Creating a Top 10 for the Hypothetical UFC 165-Pound Division

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UFC Oklahoma City winner Kevin Lee
Credit: Dave Mandel/Sherdog.com

The highly rumored 165-pound division continues to evade reality, but join me in picturing what could be the UFC top 10 for the weight class.

As always in the world of MMA, it is fun to look forward and play along with the mythical rumors that as we know all too well may never come to fruition. In this case, we look into the 165-pound division, which is wanted by UFC fans and fighters alike, but president Dana White is against the idea of it.

With a wild amount of options, and only 10 slots to fill, some fighters will be overlooked. In what Dustin Poirier and Nate Diaz have called the “Superfight Division” due to the idea that it could bring superstars from multiple divisions together. Although Dana continues to shoot this idea down, Poirier and Diaz were rumored to be involved in a title fight for the new belt at UFC 230, which never happened.

Honorable Mentions:

Khabib Nurmagomedov: Yes, I’ll be the first to admit this is a division Khabib would still thrive in, make weight easier and still probably be a champion BUT the fact of the matter is he is a champion in 155. With that belt, I don’t see the need to include the Russian.

Dustin Poirier: Another 155er who would do very well in the new division, but with an interim lightweight championship fight coming up, I think 155 is the future for Poirier as of now.

Conor McGregor: We have seen him win at 145, at 155 and at 170. Love or hate him, he is a talented athlete. Although I think McGregor would be enticed by the idea of 165, I believe 155 showcases McGregor at his finest (see Alvarez dismantling).

Georges St-Pierre: Retired. The two fighters who have been brought up to bring this legend back to the cage are Conor McGregor and Khabib Nurmagomedov. The only place those fights can take place is 170, unless we see a 165-pound division.

Nick Diaz: Much like his brother, 165 would be a perfect stomping ground for the Stockton native, but we don’t know if we will ever see Nick in the Octagon again so he is left out.

The Top 10:

10. Charles Oliveira/Neil Magny

9. Michael Chiesa

8. Nate Diaz

7. Gunnar Nelson

6. Donald Ceronne

5. Jorge Masvidal

4. Rafael Dos Anjos

3. Kevin Lee

2. Ben Askren

  1. Tony Ferguson

Of course, there are many names that could grace this top 10, some of the best fighters on the roster at both 155 and 170 would be intrigued by the idea of this new division.

  • Charles Oliveira has fought at multiple divisions, from 155 to 145. He is riding a four-fight win streak and might be willing to test his submission skills in the new division.
  • Neil Magny will look for a new opening as he has somewhat been lost in the mix at 170 after a 2-2 record in his last 4. Magny had opportunities with dos Anjos and Santiago Ponzinibbio to get his name into the top-five at welterweight, but came up short.
  • Michael Chiesa had an amazing debut at 170 after some rough weight cuts at lightweight, here is a middle ground that could work perfectly.
  • One of the most vocal voices for a 165 division is Nate Diaz. The only reason I have him at eight is due to inactivity. He could easily be much higher on this list and would be a key part of this new division.
  • Gunnar Nelson impressed with a violent win over Alex Oliveira, and would look to impress at 165 which will have more openings compared to welterweight. It may also be more appropriate for his relatively smaller frame compared to the division’s elite.
  • Donald Cerrone has been back and forth between a top-ten ranking at both 170 and 155, so it is not surprising that he would jump all over the middle ground.
  • Jorge Masvidal is on a two-fight losing streak against some of the welterweight division’s best, so 165 will rekindle the career path of the former lightweight with some new contenders.
  • Rafael dos Anjos is perfect for this list. A champion at 155 before losing his belt and moving up to 170. He went on a 3-0 run before losing two in a row. RDA belongs in this potential division’s top five.
  • A top lightweight contender who has had trouble making weight repeatedly, Kevin Lee has spoken about the idea of going up in weight to 170 but has yet to do it. Perhaps 165 is the perfect weight for the former title challenger.
  • Ben Askren was acquired in a trade late last year and already has a big top-10 fight in the welterweight division. Askren would not fight his teammate, welterweight champion Tyron Woodley if it comes to that. If Askren flourishes, Dana White would want a belt around Askren’s waist, so 165 is the answer.
  • Lastly, the man who should be a champion, or at least be given the chance to challenge for a belt, Tony Ferguson. With Poirier and Holloway fighting for an interim lightweight belt, and a McGregor rematch possibility for both fighters looming, Ferguson may have to look to a new division to get the gold he deserves.

Feel free to comment with changes you would make, fighters you would include or not include and why!

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