Last year at UFC 254, Khabib Nurmagomedov (29-0) said that he was walking away from the sport. The undisputed lightweight champion lost his father last year and after his last successful title defense, he decided it was time to hang it up.
After Khabib retired, the UFC‘s lightweight division needed a new champion. After Dana White confirmed Khabib’s UFC departure a couple of months ago, the promotion booked Oliveira and Chandler for the vacant title.
Charles Oliveira’s UFC story has been something to behold. At one point, Oliveira was 10-8 with the promotion and looked like one of those fighters who would never truly reach his potential.
He bounced back and forth between lightweight and featherweight before ultimately settling at 155 pounds. A few years ago, Do Bronx started to put it all together and he won eight fights in a row leading up to UFC 262.
Michael Chandler was the prized free agent signing for the promotion in 2020. The former Bellator champion made his debut in January and had a first round knockout win over Dan Hooker.
The fight was close on paper and it was close in reality. In the first round at UFC 262, Michael Chandler was moments away from finishing the fight in the first. However, Oliveira weathered the storm and ultimately came back to win by TKO in the second round. In a lot of ways, Saturday’s main event mirrored Do Bronx’s UFC journey.
What’s next after UFC 262?
So, after his big knockout victory, what’s next for the new UFC lightweight champion. Well, for that answer, we are going to look at the PPV that is coming up on July 10th.
UFC 264 is being headlined by the trilogy matchup between Dustin Poirier (27-6, 1 NC) and Conor McGregor (22-5). The two men fought back in January with Poirier evening the score by finishing McGregor in the second round.
The Diamond is the top ranked lightweight in the UFC and honestly should’ve been the one fighting Oliveira on Saturday. However, Poirier took the trilogy fight with McGregor over the title fight which is the better business decision.
McGregor is still the biggest star in the sport and he’s the biggest fight out there. With a win over Poirier, McGregor would jump straight to the front of the line to fight for the title.
Dana White wouldn’t confirm it on Saturday, but the winner of the UFC 264 main event should be next. It would be the biggest fight for the new champion and that’s what he deserves.