UFC Lightweight 2020 Rankings

Published 01/05/2021, 11:08 PM EST
ABU DHABI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES – OCTOBER 25: Khabib Nurmagomedov of Russia celebrates his victory over Justin Gaethje in their lightweight title bout during the UFC 254 event on October 25, 2020 on UFC Fight Island, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. (Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)

As we enter 2021, we look at the lightweight rankings of the UFC. 155 is one of the deepest divisions in the promotion and has some of the best fighters on the planet.


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Champion : Khabib Nurmagomedov

At the top of one of the toughest divisions in the UFC, reigns Khabib Nurmagomedov. Lightweight has always been home to some of the best fighters in the promotion. However, Khabib Nurmagomedov has repeatedly overcome the odds. The Russian champion remains undefeated till this day with a record of 29-0; 13 of those wins coming in the UFC.


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Nurmagomedov captured the title against Al Iaquinta in 2018 and has defended his title three times. He has submitted the likes of Gaethje, Poirier, and McGregor.

Currently also sitting at the top of the UFC’s pound-for-pound list, Nurmagomedov is arguably the greatest lightweight champion in the company’s history. Fans now eagerly expect further news if the ‘Eagle’ will return to the octagon or will relinquish his belt to complete his retirement from the sport.

Read: Dana White to Take Strict Actions Against Piracy of UFC Pay-Per-Views

#1 Justin Gaethje

The American Justin Gaethje is one of the most entertaining fighters in the promotion. ‘The Highlight’ joined the UFC in 2017 from the World Series of Fighting, and after going 1-2 in his first three fights, he finally found his feet in the promotion. Gaethje put together an impressive four-fight win streak to earn his title shot.

ABU DHABI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES – OCTOBER 23: Justin Gaethje poses on the scale during the UFC 254 weigh-in on October 23, 2020 on UFC Fight Island, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. (Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC)

Having finished ‘El Cucuy’ at UFC 249, Gaethje was crowned interim champion, however, in the post-fight interview with Joe Rogan, ‘The Highlight’ threw the belt to the floor and said he wanted the real title.

Gaethje’s wish was granted, and at UFC 254 he faced Nurmagomedov to unify the belts. However, he tapped out in the second round. Nevertheless, he became the second person to outpoint ‘The Eagle’ after having achieved that feat in the opening round.

#2 Dustin Poirier

Hailing from Louisiana in the United States, the MMA fan base has watched Dustin Poirier grow from a young prospect to one of the top lightweights in the world. ‘The Diamond’ made his UFC debut in 2011 and is now 10 years into his career in the promotion. With a record of 26-6, Poirier is one of the best fighters in the division having 19 career finishes.

ATLANTA, GA – APRIL 13: (L-R) UFC President Dana White places the interim lightweight championship belt on Dustin Poirier after defeating Max Holloway in their interim lightweight championship bout during the UFC 236 event at State Farm Arena on April 13, 2019 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)

At UFC 257, Poirier will step into the octagon opposite Conor McGregor. The two lightweights will headline the card at Fight Island on January 23, but fans are yet to find out if the title will be on the line following Khabib’s retirement from the sport. Although Poirier lost the first fight to McGregor via TKO, he believes his skills have grown since then and can help him get the win.

#3 Charles Oliveira

The Brazilian submission specialist has been on a roll of late in the UFC. Coinciding with his change in hairstyle, ‘Do Bronx’ has matured into one of the top lightweight contenders in a deep division. Oliveira is currently on an eight-fight win streak and holds impressive wins over Kevin Lee and Tony Ferguson in 2020.

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA – DECEMBER 11: (L-R) Tony Ferguson and Charles Oliveira of Brazil face off during the UFC 256 weigh-in at UFC APEX on December 11, 2020 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)

Oliveira will now look to finally compete for the biggest prize in the sport, to be a UFC world champion. Having made his debut in 2010, Oliveira has stayed in the promotion, overcoming all obstacles put in front of him. With a record of 30-8, Oliveira is looking like one of the best lightweights in the world.

#4 Conor McGregor

Just like 2020, Conor McGregor will kick off the first UFC pay-per-view of the year in 2021. McGregor has not competed in the octagon since his 40-second win over Donald Cerrone at UFC 246. Now on January 23, the Notorious will make his way to Fight Island to take on Dustin Poirier in a rematch from 2014.

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA – OCTOBER 05: Conor McGregor poses during a ceremonial weigh-in for UFC 229 at T-Mobile Arena on October 05, 2018 in Las Vegas, Nevada. McGregor will challenge UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov for his title at UFC 229 on October 6 at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

A win for Conor would put him back into title contention. With Khabib Nurmagomedov’s supposed retirement all but confirmed, UFC President Dana White still holds a slim chance of a potential Nurmagomedov vs McGregor rematch, the highest selling PPV in the company’s history.

#5 Tony Ferguson

‘El Cucuy’ could be the biggest loser of 2020. The fan-favorite UFC lightweight contender started the year with a fight scheduled for the fifth time against Khabib Nurmagomedov. As history repeated itself, the fight got canceled again because of the emergence of the COVID-19 virus.

LAS VEGAS, NV – OCTOBER 06: Tony Ferguson smiles during his fight against Anthony Pettis at UFC 229 at the T-Mobile Arena on Saturday, October 6, 2018 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Hans Gutknecht/Digital First Media/Los Angeles Daily News via Getty Images)

With Khabib stuck in Russia and global travel bans being imposed, Tony Ferguson accepted an opponent change. He faced Justin Gaethje for the interim lightweight title. Gaethje finished ‘El Cucuy’ in the fifth round and many fans cited Tony’s extra weight cut as one reason for his loss. Subsequently, Ferguson suffered his second loss for 2020 at UFC 256 and will look for a better 2021.

#6 Dan Hooker

New Zealand lightweight contender Dan Hooker will fight Michael Chandler at UFC 257. The two lightweights will be on the same card as Conor McGregor and Dustin Poirier and will have a lot of eyes on them. ‘The Hangman’ recently lost to Dustin Poirier in June 2020 and will look to get back in the win column against the UFC debutant.

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA – JUNE 26: Dan Hooker of New Zealand poses on the scale during the UFC weigh-in at UFC APEX on June 26, 2020 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC)

#7 Rafael dos Anjos

Rafael dos Anjos has been one of the toughest fighters at 155. A former champion, Dos Anjos has beaten the likes of Nate Diaz, Anthony Pettis, Neil Magny, and Robbie Lawler. After an unsuccessful stint at welterweight, Dos Anjos has moved back down to lightweight to mount one last title challenge being 36 years of age. RDA most recently secured a win over Paul Felder at a UFC Fight Night event.

#8 Paul Felder

When Paul Felder accepted the fight against Rafael dos Anjos on less than a week’s notice, it proved to the MMA community what a warrior Felder was. Although he lost the fight, Felder’s stock could not be higher.

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA – NOVEMBER 14: Rafael Dos Anjos of Brazil reacts after his victory over Paul Felder in a lightweight fight during the UFC Fight Night event at UFC APEX on November 14, 2020 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC)

The Irish Dragon has contemplated retirement, but given his last fight, it’s safe to say that he has a lot left in him. Furthermore, he is also one of the best analysts on the UFC commentator team, even going back to work a week after his defeat to RDA.

#9 Diego Ferreira

A relatively unknown name to the UFC fanbase, Ferreira has been in the promotion since 2014. The Brazilian holds a respectable record of eight wins out of 10 in his UFC career. He has beaten the likes of Anthony Pettis, Rustam Khabilov, Jared Gordon, and Olivier Aubin-Mercier while losing to Dustin Poirier and Beneil Dariush. At 35, Ferreira will look to mount a title challenge while still in his prime.

#10 Al Iaquinta

One of the toughest fighters in the division, Al Iaquinta, joined the UFC from The Ultimate Fighter in 2012, losing in the finals to Michael Chiesa. Since then ‘Raging Al’ has been one of the most entertaining fighters on the UFC roster.

Iaquinta is the only fighter in Khabib Nurmagomedov’s last four opponents to go the distance when he stepped in on short notice for the UFC lightweight title. Since his title fight with Khabib in 2018, the American has gone 1-2 in his last three fights.

Rounding out the Top 15

#11 Kevin Lee

#12 Beneil Dariush

#13 Islam Makhachev

#14 Gregor Gillespie


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#15 Drew Dober

– Michael Chandler (Unranked)


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Keith Dsouza

193 articles

Keith D'Souza is part of the Essentially Sports MMA writing team. Having followed the sport since 2013, some of his favorite fighters include Max Holloway, Khabib Nurmagomedov, Conor McGregor, and Johny Hendricks. Keith also runs PureMMAIndia, a brand that promotes MMA over social media which aims at growing the sport in India.