Even though the former lightweight champion may not agree that this matchup should have been set, Charles Oliveira will fight Islam Makhachev for the title at UFC 280.
“I think Islam deserves all the respect in the world,” Oliveira said.
“but I think he should’ve fought somebody maybe in the top five like I did, not just surf on someone else’s wave and skip the line like he did.”
“For sure, this fight is only happening because of him (Khabib),” Oliveira said.
As he enters Saturday’s main event at Etihad Arena, Makhachev (22-1 MMA, 11-1 UFC) is riding a 10-bout winning streak and hasn’t lost a fight in seven years. Oliveira (33-8 MMA, 21-8 UFC) objects to the fact that not a single one of Makhachev’s victories has come against a fighter in the top five of their respective weight classes. This past February, he knocked out Bobby Green, and in October 2021, he submitted Dan Hooker.
When the UFC granted Oliveira a crack at the vacant championship against former Bellator champion Michael Chandler, he was on an eight-fight winning streak and had just defeated then-top five and former interim champion Tony Ferguson in devastating way. After defeating Chandler via technical knockout, Oliveira went on to submit Dustin Poirier and Justin Gaethje his route to winning the 155-pound championship. Only because of a controversial weight cut before his May bout with Gaethje, Oliveira is not the champion right now.
According to Oliveira, Makhachev’s friendship with Nurmagomedov is what won him the opportunity to fight for the title.
“It’s for the history and for everything (Khabib has) done,” Oliveira said.
“If it was any other guy, he would’ve had to walk the walk that I had to walk, knocking on people’s doors trying to get into a top-five. The reason why this fight is happening is because of him. That’s the real.”
“I’m ready. I think anyone needs to believe and want whatever is best for them,” Oliveira said. “If we go down to the ground, he’s basically facing the biggest finisher in the UFC. If he wants to stand up, we’re gonna stand up. I’m here to make history again.”