This weekend’s main event at UFC 262 saw Charles Oliveira win the vacant lightweight championship by knocking out Michael Chandler in the second round.
Chandler dominated the fight from the start, rocking Oliveira in the first round and demonstrating excellent submission defence. But, he was caught by a left hook early in the second, succumbing to his first UFC loss in a shocking fashion.
However, Chandler did demonstrate explosiveness and ability to reaffirm his status as one of the top lightweight contenders.
We take a look at some of his potential opponents.
#3 Beneil Dariush
While the main event between Chandler and Oliveira drew attention from all over the world, the co-main event between Beneil Dariush and Tony Ferguson received less attention than predicted.
That could be attributed to the nature of the fight, which promised action but turned out to be a one-sided affair fought mostly on the field. Dariush delivered a dominant performance, smothering ‘El Cucuy’ and extending his UFC win streak to seven.
Following the event, UFC president Dana White promised Dariush a top-five opponent. Chandler is feasible, if a slightly unlikely choice. The former Bellator lightweight champion is just two fights into his UFC career, and the prospect of facing a promotion veteran like Dariush is enticing.
Chandler vs. Dariush will be advantageous to both parties. Although the former would be right back in title contention with a victory over an in-form opponent, Dariush will be difficult to overlook for a shot at the belt if he defeats a man of Chandler’s calibre.
Conor McGregor vs. Dustin Poirier’s UFC 264 trilogy clash would have a significant effect on the condition of the lightweight division.
If Poirier wins, he will unquestionably be the number one contestant and the next man to fight for the crown. If McGregor wins, he, too, will be in line to become a two-time lightweight champion.
#2 Poirier loser vs. McGregor loser at UFC 264
The loser of the Poirier vs. McGregor trilogy fight may face Chander. While a fight between McGregor and Chandler promises to be entertaining both on the mic and in the Octagon, ‘Iron’ Mike will be the ideal opponent for Poirier to bounce back from a possible defeat to the Irishman.
#1 Justin Gaethje
Justin Gaethje has unfortunately been set aside in the wake of some high-profile match-ups at the top.
It didn’t make sense to give him consecutive title shots after his loss to Khabib Nurmagomedov at UFC 254. And, it’s also been difficult to determine where he stands in the lightweight division right now.
Before the latter was revealed as Oliveira’s opponent for the vacant lightweight championship; there were reports that ‘The Highlight’ would face Chandler.
Suggestion going around that the UFC wanted a champion who hadn’t been defeated by ‘The Eagle’.
Read more: “We got this bum out of the way”: Ali Abdelaziz hints at Justin Gaethje’s return for title shot