April 24, 2020

Fight Fixin' - Post-Coronavirus Edition: UFC Lightweight Division

By Adam Martin

The UFC, like every other sports entity in the world, is currently in limbo while humankind waits out the coronavirus outbreak. The coronavirus has destroyed the global economy and has also led to the cancellation of at least three and possibly more UFC cards. With MMA currently in a state of flux, we thought it would be a good time to look through each division and match-make future bouts for when the sport returns. In this edition of Fight Fixin', we take a look at the UFC lightweight division.

Khabib Nurmagomedov vs. Tony Ferguson

The UFC has tried to book Khabib Nurmagomedov and Tony Ferguson against each other five times, and all five times the fight has fallen through. The latest instance of the fight being scrapped was due to the coronavirus pandemic which wiped out the original UFC 249 card. Many believe this fight is cursed considering how it keeps getting canceled, though this time the reason is different. Had someone gotten hurt again, just as they have the previous four times the fight didn't take place, I'd say to just forget about this matchup. But considering the circumstances, I believe the UFC should try one last time to re-book the matchup for later this year headlining a PPV. The UFC lightweight title deserves to be contested between the two best fighters in the world in the division and that's who Nurmagomedov and Ferguson are. I realize the UFC right now has Ferguson booked against Justin Gaethje for the interim lightweight title at the new UFC 249 event, and that's a great fight too, but I just think Nurmagomedov vs. Ferguson is a fight worth waiting for. Plus I question the legitimacy of an interim belt, considering Nurmagomedov's dominance. Let's wait until September and have Nurmagomedov finally fight Ferguson. We can wait a few more months for that fight.

Conor McGregor vs. Justin Gaethje

With the UFC schedule being backed up for the rest of the year, Conor McGregor can't afford to sit around and wait for a title shot. He needs to get back in the Octagon as soon as he can, and Justin Gaethje is the only opponent that makes sense. I realize that Gaethje is currently booked against Ferguson for the interim belt, but for me, I'd rather see the UFC put on other fights at and save Nurmagmedov vs. Ferguson for later this year. That leaves McGregor and Gaethje, two of the most exciting lightweights in the sport, to fight each other instead. Both men are primarily standup fighters and will have no problem standing in the center of the Octagon and trading with one another. It's a dream fight for fans. And with both men coming off of wins over Donald Cerrone, it's the perfect time for these two to scrap. Anytime McGregor fights it's a big deal, and hardcore fans know that Gaethje is a great matchup for him. This is a fight that needs to headline a PPV later this year.

Dan Hooker vs. Dustin Poirier

Another fight the UFC had booked already was a barnburner between the always-exciting Dan Hooker and top contender Dustin Poirier. These two were supposed to meet in the main event of the postponed UFC San Diego card that was wiped out by the coronavirus pandemic. The UFC matchmakers have started booking fights again, and I hope this matchup gets re-booked. Hooker and Poirier are two of the top strikers in the UFC lightweight division, and both men always put on a show. It's a fight that fans need to see and it's the perfect main event for any Fight Night card, as this is a fight that needs to be five rounds.

Paul Felder vs. Charles Oliveira 2

The one rematch on this list that I'd like to see is Paul Felder take on Charles Oliveira for a second time. These two met back in 2017 and Felder was able to defeat Oliveira via knockout. Since then Oliveira hasn't lost and has won all seven of his fights by stoppage, including a big win over Kevin Lee in his last fight. As for Felder, he's proven he's one of the top 10 fighters in the division and is coming off of a contentious split decision loss to Dan Hooker. Oliveira is trying to climb the lightweight ladder and Felder is the man immediately ahead of him in line. I'd love to see a rematch between these two, and it makes sense to headline a Fight Night card in either Brazil or the U.S., or one of the controversial "Fight Island" events.

Anthony Pettis vs. Donald Cerrone 2

Finally, one fight the matchmakers have already booked: a UFC 249 rematch between Anthony Pettis and Donald Cerrone. Since this fight was announced, fan response has been overwhelmingly positive towards it. After all, it's two of the most highly-respected lightweights of all time going at it for a second time. The prospective UFC 249 card is ridiculously stacked, so Pettis vs. Cerrone 2 is expected to headline the prelims. That seems like a waste considering this fight could easily headline its own Fight Night card, but the UFC wants to stack the deck for its big return, and it's hard to argue with that. Although Pettis and Cerrone are no longer the fighters they once were, they're still both ranked in the Top 15, and with both men coming off of losses, it's now the perfect time for the rematch while both men try to bounce back into the win column. Cerrone and Pettis met back in 2012 and Pettis was able to get the win via body kick TKO. Both guys have had amazing careers since then, and the rematch now in 2020 is highly intriguing. Again, this fight could easily headline a Fight Night, and the fact it's a scheduled prelim for UFC 249 shows how stacked that card is.

What do you think of the above matchups in the UFC lightweight division? Comment under this article, or on Twitter at http://twitter.com/MMAdamMartin.



UFC 249: Ferguson vs. Gaethje (formerly UFC 249: Khabib vs. Ferguson) was scheduled to take place April 18, 2020 at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York. Due to ongoing concerns regarding the coronavirus, the event was rescheduled for May 9, 2020 and relocated to VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena in Jacksonville, Florida.

Click HERE for more UFC 249 Pre-Fight Analysis


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