Charles Oliveira validated himself as champion in the eyes of Justin Gaethje. The Brazilian made a successful title defense against Dustin Poirier at UFC 269.
Oliveira showed great hart, as he has rebounded from knockdowns in the first round against Poirier and Michael Chandler to earn stoppages and leave with the belt around his waist.
Gaethje, who was cageside at T-Mobile Arena, said he was impressed with what he saw and gave the champion his respect.
“I absolutely loved it,” Gaethje told ESPN immediately after the fight. “I will give no disrespect to Charles. He is now the undisputed champion, and I cannot wait to fight him. I saw a competitor tonight. I saw a dog, and I can’t wait to break his face. He gets hit a lot, and he better pray and hope for next however many days until our fight that he takes me down and gets his choke. Because if not, we’ll see what happens.”
UFC president Dana White confirmed at the post-fight news conference that Gaethje is next in line to fight for the 155-pound belt on the heels of his “Fight of the Year” contender win over Chandler at UFC 268 in November.
A timeline for the matchup has not been revealed, but Gaethje is already chomping at the bit for his opportunity.
“He just won a championship,” Gaethje said. “I should be build it up. At the end of the day, it’s me trying to knock him out versus him trying to get it to the ground. That’s who we are. That’s who he’s been. That’s who I’ve been.”