Gunning for top-15 foe after 5-0 start in UFC, Raoni Barcelos finds inspiration in Charles Oliveira

Raoni Barcelos (right) | Zuffa LLC

Raoni Barcelos is 5-0 in the UFC but still hasn’t gotten his shot at a top-ranked bantamweight.

The experienced Brazilian was paired up against Merab Dvalishvili and Raphael Assuncao following his “Fight of the Night” win over Khalid Taha this past November, but both bouts got cancelled for different reasons. Set to return against Timur Valiev at Saturday’s UFC Vegas 30, Barcelos looks up to Charles Oliveira as an example of how things might take some time before eventually paying off.

“I have to do my job like other fighters did,” Barcelos said in an interview with MMA Fighting. “I can mention Charles ‘do Bronx,’ who came off a seven-fight win streak and ended up fighting for the title and becoming champion. I think I have to do pretty much the same to at least enter the ranking and be fighting the best and try to fight for the title.”

Barcelos sees his fight with Valiev as a “turning point” for him in the UFC, and believes he will be matched up against a top-15 opponent next “depending on how I win” over Valiev, whose only loss over the last five years was overturned due to positive test for marijuana.

“I’ll do a good job, which is to KO or submit all my fights or putting on a good performance,” he said, “and I’ll be able to enter the ranking once for all and be fighting big-name opponents and the best of the division.”

“I don’t think it’s [UFC’s] fault,” he continued. “I believe many ranked fighters don’t accept to fight me because I’m a dangerous fight and I’m not ranked. They won’t risk their position fighting a guy that doesn’t have a big name yet. But they will have no place to run after this fight. When I get there, I’ll take their spot and fight for the title.”

The Brazilian 135-pounder, who defeated the likes of Kurt Holobaugh and Said Nurmagomedov in the UFC, planned on calling out Dvalishvili with a win Saturday, but “The Machine” was just matched up against Marlon Moraes for September.

Barcelos might ask the UFC to re-book a fight with Cody Stamann, which was planned for March 2020 but fell through due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and wants to do so after an emphatic finish.

“Knockout. I see myself winning like that,” Barcelos said. “I always get in there ready to fight 15 minutes, but I’ll go after the knockout the entire time, make no mistake about it.”

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