According to Dana White, the UFC’s current plan is to have Charles Oliveira fight Justin Gaethje next, but ‘Do Bronx’ camp believe he’s already done enough to earn a title shot instead.
“I honestly think he deserves to go straight for the belt,” Oliveira’s manager Diego Lima told MMA Fighting. “He’s coming off eight wins in a row, beat Kevin in great fashion and then dominated Ferguson all around, and Ferguson is one of the best of the division, won 12 straight before losing a title fight, so I think Charles is ready and has enough credibility to fight for the belt.”
Lima certainly has a point, with an eight fight winning streak together with breaking the record for the most submissions in UFC history during this run giving Oliveira a strong case for title contention, although it wouldn’t be the first time that this kind of form hasn’t been enough – just ask Ferguson or Khabib Nurmagomedov, who also had lengthy unbeaten stretches without getting a shot at the belt.
It doesn’t help Oliveira’s cause that there’s still doubt regarding Khabib’s future as lightweight champion, while the rest of the division also lives in the shadow of Conor McGregor, who has a knack for leapfrogging queues of contenders.
Lima does see a path for Oliveira to fight the winner of McGregor and Dustin Poirier’s upcoming rematch if Khabib does retire though.
“I believe Charles’ next fight has to be for the belt against the winner of Poirier and McGregor, not Justin Gaethje. But we know this fight between Poirier and McGregor involves a lot of things. We know that Poirier winning means one thing, and McGregor winning changes the whole scenario. I think there’s a lot at stake in this fight.”