With the UFC lightweight title picture murkier than ever, it’s a prime time for contenders to surge up the rankings and make their case as the champion-in-waiting.
11-year UFC veteran Charles Oliveira is the perfect example of this.
The 31-year-old defeated former interim champion Tony Ferguson in dominating fashion at UFC 256 in December, moving his unbeaten run to eight victories in a row to make a statement when book ending 2020.
Oliveira is currently ranked third in the UFC rankings following that Ferguson win and with UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov looking like he is following through on his retirement promise, the Brazilian is very much in the title picture.
In his mind, that position was strengthened even more following UFC 257 and he believes he should be fighting for the championship at 155 pounds – whether it’s against a returning Khabib or Dustin Poirier, who knocked out Conor McGregor last weekend.
“There is no other path to go. I´m coming from a sequence of eight wins. If Khabib [Nurmagomedov] returns, I’m the only one in the top four that didn’t face him,” Oliveira told Sherdog. “It’s me and him or Poirier, who did a great job against McGregor and already knocked out [Justin] Gaethje. So the only fight would make sense is myself against Khabib or Poirier.”
In the UFC 257 co-main event, former Bellator lightweight champion Michael Chandler made a big statement like Poirier did in the headline act.
Chandler knocked out Dan Hooker in the first round to make a statement in his Octagon debut, but Oliveira believes one victory in the UFC – and over a contender like Hooker – doesn’t warrant him a shot at UFC gold.
“Chandler did a great job proving to be a tough guy fighting in an aggressive way as he always did in Bellator,” Oliveira said. “But I have no doubt that Dana White will take into consideration the recent history of the lightweight division in UFC.”