Charles Oliveira has the chance to avenge his first career loss at Saturday’s UFC on FOX 31 event in Milwaukee — and the opportunity is something special for him.
Oliveira was two months away from turning 21 years of age when he made his Octagon debut in 2010, submitting Darren Elkins in just 41 seconds. Six weeks later, he finished Efrain Escudero in impressive fashion to improve to 14-0 in the sport.
“Do Bronx” was a promising lightweight from Brazil, but his desire to move up the rankings as fast as possible came with a price.
In December of that year, only four months after he made his debut in the eight-sided cage, Oliveira met 20-fight veteran Jim Miller as his opponent. Miller was 7-1 in the UFC at that time, but Oliveira simply didn’t care.
In the end, Miller’s experience was too much for him.
”God gives you what you ask,” Oliveira told MMA Fighting. “In my first interview in the UFC, I asked them to throw me among the lions. I wanted to fight the best, and that’s what the UFC did. Ex-champions, future champions — that’s what I wanted. What’s the point of choosing who you’re going to fight? I’m not in the UFC just to be another one, I’m here to fight the best, and that’s what happened. If someone ever says I had an easy fight in the UFC, they are lying.
”I think the only thing that happened when I fought Jim Miller is that I was a just kid, he had way more experience. I was winning the fight, landing punches and trying to get 10 submissions at the same time, and Jim Miller went for one attack only, a kneebar, and got it. His experience made the difference.”
The list of opponents Oliveira has faced since then is remarkable.
The 29-year-old Brazilian, who recently broke Royce Gracie’s record for most submission victories in promotion history, has fought the likes of Max Holloway, Donald Cerrone, Frankie Edgar, Cub Swanson, Nik Lentz, Jeremy Stephens, Anthony Pettis, Ricardo Lamas, and Paul Felder.
”My family and my team always ask me to be that Charles that doesn’t wait, that simply goes there and gets it done,” said Oliveira, who recently opened a new gym in Guaruja, but continues to train at Chute Boxe Diego Lima in Sao Paulo. “It’s a new moment in my life and my career. The secret for the change is never stop training and surround yourself with people that love you. I haven’t stopped training since my loss to Paul Felder. It’s a new era, a new Charles.”
Oliveira has decided to stop asking the UFC allow him to go back down to 145 pounds for now — even though his managers continue to talk to the promotion about it, he says — and thinks that avenging his first loss will solidify this “new era” in his professional career. Miller recently snapped a four-fight losing skid with a 89-second submission win over Alex White, but “do Bronx” sees himself as miles ahead of the veteran as they ready to meet again.
”Jim Miller is an important fight for me,” Oliveira said. “It’s just like any other fight, but it’s important for me because Jim Miller was the first guy to defeat me. I think Jim Miller has evolved, but I’ve evolved 10 times more than him. I’m better than him on the feet, I’m better than him on the ground. I get 10 times better every time I fight. I think I will silence the world once again, I will surprise the world one more time.
”I don’t know if it’s going to be a submission or a knockout, but my hands will be raised in the end,” he continued. “It’s a tough fight, but I have evolved more and I have no doubts I will win.”
The title picture is a bit crowded at lightweight right now, and a win over Miller won’t be enough to put Oliveira’s name in the conversation. Nonetheless, the Brazilian expects to be challenging for the 155-pound gold by the end of the next year.
”Defeating Jim Miller now, I believe I’ll be in the mix again to fight for the belt after two or three fights,” Oliveira said. “My focus is on defeating Jim Miller now to fight for the belt by the end of 2019 — but if the UFC wants to give me a title shot right now, I’m ready [laughs].”