In recent UFC events, the spotlight has firmly been on Charles Oliveira and his intent to face Islam Makhachev once again. Following the unexpected circumstances of UFC 294, Oliveira remains adamant about his chances against Makhachev, and the MMA community is waiting with bated breath to see how the rematch narrative unfolds.
Charles Oliveira was the original contender scheduled to meet Islam Makhachev at UFC 294. Unfortunately, an untimely injury – a significant cut above his eye – hindered Oliveira’s ability to participate. This led to featherweight champion, Alexander Volkanovski, stepping in with a mere 12 days’ notice. The match culminated with Makhachev delivering a first-round knockout, displaying his continued dominance in the UFC arena.
Despite Oliveira’s absence from this match, he did not stay silent. Speaking to MMA Fighting, he confirmed his aspiration to face Makhachev again.
Addressing the situation on The MMA Hour, Oliveira, communicating through a translator, said, “Whoever the UFC says he’s going to fight, they’re going to fight. Everybody knows I’m next. First in the rankings, coming off of a great win, and ready to fight like I was before. I was ready for that fight until [the cut] happened, and I’m next in line.”
But Oliveira’s claim to the next fight is not uncontested. Justin Gaethje has been vocal about his desire for a title shot. Mateusz Gamrot, the official backup for UFC 294, might also assert his claim for a championship bout. Furthermore, there is speculation about Makhachev’s next career move. Rumors suggest he might transition to welterweight, eyeing a possible match against either Leon Edwards or Colby Covington post their December bout.
When probed about his next steps and potential opponents, Oliveira articulated his unwavering focus: “No one has said anything,” referring to any updates from UFC matchmakers. “They know who I am, they know what I’m all about, they know that I’m going to train to become a champion. I’m training and I’m getting ready for it… I don’t fight for money. I fight to make history and I fight for my legacy.”
For Oliveira, his primary goal is evident. He stated, “I want the belt. Whoever’s got that belt, it doesn’t matter who has it. I want that belt.” His sentiments resonate with many in the MMA community, emphasizing the significance of the championship and its legacy.
Looking back, Makhachev and Oliveira’s first encounter at UFC 280 ended with Makhachev submitting Oliveira in the second round. This fight saw Makhachev claim a vacant belt. Reflecting on the recent UFC 294 match and Makhachev’s performance, Oliveira acknowledged, “I’ve said this before. This only goes to show with the things that I’ve said before, the evolution of Islam’s game standing up… It shows his evolution as an MMA fighter.”
Makhachev’s post-victory comments further stirred the pot. During a post-fight press conference, he remarked, “I feel like I already have two opponents. Charles? OK, I will beat Charles, but who’s going to be next? Gaethje? He will wait? I don’t think it’s a good idea, but it is what it is. If they say Charles, OK. If they say Gaethje, for me, it’s OK.”
UFC President Dana White, in his post-fight conference, shared his perspective. He said, “Listen, you gotta give it to Oliveira. Oliveira’s ready to go. Unfortunately, he got cut. I think you give it to Oliveira, but again, these are all questions I can’t really answer right now. We get home, we figure stuff out, and see what’s next for everybody.”
While the MMA community awaits a clear decision on Makhachev’s next opponent, it’s evident that Charles Oliveira stands as a prominent contender. Whether or not he gets his desired rematch, the unfolding events post-UFC 294 promise an engaging trajectory for UFC enthusiasts.