RIO DE JANEIRO — Alex Oliveira is done fighting at 155 pounds. Now, he just wants to be seen as one of the best welterweights in the world.
Coming off big wins over Tim Means and Will Brooks, “Cowboy" is now set to meet Ryan LaFlare at the UFC on FOX 25 event in Long Island, N.Y., on July 22. LaFlare is a former Ring of Combat champion with six wins in his seven UFC bouts, but Oliveira wasn’t interested in picking names.
"I went to Las Vegas (for the UFC Athlete Retreat) and asked for a fight, and they gave me him,” Oliveira told the media during UFC 212 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. "To me, it’s just another name. It doesn’t mean anything. I’ll beat him and take his spot.”
“Cowboy" only went the distance twice in the UFC, scoring two knockouts and two submission finishes inside the Octagon. Against the durable LaFlare, whose only UFC loss was a five-round decision against Demian Maia, Oliveira expects to secure the victory before the third round.
"I have the advantage standing,” said Oliveira, who made his UFC debut that night, facing Gilbert Burns on short notice. "I think he will try to stand with me a little bit, and when he thinks about it, I’ll grab him and take him to the ground. I’ll use his game against him, wrestling."
"We’ll brawl. And when he blinks, I’ll take him down,” he added. "I see myself knocking him out. I’ll knock him out on the ground. I think it ends in the second round. … I see myself at least in the top 15 (after this win). If not, cool, send me another ranked fighter and I’ll beat him up."
The Brazilian welterweight only fought once so far this year, a rematch with Means following the controversial no contest last December. One of the most active athletes in the UFC roster, Oliveira competed eight times between March 2015 and December 2016.
"I wish I had fought three times already this year,” Oliveira said. "If I can fight once or twice more, cool. It’s up to the boss."