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Charles Oliveira: ‘There’s no way’ I’m not the No. 1 contender with Tony Ferguson win

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MMA: UFC Fight Night-Sao Paolo Oliveria vs Gordon
Charles Oliveira looks to score his eighth consecutive victory when he meets Tony Ferguson.
Jason Da Silva-USA TODAY Sports

Charles Oliveira is finally getting his shot at the elite of the UFC lightweight division, and he’s confident that he will become the next in line for the belt with a win over Tony Ferguson on Dec. 12.

“Do Bronx” and Ferguson have had little time to prepare for their co-main event clash at UFC 256 in Las Vegas. But Oliveira, who has finished seven opponents in a row in the 155-pound weight class since June 2018, guarantees he’s be ready to claim what he believes is his.

“It’s very clear: Whoever wins this fight is the next title contender,” Oliveira said in an interview with MMA Fighting. “I have to stay focused and concentrated. He was coming off 12 wins in a row and I think he made a mistake against Justin Gaethje, so we can’t make mistakes in there.”

The lightweight title picture is a bit confusing at the moment, but Olivera, who stopped Kevin Lee earlier this year in Brazil, has no doubt that a win at the UFC APEX should be enough to cement his place in the division.

“Winning this fight I’ll be the next challenger, no doubt,” he said. “Seven wins in a row at the moment. It will be eight after this, and I don’t plan on leaving it in the judges’ hands. It will be eight finishes in a row. There’s no way I have to wait. I’m the next challenger.”

With Khabib Nurmagomedov retired — but his manager and the UFC teasing a possible comeback — and the UFC booking a rematch between Conor McGregor and Dustin Poirier for January, “do Bronx” envisions a clash with the winner of “The Notorious” vs. “The Diamond” for a vacant title in 2021. He picks the Irishman for the win at UFC 257

“Conor McGregor retired many times, Paul Felder retired many times; they all retire and come back,” Oliveira said. “But we’re talking about Khabib. His family, his religion, the man says he’s retired. Someone told me that he sworn on his father’s grave that he wouldn’t fight anymore. If that’s true, there’s no way he comes back. If he comes back, he would be going over his own word and his own father. If that’s true, the guy won’t come back. It’s over.”

Oliveira has to get past Ferguson first, though, and he’s aware of the challenge that will be standing in front of him on Dec. 12.

“He’s super tough,” Oliveira said. “He has his own fighting style, he spins with the elbow, the arm, the leg. He shoots for takedowns in a completely different way. We know the difficulties that this fight brings, the problem coming my way, but this is my moment. My time has come. There’s not much to do, just train and dedicate.

“I’ll have the perfect strategy for this fight and I’ll make it happen. He’s tough and has an incredible cardio, so let’s go.”

Holding the record for most submission victories in UFC history, the Chute Boxe fighter respects Ferguson’s finishing skills on the mat.

“Good jiu-jitsu, if you give him an opening he goes there and taps you,” Oliveira said. “You have to respect that. We can’t fool around because I can make a mistake and he submits me too. Fights are unpredictable, brother, anything can happen. But, like I said, this is my moment, this is my time. I’ll be 100 percent focused for this fight. I won’t make mistakes up there.

“His jiu-jitsu, his wrestling, his muay Thai, the crazy spinning things he does out of nowhere — I’ll be ready for all that.”