Few MMA fights this year have been as eagerly anticipated as Charles Oliveira’s rematch with Islam Makhachev in Abu Dhabi on Oct. 21.
UFC 294 at the Etihad Arena promises to be one of the year’s biggest events, and topping the bill will be the 33-year-old Brazilian’s attempt to avenge his loss to the Russian last year, also in Abu Dhabi.
At UFC 280, it was Makhachev who came out on top, after submitting Oliveira in the second round to win the then-vacant UFC lightweight title.
Oliveira, whose record stands at 34-9, with one no-contest, does not believe that the experience of a year ago will have any bearing on this fight.
“I’ve fought there against the same opponent but what has happened has happened,’ Oliveira told Arab News. “I’m just going to focus on the future. I want to put on a great show, and what’s in the past is in the past.”
In his last fight, Makhachev, a protege of former lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov, defeated featherweight champion Alexander Volkanovski at UFC 284 in February. The unanimous decision victory means he is now on a 12-fight winning streak and holds an impressive career record of 24 wins and one loss.
Oliveira is relishing being back in the UAE capital, which in recent years has rivalled Las Vegas as the home of the UFC.
“Abu Dhabi is beautiful, people there love the fighting, so I’m really glad that I have the opportunity to fight in a place like this and be close to the people.”
“Abu Dhabi is great,” he added.
Oliveira was crowned lightweight champion in May 2021 when he beat Michael Chandler of the US, and currently holds UFC records for most finishes and submissions, at 20 and 16 respectively.
The Brazilian’s last fight saw him beat American Beneil Dariush with a first-round technical knockout at UFC 289 in June.
“It’s really hard to say (which fight is my favorite),” Oliveira said. “Every fight has a story, every fight has an injury that happened, has a background. If I had to pick one, I’d say when I won the belt, but I think every fight is important in my path and every fight has a story.”
Oliveira, who turns 34 just days before UFC 294, is in lean shape for the fight against Makhachev, who is two years his junior.
“I think every day you have to focus on being in your best shape, on being your best self, but as I get more mature, more experienced, I definitely feel that I’m getting closer to that.”
Oliveira is not looking beyond the Makhachev fight on Oct. 21 and, for now, does not foresee any more action this year. However, if another bout does crop up, he would be up for it.
“I think it’s unlikely,” he said. “Winning in October, I probably won’t fight until next year. It all depends, you know, maybe a super fight in December. It’s not likely, but who knows?”