Wednesday, May 25, 2022

UFC news, rumors: Charles Oliveira targets December return in Brazil; Carla Esparza: ‘You can’t win defending’

Oliveira is not convinced that Islam Makhachev has a rightful claim to a UFC lightweight title shot

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Charles Oliveira is still calling his shots like a UFC champion. Oliveira defeated Justin Gaethje in a thrilling one-round fight at UFC 274 on May 8, but he was stripped of his UFC lightweight championship over a somewhat controversial weight miss.

UFC president Dana White conceded that Oliveira is the No. 1 contender in the division and assured the public that his next fight would be for the UFC lightweight title. There is significant chatter about pairing Oliveira with Islam Makhachev, the suffocating grappler and teammate of retired champion Khabib Nurmagomedov, but White has expressed his desire for Makhachev to fight Beneil Dariush in a title eliminator. Oliveira is very much on the same page.

“I think the reality is, Makhachev has to fight Dariush first,” Oliveira told MMA Fighting this week. “They both have to fight and then we’ll see who we’re fighting or not. Makhachev is super tough and deserves all the respect in the world. Dariush is also super tough and has a great team. It will be a great fight, so let them fight first and see what will happen down the line. Like I said, my focus now is going home and getting some rest, and my team will see who we’re fighting. I’ve never ran from a fight and never will. I’ll be there and I’ll be ready [to fight] whoever they put in there with me.

“Everyone I beat, I’ve made it pretty clear. I never let it go the distance, I always finish them. Makhachev and Dariush are the two guys I haven’t fought yet and they both have to make this fight happen. Maybe [the next contender] comes from this fight. The thing is, it makes no difference to me. I’ll be ready. The champion’s name is Charles Oliveira.” 

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Oliveira intends to sneak in one more fight this calendar year and campaigned for the event to be in front of his countrymen.

“I’ve asked to fight in December [in Brazil]. I deserve this,” Oliveira said. “The Brazilian people deserve this. We deserve this, for this fight to be in Brazil. If it’s Sao Paulo, that’s 100 percent. But I would really like this fight to be in Brazil.”

More UFC news, rumors

  • Carla Esparza and Rose Namajunas conjured one of the most uneventful fights in history a UFC 274. Esparza and Namajunas threw a combined 68 total strikes across 25 minutes. By comparison, Oliveira and Gaethje landed a total of 54 strikes in just under 3:30. In a new interview since reclaiming the strawweight title, Esparza suggested that Namajunas took the defense part of title defense a little too seriously. “In my head, you can’t win a fight by defending. Like, ‘Oh, I defended that shot, I defended that punch.’ You’ve got to go after it more and that should have been more emphasized by her corner going into the next rounds,” Esparza told “The MMA Hour” on Monday. “She was being very cautious, so it made it very difficult to get my offense going. My opinion, you can’t fight not to lose. Sometimes you’ve got put yourself out there, and what’s the saying? Come back with your shield or on it.. Each round I was almost in a lot of disbelief. As far as after the fight, to hear how bummed she was, I’ve been there. You can’t get to this level in the sport and not felt those tough losses and gotten crap from fans. I definitely feel her pain, especially having been in there… I wanted us to have a great fight. I was like I hope we get a ‘Fight of the Night,’ and it was by far the opposite.”
  • Donald Cerrone is prepared to wind down his 50-plus fight, 16-year career in MMA. Cerrone issued a statement on his last-minute withdrawal from UFC 274 and gave a timetable for his retirement. Cerrone, 39, suffered food poisoning the morning of UFC 274 and had to pull out of his fight against Joe Lauzon. “My heart is broken and torn. I cannot believe I had to make that call. If you know me you know I only pulled out because I had to. Thank you for the UFC and the medical division for helping me as far as we could to try and make that buzzer but we just couldn’t get it,” Cerrone said in a video posted to Instagram on Monday. “I have 48 fights under Zuffa. I’m saddened that I couldn’t have my 49th and put on a show for you all. My number is 50, gentlemen. I’ll retire when I get 50. So I got two more fights in the UFC. So thank you Dana White, thank you Joe Lauzon for not taking that fight with an ill, sick Cowboy. You want a strong, healthy, bad motherf—er… So we’ll meet again. Like I said, Cowboy’s got two more fights left under Zuffa. I want 50 fights then I’m bowing out, I’m out of here, boys. I’ll be back stronger than ever ready to take on the world. Let’s go.”

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