporTV @ABCNetwork #UFCFightIsland #UFC @BigMarcel24 @arielhelwani @bokamotoESPN @alonsopvt @MarceloRussio pic.twitter.com/Y4M68CEvxN
For Khabib’s AKA teammate Josh Thomson, there is an argument to be made with “Do Bronx.”
“I think that Charles Oliveira sparks Khabib a little bit more than the Conor fight, the Dustin fight, and the Gaethje fight. Fighting one of them again,” Thomson told “Big John” McCarthy in a recent episode of their Weighing In podcast. “I think because it’s new blood, and he brings something I’ve said forever.
“It’s that the guy that’s gonna threaten him the most will be a guy that’s really good on the ground. We haven’t seen a really good guy on the ground like in terms of a Demian Maia until Charles Oliveira.”
White says the GSP fight is off the table for now. As for McGregor, Thomson says even a 60-second KO win over Poirier as the Irishman predicted may still not be enough to convince Khabib to take a rematch.
“Do I think Conor, can he do it? I think he can. Would it be enough for Khabib to say ‘let’s fight again?’ Absolutely not,” Thomson said.
“I think Khabib wants to see that he’s changed. He’s not just a stand-up guy. Now you’re fighting just a stand-up guy in Dustin Poirier, who has great submissions. But he’s not known to be a wrestler/jiu-jitsu guy. He’s got great submissions, there’s no doubt about that. We saw him with the arm-in guillotine with Khabib, it was on tight. It was on really tight. So he’s got it in his back pocket.
“I think (Khabib) wants to see someone like Conor fight a Charles Oliveira. He wants to see are you that good? Are you somebody that if you get taken down, can you withstand the jiu-jitsu of someone like a Charles Oliveira?”
Khabib is currently on Fight Island to keep a close eye on the lightweight fights at UFC 257 on Saturday. It takes place at the Etihad Arena with a limited number of fans in attendance.