After Khabib defeated Gaethje he announced in the post-fight interview that this was his last fight and he won't be returning to fight in the octagon ever again. This was definitely influenced by the death of his father and how he made a promise to his mother that he will not step into the octagon ever again after his fight with Justin. Khabib left his gloves in the octagon and that was that. However, this leaves the question of what is next for the lightweight division after Khabibs retirement?
Conor? Tony? Dustin?
Initially, Khabibs 29th bout was scheduled against Tony Ferguson on the 18th of May 2020. However, a dominant performance from Gaethje crowned him the interim champion. So what's next for Ferguson? Yes, he is coming off a loss however, he was riding a 12 fight win streak before the Gaethje fight so does he still deserve a title shot? How about Dustin Poirier? He is the former UFC interim lightweight champion and is coming off a win against Dan Hooker so that potentially gives him an edge in the title picture over Ferguson. And last but not least, Conor McGregor. Another fighter who is coming off a win against Donald Cerrone and Conor was promised a title shot by Dana White so realistically he may be the front runner in the title picture.
To make the title picture even more interesting the UFC signed Michael Chandler from rival promotion Bellator. Chandler even served as back-up to the Khabib vs Gaethje fight in-case one of the fighters was unable to compete. We have seen Bellator fighters previously win titles in the UFC (Eddie Alvarez) so we will see how Chandler ranks with the best in the UFC lightweight division. However, since he hasn't yet fought in the promotion I don't believe he deserves a title shot.
And last but not least you have to mention Justin Gaethje. He just lost his title unification bout with Khabib however, he was still the most recent interim champion. He defeated Tony Ferguson and was on a 4 fight win streak before his loss to Khabib. Gaethje may still compete for the title and his interim title win against Ferguson will be a key argument.
To conclude this article I will give you my own judgement as to who I think should fight for the title and which bouts should be made between fighters I have named and made arguments for in this article. Firstly, the title bout has to be in my opinion between Conor McGregor and Dustin Poirier. These are the only guys in the top 5 that are coming off a win so it makes sense they get a title shot. This will also be an interesting fight as these two have already met at featherweight many years ago in a fight in which McGregor was able to finish Poirier in the first round so it will be interesting to see how far Poirier has come since then. As for the title eliminator fight, I think Justin Gaethje should rematch Tony Ferguson and the winner gets a shot at the winner of McGregor vs Poirier 2. As for whats for Michael Chandler, I think he should face Dan Hooker as both guys will need to win at least two fights to get a shot at the belt.