Before looking ahead to his 2023 ambitions, Oliveira has an almighty task ahead of him this weekend at UFC 280. The Brazilian, who’s riding an 11-fight win streak, is set to share the Octagon with Islam Makhachev in Saturday’s headliner.
For Oliveira, the main event will mark the opportunity to not just regain the belt that was taken from him following a weight miss this past May but also to prove the Russian and his team wrong given their immense confidence in the buildup.
While Makhachev brands victory his “destiny” and his mentor Khabib Nurmagomedov predicts that his man will “roll over” Oliveira come fight night, the Brazilian’s goal has remained the same throughout the barrage of doubt coming from the other side — to “shock the world” again.
And more than just accomplishing that goal in Abu Dhabi this weekend, Oliveira boasts intentions for 2023 that will also achieve the feat, as well as enhance his legacy to astronomical heights.
Oliveira Revives FW Title Ambitions
During UFC 280 media day on Wednesday, Oliveira discussed the latest threat to his place atop the lightweight mountain, which he vehemently claims to still occupy following UFC 274, as well as the looming presence of the headliner’s backup fighter.
Featherweight titleholder Volkanovski has long expressed his desire to attain champ-champ status at 155 pounds. Having dominated top 145-pound contender Max Holloway in the summer, the Australian stepped up his calls for a lightweight shot, and in a real signal of intent, will make weight on Friday as the replacement fighter for the main event.
With that in mind, as well as positive comments from UFC President Dana White, it appears likely that Volkanovski will challenge the division’s king, whoever that may be post-UFC 280.
And although his focus remains on Makhachev, Oliveira did indulge in talk about possibly facing Alexander “The Great” down the line.
After revealing that an appearance at January’s UFC 283 event in Brazil remains the goal, “Do Bronx” suggested that not only will he be willing to defend the lightweight belt against Volkanovski, but he’s also targeting a return to featherweight in his own pursuit of two-division glory.
“First of all, we’re gonna focus on what’s gonna happen here,” Oliveira said. “But my timing is to actually fight in Brazil afterwards, regardless. If we’re gonna make this happen against Volkanovski, we’re going to have it two ways. We’re gonna fight at (lightweight), and then we’re gonna fight at (featherweight)… We’re gonna fight in two weight divisions.”
Oliveira has previously noted that he’d only drop back to 145 pounds should he be able to immediately challenge for the title. A victory over Makhachev before a successful defense against Volkanovski may well grant him that luxury.
But Volkanovski has long discussed his hopes to fight in front of a home crowd again post-COVID-19, and with the promotion returning to Perth in February for UFC 284, he may well get that chance.
On paper, that would appear to be a hurdle in a possible Oliveira matchup, with the Brazilian understandably targeting a Rio appearance a month prior.
As it turns out? No problem, Oliveira says he’ll fight on both cards.
“What is the exact date (of UFC 284 in Australia?),” Oliveira asked, before claiming: “I can fight there in February. But for his belt… Sure (I can make that weight). I have a great team for this, to actually get down to (featherweight).”
Of course, for Oliveira’s grand plan to fall into place, he’ll first have to stall the surge of Makhachev by snapping the Russian’s 10-fight win streak this weekend.
Should he do so, we may be set for a unique up-and-down two-fight series between a pair of UFC kings in 2023…
Please provide transcription credit with a link to this article if you use any of these quotes.