Betting Odds for the Next UFC Lightweight Champion – McGregor the Favorite to Replace Khabib
What is the most stacked division in the UFC? Ask any reasonably knowledgeable MMA fan that question and they will, nine times out of ten, say lightweight.
The 155-pound class is nothing short of shark-infested waters, with some of the most talented technicians and destructive warlords in the game. But the presence of one indomitable Russian has kept the division on lockdown since April 2018.
Check the latest lightweight rankings that were released on October 27 and you will find the sport’s biggest name, Conor McGregor, and arguably MMA’s greatest fighter, Khabib Nurmagomedov.
But with Nurmagomedov announcing his shock retirement following the mauling of Justin Gaethje at UFC 254, a great big void has opened up in the division. One that the rest of the gang at 155 will be battling it out to fill.
With odds for the next UFC lightweight champion released in the wake of the champ’s retirement, excitement is building for who can take his place. McGregor is the favorite to be the next king of the division, but I’m not so sure that he is the man to bet on.
So join me as I analyze these odds and try to predict the next UFC lightweight champion.
Conor McGregor -160
The only former champion of the division on the list, “The Notorious” is the favorite to become the next UFC lightweight titlist. Three of the other four have held interim straps in the division, however.
At odds of -160, he is miles ahead of most of the other guys on this list. Is that down to the Irishman being the better fighter here, or rather a combination of a few factors that could work his way?
To the uninitiated, here’s how it works. McGregor is the most famous mixed martial artist of all time AND is the sport’s biggest cash cow. Wherever he goes, eyes follow and tills cha-ching. When Irish-American UFC President Dana White sees the shade of green on Éire’s flag, what do you think comes to mind? You got it.
It’s not a stretch to suggest that the promotion wants McGregor as the next champ of 155. Evidence? Well, despite only fighting twice in the division — once in a title fight victory against Eddie Alvarez four years ago, and the other in a loss to Khabib in 2018 — he is ranked at #4.
So, if you are betting on McGregor vs. Poirier 2 being a title fight, you might be on to something. This following tweet backs up my theory.
Fresh out of the McGregor FAST Laboratory today. Full body composition scan complete and the results came back =— Conor McGregor (@TheNotoriousMMA) October 30, 2020
Lightweight Division incoming ? pic.twitter.com/4CiZOFkL2H
Dustin Poirier +175
Poirier could be looking at a second title shot in a little over a year if his upcoming fight with McGregor has a title on the line.
The Louisiana-native has a history with McGregor, of course. McGregor knocked Poirier in September 2014 out en route to a stunning featherweight title win over Jose Aldo the following year.
Gumbo will not be on the menu when both men square off in January, presumably at UFC 257. Instead, Poirier will be looking to serve a big old plate of revenge.
He is such an excellent fighter that I think he might just come out of it with the title.
Is Poirier the best candidate to replace Khabib? I think he has to be considered up there, especially as there is a good chance that he is fighting next for the strap.
Tony Ferguson +700
Poor Tony Ferguson, huh?
The type of guy to embark on a 12-fight win streak, only to lose against a last-minute stand-in for his fifth postponed fight with Khabib.
Is Ferguson finished? Well, he was absolutely battered by Gaethje on the night and looked completely lost for ideas by the time he was stopped. At 36, he is the elder statesmen on this list, but I am still reluctant to write him off after one loss in seven years.
Ferguson is excellent betting value. Especially if you want to take a punt on a scenario where McGregor and Poirier fight for the interim strap and the winner of Ferguson vs. Michael Chandler produces the opponent for McGregor/Poirier for the “real” title.
At odds of +700, Ferguson is worth a shot.
“We?Ready” ⚔️? -CSO- ????? pic.twitter.com/x4MGyQf1JY— Tony Ferguson (@TonyFergusonXT) October 30, 2020
Michael Chandler +800
Chandler, a three-time Bellator lightweight champion, recently joined the UFC. He has been campaigning for a fight with Justin Gaethje, but I don’t think that happens. Yet.
He is an excellent addition to the star-studded cast at 155. But the question is, how good is he? I mean, I’d class as one of the best lightweights on the planet over the past few years, but at 34, has he already hit his ceiling?
If he is to fight Ferguson, I think he gets pieced up. And given Gaethje vs. Ferguson 2 is about as popular a sequel as Godfather III, this matchup looks highly likely.
You can get +800 with the top online sportsbooks for Chandler to follow in the footsteps of Eddie Alvarez and win lightweight titles in both Bellator and the UFC.
Justin Gaethje +1000
And the final of my five candidates to win the UFC lightweight title next is Gaethje himself.
An extraordinarily brutal striker, his odds are phenomenally good to win the title next. Well, at least until you consider that he is coming off a title shot loss to Khabib, where he was dismantled by “The Eagle.”
With McGregor vs. Poirier 2 and Ferguson vs. Chandler, you have what appears to be a semi-final lineup that will determine the next two challengers for the title. That’s if the UFC doesn’t make the first fight a title fight in its own right.
I’d skip on Gaethje for now. It would take something wild for the Arizonan to get another shot at the title right away.
Predicting the Next UFC Lightweight Champion
McGregor vs. Poirier 2 will provide one of the next challengers for the title set to be vacated by Khabib Nurmagomedov.
That’s the worst-case scenario for the winner of 2021’s most eagerly anticipated rematch. The best-case scenario is that the title is up for grabs in this fight. And while that might be a controversial decision in some quarters, it would not surprise me in the slightest.
So, here’s what I’m thinking. The winner of McGregor vs Poirier 2 will win the lightweight championship at best OR find themselves one fight away from the title, at worst.
I think Poirier beats McGregor in the rematch. And if he is required to beat Ferguson or Chandler for the strap, it’s going home to Louisiana.
My prediction for the next UFC lightweight champion is Dustin Poirier (+175).
Life After Khabib
One on hand, it’s said to think that we will miss out on some awesome fights with Khabib. But his retirement has also opened the door for a new champion, perhaps even a former champion, to take the reigns at 155.
Things are about to get a whole lot more exciting now that the seemingly unbeatable Beast from the East has returned to his native Dagestan. The whole division now has a new lease of life, and let’s be honest, anything can happen.
I’m tipping Poirier as the next champion at 155, but there’s no guarantee of that happening. Nevertheless, I’ll keep you updated on the future of the UFC’s lightweight division when the picture gets a little clearer.
But for now, it’s time to get excited about two of the biggest MMA events coming up in 2020.