Charles Oliveira is not fighting this weekend in Las Vegas, but the UFC 264 main event is proof that, as “do Bronx” likes to say, “the world turns.”
The Brazilian lightweight has called for a fight with Conor McGregor multiple times in the past, but never heard back from the Irish superstar. When Khabib Nurmagomedov retired from the sport as the undefeated lightweight king, Oliveira said he should face Dustin Poirier for the vacant belt.
When McGregor and Poirier collide Saturday night at Las Vegas’ T-Mobile Arena, Oliveira will be sitting in the front row waiting to see who will emerge as his next contender.
“The Notorious” and “The Diamond” fought twice inside the octagon and stand 1-1 with one knockout each. Oliveira correctly picked Poirier to win earlier this year in Abu Dhabi, but has changed sides for the trilogy.
“Last time, I bet Dustin Poirier could win after the third round, but he went there and surprised me by knocking him out in the second,” Oliveira said in an interview with MMA Fighting. “This time I bet on Conor. This time I think Conor wins. I think he’s coming with a better head, a better spirit, so I think Conor wins this time.”
Speaking with BT Sport earlier this week, McGregor said he will “dance” with Oliveira later this year, but vows to “crumble” the “timid” Brazilian.
“Do Bronx” shrugged off his comments.
“Timid, no. Humble. I’m humble,” he responded. “I know where I came from and I know where I’m going. I guarantee you, he’s just another one that will talk, talk and talk, promoting himself the entire time, and I’ll be there training. He’ll go down on his ass in front of me. I won’t submit him, I’ll knock him out. I’ll knock Conor out. I’ve been saying this for a long time. I have firepower in both hands, I have way more weapons than him.
“But he has to get past Dustin first. I’ll be sitting on front row Saturday, waiting. If he wants this fight so much, tell him to win against Dustin Poirier, then he can do whatever he wants. I don’t care where. Underwater, in the streets, in Ireland, in Brazil, I don’t care where. I’ll just go there, I’ll be ready, and I’ll defend what’s mine.”
The former two-division champion has voiced his interest in making a potential title bout with Oliveira the UFC’s first show at the brand-new 65,000-seat Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas, and “do Bronx” thinks it’s “perfect.”
“In December, November, whenever he wants, brother,” Oliveira said. “I’ve been saying this for a while. It’s a new Charles, a new mindset, a new era. Trust me, I’m motivated, I’m happy with everything that’s happening in my life with my coaches, my team and everyone around me. I won’t let this go away.
“This fight will be huge, but first, before dreaming about this fight, he has to earn it. He has to KO, to submit, to beat Dustin, which is no easy task. If he wins, then he can do whatever he wants. He can jump the octagon, he can come at me. It won’t change a thing, brother. He has gotten in the head of everyone he’s beaten but he has to do a lot more to get inside my head.”