By Niall Clarke
- UFC Lightweight division preview and predictions
- Current champion: Rafael Dos Anjos
The Lightweight division has often been known as one of the most exciting and competitive divisions in the UFC. So what does 2016 hold in store for the 155lbsers?
Currently one man rules to roost at Lightweight and that is Rafael Dos Anjos. The Brazilian has made vast improvements to his fight game which culminated in winning the UFC Lightweight title at UFC 185.
Dos Anjos dominated the champion Anthony Pettis to a unanimous decision victory, but there were rumours circling the MMA community that the 31 year old’s improvements are down to performance enhancing drugs.
With USADA testing in place, it was interesting to see how the champion would fare against Donald Cerrone. 66 seconds is all it took for Dos Anjos to defend his title with a TKO victory- a fantastic end to a brilliant year.
But there is still one monkey to get off his back. The next challenger could potentially be Khabib Nurmagomedov, the man who handed Dos Anjos his most recent defeat.
The Russian, who is a former Sambo world champion, is undefeated in 22 professional fights but has not fought in over a year due to injuries. His last fight was in fact against the current champion, Dos Anjos.
With such a long layoff, the UFC might not want to risk putting Nurmagomedov straight in to a title a title fight. Therefore the Russian may be offered a tune up fight against Tony Ferguson who he originally scheduled to face in December for injury ruled him out.
That may give Dos Anjos nothing to do for the first half of 2016 unless the UFC decide to book him another fight. With Pettis scheduled to fight Eddie Alvarez in January, the winner of that fight could earn the next title shot whilst Nurmagomedov fights Ferguson in a number one contenders bout.
Expect Pettis to defeat Alvarez and set up a rematch with Dos Anjos. With the way the Brazilian handled ‘Showtime’ in their first fight, it is difficult to go against the champion retaining his belt. During that time, Nurmagomedov defeats Ferguson in a closer fight than expected to earn a title shot at the end of the year.
The highly anticipated rematch is won by the Russian who ends 2016 unbeaten and the UFC Lightweight champion.
There will be plenty of fighters lining up to be the first man to have a shot at the Russian. Gilbert Melendez will be back from suspension in the summer and will likely return to action during the fall. Nate Diaz is also back in the mix after an impressive win against Michael Johnson. Cerrone will be on the comeback trail after failing to capture the title from Dos Anjos at the end of the 2015. And don’t forget Beneil Dariush who is currently riding a five fight win streak.
Keep posted for the Welterweight preview which will come your way tomorrow.
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