With Tony Ferguson now on a two-fight losing skid, we need a new top 155-pound contender whose futile quest for a shot at the undisputed Lightweight championship becomes the stuff of legend. Unfortunately for Charles Oliveira, he totally fits that bill.
Just like Ferguson, he’s on a wild, lengthy winning streak. Just like Ferguson, it took way too long for people to wake up to his awesomeness. And just like Ferguson, we have a feeling that “Do Bronx” is going to find himself out in the cold again and again whenever another fight for the Lightweight strap is announced.
Call it a hunch, but I base it on the fact that following UFC 256, Dana White certainly wasn’t selling Oliveira as an obvious lock for a title fight, vacant belt or otherwise.
“The rankings are coming out on Tuesday, so we’ll see where [Oliveira] ends up in the rankings,” White said at the post-fight press conference. “And without a doubt no matter what the guy’s one of the best in the world right now in the nastiest division in the sport.”
Definitely not the kind of verbiage that suggests Oliveira is poised to become the next No. 1 contender. Which isn’t exactly surprising, considering how difficult it’s been for bigger stars than he to get a go at the belt.
Oliveira’s chances double should reigning champion, Khabib Nurmagomedov, vacate his belt in January, which is something Oliveira thinks will happen.
“Khabib swore on his father’s grave that he wasn’t going to come back,” Oliveira said (actually he promised his mother). “So when a man does that, I don’t think he’s going to come back. Gaethje can fight whoever, but I want the winner of Conor and Poirier. I have eight wins in a row, seven of those I finish the fights, and I don’t let it go to the judges hands, I finish fights. I deserve it, I’m in the position to be fighting for the belt.”
Oh, my sweet summer child. Let’s not start throwing around the word “deserve” when it comes to title shots. Ferguson deserved an undisputed title shot, and never got it. How long was Khabib dealing with that particular “No. 1 boolsheet” as well? Oliveira has just entered the most crowded contender’s circle in combat sports, where the belt is currently held by a man who only fights once a year, during a specific time of the year, and will only do so again with the permission of his mother.
It could be a while.
And let’s face it, his impressive record and exciting fight style don’t quite overcome his promotional shortcomings, like not speaking English and looking like Ferguson’s introverted younger cousin. And sad to say, when you’ve got guys like Conor McGregor and Michael Chandler and Justin Gaethje jockeying for main event position alongside you, you better have the complete package or you’re liable to get Ferguson’d a time or three before (hopefully) getting what you deserve.