Undisputed UFC lightweight champion, Charles Oliveira is expecting a proverbial “war” of wills against former interim titleholder, Justin Gaethje in May at UFC 274 – and has no qualms regarding a prolonged, drawn-out striking battle against the challenger.
Oliveira, who scored the first successful defense of his lightweight championship back in December, headlined UFC 269 against another former interim gold holder and common-foe, Dustin Poirier – stopping the Louisiana native with an eventual third round standing rear-naked choke.
For Gaethje, the Arizona native books a hometown title challenge against Oliveira, having most recently handed another common-opponent, Michael Chandler with an impressive unanimous decision victory at UFC 268 back in November at Madison Square Garden.
Sao Paulo submission ace, Oliveira, who opened as a betting favorite against Gaethje upon the booking of their May 7. showdown – maintains that despite his distinct grappling advantage, he has no problem testing his ever-growing striking acumen against the challenger.
“Everyone says I should take it to the ground, that I should be concerned,” Charles Oliveira told Brazilian outlet, AgFight. “I’m not concerned about taking it to the ground, I’m really not. I believe in my power. I have power in my hands. I’ve been showing that. I’m evolving.”
“It’s going to be a war,” Charles Oliveira said. “He’s going to walk forward and so am I. We’ll see who has power. People say, ‘You should take him (Justin Gaethje) down.’ That’s cool. I know I have to because that’s what I do best, but I’m not concerned about that. I’m not just training to take him down or defend takedowns. I’m training MMA.”
Given Gaethje’s tendency to benefit from gruelling, drawn-out almost slugfests, Oliveira insists that an approach that would welcome that type of fight, it would not be a “stupid” tactic to employ.
“Brace yourself, because the first round will be a war,” Charles Oliveira said. “I’m going to trade shots with that guy. People might call me stupid, but I’m not being stupid. I’m acting like an MMA fighter. He walks forward and so do I. We’ll see who has the heavier hands. Who can take a shot and get back up.”