UFC brass seems to have sights set on pairing Brazilian phenom, Charles ‘Do Bronx’ Oliveira with former interim lightweight champion, Justin ‘The Highlight’ Gaethje next, however, the former’s manager and coach, Diego Lima believes his client and student should enter a title tilt in his next Octagon appearance instead.
The winner of eight straight, Sao Paulo native, Oliveira featured twice under the promotion’s banner last year, scoring victories over both Kevin ‘The Mo’Town Phenom’ Lee, and former interim titleholder, Tony ‘El Cucuy’ Ferguson.
Sitting at #3 in the official lightweight rankings, Oliveira earned his spot within the top-five via a shutout unanimous decision triumph over the aforenoted, Ferguson at UFC 256 on December 12th. — completely outclassing the Oxnard native both on the feet and from top-position.
Headlining UFC Fight Night Brasilia on home soil in March, Oliveira drew former interim title challenger, Lee, and via a third-round guillotine victory, stamped his status as a contender worth keeping a watchful eye on throughout the year. With the submission win, the 31-year-old became the most prolific grappler in Octagon antiquity, wrapping up a record-setting eleventh submission stoppage.
On the cusp of a title challenge, with possibly the above mentioned, Gaethje the only competitor separating him from his premier promotional tilt, Oliveira’s manager, Lima detailed how he believes the Brazilian has already earned a crack at lightweight spoils.
“I honestly think he (Charles Oliveira) deserves to go straight for the belt,” Lima said in a recent interview with MMA Fighting. “He’s coming off eight wins in a row, beat Kevin Lee in great fashion and then dominated (Tony) Ferguson all around — and Ferguson is one of the best of the division, won twelve straight before losing a title fight — so I think Charles is ready and has enough credibility to fight for the belt.“
With fellow lightweight contenders, Dustin ‘The Diamond’ Poirier and ‘The Notorious’ Conor McGregor set to rematch in a pivotal UFC 257 main event in just over two-weeks time, Lima suggested Oliveira should fight the winner of that ‘Fight Island’ headliner for a vacant title if current undisputed champion, Khabib ‘The Eagle’ Nurmagomedov follows through with his retirement plans.
“With all due respect, Khabib (Nurmagomedov) ran over [Justin Gaethje],” Lima explained. “I believe Charles’ next fight has to be for the belt against the winner of (Dustin) Poirier and (Conor) McGregor, not Justin Gaethje. But we know this fight between Poirier and McGregor involves a lot of things. We know that Poirier winning means one thing, and McGregor winning changes the whole scenario. I think there’s a lot at stake in this fight.“