- UFC President Dana White Says Justin Gaethje’s next opponent is “probably” Charles Oliveira.
- Gaethje is the UFC’s no. 1 ranked lightweight contender while Oliveira is 3rd in the rankings.
- With UFC 257 set to feature no. 2 Dustin Poirier vs no. 4 Conor McGregor, the lightweight title picture is getting clearer.
The paths of Justin Gaethje and Charles Oliveira will cross soon, that is if you want to believe UFC President Dana White.
In a recent Q&A hosted by Lara Senko at ESPN+, White was asked about his plans for Justin Gaethje after the Highlight’s loss to Khabib Nurmagomedov. His reply was short but logical:
Despite losing to Khabib, Gaethje is still the UFC’s no. 1 ranked lightweight contender. Charles Oliveira meanwhile, has vaulted to no. 3 after defeating Tony Ferguson at UFC 256 for his 8th consecutive win. With another important lightweight bout set to happen on January 23rd, making the Gaethje vs Oliveira bout is crucial.
Depends on Fight Island Meeting
#UFC president Dana White says his upcoming meeting with Khabib Nurmagomedov “lines up perfectly” with recent shake up of lightweight division.
Watch full interview: https://t.co/6r9nWDBaSz pic.twitter.com/MkV6SCjCWw
— MMAFighting.com (@MMAFighting) December 13, 2020
White expects to meet with Nurmagomedov at Fight Island on top of the agenda will be Khabib’s future in the UFC. Despite announcing his retirement after beating Gaethje, the UFC has not declared its lightweight title vacant. That’s because White continues to believe that Nurmagomedov will return for one final fight inside the Octagon.
But Khabib looks happy and contented with his retired life. Among others, he’s bought an MMA promotion which he plans to become a talent farm for the UFC. Nurmagomedov also recently became a mobile network operator and is planning to open a chain of gyms in Russia and London. With his business empire expanding fast, it’s unlikely that Nurmagomedov still has time to think about a comeback or if he wants one at all.
If White finally closes the Khabib door after their next meeting, then the winner of the proposed Gaethje vs Oliveira bout will produce the other side of the next UFC lightweight title fight. With White already announcing that the winner of McGregor vs Poirier later this month will be the next title challenger, then the UFC lightweight title picture looks clearer.
Title Picture Looks Clearer
UFC lightweight title picture clearing as Justin Gaethje vs. Charles Oliveira targetedhttps://t.co/9YZiIDAsSG
— MMAWeekly (@MMAWeeklycom) January 6, 2021
A lot of people were wondering why the UFC didn’t make the UFC 257 main event as a lightweight title fight, even just an interim one. But doing so would be unfair to the fighters on top of the lightweight rankings.
When you take a look at the UFC rankings, you will find that Khabib is still the champion. Gaethje, Poirier, Oliveira, and McGregor are 1-4, in that order. So if Nurmagomedov is out of the picture, then those four fighters should be the top choices to fight for the belt, once it’s vacated. Instead of letting just two of them fight for the title, the UFC will be creating a four-man tournament between the Top 4 ranked fighters in order to determine the next champion.
The UFC’s lightweight division has emerged as one of its marquee weight classes. It’s not only loaded with star power, it’s full of elite talent. With UFC 257 and the proposed Gaethje vs Oliveira showdown, it’s only going to get more exciting.
Six Years in the Making
A lot can change in six years…
The latest UFC promo for Poirier v McGregor 2 will have you hyped ?#UFC257 | BT Sport Box Office | Jan 23pic.twitter.com/1NJrkVzb1S
— UFC on BT Sport (@btsportufc) January 4, 2021
On January 23, 2020, Conor McGregor will take on Dustin Poirier in the main event of UFC 257 at Yas Island in Abu Dhabi. The bout will be the second between these two fighters. McGregor knocked out Poirier at UFC 178 in 2014. While McGregor is currently listed as the
-275 betting favorite to beat Poirier, a lot can change in six years.
Poirier is third behind McGregor (+150) and Nurmagomedov (+400) in the SportsBetting.ag oddsboard to end 2021 as the UFC’s lightweight ruler and that is not far fetched. The Diamond has improved tremendously since that first McGregor fight and he’s gotten all the experience that he needs to become one of the top fighters in the division.
The Diamond is currently listed at +235 but since that loss to McGregor, he is 10-2-1 inside the UFC Octagon with his losses coming against Michael Johnson and Khabib. During that span, Poirier has six stoppage wins, two title fights, and an interim UFC lightweight title belt. He is coming off a big win over Dan Hooker last June and is the no. 2 ranked lightweight in the UFC.