Archive for the ‘MMA’ Category

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If you ask UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov about his future, he has an idea of what he wants to have happen but doesn’t know for sure. It depends on what the Nevada State Athletic Commission has to say.

“Honestly, I don’t know nothing about my comeback. We have to wait,” Nurmagomedov said during an interview with Submission Radio. “… Maybe they gonna give me nine months or one year. I don’t know.”

Both Nurmagomedov and Conor McGregor were granted continuances as they wait to receive punishment for their roles in the melee following their UFC 229 headliner, which Nurmagomedov won by submission. For the champion, his hearing is set for Jan. 29. Assuming the NSAC makes its decision, then Nurmagomedov will have a better idea about his future.

Speaking of which, he’d like everyone to understand something very important: Nobody in his inner-circle can agree on what should be next.

“I have a big team – you know, my father, Javier Mendez, my management. And everybody thinks a little bit different,” Nurmagomedov said. “If you talk about it, my father thinks different, Javier thinks different, my management thinks different.”

Why is this important to remember? Because ultimately what Nurmagomedov (27-0 MMA, 11-0 UFC) wants is what matters most. And as he made clear, he and his team collectively will make a decision on what he’ll do after his hearing next week.

So, for instance, when coach Mendez says he wants an immediate rematch with McGregor (21-4 MMA, 9-2 UFC), as he did last week, consider the champ’s stance.

“Right now, if you guys ask me, of course (McGregor) no deserve title shot,” Nurmagomedov said. “He lose. He tapped. It wasn’t a close fight. I dominated him everywhere in every aspect. I beat him. Like I told, I smashed him. Why we need rematch?”

So if not a rematch with McGregor, then what? Nurmagomedov has three specific names in mind to potentially close out his career.

“I don’t know right now, but why not maybe (Georges) St.-Pierre, (Tony) Ferguson and (Floyd) Mayweather?” Nurmagomedov said. “It will be these three guys, and we can retire and become the greatest athlete of all time.”

This isn’t the first time Nurmagomedov has expressed interest in facing these three fighters. UFC President Dana White previously has stated he believes Ferguson deserves the next shot at Nurmagomedov’s title, but the fight has been booked and subsequently canceled four times before. Although any hesitation would be understandable, it’s clear Ferguson (24-3 MMA, 14-1 UFC) remains a top target for Nurmagomedov.

As for fighting St-Pierre (26-2 MMA, 20-2 UFC), it would check all the boxes for Nurmagomedov: legacy, money and an intriguing matchup. The only requirement would seem to be that it takes place at 155 pounds.

“Georges St.-Pierre is a very big name. I like an opponent who is a very tough opponent, and he’s a little bit bigger than me,” Nurmagomedov said. “And if we’re gonna fight, we have to fight at 155, because 170 is his weight, and he’s gonna be a little bit bigger than me. And for me, it’s like a smart decision taking him to 155. And, yes, he’s a very big challenge for me. Like, for my legacy, he’s a very good matchup for my legacy, for fans, for money, for everywhere now. And I don’t know about his future, about his plans, but I respect him.

“In my opinion he’s the greatest athlete who ever competed in the UFC, because he’s a champion inside the cage and outside the cage, too. And we’ll see. But if you ask me about Georges St. Pierre, of course I’m interested in this match.”

Mayweather (50-0 boxing) already has made it clear that the only fight he’d consider with Nurmagomedov is in a boxing ring, which is just fine with the UFC champion, who seems drawn by the idea of spoiling Mayweather’s perfect 50-0 record.

“Mayweather now is old – 41, 42 years old. You know, but he’s a very big name. If we can take very big fish, why not?” Nurmagomedov said. “A lot of people don’t understand about age, about when you did in competition. Like, they think, ‘Oh, Mayweather,’ and that’s it or ‘Conor,’ and that’s it. They don’t know what’s inside. We can take everything what they have. You know, all his 50-0, we can take this because he’s too old, too small, and it’s gonna be smart decision for my future, for legacy, for money, for fans, for everywhere.”

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Former NFL player Greg Hardy took a loss in his UFC debut against Allen Crowder on Saturday night by way of a second-round disqualification.

Hardy, who was in just his fourth professional MMA fight, was aggressive and able to stand in with Crowder early on. But he threw a massive knee with his opponent on the ground in the second frame, prompting referee Dan Miragliotta to intervene. Doctors decided that Crowder shouldn’t continue and the fight was called.

The ex-Carolina Panthers and Dallas Cowboys defensive end had won each of his first three pro MMA bouts before breaking into the UFC in the co-main event of the promotion’s first ESPN card.

Hardy’s history, which includes a domestic violence case that contributed to the end of his NFL career, made his rapid rise and high-profile debut spot a point of controversy for the UFC.

The UFC also drew criticism for having Hardy on the same card as Rachael Ostovich, who had initially been forced to pull out of her fight against Paige VanZant due to injuries suffered in an alleged domestic violence incident with her husband, and MMA fighter, Arnold Berdon.

Crowder improves his professional record to 10-3 with the win, while Hardy falls to 3-1.

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UFC President Dana White thinks Conor McGregor is just as passionate as he’s ever been when it comes to reclaiming UFC championship glory.

Just moments after the UFC announced its new title belt design ahead of Saturday’s UFC on ESPN+ 1 event, McGregor (21-4 MMA, 9-2 UFC) took to social media to announce “I’m back.”

That was music to White’s ears.

“It’s one of the main things I love about Conor McGregor: The belt means a lot to him and being a world champion means everything to him,” White told ESPN in an Instagram chat. “I love it. … 100 percent (it still means everything to him). 100 percent.”

McGregor, the former UFC featherweight and lightweight champion, has not seen action since his submission loss to current 155-pound king Khabib Nurmagomedov (27-0 MMA, 11-0 UFC) at UFC 229 this past October. McGregor and Nurmagomedov still are awaiting punishments from the Nevada State Athletic Commission for their involvement in a post-fight melee, but White hopes to get the Irishman back in the octagon once everything is resolved.

White said he thinks McGregor is eager to return to competition, which he said is a promising sign for an athlete who likely has enough financial security to never fight again.

“When a guy starts to make crazy money, life-changing money, and he’s in one of those positions where he’s not just making it from the fights – he’s making it in other businesses that he has going on right now – you find out what people are all about, how passionate they are about what they do, when the money comes,” White said. “Conor and I still communicate regularly and he’s very fired up about coming back and becoming a world champion again.”

Neither McGregor nor UFC officials have announced a firm timeline for when they’d like the fighter to return, but it’s no secret he would like to run it back with “The Eagle” despite the definitive outcome of their first meeting.

White did not reveal what his desired wishes are for McGregor’s next fight, but reiterated he wants Nurmagomedov again. If the champion backs up his words and won’t take a rematch with McGregor because he “doesn’t deserve” it, White said McGregor will take on any opponent the UFC offers.

“He’ll fight anybody,” White said. “Obviously he would love the rematch with Khabib, but he’ll fight anybody.”

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UFC flyweight Rachael Ostovich had just finished an interview for her fight at UFC on ESPN+ 1 when she ran into Greg Hardy.

So much had been written and said about them up to that moment Wednesday. But even before then, Ostovich had already resolved to meet Hardy in person.

“Ever since the article started blowing up, I knew, ‘I have to meet him,’” Ostovich on Thursday told TSN.com. “I have to go and just squash it and get it out of the way.”

Critics have slammed the UFC’s decision to place Ostovich (4-4 MMA, 1-1 UFC), a victim in a recent alleged domestic violence incident, on the same card as Hardy (3-0 MMA, 0-0 UFC), who carries a conviction for domestic violence, for the promotion’s ESPN debut on Saturday night at Barclays Center. The network repeatedly has declined comment on the situation, while UFC President Dana White has taken an aggressive stance, saying Ostovich’s approval is the only thing that matters.

Ostovich, who faces Paige VanZant (7-4 MMA, 4-3 UFC) on the ESPN+1 main card, understands why people are alarmed at the situation. But she won’t let anything get between her fight, and she’s determined not to let headlines define her experience with former NFL standout Hardy, who meets Allen Crowder (9-3 MMA, 0-1 UFC) in his UFC debut.

“This is a fight,” Ostovich said. “We’re going into a fight Saturday, and we need to make sure we’re not emotionally drained. I just want to make sure my boxes are X’d out, and I’m good to go on Saturday night.

“Speaking with him, I told him, ‘There’s no negative with me and toward you. I know the media can blow things out of proportion, but just to let you know, that’s not my character. I don’t care. I’m actually happy you’re here, and I’m happy you’re making a comeback, and I hope that me and you can work together on different sides and use it for good.’ Show people that, no matter what, you can turn a bad situation into a good one.”

Ostovich previously told MMAjunkie that even while she lay in a hospital bed after her alleged attack, she was determined to remain on the card. Despite suffering a fractured orbital in the alleged attack by her husband, she convinced White to let her face VanZant in what will be her third octagon bout.

“I feel like it’s not only a challenge to myself – fighting in general is one of the most difficult sports not just physically, but mentally all around,” Ostovich told MMAjunkie. “Then I add all of this on me, this extra stuff, it’s really defining. I’m really figuring out and finding out who I am as a person. Hopefully through my life people can get motivated and inspired through it.”

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The lead-up to Rachael Ostovich’s fight at UFC on ESPN+ 1 has been nothing short of tumultuous. She overcame a heavy amount of personal anguish but remains excited for the chance to compete Saturday night.

Less than two weeks after being booked to fight Paige VanZant at UFC on ESPN+ 1, Ostovich (4-4 MMA, 1-1 UFC) was hospitalized with a broken orbital bone after an alleged domestic violence incident with her MMA fighter husband, Arnold Berdon. She was briefly pulled from the fight, but then Ostovich wanted back in.

Ostovich said in the aftermath of the incident that she insisted on fighting because she wanted to be an inspirational figure to others who have experienced domestic violence. She could have easily shied away from her hardships but instead has used it as a platform.

“I had every reason to pull out or not be here today, but I felt it was important to me to fight because of that,” Ostovich told MMAjunkie on Wednesday. “I feel like it’s not only a challenge to myself – fighting in general is one of the most difficult sports not just physically, but mentally all around. Then I add all of this on me, this extra stuff, it’s really defining. I’m really figuring out and finding out who I am as a person. Hopefully through my life people can get motivated and inspired through it.”

UFC on ESPN+ 1 takes place at Barclays Center in Brooklyn. The women’s flyweight bout between Ostovich and VanZant (7-4 MMA, 4-3 UFC) streams on the main card on ESPN+ following prelims on ESPN and ESPN+.

Ostovich said concerns over her physical state were warranted, but mentally she was never turned off from the idea of fighting. Although the UFC would have happily given her another fight during a different time frame, Ostovich made it clear it was important to fight at UFC on ESPN+ 1.

“I actually did not have a moment (where I regretted staying in the fight),” Ostovich said. “I remember being on the hospital bed like still, ‘I need to fight. This is my fight.’ I knew it was something I needed to do. I was crushed when I was pulled out of it. Of course, my dad, my manager, they made a good decision that would be the right decision to make. It was all for my health, and I understand. I never thought that – it was never my choice to not fight. I knew I needed to fight.”

Ostovich admits her training camp was “not ideal,” but she said she “made it work” and is confident in her preparation, especially against VanZant.

“I know Paige is a veteran of the UFC,” Ostovich said. “She’s very well known. I understand this is a big fight. She’s a big name. I know she’s very spunky, she has lots of heart, good conditioning. I’ve got lots of heart, too, and I feel like this is going to be an exciting match, not only for me and Paige, but for the fans as well. I don’t think anybody is going to lose out on this one.”

After enduring so much, Ostovich already is anticipating an outpour of emotions once her bout with VanZant reaches a conclusion. Ostovich is readying herself for victory the same way any fighter should, but given what she’s been through, the Hawaiian believes simply stepping in the octagon on Saturday is an accomplishment worth being proud of.

“I want to get the win,” Ostovich said. “I need to get the win. I feel like it’s my only option at this point, and it’s the only thing I’ve been envisioning, and I want to manifest that. Honestly, I already feel like I won. Just being here I feel like I won. That joy, I take it with me in there. I’m just so excited.”

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After spending 30 months away from the Octagon, former UFC heavyweight champion Cain Velasquez is back.

Velasquez has been riddled with injuries throughout his career but, after taking some much-needed time off to heal, the 36-year-old is fully recovered and feels just like he did when he was younger.

This according to a recent interview with MMA Fighting’s Shaun Al-Shatti.

“I feel like I did [when I was younger],” Velasquez said. “I do. Obviously things are changing — and as far as that, it’s like, I have to be smarter when I train because I could definitely overtrain at any moment. That’s just what I do. But I still definitely do feel the same. I feel like the time off that I’ve had, I’ve been able to work on some stuff that I really can’t when you’re in fight training, because you’re obviously training for a specific guy, just for a specific style. But to not have anything on the books and to be training just kinda the stuff that you want to train, different techniques and stuff, it was great time off.”

American Kickboxing Academy head coach Javier Mendez echoed his students’ sentiment, claiming that Velasquez is looking to ‘regain what he always knew was his’ when he returns to the Octagon next month.

“He’s gotten smarter in training,” Mendez says. “He knows when to back off now. His time off has actually helped him, his body heal, and he’s quick like always. He hits a little harder and he’s motivated more than ever. He’s watched everybody else come onboard, and realistically I think he’s come back to regain what he always knew was his. And once DC’s done, which will be hopefully this year, then Cain will take over. That’s what I’m looking at.”

Before Velasquez reclaims the heavyweight throne, the NCAA Division I wrestling powerhouse will have to get past feared knockout artist Francis Ngannou, who he faces in the UFC on ESPN 1 main event on Feb. 17 at Talking Stick Resort Arena in Phoenix, Arizona.

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After clearing his first drug testing hurdle since becoming UFC light heavyweight champion, Jon Jones is pretty pleased with himself.

Jones, 31, did a verbal victory lap on his two-time opponent, Alexander Gustafsson, who called him a cheater prior to a third-round submission loss at UFC 232.

“Absolutely no jet fuel found,” the newly minted UFC light heavyweight champ wrote on Instagram, tagging Gustafsson in the process. “Just wanted to make sure you saw this. Seemed like that was the only thing you could focus on in our last fight.”

There was also a defiant message for future opponents, first among them Anthony Smith, who’s also made clear his feelings about Jones’ repeated issues with doping.

“Interested to hear the excuses of my next few victims,” Jones said.

Today, the California State Athletic Commission announced Jones passed multiple fight-night drug tests conducted by the commission and the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency. Most notable about Jones’ negative was the absence of M3 metabolite in oral turinabol, which was the catalyst for the last-minute move of UFC 232 from Nevada to California.

Experts said a Dec. 9 positive for M3 was the result of a “pulsing effect” that could potentially see Jones vacilate between positives and negatives for an undefined timeframe. Jones has denied all alongknowingly taking any banned substances, and UFC President Dana White and UFC executive Jeff Novitzky have backed a USADA decision not to rule another anti-doping violation.

Jones’ two-time opponent and former dual champ Daniel Cormier recently questioned whether steroid metabolities are now “part of the deal” in fighting the light heavyweight champ. Smith has said he doesn’t care whether Jones is clean or not.

Later this month, Jones is scheduled to go before the Nevada State Athletic Commission on his Dec. 9 test to “provide an opportunity” for the commission “to determine the appropriate path forward for him in Nevada.”

For complete coverage UFC 232, check out the UFC Events section of the site.