LAS VEGAS – It might not be a popular choice with the diehards, but Charles Oliveira is gunning for the money fight.
“If I must choose, it’d be Conor McGregor, as the guy who is putting the money in my bank account,” Oliveira said, at UFC X. “If I’m going to choose, I’m going to choose Conor McGregor.”
Oliveira isn’t naive. He knows such a booking would draw criticism from people who think McGregor should have to earn the title shot on a merit basis. The money, however, is too good to turn down. Feeling like the best lightweight in the world, Oliveira thinks an official or unofficial champion should be able to make such decisions.
“The story with Conor has always been like that,” Oliveira said. “It was the same thing with Dustin Poirier. He always cuts the line and everyone knows that (happens) when Conor is on. He cuts the line. I think I deserve to choose and I’m choosing Conor because of everything I’ve done to make some money for my family and for everything. If I’m going to choose, I’m choosing Conor.”
As for what matchup the UFC is planning? Oliveira said his guess is as good as anyone’s because he hasn’t heard anything. He did, however, allude to a rumor of a January event in Brazil. If that’s true, he wants on.
“People are talking about it so much,” Oliveira said. “I think they might want it to happen. For me, it’s not specifically. The UFC hasn’t told me anything yet. I want to fight by the end of the year, but if it’s at the end of the year, really, I would prefer to fight in January in Brazil, if that event happens.”
Oliveira, 32, has won 11 straight fights, including three straight title fights. After he knocked out Michael Chandler for the vacant UFC lightweight title in May 2021, Oliveira defended successfully against Dustin Poirier in December. In May 2022, Oliveira vacated the title after he missed weight in a controversial fashion ahead of UFC 274, The title was still up for opponent Justin Gaethje to grab, but Oliveira denied him with a first-round submission.
Due to the questionable circumstances around his loss of championship status, Oliveira was promised by UFC president Dana White an immediate shot at the vacant title.
Makhachev, meanwhile, is on a 10-fight winning streak. His most recent three victories have come against Thiago Moises, Dan Hooker, and Bobby Green.