With their next PPV just two weeks away, the UFC has found themselves doing a bit of scrambling. Originally set to be co-mained by a long awaited rematch between former UFC middleweight champion Chris Weidman and former Ultimate Fighter finalist Uriah Hall, who originally met back in 2010 for a vacant Ring of Combat belt.
That fight, unfortunately, has been pushed back until April—following Weidman’s COVID-19 diagnosis. Even with a welterweight championship on the docket, without the battle of top-ranked middleweights, the February 13th card has ended up looking just a little spare.
So it doesn’t come as too big a surprise that the world’s largest MMA organization has been looking to book another top quality action scrap to keep their latest pay-per-view offering strong. To that end, Brazilian MMA site AG Fight reports that the UFC offered Charles Oliveira a matchup with former Bellator champion and recent UFC debutee Michael Chandler.
Chandler and Oliveira are both prime candidates for a shot at the UFC lightweight title, seemingly recently vacated by Khabib Nurmagomedov. And while it seems like a rather important fight to toss together on just a couple week’s notice, apparently the time frame isn’t the reason that it won’t be going down.
Along with news of the offer, AG Fight also reports that Oliveira has declined the bout. Not because he wants more time to prepare, but because he’s solely focused on getting his shot at UFC gold next time he returns to the cage. At the moment, it appears that any path to the title will likely lead through Dustin Poirier—coming off his massive KO of Conor McGregor back on January 24th.
How the UFC decides who their next contender will be, and just when they can put together a fight for the lightweight belt is still very much up in the air. But, for now, it seems to mean fans won’t be seeing much of the lightweight elite back in competition.
UFC 258 is set to take place on Saturday, February 23rd in Las Vegas, NV. The card is expected to be headlined by a welterweight title fight between Kamaru Usman and Gilbert Burns. Bouts between Maycee Barber & Alexa Grasso, Kelvin Gastelum & Ian Heinisch, and Pedro Munhoz & Jimmie Rivera have also been penciled in for the main card.