The lightweight division will move forward with some massive fights in 2021 - with or without Khabib Nurmagomedov in the picture.
UFC 257 will feature a highly anticipated rematch between Conor McGregor and Dustin Poirier in the main event, as well as the octagon debut of former Bellator champ Michael Chandler as he takes on Dan Hooker.
On Tuesday, UFC president Dana White took part in a virtual fan Q&A on ESPN+ and took fan questions read by Laura Sanko. One of the questions asked of White was what is next for former interim champion Justin Gaethje.
“If everything goes right, it will probably be (Charles) Oliveira,” White stated.
White reiterated that before Chandler was paired with Hooker, the UFC was hoping to book his promotional debut against Oliveira, but making 155 in consecutive months wasn’t in the cards. “Do Bronx” is riding an eight-fight win streak, which includes 2020 victories over Kevin Lee in March and Tony Ferguson at UFC 256.
Gaethje captured the interim lightweight title with a fifth-round finish of Ferguson in the main event of UFC 249. “The Highlight” went on to face Nurmagomedov for the undisputed title and was submitted in the second round at UFC 254 in what could be the undefeated champion’s final fight.
Of course, all of these plans could change if Nurmagomedov - who is scheduled to meet with White next week in Abu Dhabi - decides to change his mind.