With Khabib Nurmagomedov confirming his retirement yet again to UFC president Dana White this past weekend, the vacant lightweight title will be up for grabs in the main event of UFC 262.
No. 3-ranked contender Charles Oliveira will face No. 4-ranked Michael Chandler in the main event of the May 15 event expected to take place at Houston’s Toyota Center with fans in the stands.
Nurmagomedov announced his retirement from mixed martial arts after improving to 29-0 when he submitted Justin Gaethje at UFC 254 last October.
White and the UFC had been attempting to coax the 32-year-old out of retirement for one more fight but after meeting with Nurmagomedov in Las Vegas over the weekend, the organization decided to move to the next chapter and officially book a title fight in the 155-pound division.
While the Oliveira-Chandler matchup doesn’t scream pay-per-view blockbuster, it’s an outstanding matchup between two fighters deserving of an opportunity to challenge for gold.
Oliveira (30-8, one no-contest) has gone 8-0 over the past three years with seven stoppage wins plus a dominant unanimous decision victory over former interim champion Tony Ferguson UFC 256 in December.
Chandler (22-5) wowed in his UFC debut in January in the co-main event of UFC 257’s Dustin Poirier vs. Conor McGregor rematch. The former Bellator MMA champion knocked out Dan Hooker in 2:30 to earn a Performance of the Night bonus.
It was the third consecutive first-round knockout win for Chandler dating back to his time in the Bellator cage, which included victories over former UFC champions Benson Henderson and Eddie Alvarez.
This championship matchup means it’s increasingly likely we see a trilogy bout between Poirier and McGregor at some point later this year.
This also means Gaethje is left without an opponent after a Gaethje vs. Chandler bout was reportedly in the works.
A lightweight bout between Tony Ferguson and Beneil Dariush is also expected to be featured at UFC 262.