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PIERCE: If I was a UFC matchmaker for the lightweight division

Photo: UFC

Charles Oliveira’s statement performance at UFC 262 to become the lightweight champion has ushered in a new era, weighing in at 155 pounds. As much as I will miss former champ Khabib Nurmagomedov, it is exciting to have a bit of closure and the opportunity to see some new champions soon.

Today, I will be playing the role of UFC matchmaker and suggest fights I would make for a few of the top 155 pound contenders. Let’s dive right in.

Charles Oliveira vs. the winner of Dustin Poirier and Conor McGregor

July 10 is going to be an incredible night, as former interim champ Dustin Poirier and former double weight division king Conor McGregor will complete their trilogy in front of a packed house in Las Vegas.

Poirier deserved a title fight after beating McGregor in January, but he saw the big money in the trilogy, so he has foregone the title chance for now. Good on him to get the bag when it is in front of him while still maintaining the opportunity to get UFC gold later down the line.

That being said, I believe that either fighter deserves a title shot following a win. Poirier needs a title shot, but if McGregor can pull it off, the money that comes from a McGregor title fight is going to be too big to ignore.

The loser of Poirier and McGregor vs. Beneil Dariush

Beneil Dariush showed complete and utter dominance over Tony Ferguson at UFC 262. It is easy to write off that win as Ferguson’s contending days being over, but that underrates the long-cultivated skill set of Dariush.

Toss Dariush the loser of McGregor and Poirier to see if he can really hang at the top of the division. Would either Poirier or McGregor accept this fight? Who knows, but it is worth mentioning at this point.

Justin Gaethje vs. Michael Chandler

Michael Chandler’s rise to the top of the UFC was blistering fast, but the storyline cut out just as quick after Charles Oliveira ended Chandler's run to UFC gold. After the first round of their fight, Chandler was seconds away from getting the finish, so I think he has a ton of upside remaining at the top.

After the loss, Chandler said he will have the belt around him in 12 months, but I don’t see this being possible, even at its best case for him.

Matching up Chandler and Justin Gaethje would be an awesome fight. Both of these guys hit super hard and can wrestle, so, on paper, it is a great matchup. Whoever wins this should be in the title picture somewhere down the line.

The loser of Gaethje and Chandler vs. Islam Makhachev

Islam Makhachev is 19-1 and has serious Khabib vibes in terms of how long he can stay at the top of this division. So much so that no one in the top 10 wants to fight him. I believe that it is just a matter of time before he is in the top five and contending for a belt.

It might be a little aggressive to give him such a big shot right now, but I feel that he deserves it. Give him the loser of Gaethje and Chandler. Either one would be a banger of a fight.

Tony Ferguson vs. Drew Dober

What should happen with Tony Ferguson after this rare series of losses is a sad topic to think about. Ferguson is a fan favorite that is a surefire hall-of-famer, but his recent skid is too big to ignore.

If he still wants to fight, which he says he does, he needs to fight either someone outside of the top 10 or a fighter who is unranked; he needs a prospect fight to help get his mojo back.

On the flip side, a loss in that case will be a glaring sign that retirement may be the best option. One name that comes to mind is Drew Dober. Dober is a monster that can be a serious threat for years to come, so “El Cucuy” fighting him may be a sign of big changes to come.

Those are matchups I would love to see in the UFC 155-pound division! There are a ton of moving parts and matchmaking in MMA will never be an easy thing, but these are all matchups I can see fitting in well and creating some awesome moments.

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