It has been a compelling year in the UFC,
but there is no doubting that the biggest event of the year so far took place
at UFC 254, as Khabib Nurmagomedov battled Justin Gaethje.
That was the biggest match-up of the year,
as Khabib once again put his undefeated record on the line against one of the
most realistic contenders for his championship.
However, Gaethje had little answer for
Khabib in the octagon, and the Russian was able to get the win in the second
round to improve his record to 29-0.
That huge success was then followed with
the shock bombshell that he would be retiring
for the UFC after a promise that he made to his late father.
The decision sent shockwaves around the
world, as fans had already begun to dream about huge fights that could be made
However, the UFC machine will continue to
roll on despite that revelation, and there are now some huge fights that could
captivate audiences in the lightweight division next year.
Michael Chandler vs Justin Gaethje
Justin Gaethje remains one of the biggest
names in the lightweight division, and that can be used to set up a potential
championship fight between himself and the newest fighter on the UFC roster.
There is no doubting Gaethje’s credentials,
but there have already been questions surrounding whether Michael Chandler will
be able to make the step up following his move from Bellator.
Chandler is a former Bellator Lightweight champion
and was ready to step in at Fight Island should Gaethje or Khabib have pulled
out from the fight.
However, he is yet to make his bow in the
UFC, and he could immediately be given a title opportunity against the man that
Khabib beat for the unified championship.
Michael hasn’t fought since August, where
he won by KO against Benson Henderson in his final Bellator fight. However, it seems only a
matter of time before he steps into the octagon for the very first time.
Tony Ferguson vs Justin Gaethje
One man that potentially scupper any chance
of seeing Gaethje and Chandler stepping foot in the octagon could be Tony
Ferguson, who has been very vocal about his intention to fight Gaethje again.
Ferguson is still rightly regarded as one
of the best fighters in the lightweight division, as he is ranked at third and
is a former interim Lightweight Champion. Ferguson was on an excellent run of
momentum going into that fight against Gaethje at UFC 249, as he had won 12
fights on the bounce.
However, against all odds, he was beaten by
Gaethje back in May, and in the build-up to the Gaethje/Khabib fight, he was
insistent that he should be the man to fight the winner.
A rematch between the two would be something
that would interest all fight fans around the world, as their initial meeting
was an excellent hard-hitting affair. It would also give Ferguson the chance to
avenge one of the only blips on his professional record.
Michael Chandler vs Conor McGregor
Conor McGregor is no stranger to retiring
from MMA, but he revealed a couple of months ago that he was ready to get back
into the octagon before the end of the year.
Dana White moved quickly to sanction a
fight, and it seems likely that the Irishman will be taking on Dustin Poirier
at some point in the near future. It’s unclear what McGregor’s long-term aim
is, and whether it includes the UFC at all.
He has constantly teased that he wants to
fight Manny Pacquiao, but he could instead be set for a showdown with Chandler.
The former Bellator star has already aimed
jibes at the Irishman, and it’s unlikely that McGregor will ignore the claims
that he has made.
It would be a fascinating fight to see, as
it will pit one of the most dominant UFC lightweights of all-time against one
of the most dominant Bellator lightweights of all-time.
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