Following last weekend’s flagship pay-per-view event return for the organization — UFC 257 brought with it a rather significant shuffle among the lightweight top-five rankings.
Featuring two high-profile 155-pound pairings, former three-time Bellator lightweight best, ‘Iron’ Michael Chandler made his long-awaited promotional bow as he clashed with Kiwi striker, Dan ‘The Hangman’ Hooker in a co-main event slot.
Taking major focus in a headlining tilt, a lightweight rematch six-years in the making, former featherweight rivals, Dustin ‘The Diamond’ Poirier and ‘The Notorious’ Conor McGregor closed the curtain on the promotion’s pay-per-view debut for 2021.
Debuting at #4 in the promotion’s official rankings as per Canadian outlet, TSN, Missouri native Chandler made a massive statement in his promotional bow, becoming just the second competitor in mixed martial arts history to stop Hooker with strikers.
Circling the Auckland native onto a fierce right hand for the opening couple of minutes, Chandler eventually sprung with his straight shot, dropping Hooker before swarming with a series of ground strikes. Calling for current undisputed lightweight champion, Khabib Nurmagomedov and event headliners, Poirier and McGregor afterwards in a Ric Flair-esque promo, Chandler lands a #4, while Hooker, suffering his second straight loss drops to #8 from his #6 rank.
Dropping out of the lightweight top-five via his first career loss via strikes, former two-weight world champion, McGregor loses his #4 rank to Chandler, assuming the #6 rank at 155-pounds, below former interim champion, Tony ‘El Cucuy’ Ferguson.
Exacting a masterful gameplan to draw his duo of fights with McGregor to one win apiece, Poirier targeted the Dubliner’s southpaw lead with a series of punishing calf kicks, rendering him largely immobile in the second-round before stopping the Crumlin native with a damaging combination at the fence.
With the victory, Poirier leaps above recent interim champion and one-time foe, Justin ‘The Highlight’ Gaethje into the #1 rank at lightweight — primed for a title shot in his next Octagon outing, interim, vacant or otherwise.
Retaining his #3 rank at 155-pounds despite the shuffle, surging Sao Paulo submission specialist, Charles ‘Do Bronx’ Oliveira is himself poised to throw his name into a vacant title discussion alongside Poirier, after UFC president, Dana White announced that things aren’t necessarily looking upwards for fans clamouring for a retirement snapping return of Nurmagomedov.
McGregor’s drop to the #6 rank marks the first time he’s featured outside the promotion’s top-five rankings since his initial UFC 178 victory over Poirier back in September of 2014, before he went on to stop Dennis Siver, and then Chad Mendes in an interim title clash, before a thirteen-second unification title win over Jose Aldo.
Despite the promotion’s floated idea of a title matchup between Poirier and Chandler, the former wants to see the latter establish a body of work at 155-pounds before entertaining a title clash with him. For Team McGregor, they hope to secure a vacant title rubber-match against Poirier as soon as May to round out their now level on score trilogy, while Poirier has already called to be crowned the undisputed lightweight champion following his win.