Khabib, McGregor, Oliveira, Gaethje, Poirier: UFC's greatest ever lightweights ranked

UFC's greatest lightweights ranked

Ahead of the monster clash between Charles Oliveira and Justin Gaethje at UFC 274 this weekend, as well as Michael Chandler vs Tony Ferguson, here are the greatest UFC lightweight fighters of all time, ranked as per

15 – Jens Pulver

Kicking off the list is Jens Pulver. “Little Evil” was the inaugural lightweight champ of the UFC over decades ago now and he called it a day in 2014.

14 – Conor McGregor

Next on the list is arguably the most famous name in all of combat sports. “The Notorious” Conor McGregor will forever be an icon with his showmanship as well as his lightning quick knockout ability. The fact that the Irishman is 14th, however, shows you that there is more to the UFC than being the headline act.

13 – Sean Sherk

Back to another American in the form of Sean Sherk. Following on from Pulver, the aptly name Sherk was the second ever champion of the lightweight division in the UFC.

12 – Donald Cerrone

If you wanted evidence that UFC 274 was worth a watch, the first of three competitors on this list that will be in action is the next name. The veteran Donald Cerrone is tied for the most wins in history and will take on Joe Lauzon next.

11 – Justin Gaethje

Talking of UFC 274 and here is the headliner himself Justin Gaethje. His bout with Oliveira is one of the most highly anticipated contests of the year and it isn’t hard to see why. Since mid-December 2021, “The Highlight” has been atop of the lightweight rankings in the UFC.

Justin Gaethje
LAS VEGAS, NEVADA – DECEMBER 11: Justin Gaethje attends the UFC 269 event at T-Mobile Arena on December 11, 2021 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images)

10 – Tony Ferguson

The first name in the top 10 is the experienced Tony Ferguson. 12 of Ferguson’s 25 UFC wins have come by way of knockout showing just how explosive he can be inside the Octagon.

9 – Eddie Alvarez

Drake rapped about being an Underground King on Take Care and the man with that nickname in the UFC is Philly-native Eddie Alvarez. Some would argue that the former champion should be higher on this list with Fight Matrix ranking him third in their standings. Maybe once he’s retired, history will reflect on him more favourably.

8 – Rafael dos Anjos

Rafael dos Anjos was scheduled to fight his namesake Rafael Fiziev back in March but the latter had visa issues and so it never went ahead. The pair will be meeting again, though, now on July 9, and it promises to be a big one!

7 – Charles Oliveira

Charles Oliveira
LAS VEGAS, NEVADA – DECEMBER 11: Charles Oliveira of Brazil celebrates after defeating Dustin Poirier to defend his lightweight title during the UFC 269 event at T-Mobile Arena on December 11, 2021 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images)

Coming in at seven is a name that has cropped up already on this list. Charles Oliveira is the man lying in wait for Justin Gaethje this weekend and although Gaethje is atop of the rankings, the Brazilian is the man in possession of the belt. Or at least was, until he failed to make weight ahead of UFC 274 this weekend.

6 – Anthony Pettis

Anthony Pettis has a number of big stats to his name. These include being the final WEC lightweight champion before UFC took it over and also being the only ever fighter to knockout “Wonderboy” himself Stephen Thompson.

5 – Benson Henderson

Benson Henderson may be a Bellator fighter now but he previously was a man to beat in the UFC. Like with Pettis, Henderson joined the UFC as a result of them merging with World Extreme Cagefighting.

4 – Frankie Edgar

Frankie Edgar
NEW YORK, NY – NOVEMBER 11: Frankie Edgar reacts during UFC 205 Weigh-ins at Madison Square Garden on November 11, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)

His best days may be behind him at the elite level, but Frankie Edgar is a name engrained in the history of lightweight fighting. After winning the title from BJ Penn, he defended it successfully three times until Benson Henderson got the better of him. Twice in fact, these being his second and third defeats in the UFC.

3 – BJ Penn

Talking of BJ Penn and he has the last laugh as he pips Edgar to the bronze medal spot. Having lost his last seven fights, winning just one in his last 11, three of which coming at the hands of Edgar, it is clear that his earlier days defined his success.

2 – Dustin Poirier

It seems only right that “The Diamond” be the man who collects silver. Dustin Poirier fought for the lightweight title in 2019 and 2021, against Khabib Nurmagomedov and Charles Oliveira respectively, losing both times. That being said, Poirier was part of several fights of the night and was named performer of the night too.

Khabib Nurmagomedov

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

Whilst BJ Penn has a red streak in his recent bouts, Russian Khabib Nurmagomedov has a green one. This is, of course, because Khabib has never been bested in the Octagon no matter who has tried. The likes of Gaethje, McGregor, Poirier and Edson Barboza have all fought him, but to no avail. There is no questioning that Khabib is the greatest lightweight in the history of the UFC and probably will be for many years to come.

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