Charles Oliveira expecting ‘another war’ with Nik Lentz, then a top-ranked opponent

Charles Oliveira has always been a rather quiet contender in the UFC, but he wants his voice to be heard.

Currently riding a four-fight winning streak – all of which earned him “Performance of the Night” bonuses, as well – Oliveira wants another crack at fighting elite competition.

“I wanted someone in the top-five, but the UFC really wanted this rematch to happen,” Oliveira told MMA Junkie in his native Portuguese. “So, I’ll do what I’ve been doing – fighting and winning. Nik Lentz is hard to beat, so another win over him will certainly help me up the rankings. It will be one of the best fights of the night.”

Oliveira (26-8 MMA, 14-8 UFC) and Lentz (30-9-1 MMA, 14-6-1 UFC) have a history that dates back nearly eight years, and the two will renew their rivalry again at Saturday’s UFC on ESPN+ 10, which takes place at Blue Cross Arena in Rochester, N.Y. The card streams on ESPN+.

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The series marks a rarity in MMA for fighters who aren’t contesting titles, but Oliveira believes he’ll prove again to hold the upper hand.

“I’m looking forward to facing Nik Lentz for the third time,” Oliveira said. “Unfortunately, our first encounter was a no contest due to a knee I threw in the heat of the moment. These things happen. Later, I was able to get a clear win over him in Brazil. Since that time, we’ve both improved a lot.

“I’m very ready. I have faith in the fact that my arm will be raised again in the end.”

Oliveira, 29, has already spent the better part of decade in the UFC, so he’s quite literally – both physically and mentally – grown up in the octagon. Thus far in his career, “Do Bronx” has come up short when it matters most, losing to the sport’s elite such as Donald Cerrone, Frankie Edgar, Max Holloway and Anthony Pettis. But Oliveira believes that in his current form, he deserves an opportunity for those big tests once again.

“If you look at some of the bad moments in my career, they often were losses to former champions or guys in the top-five,” Oliveira said. “Unfortunately, once you step in the cage, one will win and one will lose. I always put on a battle, regardless.”

First, of course, Oliveira has to take care of the business at hand. Oddsmakers have him pegged as a -350 favorite, implying about a 78 percent probability of victory, but Oliveira knows he can’t take anything for granted against such a wily foe.

“I expect another war,” Oliveira said. “Nik Lentz is super tough. He only walks forward, like I do. He has good jiu-jitsu like mine. He fights well on the feet, as on the ground, but I’m confident I’ll be victorious.”

And then, he hopes, the UFC will be a little more accommodating.

“Next, I’d like to face someone high in the rankings, someone in the top-five,” Oliveira said. “I want to get even closer to the belt. My goal is to be champion.

“I’m different now. I’m a different Charles now. My focus is on Nik Lentz, but after that, we want someone well-ranked.”

For more on UFC on ESPN+ 10, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.

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