Charles Oliveira manager: Next ‘must be for the belt’ fight against Dustin Poirier-Conor McGregor winner, not Justin Gaethje


Charles Oliveira was convinced that a one-sided win over Tony Ferguson would lead to a UFC lightweight belt shot, but Dana White’s recent comment suggesting a fight between ‘do Bronx’ and Justin Gaethje could happen. says the company may have other plans for the Brazilian.

Oliveira’s team, however, are still hoping that the submission ace will compete for gold next.

“I honestly think he deserves to go straight to the belt,” Oliveira manager and coach Diego Lima said in an interview with MMA Fighting. “He’s just had eight straight wins, beat Kevin Lee really well, then dominated Ferguson all around – and Ferguson is one of the best in the division, had 12 straight wins before losing a title fight – so I think Charles is ready and has enough credibility to fight for the belt.

Gaethje was on a roll in the octagon before losing by submission to Khabib Nurmagomedov in a title unification fight at UFC 254 in Abu Dhabi. Gaethje is still ranked No.1 on the official UFC roster, with Oliveira being No.3 behind Dustin Poirier.

The UFC is yet to make a decision on what to do with the 155-pound belt after Nurmagomedov announced his retirement from the sport after beating Gaethje. Oliveira’s team have a suggestion, and it involves UFC 257 headliners Poirier and Conor McGregor, who meet on January 23 at Fight Island.

“With all due respect, Khabib has crushed [Gaethje]. It has to count, and a lot, ”said Lima. “I believe Charles’s next fight has to be for the belt against winner Poirier and McGregor, not Justin Gaethje. But we do know that this fight between Poirier and McGregor involves a lot of things. We know winning Poirier means one thing, and winning McGregor changes the whole storyline. I think there is a lot at stake in this fight.

Oliveira currently has a fight in her current contract with the UFC, but will not consider competing for the contract. Instead, they are hoping for a good pay raise in negotiations after an 8-0 score since June 2018, breaking the record for most submissions in UFC history (14) in the process.

“We absolutely want to renew the contract and book Charles’ next fight – and God willing, it will be for the belt,” Lima said. “The position he currently occupies, the number of wins he has, what he did in his last fight, I think he deserves an upgrade in his purse. It is more than deserving. Not only for its position in the ranking, but also for its history in the organization.

“Most bonuses, most finishes, most submissions… He could break two or three records in his next bout. All of that, in addition to his victory over Ferguson, will be very important when we renew the contract.

If his wish goes unfulfilled and Oliveira has to share the cage with Gaethje in a non-championship game, his coach believes he has the perfect skills to hand the former interim defending champion another loss.

“Justin is a tough opponent and I think tough opponents make good fights, as we saw in Charles against Kevin Lee and Ferguson,” said Lima. “Charles is ready to win against anyone in the division. Everyone already knows Charles’s ground game, everyone can see his development in wrestling and on his feet.

“With all due respect Gaethje, a tough guy, I see Charles winning in all areas. If this fight is reserved, we will study Gaethje’s game hard and try for victory.

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