It seems 2019 will bring some clarity to the very top of the UFC lightweight rankings with promotion president, Dana White eyeing two high profile clashes among the top three contenders.
Speaking on the FS1 post-fight show after The Ultimate Fighter 28 finale, White outlined the plan for recent UFC 229 headliner’s Khabib Nurmagomedov and Conor McGregor to return to the Octagon after their respective NSAC hearings in late December conclude.
Khabib is expected to be once more paired with the former Interim champion, Tony Ferguson with the hope the fourth attempt at the meeting will finally prove successful. On the other side, “The Notorious” Conor McGregor is expected to face off with number three ranked contender and former opponent, Dustin Poirier with the winner of each bout expected to meet for the undisputed UFC lightweight title.
Both ‘El Cucuy’ and ‘The Diamond’ have surged through the best the 155lbs UFC division has had to offer, with Tony extending his win streak to an incredible eleven fights in his most recent outing against Anthony Pettis. It saw him return from after a 6-month layoff after tearing his MCL back in April. With a solid performance ending in TKO, he solidified his status as the division’s front-runner. Poirier, on the other hand, has finished his last three opponents, most recently dispatching now ONE FC star Eddie Alvarez in the pair’s rematch.
Despite signing the dotted line to fight each other on four separate occasions, we are yet to see Khabib and Tony Ferguson in the same Octagon due to injuries and weight cutting mishaps scrapping each and every match.
McGregor and Poirier first squared off at featherweight at UFC 178 in 2014 and it saw the Irishman stop the Louisiana native inside the opening round. It is worth noting Poirier has made drastic improvements to his overall game in that four year period since moving up to lightweight, winning eight fights whilst displaying a much polished striking game.
Khabib and Conor are both currently waiting on their respective punishment’s for their involvement in the post-fight altercation at UFC 229, with the Nevada State Athletic Commission expected to issue fines and a possible suspension to both. It will be interesting to how this whole thing plays out…