On October 22, Oliveira will look to regain his place on the 155-pound throne having been unceremoniously unseated at UFC 274 this past May following a weight miss. In his way of doing so will be Islam Makhachev, an imposing force who has pushed his way into contention with 10 straight wins.
But while the matchup was branded by many as the only logical one for the inevitable vacant title fight, it certainly didn’t seem to be a certainty for a while, with the Brazilian publicly pursuing a money fight with former two-division champion Conor McGregor.
And according to Makhachev, Oliveira would still be targeting that next had the UFC not threatened to insert Michael Chandler into the championship fight instead should he’d chose not to accept a date with the Dagestani.
“UFC tell him, ‘Hey, if you (don’t) take this fight, we’re gonna give same chance to Michael Chandler.’ That’s why he (took) this fight,” Makhachev claimed during an appearance on DC & RC.
But Oliveira has now provided his own account, noting that there’s no truth to Makhachev’s suggestion.
Oliveira Corrects Makhachev On Why He Accepted Fight
During an interview with ESPN MMA’s Brett Okamoto, Oliveira was once again asked about a topic that has received as much coverage as any during his presence atop the division — his desire to share the cage with the “Notorious” McGregor.
When asked why he has so much interest in facing the Irishman, who was the first-ever simultaneous two-weight UFC champ, Oliveira suggested that his desired location plays a big factor.
“I like the narrative. It would be perfect,” Oliveira said. “We’ve been asking for this fight in Brazil, so hopefully it works out.”
The promotion recently announced that it will return to Brazil next January for UFC 283. Looking to secure his place on the card, Oliveira suggested that the logic behind accepting a fight with Makhachev was solely to boost his chances of facing McGregor on home turf — something he believes another victory will aid.
“I really do (think the McGregor fight will happen in 2023). (It’s) the sole reason why I accepted this fight (with Makhachev),” Oliveira revealed. “I know the more victories, the better the chances, so this is a step towards that fight.” (h/t MiddleEasy)
McGregor has been on the sidelines since suffering a broken leg in his trilogy fight against Dustin Poirier last July. Talk of a comeback has been prominent in recent months, with the latest report suggesting that the Dublin native could be ready to return early next year.
Oliveira’s decision to throw his name into the hat to face the sport’s biggest star has received some flak, not least from his upcoming opponent.
Makhachev will look to damage the chances of “Do Bronx” welcoming McGregor back to the cage by ending the Brazilian’s 11-fight win streak at UFC 280 later this year.
What do you make of Charles Oliveira’s reasoning for accepting a fight against Islam Makhachev?