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Alex Oliveira says old beef with Neil Magny fuels him ahead of UFC Sao Paulo

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Alex Oliveira returns to the Octagon against Neil Magny in Brazil.
Guilherme Cruz, MMA Fighting

RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil — Alex Oliveira scored the biggest win of his MMA career in April, submitting former interim champion Carlos Condit in Glendale. He gets another home turf bout in the UFC on Sept. 22, battling Neil Magny in Sao Paulo.

“Cowboy” has been fighting in the Octagon since 2015, and revealed that Magny was on his radar since his first year as a UFC fighter. Oliveira flew to Las Vegas right after he scored a submission win over K.J. Noons, his first in the UFC, and says he met Magny at the airport in Nevada.

”When I got there, I was still a lightweight, and we bumped into each other at the airport and it was that weird atmosphere,” Oliveira said during a media day in Brazil on Wednesday. “I didn’t understand his reaction, I was in a lower weight class. I told my master, ‘if I move up and have the opportunity to fight him, I won’t turn it down.’ That opportunity came, and let’s go fight him.”

”I was outside (of Brazil) and he thought I wouldn’t stand my ground,” he continued. “Thiago ‘Marreta’ (Santos) said ‘forget about it, forget about it,’ but no. Man, I’ll jump him right here.”

With stoppage wins over Condit, Ryan LaFlare and Tim Means since moving up to 170 pounds, Oliveira says Magny will regret fighting him when they enter the Octagon.

”The way he treats people, we didn’t get long well,” said Oliveira, who says he met Magny a second time at the UFC Athlete Retreat in 2017. “We met a second time in Las Vegas, I was already at welterweight, and I look at him differently. I nod and said ‘Come. Ask for it and I’ll accept right away,’ but it was the opposite. Before I was fighting Carlos Condit, but (Magny) turned it down and Carlos Condit accepted it. But he accepted it now and signed the contract. On the 22nd, we will fight in Sao Paulo.”

Magny has beaten top contenders over the past 5 12 years as a UFC fighter, including Johny Hendricks, Kelvin Gastelum, Hector Lombard and Condit, and “Cowboy” knows it won’t be an easy fight.

”He’s a big guy, right?” Oliveira said. “His style is kind of funny. If you put your hands on him, he wants to grapple if you want to grapple, he wants to strike. Let’s see how his game matches up with mine. I’m ready to hit him hard.”

Cornered by his longtime coach Andre Tadeu and his brother Leandro, who is not a professional athlete but “is someone that makes a big difference in my life,” Oliveira wants to take Magny’s place in the welterweight ranking with a win at UFC Sao Paulo. The Brazilian currently sits at No. 14, with Magny ranked at No. 8.

”I want his spot, man. That’s it,” Oliveira laughed. “I want to fight the best to get to the belt. Everybody has their opportunities and I want mine. But I won’t ask for anyone. I’m walking my path. If someone gives me the opportunity and a fight falls through on short notice, I’ll be ready.”