From being a relatively soft-spoken fighter years ago, the MMA world has pretty much seen Charles Oliveira grow into his own skin over the last few fights. His newfound bravado has been most evident before and after his UFC 274 win over Justin Gaethje, where he reminded everyone that the UFC lightweight champion only has one name.
“Do Bronx” will try to reclaim the currently vacant belt against Islam Makhachev at UFC 280, and that confidence has spilled over. In his recent guesting on MMA Fighting.com’s Trocação Franca podcast, he even extended this special proposition.
“Want to start the fight on the ground? I’ll start playing guard. It won’t make any difference to me,” he said. “Again, I’m telling everyone this, I’m the division’s biggest problem and you’re not understanding. I don’t care who it is and when it is. If you want to trade on the feet, come for it, I have firepower in my hands. If you want to take me down, do it.”
With his known similarities to recent Hall of Fame inductee Khabib Nurmagomedov, Makhachev is expected to employ the same wrestling-heavy approach. Oliveira, however, is welcoming it with open arms.
“I’m going to his home, where they wanted the fight, where they think they will beat me. I know I’m the biggest problem of this division,” he said. “No one’s dumb, right? Every guy Islam fought was a striker and he took them down, and I went toe to toe with every guy I fought and only took them down to make things happen after I hurt them on the feet. Islam is fighting the worst problem of the division, Charles Oliveira.
“When you’re fighting someone that will only take you down, you have to train what you do best. People don’t get it, I don’t know if they’re stupid or dumb. Islam has some striking, but he takes everybody down.
“Every guy he’s fought are strikers who were afraid of getting taken down. I’m not afraid of getting taken down. Islam has a lot to worry about what he’s going to do. I have no weight over me, nothing. I’m 100 percent at what he does best. I have the record for most submissions in [UFC] history and I have firepower in my hands.”
Oliveira has evolved leaps and bounds over the years, and he only plans to get better and be back at the top.
“You want peace? We want twice of it. You want war? War is coming, it’s on October 22.
“I’m ready. I’ll win this guy. Listen to me, I’ll leave a gigantic legacy. I get near the big names of the sport and they feel bothered. Why is that? I haven’t done anything. The reality is they see how much I’m evolving.
“That’s the reality. The way I talk has changed, the way I get dressed has changed, the way I arrive has changed. Everything has changed.”
Oliveira vs. Makhachev will headline UFC 280 at the Etihad Arena in Abu Dhabi.