Khabib Nurmagomedov sees fellow Dagestani lightweight Islam Makhachev as the future 155-pound champion in the UFC, but Charles Oliveira isn’t buying into the hype.
Speaking on a recent episode of MMA Fighting’s Portuguese-language podcast Trocação Franca, Oliveira weighed in on the fanfare surrounding Makhachev, which has been boosted by Nurmagomedov’s constant praise as Makhachev enters his UFC 267 clash with Dan Hooker this Saturday in Abu Dhabi.
“What does Makhachev do? He takes everyone down,” Oliveira said. “He doesn’t do jiu-jitsu, he does sambo, smashing everybody. He can take me down. I have no problem being taken down. There’s not much to be said. If my brother is fighting Anderson Silva, what am I going to say? I’ll talk about my brother. That’s it.”
Makhachev has won eight in a row in the UFC since his lone career loss, a first-round knockout by Adriano Martins back in 2015. That winning streak includes names such as Thiago Moises, Drew Dober, Arman Tsarukyan, Gleison Tibau, and Nik Lentz.
Makhachev was originally scheduled to face former champion Rafael dos Anjos at UFC 267, but Hooker stepped in a replacement after dos Anjos was forced to go under the knife to repair a knee injury.
“In reality, I think they are choosing good matchups for him,” Oliveira said when asked if he sees the Russian as a future title contender. “I think his fight with Rafael would have been a great fight, and now he’s fighting Dan Hooker. Let’s see if he gets past Dan Hooker. I think he’s still a bit far from fighting for the belt, there are great guys ahead [of him]. But he deserves respect as well, he’s fighting well, fighting his way and building his history.”
Makhachev tapped Moises with a rear-naked choke in the fourth round of his most recent appearance back in July, a fight that didn’t impress “do Bronx” much because, as Oliveira said, “Thiago didn’t fight.”
In a separate interview with MMA Fighting, Oliveira said he was offered the Makhachev bout “a long time ago” at lightweight and welterweight, but the Russian turned it down.
“This fight between Charles Oliveira and Makhachev was supposed to happen a long time ago,” he said. “This fight came to me and I agreed, but it didn’t happen, they turned it down. Twice or three times. I said once that I’d even fight him at 170 but it didn’t happen. It’s complicated.”
Asked why he believes Makhachev turned down an opportunity to face him inside the octagon, Oliveira — who defends his 155-pound title against Dustin Poirier on Dec. 11 — responded, “I don’t know, but everyone that comes to fight me knows they better be ready.”
“They know what happens if they aren’t ready,” he said. “Guilherme, I’m a problem for this division. They all know that. Look, when I only had jiu-jitsu they said I only had jiu-jitsu. Now, I’m one of the most well-rounded guys in the division, on the feet and on the ground. I have cardio, I do things no one believes. I throw strikes no one wants to do up there. They know I’m a problem for this division and I keep saying and showing that every single day.”