Dustin Poirier “guarantees” he won’t be fighting Michael Chandler for the lightweight belt after his massive win over Conor McGregor in Abu Dhabi at UFC 257.
Charles Oliveira is counting on that promise to secure his shot at the gold.
Speaking with MMA Fighting on Monday, Oliveira said he wasn’t surprised by Poirier’s performance on Fight Island, even though he expected “The Diamond” to secure the victory after the third round. With McGregor likely out of the title picture, Oliveira said “now we have out opponent for the title fight.”
“That’s the fight to make,” Oliveira said. “Dustin Poirier himself said this is the fight to make. I’m coming off eight straight wins, and I’m not playing games in the division, and he knows that.
“What’s left? There’s nowhere to go. The UFC gave me Tony Ferguson on 20 days’ notice, ‘The Boogeyman,’ and you all saw what happened. They put Dustin Poirier against Conor McGregor – everybody knows how important [McGregor] is for the promotion – and look what Dustin Poirier did. Don’t we deserve this title fight? This is the fight to make.”
Chandler left his mark in his first appearance under the bright lights of the UFC in the co-main event spot, scoring a first-round knockout over Dan Hooker. Chandler is a former 155-pound titleholder in Bellator and hoped to jump right into a championship bout in his second UFC bout.
“Michael Chandler is super tough, he made history in Bellator, and came here and just fought once,” Oliveira said. “So the fight to make is Charles Oliveira vs. Dustin Poirier. There’s no other way. Everybody wants this fight. Everybody knows this is the fight to make.”
If “do Bronx” does get his chance against Poirier for the lightweight throne, he predicts history will be made.
“Dustin Poirier is really tough on the feet and on the ground,” he said. “Everybody knows I’m evolving on the feet, and I don’t shy away from trading with anyone. But also everybody knows how dangerous I am when I take people down. I respect everyone, but this is my moment and my time. I’ll be the UFC champion in 2021. Knockout or submission, it doesn’t matter, my hands will be raised in the end.”
According to UFC President Dana White, Khabib Nurmagomedov’s immediate reaction to the main UFC 257 fights was, “Dana, be honest with yourself. I’m so many levels above these guys. I beat these guys.”
Even though Oliveira respects the Russian superstar both in and out of the cage, he believes a new face at the top of the class could entice “The Eagle” to return.
“You have to respect the man, 29 wins in a row, never lost in his career,” Oliveira said. “He’s dominated everyone he’s fought, he’s beaten the big names in the division. But he hasn’t fought me, so he can’t say he’s levels above everyone. He can say he’s better than the ones he fought. Dustin Poirier and Conor McGregor, he fought them both, so he can say he’s better than those two, but he can’t say since he never fought me.
“Me beating Dustin Poirier and becoming champion, that could definitely entice him to return, and if he does, he goes straight for the belt. But I don’t see him coming back. He made a promise over his father’s grave, so let’s focus on what has to happen here, which is Charles Oliveira vs. Dustin Poirier for the lightweight belt.”