Charles Oliveira has little time for his doubters.
The Brazilian’s eyes have been firmly set on regaining the lightweight title since losing a vacant championship bout against Islam Makhachev at UFC 280. They were scheduled to rematch in the main event of UFC 294, but featherweight champion Alexander Volkanovski stepped in after Oliveira was forced to withdraw due to a cut just 12 days’ before fight night.
There was much consternation over the cut that prompted Oliveira to bow out, including discussion over why he and his team attempted to address the problem themselves instead of immediately alerting the UFC. The former lightweight champion explained his side of the story on The MMA Hour.
“I want people to answer this quick,” Oliveira said through a translator. “Think about this, say it happens to you. You’re fighting, you’re training out there, and all of a sudden you get a gash right there, a huge cut. What do you do? Are you going to go out there 12 days before the fight and call the UFC and you’re going to say, ‘What do you recommend?’ You’re gashed right there. We have a doctor. We have a great medical team that has worked well with everybody. The first thing we do, ‘This is bleeding. This is huge. Let’s go to the doctor.’
“He did a great job, doctor did internal stitches, external stitches, everything was great. I don’t think a plastic surgeon would have actually got me ready for that fight. Just for you to understand, right now, it has been three weeks since that happened, and the external stitches still open. That cut has not been closed. You want to go for the quickest solution possible and we have a great team of doctors and they did exactly what needed to be done and we just went for it because we wanted it to be taken care of immediately.”
One of the most notable skeptics regarding Oliveira’s withdrawal was UFC welterweight contender Belal Muhammad. “Remember the Name” took to social media to accuse Oliveira of finding a way out of the fight, going as far as to say that he believed Oliveira may have even cut himself on purpose.
It’s an accusation that Oliveira just rolls his eyes at.
“I’ve been at this for 13 years,” Oliveira said. “I didn’t come in yesterday to the UFC. I’ve been in this for 13 years and I’m going to tell you the real talk here: They want to surf my wave. That’s what’s happening. They just want to show up and just make themselves known and seen and heard. Think about this: Who would actually make up or cause a situation in which he had such a big and deep cut the day of actually traveling. These dudes, all they do is talk s***, that’s what they do all the time, and at the end of the day I don’t pay attention to them.
“For the UFC, when I told the UFC what happened and actually explained the situation to them, the support that I’ve gotten from the UFC, they understand who I am. They understand who Charles Oliveira is. They understand that I’m already thinking about the training I need to do, everything that I need to do to get back, and everything that I need to do to become a champion again. They understand this. In reality, I really don’t give a damn what people say.”
Though Oliveira doesn’t expect his cut to keep him out of action for long, the fact remains that not being able to make it to the Makhachev rematch now puts him back on the waiting list for a title shot. In all likelihood, the offer to fight Makhachev will go to either him or Justin Gaethje, who recently defeated Dustin Poirier to become the second “BMF” champion.
Oliveira—who holds a submission win over Gaethje at UFC 274 in May 2022—expects to be given another chance to avenge his loss to Makhachev, or a the very least, fight for some kind of lightweight prize should Makhachev attempt to move up to welterweight and become a two-division titleholder.
“You know that I’m not the type of guy to be sending messages out there,” Oliveira said. “I just do my thing and make it happen. Everybody’s campaigning, everybody’s just trying to put themselves into that context there and serve themselves and to sell a fight. Even Islam said he might want to move up in weight, so why not?
“Maybe the UFC will put somebody to fight for the interim belt and maybe Gaethje could be coming up to that situation. Gaethje’s had a great history, great fighter, great guy, a lot of history with this organization, but I’m not one to be sending messages out there. I don’t need to.”