Former UFC lightweight champion Charles Oliveira has vowed to defeat Islam Makhachev should they agree to fight only on his terms – a victory he hopes would lure Khabib Nurmagomedov out of retirement.
Makhachev, a teammate of Nurmagomedov who is now coached by the retired former champion, has been campaigning for clash with Oliveira for the vacant belt, with the Dagestan native initially calling for the bout to take place in Abu Dhabi later this year.
Oliveira, who captured the lightweight crown following Nurmagomedov’s retirement in the UAE capital in late 2020, was stripped of his title in May after missing weight ahead of his expected defence against Justin Gaethje at UFC 274.
The Brazilian had been targeting a money fight with former double UFC champion Conor McGregor, but is now open to taking on Makhachev instead. However, only when and where he wants.
“If they really want it, they need to chase the champion,” Oliveira told YouTube channel Ag. Fight. “I chased the champion, right? Then I became the champion. I want to fight in December. Do you really want this? So let’s do something cool. Now I’m talking to you.
"Let’s fight in January in Brazil? Isn’t that what you really want? So sell it more. But look at this, Khabib, you’ve already tried three premonitions about me and missed all three.
“I won’t say I’m going to submit or knock him out, but I’ll beat him. Listen to this: I will beat Islam Makhachev. The division’s problem is called Charles Oliveira. It doesn’t matter what they say. If they really want it, I want it, too.
“Look, forget about Conor McGregor now. Forget it. In Brazil, Charles Oliveira against Islam Makhachev. Is this the fight you want? So we will have it. Charles Oliveira against Islam Makhachev in Brazil.”
Nurmagomedov, who since retirement has moved into coaching, has said recently that Makhachev is willing to fight Oliveira in Brazil, declaring the No 4-ranked lightweight contender would even submit his rival in front of his own fans.
Makhachev rides a 10-fight win streak and has been defeated only once in 22 professional mixed martial arts bouts. Meanwhile, Oliveira has won 11 on the bounce to extend his pro record to 33-8.
The division’s most recent champion has been in sparkling form since Nurmagomedov called time on his career at 29-0 at UFC 254 in Abu Dhabi, first claiming the vacant belt with a stunning knockout against Michael Chandler in May last year. Oliveira then secured back-to-back submissions against Dustin Poirier and Gaethje.
“I’ll beat him [Makhachev]. So who knows, maybe [Nurmagomedov] comes out of retirement and comes too?” he said. “Each one says what they want. I am the division’s problem. I have one of the best jiu-jitsu in the division and in the UFC. I think these guys are talking too much. They want to get in my mind, but that’s not possible.”
“[Nurmagomedov] was champion, 29 wins in a row, and never said anything. He always sold the fight in a good way, really damn well, and today he is always talking a lot.
“And if it’s to talk, I’m going to say it: I’ll beat Islam Makhachev and then challenge Khabib to come back from retirement. It’s the fight everyone will want to see. Everyone says Khabib is [expletive] tough. I respect him a lot, but lately, he’s been talking too much.”