UFC actual or not: Conor McGregor vs. Dustin Poirier will likely be for the light-weight title?

The UFC light-weight division, regarded by many because the promotion’s best division, has instantly grow to be broad open with the retirement of champion Khabib Nurmagomedov this previous Saturday.

However how will the UFC decide a brand new champ at 155 kilos? There are not less than 5 fighters who could make a case for competing for the crown.

Whereas Justin Gaethje misplaced to Nurmagomedov at UFC 254, he stays in rivalry. Tony Ferguson, who has received 12 of 13, is also in consideration, and so is newcomer Michael Chandler, the previous Bellator light-weight champ. Nevertheless, the division has an enormous bout that’s believed to be near being set for Jan. 23 between Dustin Poirier and Conor McGregor. Will the UFC merely make that bout a title battle?

And what about Khabib? That is the battle sport, in spite of everything. Individuals come out of retirement lots. Will Nurmagomedov, who’s 29-0, return sometime to tackle Georges St-Pierre? The winner could possibly be thought of the best combined martial artist ever. Or does Nurmagomedov even want that battle to be referred to as the GOAT?

ESPN MMA consultants Ariel Helwani, Brett Okamoto, Marc Raimondi and Jeff Wagenheim break down these matters and decide what’s actual and what’s not.

Actual or not: The McGregor-Poirier battle will likely be for the vacant light-weight belt

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2:57

Ariel Helwani reviews on Conor McGregor accepting a battle vs. Dustin Poirier on Jan. 23, however McGregor has a stipulation that he desires the battle to happen at AT&T Stadium.

Helwani: First, let me preface this by stating I’ve no insider data on this one. I imply, Khabib simply vacated the title, and I do not assume the UFC brass thought that may occur. I positively know they did not speak to both McGregor’s or Poirier’s camp about combating for a vacant title on Jan. 23. That mentioned, this makes means an excessive amount of sense. I am unable to think about any situation the place they do not do that. If in reality Nurmagomedov is finished, and I consider he’s (for now, not less than), McGregor vs. Poirier 2 is the proper vacant title battle.

McGregor’s solely loss at 155 is to Nurmagomedov, and Poirier is coming off a win and has already defeated Gaethje. At across the identical time, they need to additionally ebook Ferguson vs. Chandler, and by the point the mud has settled with these two fights, Gaethje will likely be prepared to come back again, and he ought to nonetheless be within the combine, too. I am positive the brass is not pleased Nurmagomedov is leaving — in spite of everything, it looks like he was simply coming into his personal as a star — however the excellent news is the promotion has loads of nice choices at its disposal, together with the most important draw within the sport.

Actual or not: Ferguson’s subsequent battle will likely be in opposition to Chandler, and the winner faces the McGregor-Poirier winner for the title

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Greater than two months after his loss to Justin Gaethje, Tony Ferguson says he is able to step again within the Octagon and lists the names he’d be prepared to compete in opposition to.

Raimondi: This looks like the most probably situation. I may see the UFC making McGregor vs. Poirier for the light-weight title and attempting to place Ferguson and Chandler collectively on that January card or one other occasion in shut proximity. Perhaps even UFC 256 on Dec. 12. Gaethje needs to be on this dialog someplace, too. However he’ll doubtless want one other win to get a title shot after falling to Khabib.

Dropping Nurmagomedov to retirement is a blow to the UFC, there is no doubt. He is one of many high three attracts within the promotion — possibly No. 2, behind McGregor. It additionally looks like he is leaving earlier than his peak. Nurmagomedov regarded higher than ever in opposition to Gaethje. He was hungry, ruthlessly in search of a end at UFC 254. It was virtually scary to observe. Often, Gaethje is the predator in his fights. However Nurmagomedov is the UFC’s apex predator and he hunted down Gaethje.

With that mentioned, if the UFC may afford to lose a high star from a division, it was at light-weight, which stays the deepest and most gifted on the earth. Take a look at the doable title fights and contender bouts left in Nurmagomedov’s wake. It is a assortment of well-rounded, glorious fighters — former champs, former titleholders from different promotions and potential future stars. Talking of stars, the concept of McGregor turning into light-weight champion once more with a win over Poirier could be a boon to the UFC transferring into 2021 — with the potential of crowds coming again.

It has been an odd few months. Apart from the coronavirus pandemic, three of the highest pound-for-pound fighters on the earth have retired: Nurmagomedov, Daniel Cormier and Henry Cejudo. This looks like 2013 when Anderson Silva misplaced his title, then shattered his leg and Georges St-Pierre vacated his title and went on hiatus inside just some months of one another. Fortunately, the UFC had a lady named Ronda Rousey able to grow to be an enormous star. Israel Adesanya looks like the subsequent large factor for the promotion now. However maybe he could possibly be joined by one among these very gifted athletes within the light-weight division.

Actual or not: Khabib will change his thoughts sooner or later and battle as soon as extra, in opposition to Georges St-Pierre

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Georges St-Pierre offers his response to Khabib Nurmagomedov retiring after his win at UFC 254 and why he is pleased for him.

Wagenheim: I will name this one a half-truth. Nurmagomedov has been a competitor all his life, and that intrinsic thirst didn’t vanish from his nature on the prompt he lay down his gloves on the middle of the Octagon. He’ll really feel the urge to check himself once more. It is perhaps in the present day. It is perhaps a yr from tomorrow. It’s going to occur — the need to return will captivate him.

However Nurmagomedov is not going to give up to that need. Not even for a legacy-enhancing dance with St-Pierre.

Khabib promised his mom that Saturday could be his remaining skilled battle, so he is not going to battle once more. Interval. Finish of story. Probably the most dominant fighter in MMA historical past is aware of {that a} man is just as sturdy as his phrase. The enticement of fortune and hosannas is not going to win out over his dedication to household and honor. He’ll reside as much as his promise out of respect for his mom, out of respect for his late father — his coach, mentor and sage.

If the itch for competitors turns into too vexing to disregard? Ought to that day come, a person in shades and a hat — an not easily seen ball cap, not the attention-grabbing papakha — will stroll into Tristar Health club in Montreal unannounced. St-Pierre will likely be anticipating him — solely GSP, nobody else. Khabib and GSP may have their go privately — no followers, no vibrant lights. What occurs that day will likely be recognized simply by them. Each males will discover satisfaction in that.

Actual or not: Khabib did not have sufficient title defenses to be thought of the GOAT

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Earlier than Khabib Nurmagomedov takes on Justin Gaethje at UFC 254, look again at his greatest wins contained in the Octagon.

Okamoto: Yeah, that is false. Not an incredible argument, for my part. Look, the entire GOAT dialog, I do not get too wrapped up in it, personally — as a result of on the finish of the day there isn’t a proper reply. So, why are we gonna sit round and argue all day over one thing that does not also have a right reply to start with? That mentioned, I believe it is fairly clear there are 4 candidates for GOAT: Nurmagomedov, Jon Jones, Georges St-Pierre, Anderson Silva. And their instances are all type of completely different.

St-Pierre has the sterling resume — a double champ — and was the closest factor to an ideal fighter in his period, for my part. Silva had the file for many consecutive title defenses — 4 — for a really very long time, and he had a mystique issue that I believe must be accounted for. The way during which he beat his opponents was simply one thing completely different. Jones looks like probably the most gifted, probably the most gifted of all of them. His resume is suffering from former greats, and his upcoming transfer to heavyweight may have a significant influence on his legacy. Nurmagomedov has the undefeated file. The unbelievable accomplishment of staying excellent in a sport during which it is just about unattainable to take action. Frankly, that is extra necessary than title defenses to me, and he nonetheless beat all of the names on this division he wanted to (Ferguson would have been nice, however ultimately, Nurmagomedov does not want to beat Ferguson for his legacy). He is additionally happening out on in all probability his finest efficiency but. So, these are the arguments. And personally, proper now, I am saying Nurmagomedov is the GOAT.

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