Recently, Khabib Nurmagomedov dominated Dustin Poirier at UFC 242 to remain the undisputed lightweight champion. With this win, hopefully we get the most “cursed” fight in UFC history, Khabib vs. Tony Ferguson. UFC fans should cross their fingers and toes as this fight has been signed and cancelled four times in the past.
If this fight is next, what should the rest of the division do?
Let’s start with Dustin Poirier:
I think Dustin should take some time off and see how the rest of the division shapes up after the first quarter of next year. He will still be a top 5 lightweight worthy of big fights. Like all other fighters in this division, he’s politicking for a big money fight with Conor McGregor, who he lost to in devastating fashion at UFC 178.
Dustin should target a fight with Ferguson if Ferguson were to lose to Khabib. If not Ferguson, a fight with Cowboy Cerrone would be a good match up for the fans.
Justin Gaethje has been on a tear here lately:
He has won his last 3 fights via first round knockout. I think Justin should wait and battle the winner of Khabib/Ferguson championship tilt. He has definitely put himself in the title picture and I think earned a crack at the title.
Although he has been hinting at a fight with Conor, which would be a big money fight, but as a fan, I feel he should set his sights on championship gold first. If he wins the belt, Conor will come knocking.
Here are some fun fights we could see down the road in the division that could have some fighters put themselves in the title picture:
Already scheduled: Al Iaquinta (#6) vs. Dan Hooker (#15) at UFC 245
This fight will keep Iaquinta in the title picture with a win and a loss he will fall out of the top 10. Hooker with a win could jump into the top 10 and possibly be 2 or 3 fights from a title shot. Hooker has the most to gain from this fight as he would jump into the top 10.
Previously rumored fight: Anthony Pettis (#10) vs. Kevin Lee (#8)
This fight was rumored to take place earlier in 2019 but never happened. Kevin Lee recently announced that he would return to lightweight. A fight with Pettis would be a good matchup for the “Motown Phenom”. Both fighters are coming off losses and would be looking to reestablish themselves in the division.
Lee has the most to gain from this fight as he lost 3 of his last 4 fights.
Fun fight for the fans: Gregor Gillespie (#11) vs. Charles Oliveira (#12)
Gillespie is undefeated in the UFC holding a 6-0 record (3 KO/2 SUB). Oliveira has won his last 5 fights (4 SUB/1KO). This fight could be action packed as both fighters are known to be finishers. A win over a seasoned vet would be a good way for Gillespie to establish himself in the division.
Who is for real in the division: Paul Felder (#7) vs. Islam Makhachev (#14)
Paul Felder is coming off a win over Edson Barboza and has won 5 of his last 6 fights. Makhachev has racked up a 7-1 record since entering the UFC. Both fighters are known to be very technical inside the octagon as their records have more decision wins than finishes.
I don’t know if Felder would take this fight as he is looking to fight someone in the top 10. I think if he cant get a top 10 opponent then Islam would be a good matchup for him. Islam would have the most to gain since a victory would propel him into the top 10.
Don’t be surprised if the former featherweight king, Jose Aldo, joins the division in 2020:
It’s no secret that he has struggled to make 145 as he has gotten older. His arrival in the division could set up some great fights. The battle between him and Pettis that never took place in Strikeforce may finally happen. Maybe UFC fans get the long awaited rematch between Jose and Conor. The arrival of Aldo would put a jolt into the division and make the title picture a little more crowded.
The lightweight division has potential fights that fans would love and a title picture that is as jumbled as a New York subway. Let’s see how the division shapes out in 2020!
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The Scrap’s Lee Brown is a 22-year Air Force Vet, fan of all sports – especially UFC, NFL & NBA, and cohost of Lee N Keys Real Talk Podcast. You can follow Lee on Twitter (@Levanstian757) and Instagram (@Va121Lee).