Charles Oliveira (33-8, 30 finishes) is set to face Islam Makhachev (22-1, 14 finishes) in the UFC 280 main event Saturday in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates with the opportunity to regain the lightweight championship he lost due to missing weight ahead of his last title defense in May. The Brazilian, universally regarded as the No. 1 fighter at 155 pounds, recently spoke via Zoom, through an interpreter, with The Post’s Scott Fontana for this week’s Post Fight Interview.
Q: A lot of the biggest names in your division are either cheering for you to win or picking you to win against Islam. Does that mean anything to you to have the respect of your peers like that?
A: I’m really happy and, honestly, grateful to see everyone supporting me. I worked really hard to earn this respect and to earn the position I’m [in] right now. So I’m really grateful for that.
Q: You’re the UFC submission wins leader and you’ve lately been knocking out top 155ers. Where do you see yourself having the more pronounced advantage over him: standing or on the ground?
A: When I got into the UFC, I was a jiu-jitsu athlete. Now, I’m a martial artist. I’m well rounded, and wherever the fight goes, I will win. I have talent in all areas.
Q: The UFC doesn’t recognize you as the official champion, but people at large realize that, as you’ve said, “the champion has a name and that name is Charles Oliveira.” Do you have any issue with the way the UFC has handled the situation after the weight miss and all the circumstances around it?
A: It’s behind us. Everyone knows what happened. Everyone knows who the champion is. Everyone knows I got robbed, so it’s in the past.
Q: Fighters are always rehydrating after weigh-ins anyway and many times are competing several pounds apart. Is there anything you think could be changed about how weigh-ins are done in MMA?
A: Actually, I think it’s all properly done. It was just a problem with the scale. I don’t know what could be better. I think it’s really well done, and it was just one moment; something that went wrong just in that specific moment.
Q: Do you plan on making any adjustments to how you prepare for weigh-ins this time?
A: Everyone is asking me about that. I won’t make any change. I’m doing it the same way, with the same nutritionist. What people have to understand is that, when you actually don’t make weight, you have that pressure; you think about that. But I did make weight. I was robbed. So I’m gonna keep doing the same thing I did and make weight on [Friday] as I did the last time.
Q: You’ve put together a very impressive career resume, especially late in your career as the champion. What are some of your remaining career goals?
A: I want to keep building my legacy, being the champion and showing that anyone like me can do the same. I just want to keep building my legacy and breaking records.
Q: Do you have a favorite submission victory from your career?
A: It’s hard to tell. I believe that each fight had something meaningful about it. Whether it was an injury or something special, something different. So it’s hard to tell. I feel like all my fights deserve to be respected as such.
Q: Do you recall your first experience watching MMA?
A: I’m not sure, but I have a memory of watching MMA in [my hometown of] Guarujá. I’ve always been a dreamer, let’s say, and when I saw it, I said I would be there one day. And it was the UFC, and everyone thought it wouldn’t happen.
Q: Typical walkaround weight between fights?
A: It’s around 83-84 kilos [183-185 pounds].
Q: Typical weight on fight night?
A: I can’t say yet. I don’t know.
Q: Favorite post-weight cut meal?
A: Actually, I just try to recover and eat well. It’s more about that. But I just try to keep that balance of eating well and getting prepared for the fight. Maybe it’s some pasta or mashed potatoes or whatever, but the focus is on recovering really well.
Q: Who in MMA do you most admire?
A: It’s hard to tell. I don’t like to pick names because, sometimes, I forget someone. Overall, I really admire even the old generation here in Brazil, but also the ones that are coming right now and putting on great performances.
Q: What’s the coolest technique in combat sports?
A: Calf slicer.
Q: Favorite movie?
A: “The Ghost in the Darkness”
Q: Favorite outdoor activity?
A: I like to race with my horses.
Q: Favorite video game?
A: I don’t play.
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