The lightweight division took center stage on Saturday with a 155-pound doubleheader atop UFC 257 in Abu Dhabi, which produced a number of next-day headlines.
From Conor McGregor being stopped on strikes for the first time in his professional career to Dustin Poirier and Michael Chandler scoring the biggest victories of their respective careers, there was no shortage of stunning moments and giant takeaways from what went down inside Etihad Arena. Let's take a closer look at the five biggest ones from Saturday.
1. Dustin Poirier is a living legend
The shadow casted by McGregor's large star kept most of the narratives surrounding Poirier's journey to UFC 257 on the backpage. But talk about a mountain top moment to an already great career. Two fights removed from a one-sided title loss to Khabib Nurmagomedov, Poirier never stopped evolving. Nurmagomedov will likely retire as the greatest 155-pounder in UFC history, but Poirier proved on Saturday he's the best active one and among the best fighters the sport has ever seen. Poirier improved to an incredible 11-2 (1 NC) since his 2014 loss to McGregor at featherweight in their first fight with victories over Anthony Pettis, Eddie Alvarez, Justin Gaethje, Max Holloway, Dan Hooker and now McGregor along the way. There wasn't a UFC title at stake on Saturday and -- in hindsight -- there probably should have been. Either way, Poirier fulfilled his potential on this night and did so by decisively beating the man whose victory over him six years ago forced the kind of changes to Poirier's career that fueled his incredible evolution.
Poirier is hoping to get a similar ending to that of Nurmagomedov if all goes according to plan, while continuing his philanthropic efforts.
"It was the taste, it was getting older, turning 32, having a piece of that belt and thinking about that shadowing… forever that I'm an interim world champion. I don't know how many fights I have left, but when I walk away, I'd love to be the world champion," Poirier said after the fight. "I just want to be the champ. I've put in all the work. I've done everything you can do in this sport except raise that undisputed world title in the air and that's what I want to do, but we'll see. I'm not in a rush to fight again. I just want to go home, sell some hot sauce."
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2. Poirier-Chandler is the fight to make
Has anyone in UFC history had a better first night than Chandler? The former Bellator MMA lightweight champ stopped Dan Hooker in his debut and did a backflip off the top of the cage before calling out McGregor and Nurmagomedov in a pro wrestling-inspired promo. With McGregor losing, UFC president Dana White no longer has a reason to keep up the charade that Nurmagomedov still wants to fight one more time. Poirier deserves to fight for the title next and Chandler is equally deserving as the opponent, with all due respect to fellow top contender Charles Oliveira. Chandler received a huge opportunity from UFC with this co-main event placement opposite McGregor and the result greatly exceeded any form of reasonable expectations. UFC would be wise to capitalize on that by giving him a shot at Poirier for the vacant belt.
3. McGregor enters an interesting crossroads
If there has been one constant throughout McGregor's unique run as the biggest draw in UFC history, his ability to deal with defeat so humbly and honestly has typically been a huge part of helping him quickly rebuild himself. But there were certainly elements to this loss that felt different. McGregor didn't beat himself like his UFC 196 loss to Nate Diaz could've been explained considering it exposed his small gas tank. This also wasn't the result of a difficult style matchup that would always be one like his UFC 229 title defeat to Nurmagomedov. This time, McGregor was beaten the exact way he typically wins fights. The image of McGregor seated against the cage wall after being saved by the referee was certainly an enduring one. And even though McGregor talked after the fight of increasing his activity and getting right back in the cage to attempt to right this wrong, a second straight defeat in this manner to anyone in his historically deep division would have a disastrous result on McGregor's future. Knowing McGregor, he will likely be true to his word and look to fight whomever is next in line in hopes of securing a third fight with Poirier, which would be a pay-per-view blockbuster should both fighters get there. But knowing the reality of the division, that would mean defeating someone like Gaethje or Tony Ferguson, which would be no easy task.
4. Chandler was everything he said he would be
One never quite knows whether fighters who have had huge success outside of the UFC will be able to equal that once they reach the Octagon. Fans and critics debated for years where Chandler, who held the Bellator MMA lightweight title three separate times, would rank in the UFC's top 10. It turns out, pretty high. Chandler wasted little time in rocking division stalwart Hooker with a rocket left hook before finishing him with strikes in the opening round. Chandler overcame the size differential between the two by making his right hand a feared weapon from the start by cocking it and stalking Hooker with it. A victory like this now makes him a legitimate knockout threat to anyone in the top 10. Throughout a career that has featured equal highs and lows, Chandler believed in himself throughout and was ready when his moment finally came.
5. No one is ever safe in women's strawweight
This was supposed to be Amanda Ribas' coming-out party as a new title contender at 115 pounds. Instead, her showdown against fellow top-10 fighter Marina Rodriguez ended in disastrous fashion via second-round TKO. Although referee Herb Dean's questionable handling of the stoppage seemed to confused everyone, it didn't stop Rodriguez from making sure her name wasn't forgotten among the division's toughest outs. Ribas entered this all-Brazilian showdown with tons of momentum and a well-rounded game but Rodriguez's power and precision won out instead.