Former UFC lightweight champion Charles Oliveira has revealed that he never wanted to fight Islam Makhachev in Abu Dhabi, but had to because, first and foremost, he’s a UFC employee.
Oliveira was stripped of the 155-pound title after missing weight ahead of UFC 274, where he submitted Justin Gaethje with a rear-naked choke. He wanted to fight Conor McGregor next, but that bout never came through.
The Brazilian was ultimately left with no choice but to fight Makhachev in Abu Dhabi despite his best efforts to get the fight booked in New York instead of the UAE, where the latter is perceived to have a hometown advantage.
“I didn’t want this fight. Everyone knows it,” Oliveira said in a recent interview with Brazilian YouTube channel PVT (h/t MMA with Subtitles). “I wanted the big payment from the other fight. However, everyone knows that I’m a UFC employee. You can’t escape that. So we tried to negotiate from every angle. I tried NY because it was a neutral ground. But the fight was decided there (Abu Dhabi). But to be honest the cage is the same anywhere in the world.”
Oliveira will meet Makhachev in the UFC 280 main event for the vacant lightweight championship in what will likely be ‘Do Bronx’s’ toughest test in the Octagon to date, with oddsmakers listing Makhachev as the betting favorite. The highly anticipated PPV is scheduled to take place on October 22 at the Etihad Arena in Abu Dhabi.
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