Lightweight contenders Dustin Poirier and Justin Gaethje are ranked No. 1 and No. 2 in the world, respectively, and under normal circumstances either of those hard-hitting fighters would be eligible for a 155-pound title shot.
Instead, the vacant title will be on the line when No. 3 Charles Oliveira and No. 4 Michael Chandler collide in the upcoming UFC 262 pay-per-view (PPV) main event, scheduled for Saturday, May 15. , 2021 inside the Toyota Center in Houston, Texas.
Probably because Poirier and Gaethje were defeated by retired lightweight powerhouse Khabib Nurmagomedov, while neither Oliveira nor Chandler got a chance to fly with “The Eagle,” so we don’t know how those fights would have played out.
“Justin was supposed to fight Michael Chandler,” manager Ali Abdelaziz told MMA Junkie. That was the talk. We found out that Chandler (was) fighting Oliveira, and I understand that. The UFC wants a champion who never lost to Khabib. If a guy who lost to Khabib becomes champion … you need more time to make people forget about Khabib, right? They made the move and I understand it. “
Gaethje was subdued by “The Eagle” at UFC 254 last October, just over a year after stopping Poirier at UFC 242. “The Highlight” remained on the bench in the months following his defeat at Nurmagomedov, while ” The Diamond “went on to defeat Conor McGregor at UFC 257, which led to the now tentative trilogy this summer.
If Poirier manages to defeat McGregor a second time, he is likely to get a lightweight title shot over Gaethje after previously finishing “The Highlight” at UFC on FOX 29. Unless, of course, matchmakers quickly book to Gaethje for the winner of Oliveira vs. Chandler in the next two months.