Undeniably the two best their division has to offer, the two streaking lightweights will finally settle the score for the vacant title in the UFC 280 main event on Oct. 22. It’s been a bit of a wild and uncertain path getting to this point for each, however, and Makhachev is just relieved to have everything official after Oliveira’s recent interest in going a different, less meritocratic, direction.
“Charles is very good, he has a good win streak, he beat a lot of tough opponents, but for me, it’s embarrassing when the UFC lightweight champion asks for someone like Nate Diaz or Conor McGregor, who [last] won like five years ago,” Makhachev told DC & RC. “Nobody remembers when these guys win some fights.
“He tried to call [for] Diaz, McGregor, but he forgets my name. And when they ask about me he says he needs money or something like this. But when he fights with Dustin [Poirier] or Justin Gaethje, he doesn’t think about money. Now when he says he has to fight Islam, he either tries to say, ‘I want to fight in Brazil, I want to fight in the end of this year, or I need some money.’”
Unfortunately for “Do Bronx,” he isn’t getting his wish of fighting for a title in his home country of Brazil and furthermore will first have to get the gold back in his possession. Oliveira managed to make the wrong kind of history ahead of his last time out against Justin Gaethje in May, missing weight and becoming the first champion stripped of his title for such reasons.
Arguments were made before the Gaethje fight’s finalization that Makhachev had earned his shot with his long nine-fight win streak, which he’s since extended to 10. When the time came to put ink to paper for this inevitable clash, the Dagestan native noted that the UFC teased instead going with the man Oliveira originally won the title against, Michael Chandler.
“Yeah, [he’s making excuses],” Makhachev said. “This is embarrassing because he said Islam has to fight one more time or something like this. But UFC told him, ‘Hey if you do not take this fight, we’re going to give the chance to Michael Chandler.’ That’s why he took this fight.
“He’s lost in the UFC seven times. He’s not gonna be upset if he loses one more time. People finished him seven times in the UFC and this guy’s champion in my division. I’m very upset because of [this].”
Sometimes a rarity in today’s MMA climate, the entirety of the matchup’s intrigue hinges on the stylistic clash — despite some of the vitriol each has expressed.
Both are sensational grapplers, Makhachev with his wrestling and Oliveira utilizing nasty Brazilian jiu-jitsu. While they’ve shown to handle themselves more than serviceably on the feet as well, it’s almost a guarantee that their strengths will be tested as Makhachev never shies away from where he’s best. In the case of facing Oliveira, Makhachrv believes it’s an area that the former champion has been protected from throughout his current 11-fight run.
“Everybody who says Dustin Poirier or Justin Gaethje or other guys ... they’re all guys that are old, they have money, they don’t challenge,” Makhachev said. “We have new blood. Me, [Mateusz] Gamrot, Beneil Dariush, these are really tough guys for him. Because Dustin Poirier or Justin Gaethje, they’re never grappling, just striking. That’s why this is easy fight for him. But he knows Islam Makhachev is a very hard fight for him.
“All fighters who he beat, all striking. I’m gonna take him down very fast. Listen, Tony Ferguson had a little bit of grappling, he couldn’t finish him. Tony Ferguson was a hard fight for him. He fought all [three] rounds because Tony Ferguson knows something about grappling, not too much, but he knows something.”
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SOCIAL MEDIA BOUILLABAISSE
I understand now, I’m a father and I will always protect my son pic.twitter.com/hmFi4P6ihy— Terrance ‘T Wrecks’ McKinney (@twrecks155) August 9, 2022
The fighting straws.
No more nonsense...
@danawhite - no bullshit, no politics, no nonsense.— Jan Blachowicz (@JanBlachowicz) August 9, 2022
Give me Prochazka and I'll give you the biggest MMA fight in Europe's history. Unlike him I always keep my word.
At least he’s having fun with it.
I believe one day MMA going to be bigger than NBA/NFL— Saidyokub Kakhramonov (@SaidYokubMMA) August 9, 2022
Quite a callout.
You can run but I ll be there waiting for you stay alert https://t.co/9ldtQdl82Y— Paulo Costa ( Borrachinha ) (@BorrachinhaMMA) August 9, 2022
I broke down film of Bo Nickal to try and answer the question: Is Nickal the next big thing in MMA?— Henry Cejudo (@HenryCejudo) August 9, 2022
If I could give @NoBickal some advice before he makes his UFC debut tonight:
1. Take your time
2. Stay loyal to your dream
3. Have Fun
FULL VIDEO : https://t.co/C5Mgg5khj6 pic.twitter.com/G49EYEb4gw
Keeping up with the Sankos.
Goddess of war.
Gonna need a moment of silence for the GOAT https://t.co/Pq885tl0bX— Chase Hooper (@chase_hooper) August 9, 2022
I had 6 pro fights before being signed to the UFC… and I won a gold medal! Bo Nickal has time. And when that day comes, he’ll be a PROBLEM for the rest of the UFC middleweight division. #DWCS3 #WrestlingOverEverything— Henry Cejudo (@HenryCejudo) August 10, 2022
Guys, relax. @NoBickal could be in the ufc, but I want to get him experience. Just trust the process. Sept we do it again.— malki kawa (@malkikawa) August 10, 2022
Fight about it.
“I won every R-E-A-L fight I ever had & was penniless. I LOST every R-E-E-L fight I ever had and made millions” — Judo Gene trying to convince me to quit fighting and go into Hollywood stunt work.— Shayna Baszler (@QoSBaszler) August 10, 2022
I’m still calling it a double wrist lock, just so you know. pic.twitter.com/VEwNpAxJb8
Judo Gene Lebell impacted so many lives through his kind, caring, and loving soul. It is through those memories his legacy will become legendary and forever remembered. ❤️ RIP and prayers to all who loved him pic.twitter.com/uEJaJG5e2k— Grand Slam Champ CrisCyborg.com (@criscyborg) August 10, 2022
Islam makes some solid points. But I refuse to bet against Charlie O. at this point, I really do. I’m sure Islam will pound away on Oliveira for a decent portion of the fight, but in typical fashion, watch him whip out a submission and rally when you think he’s out. It’s just too fun of a matchup and it should be here yesterday.
Thanks for reading!
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Marlon "Chito" Vera