While many fighters have rushed to throw Conor McGregor under the bus following his horrific leg break against Dustin Poirier at UFC 264, Charles Oliveira wishes the Irishman a speedy — and healthy — recovery.
McGregor has faced criticism for his tactless post-fight comments towards Dustin Poirier and his wife Jolie, in which the Irishman threatened to kill the married couple in their sleep, but ‘Do Bronx’ understands ‘The Notorious’ brings a lot of eyes to the sport despite his troubling behavior.
“I hope he comes back 100 percent again and continues to put on a show and making things happen, because he sells a lot,” Oliveira told MMA Fighting’s Guilherme Cruz in a recent interview. “He’s a guy that does a lot for the sport.”
Oliveira maintains McGregor’s injury is ‘sad for the sport’ and believes the former UFC featherweight and lightweight champion when he says he came into the trilogy bout with a pre-existing injury.
“It looked like a preexisting injury because it wasn’t like he threw a kick and got hurt,” Oliveira said, “but, if you look closely, he threw a lot of kicks at the beginning of the fight, so maybe he had a preexisting injury and it got worse during the fight. Anything can happen, we’re talking about MMA here and this sh*t is unpredictable. It’s sad. It’s complicated. Getting knocked out, getting submitted, f*ck, that’s cool, but [losing] that way, I don’t like it, man. It hurts.”
“We’re talking about MMA,” he added. “A lot of people were like, ‘Oh, he would be dead tired in the second round,’ but I’m talking as an athlete here. This is MMA and anything can happen. A hand can land, a knee, anything, and [McGregor] could win. It was a good fight up until that point.
“Dustin turned things around in the fight the moment he was able to take him down and work with his elbows on the ground and pound, but, unfortunately, Conor suffered an injury and that is sad for the sport. It happened. It’s so sad that it happened. I congratulate Dustin for his evolution, for the fight, for being smart, but [the injury] is sad. The way it happened was sad.”
Oliveira has bounced back from some tough losses of his own and has even turned his career around to become UFC champion. The Brazilian believes McGregor, who has one of the strongest mindsets in the game, can do the same.
“It’s a new Charles, a new story since my last loss. It’s a new mind, a new spirit, a new person today,” Oliveira, who TKO’d Michael Chandler at UFC 262 win to win the lightweight title, said. “That’s up to you and how your mind operates, how much your spirit wants it, how much your heart desires it. When people say you can’t do something, if you tell yourself you can, then you can do it.
“It’s up to his head, how much he still wants this. Some people had serious injuries and bounced back. Let’s see how much Conor wants to return, how much Conor wants to fight again.”
Oliveira is expected to defend his lightweight title against Poirier later this year, though the matchup has yet to be confirmed. As for McGregor, the UFC star will likely be sidelined until mid-2022 at the earliest.