'Machine' Charles Oliveira vows to do damage to Islam Makhachev at UFC 280 in Abu Dhabi

Brazilian tells 'The National' that he will finish Makhachev in the headliner at Etihad Arena in October and reclaim his lightweight crown

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Charles Oliveira says he will charge forward “like a tank and bring damage" in his UFC title bout against Islam Makhachev in Abu Dhabi in October — then defend the belt against Alexander Volkanovski at the beginning of next year.

Oliveira, 32, takes on Makhachev in the headline bout at UFC 280 at Etihad Arena on October 22. The Brazilian will be attempting to regain the lightweight title he relinquished in May by missing weight before his defence against Justin Gaethje.

Despite riding an 11-fight win streak, Oliveira goes into the contest as the underdog for many given Makhachev’s talent — he has 10 consecutive wins — and the fact the fight takes place in Abu Dhabi, which the Dagestani calls his second home.

Speaking on Friday to The National from London, where he was visiting to promote UFC 280, Oliveira said: “Charles is aggressive. Charles is a machine. Just like a tank, I will be charging forward.

“I will bring my best game, and you’ve seen what I can do. I have my jiu-jitsu ― it's well-rounded ― and I will bring damage in this coming fight.

“I’m there to achieve a proper result, I won’t let the judges bring their decision and their subjected perception of what will happen. Because I will come aggressive; I have a better standing game than he does, a better jiu-jitsu game than he does. And we will see it happen.”

Makhachev, the division’s No 4-ranked contender, is no stranger to Abu Dhabi having fought, and won, there twice already. A longtime teammate and friend of retired former lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov, he enjoys considerable support in the UAE and throughout the region.

In contrast, Oliveira has never competed in the Emirates, but believes he has shown enough in his last few fights — electric victories against Michael Chandler, Dustin Poirier and most recently Gaethje — to cast aside any issue of having to enter enemy territory to reclaim his lightweight crown.

“I’m the one issue in the division,” Oliveira said. “You have seen what happened in the last fight, so I’m here to make things happen, to stir things up," he said.

“The burden of proving oneself is on [Makhachev’s] side. He’s bringing his family, his name, it’s his home town, it’s his own turf. So there’s no advantage on my side. It’s just a challenge.

“There’s no pressure more than the average, this is just run of the mill. I will pressure, I will either strike, I will submit, and I will bring the result at the end of the day. Especially with keeping my mind aligned with what I need to bring to the fore.”

Asked what victory in Abu Dhabi would do for his legacy, Oliveira said: “I love it. Because I believe Islam is bringing the best game, he’s bringing the history of the Khabib family on his shoulders, and we’re there fighting in his home turf.

“This is exactly what we what — to leave the legacy that we beat them in their turf, in their own game.”

Oliveira, 33-8 as a pro, said he has no issue with being considered underdog, and that he was focused only on what he can deliver inside the octagon at Etihad Arena, instead of the threat posed by Makhachev (22-1).

Oliveira denied also that he feels he has a point to prove having been stripped of the lightweight belt before UFC 274 for missing weight by half a pound. To his credit, he then defeated Gaethje by first-round submission.

“I’m not there to go after, to pursue, the belt,” Oliveira said. “The belt is mine. I’m defending it. So, by doing that in the house of my competition, I’m communicating that I’m doing this whenever in the world.”

Responding to why he agreed to fight Makhachev in Abu Dhabi ― he has initially been campaigning for Brazil ― Oliveira said: “At the end of the day, we are working for [UFC parent company] Zuffa, so they will decide. They will put together the schedule and we will just come through it.”

Oliveira, who holds UFC records for both finishes (19) and submissions (16), vowed to knock out Makhachev on October 22. His most recent knockout came three bouts ago, against Chandler, when he captured the vacant title.

Defeat Makhachev, and Oliveira is eyeing a money-spinning clash at lightweight with featherweight supremo Volkanovski. The Australian, currently recovering from hand surgery, has said he wants to move up to lightweight to attempt to become double-champion.

“So I go back to Brazil as a champion and back in January against Volkanovski, it’s back to the octagon again,” Oliveira said. “We all want this. He wants the fight and it’s OK to be in Brazil. We can negotiate a good purse, so why not?”

Signing off with a message to his supporters in Abu Dhabi, Oliveira said: “Thank you so much for all the fan base in Abu Dhabi, for your warmth, for your support. We will bring the best game and will bring a party and celebrate your presence there in Abu Dhabi.”

Updated: July 23, 2022, 4:06 AM