5 best UFC lightweight matchups to make right now

by NEW YORK DIGITAL NEWS


The UFC’s lightweight division is undoubtedly one of the most stacked in the promotion right now, with a number of star fighters competing at 155 pounds.

Going into 2024, then, which fights should the UFC’s matchmakers look to put together between the stars at the top of the division? With a variety of options out there, it’s not the easiest job to sort, but equally, whichever route they take should be fun.

Here are the five best UFC lightweight matchups to make right now.


#5. Conor McGregor vs. Michael Chandler

Will Conor McGregor finally face Michael Chandler in 2024? [Image Credit: @thenotoriousmma on Instagram]
Will Conor McGregor finally face Michael Chandler in 2024? [Image Credit: @thenotoriousmma on Instagram]

One fight that’s seemingly already been made in the UFC’s lightweight division is the long-awaited clash between Conor McGregor and Michael Chandler.

The two stars have been set to face off for a long time now, and coached TUF 31 earlier this year against one another. Dana White and company were hoping to get the fight done this year, but it seems like they’ll now have to wait until 2024 for it to go down.

How relevant to the division is this fight at this stage? That’s a fair question to ask. Chandler remains ranked in the top 10, currently sitting at No.5, and while ‘The Notorious’ is no longer ranked, he is still the promotion’s biggest star overall.

If the Irishman were to win, then, there’s every chance he’d be handed an instant title shot based purely on his star power. Likewise, a win over McGregor would be priceless for Chandler’s career hopes.

However, neither man has fought for a long time now, with McGregor outright on the shelf since his leg injury in 2021. There’s an argument, then, that this is simply a sideshow bout more than anything.

Despite that, it’s still a huge deal for the UFC and for the fans, and so it’s well worth leaving the booking intact.


#4. Benoit Saint-Denis vs. Dan Hooker

Benoit Saint-Denis now needs a step up at 155lbs [Image Credit: @benoitst_denis on Instagram]
Benoit Saint-Denis now needs a step up at 155lbs [Image Credit: @benoitst_denis on Instagram]

Arguably the fastest-rising lightweight star in 2023 was France’s Benoit Saint-Denis. ‘The God of War’ has rocketed up the rankings into No.11 since dropping to 155 pounds in 2022, and he is now riding a five-fight win streak.

More to the point, the Frenchman has finished all five of those opponents, delivering two tap-outs and three knockouts. Essentially, he’s a very dangerous fighter.

Saint-Denis undoubtedly needs a step up for his next fight, so the perfect opponent for him could be veteran Dan Hooker.

The New Zealand native is currently ranked at No.9 and has won both of his fights since returning to 155 pounds in the latter part of last year. He was due to face Bobby Green this past weekend but was forced to withdraw due to an injury.

‘The Hangman’ remains arguably the highest-level gatekeeper at 155 pounds, though, so if Saint-Denis has his sights set on becoming a title contender, beating Hooker would be the perfect start.

Overall, this would be a wild and exciting fight too, making it well worth putting together.


#3. Dustin Poirier vs. Mateusz Gamrot

Dustin Poirier is in desperate need of a big win right now [Image Credit: @dustinpoirier on Instagram]
Dustin Poirier is in desperate need of a big win right now [Image Credit: @dustinpoirier on Instagram]

Outside of Conor McGregor and current lightweight champ Islam Makhachev, it’s arguable that Dustin Poirier is the biggest star in the UFC at 155 pounds.

However, ‘The Diamond’ currently has an issue, and that’s because the last time we saw him fight, he was well beaten by Justin Gaethje.

Essentially, Poirier now has two choices: either he could switch weight class to hunt for a superfight against someone like Colby Covington, or he could look to get back into title contention by knocking off a rising prospect.

If he chooses the latter, which would probably make sense, the best foe for him would be Mateusz Gamrot.

‘Gamer’ lacks some name value, but he’s undoubtedly a world-class fighter, with his only recent loss coming in a tight decision against Beneil Dariush. He’s also the only fighter, along with Makhachev, to ever beat Arman Tsarukyan.

Currently on a two-fight win streak and ranked at No.6, only a big fight makes sense for the Polish fighter right now, and Poirier would definitely qualify as that big fight.

‘The Diamond’ may well believe he’s above fighting rising stars like Gamrot, but more than anything right now, he needs a win. Therefore, he probably needs to take whatever fight he can get, and based purely on the rankings, this one would make sense.


#2. Justin Gaethje vs. Arman Tsarukyan

Arman Tsarukyan is one fight away from a title shot [Image Credit: @ufc on X]
Arman Tsarukyan is one fight away from a title shot [Image Credit: @ufc on X]

This past weekend saw hot prospect Arman Tsarukyan pick up his biggest win to date, as he dispatched perennial contender Beneil Dariush via knockout in just over a minute.

The Armenian is now likely to steal Dariush’s ranking of No.4, meaning he’s literally going to be one more win away from a title shot.

Therefore, only two potential opponents make sense for him – No.3-ranked Justin Gaethje or No.2-ranked Charles Oliveira.

Given that Oliveira was signed to fight Islam Makhachev for the title before picking up an injury, it seems likely that the UFC will want to stay in that direction. If that’s the case, then a fight between Tsarukyan and Gaethje would be perfect.

The new ‘BMF’ champion after his win over Dustin Poirier, Gaethje is probably the most deadly striker in the division and he’s also near-impossible to take down.

If Tsarukyan could find a way past him, it’d be truly remarkable and he’d definitely warrant a title shot. On the other hand, if Gaethje could knock off this hot prospect, then he’d have earned a shot at the gold in his own right. Essentially, this fight makes too much sense not to book.


#1. UFC lightweight title: Islam Makhachev vs. Charles Oliveira 2

Charles Oliveira should still be in line for a title shot at 155lbs [Image Credit: @charlesdobronxs on Instagram]
Charles Oliveira should still be in line for a title shot at 155lbs [Image Credit: @charlesdobronxs on Instagram]

Following his dramatic knockout of Alexander Volkanovski at UFC 294 in October, lightweight kingpin Islam Makhachev is undoubtedly on the top of the world. Not only is the Dagestani the titleholder at 155 pounds, he’s also considered the promotion’s best pound-for-pound fighter, too.

So who should be next for Makhachev? Essentially, he has two clear-cut challengers right now in former titleholder Charles Oliveira and ‘ BMF’ champion Justin Gaethje.

Either fighter would be a perfect opponent for Makhachev, but given that Oliveira had the opportunity before he picked up an injury in October, it’s likely that ‘Do Bronx’ is still at the front of the queue.

Sure, the Brazilian lost badly to Makhachev in their first bout in 2022, but he returned to destroy Beneil Dariush earlier this year and is probably going to be better-prepared the second time around.

Oliveira remains the UFC’s most deadly submission artist, and with knockout power in his hands too, he poses a big threat to Makhachev, even if their first fight was one-sided.

Therefore, the UFC should try to put the rematch back together as soon as possible, and let the chips fall where they may.

Quick Links

More from Sportskeeda






Source link

You may also like