The UFC have attempted to add one last piece of the puzzle to UFC 258 by offering Charles Oliveira the chance to have a short-notice title elimination fight against Michael Chandler, but the Brazilian ace has turned them down.
Oliveira’s camp have indicated that they didn’t want to take such an important fight on less than two weeks notice, while they also feel that ‘Do Bronx’ has already done enough to earn his shot at the title.
“Charles had never been so close to the belt and it’s important to note that he worked hard for that,” Oliveira’s coach Diego Lima told sherdog.com. “The fans and even Poirier recognized that. Today is Feb. 1. It makes no sense for us to accept a title eliminator for 11 days from now.
“Charles needs time to lose weight, we lose about two days with visa stuff and of course we need to prepare for the fight itself. Our goal was fight for the belt against Poirier, but if Poirier will not fight for the belt and the UFC wants to make the Chandler fight for the belt, no problem.”
It would be hard to argue against Oliveira having done enough to get a title shot. After all, not only on an eight-fight winning streak that’s culminated in wins over Kevin Lee and most recently Tony Ferguson, but he also holds a remarkable number of records in the promotion.
Take for instance the fact that the 31-year-old has the distinction of having the most submission wins in UFC history (14) as well as the most Performance Of The Night awards (10), while he’s also tied with Donald Cerrone for the most finishes in the Octagon (16) and he stands alone as having the most finishes per wins in UFC history (93.75%).
Former Bellator champ Chandler certainly made a big splash in his UFC debut with a KO victory over Dan Hooker, but Oliveira deserves to be rewarded for his impressive run by having the chance to fight Dustin Poirier for the belt (assuming Khabib Nurmagomedov does make his retirement official in the near future).
However, an interesting wrinkle to all this is that Poirier has indicated he might be willing to take a back seat and let Oliveira and Chandler fight for the belt first.
“I want to be the world champion, and Charles is a guy that’s paid his dues,” Poirier told MMA Junkie. “He’s earned where he’s at, no doubt about it. Let him and Chandler fight for the belt. If they want Chandler in there for the title, and he’s calling for the title, let them fight for the belt. I’ll take a step back and just watch.”
That’s a somewhat surprising stance from Poirier, though it could point to him targeting a money-spinning trilogy fight with Conor McGregor instead.
“It’s 1-1,” Poirier said to ESPN. “I knocked him out; he knocked me out. The rubber match, it does make sense.”