The UFC’s lightweight division is a hot mess now. Dustin Poirier shocked the world over the weekend, dropping Conor McGregor in the second round of their main event in Abu Dhabi. McGregor, at times, looked brilliant, but was ultimately exposed as human in what has become the most interesting division in the mixed martial arts world. Poirier’s win was one for the ages, given most had counted out “Diamond” long before the two fighters even made their way to the Middle East and into the Yas Island bubble. UFC 257 was supposed to provide fans with some clarity. McGregor was supposed to remind the world he is still a contender, and Dan Hooker was supposed to show everyone that you can’t just walk into the UFC like Michael Chandler and beat a top ranked fighter in any division out of the blue. Alas, neither of those things happened over the weekend on Fight Island, as we got storylines and narratives thrown in the blender. Where this division goes from here is anyone’s guess, but one thing is for certain – the lightweight belt may long be known as Nurmagomedov’s. After “The Eagle” dispatched Justin Gaethje at UFC 254 in October, Nurmagomedov broke down in tears, dedicated the fight to his late father, and subsequently announced his retirement from the fight game. Zoom ahead to this past weekend and there were rumblings UFC president Dana White had convinced the Dagestani star to at least see if someone did something spectacular on the first pay-per-view of the year. UFC 257: Poirier keen to ‘whip’ Nate Diaz next, not Chandler Amazing things did happen, but they were upsets and not confirmation wins of any kind. Poirier is now the top lightweight (if we are to believe Nurmagomedov stays retired) and the most logical fight for him next would be a championship showdown against Charles Oliveira, who dispatched with what we could now call a “former” lightweight contender in Tony Ferguson last month. Or White could line up Poirier against Gaethje, as the two Americans seem to be hitting their veteran primes at the same time. But this does not solve the problem that every fighter mentioned in this column would still probably not be much of a challenge for Nurmagomedov at this point. He beat Gaethje convincingly, apparently with a broken foot. He downed Poirier at UFC 242 in September of 2019 via submission, and we all know how things played out against McGregor back in 2018. The fighters Nurmagomedov hasn’t squared off against don’t necessarily bring fear, or headlines, into the eyes of any UFC fan at this moment. Chandler probably needs to prove he’s not a one hit wonder and dispatch another legitimate lightweight foe before he gets a sniff at the title, and Hooker looked like he may be on the way down given he’s lost two in a row, the previous to Poirier in June of last year. No one in their right mind thinks Oliveira would pose any threat to Nurmagomedov, and that is pretty much it when it comes to fighters worth mentioning in this division. Ferguson was thought to be that guy at one moment, but his decline started with a loss to Gaethje and a hole he seems unable to get back out of. As stacked as this division is, it also has one clear king, and a ruler who may never fight again inside the Octagon. It has some of the same hallmarks as Jon Jones’ run in the light heavyweight division. Sans a few rounds against Dominick Reyes at UFC 247 in February of last year, Jones ran rampant through the division as far back as 2011. Of course he was stripped of his belt for some outside-the-cage issues, including doping test failures, but it does not mean he was not the most dominant fighter that division has ever seen. Jones’ move to heavyweight shows a fighter looking for a fresh challenge, and Nurmagomedov finds himself in the same spot, looking for real fights against potential doppelgangers. No matter who ends up taking his vacated belt (the safe money is on Gaethje or Poirier), neither makes a compelling case for a rematch against the Russian. McGregor had that chance had he dispatched Poirier this past weekend, but he looked more like a fighter who’s spent the better part of the past two years selling whisky rather than slogging it out in the lightweight trenches. View this post on Instagram A post shared by Khabib Nurmagomedov (@khabib_nurmagomedov) Nurmagomedov can walk from the sport and the division knowing he downed every challenger who was seen as a legitimate threat to his throne and remarkable reign. He did so in convincing fashion too, never once looking like any of his opponents stood much of a chance against him, and that his eventual win was always a foregone conclusion. The lightweight belt will soon have a new holder, and the division will move on without the Russian, probably swapping hands for the foreseeable future as a number of fighters engage in a veritable dogfight. But this will not change the narrative one bit that Nurmagomedov is well within the “GOAT” (greatest of all-time) debate, because when he walked away from the sport, there was basically no one left to beat.