UFC president Dana White has finally accepted Khabib Nurmagomedov’s retirement from the sport, and the UFC already has a title fight lined up to fill the new vacancy in the 155-pound division. Strangely, the company’s plans do not include the No. 1 ranked fighter in the division, Dustin Poirier, after his upset win over Conor McGregor.
White revealed his acceptance of Nurmagomedov’s retirement via social media on Thursday.
White posted, “29-0 it is. He is…officially retired. It was incredible to watch you work @TeamKhabib thank you for EVERYTHING and enjoy whatever is next my friend.”
Shortly after White posted that news, ESPN reported that the UFC lightweight title vacancy would be filled by a showdown between Charles Oliveira and Michael Chandler.
Oliveira is ranked No. 3 in the division, and Chandler is ranked No. 4.
That’s great news for Oliveira and Chandler, especially the latter who has just one UFC win under his belt after signing with the company last year.
But it seems like bad news for Poirier because it means Poirier’s stunning knockout victory over McGregor at UFC 257 in January has somehow left him out in the cold in regards to fighting for UFC gold.
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What About Poirier?
Beating McGregor should have earned Poirier the clearest path to the vacant title.
Instead, it’s somehow kept the American from fighting for the belt.
Nevermind that he’s the No.1-ranked contender in the division.
Nevermind that Oliveira and Chandler aren’t even No. 2.
One of those guys is going to become the new champ at 155 in his next fight, and Poirier won’t get that same chance.
How can that be?
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What About Gaethje?
The No.2 ranked fighter at 155 is Justin Gaethje, who lost to Nurmagomedov at UFC 254 last year in the Russian’s final fight.
Gaethje had won four fights in a row to earn his title shot in 2020, and nobody should in hindsight dismiss his wins over James Vick, Edson Barboza, Donald Cerrone and Tony Ferguson.
Gaethje’s ranking at No. 2 makes sense, and he also got skipped.
And the last fighter to beat Gaethje? Oh yeah, that was Poirier, and “The Diamond” has gone 4-1 since that win.
Poirier beat Eddie Alvarez, Max Holloway, Dan Hooker and McGregor. His only loss during that stretch was to Nurmagomedov.
Fun Fights Coming Soon at 155
Look, most fight fans will likely be happy to see White finally accept Nurmagomedov’s retirement. It means the weight class can move on with great fights, and it means the rest of the star-studded division can get back to action to crown a new king.
Heck, most fans will probably be glad to see that Oliveira is finally getting his chance at UFC gold, or that he’s even getting in the Octagon with one of the other popular stars at 155.
Oliveira has won eight fights in a row.
But it’s hard to imagine most reasonable people in the world would believe that skipping over Poirier to fill the vacant title at 155 pounds is the best way to go about all this.
The company wasn’t rushing to accept Nurmagomedov’s retirement and that happened nearly half a year ago, so it seems strange now to hurry to crown a new champion so soon.
No Tournament, But Maybe UFC Planning Similar Thing
Giving the benefit of the doubt to White and the UFC, maybe it’s best to think Poirier is on his way to facing McGregor this summer and that the winner of that fight will be given the first shot at the new champion right after that.
That makes some sense, though it seems like the UFC could have just gone forward with a de facto four-man tournament featuring those same fighters.
Regardless, three important things have just happened in the UFC.
First, White has accepted Nurmagomedov’s retirement.
Second, Oliveira and Chandler will be fighting for the vacant title at UFC 262.
Third, Poirier won’t be fighting for the vacant belt.
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