Charles Oliveira impressed over the weekend at UFC 269, proving—beyond a shadow of a doubt—that he deserves to wear the UFC lightweight belt. ‘Do Bronx’ did this by surviving adversity against Dustin Poirier before storming back and tapping the Diamond with a rear naked choke.
The win was Oliveira’s first defence of a title he won in May. He claimed the belt with a sensational TKO over Michael Chandler. The Poirier win gives Oliveira 10 wins in a row and increases his lead in the UFC record books for most finishes (18) and most submissions (15).
Despite dispatching of one of the best lightweights in the sport, Oliveira still has an extremely talent-rich pool of challengers ahead of him. Among those racing for a shot at the champ are Justin Gaethje, Beneil Dariush, Islam Makhachev, Rafael dos Anjos and Dan Hooker. There’s also Conor McGregor lurking the wings, despite his recent record being a paltry 1-3.
After UFC 269 Dana White weighed in on who would be next for Oliveira. Though, he didn’t speak at length about Oliveira’s likely next opponent he did confirm that the 23-3 Gaethje “makes sense” as the next man up.
The news will be music to Gaethje’s ears. He’s been campaigning for that shot since long before Oliveira and Poirier entered the cage opposite each other.
Before he beat Chandler at UFC 268 earlier this month, Gaethje proclaimed he would “go to war” if he didn’t get the next 155 lb title shot. After Oliveira’s win this weekend, Gaethje responded that he can’t wait to break the Brazilian’s face.
Gaethje also took to twitter to announce he was #next to fight for the belt.
— Justin Gaethje (@Justin_Gaethje) December 12, 2021
At the post-fight press conference White was also asked about the UFC’s travel plans for 2022 and whether Oliveira had a shot at defending his title in his native Brazil. White wouldn’t give a clear answer on the subject and stated he didn’t care about where the UFC would be able to put on shows next year.
“I have no idea what’s possible in 2022,” he said (ht MMA Fighting). “I don’t give a shit. I [couldn’t] care less. Texas, Florida, APEX. Florida, Texas, APEX. Abu Dhabi, Florida, Texas, APEX. I don’t give a shit if anything opens again. I don’t care, I’m not even thinking about it, I [couldn’t] care less.”
White also offered praise for Oliveira, rubbishing the notion that the fighter—who had many stumbles in his early UFC career—had “quit in him” as some of his rivals have suggested.
“I never heard any of that stuff. You’ve got to stay off the fucking internet. I always thought he was a tough guy. He’s had some bumps along the way, same thing with Poirier, but like I said at the press conference the other day they’re two blue-collar, hard-working guys that have grinded their way to the top and he went in tonight and beat Dustin. And Dustin is a very, very tough, durable, well-rounded guy who has had a ton of experience and it was a big night for Oliveira.”
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