Khabib hails UFC star after sensational win (VIDEO)
After intense drama on Friday when Charles Oliveira was stripped of the UFC lightweight title for missing weight ahead of his lightweight title defence against Justin Gaethje, the Brazilian submission machine returned to business as usual soon after the first bell rang at the UFC 274 main event.
Oliveira, winner of ten straight fights heading into the bout and the successor to Khabib Nurmagomedov as UFC lightweight champion, is no longer the organization's 155lbs titleholder but his performance left little doubt that he is currently the most dominant lightweight in the world.
The fight was as chaotic as it was brief. Gaethje, the thunder-fisted American wrestler, found success with his strikes early, sending Oliveira to the canvas on two occasions - but the he was unwilling to follow him to the mat lest he become entangled in Oliveira's submission spiderweb.
Oliveira, though, is an overlooked commodity on the feet and he landed a stunning shot of his own which sent Gaethje cascading to his back. From there, the fight was in Oliveira's wheelhouse.
He first began looking for a modified triangle choke but when Gaethje offered up his back in at attempt to escape, that was the only invitation Oliveira required.
The win was secured by rear-naked choke with a little over 90 seconds remaining in the first round.
“There’s something wrong here,” Oliveira said after the conclusive win. “The champion’s name is Charles Oliveira. I made weight Thursday and you took my belt away. I’m a problem for the entire division. I am the champion. This is my title. It should be here.”
And much like the winner of the other lightweight fight on the card, he called for a showdown with the division's biggest name.
“Hey, Dana White, you said I don’t care put anybody in front of me,” Oliveira bellowed. “I’m not going to choose. Conor McGregor, are you coming up or are you going to run away?”
Oliveira's 11-fight win streak is fast becoming the thing of legend. It is now just two shy of the total number of fights Khabib Nurmagomedov managed in his entire UFC career - and it must also be said that the manner of his wins against Gaethje and Dustin Poirier were delivered with more ease than the legendary Russian fighter could manage.
Furthermore, Oliveira also holds a win against Tony Ferguson - the fighter who was heralded as Khabib's biggest challenger but whom he never fought.
Неужели есть более интересный поединок в юфс на данный момент чем Ислам против Чарльза.Просто сведите этих бойцов в Абу-Даби 22 октября.Пусть определится неоспоримый чемпион.@MAKHACHEVMMA@ufc@danawhite— khabib nurmagomedov (@TeamKhabib) May 8, 2022
Congrats Charles and see you in AbuDhabi for vacant 🏆 #UFC274— Makhachev Islam (@MAKHACHEVMMA) May 8, 2022
Should Oliveira win in a hypothetical fight against McGregor, particularly if he does so sooner than the fourth round in which Khabib did, it is time to consider the Brazilian as a contender to the Russian's crown as the finest lightweight in UFC history.
Nurmagomedov also couldn't help but be impressed. Writing on Twitter afterwards, he said that the fight to make for the vacant world championship is Oliveira against his longtime training partner Islam Makhachev.
“Is there really a more interesting duel in the UFC at the moment than Islam vs. Charles. Just bring these fighters to Abu Dhabi on October 22nd. Let the undisputed champion be determined,” Khabib wrote, via translation.
That would certainly be a fascinating fight, but one suspects that when all is said and done that it would have been Charles Oliveira - and not Conor McGregor or Tony Ferguson - who would have been the sternest test of Nurmagomedov's legendary career.