The UFC finally accepted Khabib Nurmagomedov's retirement and opted to fill its suddenly vacant lightweight title with a May 15 bout at UFC 262 between Charles Oliveira and former Bellator champion Michael Chandler.
UFC president Dana White made Nurmagomedov's retirement official when he posted a tweet announcing it. White had been attempting to convince Nurmagomedov to reconsider. Despite several meetings, though, Nurmagomedov opted to keep the promise he made to his mother when he announced in the cage following an Oct. 24 victory over Justin Gaethje at UFC 254 in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, that he would walk away from the sport.
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The surprise is that the UFC opted to fill the title with the bout between Oliveira and Chandler, first reported by ESPN's Brett Okamoto, and not the rubber match between Dustin Poirier and Conor McGregor.
“I don’t want talk about who did or didn’t turn the fight down," White told Yahoo Sports. He said he loves the Oliveira-Chandler matchup and that they earned it with their performances.
“Chandler looked incredible against Hooker and look what Oliveira did to Tony Ferguson,” White said. “I love it. I absolutely love this fight. It’s two savages going at it and it’s going to be an incredible fight. And there are a lot of great fights in that division and now we’re going to get this thing opened up and rolling.”
Since a Dec. 2, 2017, TKO loss to Paul Felder at UFC 218, Oliveira has reeled off eight consecutive victories. The most impressive was the most recent, a Dec. 12 win over Tony Ferguson at UFC 256 on Dec. 12. He had Ferguson in an armbar at the end of Round 1 of that fight and nearly got the submission, but the bell ended his chance.
Oliveira, though, dominated the remainder of the fight.
That now sets him up to face Chandler, who knocked out Dan Hooker in the first round of UFC 257 on the undercard of the rematch between Poirier and McGregor in Abu Dhabi. It was a thunderous KO and then Chandler did a great promo in the cage after the fight, evoking former pro wrestling champion Ric Flair.
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