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Islam Makhachev calls for Charles Oliveira title fight, vows to finish him on ground

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With the UFC lightweight championship currently vacant, Islam Makhachev thinks he should be the one to face Charles Oliveira.

Oliveira (33-8 MMA, 21-8 UFC) was stripped of his 155-poundt title after he missed championship weight by a half-pound for his fight against Justin Gaethje earlier this month at UFC 274. Oliveira submitted Gaethje in Round 1 and will compete for the title in his next fight.

Despite the lightweight title having no owner, Dana White still expressed interest in rebooking Makhachev against Beneil Dariush, who’s currently recovering from an ankle injury. Regardless of what happens next, Makhachev (22-1 MMA, 11-1 UFC) thinks it’s only a matter of time before he’s champion.

“The UFC said we have to find some contender, but this is not a contender match. We don’t have a champion, Makhachev told ESPN. “Charles is a contender, too. I hope I deserve it because I have a 10-fight win streak, and I’m ready. This is my time now.”

He continued, “Who’s gonna fight with Oliveira now? We don’t have nobody. Who? Gaethje, Tony, or Poirier? Chandler? Who next for Oliveira?”

Oliveira seemed rather dismissive of Makhachev and instead mentioned the likes of Conor McGregor and Nate Diaz, which Makhachev can’t understand.

“If Charles says I’m not ready or something, or he says Islam doesn’t deserve, but he asked to fight Nate Diaz or Conor,” Makhachev said. “I want to ask him, ‘Hey, these guys deserve (it) who you call all the time?’ I don’t know. …

“They have to make me vs. Charles, 10-win streak vs. 11-win streak. It’s a very big fight.”

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Oliveira stated he wants to return in December, which wouldn’t fall in line with Makhachev’s desired date of Oct. 22 in Abu Dhabi. But Makhachev thinks Oliveira is just ducking him.

“Someone or Nate Diaz or Conor say let’s do in September. He’s gonna fight in September, too,” Makhachev said. “He just run because he knows his grappling or other skills aren’t gonna work with me. He beat all striking guys like Poirier or Chandler or all these guys, they have good striking.

“But when they drop him down, nobody goes to the grappling with him. Nobody holds him there, but we know when someone gives him a hard time he always gives up. I’m gonna take him down, make him tired, and he’s gonna give up like he did 10 times in the UFC.”

Stylistically, no one has been able to answer Oliveira in years, but Makhachev isn’t afraid to tussle with him on the ground.

“Everybody is scared of his grappling, but I don’t care about his grappling honestly,” Makhachev said. “I grapple with the best grapplers in the world. I grapple with Khabib all my life. That’s why I don’t care about his grappling. I know I’m gonna take him down, make him tired, and I can finish him there. Everybody says grappling is his area, but I’m gonna finish him in his area. …

“Honestly I believe I can finish this guy, and I really want to finish him in the grappling, in his area, and I know I can do this.”