Charles Oliveira won’t be facing Islam Makhachev for the UFC lightweight championship on Saturday in Abu Dhabi, but he’s still counting on being next for the belt in 2024.
That, or facing Conor McGregor in a very lucrative MMA bout.
In an interview with MMA Fighting on Thursday, Charles Oliveira said he suffered a cut over his right eye during a sparring session at Chute Boxe after Oliveira slipped while defending a takedown and clashed heads with his partner, opening a “deep” gash.
“Destiny wanted us out of this fight,” Charles Oliveira said. “It’s upsetting. I wasn’t happy and still am not happy, but I’m a man that believes in God, and I’m sure that God has something greater for me.”
The former UFC champion, who finished Beneil Dariush to set up a rematch with Makhachev for the UFC belt, still isn’t cleared to train with impact after having his stitches removed on Wednesday.
“[The doctor said], ‘You need 10 to 15 days [after the cut] away to be able to heal. Let’s also do a MRI to see if there’s any blood clot in your head, or anything like that, because it was a deep cut,’ and you start to get the real picture,” Oliveira said. “You realize your dream to become champion right now is more distant, you won’t be able to fight now. You cry, you get sad, you want to be with people that really love you.”
“We can’t make mistakes,” he continued. “I’m not in a moment where I can make mistakes. There’s no need for us to fight like this. If it was for money, I’d definitely be fighting because it was a lot of money. But money isn’t the focus – it’s about legacy, and what we want to leave behind for the kids and others to talk about.”
Charles Oliveira said his managers, Diego Lima and Jorge Patino, will handle negotiations with the UFC to understand what’s next for him following Makhachev vs. Volkanovski 2, and he has two ideas in mind: A title shot or Conor McGregor.
“It’s not that it doesn’t make sense [to fight somebody else] — I’m a UFC employee,” Oliveira said. “Whoever they say, we’ll make it happen. But I’m the No. 1 contender, and I beat everybody else below me. The Conor fight is a fight I’ve been asking for a long time. And I never lied, I was the only one being real about fighting Conor.
“Charles Oliveira against Conor McGregor, money fight. It’s a fight that will give us a lot of money. Conor sells, Charles also sells. It’s a fight that everybody wants. The only one we don’t know if [he] wants this fight is Conor because I’ve said it a thousand times — 170, 185, 155, I don’t know, choose the weight. Say where and I’ll be there. Just send the contract and we’ll sign it. That’s the fight. Title fight? I’m waiting. UFC makes the call. I deserve it. I’m waiting right here, next to the people that really love me. I’m waiting for my moment.”
Makhachev’s manager Ali Abdelaziz told MMA Fighting recently that Oliveira “missed his shot” and Justin Gaethje should be the next in line for the title. Gaethje is 2-0 since losing via first-round submission to Charles Oliveira, winning the Baddest Motherf***** belt in his most recent appearance against Dustin Poirier. Gaethje is also managed by Abdelaziz.
“Do you want me to say what I really think? These guys think they own the promotion or they are gods, I don’t know,” Charles Oliveira said. “‘Boom, it’s going to happen!’ If I care about everything these guys say, I’d never become champion to begin with, never break all the records I’ve broken. You know what the problem is? Problem is I’m too humble, I’m not arrogant, because if I go back and list all the records I’ve broken and everything I’ve done, these guys would have to salute me, you know? Boom, the man is walking by. But no, I remain humble and respectful.
“Why does [Abdelaziz] want that? He manages both. How have I missed my shot? I’m the No. 1. I’ve beat everybody else below me. Who’s next in line? I am. Do I have to wait a month or two, or three, or six? I don’t know. I don’t want to talk about it. Leave that to Diego and ‘Macaco’ [Patino] to clash heads [with the UFC] and make it happen. I just want to rest, breathe, and wait for my moment to make things happen.”
As for the champion vs. champion rematch that headlines the Oct. 21 pay-per-view in Abu Dhabi, “do Bronx” Charles Oliveira expects another close contest at UFC 294.
“It’s going to be a great fight,” Charles Oliveira said. “Everybody is talking about him taking the fight on 10 days’ notice but Volkanovski has a lot to lose. It’s his opportunity to become two-division champion, it’s his opportunity to show that he won last time, like many people say he won. I think it’s going to be a great fight. Close, again, and the one with the best strategy will win this fight.”