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Will The Real UFC Lightweight Champion Please Stand Up

Khabib, McGregor and Ferguson all hold claim to being the true UFC Lightweight Champion

*If you are interested in listening to the song behind the title, here you go*

In case you forgot, UFC 229 will feature Khabib Nurmagomedov defending his Lightweight Title against Conor McGregor. it is a match that can shake up the landscape of MMA, especially now that Conor McGregor is back after two years away.

Speaking of which, “The Notorious One” is looking to regain the title he never lost. Throughout the week, McGregor (21-3) has brought two titles with him (flyweight and lightweight), both of which he was stripped of. The same could be said for Tony Ferguson, who also brought a Lightweight Title with him when facing off against Anthony Pettis. Do they hold a claim for the title over the current champion in Khabib (26-0)?

The Evidence

Let’s take a look at who/what we are dealing with here, in order of time they won the title:

McGregor: The man of the hour! McGregor won the title from Eddie Alvarez at UFC 205 inside Madison Square Garden, becoming a two-weight champion. He is credited for holding the title over 511 days, without even defending it. During that time, he fought Floyd Mayweather and made a claim as the most marketable star in combat sports. He never truly lost the title, but he never defended it either. Would he have if he didn’t take the Mayweather fight? It is unsure, especially since he didn’t defend the Flyweight title either. McGregor is one of the most gifted athletes in combat sports history. A win over Khabib will make him the official champion again, even if he will claim he’s been the champion all along.

Ferguson: After defeating Kevin Lee for the interim title at UFC 216, Ferguson (23-3) was supposed to be a fighting champion. He was what the MMA world was dreaming Conor could have been. He was scheduled to face Khabib at UFC 223 in Brooklyn before an injury forced him off the card. Conor and Tony were officially stripped of said title, and the latter has been fighting his way back to the top ever since. He will look to move quickly past an aging Anthony Pettis. A former Lightweight Champion himself, Pettis wants to prove he is a contender as well. Unfortunately for him, there is no fourth man to make the claim of being champion. That is a especially true since he is 3-5 in his last eight fights. On a ten-fight win streak, Ferguson is championship fight ready (155 lb), just in case.

Khabib: The current champion is not getting his just due. Is it because of all that went down at UFC 223? If you recall, once Ferguson was out, Max Holloway offered to step in. Once he was out as well, Khabib fought Al Iaquinta for the title, a move many called a throwaway fight. Now, he set to face his toughest opponent to date in McGregor. While he is a fighting champion, something the other two never got to be called, his ground game can sometimes be considered flawed.

He doesn’t remain undefeated without being a tough fighter, however. He will literally put everything on the line against McGregor, something a true champion is known for.

The Verdict

At the end of the day, Khabib is the one holding the one true title. All three are true champions in their own right, however. By Saturday, all the nonsense surrounding the title scene should be silenced. After that, moving on would be the best case scenario. In a stacked division, three men are fighting for glory, respect and retribution. There will be three Lightweight Titles making an appearance at the show, but only one can make a claim as being the undisputed champion.

Who is your Lightweight Champion?

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Baseball Editor, Misc. Sports Editor. Covers all things combat sports (MMA, Pro Wrestling and Boxing). When he's not writing, Daniel hosts a podcast, The Main Event.
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