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Charles Oliveira dials back trash talk for Islam Makhachev rematch: ‘I won’t make that mistake again’

UFC 280 Ceremonial Weigh-in
Charles Oliveira and Islam Makhachev
Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC

Charles Oliveira rose from the favelas to become a superstar in Brazil and claim the UFC lightweight championship in 2021, but his title reign hit a screeching halt when he faced Islam Makhachev in October 2022. “Do Bronx” was very emotional ahead of that bout, and now, with UFC 294 on the horizon, he’s vowing not to make the same mistake again.

“That’s the only fight I talked crap, the fight against Islam,” Oliveira said on this week’s episode of MMA Fighting’s Trocação Franca podcast. “I made a mistake. I won’t make that mistake again. We can only make mistakes once in life. When you make a mistake once, you can’t do it a second time, otherwise you’ll go down nonstop. I won’t do it again.

“If you look at all of my fights, you’ll see that night I didn’t fight 10 percent of what I can do. Not a hater, not an analyst that is constantly saying crap, but people that understand fighting. If you watch everything I’ve said for all my fights, the only one where I’ve [gone outside my norm] a little bit and said some things, talked some crap, was the one against Islam, and I won’t make that mistake again.”

Oliveira is set to rematch Makhachev at the same venue as their first bout — the Etihad Arena in Abu Dhabi — nearly one year to the day since “Do Bronx” suffered a second-round submission loss to the talented Russian.

Oliveira said he plans on arriving early to Abu Dhabi for the rematch in order to acclimate, and he is confident that he will put on a performance good enough to reclaim the title.

“We want to make history,” Oliveira said. “Islam is very tough, deserves all respect in the world, he’s evolving immensely, but I have a dream. I want to become champion again. I want to continue making history, showing the kids from the favela that if you truly believe in something you can win in life. We’re here to break records.”

“From the bottom of my heart, I just want to be happy,” Oliveira added. “I just want to show up and fight, you know? To perform like I’ve always done in my fights. If I perform like I’ve always done, it’s definitely going to be a completely different fight, the result will not be the same. ‘Oh, are you thirsty? Are you hungry?’ Sure am, I’m ready for this. I was born ready, to make history, but what truly matters now is to be happy and focused. We got plenty of time for the fight and I just want to be close to the people that really cares about me, those that will push me to get there.”

The former UFC lightweight champion rode an 11-fight win streak with 10 finishes into his first meeting with Makhachev, and has since rebounded from that title setback with a first-round knockout of Beneil Dariush. “Do Bronx” initially told the media that October would be too soon for him to face Makhachev again, but now admits it was all a ploy to shift the rematch to the November show in Sao Paulo, Brazil.

“Last time he said he was ready and wanted to fight here [in Brazil], and I said it was bulls***,” Oliveira said. “They never wanted to do the fight here, and it’s proven once again.”

“A lot of people say I need to work on my mental game to be able to fight and win [in Abu Dhabi],” he continued. “Many people are saying I’m not ready for this fight. I was on the road right now and saw a video of Michael Chandler, Dustin Poirier, Justin Gaethje and ‘Benny,’ all saying they would beat me [for our past fights], and you all saw what happened. There’s no point saying, ‘I’ll do this and I’ll do that.’ Let it all happen. I want to be myself on October 21, I want to be cool and close to people that really love me.”

If UFC 294 goes his way, “Do Bronx” wants to repeat history at UFC Sao Paulo by entering the Ginásio do Ibirapuera with the lightweight belt slung over his shoulder, like the hero’s welcome Rio de Janeiro once had for Anderson Silva at UFC 179 in 2014, when the former champ was gearing up for his own return after breaking his leg against Chris Weidman.

“I should be the guest fighter, so bringing the belt back will definitely be gigantic,” said Oliveira, who will have teammates competing on the show. “A few years ago, I was in Rio de Janeiro and the lights go off out of nowhere and Anderson Silva walks in with his music — and I cried a lot that day. I remember thinking, ‘That will happen to me one day. I hope to one day to have my name as big as his so that happens too.’

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