There is so much movement and so many exciting things happening in the UFC‘s lightweight division. Just this past week, we saw the Conor McGregor – Dustin Poirier rematch made official and Tony Ferguson will be fighting Charles Oliveira.
Both of those are insane matchups for fight fans. That being said, there are even more exciting matchups on the horizon for the UFC‘s lightweight division. The biggest MMA signing in 2020 had to be Michael Chandler signing with the UFC.
The former three time Bellator lightweight champion will finally get the chance to prove himself amongst the elite. However, the promotion has not been able to find Chandler an opponent quite yet.
Chandler was the backup for UFC 254 when Justin Gaethje took on Khabib Nurmagomedov. That night, Nurmagomedov ran through Gaethje to retain his UFC lightweight championship then announced his retirement. Although, his retirement seems to be up in the air.
Justin Gaethje wanted to get right back into the swing of things after the loss. He didn’t take much damage and he was itching to get back into the cage. Gaethje needs an opponent and Michael Chandler still isn’t booked. You see where I’m going with this?
Will the UFC book it?
I think given the current landscape, it makes all the sense in the world to have Justin Gaethje (22-3) fight Michael Chandler (21-5). It’s an excellent stylistic matchup for fans and both guys need a fight.
Chandler was trying to fight Tony Ferguson at UFC 257 when McGregor takes on Poirier. However, Ferguson was adamant about fighting in 2020 which is how he landed on the Charles Oliveira fight.
By all accounts, Chandler wants to make his UFC debut in January. Justin Gaethje is wanting to get back into the cage so it makes sense to pair the two. The other option for either man would be Dan Hooker.
Unfortunately for Hooker, he appears to be the odd man out at the moment. Ariel Helwani said yesterday that it appears that Michael Chandler might have an opponent for UFC 257. Hooker has been calling for a fight with Gaethje while we haven’t heard much from the former interim champion.
My guess is that the promotion is moving to book Gaethje – Chandler. In theory, the winner of that fight would fight the winner of the McGregor – Poirier fight sometime next summer. If Khabib is truly done, the winners would face for the undisputed UFC lightweight championship.
In this scenario the two odd men out would be whoever wins between Ferguson – Oliveira and Dan Hooker. Given the timelines, I wouldn’t be shocked to see the UFC book those two against each other sometime in the spring.