The UFC Lightweight Title: A Visual History

By Ben Duffy Jul 6, 2021
With everything at stake in the UFC 264 main event, it’s almost possible to forget that it’s a likely lightweight title eliminator, as well.

The Ultimate Fighting Championship lightweight title picture is in its most chaotic state in well over a decade. The belt belongs to Charles Oliveira, who was seen for most of his career as a gifted but flawed fighter who was a long shot ever to win a title. That version of “do Bronx” appears to be a thing of the past, as he strung together nine straight wins in perhaps the toughest division in the sport on his way to his crowning victory in Houston in May.

This Saturday’s headliner between Dustin Poirier and Conor McGregor is the blockbuster hit of the summer, but there is also every possibility that the winner will be Oliveira’s first title challenger. Meanwhile, a man who thrashed both Poirier and McGregor within recent memory, Khabib Nurmagomedov, is at home in Dagestan observing the one-year anniversary of his father’s death, a personal tragedy that led to his retirement from competition. Still just 32 and apparently resolute in his decision not to return to competition, he would almost certainly be a huge favorite over Poirier, McGregor or Oliveira if he were to return.

Not to be forgotten either is Nurmagomedov’s final opponent, Justin Gaethje, who has not fought since then but has a credible claim to a title shot himself, even if he may need a bounce-back win before it is granted. All told, things at lightweight are about as intriguing as they’ve ever been in the UFC.

Ben Duffy/ illustration

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