At UFC 280, Charles Oliveira will face Islam Makhachev in the title fight. One of the most highly anticipated fights in lightweight history will take place in Abu Dhabi.
As 'do Bronx' has won 11 straight fights and Makhachev has a 10-fight winning streak, both fighters will enter the octagon with plenty of optimism. The 10 fighters Makhachev has faced, in Oliveira's opinion, are insignificant compared to the challenges the former champion has encountered.
“I think Islam deserves all the respect in the world,” Oliveira told during UFC 280 media day on Wednesday, “but I think he should’ve fought somebody maybe in the top five like I did, not just surf on someone else’s wave and skip the line like he did.”
During the UFC 280 media day, which took place on Wednesday in Abu Dhabi, "Do Bronx" claimed that Makhachev's opportunity to compete for the 155-pound title was made possible and is highly influenced by his longtime friend and AKA teammate Khabib Nurmagomedov, who dominated the weight division before making his undefeated retirement. The former UFC champion will be in Makhachev’s corner Saturday.
“It’s for the history and everything he’s done,” Oliveira said of Nurmagomedov’s role in this matchmaking. “If it was any other guy, [Makhachev] would have to walk the walk that I had to walk, knocking on people’s doors, trying to get to a top 5. The reason why this fight is happening is because of him, that’s the real.”
Since 2015, Makhachev has won 10 straight fights, with his biggest victories coming over Dan Hooker, Thiago Moises, Gleison Tibau, and Arman Tsarukyan. Makhachev had several fights scheduled against fighters like Rafael dos Anjos and Beneil Dariush, but none of them happened. The 31-year-old Dagestani defeated last-minute replacement Bobby Green in the first round of his fight.
Compare that to Oliveira, who was facing Michael Chandler for the vacant title while riding an eight-fight winning streak and had just dominated former interim champion and then-top-five contender Tony Ferguson. To win the 155-pound title, Oliveira managed to TKO Chandler. He then submitted Dustin Poirier and Justin Gaethje. Oliveira missed weight by half a pound before the Gaethje bout this past May, which forced him to relinquish his title. This is the only reason he isn't a champion right now.
At UFC 280, Makhachev claimed he planned to dominate and defeat Oliveira on the ground, and the Brazilian welcomed the challenge.
“I’m ready,” he said. “I think anyone needs to believe and want whatever is best for them. If we go down to the ground, he’s facing the biggest finisher in the history of the UFC. If he wants to stand up, we’re gonna stand up. I will shock the world one more time.’’
If Charles Oliveira prevails at UFC 280, he would have defeated the top five UFC lightweights in the world within 18 months. For "do Bronx," it would be a noteworthy accomplishment that would undoubtedly elevate him to the status of "GOAT."