After his dominant win over Justin Gaethje at UFC 254, Khabib Nurmagomedov retired from MMA.
While the Eagle will be dearly missed in the MMA community and his greatest may never be truly matched, the show must go on.
With events such as the return of Conor McGregor (again), the fall of Tony Ferguson, the arrival of Michael Chandler, and so much more, we must figure out the state of the UFC’s Lightweight division.
The main focus of the Lightweight division in the immediate future will be the crowning of a new Lightweight Champion. Khabib retired with the strap necessitating the crowning of a new champ. The problem comes in choosing the two men to fight for the title. The top of the Lightweight division is absolutely stacked and even the upper mid-card fighters have a legitimate claim to fight for the title.
One theory that has been floated out has been to have the upcoming Conor McGregor-Dustin Poirier fight be for the vacant Lightweight title.
While I’m sure McGregor and Poirier love that idea, almost every fighter in the UFC’s Lightweight division does not agree with that. Many would also assume that former interim champion Justin Gaethje should be in the fight to crown a new champion no matter who the opponent would be.
This reshuffling of the title picture is also worrisome for the rest of the ranked fighters in the Lightweight division. If a fighter isn’t being considered for an immediate title shot, they could risk being lost in the shuffle. The hope would be that if the fighters ranked about seven through fifteen aren’t considered as title contenders now, they be matched up with one another to improve their stock and create new title contenders. We have one idea that may not be incredibly viable for the UFC, but would be a great way for the fans to be involved and to draw some attention to the sport.
Our suggestion is an eight-man title tournament. Why eight?
Well, it could be simplified to a four man tournament, but the four men who should really be considered for a title opportunity would be McGregor, Poirier, Ferguson, and Gaethje. And with McGregor and Poirier already being matched up, it wouldn’t make sense to pair Tony and Justin with one another yet again when they fought so recently.
So eight is the magic number.
Our suggested match-ups: Conor McGregor-Dustin Poirier (as that is already booked), Tony Ferguson-Charles Oliveira, Justin Gaethje-Paul Felder, and Dan Hooker-Michael Chandler. Why these eight? It is essentially the top seven fighters in the Lightweight division with the addition of Michael Chandler.
This does a few things for the division.
The UFC can see just how well these fighters stack up when paired with other top contenders, the fighters can have a definitive look at who their future opponents could be, and it gives the men fighting all hope to be crowned the new Lightweight Champion. This also lays the groundwork for the future of the Lightweight division’s future at the top and mid-card.
What do you think of our suggestion?
What did you think about Khabib’s retirement?
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