Charles Oliveira lost his UFC lightweight title on the scales at UFC 274 in May. However, despite entering his fight with Justin Gaethje with no chance of reclaiming gold, he still put on a show — finishing ‘The Highlight’ by first round submission.
The promotion said they would stick by ‘Do Bronx’, citing commission failings for the mishap on the scales, and let the Brazilian fight for the vacant lightweight title at the next available opportunity.
Recently it was revealed that this opportunity would come at UFC 280 on October 22 on the so-called ‘Fight Island’. His opponent will be Islam Makhachev.
Oliveira was at the UFC 280 press conference this weekend. At that event he discussed his forthcoming opponent.
“If you’ve seen my record, I’ve fought tougher people,” he said (ht MMA Fighting). “And I’m here to prove that I’ll do it again.
“I’m here to fight. That’s what I will do, and you will know who is the champ once again.”
Oliveira went on to explain how he felt he had an advantage over Makhachev, given that his opponent likes to take fights to the ground.
“The ground is his turf so he will definitely try to do that, but if he does, will he want to do and bring down the best submitter in the history of the UFC? I’m not sure ... We’ve seen he is the type of fellow who tries to bring the fight to the ground, but that doesn’t hinder me at all. So I’m ready for everything that he brings.”
Oliveira was also asked to address a hypothetical situation where he beats Makhachev and forces former champion Khabib Nurmagomedov (who will be in Makhachev’s corner at UFC 280) out of retirement to face him.
“This is a question you need to address to [Nurmagomedov]. He has retired, deservedly. My focus is on fighting in October, then back to Brazil to fight in January. We need to respect people’s opinions, decisions. Of course I respect what he has done throughout the years. If he chooses to fight me, here I am.”
Oliveira was also asked his opinion on Conor McGregor. Previously, Oliveira had advocated for McGregor jumping the line at lightweight and facing him for the title. Oliveira admitted then that his reasoning was purely financial.
“I don’t have a special fondness for [McGregor],” Oliveira said. “This is business and if he brings money, great. He is a bit heavier. I could meet him there if need be. I think McGregor just wants to enjoy life. My focus is now Islam and what comes next.”
Oliveira won the lightweight title, after it was vacated by Nurmagomedov, with a TKO win over Michael Chandler at UFC 262 last year. His lone title defence is a submission win over Dustin Poirier at UFC 269 in December.
The win over Gaethje extended Oliveira’s win streak to 11 fights. Over that run he has beaten Tony Ferguson, Kevin Lee, Nik Lentz and Jim Miller.
His submission over Gaethje padded his records for most finishes and submissions in UFC history. Oliveira is also the record holder for most Performance of the Night awards in UFC history.