BREAKING: Dana White announces UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov is officially retired

The UFC lightweight division will officially crown a new champion in 2021. Dana White came out this evening and announced that lightweight champion, Khabib Nurmagomedov (29-0), is officially retiring at 29-0.

Back in October at UFC 254, Khabib announced his retirement after he defeated Justin Gaethje. However, Dana White has insisted that he believed Khabib was feeling the emotions of the moment and he thought he’d come back to try for 30-0.

For months, we’ve been in this weird limbo with the lightweight division. White continued to say that the UFC lightweight champion wasn’t officially retired and they held a number of meetings to talk about his future.

Finally, Dana White has thrown in the towel. Khabib Nurmagomedov is staying retired and the lightweight division will move on. The UFC president announced the news on his Twitter account that Khabib is going to retire at 29-0.

Khabib’s UFC Legacy

In the sport of Mixed Martial Arts, it’s extremely rare to see someone retire undefeated. If you think about all of the greatest fighters to have ever fought in the UFC, nobody walked away with a perfect record.

Jon Jones is widely considered the greatest to ever do it. However, even Jones has a no contest and a DQ loss on his UFC record. Khabib Nurmagomedov has a clean 29-0 and nobody can say anything.

The UFC’s lightweight division has been the most exciting and dynamic division within the promotion over the last few years. Khabib has reigned supreme and he’s taken out all of the top challenges in dominating fashion.

Outside of Khabib, four men have held a piece of the UFC lightweight title since 2017. Those four men are Conor McGregor, Dustin Poirier, Justin Gaethje, and Tony Ferguson. Khabib dominated and finished the first three men on that list.

The fight that we never got to see was Khabib against Tony Ferguson. The UFC booked that fight five times, but all five times it fell through. It truly wasn’t meant to be, but considering the direction their careers have gone, I believe most people think Khabib would have won that one too.

Simply put, Khabib is one of the greatest to ever make the walk inside the UFC. His dominance was something truly special to watch and it’s easy to see why Dana White so badly wanted him to fight again.

Khabib is keeping the promise he made to his mother after his father passed away from COVID last year. The UFC’s lightweight champion promised his mother that the Gaethje fight would be the final one and despite White’s best pitches, The Eagle is keeping his promise.

UFC booking Tony Ferguson – Beneil Dariush

Tony Ferguson, UFC

The UFC is in the process of finalizing a big time matchup in the lightweight division. MMA Junkie was the first to report today that the promotion is close to finalizing a matchup between Tony Ferguson (25-5) and Beneil Dariush (20-4-1).

The proposed matchup will take place at UFC 262 on May 15th. For Beneil Dariush, this is the fight that he’s been wanting. Dariush just got into the top ten of the UFC‘s lightweight rankings and he’s been vocal about fighting a big name.

For the last few years, Dariush has been fighting some of the tougher lightweights that are just outside of the top ten. He’s currently on a six-fight win streak that includes wins over Diego Ferreira, Drakkar Klose, and Drew Dober.

Originally, Dariush was supposed to fight Charles Oliveira late in 2020. However, the UFC pivoted and Oliveira ended up fighting and defeating Tony Ferguson. Left without a big name, Dariush took a tough rematch against Diego Ferreira.

Dariush has been incredibly impressive over the last few years. From his grappling to his toughness, he’s proven that he’s not an easy out in the UFC‘s lightweight division. He has title aspirations, and this is a huge fight that can get him closer to his goal.

Can Ferguson bounce back at UFC 262?

For years, Tony Ferguson was considered the boogey man of the UFC’s lightweight division. He won 12 fights in a row on his way to becoming the interim lightweight champion. However, he never earned the distinction of undisputed champion.

Unfortunately for Ferguson, every time he was supposed to fight for the undisputed belt, the fight fell through. Most recently at UFC 249. Ferguson was supposed to fight Khabib Nurmagomedov. However, COVID-19 prevented Khabib from traveling so Ferguson fought Justin Gaethje for the interim title.

Ferguson lost for the first time since 2012. After that, El Cucuy went on to lose to Oliveira at UFC 256. Now, Ferguson appears at a crossroads. If he wins this fight, it gets him right back on track. However, if he loses at UFC 262, we might be nearing the end of his great run inside the octagon.

After dominant win at UFC 259, what’s next for Islam Makhachev?

This past Saturday at UFC 259, Islam Makhachev (19-1) took on Drew Dober (23-10) on the main card. Makhachev has a ton of hype surrounding him and many are considering him to be the next Khabib Nurmagomedov.

The UFC‘s lightweight champion grew up with and is one of the lead training partners of Makhachev. Like Nurmagomedov, Makhachev is a world sambo champion and he possesses a lot of the same skills as the lightweight champion.

This matchup against Drew Dober was going to be a big test for Makhachev. Due to the pandemic, we didn’t see Makhachev inside the octagon in 2020. For that reason, many forgot about how talented he really is.

Drew Dober had been soaring coming into UFC 259. A three-fight win streak where he had won all three fights by knockout. The odds were stacked against him on Saturday, but the thought was that he would provide a tough fight for Makhachev.

Well, on Saturday night, Makhachev mauled Drew Dober. The fight wasn’t competitive at all. Like we’ve seen so many times with Khabib, Makhachev controlled Dober for the entire fight before submitting him in the third round. A dominant return to the UFC for Makhachev.

What’s next after UFC 259?

After that dominant win, Makhachev jumped up in the rankings to eleventh. After this fight, he needs to fight someone that’s in the UFC’s top ten. There are a few options that I like and one I think is a very real possibility.

One option for Makhachev would be Kevin Lee (18-6). Lee is gearing up for his return to the octagon after an injury layoff and he’s currently ranked 13th. He’s been vocal about his desire to fight and test Islam Makhachev.

Another option could be Beneil Dariush (20-4-1). Dariush is now inside the top ten and he’s won six fights in a row. However, Dariush has been very vocal about his desire to move up the rankings and not take on someone lower than him.

Then there’s the matchup that Makhachev and the world wants to see. That would be the matchup with the former UFC interim lightweight champion, Tony Ferguson (25-5). Ferguson has history with Makhachev’s camp due to the amount of times he was supposed to fight Khabib.

Khabib and Ferguson were scheduled to fight five times and all five times the fight fell through. Makhachev is looked at as Khabib 2.0 and he wants to be the one to retire Ferguson. Ferguson has lost two in a row so from a rankings perspective, this matchup does make sense for the UFC.

UFC Matchmaker: Tony Ferguson – Kevin Lee 2?

Tony Ferguson, UFC

There is no division in the UFC that is as exciting or dynamic as the lightweight division. The division has incredible depth in terms of talent and fighters that are incredibly talented aren’t even inside the top ten.

One of those fighters is Kevin Lee (18-6). Back in 2017, it appeared that “The Motown Phenom” was heading for great things in the UFC. Lee had won five fights in a row which earned him an interim lightweight title shot against Tony Ferguson (25-5).

The two men fought at UFC 216 for the interim title. Lee dealt with a staff infection leading up to the fight, but still took the opportunity to go for the gold. He had some moments of success in the fight, but eventually, Tony Ferguson really started to ware him down.

In the third round, El Cucuy locked in a triangle choke. An exhausted Kevin Lee couldn’t fight the choke and ended up tapping out. Tony Ferguson had his hand raised an the interim UFC lightweight title wrapped around his waste.

Since that fight, it’s been very up and down for Kevin Lee. He’s had great wins against Edson Barboza and Gregor Gillespie, but he’s also dropped three fights. A decision to Al Iaquinta, a submission loss at welterweight to Rafael Dos Anjos, and most recently to Charles Oliveira back in March.

Of course, you see those names and there is really no shame in losing to any of them. All of them are top ten fighters in the UFC‘s lightweight division. Lee is currently recovering from a knee injury, but he told MMA Junkie he has one opponent in mind for his return.

Will the UFC book Ferguson – Lee 2?

In an interview with MMA Junkie, Lee said that he would like a rematch with Tony Ferguson upon his return to the octagon. He believes the fight makes perfect sense given where the two are at and he would like to get that fight back after his loss at UFC 216.

For almost seven years, Tony Ferguson was the boogey man of the UFC’s lightweight division. Ferguson went on a 12-0 run that saw him capture the interim title against Lee. However, 2020 was a rough year for El Cucuy.

Ferguson was supposed to fight Khabib Nurmagomedov at UFC 249. However, COVID shut down travel and Ferguson fought Justin Gaethje instead. Gaethje dominated the fight and handed Ferguson his first loss since 2012.

Then, Ferguson fought Charles Oliveira at UFC 256. Somehow, the Oliveira loss was even more lopsided than the loss to Justin Gaethje. Now, Ferguson is kind of in no-mans land in the lightweight division.

Both Lee and Ferguson are coming off of losses to Oliveira. Lee is ranked 12th while Ferguson is still ranked fifth in the lightweight division. Considering their history and Ferguson’s 2020, perhaps this is the fight for the UFC to make. However, I wouldn’t put it past Tony to want someone in the top ten next.

Justin Gaethje is sick of hearing that Charles Oliveira deserves a UFC title shot

Charles Oliveira (30-8, 1 NC) is one of the best lightweights in the UFC. There is no questioning his talent or questioning how impressive he’s been as of late. However, Oliveira is not gaining any fans with his recent stance on what’s next for him.

Just today, Oliveira shot down a potential fight with Nate Diaz. Over the last month, Oliveira has told the UFC that he would not face Nate Diaz (20-12), Justin Gaethje (22-3), or Michael Chandler (22-5). Instead, he’s demanded that he fights for the title next.

As of now, the UFC lightweight title is in limbo. Khabib Nurmagomedov (29-0) is the undisputed lightweight champion, however, he’s maintained that he’s been retired for the last couple of months. Yet, Dana White is still holding onto hope that he changes his mind.

Dustin Poirier (27-6, 1 NC) proved last month at UFC 257 that he deserves to fight for the title next after he knocked out Conor McGregor (22-5). Oliveira has been vocal that he only wants to fight Poirier, but it has to be for the title.

This hasn’t sat well with former interim lightweight champion, Justin Gaethje. Gaethje took to Twitter tonight to voice his frustrations about Oliveira’s stance. Gaethje made it quite clear by stating, “What the f*ck has this dude done to get a shot at the title?”

UFC’s lightweight situation

Gaethje made it clear tonight that he’s sick of Oliveira claiming that he deserves anything. In all honesty, Gaethje does have a point that I also raised in my article about why Oliveira won’t get the next shot at the UFC lightweight title.Β 

Yes, Oliveira has won eight fights in a row. That alone is incredibly impressive. However, when you really dive into the winning streak, it’s not all that impressive. Yes, Oliveira’s win over Tony Ferguson (25-5) was incredibly impressive.

However, only one other fighter on that list of eight ranks inside the top fifteen. In Oliveira’s last nine fights, he’s fought two guys who are currently ranked tenth or higher in the division. He’s 1-1 in those two matchups with the loss coming against Paul Felder.

Oliveira is playing a very risky game with the UFC. The promotion is giving him opportunities to make himself more of a household name and legitimizing his top contender status. However, he keeps turning things down because he claims he has nothing to prove. Dangerous tightrope he’s walking with this train of thought.

What’s next for Beneil Dariush after UFC Vegas 18?

This past weekend at UFC Vegas 18, Beneil Dariush (20-4-1) took on Diego Ferreira (17-3) for the second time. The two had previously met back in 2014 and Dariush handed Ferreira his first career loss at UFC 179.

Both men were carrying in five-plus fight winning streaks into Saturday night. Ferreira has improved so much from their first matchup, but there were a lot of questions around his inactivity and if he could deal with Dariush’s style.

The fight on Saturday was very similar to their matchup at UFC 179. Dariush was able to land several takedowns and control the majority of the fight on the ground. However, there were some spots where Ferreira did have some success.

Nevertheless, at the end of the day, Dariush walked away with the split decision. Although, I don’t think anyone outside of those judges believes that this fight at UFC Vegas 18 was all that close. Dariush picked up his sixth straight victory on Saturday night.

What’s next after UFC Vegas 18?

After the fight was over, Dariush made it clear that he wants someone in the UFC’s top five. Originally, Dariush was supposed to fight Charles Oliveira (30-8, 1 NC) in October. However, Oliveira had to pull out of that matchup.

Dariush expressed his frustrations with Oliveira last week. While he’s likely not going to face Oliveira next, there are some top contenders out there for Beneil Dariush. Dariush is now ranked ninth in the lightweight division.Β 

A couple of options for Dariush are the two guys right in front of him. Dan Hooker (20-10) and Rafael Dos Anjos (30-13) both need opponents. In an ideal world, Dariush would get to face the former UFC lightweight champion, Dos Anjos, next.

However, Dan Hooker might be the more logical opponent. Hooker is coming off of back-to-back losses, but he’s got the name recognition that Dariush needs. Dariush needs a win in the UFC over someone with pop in their name. Pickup a win over Hooker and he’ll get a bump.

Another potential name could be Tony Ferguson (25-5), however, I don’t see that one happening either. No matter what, Dariush needs an opponent ranked above him next. He deserves that opportunity.

UFC leaning towards booking Poirier – McGregor 3 next (Report)

A few weeks ago at UFC 257, Dustin Poirier (27-6, 1 NC) proved to the world that he’s the best lightweight with Khabib out of the picture. Poirier knocked out Conor McGregor (22-5) in their rematch from UFC 178.

McGregor won the first round, however, Poirier was chipping away and doing damage. Poirier’s leg kicks were doing some serious damage and by the second round, McGregor had nothing left on his lead leg.

With his leg severely compromised, McGregor was helpless against the barrage from Dustin Poirier. Poirier ended up scoring the second round knockout at UFC 257. In retrospect, this fight should have been for the lightweight title.

Dana White has been trying to convince Khabib Nurmagomedov (29-0) to come back for one more fight. However, the UFC‘s lightweight champion has maintained that he’s not interested in returning. As a result, the lightweight division remains in limbo.

After Poirier’s victory, Dana White initially indicated that he’d like to see Poirier face Michael Chandler for the lightweight title. However, Poirier made it clear that is not what he wanted to do next.

The UFC’s Plan

Since UFC 257, Charles Oliveira (30-8, 1 NC), Michael Chandler (22-5), and Nate Diaz (20-12) have all called for fights against Poirier. Of course, McGregor’s camp has been very vocal that they’d like to do the trilogy next.

Of those options, Poirier said he would be interested in everyone but Michael Chandler. With that in mind, the UFC has been working behind the scenes on what’s next for The Diamond. Well, ESPN’s Ariel Helwani said yesterday that the promotion is moving in a specific direction.

As of now, the UFC is currently planning on doing the trilogy between Poirier and McGregor next. There is no timeline as of now, but the word is that McGregor would love to do the fight in May. It is not known if the UFC lightweight title would be on the line in this matchup.

The one guy who could be an odd man out here is Charles Oliveira. As of now, the UFC also appears more likely to book Chandler against Justin Gaethje (22-3). I also think Nate Diaz is more likely to fight someone like Tony Ferguson as opposed to Charles Oliveira.

Charles Oliveira has turned down fights because he’s adamant that he wants a title shot next. However, it now appears that he could be the odd man out in the UFC’s lightweight division. We will have to see how this plays out.

UFC: Tony Ferguson calls out Nate Diaz

Tony Ferguson, UFC

The UFC‘s lightweight division is full of callouts right now. You have Nate Diaz (20-12) and Conor McGregor (22-5) both calling for fights with Dustin Poirier (27-6, 1 NC). Meanwhile, Justin Gaethje (22-3) and Michael Chandler (22-5) seem to be on a collision course and calling each other out.

Charles Oliveira (30-8, 1 NC) is out in no-mans land at the moment. The UFC has offered him a couple of fights, but he’s turned them down due to his desire to fight for the title. It’s title shot or no deal for Do Bronx at the moment.

While all of this has been happening, the last man Oliveira defeated has been biting his time. That man is the former interim UFC lightweight champion, Tony Ferguson (25-5). Ferguson has lost two straight, but he’s anxious to get back into the cage.

Ferguson decided to make a callout yesterday and it’s for a fight that many in the fight world want to see. El Cucuy called out Nate Diaz on Twitter and called for a fight with him at either welterweight or lightweight.

Will the UFC make this fight?

In reality, this is the perfect matchup for the UFC to make. It’s a very good fight for Tony Ferguson and it would give Nate Diaz a good fight to get him back in the mix. Combine that with their entertaining styles and you have a can’t miss fight.

However, it’s been known that Diaz only likes to take fights against guys on the rise. The stock of El Cucuy has never been lower. Ferguson entered 2020 as the top contender who was gearing up to face Khabib Nurmagomedov (29-0).

However, that fight fell through for the fifth time and Ferguson took on Justin Gaethje at UFC 249. Ferguson was dominated and stopped in the fifth round. He then took a fight against Oliveira at UFC 256 and was again dominated.

After winning 12 fights in a row in the UFC’s lightweight division, Ferguson has dropped two straight lopsided fights. That might not entice Diaz to take that fight. However, we know Diaz is all about fighting tough guys who won’t back down and we know El Cucuy checks both of those boxes.

The case for and against Charles Oliveira getting the next UFC title shot

The UFC‘s lightweight division is in a very unique spot. There’s still not really clarity at the top of the division with the undisputed champion, Khabib Nurmagomedov (29-0), seemingly retired. Yet, he still holds on to the title.

Just over a week ago at UFC 257, we saw Dustin Poirier (27-6, 1 NC) knock out Conor McGregor (22-5). In retrospect, this fight should have been for the vacant UFC lightweight title if Khabib is truly retired. However, Dana White has held out stripping Khabib in hoping he’ll come back.

In all likelihood, Khabib is not going to return to the UFC. At least, he’s not going to return anytime soon. With that, there’s no doubting that the top guy in the UFC is currently Dustin Poirier. You could consider him the uncrowned champion at this point.

After his win at UFC 257, Poirier said that he was only interested in a few opponents for his next fight. Keep in mind that his next fight should be for the lightweight title. Poirier said that he would fighter McGregor, Nate Diaz (20-12), or Charles Oliveira (30-8, 1 NC).

The hardcore fans are very much behind Oliveira getting the title shot. However, we know that the UFC is a business and sometimes the best business decision outweighs the fair decision. With that, should Charles Oliveira be the next in line for the title?

Case For Oliveira’s title shot

The easy thing to say here is that of course Oliveira deserves a title shot in his next fight. He’s currently on an eight-fight win streak where he’s finished seven opponents. In the UFC’s lightweight division, that’s almost unheard of.

Oliveira last competed at UFC 256 when he took on former interim champion, Tony Ferguson (25-5). Oliveira completely dominated Tony Ferguson over three rounds and came extremely close to finishing him in the first round.

After the fight, Oliveira said that he wanted the Poirier – McGregor winner for the title. After Poirier’s win at UFC 257, he also seems on board with fighting Do Bronx for the lightweight championship. However, is the UFC going to do that?

Oliveira has been sensational, however, during this eight-fight winning streak, he only has one top ten win. He submitted Kevin Lee and defeated Tony Ferguson, however, Ferguson’s stock had dropped after the beating he took from Justin Gaethje (22-3).

Why the UFC will likely say no

While Oliveira has looked sensational, he still doesn’t have that much general/casual steam behind him. There’s not an outcry from the public to see him fight Dustin Poirier for the title. While the MMA purest would love to see him fight for the title, it wouldn’t be the best business decision.

For Oliveira to get a title shot and it make sense on all fronts, he needs another big win. He needs to defeat someone else who has a big following in the UFC. If Oliveira can beat a guy like Gaethje or Michael Chandler (22-5) next, I think it would put him over the top.

I’m honestly torn on Charles Oliveira getting the next shot. I get it, he’s won eight in a row. However, only one of those wins was considered to come against the division’s elite. That combined with the lack of drawing power makes me hesitant to throw him in there against Poirier.

Anything can happen, but I would be pretty surprised if Oliveira gets the next UFC title shot. At the end of the day, you have to check the boxes of big business and resume. At the moment, Oliveira only checks the resume which is why I think he ultimately will not get the next shot.

After devastating loss at UFC 257, what’s next for Dan Hooker?

In the co-main event of UFC 257, Dan Hooker (20-10) got the opportunity to welcome Michael Chandler (22-5) to the promotion. Hooker had been stating in interviews that he wanted to break the UFC’s new toy.

However, that didn’t happen on Saturday night. Hooker never got the chance to really get into the fight. As soon as the fight started, Chandler pushed forward with a lot of pressure. Hooker circled on the outside, but he seemed a little tentative.

It appeared that he was just trying to gauge the timing and closing speed of the UFC newcomer. Hooker threw a couple of nice leg kicks one of which seemed to really get Michael Chandler’s attention.

However, right after that kick landed, the fight would come to a close. Chandler pushed forward with a straight right to the body and followed with a massive left hook that sent Hooker crashing to the canvas. Several follow up shots forced Marc Goddard to call a stop to the action.

What’s next after UFC 257?

This is a crushing loss for Dan Hooker and he showed it after the fight. Hooker threw his gloves down in the octagon and walked out of the cage extremely dejected. There hasn’t been a word from the Hooker camp since the fight.

Normally when a fighter lays his gloves in the octagon, it signals that the fighter is done. However, let’s just go with the assumption that he was upset and he still plans on competing in the UFC‘s lightweight division.

That said, what should come next for Hooker? Realistically, I think there are a couple of options out there. One fun option would be a fight with Tony Ferguson (25-5). Both men are currently on two-fight losing streaks to some of the best guys in the world.

It would be a do or die fight for both men which could make it a lot of fun. That said, if we want to look a little further down the division, a fight with someone like Kevin Lee (18-6) could make sense for Dan Hooker.

Lee is coming off of an injury, but he’s just 1-3 in his last four fights. This could be a good fight for either man to get back on track. I really hope we haven’t seen the last of The Hangman after Saturday night.