While 2016 has not been the busiest year in terms of fights for undefeated welterweight prospect James Nakashima, it has been a growing year.
Injuries have kept Nakashima from fighting all but once so far in 2016, but he’s been able to use the time wisely and more fully develop his game.
“I’ve had a few injuries and that’s the only reason I’ve been out,” Nakashima told MMAWeekly.com. “Adversity is just one of those things you have to get through in MMA.
“With a broken hand, I wasn’t able to do much wrestling or jiu-jitsu, or hit with it or anything, so all I was able to work on was my one hand with my boxing coach, and that’s one thing I was able to build. I’ve definitely built on my skillset.”
In his lone fight this past February against Brad Darrington at RFA 35, Nakashima once again won a unanimous decision for the fifth straight time, but he feels he was able to be more proactive than before in the bout.
“Every fight, I’m opening up more and more,” said Nakashima. “In the practice room, I’m always a little more aggressive than I am in my competition. That’s one thing: I’m getting more comfortable in cage, the more I start to open up.
“Even though I wasn’t able to finish, I was happy with my tenacity and aggressiveness.”
Nakashima (5-0) will look to continue his winning streak when he takes on Dez Hill (8-3) in a co-main event welterweight bout at RFA 46 on Friday in Branson, Mo.
“I feel like I’m a race horse ready to come right out of the gate,” Nakashima said. “I’m looking at (using) calculated aggression.
“To me it’s not so much about my opponent. All I can focus on is me, and taking care of the things I can take care of. If I totally submit to the things that I’ve been working on and growing to and my strategy, I think things will be just fine.”
After missing so much time in 2016, Nakajima is eager to be as active as he can in the coming months and work his way up the welterweight ranks.
“If I can stay healthy in this fight, I would love to fight the next week after that or two weeks after that,” said Nakashima. “I’m well-prepared, well-coached, so my goal for 2017 is staying healthy. I love this game, and I’m ready to string off some fights.”
(Courtesy of MMAFightingonSBN)
Following a nearly two-year layoff, former UFC lightweight Rob Emerson returned to action in June at Victory FC 51 against Shawn West to pick up a second-round submission win.
For Emerson, the win over West was proof positive that he made the right changes to his game in his time off to become a top tier fighter once again.
“(West) was a game fighter,” Emerson told MMAWeekly.com. “I was coming off a year-and-a-half layoff, and I didn’t see any ring rust, my body responded well to the weight cut (to 135 pounds), and the performance was good.
“I thought that fight was a good display that shows the changes I’ve made as an athlete. It wasn’t so much the physical, but a mental change. I’ve learned so much about the mental game and believing in yourself and visualization and stuff like that.”
“People have told me that I’m a champion from the neck down; I just had to fix what was up in my head,” said Emerson. “I believe that I’ve gone out there and done that. I feel like I’m a new man; not just a new fighter, but a new athlete; and my performances have shown it.”
Emerson (18-11) will look for the second win of his comeback when he takes on Ryan Roberts (21-11-1) in a 145-pound championship main event at Victory FC 54 on Friday in Omaha, Neb., to be broadcast on UFC Fight Pass.
“I just feel I have to get out there, get aggressive and hurt (Roberts),” Emerson said. “He’s a smaller-framed guy, stocky, but he’s been in the game a long time and has a lot of experience himself. He’s got a lot of muscle, but with that being said, it takes a lot of oxygen to run that muscle.
“We’ll see if he’s done the work or not. I’m going to come out in the first round and put it on him and see if he breaks or not. If he doesn’t break, I’ll keep at it until he does break. I’m going to win this fight by knockout 100 percent.”
Should Emerson pick up back-to-back wins for the first time in over two years, and with a title in hand, he sees no reason why he can’t make his move back up to the biggest stage of MMA in 2017.
“I think every fighter fights to get into the UFC,” said Emerson. “I feel like I’m in my prime right now. I just want to put on performances that people want to watch over and over again, and people want to talk about.
“I think I can definitely cause some waves in the bantamweight and featherweight division in the UFC. I believe I’ll be going there 100-percent after getting this title.”
Conor McGregor was fined $150,000 and assessed 50 hours of community service by the Nevada Athletic Commission in October, but it appears that he is challenging the penalty.
McGregor went before the NAC for disciplinary action after he, Nate Diaz, and Diaz’s team hurled water bottles at each other in the middle of the UFC 202 pre-fight press conference in August. After much deliberation, which resulted in shifting away from a proposed fine of $300,000, the Nevada commission settled on the aforementioned sanctions.
Though he was amiable during his disciplinary hearing, McGregor didn’t take kindly to the punishment, later telling Rolling Stone, “I don’t see Nevada in my future, for the foreseeable future, is how I see it.”
McGregor has now filed a petition for judicial review in Clark County, Nevada, naming NAC Executive Director Bob Bennett and the NAC as respondents. MMAJunkie.com first reported the news on Wednesday.
A hearing for the case has yet to be scheduled.
There’s no immediate concern that the case might interfere with McGregor’s schedule, as UFC president Dana White on Tuesday said that the promotion’s first dual-division champion is taking 10 months off for maternity leave. McGregor and his girlfriend are expecting their first child.
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The history of trying to organize mixed martial arts fighters has been riddled with competing factions that can’t seem to get on the same page in representing the fighters’ best interests. And it doesn’t look like that is going to change any time soon.
Attorneys representing Cung Le, Jon Fitch, Nate Quarry and other fighters in a class action lawsuit filed against the UFC in 2014, sent a letter to Bjorn Rebney about the recently announced Mixed Martial Arts Athletes Association, claiming he and his “investors” are being less than forthright about their intentions, and warning that their attempt to achieve a “settlement” with the UFC could compromise the efforts of their lawsuit and divide the efforts of fighters attempting to organize.
“As you must be aware, the fighters are better off united than divided, and thus your attempts to sow division operate to no one’s advantage but Zuffa’s,” said the letter from attorneys Eric L. Cramer, Michael Dell’Angelo, Joseph R. Saveri, and Benjamin D. Brown, which was obtained by BloodyElbow.com.
The class-action attorneys went on to detail the alleged improprieties of Rebney’s group when they all met late last year.
“Worse, as we both know—but which you have failed to disclose publicly—you, your investors, and your legal team had previously sought to be included in our efforts to prosecute the UFC Class Action—as long as you and your investors could share in any recovery. Indeed, well after the UFC Class Action was underway, at the invitation of Ken Pavia, Class Counsel agreed to attend an October 15, 2015, meeting with you (as the former CEO of Bellator), representatives of Creative Artists Agency (‘CAA’), Mr. Pavia and your lawyers at the offices of CAA in New York.
“You and your representatives told us that you had formed the MMAAA, which (you then said) was supported by ‘hundreds’ of current and former MMA fighters. You claimed further that you had contemplated starting your own rival antitrust action if Co-Lead Counsel did not meet certain demands. Five days later, on October 20, 2015, the ‘Mixed Martial Arts Athletes Association’ was registered with the California Secretary of State and assigned entity number C3836158.2
“Ten days after the meeting at CAA, on October 25, 2015, your attorneys presented us with your demands. You proposed that we, as Co-Lead Counsel, promise to devote a certain percentage of any class-wide recovery in the Class Action to the MMAAA, which monies you told us would be used for compensating unnamed ‘investors’ for unspecified expenses incurred in establishing the organization, among other things. You further demanded that your representatives should be allowed full participation in any settlement negotiations that might occur in the Class Action. As you know, we rejected your demands because we believed that they were neither consistent with applicable canons of professional ethics, nor with our duties as Co-Lead Class Counsel to protect the interests of all UFC fighters in the proposed classes that the Court appointed us (and not you or your lawyers) to represent.”
The MMAAA, of course, was quick to respond. Attorneys Jim Quinn and Eric Hochstadt sent the following statement to MMAWeekly.com:
“As Georges St-Pierre, Donald Cerrone, T.J. Dillashaw, Tim Kennedy, and Cain Velasquez made clear in the official public announcement last week, the Mixed Martial Arts Athlete Association (“MMAAA”) is all about looking out for the fighters and their well-being long-term.
“Yesterday, the MMAAA received a ‘cease and desist’ letter from a group of lawyers seeking to stop the MMAAA from signing up fighters and sticking up for their rights against the UFC and its owners WME-IMG. The MMAAA will do no such thing. Those lawyers – who represent only a few fighters – are focused on getting some money out of one case, of which they seek a significant portion for themselves. Those lawyers do not speak for anyone else, and certainly not the MMAAA and all the fighters the organization represents now and will quickly grow to represent in the sport.
“Over a year ago, those same lawyers reached out to the MMAAA to join forces with us. We had a meeting and made clear that the MMAAA’s primary focus would be on achieving three core goals: 1) substantially increasing UFC fighter pay to 50%; 2) securing all-encompassing long term benefits for UFC fighters; and 3) a settlement to compensate past and current UFC fighters for all of the UFC’s wrongs. To achieve these goals for the benefit of the fighters, we also made clear the MMAAA needed to receive a percentage of a monetary settlement to cover the costs to fund the MMAAA for staffing and attorneys both for past work getting to this point and the long fight ahead. The lawyers made clear that they did not share the MMAAA’s vision. They are focused on a short-term monetary recovery, of which they will seek 33%, and then they are gone from this sport. We parted ways at that point.
“The MMAAA is all about the fighters benefitting when the UFC is finally forced to take a powerful group of the fighters seriously. The MMAAA will be executing on that plan and will not be stopped in this effort on behalf of fighters.”
The fighting between competing fighter organizational factions has only served to slow progress in forming any sort of significant entity to represent mixed martial arts athletes. This current fray between the filers of UFC anti-trust lawsuit and the MMAAA is just the latest example, and is sure to slow the efforts of both.
Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone appeared before the media on Nov. 30 during a press conference to announce the formation of the Mixed Martial Arts Athletes Association (MMAAA). Cerrone was introduced as an association board member along with former UFC champions Georges St-Pierre, Cain Velasquez, and TJ Dillashaw, as well as current middleweight contender Tim Kennedy.
Cerrone was questioned about his involvement with the association during Wednesday’s UFC 206 open workouts in Toronto and said that, heading into the press conference, he didn’t know he was on the board.
“As far as the Association goes, Georges and Tim called me, asked me to be part of it,” Cerrone said. “I didn’t know I was sitting on a board. That kind of took me by surprise, sitting there, like, oh, wow.”
During an appearance on the UFC Unfiltered podcast, UFC president Dana White said he was shocked that Cerrone was part of the MMAAA. Cerrone expects to meet with White this week in Toronto to discuss his involvement and grievances.
“I spoke to Dana today on the phone. He’s coming to town, and we’re going to go out to dinner and talk. There’s a lot of things I think this sport needs, retirement, pension, health care, things I think we need,” he said.
“There’s a couple people that were that I don’t plan on working with and being a part of, not mentioning any names,” Cerrone added.
“Moving forward, I’m still going to stand strong with those and say this is what I believe we need. I believe as a whole we need health care, we need some kind of pension or retirement.”
Cowboy is a loyal employee of the UFC and a friend of White’s. He didn’t discredit anything White said during his UFC Unfiltered interview and admitted that he probably should have called White before appearing at the MMAAA press conference.
“The UFC has been nothing but great to me. I can’t complain. They give me what I want. And like Dana said, I called him and he helped me out. That’s true, man. I was in a bind, he got the best lawyers you can pay, and saved my ass,” he said.
“(White) said, ‘listen kid, you can do anything you want.’ We have a good relationship, him and I, and he’s right, I probably should have called him and said, ‘hey man, I’m going to do this,’ that way you don’t just get back-handed in the face.”
(Video Courtesy of MMAFightingonSBN)
Nick Diaz‘s trouble with the Nevada Athletic Commission have reportedly been resolved.
Diaz tested positive to marijuana in relation to his UFC 183 headlining bout with Anderson Silva in January of 2015. After narrowly averting a lifetime suspension and then having a five-year suspension reduced to 18 months, Diaz still had to pay a hefty fine. He was originally fined $165,000. That was later reduced to $100,000. He finished serving his 18-month sentence on Aug. 1, but had an outstanding balance of $75,000 with the commission.
On Wednesday, Diaz came to an agreement with the commission according to a report by MMAFighting.com. The details of the agreement were not available, but Diaz is now free to “participate in all combat sport-related activities” in the state of Nevada.
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Under the suspension, Diaz was barred from competing in Nevada or corning fighters, including his brother Nate. Diaz hasn’t fought since January 2015, but the door is now open for him to step back into the cage and also to serve as a cornerman.
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Before a potential buyer purchases a company, an audit of the businesses expenses is done to determine areas that costs may be cut. The buyer does their due diligence. After purchase, it’s typical for a number of employee positions and business expenses to be eradicated.
UFC president Dana White said that’s exactly what’s happening within the fight promotion since its sale for $4 billion in July.
“When another company takes over another company, it’s absolutely normal for them to come in and, especially at the executive level, let guys go at the executive level. They have guys they are gonna bring in that will fill those positions, and some of these people that they’ve been letting go that work for the (UFC), (WME-IMG) already have people to fill those roles. They have their own people. So it’s their company, they roll in and they put their own people in these positions. That’s absolutely normal,” White said while appearing on the UFC Unfiltered podcast.
“A lot of our executives were let go. That is absolutely normal. They’re gonna come in and they’re gonna put their own people in those positions. Especially a company as big as WME-IMG, they already have a ton of people for these positions,” White added.
UFC Hall of Famers, former light heavyweight champion Chuck Liddell and former welterweight champion Matt Hughes, held positions within the organization under Zuffa ownership. After they quit fighting, Zuffa put them on the payroll, largely as a way to say thank you.
Their employment was terminated after the sale.
“The Chuck Liddell and Matt Hughes thing, those were my guys. During the Zuffa era, those were my guys. And I wanted them to retire. I respected these guys. They helped build this company when I was growing it. And, I told them both, I said, ‘Listen, unless I drop dead or it comes to a position sometime where I’m not controlling how much money is being spent, or all that stuff, you guys will get a paycheck until that day.’ That day came.”
TRENDING > Conor McGregor Taking 10 Months Off
White explained that positions were opened in the fight promotion to reward veteran fighters for their contributions to the company’s growth. Liddell and Hughes were two of them, but ‘the times they are a-changin.’
“The thing with Chuck and Matt, it was a loyalty thing for me,” said White. “It was my gift to them for being the guys that they were when me, Frank, and Lorenzo (Fertitta), when it was our money.”
It was announced on Wednesday that one of MMA’s hottest prospects, Ed Ruth (1-0), will waste no time continuing to build his resume, as he fights Emanuele Palombi (5-2) for his second fight in as many months. The bout takes place this Saturday at “Bellator 168: Sakara vs. Beltran,”on Dec. 10 from the Mandela Forum in Florence and will air LIVE and FREE on SPIKE at 4pm ET/PT.
At only 26 years old, Ruth is looking to pave the way for the other members of “The New Breed,” a group of highly accomplished wrestlers who have all signed to fight under the Bellator MMA banner including: Joey Davis (1-0), Tyrell Fortune (1-0), Jarod Trice (1-0) as well as Aaron Pico and Romero Cotton – the last of which have yet to make their highly anticipated professional debuts. Before he was a three-time National Champion and four-time All-American wrestler at Penn State University, Ruth attended the world-renown Blair Academy in Susquehanna Township, PA, where he was the top-ranked recruit in the nation for his weight class. Having achieved great success at every stage of competition throughout his life, Ruth aspires to have the Bellator middleweight gold around his waist before long. After making the move across the country to Fresno, Calif., where he now trains at Dethrone Basecamp with other Bellator MMA fighters like Josh Koscheck and Chris Honeycutt, Ruth made his professional MMA debut just last month on Nov. 4, when he finished Dustin Collins-Miles with strikes at 3:19 into the first round.
Ruth now faces Rome’s Palombi, a seven-fight veteran with five victories including three KO’s and one submission. Ruth, who is taking the fight on less than a week’s notice, must quickly learn how to tune out a hometown crowd, who will certainly be heavily in favor of the Italian fighter.
The evening is highlighted by a main event featuring Italy’s most renowned mixed martial artist Alessio Sakara (18-11, 2 NC), who will duke it out with Joey “The Mexicutioner” Beltran (17-13, 1 NC) in a light heavyweight main event. Other Bellator MMA competitors will also be in action, including John Salter (12-3), Goiti Yamauchi (31-9) and Philipe Lins (10-1).
The Bellator Kickboxing brand will also be on display in Italy with a card that features a female flyweight rematch between Denise Kielholtz (45-3) and Gloria Peritore (11-1-1), but this time, a world title will be on the line. “Bellator Kickboxing: Florence” will also include a lightweight clash between Giorgio Petrosyan(82-2-2, 1 NC) and British kickboxing champion Jordan Watson (48-11-2), a middleweight matchup pittingJoe Schilling (19-9) against Victorio Lermano (30-7), a welterweight contest pairing Luca Novello (22-4-2) with Karim Ghajji (96-13-1), and Kevin Ross (31-9) will meet Alessio Arduini (26-14-2) in a lightweight fight. “Bellator Kickboxing: Florence” airs Friday, Dec. 16 at 11:15 pm ET, immediately following “Bellator 169: King Mo vs. Ishii.”
Complete “Bellator 168: Sakara vs. Beltran” Card:
- Light Heavyweight Feature Fight: Alessio Sakara (18-11, 2 NC) vs. Joey Beltran (17-13, 1 NC)
- Light Heavyweight Feature Fight: Philipe Lins (10-1) vs. Kleber Raimundo Silva (12-7)
- Middleweight Feature Fight: John Salter (12-3) vs. Claudio Annicchiarico (1-4)
- Lightweight Feature Fight: Goiti Yamauchi (31-9) vs. Valeriu Mircea (12-3)
- Middleweight Feature Fight: Ed Ruth (1-0) vs. Emanuele Palombi (5-2)
Complete “Bellator Kickboxing: Florence” Card:
- Lightweight Feature Fight: Giorgio Petrosyan (82-2-2, 1 NC) vs. Jordan Watson (48-11-2)
- Flyweight World Title: Denise Kielholtz (45-3) vs. Gloria Peritore (11-1-1)
- Middleweight Feature Fight: Joe Schilling (19-9) vs. Victorio Lermano (30-7)
- Welterweight Feature Fight: Luca Novello (22-4-2) vs. Karim Ghajji (96-13-1)
- Lightweight Feature Fight: Kevin Ross (31-9) vs. Alessio Arduini (26-14-2)
Talk of a fighter union has long buzzed on the fringes of mixed martial arts in general, and around the UFC specifically. So when five fighters and a former promoter announced the formation of the Mixed Martial Arts Athletes Association last week, an organization formed explicitly for UFC fighters, it didn’t exactly surprise UFC president Dana White.
What did surprise the MMA juggernaut’s head honcho, however, was the inclusion of one specific fighter: Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone. That Cerrone was one of the five fighters that announced the MMAAA wasn’t the surprising factor, so much as his participation came out of left field.
“Listen, at the end of the day, here’s the reality, the fighters can go out and do whatever they wanna do. They’re all grown men,” White said during a recent edition of UFC Unfiltered.
“I’m a little shocked, I’ll tell you this, that Cowboy Cerrone didn’t give me a call.”
White has had an on-again, off-again relationship with Georges St-Pierre, and contract negotiations with the former UFC welterweight champion have taken a nose dive since WME-IMG took control of the promotion. St-Pierre is obviously the biggest name to be associated with the MMAAA, and not really that much of a surprise. White wouldn’t expect St-Pierre to discuss the such a move with him.
Cain Velasquez, TJ Dillashaw, and Tim Kennedy are the others involved as the controlling board members of the association, as is Cerrone. All have publicly commented about the need for some sort of fighter union or association, and none of them talked to White prior to the association’s announcement. The one that really seemed to bother White was Cerrone, whom he has perhaps had deeper dealings with than some of the others.
“(Cerrone has) only main evented, headlined like three fights, Fight Nights. Never held the title in the WEC; never held the title in the UFC. And a couple years ago, he was on his boat. He gets into a beef with a guy on another boat. He’s in big trouble. Who does he call? He calls me,” White recounted.
“What do I do? I go out and find him the best criminal defense lawyer. And I spent over $100,000 of my own money. So when I see Cowboy standing up there, really?”
White didn’t say that Cerrone shouldn’t participate in a fighter association, but indicated that he might have appreciated a call from Cerrone saying, “Hey, this is what we’re doing and this is why.”
That call never came.
“Never heard a word from Cowboy, but whatever, it’s all good. He’s a big boy, he can do what he wants to do.”
So far, 2016 has been a mirror of a year for flyweight up-and-comer Katy Collins. In two bouts this year, Collins has picked up two first-round finishes, adding to the three first-round finishes she picked up in 2015.
“Basically, I feel like I did what I went in there to do with each fight,” Collins told MMAWeekly.com. “Specifically with my Bellator fight (in June), I felt a lot of pressure on me because it was a big show, and I felt like I had a lot to prove, so I was really happy with my performance there.
“I was a little bit surprised that I actually did as well as I did so quickly, but that’s how I like to do things, I like to go in there and get it done so it’s over with. I feel like I’ve done that with all the fights that I’ve had this year.”
While going longer in fights is good for gaining experience, to Collins, getting first-round finishes each time out is a good problem to have.
“I guess you could say that getting more cage time is good, and I’ve thought about it myself, but in the end, it boils down to that I want to impose my will and keep my opponent from doing what they want to do,” she said. “In my head I have a job to do right then and I want to get it done so it’s over with and go about my business.”
Collins (5-0) steps up to her toughest task yet when she takes on Mandy Polk (3-2) in a 120-pound catchweight main card bout at RFA 46 on Friday in Branson, Mo.
“I know that she’s a wrestler, has a purple belt in Jiu-Jitsu, and is a professional bodybuilder, so she’s going to be strong,” said Collins of Polk. “In the past, I’ve finished all my opponents on the ground when it has gone to the ground, but I’m comfortable striking with her. I’m comfortable either way it goes.
“I’m really excited about the fact that she’s a really game opponent and that she definitely is an athlete.”
With her stock quickly rising over the past two years, Collins is approaching 2017 with an open mind towards whatever possibilities that are presented her.
“I usually just go fight by fight and see what happens,” she said. “For the most part, I just try to stay ready. You never really know when something is going to come up, and if you’re always ready, you’re open for any opportunities that come your way.”
(Video Courtesy of UFC)
Heavyweight Derrick Lewis talks about his life story and why he feels like he has lived two different lives. Don’t miss Lewis in the main event of Fight Night Albany against Shamil Abdurakhimov on December 9.
Conor McGregor might get a big-time boxing fight after all.
The Golden Boy himself Oscar de la Hoya said that McGregor can fight Canelo Alvarez at 160 pounds if he really wants a megafight. He made the comments to FightHub TV.
“I would love to talk to him and promote him,” De La Hoya said. “Imagine Golden Boy and Conor McGregor coming together.
De la Hoya said a fight with Alvarez “makes all the sense in the world,” and would be “a guaranteed knockout.”
The former boxing legend added that a Mexican vs. an Irishman would be a “hell of a fight.”
Goldenboy, via FightHub
McGregor has challenged Floyd Mayweather to a $100 million match, but Mayweather has scoffed at the challenge, saying he is retired. Most observers believe McGregor wouldn’t stand much of a chance against Mayweather, a master defensive boxer, who retired in 2015 with a record of 49-0.
Unlike Mayweather, however, who wins most of his fights by dodging and evading his opponents’ power, while landing counter punches, Alvarez would likely turn the McGregor fight into a slugfest, which could make the fight thrilling. Alvarez, a multi-weight world champion, widely regarded as one of the Top 10 best boxers in the world, would likely eat McGregor for lunch in the first round, and still have time for CM Punk on the same evening.Follow Joshua Molina on Twitter: @JECMolina. Follow @MMAHotSauce on Twitter and Facebook. Also follow MMAWeekly.com on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
Following his historic win over Eddie Alvarez at UFC 205 to capture the lightweight title and become the only fighter in UFC history to hold two divisional belts at the same time, Conor McGregor announced that he was going to be a father.
“I’m going to be a daddy early next year,” McGregor revealed during the UFC 205 post-fight press conference at Madison Square Garden on Nov. 12. “I’m just going to have this baby, take a little bit of time, and see the way I feel after that.”
By a little time off, McGregor apparently meant nearly a year. On Nov. 27, McGregor relinquished his featherweight title, but remains the lightweight champion. Some have said that the Irishman was stripped of the belt, but UFC president Dana White says that’s simply not true.
“Conor McGregor is a very unique individual and very different. I let Conor be Conor. I let Conor do his thing. Everybody always thinks there’s some kind of animosity with me and Conor, there’s always something bad brewing. Listen, I don’t know how much more I can say it publicly how much I respect the guy, how different and special that he is, and everything else,” said White during an appearance on UFC Unfiltered.
“I didn’t strip him of anything. I said every day leading up to that fight that he had to give up one of those belts,” said the UFC president.
“He gave up the 145-pound title, but it doesn’t take away from — He says that he’s still a two-weight champion. Damn right he is. He is a two-weight champion. It doesn’t take away from what that guy accomplished and what he’s done. When you look at the 145-pound title, he didn’t lose it. He gave it up. He was never beaten, and the belt was never taken from him.”
McGregor won the featherweight title by knocking out Jose Aldo in 13 seconds at UFC 194 in December 2015. He never defended it. Instead, he pursued the lightweight crown and history.
“That (featherweight) belt hadn’t been defended in almost a year, and Conor’s taking another ten months off for maternity. It’s not fair to the rest of the guys in that division,” said White. “You can’t tie up the entire division, but I did let him fight for it. I let him do it.”
With White revealing that McGregor is taking ten months off, that means “The Notorious” won’t be back in action until September or October of 2017. Jose Aldo has been elevated to the featherweight champion and Max Holloway and Anthony Pettis will fight for the interim 145-pound belt in the UFC 206 main event on Saturday, Dec. 10.
While many in the mixed martial arts world have been clamoring for the UFC to institute a 145-pound women’s division built around current Invicta FC featherweight champion Cris “Cyborg” Justino, UFC president Dana White said on Tuesday that the promotion relented and tried to do just that.
According to White, however, Cyborg shot down their attempts.
“What’s crazy about that is this, I offered Cris Cyborg a title fight at 145 pounds a month ago,” White said during the most recent episode of UFC Unfiltered. “She had eight weeks to get ready for it; she said she couldn’t make the weight. She couldn’t make 145 pounds. So then I offered her another 145-pound title fight for Brooklyn and she turned it down.
“She has turned down two 145-pound title fights. One because she couldn’t make 145 pounds in eight weeks. (Outgoing matchmaker) Joe Silva is like, ‘if she can’t make 145 pounds in eight weeks, 145 isn’t the right weight class for her, either.’
White said that they first offered her a fight with Holly Holm. Aside from Cyborg being unable to to make the weight in eight weeks, he also indicated that the fight was turned down by Holm’s camp, as well.
“Holly was so excited for that fight, but here coach, (Mike) Winklejohn said that was not the right fight for Holly. Holly had to turn it down, so we went with Germaine (de Randamie), and Germaine wants the fight.”
To add some clarity, Holm’s manager, Larry Fresquez, told MMAFighting.com that, as a team, they decided the fight wasn’t right for Holm. He indicated that they wanted the fight at a lower weight, going as high as 138 pounds, but didn’t feel fighting at 145 pounds was a good fit for Holm.
“We offered her a 145-pound title shot, she had eight weeks to get ready for it, and she said, ‘that’s not enough time to make the weight; I can’t make the weight in eight weeks.’”
White said Cyborg offered no reason for declining the fight with Randamie in Brooklyn. “There is no excuse, she just turned the fight down.”
Cyborg, however, responded in a prepared statement posted to MMAFighting.com, that explained how eight weeks wasn’t enough time and neither was the February date for UFC 208 in Brooklyn because she was still recovering from the brutal weight cut for her last fight. Her most recent fight was a second-round stoppage of Lina Länsberg in late September.
“In my last weight cut, I almost died. It was the worst weight cut in my life,” she told MMAFighting.
“The next day, like I always do after my fights, I did blood tests to see if everything was okay after a terrible weight cut. And for the first time, the nurses couldn’t take my blood, it was so thick it wouldn’t come out, so we couldn’t do tests. I was in treatment for 10 days with Dr. Ulisseia,” she continued.
“After all that, at home, I decided I would not fight at this weight anymore, that I would only fight at my division. And only with 12 weeks’ notice.”
Perhaps unaware of such information, White continued on the UFC podcast, saying that he didn’t believe that Cyborg turning down the two title fights had anything to do with weight cutting.
“This doesn’t have to do with weight. It obviously has nothing to do with weight cutting,” said White. “I don’t know what it has to do with, but I’m sure we’re gonna figure it out.”
In her statement, Cyborg said it had everything to do with weight cutting and giving her body time to get back to some sense of normalcy before having to make another cut.
“I got a call from the UFC offering me another catchweight fight, and I said I would not fight at this weight anymore. I needed a break to get my health back to normal because my body was weak, I was anemic,” Cyborg explained.
“After that, they invited me to fight again, but this time at my weight and for the belt, but with 10 weeks’ notice. Knowing that I was recovering, like I said, I told them I can fight anyone in March, but I need to take care of my body, and no mention of the fact that I’m dealing with severe depression and can’t have another brutal weight cut like before. This decision is more important than the belt or the division, I’m thinking about my health.”
As of the time of publication, there had been no word on whether or not the UFC was continuing title talks with Cyborg about a date that would be acceptable to all sides.
Former UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones has been through many ups and downs in his young career, but the low-point that stands out for most is his involvement in a felony hit-and-run accident in 2015.
Jones caused the accident, which resulted in injury to a pregnant woman, who was driving one of the cars with which he collided. Jones left his vehicle, returned to it, and then fled the scene, leading to the hit-and-run charge.
As a result, Jones was issued 18 months of supervised probation. If he fulfills the terms of his probation, he can avoid having a felony on his record.
In this recent interview on The Joe Rogan Experience podcast, an emotional Jones opened up about the 2015 hit-and-run incident that also saw him stripped of the 205-pound title and removed from UFC 187.
(WARNING: Includes explicit language)
(Video Courtesy of The Joe Rogan Experience)
At one time, Hawaiian-based welterweight prospect Maki Pitolo was 1-2 and was in need of a change to get his career on track before it could have possibly ground to a halt.
Since then, Pitolo has won seven straight bouts, including three so far this year, placing him as one of Hawaii’s best up-and-coming fighters.
“Before I was just getting there and trying to finish the fight as fast as I could,” Pitolo told MMAWeekly.com. “I feel like slowing the whole process down and taking it in, I’m really enjoying my time inside of the cage.
“Getting that experience has helped me get to the next level and become the fighter I am now: calm, cool and collected.”
Most recently, Pitolo picked up a unanimous decision win over late replacement Kassius Holdorf in July at Victory FC 52 in his first ever five-round fight.
“It came on very short notice, so we could watch film maybe one day, and the next day we could game plan for our fight,” said Pitolo. “Whatever Kassius brought, I wanted to dominate the game wherever it went – and that’s pretty much what I did – and I got the W.”
Pitolo (8-2) will once again face Holdorf (9-3) in the main event of Victory FC 54 for the promotion’s welterweight title on Friday in Omaha, Neb.
“He probably learned his lessons in that (first) fight, and I‘ve learned my lessons from that fight,” said Pitolo of Holdorf. “I’m going to look for the finish in all aspects of the game.
“No matter what he brings to the table, I feel it’s going to be a good fight, and I feel like I’m ready for whatever he has.”
Having put himself on a good path the past couple years, Pitolo only sees better things ahead for himself in 2017.
“In 2017, I look to be the most dominant 170-pound fighter there is,” Pitolo said. “Once I get that strap, whoever wants to get it, come and get it, but be prepared for one of the best VFC fighters to step in the cage. I’m just going to dominate in there.”
(Video Courtesy of UFC)
Having largely left kickboxing in the rearview mirror, reigning Strikeforce heavyweight champion Alistair Overeem stunned the kickboxing world in 2008 by jumping back into kickboxing and knocking out world No.1 Badr Hari in two minutes. Hari vowed revenge ahead of this rematch, and he got it.
UFC officials made Shevchenko vs. Pena official on Tuesday, naming it as the headliner for UFC on FOX 23, which is slated for Jan. 28 at the Pepsi Center in Denver.
Both fighters had been angling for a shot at the title for their next fight, but with Ronda Rousey returning to the Octagon at year’s end, UFC officials was steadfast in offering her an immediate title shot upon her return. Rousey will challenge current bantamweight titleholder Amanda Nunes on Friday, Dec. 30 in the UFC 207 main event in Las Vegas.
Shevchenko (13-2), a former world champion kickboxer, has fought three times in the Octagon. She defeated former Strikeforce champion Sarah Kaufman in her UFC debut, but lost to Nunes in her sophomore effort. After defeating former UFC champ Holly Holm in July, she had hoped for a rematch with Nunes, but she’ll first have to go through Pena to get a chance at the belt.
Pena (8-2) made her way to the Octagon via the eighteenth season of The Ultimate Fighter. She was a member of Miesha Tate’s team, competing against a team of fighters coached by Rousey. She won the TUF tournament and hasn’t skipped a beat. Pena has since won three consecutive fights, including victories over Jessica Eye and Cat Zingano.