Despite having a plethora of possible challengers vying for the title, UFC lightweight champion Islam Makhachev doesn’t seem to worry, especially when dealing with Charles Oliveira. Oliveira seems to have a sense of certainty about his position at the front of the competition.
Former champion Oliveira, who holds a 34-9 record, was set to face off against Makhachev, who holds a 25-1 record, in a rematch at UFC 294 on October 21. However, a training injury forced Oliveira to step down from the match just 12 days prior. Featherweight champion Alexander Volkanovski stepped in at the last minute to challenge Makhachev himself, only to lose by first-round knockout.
In the aftermath of Makhachev’s resounding victory over Volkanovski, there’s a cloud of uncertainty over whether Oliveira will be given another chance at a title fight once fully recovered. There are contenders such as Justin Gaethje, a two-time former title challenger with an impressive win over Dustin Poirier to his name. Also, Mateusz Gamrot, a former KSW two-division champ, is itching for his first title shot. Additionally, former UFC champ Conor McGregor is never far from the conversation, as highlighted by Daniel Cormier. Makhachev has shown interest in facing Gaethje and hinted at a move up to welterweight.
Despite the competition, Oliveira remains undeterred, insisting that his prior injury didn’t get in the way of the title shot he had secured. The Brazilian noted, through a translator, “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 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.” He’s eager to fight, not driven by financial gain, but by the ambition to make historical strides and carve out his legacy. He is confident that the promotion’s matchmakers are aware of his zeal, despite not having heard anything official yet. He is anticipating a return to unrestricted training within 20 days and hopes to pit against Makhachev again early next year.