Outlook: Lightweight isn’t short of championship-level fighters, and it isn’t short on dealing some heartbreak to deserving ones as well. Paul Felder has shown he has the ability and toughness to compete with the top of the division, but in a make or break fight against Dan Hooker, “The Irish Dragon” fell short. He hinted at a potential retirement, but until that’s final, Felder has the power, technique and grit to make any fight against a top contender a competitive one. Same goes for one of the truest O.Gs in the game, Donald Cerrone. Nobody doubts Cowboy’s credentials, but his path is a little murky. After spending some time at 170 pounds, Cerrone announced his intention to go for the 155-pound belt, inspired by the birth of his son. He proceeded to wow fans by taking out Alexander Hernandez and Al Iaquinta in a form that many might call the best version we’d seen of Cerrone. A fun fight with Tony Ferguson was cut short when Cerrone blew his nose, causing his eye to swell shut and forcing a doctor’s stoppage. Since then, Cerrone’s momentum halted as he suffered first-round TKO losses to Justin Gaethje and Conor McGregor. He’s not going anywhere, though, so it’s only a matter of time before Cowboy rides a wave of momentum again. Speaking of momentum, Charles “Do Bronx” Oliveira appears primed to move from “dark horse” status to real contender. Winner in eight of nine bouts, with finishes in each, since returning to lightweight, he made his biggest statement in his third-round submission win over Kevin Lee. He holds the record for submission wins in the UFC and is somehow still just 30 years old, and with the improved striking he showed in his last few fights, he is as lethal a fighter as anyone in the talent-rich lightweight division.
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