Predictions for the Lightweight Division after UFC 257
After Saturday's event, the UFC's lightweight landscape is a very confusing and entertaining one. The Co-Main Event featured Michael Chandler, who was making his first walk to the octagon, against the division's #6 contender Dan Hooker. It seemed to be a feeling out process early on with Hooker throwing low calf kicks and Chandler trying to find range for his body hooks. Once in range, Chandler threw a right body hook and came up top with an extremely powerful left hook that put Hooker down. Chandler was able to finish with ground strikes to capture his first UFC win.
Dustin Poirier shocked the world with an impressive TKO victory over Ireland's Conor McGregor. The first round was razor close as Conor displayed great boxing and Dustin was able to immobilize Conor with some great leg kicks. Ultimately, the leg kicks were too much for the Notorious one as he got caught against the cage. Dustin started to unload and eventually landed a right hand square on the face that put Conor down. This was Conor's first ever defeat by way of KO/TKO.
Now, the question is what is going on in this division? Is Khabib coming back? Probably not. Dana can only ask him to fight again so many times before he gets the memo. If Khabib vacates then, who will fight for the lightweight strap? I personally believe it must be Dustin and Charles Oliveira. Charles is ranked #3 and is sitting on an 8 fight win streak and I personally believe he deserves it. He has the most submission wins in UFC history (14) and is overall a very exciting match-up for Dustin.
This now also leaves the question of who is the number one contender? Well I believe that Michael Chandler proved that he can truly fight with the best of the best with his win over Dan Hooker. I think that Justin Gaethje and Michael Chandler should fight for the number one contender spot. It makes sense to me as Gaethje just suffered a loss to Khabib and Chandler's win put him right up there with him.
Now for the rest of the division, a few scenarios that could play out in my mind are as follows:
Conor vs Dan Hooker
Conor vs Nate Diaz 3
Conor vs Rafael Dos Anos
Dan Hooker vs Tony Ferguson
Paul Felder vs Tony Ferguson
Paul Felder vs Dan Hooker 2
Tony Ferguson vs Rafael Dos Anos
I believe that some time in the future Conor vs Dustin 3 will be made as well. This is arguably the most talent rich division in UFC history with so many directions to go and so many different fights to be made, it remains to be seen who will fight who as the days go on.