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. 

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. 

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.

UFC: If Khabib stays retired, Poirier will fight Chandler for the title per Dana White

UFC, Dana White

What a night it was at UFC 257. We saw some shocking results and some incredible fights. Of course, the headlines everywhere will be talking about how Dustin Poirier (27-6, 1 NC) knocked out Conor McGregor (22-5) in the second round.

After a good first round for McGregor, Poirier really started to hurt him with leg kicks. A couple of minutes into the second round and McGregor really wobbled from a big calf kick. Poirier swarmed and landed some shots up top that put McGregor down. 

Poirier proved he’s the best lightweight in the UFC not named Khabib Nurmagomedov (29-0). Just one fight before Poirier, Michael Chandler (22-5) announced his presence against Dan Hooker (20-10) in the co-main event.

Chandler knocked out Hooker with a vicious left hand and follow up shots. There were a lot of questions about Michael Chandler entering UFC 257 and he answered all of them tonight.

During the post-fight press conference, Dana White was asked about the champion Khabib Nurmagomedov. White said that it didn’t look positive in terms of Khabib coming back to fight again which means the UFC‘s lightweight title is up for grabs. White already has a plan for the title.

UFC’s next lightweight title fight

Dana White told the media after UFC 257 that Dustin Poirier would be fighting Michael Chandler for the lightweight title next. This is of course assuming Khabib decides to stay retired.

Both men are coming off of incredible performances on the biggest stage possible. It makes perfect sense for the UFC to capitalize on the momentum of both fighters after such a massive event.

There are a lot of fans who will probably feel for Charles Oliveira (30-8, 1 NC). Oliveira is currently riding a eight-fight win streak at lightweight. He just dismantled Tony Ferguson (25-5) back at UFC 256.

However, Ferguson is really the only big win that he has. Ferguson’s stock is also not as high after he was destroyed by Justin Gaethje (22-3) earlier in 2020. My guess is that the promotion will book Gaethje – Oliveira.

I think the fight that makes the most sense for the title is Chandler – Poirier. Two incredible performances and two athletes that will bring it for the UFC. 2021 should be a fun year for the lightweight division.

UFC currently working on Nate Diaz’s return to lightweight

One of the most popular fighters in the UFC appears to be heading back to his natural weight class. Dana White revealed this morning to The Mac Life that the promotion is working on the return of Nate Diaz (20-12).

White said that the UFC was working on a Nate Diaz fight as we speak. He also said that the fight would take place at lightweight which is the natural weight class for Nate Diaz. Diaz hasn’t fought at 155 since 2015 when he defeated Michael Johnson.

When Diaz fought Conor McGregor and Anthony Pettis, those fights were at welterweight despite all being natural lightweights. White also said that the fight would get Diaz right back into the title picture should he win in his return to lightweight.

We didn’t see Nate Diaz in a UFC octagon in 2020. Late in the year, the promotion looked to be moving towards booking the rematch between him and Jorge Masvidal. However, the UFC has decided to shift gears towards Masvidal – Colby Covington.

That left Nate Diaz without a dance partner. There really didn’t appear to be a clear matchup for Diaz at welterweight or lightweight. However, using White’s clues about his return to 155, let’s try to figure it out.

The UFC’s plan for Diaz

A fight that makes total sense for all parties involved is Nate Diaz – Tony Ferguson (25-5). That would be the biggest fight in my opinion that the UFC could make, however, Dana White said that the fight for Diaz is not Ferguson.

It’s hard to imagine that the promotion would book him against either Justin Gaethje (22-3) or Charles Oliveira (30-8, 1 NC). The plan currently is for those two to fight assuming the promotion can get the fight done.

The next available contender would be Rafael Dos Anjos (30-13). This fight would actually be a rematch from several years ago when RDA completely dominated Nate Diaz over the course of three rounds.

I find it pretty hard to believe that this would be the potential fight that White is hyping up. At this point, the most logical option appears to be Paul Felder (17-6). Considering the spot in the top ten, that would be the only opponent I can think of for Diaz.

White said that the win for Diaz would get him right back in the mix. Felder makes the most sense unless the UFC believes that the RDA rematch is the fight to make. Time will tell what will happen with Nate Diaz.

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.