After essentially pulling himself from UFC 249 on April 18th, Lightweight Champion Khabib Nurmagomedov is leaving fans disappointed. More importantly, he leaves #1-ranked contender Tony Ferguson without an opponent.
Here, we look at three potential candidates that could make their way to the octagon on short notice.
3. Dustin Poirier (25-6)
A fight that makes sense would be #1-ranked Ferguson and #2-ranked Poirier. Although he is scheduled to fight Dan Hooker on May 16th, the former Interim Champion took to Twitter to express his availability.
Despite his interest, the UFC has not reached out to Poirier about a potential bout against Ferguson. Considering his recent stretch of wins that included Anthony Pettis, Justin Gaethje, Eddie Alvarez and Max Holloway, it comes as a surprise that the UFC didn’t give this more consideration.
2. Conor McGregor (22-4)
After a 40-second TKO victory over Donald Cerrone, it’s obvious that McGregor needs to appear on this segment. Three of his last four MMA bouts have resulted in wins, and his PPV numbers back it up.
The narrative behind McGregor’s ‘2020 comeback season’ plays to the notion that he should be the one to step in against Ferguson. A standup fight between the two surely wouldn’t go the distance, and saves the UFC from any lost profits along the way.
However, once again, UFC fans will have to put their dreams on the backburners for now. The coach of McGregor, John Kavanagh, has no current intentions of leaving Ireland at this time.
1. Justin Gaethje (21-2)
This leaves us with the most realistic option on the table: Justin Gaethje. According to reports, Ferguson has been offered a fight against the #4-ranked fighter in the UFC.
This fight makes for an interesting matchup, as Gaethje has been regarded as a dark horse in the Lightweight division. With a three-fight win streak over James Vick, Edson Barboza, and Donald Cerrone, a win over Ferguson would almost guarantee an upcoming title shot.