UFC Lightweight rankings: Where does Bellator icon Michael Chandler land on our rankings?

ufc lightweight rankings
May 14, 2021; Houston, Texas, USA; Michael Chandler during weigh ins for UFC 262 at George R Brown Convention Center. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Lightweight in the Ultimate Fighting Championship has long been one of its most consistently talent-rich divisions. Not only is it still that now, but it is also more star-studded than ever before, with some of the most popular talents in the sport competing at 155-pounds. With that in mind, here are the official MixedMartialArts.com top-10 UFC rankings for the lightweight division.

UFC Lightweight rankings

10. Tony Ferguson (25-6)

The only saving grace keeping Tony Ferguson in our top-10 is that his three straight losses are to some of the best 155-pounders on the roster, and the fighters on the rankings bubble still don’t have the resume he does. That said, the 37-year-old needs a win in his next fight or he is on the first flight out of our rankings.

  • Next fight: No fight booked yet

9. Conor McGregor (22-6)

ufc lightweight rankings
Jul 10, 2021; Las Vegas, Nevada, USA; Conor McGregor reacts following an injury suffered against Dustin Poirier during UFC 264 at T-Mobile Arena. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

It seems like ages ago when Conor McGregor was viewed as the cream of the crop at lightweight. A failed foray into boxing, long breaks, and losing three of his last four in MMA has pushed him into the back of the top-10 for the first time ever. His back-to-back losses to Dustin Poirier have tarnished his fearsome reputation, and at 33-year-old his best days could be behind him. However, with his recent losses to the best lightweight ever and twice to the current top contender, McGregor has only fallen out of elite status, not from the upper-echelon.

  • Next fight: Out of action until 2022 (broken leg)

8. Dan Hooker (20-10)

Dan “The Hangman” Hooker seemed one big win away from jumping to the front of the contender line entering 2020. Then he lost two straight to Poirier and Michael Chandler and fell out of contention hard. Hooker is still a dangerous fighter and tough fight for any competitor in the rankings, but he has a bit of a hole to dig himself out of before he can get back into the contender conversation. He will start that climb back up in a high-risk matchup with unranked Nasrat Haqparast at UFC 266 in September.

  • Next fight: vs. Nasrat Haqparast at UFC 266 (September 25)

7. Rafael dos Anjos (30-13)

Former champion Rafael dos Anjos giving the welterweight division a try was understandable after years of difficult weight cuts to make 155-pounds. But the experiment, unfortunately, was a failure. He returned to his former home in November with a solid showing in getting a win over former ranked — and now retired — talent Paul Felder. The one-time lightweight king next gets a serious litmus test of his relevancy at the top in 2021, when he faces Islam Makhachev at UFC 267 in October.

  • Next fight: vs. Islam Makhachev at UFC 267 (October 30)

6. Islam Makhachev (20-1)

The only real knock on the 29-year-old Islam Makhachev is the lack of marque victims on his hit list. And it’s a decent contention, but not enough to have him be lower than sixth on our rankings. Eight straight wins and a 9-1 record in a premier division are deserving of an elite ranking. Especially, because the Dagestani native, and pupil of Khabib Nurmagomedov, rarely loses rounds anymore. In October, he will get another chance to quiet doubters in his biggest test in name value and skill when he faces former division king Rafael dos Anjos at UFC 267.

  • Next fight: vs. Rafael dos Anjos at UFC 267 (October 30)

5. Beniel Dariush (21-4)

Beniel Dariush’s rise as an elite lightweight has been remarkable. After hitting what seemed to be a ceiling in 2017 to ’18, he’s won seven straight and notched his first win over a former champion in Tony Ferguson at UFC 262. Once thought to be a grappler with solid striking, “Benny” has become a well-rounded and dangerous talent at 155-pounds.

  • Next fight: No fight booked yet

4. Michael Chandler (22-6)

ufc lightweight rankings
May 14, 2021; Houston, Texas, USA; Michael Chandler talks with Joe Rogan during weigh ins for UFC 262 at George R Brown Convention Center. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Former two-time Bellator lightweight king Michael Chandler has split his first two fights in the Octagon. However, his spot at four is merited after crushing Hooker in his debut and damn near winning the belt in a dominant first round against Charles Oliveira in May. Now, he will get to prove himself once again in the fall against a new rival and division boogie man in Justin Gaethje.

  • Next fight: vs. Justin Gaethje at UFC 268 (November 6)

3. Justin Gaethje (22-3)

Despite being out of action since his UFC 254 loss to former champion Khabib Nurmagomedov in October, Justin Gaethje’s spot as a top-three lightweight is still very secure. He has five knockout wins in the Octagon, against strong competition, and his only losses are to three former champions. In November, Gaethje will have a contender eliminator fight against Chandler, with the winner likely being the next in line for Poirier or Oliveira.

  • Next fight: vs. Michael Chandler at UFC 268 (November 6)

2. Dustin Poirier (28-6)

Although he doesn’t currently have the division’s championship, former interim-titleholder Dustin Poirier is the one competitor that his almost viewed as uncrowned champion. His destructive victories over elite talent in Justin Gaethje, Max Hollaway, Hooker, and Conor McGregor twice has turned him into a superstar. Especially after choosing to go for the big bucks against McGregor instead of a title fight in his last Octagon outing.

  • Next fight: vs. Charles Oliveira (December 11)

1. Champion: Charles Oliveira (31-8)

Charles Oliveira is not only the hottest fighter at 155-pounds, but he is one of the hottest fighters on the entire UFC roster. His current nine-fight win streak has been outstanding. In getting finishes in all of those victories sans one, and beating Michael Chandler for the vacant 155-pound title bout in May at UFC 262, he is the undisputed top lightweight on our list.

  • Next fight: vs. Dustin Poirer (December 11)
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