Khabib Nurmagomedov has officially retired, vacating the UFC lightweight championship. Nurmagomedov has already beaten the current number one contender and the number two ranked fighter in the division. However, neither of the fighters, Dustin Poirier or Justin Gaethje is fighting for the belt.
The UFC has made Charles Oliveira versus Micheal Chandler for the lightweight title official for UFC 262. The instant reaction from UFC fans was that Micheal Chandler should not be fighting for the UFC belt in just his second UFC fight. Despite Chandler’s only loss in his last seven fights coming to current Bellator lightweight and featherweight champion Patricio “Pitbull” Freire. Chandler nor Oliveira has fought the caliber of fighters in their last two fights to be fighting for a title. Although Oliveira’s road has been a significantly easier one.
— MMA On Point (@OnPointMMA) March 19, 2021
Charles Oliveira’s last two fights came against the 13th ranked fighter in the lightweight division Kevin Lee. His second fight was against a Tony Ferguson that looked like a beaten man. Ferguson was coming off a fifth-round TKO loss to Justin Gaethje. Gaethje absolutely dominated Ferguson from start to finish. Ferguson showed why he is one of the toughest men to ever step into the octagon. Although, you can not take that bad of a beating and come back the same and we saw that when Ferguson fought Oliveria.
“Tony Ferguson is finished now,” Nurmagomedov said. “He’s gonna come back, and someone gonna beat him again, I believe. Because when you take damage like this, you’re never going to be the same. Never. Even if you’re Tony Ferguson.”
Ranking Each Fighters Worthiness at a Title Shot
1. Dustin Poirier
Dustin Poirier is the most deserving at a title shot and is looked at as the current champion now that Khabib has retired. Poirier has defeated the number two contender in Justin Gaethje by TKO. Poirier has clean out the entire lightweight division with the exception of being choked out in round three by Khabib. The reasoning Poirier will not get his title shot is that he is focused on a money fight with Conor McGregor. If Poirier wins that fight he should be the only fighter considered for a title shot. That is if he wants one.
What would have made perfect sense is to give Poirier his rematch with McGregor and set up a tournament. The winner of Gaethje versus Chandler/Oliveira could fight the winner of McGregor versus Poirier for the title. This way there is a lot less controversy than bypassing the number one and two contenders in the division for a title match.
2. Justin Gaethje
Justin Gaethje is the number two contender for a reason. He fought Tony Ferguson when Ferguson was at his peak and he changed him. Gaethje landed over 100 significant strikes on Ferguson and delivered damage till Ferguson’s body just couldn’t take it anymore. Justin “The Highlight” Gaethje lived up to his name when he snapped Ferguson’s 12 fight win streak.
Gaethje’s loss to Dustin Poirier is what sets him back to number two on this list. However, after his loss to Poirier, he went on a four-fight win streak all the way to a shot at the title. Ultimately he lost in his title fight versus Khabib Nurmagomedov but nobody on this list seems like they would do much better. In my opinion, Gaethje has been the most disrespected fighter on this list. Not only did Gaethje get passed up by two lower-ranked fighters but he also still does not have an opponent. Gaethje should be fighting for the title before either Chandler or Oliveira. Gaethje has won four of his five fights since losing to Poirier and is deserving of his rematch for the strap. I would hate to see such an exciting fighter sit on the sidelines. It’s tough to find a fight that makes sense for Gaethje right now I say he waits for the winner of Chandler versus Oliveira.
3. Micheal Chandler
Micheal Chandler is a former Bellator champion and now that Khabib has retired his last loss may be to the new king of the lightweight division in MMA Pitbull Freire. Chandler came into his first UFC fight as an underdog versus Dan Hooker. Hooker was supposed to have the advantage on the feet and many fans thought Chandler’s path to victory was on the ground. Although, Chandler shockingly finished off Hooker in the very first round by TKO.
I would make the argument that Chandler’s victory over Dan Hooker is better than any victory on Oliveira’s resume. Chandler Lost his title fight to Pitbull Freire and is now on a three-fight win streak. All three fights have one major thing in common they all came by stoppage in the very first round. Chandler is on a dominating run and is worthy of being the number three contender in the division. With Poirier electing to go for the money fight it should be Justin Gaethje versus Micheal Chandler for the title.
4. Charles Oliveira
Charles Oliveira is on a dominant eight-fight win streak leading into his shot at the lightweight title. On the other hand, when you take a dive into his resume it is not as impressive as it may seem. Oliveria has only fought one top ten ranked fighter on his road to his title shot. That win was against Tony Ferguson who Oliveira repeatedly took down at will and dominated Ferguson on the ground.
There is debate whether Ferguson still belongs as the fifth-ranked fighter after back-to-back losses to Justin Gaethje and Charles Oliveira. Not to do MMA math but to make a point if Ferguson were to fight Hooker then Hooker would be the favorite. Chandler has the more impressive resume even in his one UFC fight. I would have loved to see Oliveira fight a true top-five ranked opponent before getting his shot but this is still an incredibly intriguing matchup. We will have more on this matchup at a later date.
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