Charles Oliveira isn’t wasting his time worrying about what the haters have to say regarding his last-minute withdrawal from UFC 294.
Do Bronx’ was set to step into the main event spotlight in Abu Dhabi for a highly anticipated rematch with reigning UFC lightweight champion Islam Makhachev when disaster struck less than two weeks away from fight night. Whilst sparring, Oliveira suffered a nasty gash above his right eye that ultimately resulted in featherweight champ Alexander Volkanovski stepping up and taking his place in the evening’s headliner on just 11 days’ notice.
In the hours following the injury, UFC CEO Dana White suggested that Oliveira and his team should have contacted the promotion immediately rather than attempting to address the problem themselves. During an appearance on The MMA Hour with Ariel Helwani, ‘Do Bronx’ shared his side of the story.
“I want people to answer this quick,” Oliveira said through a translator. “Think about this, say it happens to you. You’re fighting, you’re training out there, and all of a sudden you get a gash right there, a huge cut. What do you do? Are you going to go out there 12 days before the fight and call the UFC and you’re going to say, ‘What do you recommend?’ You’re gashed right there. We have a doctor. We have a great medical team that has worked well with everybody. The first thing we do, ‘This is bleeding. This is huge. Let’s go to the doctor.’
“He did a great job, doctor did internal stitches, external stitches, everything was great. I don’t think a plastic surgeon would have actually got me ready for that fight. Just for you to understand, right now, it has been three weeks since that happened, and the external stitches still open. That cut has not been closed. You want to go for the quickest solution possible and we have a great team of doctors and they did exactly what needed to be done and we just went for it because we wanted it to be taken care of immediately” (h/t MMA Fighting).
Many within the MMA community questioned the validity of Oliveira’s injury, with some suggesting he used it as an excuse to bow out of a fight he never wanted in the first place. Welterweight contender Belal Muhammad took things one giant leap further, claiming that ‘Do Bronx’ caused the injury himself.
Asked for his thoughts on those claims, Oliveira offered little more than an eye roll and a shoulder shrug to the naysayers.
“I’ve been at this for 13 years,” Oliveira said. “I didn’t come in yesterday to the UFC. I’ve been in this for 13 years and I’m going to tell you the real talk here: They want to surf my wave. That’s what’s happening. They just want to show up and just make themselves known and seen and heard. Think about this: Who would actually make up or cause a situation in which he had such a big and deep cut the day of actually traveling. These dudes, all they do is talk sh*t, that’s what they do all the time, and at the end of the day I don’t pay attention to them.
“For the UFC, when I told the UFC what happened and actually explained the situation to them, the support that I’ve gotten from the UFC, they understand who I am. They understand who Charles Oliveira is. They understand that I’m already thinking about the training I need to do, everything that I need to do to get back, and everything that I need to do to become a champion again. They understand this. In reality, I really don’t give a damn what people say.”
Charles Oliveira Believes he’s still the next man up at lightweight
Despite some fighters being pushed to the back of the line after withdrawing from a fight, Charles Oliveira believes he is still the next man in line at lightweight. Of course, BMF titleholder Justin Gaethje doesn’t see it that way. Following his impressive second-round knockout of Dustin Poirier in July, ‘The Highlight’ is expecting another shot at the gold in early 2024.
Adding even more confusion to the situation is Islam Makhachev’s interest in moving up to welterweight for a potential clash with the winner of December’s title fight between reigning champion Leon Edwards and division gatekeeper Colby Covington.
“You know that I’m not the type of guy to be sending messages out there,” Oliveira said. “I just do my thing and make it happen. Everybody’s campaigning, everybody’s just trying to put themselves into that context there and serve themselves and to sell a fight. Even Islam said he might want to move up in weight, so why not?
“Maybe the UFC will put somebody to fight for the interim belt and maybe Gaethje could be coming up to that situation. Gaethje’s had a great history, great fighter, great guy, a lot of history with this organization, but I’m not one to be sending messages out there. I don’t need to.”