This UFC lightweight title fact might surprise you ahead of UFC 302

Here's a rather surprising fact about UFC lightweight champions since the year 2016.
Oct 22, 2022; Abu Dhabi, UAE;   Islam Makhachev (blue gloves) celebrates with the title belt after
Oct 22, 2022; Abu Dhabi, UAE; Islam Makhachev (blue gloves) celebrates with the title belt after / Craig Kidwell-USA TODAY Sports

The UFC lightweight title will be on the line at UFC 303 when reigning champion Islam Makhachev looks for another title defense, this time versus former interim champion and major fan favorite Dustin Poirier. But before we can get there, we've learned an interesting fact about the lightweight title that the average fan might not know yet.

It’s been nearly eight years since a lightweight champion has lost the 155-pound title in a championship bout. Yep, please read that again, it's true. One of the most exciting and difficult divisions in the UFC has seen four champions since Eddie Alvarez, but none of them have lost their title in the cage. Here’s a closer look at how things have unfolded in the division since that magical night in 2016 at the Madison Square Garden.

Conor McGregor was at the peak of his powers in the mid-2010s. Having won the featherweight title at UFC 194 in 2015, McGregor then set his sights on Alvarez in a bid to become the UFC's first-ever double champion. With a spectacular second-round TKO over Alvarez at UFC 205 in November 2016, McGregor became the first fighter in the history of the promotion to hold two belts simultaneously. A wave of superstardom placed McGregor among the elites of the fight game.

What followed then was a long spell of inactivity, starting with waiting for his first child's birth and then going on to fight Floyd Mayweather in a professional crossover boxing spectacle. With the lightweight division being held up for over 15 months, McGregor was stripped of his title and Khabib Nurmagomedov ended up becoming the undisputed champion after a dominant win over Al Iaquinta at UFC 223.

The UFC lightweight title has not been lost in the cage since 2016

Nurmagomedov, then went on to beat McGregor in his first title defense at UFC 229 in October 2018, which added fuel to the fire of an already heated rivalry. Nurmagomedov then made light work of Dustin Poirier and Justin Gaethje, making it three successful title defenses. Following his second-round win over Gaethje at UFC 254 in October 2020, Nurmagomedov decided to hang up his gloves, leaving the lightweight title up for grabs. Although UFC president Dana White tried his best to persuade Nurmagomedov to stay in the sport, it was to no avail.

Seven months later at UFC 261 in May 2021, Charles Oliveira and Michael Chandler squared off in a bid to clinch the vacant lightweight belt. After a tough first round, Oliveira came back the stronger man in the second, earning a TKO win over Chandler. The Oliveira era in the lightweight division had just begun. However, Oliveira almost always has had a troubled weight cut. Following a successful title defense over Poirier at UFC 269, Oliveira was stripped of the lightweight title for missing weight ahead of his fight against Gaethje at UFC 274.

Although Oliveira beat Gaethje by submission in the very first round, he was ineligible to win the title and had to fight the surging Islam Makhachev for the vacant title. A much-anticipated clash at UFC 280, saw Makhachev come up trumps to be the newest UFC lightweight champion. Since then, Makhachev has successfully defended his title twice, with both wins coming against Alexander Volkanovski. The wait for a UFC lightweight champion to lose his belt in a title fight since 2016 goes on.

We'll have to wait and see what happens at UFC 303 to see if the unbeaten streak continues.


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