In 2017, it would have been hard to believe that Oliveira, who boasted an underwhelming 10-8-1 UFC record at the time, would be brought up in divisional GOAT discussions just five years later. But 11 consecutive wins down the line, and that’s exactly where “Do Bronx” finds himself.
After securing a shot at gold with victories over Kevin Lee and Tony Ferguson, Oliveira provided a memorable crowning when he came from behind to TKO Michael Chandler last May. From there, he upset the odds against Dustin Poirier before emphatically submitting Justin Gaethje in one round earlier this month.
While he may have lost the belt due to a weight miss at UFC 274, Oliveira’s resurgence, form, and talent is undeniable. But not everyone is majorly impressed.
During an interview with ESPN MMA’s Brett Okamoto, UFC legend Khabib noted that Oliveira has been consistently knocked down by strikes in his recent outings.
“He impressed me, little bit. But, every fight he go down,” reminded Khabib. “This is a little bit bad for him. Every fight he go down, couple times. Last fight, it was how many times? Two, three times knocked down? (Against) Michael Chandler, Dustin Poirier, with Justin Gaethje; he always go down. This is like, little bit (of a) question.”
Citing that as evidence, Khabib practically laughed off those who compare Oliveira with his own legacy forged prior to his retirement.
Khabib On Oliveira Comparisons: “Come On…”
Khabib, widely regarded as one of the leading contenders in the overall GOAT debate, hung up his gloves following his 2020 submission victory over Gaethje. Prior to that, “The Eagle” had defended the lightweight gold against Poirier and former two-division champion Conor McGregor.
Having not only retired with an unblemished 29-0 record, but also with little to no damage, Khabib doesn’t understand the logic behind comparisons with Oliveira, who has fallen to defeat eight times inside the Octagon.
“Nobody ever touched my face, and all the time he go down. People can not compare me versus Charles Oliveira,” asserted Khabib. “He tap in UFC eight times, please, come on. When he (lost to) Jim Miller, Anthony Pettis, Holloway, Felder, it was Charles Oliveira; it was not Khabib.
“If you wanna deserve a name like the greatest lightweight, he have to beat Islam (Makhachev), Beneil (Dariush), couple more guys. Then we can talk,” added Khabib. “He has to be professional, make weight when he has championship belt.”
Nevertheless, Khabib did acknowledge that Oliveira’s ability to turn his career around has been impressive. But while that may be the case, the Dagestani believes that “Do Bronx” has a lot to do before entering the GOAT conversation, including registering a victory over his protégé, Islam Makhachev.
“What he’s doing is very impressive. This is very impressive, how he come back from so many losses, and now he has good ground (game), he has good striking game, knees, elbows, kicks. He looks good,” admitted Khabib. “That’s why I want to see him versus Islam. This is big test for both of them.”
If former champ-champ Daniel Cormier is believed, perhaps Oliveira will be able to prove his superiority over Khabib inside the cage. “DC” recently suggested that the Brazilian could lure “The Eagle” out of retirement by adding a defeat to the record of Makhachev.
How would you compare the legacies of Khabib Nurmagomedov and Charles Oliveira?