Charles Oliveira will face Islam Makhachev to try to regain the UFC lightweight belt he lost due to a weight miss back in May, but doesn’t feel the Russian has earned his right to compete for the crown with his in-cage feats.
“Do Bronx” said during the UFC 280 media day, which took place Wednesday in Abu Dhabi, that Makhachev was given a shot at the 155-pound championship thanks to his longtime friend and AKA teammate Khabib Nurmagomedov, who ruled the division before retiring undefeated.
“I think Islam deserves all the respect in the world,” Oliveira said. “But I think he should’ve fought somebody maybe in the top-5 like I did, not just surf on someone else’s wave and skip the line like he did.”
Asked if Nurmagomedov is the one creating the “wave” for Makhachev to “surf”, Oliveira said “this fight is only happening because of him.” The former UFC champion will be in Makhachev’s corner Saturday.
“It’s for the history and everything he’s done,” Oliveira said of Nurmagomedov’s role in this matchmaking. “If it was any other guy, [Makhachev] would have to walk the walk that I had to walk, knocking on people’s doors, trying to get to a top-5. The reason why this fight is happening is because of him, that’s the real.”
Makhachev won 10 straight inside the octagon since 2015, with his biggest wins coming against Dan Hooker, Thiago Moises, Gleison Tibau and Arman Tsarukyan. Makhachev was booked to face the likes of Rafael dos Anjos and Beneil Dariush in multiple occasions, but the fights fell through. In his most recent bout, the 31-year-old finished short-notice replacement Bobby Green in the first round.
Makhachev said he plans on dominating and finishing Oliveira on the ground at UFC 280, and the Brazilian welcomes him to try.
“I’m ready,” he said. “I think anyone needs to believe and want whatever is best for them. If we go down to the ground, he’s facing the biggest finisher in the history of the UFC. If he wants to stand up, we’re gonna stand up. I will shock the world one more time.
“I think they’re just talking a lot of crap and whenever we close that gate and we’re inside the octagon they get to see who’s the real champion. … The lightweight champion is Charles Oliveira. I’m the problem for this division.”