Islam Makhachev (@islam_makhachev/Instagram page)

What is There to Look Forward to Ahead of the UFC’s Stacked Summer Schedule?

UFC 300 was an event for the ages. Max Holloway’s stunning buzzer-beater knockout of Justin Gaethje, along with Alex Pereira’s wicked left hook dropping of Jamahal Hill, rightfully stole all the headlines. The company is now gearing up for a stacked summer with three blockbuster cards all headlined by mouthwatering matchups. The company’s most dominant champion will defend his title, one of its most feared rising stars will look to continue his ascent and, finally, the UFC’s biggest-ever icon will make his long-awaited return. So, what is there to look forward to this summer?

Islam Makhachev vs. Dustin Poirier

At the heart of the UFC’s stacked summer schedule is the lightweight championship showdown between reigning champion Islam Makhachev and veteran Dustin Poirier. This fight is a clash of styles, a battle that pits the relentless grappling and sambo skills of the Russian supremo against the proven, battle-tested striking and resilience of the Diamond. Popular odds comparison site, which is currently offering up to $1,000 in bonus bets at Fanatics Sportsbook, currently makes the champion a huge -450 favourite.

The Dagestani-born champion is a fighter who has long been seen as the heir apparent to his mentor, former lightweight kingpin Khabib Nurmagomedov. Just like the Eagle before him, Makhachev brings a suffocating ground game alongside an ever-improving striking arsenal, which was on full display with his recent first-round knockout win against former featherweight champion Alexander Volkanovski. His ascendancy in the 155-pound division has been marked by dominant performances that culminated with his usurping of Charles Oliveira 18 months ago.


Poirier continues to loiter around the division’s summit, despite several losses seemingly halting his progress. He lost to the aforementioned Do Bronx with the lightweight strap on the line, as well as suffering a vicious knockout at the hands of Justin Gaethje. However, on both occasions, Poirier has bounced back with a victory. The most recent was a stunning knockout of French newcomer Benoît Saint-Denis, a victory that put him in line for another title shot despite being down in fourth in the lightweight rankings. Right now, Poirier represents the biggest test of Makhachev’s career.

Robert Whittaker vs. Khamzat Chimaev

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The UFC will head to Saudi Arabia for the first time on June 23rd and they have brought a stellar cast to the kingdom. Former middleweight champion Robert Whittaker will headline the Fight Night card as he takes on rising star Khamzat Chimaev in a bout that has fans and pundits alike buzzing with anticipation. The fight certainly promises fireworks, with the Reaper known for his hard-hitting style while the Chechan-born Swede is known for his ruthless aggression and all-out attacks.

While it is Whittaker who has held championship gold, many expect that Chimaev will pose a formidable challenge. His meteoric rise has been characterized by sheer dominance, and his most recent victory against former welterweight king Kamaru Usman was the biggest of his career. Another victory here will put him in line for a title shot. Whether that comes at middleweight against Dricus Du Plessis, or welterweight against Leon Edwards, remains to be seen.

Whittaker’s experience at the championship level, coupled with his well-rounded skill set, makes this fight anything but a foregone conclusion. The key for the Aussie will be utilizing his lateral movement and striking to keep his opponent at bay, while Chimaev will look to close the distance and impose his will on the ground. It’s a genuine pick ’em fight, but one that is sure to be a banger.

Conor McGregor vs. Michael Chandler

Rounding out the trio of blockbuster summer fights is the highly anticipated return of the UFC’s biggest-ever star Conor McGregor, who is set to take on Michael Chandler. The pair will square off at UFC 303 at the end of August and the contest will surely be one of the highest-grossing in company history. The Notorious One was once the face of the company. He has been out of action since a pair of losses to Dustin Poirier in 2021 and it remains to be seen how much he has left in the tank at the age of 35.

Chandler, meanwhile, has been clamoring for this fight since he made the jump from Bellator. He has just one win in his last four fights, although it was a highlight-reel knockout of Tony Ferguson. He will be hoping for something similar this summer.