Michael Chandler has been training on Fight Island as a backup replacement in case something was to happen to Nurmagomedov or Gaethje. It’s only normal to assume that if the fight goes ahead as planned that Chandler will then face the winner, but should he get the shot? We take a look at the top fifteen in the division and breakdown of each fighter.
Michael Chandler(21-5) Rank No. Unranked
Chandler had been in Bellator for close to ten years. In that time, he won the Lightweight belt three times and defended it three times. In his last five fights, he is 4-1 with his last fight being a KO victory over Benson Henderson in August.
Dustin Poirier(26-6) Rank No. 2
Poirier last fought in June against Dan Hooker in a Fight of the Night bout which earned him his first victory since losing to the champion in September of last year. Poirier is tapped to fight Conor McGregor in a rematch which is aimed to take place in January. It has been proposed that the fight should take place at welterweight. If Poirier defeats McGregor, he should still have another fight at lightweight before being considered for title contention again.
Tony Ferguson(25-4) Rank No. 3
Ferguson hasn’t fought since May where he lost against current title challenger Justin Gaethje. Regardless, Ferguson still makes a valid argument to be in contention. He had gone unbeaten in 12 fights before facing Gaethje. Ferguson was set to face Nurmagomedov, a wrestler before complications with travel due to coronavirus stopped Khabib from competing. Of course, Ferguson then faced Gaethje, a striker, when he had originally been training for Khabib for quite some time. In my opinion, Ferguson should still remain in the talks when it comes to the next title challenger.
Conor McGregor(22-4) Rank No. 4
McGregor’s last fight came in January where he defeated Donald Cerrone in the first 40 seconds of round one. In his last five fights, McGregor is 3-2 with three of those taking place in the welterweight division, and a possible fourth against Poirier. In the lightweight division, McGregor is 1-1 with his last bout being against Nurmagomedov where he lost via fourth-round submission. McGregor’s last victory at lightweight come in November 2016 when he defeated Eddie Alvarez via second-round TKO. McGregor should gain some more wins at lightweight before being considered for title contention.
Dan Hooker(20-9) Rank No. 5
Hooker’s last bout came against Dustin Poirier where he lost via unanimous decision. Prior to that, Hooker was on a three-fight win streak with his last win being a close split decision against Paul Felder. Hooker still has a lot of options at lightweight and he had even proposed a fight with Nate Diaz at either 170 or 155, so going up to welterweight is a viable option for Hooker. If he remains at lightweight, Hooker will need to tie some wins together again.
Charles Oliveira(29-8) Rank No. 6
With the arrival of Michael Chandler and the possible matchup between McGregor and Poirier; and the title fight coming up, Oliveira has not been mentioned as much as he should be. It’s surprising to see Oliveira this far down in the rankings considering he is unbeaten in his last seven fights. His last victory came in March where he defeated Kevin Lee via submission. Oliveira definitely has a case to make when it comes to being next in line for a possible title shot. It would sense to have Oliveira take on Ferguson in a number one contender fight.
Paul Felder(17-5) Rank No. 7
Paul Felder last stepped into the octagon in February where he lost a split decision to Dan Hooker. In his post-fight interview, Felder said it might be his last fight. If Felder is to return to fighting, it may only be for the love of the fight and not for a run at the title. Felder seems happy in his role as commentator and analyst, and he does a pretty good job of it.
Diego Ferreira(17-2) Rank No. 8
Ferreira last fought in January where he defeated Anthony Pettis via second-round submission which earned him performance of the night. He is on a six-fight win streak with his last defeat coming in 2015 against Dustin Poirier. Ferreira is scheduled to fight Drew Dober on November 7th at the UFC APEX.
Al Iaquinta(14-6) Rank No. 9
Iaquinta has not fought since October 2019 where he lost to Dan Hooker via decision. He is currently on a two-fight losing streak and is 2-3 in his last five fights. Iaquinta needs to get back in the win column and get some wins under his belt before being put in the title picture.
Kevin Lee(18-6) Rank No. 10
Lee is in a similar situation to Iaquinta. Lee lost his last fight against Charles Oliveira which took place in March. He is also 2-3 in his last five fights with the exception of one being at welterweight against Rafael Dos Anjos and another being a catchweight bout due to Lee missing weight. Lee needs to get back in the win column and gather some wins before being considered.
Beneil Dariush(19-4) Rank No. 11
Dariush is unbeaten in his last five fights with four of those being finished within the distance. Although Dariush is on a good streak, his next challenge should be a top ten opponent.
Islam Makhachev(18-1) Rank No. 12
Makhachev was set to fight Rafael Dos Anjos at UFC 254, but the bout was pulled after Dos Anjos tested positive for COVID-19. The fight will now take place on November 14th at the UFC APEX. Given that he is unbeaten in his last six fights, and if Makhachev is to win against Dos Anjos, he could find himself in the heat of the top ten.
Gregor Gillespie(13-1) Rank No. 13
Gillespie lost his last fight against Kevin Lee in November last year. That put the first loss on his record and a lot of people say losing a fight helps you learn and get better. When Gillespie returns, it is likely he receives an opponent that isn’t in the top ten. Although, a fight between him and Dariush would be a good matchup.
Drew Dober(23-9) Rank No. 14
Dober is on a three-fight win streak with his last victory coming in May against Alexander Hernandez. He is expected to face Diego Ferreira on November 7th at the UFC APEX.
Donald Cerrone(36-15) Rank No. 15
In his last five fights, Cerrone has lost four and drawn once. His last win comes in May of last year where he defeated Al Iaquinta via unanimous decision. After his draw with Niko Price, Dana White was vocal about speaking with Cerrone regarding retirement. Cerrone has not fought since the draw and if he does get another chance, it will only be the one. As much as Cerrone is a fan favourite, nobody wants to see him endure another defeat. A possible title fight doesn’t seem likely for Cerrone at any point in the future.
Is there a fighter you believe deserves the shot more than Chandler? Let us know in the comments.