According to an ESPN report released late Thursday night, the UFC has decided to officially recognize that Khabib Nurmagomedov is retired and has now officially vacated the lightweight championship. To determine the new champion, we will see a fight between the #3- and #4-ranked lightweights in the division when Charles Oliveira (#3) faces Michael Chandler (#4) on May 15. There is no word yet on if this bout will serve as the main event, but it is currently the only title fight on the lineup.
Charles Oliveira is currently on a staggering eight-fight win streak, so it is difficult to argue his merit as a candidate to fill the role of lightweight champion following Khabib’s retirement. And in his most recent bout, Oliveira defeated a top-5 fighter in Tony Ferguson, which is no easy feat, to further solidify himself as a top contender. This will be Oliveira’s first title fight in his 10+ years in the UFC, so you can be sure that he will be looking to make the most of this grand opportunity.
Michael Chandler may not be a UFC veteran, but he has paid his dues in this sport enough for the promotion to deem him worthy of competing for a title in only his second fight in the company. His debut certainly made a great showing for Chandler, though, with the American starching then-#6-ranked Dan Hooker in the first round. Chandler’s overall winning streak is much slimmer than Oliviera’s, at three, but he is a former Bellator champion. Chandler’s swift placement at the very top of the division demonstrates how much stock that accolade must carry with the UFC brass despite some of White’s dismissals of the competition in the past.
With this huge announcement, the current lineup for UFC 262 includes the following bouts:
UFC Lightweight Championship Bout (Vacant): Charles Oliveira vs. Michael Chandler
Tony Ferguson vs. Beneil Dariush
Jack Hermansson vs. Edmen Shahbazyan
Edson Barboza vs. Shane Burgos
Viviane Araujo vs. Katlyn Chookagian
Alex Perez vs. Matt Schnell
Andrea Lee vs. Antonina Shevchenko
Priscila Cachoeira vs. Gina Mazany
Jamie Pickett vs. Jordan Wright
Who walks out of UFC 262 as the new lightweight champ: Michael Chandler or Charles Oliveira?