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Charles Oliveira’s coach likes Conor McGregor fight over Islam Makhachev rematch after UFC 300

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SÃO PAULO — Charles Oliveira hoped to rematch UFC lightweight champion Islam Makhachev after knocking out Beneil Dariush in June 2023, but there’s a scenario in which he takes another fight after UFC 300 instead of challenging for the belt.

Oliveira meets Arman Tsarukyan on April 13 in Las Vegas, and Diego Lima, his manager and the head coach at Chute Boxe, explained to MMA Fighting why he would rather face Conor McGregor in a welterweight contest rather than booking a rematch with Makhachev following the massive pay-per-view show.

“It would be great to fight McGregor,” Lima said. “McGregor has made history.

“Professionally speaking, [fighting him] would be incredible. If we had the opportunity to fight McGregor at welterweight after this fight, we would fight McGregor. But how about the belt? OK, we’ll fight the belt after that, God willing. But we know that with McGregor, the creature has become bigger than the creator. We know that if the opportunity came, McGregor already considered this fight. If we really had this opportunity, that’s the one we want.”

Lima revealed that McGregor texted Oliveira privately in the past, asking Oliveira to wait for him to return instead of facing Makhachev, however Oliveira’s team decided against it because the Irish star was still recovering from a leg break.

With McGregor finally gearing up for a return in 2024, Oliveira’s team likes the idea now.

“The belt is a certainty after beating McGregor,” Lima said. “No way we beat McGregor and don’t fight for the belt next. It’s one after the other.

“McGregor really wants to fight at [International] Fight Week. Who knows? Of course, one fight at a time. Arman is super tough, really good. Charles is 100 percent focused on Arman and doesn’t think about Makhachev or McGregor. Me too. I’m only watching Arman’s fights, working on a strategy for Arman. I wouldn’t start watching McGregor’s or Makhachev’s fights today. I’m not doing that. But we think about it.”

The Chute Boxe coach said he considers Tsarukyan to be a tougher opponent than McGregor, but envisions “do Bronx” stopping both on the feet.

“Charles doesn’t fight not to lose, he fights to win. There’s a huge difference,” Lima said. “We see great champions getting there and starting to fight not to lose. You see ugly fights, fighting to score points and putting on ugly fights. Charles only goes in there to win, to score knockouts or submissions. With that, unfortunately, he exposes himself and gets knocked down, because he goes for it.

“Our idea against Arman is to be as smart as possible. Charles has more reach, so I want to use that reach and his movement to go for the knockout or submission at the right time. We don’t want to go the distance. ‘What round is it going to be?’ I’m studying that because Arman’s performance drops. We always study our opponents. … We saw a lot of Arman’s fights. Very explosive, very strong, fast. He moves a lot and likes to send that jab to follow up with a hard right, and our idea is to knock him out on the feet and submit him on the ground. I really believe in Charles by knockout. But anything can happen.”

Potentially facing McGregor later this year would mean snatching the matchup away from Michael Chandler, who coached on The Ultimate Fighter 31 opposite “The Notorious” and has patiently waited for McGregor to return.

But Lima think changing plans would make the most sense for everyone involved — except Chandler.

“Sucks, right? With all due respect to Chandler, I’m not taking anything away from him, but what is his history in the UFC? How many fights did he do in the UFC?” Lima said. “Of course, he sells, he has a name, I agree with that, but … [Justin] Gaethje, [Dustin] Poirier, Charles, Makhachev, they all have done more than Chandler in the UFC. Way more. So I don’t know if this fight will sell.

“Chandler kept waiting for McGregor and people forgot about Chandler. Respectfully, nobody knows he exists. Arman is on a roll, Gaethje too, Poirier did this fight. F***, look at Poirier’s fight. Poirier just had an incredible fight. I’m a fan of his. Chandler, poor guy, is sitting and waiting. He never won three in a row [in the UFC], never came close — OK, he fought for it, but never won the belt. He’s missing.

“Meanwhile, people are working. Gaethje is putting on wars, Poirier is putting on wars, Charles is putting on wars, Arman is putting on wars, Makhachev is putting on wars. Unfortunately, it makes this Chandler vs. McGregor fight sell less and less because it will be all about McGregor and not a bit about Chandler. … Charles sells more than Chandler. If Charles fights McGregor now, f***, in my opinion, that would stop the fight world. It would stop it.”

If the two former champions do meet one day, Lima sees his protege ending McGregor with punches, even though logic indicates that using his jiu-jitsu would be a smarter strategy.

“Honestly, with all due respect to McGregor, who is an amazing fighter, I believe Charles knocks him out,” Lima said. “Everybody talks about how smart it would be to take him to the ground. I agree with you, but the fight starts on the feet, and Charles has heavy, heavy hands now. Charles’ hands are incredible.”

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