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Charles Oliveira vents on UFC matchmaking and hype around Kron Gracie

MMA: UFC Fight Night-Rochester-Oliveira vs Lentz
Charles Oliveira wants a step-up in competition after winning five in a row.
Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports

Charles Oliveira is not happy.

To clarify, “Do Bronx” is happy to have a date set for his next fight in the UFC. But the circumstances surrounding his upcoming fight with Jared Gordon in Sao Paulo, Brazil, on Nov. 16, resulted in an intense interview with MMA Fighting.

Oliveira has finished his last five opponents in the UFC — Nik Lentz, David Teymur, Jim Miller, Christos Giagos and Clay Guida — and yet was matched up against a fighter who’s 1-2 in his past three octagon appearances.

At the end of the day, the Sao Paulo-native is glad to be able to compete in front of his family and friends at the Ibirapuera gymnasium. But he wonders when he’ll get the chance to face someone ranked in the top of the lightweight division.

“I took the fight because I needed to fight,” Oliveira told MMA Fighting. “My job is to fight. I make money by fighting – that’s how I provide to my daughter. It’s been six months since my last fight, and I’ve been asking for a fight, asking for someone ranked ahead of me, asking for a top-10 (opponent), but it’s not happening. How long am I going to wait? A year? Two years? There’s nothing I can do, I have to fight. I really wanted to fight in Sao Paulo, and he was the only guy who agreed.

“We were negotiating to fight in Singapore, and the guy that agreed to fight me there declined to fight me in Brazil, so there’s really nothing I can do. We’re obligated to fight who they tell us to. People don’t want to fight me, so I have to thank Jared for agreeing to come fight me in Brazil. All I have to do is be 100 percent ready. He’s no easy fight, he’s tough, you know? It will be six (wins in a row) now, and the UFC will have to put me against a ranked opponent one day.”

UFC Singapore, headlined by Demian Maia vs. Ben Askren, went down on Oct. 26. Booking Oliveira on a card in Asia with a show three weeks later in Sao Paulo didn’t make much sense for him.

“I was part of the last UFC Sao Paulo event, when I became the guy with most submission wins in UFC history, and a lot of fans went there just to see me,” he said. “A large crowd at the open workouts just to see me, and the same for the weigh-ins. F**k. To put me in Singapore while having a card here in Sao Paulo...I was one of the last guys to enter the card (in Sao Paulo), so, like I said, I don’t really understand how that works.

“My job is to stay ready and win. I wanted someone ranked in front of me, but he’s the one I got now, so I won’t take a step back. I’ll beat him, beat him convincingly, and God willing I’ll fight again before the end of the year.

“When the UFC Sao Paulo card was announced, people started asking for my name on social media. When they announced the main event with ‘Jacare’ (Souza), instead of being happy for him, people started asking, ‘Where’s Charles? What about Charles?’ It took too long to put me in this card. It’s like you said, I’ve taken fights with 15 or 20 days’ notice, so it feels like that, ‘Let’s wait. he’ll accept it anyway.’ But I kept training hard. No matter when they call me, I’ll be ready.”

Oliveira is “honored” to be part of a UFC card headlined by Ronaldo Souza, who makes his light heavyweight debut against Jan Blachowicz in Sao Paulo. Yet he wonders why the UFC and Brazilian media won’t get behind him.

“There are guys that just entered the UFC and people already talk about fighting for the belt,” Oliveira said. “Guys that have one fight there and say call a jiu-jitsu phenom. They haven’t done anything in the UFC, yet to deserve all that attention. The media and the UFC, (TV channel) Combate, they have to dial back a little bit and see who’s who.

“It’s easy to enter the UFC, but staying there isn’t. To stay in the UFC while fighting top opponents…tell me one easy fight I had in the UFC. I have a history in the UFC. People have one or two fights in the UFC, and they already say he’s a future champion. Slow down a bit and see who’s who. Who’s the jiu-jitsu guy and who’s not. Charles Oliveira is the fighter with most submissions in UFC history. But in my opinion, Demian Maia has the best jiu-jitsu there. That’s my opinion.”

When asked who’s being hyped up by the UFC and Brazilian media, Oliveira pointed at rising featherweight Kron Gracie, son of legendary fighter Rickson Gracie, who recently suffered his first MMA defeat by the hands of Cub Swanson in the co-main event of UFC Tampa.

“This kid just got in the UFC and all they talk about is jiu-jitsu, about this and about talk,” Oliveira said. “I have the utmost respect for the Gracie family. Man, if it wasn’t for them I wouldn’t have done what I’ve done and become the fighter with most submissions in UFC history. But he just got here. Calm down. Sometimes that’s too much for him, too. I have 13 submissions in (the UFC). He just got here and has one.

“I’m not taking anything away from him. Man, everybody knows I’m humble, but you have to calm down a bit. Slow down. Step by step. This kid got here now and has a huge pressure over him because of his family and everything that was said about jiu-jitsu. He went there and put on a great fight with Cub Swanson, who deserves all the respect, but (Gracie) couldn’t impose his rhythm and his jiu-jitsu, which is what he knows best.”

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