Diego Lima, coach, and manager of former UFC lightweight champion Charles Oliveira, is confident that the winner of Oliveira’s UFC 300 bout against Arman Tsarukyan will face the current lightweight champion, Islam Makhachev. Despite Makhachev’s recent social media announcement of plans to face Justin Gaethje before taking on Oliveira or Tsarukyan, Lima believes that Makhachev is trying to avoid a rematch with Oliveira.
When UFC CEO Dana White initially announced the Oliveira vs. Tsarukyan fight, it was stated that the winner would earn a title shot later in the year against Makhachev. However, Makhachev’s subsequent social media posts have suggested other plans. Lima expressed his belief that Makhachev is avoiding a rematch with Oliveira, stating, “It’s clear that he doesn’t want to fight Charles again. He wants out of this fight any way possible.”
Lima remains confident that the winner of the upcoming UFC 300 bout will face Makhachev, emphasizing that there is nowhere for Makhachev to run. He pointed out the lack of viable opponents for Makhachev in the lightweight division, stating, “If you look at Gaethje’s last six fights, if you look at Poirier’s last six fights, if you look at Dariush’s, there’s no one else for him to fight. It’s Charles!”
The backstory involves Oliveira initially being Makhachev’s next opponent after Makhachev defeated Beneil Dariush. However, Oliveira had to withdraw from the UFC 294 bout due to a cut, leading to the ongoing developments. Despite the uncertainty surrounding Makhachev’s plans, Oliveira’s camp decided to stay active by booking the fight against Tsarukyan at UFC 300.
Lima dismissed suggestions of an interim belt for the Tsarukyan match, emphasizing that the belt that matters is the one currently held by Makhachev. He also praised Oliveira’s enthusiasm for the UFC 300 fight, stating, “Charles really loved this fight. He watches everything, and that’s one guy he likes to watch. Charles loves challenges. Charles’ career is for real. He’s always fought beasts ever since he got in the UFC, so that’s the best fight available for us, the best opportunity.”