Don't let his last fight fool you, Charles Oliveira is still very much a person to be feared by UFC lightweights.
The former UFC lightweight champion took out fellow top lightweight Beneil Dariush in his first match since losing to champion Islam Makhachev, notching a first-round TKO and his twelfth win in 13 fights.
The fight played out much like Oliveira's other fights against top lightweights. He immediately tried to force a grappling battle, challenging Dariush to approach him on his back, then got up and laid into the UFC's No. 4-ranked lightweight until he had him on the ground and the referee calling the fight.
— UFC (@ufc) June 11, 2023
The loss ends an eight-fight win streak for Dariush, who seemed on track for a title shot if he got through Oliveira. Instead, Oliveira may have just earned a rematch against Makhachev, who defeated him at UFC 280 in October.
He at least seems to have Makhachev's attention:
But still there’s levels in this game 😎
— Makhachev Islam (@MAKHACHEVMMA) June 11, 2023
Oliveira was quickly told about that tweet during his postfight interview with Daniel Cormier and responded by insinuating he was already the champion. He also promised a different outcome should he get another shot at Makhachev, even if the fight's in Abu Dhabi:
"I didn't mean to send a message. Last time you saw 10% of me, now you saw 120% of me. The champion is going to be Charles Oliveira. You know what? Dana [White], I'm next one. You know. You want me to fight him in his house? I'll go. I'm ready. Let's do it.
Oliveira's loss to Makhachev came after a wild run through nearly every big name in the UFC's crowded lightweight division. He TKO'd Michael Chandler to win a title vacated by Khabib Nurmagomedov, defended it by submitting Poirier, then lost it by missing weight before submitting Justin Gaethje.
Oliveira would have retaken the title by defeating Makhachev, but the Russian wrestler dominated him instead, winning the belt with a second-round submission by arm-triangle choke. Makhachev has since defended the belt against featherweight champ Alexander Volkanovski, who unsuccessfully pursued a second belt at UFC 284 in February.
Makhachev's next opponent has since been TBD, and Oliveira might have just determined it. Beating Dariush alone burnishes a Hall of Fame résumé that already includes the fourth-most wins in the promotion's history with 22, behind only Jim Miller (25), Andre Arlovski (23) and Donald Cerrone (23). He also now has the most finishes in UFC history with 20, three clear of Miller.
We'll see if he gets the chance to add "two-time lightweight champ" soon.