Is the UFC targeting Nate Diaz – Justin Gaethje?

Earlier this week, Dana White said that the UFC was working on the lightweight return of Nate Diaz (20-12). Diaz is one of the biggest stars in the sport and a return to lightweight would signal that he plans to be more active.

White wouldn’t give any significant clues on who his opponent would be. However, he did shut down the rumor of a potential fight with Tony Ferguson (25-5). That’s a fight that UFC fans really liked, but it’s not the fight the promotion is moving towards.

One intriguing things is that White said if Diaz wins, it’ll put him in a great position at lightweight. With that, you have to imagine that whoever he fights will be a top ranked UFC lightweight.

I started thinking through all of the guys in the top ten and I listed out some options in this article. However, while on Fight Island, White was interviewed by Farrah Hannoun and she threw out an option that made the boss smile. That option was Justin Gaethje (22-3)

Will the UFC book Diaz – Gaethje?

When Hannoun gave a guess of Diaz – Gaethje, White just smiled and said, “I don’t know, we’ll see.” Of course, that’s a classic response from the UFC president. If this is the direction the promotion goes, it would be a change from the original plan.

Recently, White said that the UFC was trying to make Justin Gaethje – Charles Oliveira. Charles Oliveira (30-8, 1 NC) is on an incredible streak and many believe that he could be the most dangerous contender in the lightweight division.

However, Oliveira’s manager came out and said that they didn’t want the Gaethje fight. With Oliveira seemingly not interested in fighting The Highlight, it is very possible that the UFC switches gears to make the Diaz fight which would be a huge winner with fans.

Today, Dana White is going to announce the future of Khabib Nurmagomedov (29-0). White said in a video that he would announce Khabib’s future and what it means for the rest of the lightweight division. We should expect some clarity at 155 within the next week.

Michael Chandler believes he will be the UFC lightweight champ this year

Michael Chandler

One of the biggest storylines for the UFC that came outside the actual octagon in 2020 was the promotion’s signing of Michael Chandler (21-5). The former Bellator lightweight champion finished his contract back in August.

After he knocked out Benson Henderson, Chandler was the hottest free agent in MMA. All of the big promotion’s were throwing money at him, however, there was one place he knew he wanted to be at.

Despite the UFC not offering the most money, Chandler signed with the biggest MMA promotion in the world. For Michael Chandler, signing with the UFC was more about his legacy and the competition over the money.

Chandler has made it very clear that he wants to prove that he’s one of the very best in the world. He served at the backup at UFC 254 if Khabib Nurmagomedov or Justin Gaethje would have fallen out of the main event.

Chandler showed up and made weight despite not being officially booked for a fight. He wanted to get the feel of being in the UFC and he wanted to meet everyone behind the scenes to get a sense of what it’s like.

After initially struggling to get him a fight, the promotion has booked Chandler for his debut at UFC 257. Chandler will be taking on top lightweight contender, Dan Hooker (20-9), in the co-main event of the evening.

Will Chandler become a UFC champion?

Michael Chandler recently sat down with MMA On Point where he talked about his journey in getting to UFC 257. He made it clear that he believes he will prove he’s the best in the world saying, “I truly believe I’m going to be the UFC Lightweight Champion this year.”

Defeating Dan Hooker would be a great first step for the former Bellator champion. However, even beating Dan Hooker isn’t likely to net Chandler a title fight right away. More than likely, he will have to win twice to get that shot at the title.

Granted, starting in January is a great thing for Michael Chandler and the UFC. Chandler has a desire to be active in 2021 and if he’s going to be champion, he’s going to have to fight three times this year.

Michael Chandler does have the skills to become a champion in the UFC. However, it’s going to be far from easy, but that’s his prime motivation. Chandler’s addition made the best division in the promotion even more exciting in 2021.

Dustin Poirier has signed a new eight-fight deal with the UFC

Next weekend at UFC 257, Dustin Poirier (26-6, 1 NC) will get the opportunity to avenge one of his biggest losses. In the headliner, Poirier will be taking on Conor McGregor (22-4) in a rematch from UFC 178.

The first fight that took place back in 2014 did not go well for Poirier. After a heated buildup, McGregor stopped Poirier in the first round. However, since that moment, Poirier has surged in his career.

Since the first loss to McGregor, Poirier has gone 10-2,1 NC in thirteen fights. The pinnacle of his rise came at UFC 236 when he defeated Max Holloway (21-6) to become the interim lightweight champion.

However, his interim reign didn’t last long as he was dominated by Khabib Nurmagomedov (29-0) at UFC 242 later that year. Still, Poirier is one of the very best in the world and he plans to show his improvement next Saturday.

Getting Poirier to this fight hasn’t been an easy thing. Originally, the promotion wanted Poirier to fight at UFC 254 in the co-headliner against Tony Ferguson (25-5). However, Poirier and the UFC couldn’t come to an agreement.

After they couldn’t come to an agreement on the money for the Ferguson fight, the promotion tried offering Poirier a fight with Michael Chandler (21-5). However, Poirier was still not good with the UFC‘s financial offer.

As a result, the talks fell apart and Poirier didn’t end up fighting. During this time, Conor McGregor was having his own issues with the promotion. With both men upset at the UFC, they talked online about having a charity match. That’s where things turned.

Charity Match to a New UFC Contract

McGregor and Poirier both agreed to an exhibition MMA match for charity that had nothing to do with the UFC. Of course, that is when the promotion decided to engage both men about fighting each other.

After a long negotiation, both sides came to a deal and the two are headlining UFC 257. However, it wasn’t just a one-off for Poirier. The Diamond revealed to Theo Von in a recent interview that he’s signed a new eight-fight deal with the promotion.

After all of the issues that Poirier was having with the promotion, it seems that everything has been ironed out. In the interview, Poirier even talked about a willingness to move up to welterweight eventually.

Poirier told Von, “I just signed an eight-fight contract with the UFC. My plan is to fight eight more times. I want to finish this contract I’m on, fight eight more times. Then we’ll see where we’re at there. But I’m not looking past that or before that.”

You can watch the entire interview below.

Charles Oliveira wants a UFC title shot next, not Justin Gaethje

A UFC lightweight who saw his stock soar in 2020 was “Do Bronx” Charles Oliveira (30-8, 1 NC). Oliveira has flown under the radar in the premium division in the promotion despite the winning streak he’s on.

Heading into 2020, Oliveira was riding a six-fight winning streak. Not only that, but he had finished all six opponents in those UFC contests. He started out 2020 by taking on Kevin Lee (18-6) back in March.

This event was actually the UFC‘s last event before they shut down due to the pandemic. Oliveira impressed again as he was able to score a third round submission victory over Kevin Lee. His seventh straight stoppage win in the lightweight division.

Then, Oliveira got the biggest fight of his career. A co-main event slot against El Cucuy, Tony Ferguson (25-5) at UFC 256. Ferguson was looking to bounce back after he had lost to Justin Gaethje (22-3) back in May.

Oliveira completely dominated the former UFC interim lightweight champion. Had Ferguson not been so tough, Oliveira would have scored another first round stoppage. He locked in a deep armbar that had me tapping from my chair at home.

Instead, Ferguson gutted it out and fought through it. However, Oliveira still dominated every second of the fight to make it eight straight. Last week, Dana White said that the UFC was looking to book Oliveira against Gaethje. Well, Oliveira is not a fan of that.

Do Bronx isn’t down with the UFC’s plan

Oliveira’s manager told MMA Fighting, “With all due respect, Khabib ran over (Gaethje). That must count, and a lot. I believe Charles’ next fight has to be for the belt against the winner of Poirier and McGregor, not Justin Gaethje.”

It was also revealed that Oliveira’s next fight will be the final fight in his UFC contract. However, Oliveira’s manager made it clear that Do Bronx isn’t going anywhere and that they are working towards a new deal with the promotion.

I completely understand where Oliveira is coming from. He’s won eight fights in a row and seven have been stoppages in the toughest division in the sport. However, that still might not matter at the end of the day.

Conor McGregor (22-4) and Dustin Poirier (26-6, 1 NC) are fighting at UFC 257. The winner of that fight will be fighting for the lightweight title no matter what in their next fight. Should McGregor win, the UFC is going to push for the rematch with Khabib Nurmagomedov (29-0).

Khabib is retired, but Dana White is going to try and convince him to fight one more time in the UFC this week. However, even if Khabib stays retired and McGregor wins, Oliveira will likely need to get one more win to get a UFC title shot.

While he’s certainly deserving, the promotion is also going to look at what’s the biggest fight they can make. McGregor – Oliveira doesn’t sell the way McGregor – Gaethje would. That said, I think Oliveira is going to have to settle for the UFC giving him Justin Gaethje.

If Do Bronx runs through Justin Gaethje, there’s no denying him. It’s a very tough position to be in, however, I don’t think he’s going to have another choice.

UFC: Can Dana White convince Khabib to fight one more time?

Dana White will finally get his chance to meet with the UFC‘s lightweight champion this week. White will meet with Khabib Nurmagomedov (29-0) this week on Fight Island where the two will talk about Khabib’s future.

We last saw Khabib back at UFC 254 when he demolished Justin Gaethje to retain his lightweight title. Following the fight, Khabib collapsed in the octagon and sobbed reflecting on the challenging year he’s had.

Nurmagomedov lost his father earlier in the year who was his lead trainer and his best friend. Khabib announced after the fight was over that he wouldn’t be fighting anymore without his father.

The UFC lightweight champion said he promised his mother that he would retire. With that, Khabib Nurmagomedov laid down his gloves and said he was walking away at a perfect 29-0.

However, Dana White isn’t ready to see Khabib walk away. White knows that Khabib’s father always wanted him to go out at 30-0. With that, the UFC President wants Khabib to fight one more time before hanging it up.

White had an interview yesterday with ESPN’s Brett Okamoto where he talked about it. He said, “I have no idea (how the meeting will go), but I think he should fight again. I’m going to press him as hard as I can for one more.”

Will the UFC lightweight champion return?

In my opinion, it’s going to be very tough for White to convince Khabib to return. Nurmagomedov has been very vocal that he doesn’t have any desire to fight Conor McGregor (22-4) or Dustin Poirier (26-6, 1 NC) for the second time.

Those two men headline UFC 257 and the winner is being looked at as the number one contender. White said in the interview that the biggest possible fight they could do is the Khabib – McGregor rematch should Conor win.

However, getting the lightweight champion to back out of retirement and accept that fight won’t be easy. I’ll say this, if anyone can convince someone of this, it would be Dana White.

In all my years following the sport, I’ve really only seen White come up short once when he’s this determined. That was of course the Fedor Emelianenko deal which of course was really dead in the water before it started.

This week will tell us a lot and I’m in the same camp White is in. I would love for the UFC to be able to put on the rematch between McGregor and Khabib should Conor win. I’m very curious to see the reports out of Fight Island this week.

UFC targeting Justin Gaethje – Charles Oliveira per Dana White

Last night the UFC President did a live Q&A for fans and subscribers of ESPN+. Dana White fielded a number of questions on a variety of topics surrounding the promotion. A fan asked him about what’s next for Justin Gaethje (22-3).

The former interim lightweight champion is coming off of a loss to Khabib Nurmagomedov (29-0) at UFC 254. Since then, it’s been relatively quiet on what would be next for The Highlight.

The speculation was that Gaethje would be fighting Michael Chandler (21-5) at UFC 257. However, as we’ve recently learned, Dan Hooker (20-9) is going to be tasked with being the first to welcome Chandler to the UFC. 

With those two booked against each other, White said they have an opponent in mind for Gaethje. White said that the UFC is working on Gaethje taking on Charles Oliveira (30-8, 1 NC) if all goes as planned.

UFC lightweight showdown

This is the perfect fight to make for the lightweight division. It’s also the fight that makes the most sense given the current landscape of 155. Conor McGregor (22-4) and Dustin Poirier (26-6, 1 NC) are headlining UFC 257 in a couple of weeks.

White said that the winner of that fight will be the number one contender. There had been speculation that the fight could be for the UFC lightweight title should Khabib Nurmagomedov completely vacate his title.

However, it appears that it will just be a title eliminator. Should Khabib stay retired, the winner of UFC 257 would likely take on the winner of this proposed matchup between Gaethje and Charles Oliveira.

Prior to the loss to Khabib, Gaethje had won four fights in a row and all of them came by knockout. Charles Oliveira is looking better than ever and he just picked up his eighth straight victory at UFC 256 over Tony Ferguson (25-5).

It appears that the UFC is putting together a little lightweight tournament. White said last week that in a perfect world, Khabib would fight one more time. If that happens, the winner of UFC 257 would get the shot at him.

If that were to happen, the winners of the Gaethje – Oliveira and Chandler – Hooker fights would likely fight. However, I believe that Khabib is likely to stay retired thus the winner of McGregor – Poirier will take on the winner of Gaethje – Oliveira for the UFC lightweight title.

State of the UFC’s lightweight division entering 2021

As we close out 2020, the UFC‘s lightweight division is in limbo. The reason is that the undisputed champion, Khabib Nurmagomedov (29-0), said after his last fight that he was walking away from competition.

Khabib choked out Justin Gaethje (22-3) at UFC 254 to successfully defend his title. While in most cases the UFC would just move on and book a title fight for the vacant title, Dana White has said that he’s going to try to convince Khabib to compete again. 

Originally, Khabib wanted to retire at 30-0. However, after his father passed away this year, the UFC lightweight champion promised his mother that his fight against Justin Gaethje would be his last fight.

As of now, we still don’t know what’s going to happen. Nurmagomedov came out this week and said he believed that his title could be up for grabs at UFC 257. The main event of that card features the rematch between Conor McGregor (22-4) and Dustin Poirier (26-6, 1 NC).

State of the UFC’s lightweight division

If we do get confirmation that Khabib is no longer going to fight, it would make sense that McGregor and Poirier fight for the UFC title. The promotion wanted McGregor to fight for the title in 2020. Poirier is the former interim champion and deserves another shot.

It’s a fluid situation, but I think there’s a good chance we see some form of UFC title fight happen at 257. Although not officially announced, the co-main event that night is also a big fight for the lightweight division.

The UFC‘s prized signing of 2020, Michael Chandler (21-5), is expected to make his promotional debut. We found out last week that it appears he will be taking on Dan Hooker (20-9) in the co-headliner.

Again, that’s not confirmed. Whoever wins that matchup will be right at the top of the division alongside Justin Gaethje and Charles Oliveira (30-8, 1 NC). Oliveira announced his status as a top contender at UFC 256.

A few weeks ago, Oliveira completely dominated Tony Ferguson (25-5). The fight was incredibly one-sided and Oliveira should be in the conversations for a title eliminator after that performance.

2020 was a rough year for Ferguson who lost in dominant fashions to both Oliveira and Justin Gaethje. Ferguson was the boogey man of the lightweight division for so many years. However, he took a major step back in 2020.

There’s a reason why the lightweight division has been the best in the UFC for some time. It’s a murderers row of contenders and with Khabib stepping away, the division is up for grabs. Should be a very fun 2021 in that division.

After dominating Tony Ferguson at UFC 256, what’s next for Charles Oliveira?

This past Saturday evening in the co-main event of UFC 256, Charles Oliveira (30-8, 1 NC) took on Tony Ferguson (25-5). Ferguson was looking to bounce back after his last loss while Oliveira was looking to continue his winning streak.

Heading into UFC 256, Oliveira had won seven fights in a row. However, it was the way he won those seven fights which stood out. Oliveira had finished all seven of his opponents leading into UFC 256.

Saturday night was the biggest test in the career of Charles Oliveira. With Oliveira, the questions never surrounded his talent. However, there had been times in his career where he came up short in the big fights.

Granted, a majority of those opportunities happened at featherweight. Oliveira is no longer depleting himself to make 145 pounds. Fighting at lightweight has really allowed Charles Oliveira to reach his prime inside the octagon.

That really showed at UFC 256. Oliveira completely dominated the former interim lightweight champion and nearly finished him in the first round. With the dominant victory, Oliveira made a huge leap in the rankings. 

What’s next after UFC 256?

With his victory at UFC 256, Oliveira went from seventh to third in the lightweight division. The only contenders ranked ahead of him at the moment are Dustin Poirier and Justin Gaethje.

Poirier is scheduled to face Conor McGregor at UFC 257. Justin Gaethje is being rumored to face Michael Chandler in the co-main event of that card. Conventional wisdom said the winners of those two fights would face off for the title if Khabib Nurmagomedov stays retired.

If that happens, what’s next for Charles Oliveira? This is a tough question to answer at the moment. On one hand, Oliveira definitely deserves to be in the conversation for the next UFC title shot.

However, if the promotion goes with this four man style tournament, that leaves Oliveira as the odd man out. For the sake of this article, let’s say that the promotion books those four men up at UFC 257.

If the winners come out unscathed, I could see the UFC giving Oliveira the loser of one of the fights. However, if one of the winners is going to be out for some time, the promotion could give Oliveira a title shot against the other winner.

There are a few options for the promotion and their third ranked lightweight. I think no matter what, Oliveira will either be fighting for the title in his next fight or he will be fighting in a title eliminator.

UFC: Michael Chandler is in camp, but who is he fighting?

Michael Chandler

Earlier this year, the UFC made headlines when they signed top lightweight, Michael Chandler (21-5). Chandler had been a Bellator champion on a number of occasions. He was always considered to be one of the best in the world.

However, with him fighting outside the UFC, there have always been questions on just how good he is. Chandler wanted to prove himself and see for himself just how good he is which is why he took a deal with the UFC.

He recently stated the the UFC was not offering him the most money. However, they provided the best competition which is what meant the most to Chandler. Originally, Chandler was supposed to make his debut at UFC 254 against either Tony Ferguson or Dustin Poirier.

The UFC tried to make a fight between Ferguson and Poirier, but after that fell through, they tried booking either against Chandler. A fight never materialized between Chandler and either of those top contenders.

Instead, Chandler still flew out to Fight Island, but as the backup for the UFC 254 main event. Chandler said it was his way of showing the UFC and the world that he is willing to take anything that they throw at him.

Recently, Chandler posted on Instagram that he was starting up his fight camp. He has aspirations to fight on the UFC 257 card which features the rematch between Conor McGregor and Dustin Poirier. So, who is Chandler training for?

Chandler at UFC 257?

Based on Michael Chandler being in camp, the safe assumption is that the plan is for Chandler to fight in January. With that in mind, there are a couple of potential opponents for Chandler to face at UFC 257.

The front-runner in my opinion is Justin Gaethje (22-3). Gaethje is the top ranked lightweight in the UFC and the former interim champion. Gaethje said he needs to get a win before fighting for the title again, and Chandler needs an opponent.

Chandler has openly expressed his desire to fight Justin Gaethje. Another opportunity would be Dan Hooker (20-9). Hooker is currently ranked fifth in the division and he said that he wanted to send Chandler back to the B-Leagues.

The UFC could also turnaround either Tony Ferguson or Charles Oliveira if one of them wins without taking too much damage this weekend. No matter what, Chandler’s first opponent will be a top five lightweight. We should know sooner than later who that opponent is.

UFC: Justin Gaethje says he needs a win before another title shot

There might not be many in the business more likeable than Justin Gaethje (22-3). The former interim UFC lightweight champion just tells it like it is and he’s never afraid to be brutally honest even at his own expense.

We haven’t seen or heard much from Gaethje since his failed attempt to capture undisputed gold at UFC 254. That night, Gaethje took on Khabib Nurmagomedov. Gaethje was looked at as the most dangerous challenger to Khabib’s reign.

However, Khabib continued to show just how special he is dominating the fight and submitting Gaethje in the second round. Now, the former interim champion is ready to get back on the horse to try to capture UFC gold.

In an interview with The Schmo, Gaethje talked about what he wants to do next. “McGregor and Poirier are fighting soon, I would love to fight the winner of that. I wholeheartedly believe that you should be coming off a win to fight for a belt. So my job now is to get a win,” Gaethje said.

The Schmo followed up asking if Gaethje wants to wait for the winner of that fight. Gaethje replied, “I want to fight for the belt. If it’s the winner of that fight (who will be fighting for a belt), then in turn, I would have to beat somebody first.”

What’s the UFC’s plan for Gaethje?

You have to love the honesty from Justin Gaethje. He’s not sitting there demanding a UFC title shot despite the fact that he’s the top ranked lightweight in the division. He truly believes he has to win again before fighting for the belt.

So what should the UFC do with Gaethje? I think there are two very clear options for the promotion and Gaethje. I think the top option is for Gaethje to face Michael Chandler in January at UFC 257 as the co-main event.

Chandler has said he’s already in training camp and wants to fight on the McGregor – Poirier card. If the UFC pairs Gaethje with Chandler that night, you can see a little lightweight tournament forming for the championship.

The other option for Gaethje would be Dan Hooker. Hooker has expressed interest in fighting Gaethje and Hooker is also a top ranked lightweight. I think this should be the secondary option, but it’s another good one.

What we do know is that Gaethje wants to fight and win again before getting his next UFC title shot. I think we will get some clarity on the Justin Gaethje front sooner than later. I expect him to have a fight in January or February.