Dustin Poirier is a well-rounded veteran with a vast list of knockouts and some impressive submissions to his credit in the UFC, but lightweight champion Charles Oliveira is confident in his abilities going into UFC 269.
Oliveira, who defends his lightweight gold in the main event of the Las Vegas pay-per-view on Dec. 11, stopped by MMA Fighting’s Portuguese-language podcast Trocação Franca this past week to discuss the upcoming clash. Even though he holds UFC gold, Oliveira doesn’t feel he gets the respect he deserves.
And he doesn’t expect it to change after UFC 269, either.
“Someone else will show up when I win and be like, ‘Oh, you have to beat this one now, you have to beat that one,’” Oliveira said. “We’ll keep on fighting, keep on making history, staying focused and centered. Putting on great fights. I wanted to fight the best, and I’ve been doing that.
“No one has such a gigantic winning streak like me, nine in a row with only one decision — and you all saw it, you can’t debate it. Many people say I have to beat Dustin to prove I’m the champion. I am the champion. I won [the belt] earlier this year and I’ll defend my belt now.”
E ven though he’s the UFC kingpin, Oliveira is ranked No. 2 in the MMA Fighting Global Rankings with Poirier in the No. 1 spot. The Brazilian 155-pounder doesn’t care if “everybody thinks that.”
“On [December] 11, we’ll be there to prove who’s best and who’s not the best,” Oliveira said. “There’s not much to say. We’ll only know when we face each other. I trust myself, I believe myself. I think I have way more weapons than him. All you guys that think [he’s No. 1], watch his last fight and watch my last fight, see what I’m good at and what he’s good at, and match it all up to see what happens.
“Strikers took him down way too easily, and you know what happens if I take him down. If he trades on the feet with me, you know I’m hitting hard, brother. It will be fire on the 11th. I have firepower in my hands, I have my jiu-jitsu. I respect him a lot, but I want to remain champion, I want to keep this belt here. I couldn’t care less what others say or criticize. It’s about time I take all that inside my head and look at what people say on Instagram.”
Oliveira believes that part of the reason why he doesn’t get the amount of respect he should is thanks to his approach to the game. In a trash talk era, “do Bronx” chooses to keep his voice low when under attack and respond inside the cage.
“Maybe that’s not so good for [the UFC] that I’m too quiet, but I compensate inside the octagon,” he said. “I’m not one of these guys that keep talking and looking for attention. I show up inside the octagon.”
The fact that “do Bronx” isn’t so vocal in promoting his fights had Poirier briefly considering the idea of passing on a title shot a second time in order to face Nate Diaz in a more profitable contest. Poirier did just that before this year, when he met Conor McGregor in a trilogy bout instead of competing for the vacant gold.
Oliveira wonders if “people don’t want to fight me for fear, for respect, or because they prefers money? We’ll never know. We never know what goes inside people’s head.” When asked what’s the case for Poirier, he believes the American Top Team talent was angling for money, not an easier match.
Whatever happens inside the cage in the final pay-per-view of the year, Oliveira expects people to still look for excuses to try to diminish his success. If you do understand about fighting, he said, you must recognize his merits in the sport.
“Eleven years to become champion, nine wins in a row, most bonuses and submissions [in UFC history], the man that took the longest to fight for the belt,” he said. “I think that demands respect. Everybody said I didn’t deserve the Michael Chandler fight. I was coming off eight straight wins. Who had more wins that me in the division? I don’t leave if up to the judges. … How do I not get the respect?
“Many people outside and inside of Brazil respect me, they know my history, but many people won’t respect me. If God didn’t please everyone, why should I? I’ll continue to make history, continue to make it happen, and continue to fight the best.”