Charles Oliveira Explains U-Turn On Making The Turnaround To Face Islam Makhachev In Abu Dhabi
The UFC’s upcoming return to Abu Dhabi is somewhat set for a case of déjà vu, with Islam Makhachev and Charles Oliveira once again scheduled to take to the cage for the event’s headliner.
Last October, the pair collided for the vacant lightweight title, with Oliveira targeting a return to the throne having been unseated on the scale five months prior. Makhachev, meanwhile, was pursuing a first reign.
It was ultimately the Russian who achieved his ambitions, with Makhachev dropping and submitting his Brazilian rival in the second round at UFC 280.
While the champion went on to defend the belt for the first time against featherweight kingpin Alexander Volkanovski this past February in Australia, “Do Bronx” maintained his place in the title picture by ending the lengthy winning run of Beneil Dariush at UFC 289 in June.
Despite that, it appeared that a difficult opponent search was set to begin for Makhachev owing to some comments from Oliveira. The ex-champ stated that he wouldn’t be able to make the turnaround to run it back with the Dagestani at UFC 294.
As it turns out, the fan favorite was simply “playing” the game.
Oliveira Reveals Ploy To Push For Brazil Title Fight
To the surprise of many, Oliveira was eventually confirmed as the next challenger for Makhachev. Since then, questions have been asked surrounding the Brazilian’s original suggestion that he wasn’t an option for the Abu Dhabi event.
During a recent appearance on The MMA Hour with Ariel Helwani, Oliveira provided some answers.
Rather than injuries or other factors that could hamper preparation, “Do Bronx” revealed that he was simply testing whether or not the UFC would consider moving the fight back to the planned event in São Paulo a month later.
“What changed is that I just learned how to play. Now I’m playing,” Oliveira said. “What I knew is that the UFC is planning to maybe have a fight in Brazil in November, so I was trying to push it to November. I was just playing with them. Obviously it didn’t work, so now I’m fighting in October. But that’s what I was doing.”
Unfortunately for the former titleholder, his ploy was ultimately unsuccessful, with the UFC’s desire to have Makhachev compete in what appears to be close to a home turf fight evidently too strong.
Nevertheless, Oliveira doesn’t seem to have an issue returning to the site of his difficult loss last October. And having insisted that the man whom Makhachev defeated that night wasn’t him, “Do Bronx” will be targeting better memories at the Etihad Arena later this year.
First fights official for #UFC294 and they are HUGE!🎟️ Tickets on sale this week![ @InAbuDhabi | #InAbuDhabi | @VisitAbuDhabi ] pic.twitter.com/6w3HaO4ojN
— UFC (@ufc) July 20, 2023
- Read Also: Daniel Cormier Outlines ‘Mental Preparation’ Charles Oliveira Will Have To Undertake For Islam Makhachev Rematch
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