Coming off an impressive sequence of eight straight wins, Charles Oliveira was recently confirmed to face ex-Bellator champion Michael Chandler for the vacant lightweight crown at UFC 262 on May 15.
Shortly thereafter, Oliveira revealed to Sherdog.com the curious manner in which he received the most important news of his fighting career. After Khabib Nurmagomedov confirmed his retirement and rumors of a lightweight title bout between Justin Gaethje and Chandler became prevalent, Oliveira decided to spend some time relaxing on his ranch.
"When some fan asked me what I thought about that fight, I answered it would be a great fight between two killers. I wanted to fight for the belt, so once I didn’t have that fight confirmed I decided to go on Thursday night to my ranch, where the telephone just doesn't work. But my father had to go to the city to buy some stuff and saw many calls from my trainer, Diego Lima, and told me about that.
“At that moment I knew Diego wanted to tell me something important, and I immediately drove to the city. In the middle of the road the telephone signal returned, I opened a message from master Jorge Patino saying ‘Congratulations champ, your dream came true, you are the next contender.’ I immediately stopped the car and started to cry, hugging my father. After 11 years of hard work in UFC I finally reached my goal.”
The announcement of the title fight against Chandler in the UFC 262 main event prompted an immediate meeting between Oliveira and Lima to discuss plans for his training camp, which will be shared between the headquarters of Chute Boxe in Sao Paulo and his academy in Guaruja, which is located 60 miles away from the Brazilian capital.
"I´ll drive 60 miles from Monday to Friday, and every Saturday Diego brings the team to train with me here. There are people who leave their countries to train. Driving 60 miles to stay close to my family and friends is no sacrifice,” Oliveira said.
Oliveira believes Chandler’s heavy hands will be his greatest area of concern.
"If he takes me down, he will do me a favor. I believe he will pretty much try to keep the fight standing and repeat what he did with Dan Hooker, but if he has one good punch, I have many more combinations,” Oliveira said. “Furthermore, I´ll not run from him like Hooker did. On the contrary, for each of his attempts, I will have a stronger answer. Of course Chandler deserves credit for that debut win, but if Hooker were not so concerned to talk bulls—t about me in the week of the fight, I´m sure that he could have done better.”
Oliveira also pointed out the importance of his Iranian wrestling coach.
"He improved my wrestling a lot,” Oliveira said. “If you see my last fights, I took down all my opponents and of course will focus on that discipline against Chandler.”
But when asked to predict how his fight with Chandler will end, Oliveira did not hesitate.
"He always comes very strong, and I´ll catch him with a counter hit.”
When discussing the critics, Bronx also answered Chael Sonnen, who recently said that Oliveira did everything wrong outside of the Octagon to promote himself.
"Sonnen must understand that this sport is disputed inside of the cage,” Oliveira said. “That's what fans pay for. I´m coming from eight straight wins and have broken many submission records. Put me inside the cage and I´ll give what the fans [want]. That´s what I train for.
“If trash talk transforms you into a UFC champion, probably Khabib, GSP and most of UFC champions wouldn't reach the title and Sonnen would. Sonnen has never been a UFC champion. I want to be a champion without disrespecting anyone.”
If he defeats Chandler at UFC 262, Oliveira could be in line for a title defense against the winner of the rumored Dustin Poirier-Conor McGregor trilogy fight. Oliveira sees Poirier as the clear favorite in the third meeting between the two lightweights.
"Conor is really dangerous in the first two rounds, but I see Poirier with more experience and volume to take this third fight. But of course my focus now is totally on Michael Chandler. Definitely this division is a shark tank. Every fight is a different war.”