UFC lightweight champion Charles Oliveira respects Dustin Poirier as a threat in the 155-pound division, but he’s still confident in his abilities to make “The Diamond” pay inside the octagon.
“Do Bronx” was sitting cageside at UFC 264 in Las Vegas earlier this month for Poirier’s trilogy bout with Conor McGregor; Poirier emerged victorious for the second time in a row against the Irishman. Oliveira said he has yet to hear from the UFC if Poirier will be the first man to challenge him for the UFC gold, but he expects it to happen.
“I believe Dustin fought Conor because he knew he would be making a lot of money,” Oliveira said in an interview with MMA Fighting. “He passed on the belt to fight for money but knew that he would be next in line with a win. I don’t know what his plans are.”
Poirier took on social media days after his win over “The Notorious” to respond to a challenge issued by Nate Diaz, a matchup that was once booked but never materialized.
“I think that a fight with Nate would also give him a lot of money, but I don’t know what’s the logic behind that,” Oliveira said. “Every person thinks one way. I believe the right fight to make is Charles Oliveira-Dustin Poirier, but I’m not worried about it. I’m the champion. They are the ones that must run after me and the belt, not the other way around.”
If the UFC makes the Oliveira vs. Poirier fight next, the Brazilian expects to boost his record for most submission victories in UFC history by tapping out the American Top Team product. Oliveira is on a nine-fight winning streak with eight stoppages, while Poirier has had only one defeat in his last 10 outings.
“I believe the firepower in my hands, but I think in a fight against Dustin, I believe I can submit him,” Oliveira said. “Working with my hands, with my strikes, I would definitely cause a lot of damage and then submit him.
“It’s going to be a war, a great fight. He deserves all the respect in the world, he has heavy hands and good jiu-jitsu, too, so I think it’s going to be a great fight, but I believe in my victory.”
Oliveira wasn’t all that impressed by Poirier’s striking against McGregor earlier this month, saying “the fight was going well for Conor on the feet,” but credits Poirier’s wrestling for changing the outcome of the battle “from the moment [McGregor] was taken down and put in a bad position.”
Oliveira expected to face Poirier for the vacant lightweight gold, but then took on Michael Chandler after the ATT star opted to face McGregor instead. After watching “The Diamond” compete once more in the octagon in 2021, Oliveira believes Poirier “has evolved, but so have I.”
“He deserves all the respect in the world for everything he’s done, but I’m not worried about what people bring to the table against me,” he said. “I worry about what I’m going to add to my game. I have firepower in both hands, everybody sees how much I’ve evolved on the feet, and I have my jiu-jitsu.
“It’s going to be a great fight, if this one really happens. It’s going to be a great show [for the fans], and I’m ready on the feet and on the ground. I’m well both mentally, physically and spiritually. I’m happy. Let’s go. We’ll be defending what’s ours in December.”