Last month, the man set to appear opposite “Do Bronx’ in the next title fight was confirmed. Having been stripped of the belt following a UFC 274 weight miss, the Brazilian cemented number one contender status with a submission win against Justin Gaethje in Arizona.
Now, he’ll look to re-ascend the lightweight mountain, which most still recognize him as being at the top of, at UFC 280. In the pay-per-view headliner, set for October 22 in Abu Dhabi, Oliveira will look to stall the surge of the contender regarded by many as the successor to Khabib Nurmagomedov, Islam Makhachev.
But while many in the community backed the booking and have branded it the fight to make at 155 pounds, it’s long appeared that Oliveira isn’t keen on facing the Dagestani next.
And the man himself isn’t even denying that claim.
Oliveira: I Agreed To Face Makhachev Because I’m A UFC Employee
Having brought an Octagon journey to reality with his current win streak, Oliveira has had more than just fighting success and championship wins on his mind — he’s had one eye on a lucrative money fight against Conor McGregor.
After outlining his desire to face the Irishman late last year, Oliveira stepped up his calls to welcome McGregor back to the Octagon following his victory over “The Highlight.” While that led to criticism from the likes of Makhachev, who slammed the Brazilian for targeting anyone other than worthy contenders, it doesn’t seem like Oliveira cares about perception.
During a recent interview with Brazilian YouTube channel PVT, Oliveira admitted that he didn’t want to be matched with Makhachev, and was instead targeting “the big payment” from another bout, likely a reference to a certain “Notorious” megastar.
“I didn’t want this fight. Everyone knows it,” Oliveira said. “I wanted the big payment from the other fight. However, everyone knows that I’m a UFC employee. You can’t escape that. So we tried to negotiate from every angle. I tried NY because it was a neutral ground. But the fight was decided there (Abu Dhabi). But to be honest the cage is the same anywhere in the world.” (h/t MMA with Subtitles)
While he’s been made to stop off at the doorstep of AKA product Makhachev, Oliveira will no doubt be hoping to keep his chances of facing McGregor alive. And given that reports have suggested the former champ-champ will likely be out until 2023, “Do Bronx” will no doubt still be in the running come next January, barring any injuries or major setbacks on October 22.
First things first, though, he must handle business against arguably the toughest test of his active win streak to date.
Who do you think will leave Abu Dhabi with the lightweight gold, Charles Oliveira or Islam Makhachev?