The UFC’s Lightweight division is perhaps the most intriguing divison in mixed martial arts. We've seen the likes of Khabib Nurmagomedov, Conor McGregor, Dustin Poirier, Justin Gaethje, Tony Ferguson, and more acheive great success.
This past weekend's main event between Arman Tsarukyan and Mateusz Gamrot gave us a gimpse into the future of the division, as Gamrot defeated Tsarukyan in a highly competitive unanimous decision.
We're now entering a new era at Lightweight where a new crop of talent is emerging to the top. Let's take a look at five fights to make next in the UFC's Lightweight division.
As an underdog, Mateusz Gamrot won an impressive unanimous decision against Arman Tsarukyan at UFC Vegas 57. Gamrot should take Tsarukyan’s 11th position in the Lightweight rankings. In my eyes, his next opponent should be Beneil Dariush. While Gamrot challenged Justin Gaethje following his win, I believe Gaethje should hold off for another Lightweight prospect, which I will mention later. Dariush is currently rehabbing a knee injury, but is nearing a comeback. It will be interesting to see how Gamrot handles the grappling pedigree of Dariush.
Even with a loss, I feel that Arman Tsarukyan’s stock still rises. He put on an exceptional performance against Gamrot that many scored for him. In fact, Tsarukyan had the higher final score on the Verdict Scorecard against Gamrot. Tsarukyan is a formidable opponent for anyone in the division. As for what’s next, I think a fight with Tony Ferguson makes sense. Both fighters are looking to get back on track, and a win will allow both to regain some confidence and move up the division.
Here’s the Justin Gaethje fight that I think makes the most sense for right now. While I think that a fight between Gaethje and Gamrot would be entertaining, I believe Justin Gaethje should fight the winner of Rafael dos Anjos vs. Rafael Fiziev who are set to headline the July 9th UFC Fight Night event. These are two Lightweights, who like Gaethje, are not afraid to throw down.
This fight makes a lot of sense, considering where both fighters are at in the division right now. Dana White has said that this is the fight to make, and Chandler has had his eye on McGregor for some time now. Following his most recent knockout over Tony Ferguson, Chandler called out “The Notorious” for a fight when he returned from his injury. These are two of the most exciting fighters in the division. McGregor should be ready to go early in 2023 and Chandler has stated that he will wait for him to return.
Finally, this is a fight that is all but official. Islam Makhachev is the rightful next opponent for Charles Oliveira, who was stripped of his Lightweight title back at UFC 274 for missing weight. Oliveira defeated Justin Gaethje and is the number one contender at Lightweight. Makhachev has won ten consecutive fights and seems to be the heir to Khabib Nurmagomedov’s throne.