Charles Oliveira was crowned UFC lightweight champion after stopping fellow contender Michael Chandler in a wild back-and-forth brawl in the UFC 262 pay-per-view (PPV) main event back on May 15 in Houston, Texas.
The 155-pound strap was previously vacated by the recently-retired Khabib Nurmagomedov — preventing a future showdown with “The Eagle” — but that doesn’t mean Oliveira is competing under the ex-champ’s shadow.
“I would also love to see this fight, but I don’t see myself under his shadow,” Oliveira told MMA Fighting. “He said he’s beaten everybody in the division but he never fought me, so he can’t say he’s beaten everybody. But he’s beaten everyone he fought. He deserves all the respect in the world. [But] the new lightweight champion is Charles Oliveira, someone who comes in to finish people. A new legacy has begun in the lightweight division. What Khabib has done until now was 100 percent wonderful, a respectful man, but a new era has begun. A new legacy. Charles Oliveira.”
Oliveira, who turns 32 in October, improved to 31-8 (1 NC) with his finish over Chandler and is widely-expected to draw the winner of Dustin Poirier vs. Conor McGregor, who complete their trilogy this July at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.
“I like being the underdog,” Oliveira continued. “I go there and prove it. Brother, I’ve made history ever since I got in the UFC. Every time people said I couldn’t do something, I went there and proved them wrong. When they gave me someone and said they would knock me out, I proved them wrong. Every time they said someone would knock me out, they ended up beat up on the feet and shooting for takedowns. I show my firepower, my knockout power. I’ll tell you this, being the underdog or ‘the man of the hour’ makes no difference to me. What matters is what you can do in there. Every time you get in there is 50-50 and whoever has the best strategy and is better prepared will win.”
Oliveira is currently a betting underdog to both Poirier (+155) and McGregor (+145).