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Charles Oliveira: Islam Makhachev must get past Beneil Dariush to earn title shot, targets December fight in Brazil

UFC 274: Oliveira v Gaethje Photo by Mike Roach/Zuffa LLC

Charles Oliveira wants some time off after making short work of Justin Gaethje at UFC 274, enough time for the UFC to built the next lightweight contender for, in his words, “my belt.”

Oliveira scored his fastest victory since 2019 when he forced Gaethje to tap to a rear-naked choke in just over three minutes this past Saturday in Phoenix, and feels he’s proven once again that his striking is as good as his grappling. In fact, Oliveira said on this week’s episode of MMA Fighting’s podcast Trocação Franca that he predicted an easy victory after the press conference on Thursday.

“I knew there was a guy with heavy hands on the other side [of the cage], someone who was knocking everybody out,” Oliveira said. “I said I had firepower in my hands, I believe in my knockout power. The first punch, the first hand I landed on him, he felt it. We both wanted this victory so bad, he wanted to become champion and I want to remain champion, and that’s why it was an excellent show.

“I told my team on Thursday this fight wouldn’t go past the first round, that I wouldn’t even sweat, and that’s really what happened. I didn’t even sweat. It was a back and forth war, of course, but I didn’t even sweat.”

Now victorious in three title fights over a span of 12 months, “do Bronx” said he will enjoy a well-deserved break in Guaruja, Brazil, to celebrate with family and friends before returning later this year.

No longer the UFC lightweight champion after missing weight by a half-pound but still feeling like the king, Oliveira said his next fight “will probably be in November or December.”

As for the opponent, Oliveira shut down Khabib Nurmagomedov’s request to move on from making Islam Makhachev vs. Beneil Dariush to pair his protege against Oliveira for the vacant championship at UFC 281, which goes down Oct. 22 in Abu Dhabi.

“I think the reality is, Makhachev has to fight Dariush first,” Oliveira said. “They both have to fight and then we’ll see who we’re fighting or not. Makhachev is super tough and deserves all the respect in the world. Dariush is also super tough and has a great team. It will be a great fight, so let them fight first and see what will happen down the line. Like I said, my focus now is going home and getting some rest, and my team will see who we’re fighting. I’ve never ran from a fight and never will. I’ll be there and I’ll be ready [to fight] whoever they put in there with me.”

“Everyone I beat, I’ve made it pretty clear. I never let it go the distance, I always finish them. Makhachev and Dariush are the two guys I haven’t fought yet and they both have to make this fight happen. Maybe [the next contender] comes from this fight. The thing is, it makes no difference to me. I’ll be ready. The champion’s name is Charles Oliveira.”

Oliveira believes shooting for a late-2022 return will give the UFC enough time to prepare for a show in his native Brazil. The lightweight star headlined the last UFC card in the country back in February 2020, the first event with no fans in attendance due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I’ve asked to fight in December [in Brazil]. I deserve this,” Oliveira said. “The Brazilian people deserve this. We deserve this, for this fight to be in Brazil. If it’s Sao Paulo, that’s 100 percent. But I would really like this fight to be in Brazil.”