Oliveira ‘ready’ if Khabib returns
Charles Oliveira spoke about a potential match with the former lightweight champion
The Brazilian Charles Oliveira has pledged to « shock the world » when he faces Russian rival Islam Makhachev for the vacant lightweight title at UFC 280 in Abu Dhabi later this month – and insists he would be « ready » for Khabib Nurmagomedov if the MMA icon ever reconsiders his decision to retire.
Oliveira is offering to reclaim the UFC lightweight crown he was stripped of before his last fight against Justin Gaethje in May for being heavy on the scale.
Makhachev of Dagestan stands in his way, a man often described as the « protected » of his teammate, friend and coach Khabib.
Makhachev hopes to follow in the footsteps of his mentor, who retired unbeaten in 2020 after extending his unblemished career to 29-0 with a victory over Gaethje in Abu Dhabi.
As time is running out for the highly anticipated Oct. 22 match, ESPN’s Brett Okamoto asked Oliveira if he considers Makhachev – who is undefeated in his last 10 Octagon outings – his toughest task ahead. this day.
« Nope, » came the curt reply from the Brazilian.
« He’s a protege of Khabib, he carries that weight on his shoulders. I didn’t choose the fights, I settled for them, and that’s what we’re going to do. That’s another story « Oliveira added, via translation.
When asked if the « presence » of Khabib in Makhachev’s camp would be a factor, the 32-year-old was equally dismissive – noting that he would be open to facing Khabib himself, even if a return from retirement for ‘The Eagle’ was unlikely.
« The fight is against Islam, whenever [Khabib’s] ready to come back, I’ll always be ready, » says Oliveira
« Honestly, I don’t think he’s going to fight again…he retired, he’s finished, and I respect that. »
Oliveira enters the showdown with Makhachev on an 11-fight unbeaten streak, which includes capturing the lightweight title by beating Michael Chandler in May 2021.
“Do Bronx” defended the crown with a thrilling victory over Dustin Poirier in December, before losing his title on the pre-contest scale with Gaethje – a fight he still won via first-round submission.
Asked what he would do against Makhachev, Oliveira was clear in his message.
« I will shock the world again » promised the native of Sau Paulo.
« I’m going to do that in the first round… I’m going to show that my journey, the number of fights, it will come to show, in that sense I’m going to shock the world.
READ MORE: Khabib’s trainer says his protege could be a better striker and raiser than a UFC great
Oliveira and Makhachev meet in the main event of UFC 280 on « Fight Island ».
Elsewhere on the card, former Russian bantamweight champion Petr Yan will be looking to rebuild towards another title as he takes on colorful American Sean O’Malley.
Current bantamweight king Aljamain Sterling – who edged out Yan in their title rematch in April – defends his belt against former 135-pound ruler TJ Dillashaw in the co-main event.