Charles Oliveira is still suffering from some of his past mistakes. Having been forced to move up a weight class, from featherweight to lightweight, for failing to reach 145 pounds multiple times, the Brazilian vows to get back to his old stomping grounds at 145 pounds, eventually. For now, however, the dangerous BJJ artist has a dangerous task at 155 pounds at his hands in the form of heavy-handed knockout artist Paul Felder.
“I’m asking to fight again in the featherweight division”, Oliveira told AG. Fight. “I think the mistakes that have happened are in the past and now it’s time to focus on the present and let’s get going. We missed opportunities. The [lost November 2016] fight against Ricardo Lamas was the one that could’ve really pushed me further. We accepted the fight on less than 20 days’ notice, it was a very tough fight, I was coming back from vacation and I think that hurt me.”
Oliveira doesn’t even expect these reasonings to be accepted by the MMA community.
“People sometimes criticize without trying to understand why certain things happened”, he said. “I was coming off a very tough fight against Anthony Pettis, I had injured my rib, my hand was bruised, and I decided to accept the fight against Ricardo Lamas, in Mexico, at high altitude. People come to criticize me without even trying to understand my situation […]. Now, I’m with the best team in the world, Chute Boxe Diego Lima, where we have a team behind every fighter, so the weight cut won’t be a problem.”
Now competing in a heavier division, Oliveira is facing different weight-related problems: Having grown accustomed to being the larger man on fight night, “Do Bronx” is now facing opposition that walks around heavier than him outside of fight camp.
“Everyone who’s a fan of MMA knows that all fighters cut weight, so if everyone cuts weight, I also have to do it”, Oliveira said. “145 pounds is where I feel good, it’s where I think everyone cuts weight like me. The guys at lightweight, they’re usually 175 pounds and whether or not we like it, but that is a great advantage. I think I’m going back to featherweight, but now the focus is on staying light and then we see what we can do.”
If everything goes well, this weekend will end with another finish for Oliveira: No matter if his fights ended in victory or defeat, “Do Bronx” has rarely ever produced work for whoever is tasked with scoring his bouts, so far.
“We know that when we leave it to the judges, unfortunately the fights are sometimes scored differently from the way we see it”, Oliveira, who only went the distance three times in 30 professional fights, said. “We always try to get the submission or the knockout to not let the judges come into play, which is when the fight might end up being given to the other side, even though we know that we won.”
That approach has worked well for him, so far. Having scored nine submission wins in the UFC so far, “Do Bronx” is tied with Nate Diaz and Demian Maia for most submissions only behind UFC pioneer Royce Gracie, who has forced ten opponents to tap. Therefore, with another submission win on Saturday, Oliveira might tie a legend of the sport.
“I train to hit records, I train to do my best”, Oliveira said. “If all goes well and I get a win and a submission finish, I tie with Royce Gracie as one of the most dangerous fighters in the UFC. So, that makes me happy, given that I’m only 28 years old. Imagine getting this done and to get these huge numbers. I‘m happy with this opportunity.”
Oliveira, who has won ten of his 18 UFC appearances so far, faces Paul Felder on Saturday’s UFC 218 preliminary card in Detroit, Michigan.