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Sean O’Malley believes Charles Oliveira would be a problem for Khabib Nurmagomedov: ‘Maybe that’s why Khabib stepped away’

Khabib Nurmagomedov
Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

Sean O’Malley sees Charles Oliveira as the one man that could challenge a former UFC champion widely regarded as the best ever at 155 pounds.

Discussing Oliveira in an interview with Canal Encarada, O’Malley was asked what he thought about Oliveira’s chances against Khabib Nurmagomedov should the former lightweight king decide to come out of retirement. Oliveira — No. 1 in his division in MMA Fighting’s Global Rankings — is the most recent UFC lightweight champion, but doesn’t currently hold that status in an official capacity. He was stripped of his UFC title ahead of his recent UFC 274 main event win over Justin Gaethje after he missed weight for the scheduled defense.

O’Malley likes Oliveira’s chances against the undefeated Nurmagomedov and went as far as to wonder if Oliveira’s rise through the ranks may have played a part in Nurmagomedov retiring in October 2020.

“That’s the one interesting fight that I would like to see if Khabib came back in the division,” O’Malley said. “It would be Charles. Everyone else I think Khabib kind of mauls. I think Charles is the only one that can really give Khabib problems and, who knows, maybe that’s why Khabib stepped away.

“Maybe he saw, ‘I don’t want that guy.’ Who knows, but yeah, that’s one fight that I would be interested in seeing Khabib come back for. It would be a massive fight.”

As for Oliveira losing his title on the scale due to a half-pound weight miss, O’Malley brushes off any talk of “Do Bronx” not being the rightful UFC lightweight champion.

“Charles is the champ and everyone knows it,” O’Malley said. “That’s just it. I don’t think anybody looks at him as not being the champ. I don’t think you can find one person that thinks he’s not the champ or wouldn’t call him the champ.

“I hope he got his pay-per-view money, I hope he is making the championship money going into the next fight. Everyone’s got to look at him as the champ, the fight’s he’s been doing, the performances he’s been putting on. Charles Oliveira’s the champ and everyone knows it.”

Up next for O’Malley, he fights Pedro Munhoz at UFC 276 on July 2 at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.