Oliveira (33-8, 1 NC) was stripped of the 155-pound title at UFC 274 in May after missing weight by a half pound during the official weigh-in. While he finished Justin Gaethje in the first round, the lightweight title became vacant.
Makhachev (22-1) is ranked No. 4 in the division and is riding an impressive 10-fight winning streak. Despite the win streak and Makhachev being the highest ranked fighter in the division that hasn’t lost to Oliveira, “do Bronx” questions whether Makhachev earned the UFC 280 title shot on his merits or his ties to former champion Khabib Nurmagomedov.
“I think we have to respect my opponent. Islam is coming with a 10-fight win streak. He is very smart with his game,” Oliveira said on UFC 280 Embedded. “However, I think he’s been surfing a wave that is not his, but Khabib’s. That’s the truth. This match is happening because Khabib made it happen. Not by Islam’s own merit. Because, in my opinion, he should be fighting against a Top 5 contender.
“Who’s the ranked contender that Islam fight? No one!”
Oliveira is riding a winning streak himself. The Brazilian has 11 wins in-a-row. His last loss was in December 2017. He predicts that the he’ll stop Makhachev in the first round.
UFC 280 Embedded, Episode 1
(Video Courtesy of UFC)