Who Fights Oliveira Next? A Case For Every Contender
Charles Oliveira may have lost his belt, but he is still the UFC Lightweight Champion in most people’s eyes. The Brazilian missed weight and was stripped of his title. It didn’t matter in the fight as he made short work of Justin Gaethje, finishing him by rear-naked choke in the first round. After the fight, Oliveira called out a slew of contenders thus prompting the question: What will be Charles Oliveira’s next fight?
The online sportsbook has opened betting lines on who Oliveira will be fighting next and, to no one’s surprise, Islam Makhachev and Conor McGregor lead the pack. But this is the UFC, and the matchmakers can be a bit unorthodox when it comes to booking fights. So we preview the most likely contenders and give a case for each one.
The most logical contender is Islam Makhachev. The Russian is listed at around -175, implying there is a 69 percent probability that he will be Charles Oliveira’s next opponent. Makhachev has won 10 straight fights and in dominant fashion, as his sizable UFC Fight Night betting odds attest. He may not hold a win over a top-five fighter, but Makhachev also comes with the endorsement of former champion Khabib Nurmagomedov.
Oliveira and Makhachev will also be an intriguing fight, and although Charles Oliveira’s highlights outnumber Makhachev’s, the latter’s smothering wrestling may win out here. If Oliveira also beats Makhachev, it could just prompt Nurmagomedov out of retirement. It is unlikely but never say “never”.
So long as Conor McGregor is around, he will be a part of any big fight in the UFC simply because of his name. The Irishman is still recovering from a leg injury and won’t be ready until late in the year. But Oliveira called him out for a reason: he is the “money fight.” Oliveira vs McGregor will likely be the highest-selling fight out of any contender on the list.
Of course, McGregor has not won a fight in the division since he knocked out Eddie Alvarez to win the strap way back in 2016. He has also won just one of his last four fights and that came against Donald Cerrone, who is on the verge of retirement. Yet, McGregor can still crack and he will have a horde of fans populating the betting lines so it’s interesting to see what the odds will be.
To flip the script, it was Michael Chandler calling out Oliveira. Chandler had his knockout over former interim champion Tony Ferguson go viral. Even UFC President Dana White called it the “most vicious knockout I’ve seen.” The former NCAA Division I wrestler then hopped on the mic and cut one of the best promos — one that even had Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson give him props.
When it comes to putting in the work to get a fight with Oliveira, Chandler gets an A+ for effort, however, he already did lose to Oliveira just a few fights removed and is just 2-2 in the UFC. Should Makhachev and McGregor not be available, there is a good shot Chandler gets his rematch, so 6-1 on the betting odds does not seem too long of a shot for Oliveira’s next fight.
The next contenders available to bet on are Beneil Dariush, Rafael Dos Anjos, and Alex Volkanovski. Both Dariush and Dos Anjos are lightweights with strong resumes, but they may still be a fight away from being seriously considered, barring injuries to the front-runners.
Volkanovski is the featherweight champion and has mentioned moving up in weight. He also took a shot at Oliveira, calling him an “easy fight.” Oliveira had already mentioned fighting either Volkanovski or Kamaru Usman after he beat Dustin Poirier. A fight with either is a fresh matchup and has that cross-division “champion versus champion” intrigue, though Oliveira would likely need to be reinstated as champ first.
Another name that isn’t listed but is a dark horse is Nate Diaz. Like McGregor, Diaz is a box-office hit thanks to a strong following. Oliveira had already called him out. Diaz has been linked to fights at 170 pounds and is not close to title contention. Likely not Oliveira’s next fight, but still, stranger things have happened.Follow us on Twitter