Charles Oliveira is a few days away from his biggest fight to date, a UFC 256 co-main event against former interim lightweight champion Tony Ferguson. It’s a milestone in a career gaining more and more of them with each passing bout.
Every UFC Submission By Charles Oliveira
Every UFC Submission By Charles Oliveira
26 UFC fights
Most submissions in UFC history – 14
Most Performance of the Night bonuses – 10
Tied for most finishes in UFC history with Donald Cerrone - 16
Such a resume is not lost on “Do Bronx,” who not only remembers where he came from in Sao Paulo, Brazil, but what was told to him when he was chasing his dream.
“26 fights,” Oliveira said. “I have a history there (in the UFC). It makes me really happy. I’m a boy who comes from a poor community. People used to knock on my door often and say, ‘Don’t do it, man. It won’t work. Look who you are, look where you are. Go work and help your parents.’”
They didn’t know that Oliveira’s parents were in his corner, making the sacrifices so that their son could take jiu-jitsu lessons and learn his trade. Today, he made it, and his parents and daughter couldn’t be prouder. But the story isn’t over yet.
“I still have a lot to do,” said the 31-year-old, whose first order of business after submitting Kevin Lee for his seventh straight win in March was to get a top five opponent in his next fight. He got one in the number three-ranked Ferguson. That’s the good news. The bad news is that he had to wait through a pandemic to get the bout. But there are no worries from Oliveira, who shook off some post-Lee injuries and got right back to work.
“I’ve been training since my last fight with Kevin Lee,” he said. “I had an injury and I was out for one month, two months, and since then I’ve been working hard, hoping for an opportunity, asking for an opportunity to fight a top five guy and I’ve been telling everybody.”
MORE UFC 256: Inside The Octagon | Fighters On The Rise | Oliveira vs Lee Free Fight | Ferguson vs Barboza Free Fight | Renato Moicano | The Rise Of Brandon Moreno | Junior Dos Santos | Fight By Fight Preview | Daniel Pineda | Ciryl Gane
It worked, and while Ferguson is a tough puzzle for anyone to figure out, Oliveira’s plan during training camp was to focus on himself, not “El Cucuy.”
“We just kept training, focused on what I know how to do best,” he said. “For these past fights, we haven’t focused on what my opponent does best. It’s focused on what I do best. I get in there to fight and I surprise people.”
Oliveira has always had the talent, whether competing at 155 or 145 pounds. Yet he’s still surprised some people with his recent run, perhaps because he’s finally showing the consistency he lacked early in a UFC career that began more than 10 years ago with a submission win over Darren Elkins in August 2010.
“Some of the fights I lost in the UFC were because of my mistakes and because of my previous team’s mistakes,” said Oliveira. “When I fought against Donald Cerrone (in 2011), I was one hundred percent ready to fight anyone, but it wasn’t the moment to fight him. Donald Cerrone was a top guy at that time, and I had just arrived in the UFC, so the experience mattered a lot. When I fought Cub Swanson, 15 minutes before the fight, I tore a ligament in my knee. I kept saying I wanted to do it and I couldn’t even stand. So some fights I feel that I shouldn’t have fought. I think I would have had a better record. Other fights I accepted at the wrong time. But I’m happy to have had the fights I had.”
That experience has made him who he is today, and that’s a legitimate title threat at 155 pounds. And to think, as he approaches his 27th UFC bout, he’s only 31 and possibly in his physical prime as a fighter.
“This is happening at a wonderful moment in my life,” Oliveira agrees. “I think it’s my best moment in the UFC. I’m really happy about everything that’s happening.”
Better late than never, right Charles?
“I’m just grateful,” he said. “Everything I dreamed about is happening. I wanted to be stopped on the street to take a picture. It happened. I wanted to have a nice house for myself. I did it. I want to give things to my daughter, and I do it. Today, I have the most finishes in UFC history. That’s priceless.”
All that’s left is a belt, and he can get one step closer to that with a win over Ferguson this weekend.
“I’m ready to face any of these top five guys,” Oliveira said. “I’m going to run this guy over. On December 12, I’m going to shock the world.”