The UFC’s lightweight division is one of the most high-profile weight classes in the sport. The 155-pound roster is full of household names and extremely fun-to-watch talent.
2023 has been a great year for the 155-pound division, as fight fans were given wild moments, great fights, and plenty of high-stakes drama inside the Octagon, and there are still some big lightweight fights taking place before the calendar switches to 2024.
Two highly anticipated lightweight bouts include the rematch between reigning champion Islam Makhachev and Charles Oliveira at UFC 294 in Abu Dhabi and the return of Paddy Pimblett versus Tony Ferguson in December at UFC 296.
When making this list there were plenty of 2023 lightweight memories to pick from, but the UFC.com staff was able to narrow it down to the six standout moments.
Here’s what we came up with:
Jim Miller KOs Jesse Butler
There was no way that we could make a list of the best lightweight moments from 2023 and NOT include Jim Miller’s incredible walk-off knockout win over Jesse Butler.
Miller, who holds UFC records for the most fights and wins in UFC history, added another one to his highlight reel with the 23-second KO. Miller landed two massive left hands that put Butler completely out and proved that the New Jersey native is still one bad dude.
Bobby “King” Green Submits Tony Ferguson At UFC 291
Bobby “King” Green delivered one of his best performances to date when he fought Tony Ferguson at UFC 291 in Salt Lake City.
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Green looked sharp and he put all facets of his game together to dominate the former UFC interim lightweight champion. In the final seconds of the bout, he submitted Ferguson with an arm-triangle choke, which was his first submission win since his UFC debut back in February of 2013.
Diego Ferreira KOs Michael Johnson
Diego Ferreira’s knockout win over Michael Johnson is undoubtedly in the running for knockout of the year.
After a back-and-forth first round, Ferreira connected with an overhand right that sent Johnson falling back to the canvas. Johnson was out as soon as the strike hit the button. It was a huge win for Ferreira, who had been sidelined for a year-and-a-half. The victory reminded people why Ferreira was in the lightweight Top 15 and that he’s got his sights on climbing back up the rankings.
Islam Makhachev Defeats Alexander Volkanovski At UFC 284
Watching Islam Makhachev vs Alexander Volkanovski at UFC 284 was an absolute rollercoaster.
The defending lightweight champion and the defending featherweight champion showed why they are considered two of the best fighters on the planet, putting on a show for all 25 minutes of their fight.
Makhachev’s striking and grappling gave Volkanovski some trouble and banked the 155-pound champ rounds in the eyes of the judges. Volkanovski had some of the bigger moments of the fight, including when he dropped Makhachev toward the end of the fifth round and nearly finished the fight.
The fight was a scored a unanimous decision win for Makhachev but was hardly a loss for Volkanovski. It was the perfect fight to inject some intrigue into what’s next for both men and keep lightweight as one of the most interesting weight classes in the sport.
Charles Oliveira TKOs Beneil Dariush At UFC 289
Beneil Dariush entered UFC 289 on an eight-fight winning streak and with the hopes of getting a shot at the lightweight title, but the former champ had other plans, as Charles Oliveira delivered the statement he needed to call dibs on a rematch with Makhachev.
Oliveira fended off Dariush’s ground-and-pound early in the first round before finding room for a head kick that dazed Dariush. Oliveira smelled blood and pressured Dariush, forcing him to shoot out of desperation. Oliveira transitioned to his own ground-and-pound that prevented Dariush from recovering.
It was another exciting and excellent performance from Oliveira, who now gets a chance to reclaim the lightweight title at UFC 294.
Justin Gaethje KOs Dustin Poirier At UFC 291
The whole MMA community had their eyes glued to the TV when Justin Gaethje and Dustin Poirier threw down at UFC 291. Not only was it a rematch of one of the best fights in recent memory, but it was also a massive fight for the lightweight division.
With the BMF belt on the line, it was Gaethje who came through with a signature moment, landing a head kick that dropped Poirier. Gaethje followed up with an extra strike but that was all the referee needed to see before stopping the bout. Gaethje hit his trademark backflip celebration and was crowned the new BMF champion.
Gaethje will now wait to see who leaves UFC 294 with the belt and he’ll likely be the first up to face the winner of Makhachev and Oliveira. If it’s Oliveira, it’ll be a rematch that Gaethje has been wanting back, and if it’s Makhachev, it’ll be a fight that Gaethje has always wanted.
UFC 294: Makhachev vs Volkanovski 2 took place live from Etihad Arena in Abu Dhabi, UAE on October 21, 2023. See the Final Results, Official Scorecards and Who Won Bonuses - and relive the action on UFC Fight Pass!