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5 fights to make in the UFC lightweight division

Charles Oliveira defeated Justin Gaethje on Saturday
Charles Oliveira defeated Justin Gaethje on Saturday
Ivan Derrick

UFC 274 was a big night, particularly in the lightweight division. The event saw two massive fights, with Michael Chandler knocking out Tony Ferguson and Charles Oliveira submitting Justin Gaethje.

The lightweight title was also vacated, meaning there will be some interesting matchups to look forward to.

πŸ‡§πŸ‡· 𝗗𝗒 𝗕π—₯𝗒𝗑𝗫! πŸ‡§πŸ‡·@CharlesDoBronxs remains the King of the lightweight division! Just a King without his crown… πŸ‘‘#UFC274 https://t.co/c49LS0JYN5

Charles Oliveira may have lost his belt, but he established himself as the top fighter in the division with his performance. That is a big achievement in a weight class that has been one of the deepest in the sport for some time. This depth means there are fun fights to be made up and down the lightweight rankings.

Here are five fights to make in the UFC lightweight division:


#5. Tony Ferguson vs. Dan Hooker

Ferguson (pictured) and Hooker are ranked no. 10 and no. 13
Ferguson (pictured) and Hooker are ranked no. 10 and no. 13

Tony Ferguson may have been on the receiving end of a devastating knockout this past weekend, but up until that point he looked to be performing well. That will likely provide little consolation to a fighter whose 12-fight winning streak has evaporated into a four-fight losing streak.

His next fight will be an important one.

Michael Chandler just sent Tony Ferguson to the SHADOW REALM https://t.co/8r3b9JMPqC

It is now time for Ferguson to face someone in a more similar position to himself. Dan Hooker is another fighter who has fought some of the best fighters in the world as of late and has struggled to pick up results. Like 'El Cucuy', Hooker has lost four of his last five and so this matchup makes sense on paper.

Both men are in desperate need of a positive result to justify their respective positions in the rankings. These two men are also almost never in boring fights, so fireworks would be guaranteed if they were paired together.

This fight is fun stylistically and would determine which fighter can still compete with the best.

#4. Justin Gaethje vs. Gregor Gillespie

Gaethje (pictured) and Gillespie are ranked no. 3 and no. 8
Gaethje (pictured) and Gillespie are ranked no. 3 and no. 8

When former UFC lightweight champion Charles Oliveira missed weight on Friday, it seemed like the perfect opportunity for Justin Gaethje to claim the gold. Instead, he was quickly submitted in the first round for the second time in two title fights and now faces a long road back to title contention.

Charles Oliveira submitting Justin GaethjePhoenix, Arizona (2022) https://t.co/gNQvnwJux7

While Gregor Gillespie might seem like an odd choice of opponent, it actually makes plenty of sense. Gillespie has been campaigning extensively for an opponent above him in the rankings. Gaethje would provide him with that and finally allow the UFC to figure out just how serious a contender he might be.

A win for Gillespie would shoot him straight into the title conversation, whilst a loss would allow more active fighters to overtake him in the rankings. For Gaethje, it would give him the chance to prove he is better than his title fight performances and begin to once again get some momentum on his side.


#3. Dustin Poirier vs. Michael Chandler

Chandler (pictured) and Poirier are ranked no. 5 and no. 2
Chandler (pictured) and Poirier are ranked no. 5 and no. 2

Dustin Poirier and Michael Chandler are two of the more intriguing members of the lightweight division's top five. Both men have had some huge wins in recent times but neither quite makes sense as title contenders right now given their losses to Charles Oliveira.

With both men trying to get back into the title picture, a fight between them would allow us to see who is more deserving of that spot. It would also be somewhat of a dream match between two of the best UFC lightweight fighters.

.@MikeChandlerMMA tells @arielhelwani he has no interest in fighting Dustin Poirier because Poirier "disregarded" him when Chandler first came to the UFC πŸ‘€ #TheMMAHour"Is Dustin a draw? ... I forgot about him, to be honest."▢️ youtu.be/n-qhYN2mEIU https://t.co/akCZcq30GQ

This is a fight that makes sense in the rankings, is sure to be an entertaining affair and would help further raise the profile of both fighters. Both Poirier and Chandler seem to be on the verge of breaking through to the mainstream and this big-time matchup may be the perfect opportunity for both men.

While Chandler recently shot down Poirier as a potential UFC opponent, it's hard to imagine that he wouldn't be able to be persuaded.

#2. Islam Makhachev vs. Beneil Dariush

Makhachev (pictured) and Dariush are ranked no. 4 and no. 6
Makhachev (pictured) and Dariush are ranked no. 4 and no. 6

The UFC have a big decision to make regarding Islam Makhachev's next opponent. Dana White had previously indicated that he would re-book the fight against Beneil Dariush after it fell through previously. His reasoning appeared to be that since Makhachev pulled out of a fight with Rafael dos Anjos, he shouldn't be rewarded with a title shot.

White says that he would still love to see Makhachev vs. Dariush, but after tonight, he wouldn't mind doing Oliveira vs. Makhachev either.

However, White indicated he may be reconsidering this as Oliveira is currently without a dance partner for a potential vacant title bout down the line. It seems that he may be tempted to give the Dagestani that opportunity. With that being said, Makhachev hasn't beaten any of the fighters at the top of the division.

For both fighters, you get the sense that one more win would silence those doubting how deserving they are of a title shot. Neither man seems to quite have done enough to sure up a title opportunity and so keeping this fight together seems like the best course of action.


#1. Charles Oliveira vs. Conor McGregor - UFC lightweight championship

McGregor (pictured) and Oliveira are ranked no. 9 and no. 1
McGregor (pictured) and Oliveira are ranked no. 9 and no. 1

Many fans will be quick to point out that Conor McGregor hasn't won at lightweight since 2016 and therefore may not be deserving of a title shot. However, McGregor is the biggest star the sport has ever seen and traditional logic does not necessarily apply to him.

Oliveira proposes a busy night and McGregor responds 😬 https://t.co/LYc6gfwli4

Seeing 'The Notorious' compete for championship gold would once again be big business for the UFC and Charles Oliveira seems on board with the idea. If all parties are keen on the fight, it just might happen. On top of that, this could prove to be a very interesting fight stylistically.

Oliveira may be dominating his opponents with jiu-jitsu, but he has also proved to be prone to getting caught with some big shots in his fights. McGregor, pound-for-pound, is one of the more powerful strikers in the sport. If he were to land that big shot on the Brazilian, perhaps the Irishman could reclaim the UFC lightweight title.

Edited by Harvey Leonard

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