Fighting someone in their own backyard is always tough ...
Charles Oliveria rematches Islam Makhachev for UFC’s Lightweight championship in 20 days (Sat., Oct. 21, 2023) at UFC 294, the same location — Etihad Arena in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates — where he had his 11-fight win streak snapped (watch highlights).
In a recent interview with journalist James Lynch, Oliveira revealed he doesn't think returning to the Middle East for his next title fight is fair.
"[I] don't necessarily think it's fair, but it's the game," Oliveira said through a translator. "You know, that's where the champion is. He calls the shots, but I'm coming back for my belt."
Makhachev hails from Dagestan, but with COVID-related protocols and other international traveling snafus, “Fight Island” in Abu Dhabi has become something of a home game for Russian fighters. In fact, Dana White and Co. explicitly put Makhachev — as well as Khamzat Chimaev — on the sidelines for most of 2023.
Khamzat even recently emigrated to United Arab Emirates.
Nevertheless, "Do Bronx" has not fought in his home country, Brazil, since UFC Fight Night: “Lee vs. Oliveira” in early 2020 (it was the first UFC card fought behind closed doors and the last event before the world shut down because of the pandemic). Since then, Oliveira has fought in Nevada, Canada, Texas and, of course, Justin Gaethje's home state of Arizona. Oliveira would again fight in enemy territory, Abu Dhabi, five months later, where he lost his title (technically vacant, but he was champion) to Makhachev.
While Oliveira is a major fan favorite, he will be booed at UFC 294 when he returns to Abu Dhabi and will be fighting the timezone. "Do Bronx" is coming off a first-round technical knockout win over Beneil Dariush at UFC 288 that earned him a second crack at Makhachev later this month.
Makhachev, meanwhile, barely scraped Featherweight roost-ruler, Alexander Volkanovski, earlier this year.
Is it fair that Charles Oliveira has to fight in Abu Dhabi again?
This poll is closed
Remember that MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC 294 fight card right here, starting with the early ESPN+ “Prelims” matches online, which are scheduled to begin at 10 a.m. ET, before the pay-per-view (PPV) main card start time at 10 p.m. ET (also on ESPN+).
To check out the latest and greatest UFC 294: “Makhachev vs. Volkanovski 2” news and notes be sure to hit up our comprehensive event archive right here.
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