On October 22, the vacant 155-pound championship will be on the line at 2022’s first Abu Dhabi-held event. In the main event, former divisional king Oliveira will look to regain the belt that he lost on the scales at UFC 274 earlier this year.
Opposite him is a man who many consider to be the greatest threat to the Brazilian’s place at the top of the division. While “Do Bronx” has amassed an 11-fight win streak, Makhachev has also reached double figures, notching 10 straight en route to his first shot at gold this year.
So far, the buildup has seen both men accuse the other of dodging and ducking things — the Russian suggested that Oliveira only accepted the fight once the UFC threatened to replace him with Michael Chandler, while the Brazilian claimed that Makhachev lied about being willing to fight him in Brazil.
Throughout it all, the pair have maintained unwavering confidence, with Oliveira even looking to put his money where his mouth is by meeting Makhachev on the ground from the start.
But according to the Dagestani, that self-belief is nothing but fraudulent.
Makhachev: ‘Oliveira Never Said My Name’
During a recent interview with ESPN MMA’s Brett Okamoto, Makhachev was asked whether he buys into his upcoming opponent’s confidence.
In response, the #4-ranked contender cited Oliveira’s reluctance to call him out following his victory over Michael Chandler last year and in the months prior to their fight announcement as evidence that “Do Bronx” doesn’t believe he can win come October 22.
“I don’t think (he believes he can win),” Oliveira said. “Because, you know, when he beat (Michael) Chandler, he never say my name, you know? He say Dustin Poirier, but he never say my name. Nate Diaz, he called (out) Nate Diaz. He called (out) Conor (McGregor) many times, but never said my name.
“He knows it’s gonna be — I am hard fight for everybody because I have always same plan: take them down, hold him there, (smash). I am terrible fight for everybody,” Oliveira added. “Everybody knows this.”
The optimism is certainly at an all-time high in the Russian’s camp. As well as Makhachev expecting a victory and championship crowning in Abu Dhabi, his mentor and coach Khabib Nurmagomedov has shared a similar sentiment regarding his protégé’s chances.
But Oliveira’s lengthy win streak has certainly included some hefty chunks of doubt, including prior to his last three victories over Chandler, Poirier, and Justin Gaethje. If those results taught the MMA community anything, it’s that “Do Bronx” can never be counted out.
Who do you think will be UFC lightweight champion post-UFC 280, Charles Oliveira or Islam Makhachev?