Charles Oliveira knew he was coming into enemy territory when he agreed to fight Islam Makhachev in Abu Dhabi. Now he’s getting some real-world experience in what that’s all about during the UFC 280 open workouts.
Oliveira arrived at Yas Mall with his teammates to run through some Brazilian jiu jitsu training for the crowd of assembled fans. But from the moment the champion without a belt stepped onto the stage, the crowd erupted in boos. And not just a few. A solid portion of the crowd jeered at ‘Do Bronx’ for several sustained minutes, which seemed to throw off Oliveira’s typically cheerful vibes.
— La Sueur (@LaSueur_off) October 19, 2022
This isn’t the first time Oliveira has fought in hostile territory. His last fight was in opponent Justin Gaethje’s home state, just an hour down the road from Justin’s hometown. But while Oliveira may still suspect the Arizona commission screwed him out of his belt, at least the folks in Phoenix were nice to him.
Fight Island is no longer a self-contained sealed off pandemic bubble, but fighters are still largely separated from the general public in the UFC’s athlete hotel. This may have been Charles Oliveira’s first taste of the UAE’s public sentiment towards him since he landed in the country. And they were very clearly and vocally pro-Islam Makhachev.
Fortunately, Oliveira had the support of his teammates, who did a good job of lightening up the mood and cheering their man on once the boos subsided. While his posse for UFC 280 didn’t quite equal Nate Diaz’s posse at UFC 279, there were enough of Charles’ guys there – many of them sporting the same bleach blonde hair – to keep the scene from feeling too grim.
During a short Q&A following the workout, Oliveira declared his intention to smash through his opponent.
“I’m 100%, I was born for this. I was chosen, I’m enlightened,” Oliveira said. “I know you guys are going to be rooting for him, but I’m gonna knock out Islam Makhachev in the first round.”
That, of course, led to more boos.
It wasn’t all hostility, though. October 17th was Charles Oliveira’s 33rd birthday, and the Q&A host bravely called on the crowd to sing happy birthday. Most of them went along with it, but some hardcore fans used the opportunity to boo some more.
What do you think of the Abu Dhabi crowd’s reaction to Charles Oliveira? Did they go too far or is it fair game considering how Brazilian fans often treat visiting fighters? Let us know in the comments!