With sights firmly set on the upcoming UFC 264 lightweight headliner between former division gold holders, Dustin Poirier and Conor McGregor — minted division best, Charles Oliveira has picked the latter to take bragging rights against the former — envisioning a more “focused” McGregor come July 10th. which will overthrow Poirier.
In the midst of a stunning, division-best eight-fight undefeated run, Oliveira scooped the vacant lightweight championship in May with a second round knockout victory over former three-time Bellator lightweight best, Michael Chandler — rallying to stop the Missouri native in the early goings with strikes.
Off the back of the victory, Oliveira, the promotion’s most prolific submission artist in the history of the UFC has been linked to his maiden defence of the lightweight crown before the close of the year — with many picking the victor of next weekend’s rubber match between Poirier and McGregor to meet the Sao Paulo native next.
Earlier this week, the Diego Lima Chute Boxe mainstay maintained that despite his clear advantage in any possible grappling scenarios — he’s still capable of knocking out both Poirier or McGregor, given his recent improvements with his Muay Thai background.
“I never choose opponents,” Oliveira said. “I am always ready to fight. They are two big names in the sport, the lightweights. Everyone knows that a fight with Conor (McGregor) has a lot of money and one with Dustin (Poirier), not so much, but they are two great opponents. I don’t choose my fights. I will be ready. I really believe in my Jiu-Jitsu against either of them, but something tells me that if I fought them, I would knock them both out. I’m feeling fine.“
With confidence sky-high ahead of a potential title defence against either Poirier or McGregor — Oliveira is currently leaning toward the Dubliner to overcome Poirier at the T-Mobile Arena, citing a new mindset for the Crumlin native matched with a new focus.
“Today, I’m a champion, it’s a new story being written,” Oliveira told Brazilian outlet, AgFight. “Whoever wins (between Poirier and McGregor), I’ll be ready. It’s a very difficult category (lightweight). For me, it’s the best (weight class) in the UFC. Who the UFC sends, let’s analyze, but that’s the focus. Whoever passes will fight me. They are two big names.“
“In the last fight (in January), I thought Dustin (Poirier) would win, but in the second round onwards. He surprised (me) and knocked him (McGregor) out in the second (round). For this fight, I think Conor (McGregor) wins. I think he comes with another mindset, more focused. You can win, but it’s tough, balanced fight. I’m going for Conor. I think he takes the fight. I don’t know why, but I think so.“
For McGregor to earn a lightweight title showdown against Oliveira, he is tasked with putting right January wrongs and woes behind him, after Poirier scored a second round knockout over the Dubliner in the pair’s rematch of a September 2014 featherweight clash.