Earlier today, former UFC Lightweight Champion Charles Oliveira told TSN MMA's Aaron Bronsteter that he wouldn't be ready to rematch the Champion Islam Makhachev in Abu Dhabi at UFC 294 in October, the fight most fans expected. He furthered that he wishes to fight Islam in November or December and will wait for a title fight.
This comes with a few problems in the plans of the São Paulo Jiu-Jitsu ace and could likely result in the title shot being given to someone else. It is well-known that the UFC will hold a Pay-Per-View show in Abu Dhabi this year at UFC 294 and that Islam Makhachev is the current headliner. Oliveira wants to fight him later, but Makhachev is locked into that date- specifically, the location booked for that date, Abu Dhabi.
Abu Dhabi can't be moved to a different month this year as the UFC has already booked Madison Square Garden for November and the T-Mobile Arena for December. The chance it could be on a Fight Night between then is slim to none. Therefore, unless Oliveira changes his mind, it's more than likely his spot at UFC 294 will be filled in by one of two options: the Featherweight Champion Alexander Volkanovski, should he defeat Yair Rodriguez tonight, or the winner of the BMF title fight between Dustin Poirier and Justin Gaethje at UFC 291 this month.
Volkanovski is coming off of a razor-thin decision loss to Makhachev in a Fight of The Year contender that fans would have no problem running back, and both Gaethje and Poirier are top 5 contenders that would be on a winning streak should they win their next fight, producing a streaking new challenger for the champion.
Poirier is coming off a 3rd-round submission win over Michael Chandler last year at UFC 281, and Gaethje is returning to action off the back of his Fight of The Year contender against Rafael Fiziev at UFC 286 in London, a majority decision win.
Oliveira, seemingly guaranteed a title shot after knocking out Beneil Dariush in under a round at UFC 289 just last month, may have given that spot away to the next man after ruling out an October return.
Who would you like to see Islam Makhachev face next, and who do you think it will be? Let us know in the comments below.