In the co-main event of UFC 256, top lightweights went to war when No. 3 ranked Tony Ferguson took on No. 7 Charles Oliveira, and a new top contender emerged. The Brazilian Oliveira dominated “El Cucuy” from pillar to post, controlling Ferguson on the ground for most of the bout.
Going into the fight, “Du Bronx” was the dark horse of the division and he left the Octagon a bonafide title contender. He extended his win streak to eight and set himself up for a possible title fight.
Current UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov announced his retirement after defeating Justin Gaethje in October. Since then, “The Eagle” has reiterated that he is retired, however UFC president Dana White has told the media that he believes the Russian will fight again. Nurmagomedov has still not been stripped of the title nor has he vacated it. White and The Eagle plan to meet next month to discuss his future.
Should Nurmagomedov stick to his retirement, he will eventually drop the belt and two fighters will compete for the vacant title.
Oliveira vs. the Winner of Next Month’s Conor McGregor vs. Dustin Poirier Could Be for the Vacant Lightweight Title
From a rankings and timing standpoint, the vacant title fight that makes the most sense in the lightweight division is Oliveira, who will be elevated into the top five of the division when the rankings update, versus the winner of UFC 257’s Conor McGregor vs. Dustin Poirier. Poirier is ranked No. 2 in the division and McGregor is No. 4.
“Notorious” is the UFC’s biggest star, and should he defeat Poirier on January 23, 2021, the promotion will likely take the opportunity to slot McGregor into a lightweight title fight. Oliveira, who just defeated the longtime “boogeyman” of the division, Ferguson, seems like the appropriate opponent.
Should Poirier defeat McGregor, Oliveira vs. Poirier would also be a fantastic matchup for the title.
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Before Anything, McGregor Has a Tough Task Ahead of Him in Poirier
UFC 257 will host a rematch over six years in the making when McGregor and Poirier are locked inside the Octagon. The two stars competed in the featherweight division at UFC 178 in 2014. It was a volatile buildup, with Notorious slamming The Diamond with constant trash talk and as history has it, the Irishman finished Poirier in the first round via TKO.
Years later, both men have left the featherweight division, finding enormous success in the promotion. McGregor was the first-ever fighters in UFC history two hold two championship titles simultaneously, lightweight and featherweight.
Since losing to McGregor, Poirier has gone 10-2 with one no contest and won the interim lightweight title.
Poirier has made it clear that he’s not the same fighter than when they first competed, physically and mentally. It is a fascinating matchup that will determine who deserves to be at the very top of the UFC’s most stacked division.