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Alex Oliveira believes he will become UFC champion in 2019

Alex Oliveira was originally scheduled to face Neil Magny in Brazil.
Wander Roberto, Inovafoto

SAO PAULO, Brazil — Alex Oliveira was looking forward to the opportunity of punching Neil Magny in the face at UFC Sao Paulo, but now he’ll have to wait a little longer.

But the UFC decided to move Magny to the UFC Argentina main event and match him up against Santiago Ponzinibbio. Now, “Cowboy” finds himself booked against Carlo Pedersoli at Saturday night’s Fight Night event in Brazil.

Either way, Oliveira is always down for a scrap.

“The only thing that has changed is the name of the opponent,” Oliveira told MMA Fighting.

“They are all the same to me. It’s all good. I’m focused on this guy now. I’ll go there imagining it’s [Magny]. It’s the same thing to me. I will go there an beat him up. I’ll beat up this guy anyway.”

Oliveira is coming off an impressive second-round submission victory over former interim champion Carlos Condit.

Pedersoli, on the other hand, enters the biggest fight of his MMA career after improving his record to 11-1 with a split decision win over Brad Scott in his Octagon debut last May.

”I’ve watched some of his fights, where he’s good at and where he’s not,” Oliveira said after admitting he had no idea who Pedersoli was when the UFC offered him the replacement. “I will go there and do everything I know.

”The style is a bit different because he’s shorter, he uses his legs to throw some spinning kicks, but I’ve seen some flaws in his game and I will take advantage of that.”

Returning to the same arena where he won the first of four eventual UFC post-fight bonuses with a 2015 knockout of Piotr Hallmann, “Cowboy” plans to land another extra $50,000 bonus to help out with his farm in Tres Rios, Brazil.

“My first bonus was in Sao Paulo, and I will win my fifth bonus now, brother,” Oliveira said. “Mark my words.”

Making a bolder prediction, “Cowboy” envisions himself becoming the UFC welterweight champion by the end of 2019.

”I’ve never asked for anything, I’ve always waited for my opportunities. I’m working hard to win to the belt,” said Oliveira, currently ranked No. 14 in UFC’s official 170-pound list. “It’s a matter of time and opportunity. When time comes, I will capitalize on it.”

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