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Devil’s Advocate | The Current State of the UFC Lightweight Division

Hey there Buzz Fans, after the results of last night’s fights, we have been given a tremendous opportunity to possibly have the biggest year the lightweight division has ever seen.

Last night we saw three time Bellator lightweight champion Michael Chandler come out and possibly have the greatest debut in the UFC ever. Believe me I know because I’m still choking on my words to this very minute. If any of you have followed anything I’ve written about Michael Chandler it has been nothing anywhere close to flattering. But last night he came out guns blazing against one of the, if not the toughest man in the lightweight division, Dan Hooker. A man that has pushed two of the other top contenders, being Dustin Poirier and Justin Gaethje to the very limit. Not only did he beat Hooker, he knocked him out at 2:34 of the very first round. We didn’t even get a chance to see the elite level wrestling that he possesses, or the ground game he’s talked about, just one punch, lights out, end of story. You couldn’t ask for a more impressive debut unless you’re talking about Justin Gaethje’s debut against Michael Johnson on July 7th, 2017.

Then you’ve got the cash cow himself, Conor McGregor making his anticipated return against another top guy in the division, Dustin Poirier. All night the UFC made every effort to cram McGregor down our throats all throughout the show with video game commercials and the Proper Twelve Whiskey. Now I don’t have a problem with any of that, but the lack of respect given to Poirier in the lead up to this fight was a catastrophic mistake on the part of the UFC. He had a gameplan, perfected it with crushing shin kicks, and finished the job with beautiful strikes that got him a decisive TKO victory in the second.

Now that we’ve gone over the winners of last night’s events, let’s take a look at just exactly what the current state of the division is. After the fights last night Dana White said that he had spoken to Khabib, and in so many words that I’m not going to quote, Khabib is probably not coming back. Can you really blame him? No, but you can blame Khabib if he does come back. Think about this before you bury me online. Khabib has already beaten everyone BUT Chandler and Charles Oliveira, and lets be honest Khabib wouldn’t risk it all for either one of these guys. So as I’m concerned, for my theory I think Khabib stays retired…hopefully.

As for Conor McGregor I think he will still remain the cash cow, but as far as anything concerning going for the championship (not that he couldn’t) I think he probably gonna go for the money instead. The only thing in the lightweight division that’s left for him is always Conor/Nate Diaz lurking, but bigger fights in other divisions sound a bit more like it to me. I’m thinking Conor moves to the Welterweight division for more of what he’s made for, and that’s main attraction fights that produce huge amounts of cash. Fights like Masvidal/Conor or Conor against (hopefully returning) Nick Diaz. But as far as a title run, honestly he’s bigger than a title, he himself is an attraction.

Now that leaves the remaining six, Poirier, Gaetjhe, Chandler, Oliveira, Ferguson, and Hooker. Now remember this is just “my opinion” and who knows that the UFC is really gonna do, but there are the six people you can’t ignore. Poirier/McGregor should have been for the newly crowned lightweight championship…but it wasn’t. So now enters my grand prix tourney theory. Gaethje is still ranked number one in the rankings, even though his last loss was to Khabib, but the same could be said about Poirier. Without Khabib OR Conor you could take these guys and have main event fights throughout the year. So with everything, minus the aforementioned Hooker and Ferguson, everyone is almost on an even playing field to this point. The next big fight in the division should be Charles Oliveira/Justin Gaetjhe, with the winner advancing to face the winner of Poirier/Chandler, winner gets the belt.

Not to mention when it comes to Hooker and Ferguson, you’ve also got to think Rafael Dos Anjos could be a prime opponent for either one of those guys. Or just they could set up Hooker/Ferguson next. Now as I said I’m simply playing matchmaker here, but all of these fights mentioned could be main events and draw huge numbers. The UFC has other stars instead of just relying on Khabib or Conor McGregor.

I’ve had a lot of fun with the matchmaking and writing this article, so now ladies and gentleman I leave it with you guys – what fights do you guys think the UFC should book next for the Lightweight Division?

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