MCGRATH: Ranking the top ten lightweights in MMA

By David McGrath, MMATORCH contributor

Khabib Nurmagomedov (photo credit Adam Hunger © USA Today Sports)

1. Khabib Nurmagomedov (UFC Lightweight Champion)

Nurmagomedov, coming off a dominant win over Conor McGregor is the best lightweight in the world, and my #1 pound for pound fighter. At 27-0 and never being threatened in the octagon, there is a strong chance that the “The Eagle” could retire undefeated.

2. Michael Chandler (Bellator Lightweight Champion)

Chandler has the wrestling chops to compete with Khabib. He is a great ground fighter coming off a win last weekend against Brett Primus. I would love to one day see Chandler in the UFC against the best lightweights in the world.

3. Tony Ferguson

For all intents and purposes, Ferguson is still the lineal lightweight champion in the UFC. Having been stripped because of injury and never losing it means a lot in the rankings. I hope 2019 brings Tony a shot at the title again, against Khabib.

4. Al Iaquinta

Al Iaquinta fought Khabib hard for five rounds on one day’s notice. He then dispatched Kevin Lee last weekend. Iaquinta is one of the best lightweights in the world and deserves a top three opponent .

5. Dustin Poirier

Another worthy contender in a stacked division. Since his loss to Conor McGregor, all Poirier has done is have strong showings against the likes of Eddie Alvarez and Justin Gaethje. In a stacked division I would love to see Poirier battle Al Iaquinta next.

6. Conor McGregor

McGregor, the once two division champion is still a worthy top six fighter. Look for McGregor to take a top five fight early in 2019 and climb back up to #1 contendership.

7. Justin Gaethje

Gaethje is a war horse. An incredible fighter to watch and follow. Coming off an impressive knockout of James Vick, Gaethje needs a top five fight. Look for Gaethje to fight either Al Iaquinta or Edson Barboza in 2019.

8. Kevin Lee

Lee is coming off a tough loss to Iaquinta. Lee is young and still improving and has quality wins against Edson Barboza and Michael Chiesa. I’m expecting Lee to return mid to late 2019

9. Edson Barboza

Barboza is an incredible striker. He also seems to be maturing at the right time with a brutal TKO of Dan Hooker last weekend . I want to see Barboza and Justin Gaethje in 2019. That will give us a very accurate gauge of where they are both at.


10. Eddie Alvarez

I expect Alvarez to dominate in ONE. The former UFC lightweight champion is tough as nails and his fight style is going to be very well received in Asia. Moving to ONE is a great move for Alvarez and I expect him to be the lightweight champion in 2019.

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