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Charles Oliveira’s goal at UFC Sao Paulo: Break Royce Gracie’s all-time submission record

Charles Oliveira meets Christos Giagos in Sao Paulo, Brazil.
Wander Roberto, Inovafoto

SAO PAULO, Brazil — Charles Oliveira wants to make history in Sao Paulo.

Fighting in his home state for the first time in a decade, taking on Christos Giagos at Saturday’s UFC Sao Paulo event, Oliveira embraces the “incredible” experience that he says awaits him competing in front of his family and friends, and sees it as just one more motivation that will propel him to victory.

With 20 Octagon appearances and 11 post-fight bonuses, the 28-year-old “Do Bronx” can also break an significant record in Sao Paulo — with one more submission win, he would surpass the legendary Royce Gracie for the most submissions in UFC history.

”I have everything it takes to put on a good fight and get another submission, surpassing Royce’s record,” Oliveira told MMA Fighting. “Doing that, the bonus will definitely come. But what matters the most is putting on a good fight and another victory. I don’t think about winning a bonus, I think about putting on a good fight and, if God blesses me, I will win the bonus.

“Becoming the guy with most submissions in UFC history at age 28, breaking Royce’s record, will definitely give me more leverage with the UFC. I’ll get more attention and more sponsors. It helps a lot.”

After accepting another short-notice fight in the UFC, less than four months after finishing Clay Guida in the first round at UFC 225, Oliveira expects Giagos to try to take him to the ground.

But Giagos, who makes his return to the UFC after a quality run under the RFA and ACB banners, has only scored three of his 15 professional wins by way of submission, so why would he take a grappling wizard like Oliveira to the ground?

“He has good takedowns, a good guillotine, but everyone who fights me doesn’t want to go to the ground,” Oliveira said. “It’s always a clash of styles, them standing and me going to the ground, but I’ve been working hard on my combinations on the feet so my opponents eventually go for takedowns to avoid that, like Clay Guida did. My striking is getting better and better.”

Staying lighter since June for his fourth straight fight at lightweight, Oliveira will attempt to prove to the UFC that he deserves another chance to fight at 145 pounds, a division where he has failed to make weight many times in the past.

“This is not my weigh class,” Oliveira said of the lightweight division. “I will fight well and become champion at 145. I lost my last fight (to Paul Felder) because I felt a big different strength-wise. I’m fighting outside my weight class. After this fight, I hope the UFC gives me this chance.”

If he never gets a chance to compete at featherweight again, Oliveira plans on changing a few things in his diet to become more competitive at lightweight.

”I will become champion at either weight class,” Oliveira said, “but the difference is that if I’m staying at 155, I have to add more muscle mass, use more supplements to get stronger like other lightweights. People cut from 200 pounds to fight at lightweight, so I will have to cut weight to compete in this division in the UFC. I’m staying lighter because I want to go back to 145.”