Charles Oliveira is hoping to secure his first ever UFC lightweight title shot with a win over Tony Ferguson later tonight (Sat., Dec. 12, 2020) at UFC 256 live on ESPN+ PPV from inside UFC APEX in Las Vegas, Nevada. It’s undoubtedly the biggest fight of Oliveira’s career and a matchup that could map out his entire 2021 campaign.
Oliveira, who has won his last seven Octagon appearances all by way of finish, is as close as ever to getting his hands on UFC gold. The all-time leader in UFC submission wins has produced a 8-1 record since returning to lightweight back in 2017. That type of success is usually good enough to lock down a title shot, but the UFC’s lightweight division is so deep that it takes much longer to secure those opportunities.
Fortunately for Oliveira, current UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov seems to be on his way out for good, leaving behind a big void atop the division. While a rematch between Conor McGregor and Dustin Poirier next month holds serious title implications as well “Do Bronx” believes a win over Ferguson at UFC 256 aligns him with everyone else.
“I took this fight already knowing what was going to happen,” Oliveira told Combate. “Who’s going to fight for the belt? Justin Gaethje? He ran away the whole time in his fight against Khabib. He fought an ugly fight and got finished in the second round. The only reason why he didn’t get finished in the first is because time ran out.
“Dan Hooker is coming off a loss. Rafael dos Anjos comes off a win. He’s a former champion, all right. He lost when fought for the welterweight title. Now he just got back and he’s fighting for a title? There’s no way. I’m on a seven-fight win streak and the three guys ahead of me are all former interim champions. The only one who was an undisputed champion is Conor McGregor. There’s no way out, no logic.”
Oliveira’s math certainly adds up but that’s not always the way it works. While the Brazilian veteran has looked unstoppable over the past few years his name still doesn’t carry the same weight as the other top guys at lightweight. UFC president Dana White also believes he can coax Khabib back for another fight so the 155-pound title scene is pretty muddled right about now.
At the very least, Oliveira is aiming to defeat Ferguson in one of the biggest lightweight matchups of 2020 and throw his name into the hat for a clash with the winner of McGregor vs. Poirier 2.
“Everything is in motion. That guy retired, there’s nothing you can do,” said Oliveira about Khabib. “He sworn on his father’s grave that he wouldn’t fight again. He promised his mom. A man must keep his word. If he sworn on his father’s grave that he wouldn’t fight again, he sure won’t fight again. There’s nothing you can do. Who wins between Charles Oliveira and Tony Ferguson, and I’m sure that’ll be me, is the next title challenger. Then there’s Dustin Poirier vs. Conor McGregor. Who wins that gets to fight me (for the title) in the middle of next year. There’s nothing else to be said.”
MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC 256 fight card right HERE, starting with the early ESPN+ “Prelims” matches online, which are scheduled to begin at 7:30 p.m. ET, then the remaining undercard balance on ESPN 2/ESPN+ at 8 p.m. ET, before the PPV main card start time at 10 p.m. ET on ESPN+ PPV.
To check out the latest and greatest UFC 256: “Figueiredo vs. Moreno” news and notes be sure to hit up our comprehensive event archive right here. For more upcoming UFC events in both Las Vegas and Abu Dhabi click here.