Charles Oliveira is extremely confident ahead of the biggest fight of his career against Michael Chandler in the UFC 262 main event on May 15th.
Oliveira will face Chandler for the vacant lightweight title next month, although he was expecting a title fight with Dustin Poirier, who opted to complete his trilogy with Conor McGregor, which is targeted to headline UFC 264 on July 10th.
‘I Was Hopeful’
With or without Poirier, Oliveira told MMA Fighting he was hopeful that an opportunity would come his way sooner or later.
“I thought I was going to fight Dustin Poirier, but then I realised he was angling for the Conor trilogy, so I was cool,” Oliveira said. “I can’t say I knew I was going to fight [for the belt], we never know for sure, but I was very hopeful that this opportunity would come for me.”
Before the UFC made the title fight between Oliveira and Chandler official, rumour had it that a fight between the former Bellator champion and Justin Gaethje was in the works. A lack of clarity over his future prompted the Brazilian to take a few days off from training to relax at his family farm.
While Oliveira was enjoying the much-needed peace of mind at his ranch, he had no idea what was cooking in Las Vegas, because of the poor telephone signals in his area. He only anticipated big news when his father returned from the city and told him that he has received a number of missed calls from his coach, Jorge Patino.
Oliveira immediately drove to the city, and when he got a signal on his phone, he got the news he had long been waiting for.
“Congratulations, my son,” Patino texted Oliveira. “Your dream has arrived.”
The Sao Paulo native is extremely happy for the opportunity to fight for the title, and said that he will get his hand raised on the night by any means necessary.
“It’s a wonderful feeling. Now let’s bring this belt home on the 15th,” Oliveira said. “It’s a title fight, the opportunity of my life, something I’ve promised to my community and my parents. It’s time. I don’t care if it’s by knockout or submission or decision, I just want to have my hands raised.”
But standing in the way of his dreams is Chandler, who has his own reasons to win the belt. While Oliveira isn’t underestimating his opponent, he’s confident that he has the skills to become the undisputed champion.
“I’ll respect him, but I’ll walk forward the entire time,” Oliveira promised. “If he comes to hit me hard, he’ll eat a counter. We both walk forward all the time. It will be two trucks colliding. I’m not afraid of getting hit. Hit me. If he takes me down, I’ll be doing what I love the most, which is jiu jitsu. I’m not worried if I stay on the feet or get taken down.
“All he has is a heavy hand, a heavy punch. I’m complete on the feet and complete on the ground. The only thing he has better than me is wrestling, but I’ll use my jiu jitsu if he tries to wrestle me so it makes no difference to me.
“Every wrestler that took me down, I made it happen. Will Brooks came from Bellator as the man and I took him down and caught him. I fought David Teymur, who had how many kickboxing matches, and I beat him on the feet before he took me down and I tapped him. Brother, I respect him a lot, but this is my time.”
The Crucial First Round
Chandler has won his last three fights via first-round stoppage, including his UFC debut against Dan Hooker at UFC 257. Oliveira is aware of the threat the American possesses, but his key to victory is fighting ‘bold and happy’ at UFC 262.
“That’s his strongest round, he comes for all or nothing in the first round,” Oliveira said. “He has great power with his hand. If you walk forward and don’t have the right strategy he’ll drop you on your butt because his first round is strong. We have to respect him, he was the Bellator champion and has fought great names, but I’ve also fought great names, I’ve had my highs and lows, and won my last eight.
“I’ve fought great wrestlers and showed how good I am. I’ve fought strikers and made things happen. It will be a good fight. The key in this fight is being bold and happy.”
Oliveira is a specialist when it comes to submitting people, but Chandler has never been submitted in his career. ‘Do Bronx’ however, plans on making history by becoming the first man to make his foe tap out.
“There’s always a moment and time in life,” Oliveira said. “Anderson Silva was a phenom and many people said he’d never lose, and that unfortunately happened. Jose Aldo stayed undefeated for how many years, beating everybody up, and ended up losing. [Israel Adesanya] was undefeated and moved up in weight and lost. I was undefeated when I got in the UFC and ended up losing.
“There’s a first time for everything in life. He has good wrestling, good jiu-jitsu, has a good hand, but everybody knows my power and how much I’ve evolved on the feet and how good my jiu-jitsu is, so I’ll bring boldness and joy into the Octagon. I’ll be bold.”
Do you think Charles Oliveira can beat Michael Chandler to win the undisputed UFC lightweight title at UFC 262?