Charles Oliveira might act like he’s the champion, but he isn’t fooling Chael Sonnen.
‘The American Gangster’ thinks carrying on as if ‘Do Bronx’ is still the UFC lightweight champion even though he was stripped of the title after missing weight only does him a disservice and adds extra pressure to his next fight.
Sonnen says Oliveira and his fans must come to terms with the fact that the Brazilian is no longer champ despite being stripped of the belt under questionable circumstances before his first-round stoppage of Justin Gaethje at UFC 274.
“It’s very important, in my opinion, that we understand 155 pounds for what it is, not what we want it to be,” Sonnen, a three-time UFC title challenger, said on his YouTube channel (h/t MMA News). “What it really is, is a division that does not have a champion, and we all forget that,” Sonnen said. “We all think Charles is the chief, and guys, we’re doing that to be nice.
“We don’t like the way that scale business went down. We don’t like the fact that he had a fight where the opponent could be champion if he won, Charles did what he does — we don’t like it. So, we’re kinda just sweeping it as a way of serving Charles,” Sonnen added. “We’re doing that to be nice. I think it’s a mistake and I think you’re under-serving him.”
Sonnen added that Oliveira’s fixation on a fantasy matchup with Conor McGregor over the very real prospect of facing top contender Islam Makhachev is indicative that even Do Bronx doesn’t consider himself the real champion.
“We keep acting as though (Oliveira) is (the champion),” Sonnen said. “Every picture I see of Charles posted, he’s still got the belt. We’re attempting to give the conclusion we wish was accurate, but guys, it’s not. And you might be serving Charles better (by not branding him champion). You would not have pressure on him.
“He wanted to go out and fight McGregor and he’s the champion of the world. That’s a problem. We understand it, big money night, we understand it. But first off, you’re gonna have to wait. We’re gonna have to slow the division down… Secondly, to not take on the true contenders, it’s gonna be a little bit of a problem.”
Oliveira has agreed to fight Makhachev for the vacant lightweight championship but under two conditions: First, the fight is in Brazil. And second, the UFC pays him ‘a lot of money’. The 32-year-old is expected to return to the Octagon by late 2022 or early 2023.