Charles Oliveira targets April return, open to Beneil Dariush next

Charles Oliveira hopes to be in title contention by the end of 2023.

The former lightweight champ is coming off a title loss to Islam Makhachev at UFC 280, but is looking to rebound in two fights.

“April or May – I think that’s the time that I need,” Oliveira told The MacLife through an interpreter.

Oliveira (33-9 MMA, 21-9 UFC) has wanted to welcome Conor McGregor back to the octagon for a while, but with McGregor yet to re-enter the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency testing pool, Oliveira has diverted his attention elsewhere.

A top-ranked lightweight who expressed interest in facing Oliveira is Beneil Dariush (22-4-1 MMA, 16-4-1 UFC), who’s on an eight-fight winning streak. When asked about Dariush, Oliveira didn’t shut it down as a possibility for his next fight.

“Conor McGregor is not fighting, so I think we need to focus on the top of the division,” Oliveira said. “After seeing the cries with the belts got me some energy to be back. So my focus is to fight in April, and then fight for a title at the end of the year.

“Everybody is talking about Dariush, but I think I need to think with my mind, not really my heart. If the UFC thinks he’s the name, it’s fine. But let’s see what I decide.”

Prior to his submission loss to Makhachev this past October, Oliveira was on an 11-fight winning streak – including finishes in title fights over Michael Chandler, Justin Gaethje and Dustin Poirier.

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Story originally appeared on MMA Junkie