Charles Oliveira’s manager and coach Diego Lima has revealed that the former lightweight champion’s team were offered an immediate title rematch against Islam Makhachev at UFC 283 in January, but turned down the opportunity.
“When we were going to face Makhachev we showed a lot of interest in fighting him in Rio,” Lima told Super Lutas.
“One week after [UFC 280], the UFC got in touch with us. They gave us the opportunity to fight [Makhachev] in Rio. They have always been really good to us. We have really good talks. It was up to us to accept or not,”
“I talked it over with Charles. He’s not injured, but there’s an emotional stress. It’s way beyond physical. Charles is the only fighter that has faced all the top 5 guys within a year. Champs normally hide, they want to fight once a year. That’s not Charles, but Rio is way too close now. We prefer to give Charles a well-deserved vacation.”
The claim that Oliveira had fought the top 5 fighters within a year isn’t quite accurate, but there’s no doubt that he has faced a murderer’s row of talent over the past couple of years, starting with a win over Tony Ferguson in December of 2020, leading to further wins over Michael Chandler, Dustin Poirier and Justin Gaethje, before his second round submission loss to Makhachev in October of this year.
Oliveira was rocked in several of those fights too, including the loss to Makhachev, so it certainly doesn’t sound like a bad idea to give him more time to recuperate both physically and mentally before he next steps into the Octagon, particularly for a fight of this magnitude.
Still, it’s an interesting admission, and meanwhile it’s also intriguing to note that this means that the Makhachev vs. Alexander Volkanovski superfight that now headlines UFC 283 wasn’t actually the promotion’s first choice after all, despite the featherweight champion being allowed in the Octagon post-fight to challenge him.