Charles Oliveira’s Coach Prefers Conor McGregor Fight to Islam Makhachev Rematch After UFC 300

Charles Oliveira‘s manager, Diego Lima, has expressed a preference for Oliveira to fight Conor McGregor in a welterweight contest rather than rematch UFC lightweight champion Islam Makhachev, believing that a victory over McGregor would guarantee a shot at the belt.

Charles Oliveira, the MMA fighter, had a plan. He wanted a rematch with UFC lightweight champ, Islam Makhachev. That was after he KO’d Beneil Dariush in June 2023. But, there’s a twist. He might take another fight post UFC 300, instead of going for the belt.

He’s got a fight with Arman Tsarukyan on April 13. It’s in Vegas. His manager, Diego Lima, who also heads Chute Boxe, spilled the beans to MMA Fighting. He’d rather Oliveira face Conor McGregor in a welterweight match. That’s instead of booking a rematch with Makhachev after the big pay-per-view event.

“McGregor? Yeah, that’d be great,” said Lima. McGregor’s a legend. He’s made history. From a professional standpoint, that’d be an incredible fight. If we get a chance to fight McGregor at welterweight after this, we’ll take it. The belt? We’ll fight for it later, God willing. But McGregor’s like a creature that’s become bigger than its creator. If we get the opportunity, that’s the one we want.”

McGregor had texted Oliveira in the past. He asked him to wait for his return instead of facing Makhachev. But Oliveira’s team said no. McGregor was still recovering from a leg break. Now that McGregor’s gearing up for a 2024 return, Oliveira’s team is warming up to the idea.

“Beat McGregor, and the belt’s a sure thing,” Lima said. “There’s no way we beat McGregor and don’t fight for the belt next. It’s one after the other. McGregor wants to fight at International Fight Week. Who knows? But we’re taking it one fight at a time. Arman’s tough, really good. Charles is 100% focused on Arman. He’s not thinking about Makhachev or McGregor. Me too. I’m only watching Arman’s fights, working on a strategy for him. I’m not watching McGregor’s or Makhachev’s fights. But we think about it.”

Lima thinks Tsarukyan is a tougher opponent than McGregor. But he sees “do Bronx” stopping both on their feet. “Charles doesn’t fight not to lose, he fights to win. There’s a huge difference. We see great champions getting there and starting to fight not to lose. You see ugly fights, fighting to score points and putting on ugly fights. Charles only goes in there to win, to score knockouts or submissions. With that, unfortunately, he exposes himself and gets knocked down, because he goes for it.

“Our idea against Arman is to be as smart as possible. Charles has more reach, so I want to use that reach and his movement to go for the knockout or submission at the right time. We don’t want to go the distance. ‘What round is it going to be?’ I’m studying that because Arman’s performance drops. We always study our opponents. … We saw a lot of Arman’s fights. Very explosive, very strong, fast. He moves a lot and likes to send that jab to follow up with a hard right, and our idea is to knock him out on the feet and submit him on the ground. I really believe in Charles by knockout. But anything can happen.”

If Oliveira faces McGregor later this year, it would mean snatching the matchup away from Michael Chandler. Chandler coached on The Ultimate Fighter 31 opposite “The Notorious” and has patiently waited for McGregor to return. But Lima thinks changing plans would make the most sense for everyone involved — except Chandler.

“Sucks, right? With all due respect to Chandler, I’m not taking anything away from him, but what is his history in the UFC? How many fights did he do in the UFC?” Lima said. “Of course, he sells, he has a name, I agree with that, but … [Justin] Gaethje, [Dustin] Poirier, Charles, Makhachev, they all have done more than Chandler in the UFC. Way more. So I don’t know if this fight will sell.

“Chandler kept waiting for McGregor and people forgot about Chandler. Respectfully, nobody knows he exists. Arman is on a roll, Gaethje too, Poirier did this fight. F***, look at Poirier’s fight. Poirier just had an incredible fight. I’m a fan of his. Chandler, poor guy, is sitting and waiting. He never won three in a row [in the UFC], never came close — OK, he fought for it, but never won the belt. He’s missing.

“Meanwhile, people are working. Gaethje is putting on wars, Poirier is putting on wars, Charles is putting on wars, Arman is putting on wars, Makhachev is putting on wars. Unfortunately, it makes this Chandler vs. McGregor fight sell less and less because it will be all about McGregor and not a bit about Chandler. … Charles sells more than Chandler. If Charles fights McGregor now, f***, in my opinion, that would stop the fight world. It would stop it.”

If the two former champions do meet one day, Lima sees his protege ending McGregor with punches, even though logic indicates that using his jiu-jitsu would be a smarter strategy. “Honestly, with all due respect to McGregor, who is an amazing fighter, I believe Charles knocks him out,” Lima said. “Everybody talks about how smart it would be to take him to the ground. I agree with you, but the fight starts on the feet, and Charles has heavy, heavy hands now. Charles’ hands are incredible.”


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