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The Never-Ending Dance Between Floyd Mayweather, Conor McGregor and Nate Diaz

We’ve been here before.

Last year, before the ground-breaking pay-per-view boxing match between superstar pugilist Floyd Mayweather and UFC superstar Conor McGregor materialized, it was all talk.

Insults and barbs, mostly, traded via social media. And at that stage, it seemed as if the talk would forever remain talk, because why the heck would a UFC champ ever want to step into a boxing ring – against the best – knowing full well they’d get slaughtered?

(Ah, how young and innocent we were then.)

But the bout happened, and Mayweather is a richer man for it, and McGregor has more money than he knows what to do with, and everyone that had a hand in putting the match-up together saw some love go directly into their bank accounts.

So now Mayweather and McGregor are back at it on social media. They’ve fought in a boxing ring, so why not in a cage, under MMA rules, next? Mayweather has no hesitation in teasing that idea. For the right price, Mayweather will get into the cage. If he can make a few hundred million getting humiliated in a sport he’s never trained in, why not do it?

And of course McGregor is on board. Another hundred million will ensure he never again has to sully himself with the company of lowly UFC fighters. Heck, he can just pal around with a mountain of cocaine and have an army of midgets do his bidding.

A real elbow in a real fight.

A post shared by Conor McGregor Official (@thenotoriousmma) on

But you know who else wants a seat at the table?

The last person to ever defeat McGregor in the cage: Nate Diaz. Because if another bout between Mayweather and McGregor doesn’t happen for whatever reason, a trilogy fight with Diaz is the next best thing in terms of raking in the dough.

Featherweight Bout Between Newcomers Austin Arnett, Cory Sandhagen Completes UFC on Fox 27

UFC on Fox 27 has a last-minute addition, as Saturday night’s card will feature a featherweight bout between promotional newcomers Austin Arnett and Cory Sandhagen
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Jose Aldo: There Was Never Any Rivalry Between Conor McGregor and I

The buildup to the showdown between Conor McGregor and Jose Aldo was one of the biggest ongoing stories of 2015, a saga that began to unfold in January of that year and didn’t conclude until December.
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Jose Aldo: There Was Never Any Rivalry Between Conor McGregor and I

The buildup to the showdown between Conor McGregor and Jose Aldo was one of the biggest ongoing stories of 2015, a saga that began to unfold in January of that year and didn’t conclude until December.
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UFC fighters react to battle between Trump and NFL over #TakeAKnee anthem protest

It was a divisive weekend as NFL players stood up (or took a knee) for what they believed in. Here’s what some UFC fighters thought.

Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) picked a decent week to ditch out on America and head over to Japan, where everyone may be terrified of North Korea dropping a nuke on them but at least they’re unified over the subject. Meanwhile in the USA, everyone got just a little more crazy after President Donald Trump inserted himself into the controversial subject of NFL players kneeling during the national anthem.

Some consider it a protest against the nation’s police forces and their habit of disproportionately murdering black citizens (and not being punished for it). Others feel it’s disrespecting the flag and the military and freedom. It all made Sunday yet another day in the United States where everyone is feeling quite divided. Can’t we go back to hating each other over fun things like whose team sucks worse?

As you’d expect, MMA fighters had some opinions on the subject as well, which they shared over social media. Here’s some of them:

God bless Tim Kennedy, he’s so busy doing the real work of fighting for them freedoms that he doesn’t have the time to figure out what sport we’re talking about here.

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Atomweight match between former title challengers added to ONE: ‘Light of a Nation’

Two of the top contenders in ONE Championship’s atomweight division will do battle in Yangon on June 30th. A fight between Mei Yamaguchi and Jenny Huang was one of two bouts recently added to the upcoming card.

ONE: “Light of a Nation” is set for the Thuwunna Indoor Stadium and will be headlined by a middleweight title rematch between Burmese born challenger Aung La Nsang and champion Vitaly Bigdash.

Two fighters hoping to get back into title contention will be in action when Yamaguchi (15-10-1) faces Huang (5-1). The former will be looking for her first ONE Championship win after back-to-back defeats.

Huang has tasted victory in the ONE Championship cage on four separate occasions but was easily beaten by Angela Lee in a recent title match. Yamaguchi caused the current atomweight champion far more problems, going the full five rounds before losing by decision.

Also added to the card this week was a featherweight fight that pits Bruno Pucci (4-2) against Jimmy Yabo (5-4-0-1). Both men hold black belts, the Brazilian in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ) and the Filipino in Taekwondo.

www.twitter.com/jamesgoyder

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No Love Lost between ‘Rampage’ and ‘King Mo’ Ahead of Bellator 175 Rematch

Rivalries — especially heated ones — are some of the most important cogs that keep the combat sports machine rolling along.
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Click Debate: Why is there such a disconnect between fighters and athletic commissions?

Dominick Cruz, one of the best fighters of all time in his division, was on color commentary for UFC 209 last weekend. The former bantamweight champion is so diligent in his second job as a broadcaster that he actually attended media day to interview fighters, so he could correctly get across their stories to the viewers on television and pay-per-view.

One of the things Cruz said during the event, though, was somewhat surprising from a sporting perspective. In discussing rules changes in MMA, particularly new language for judging, Cruz says he wasn’t exactly sure what actions constituted winning rounds anymore.

“And I’m a fighter,” Cruz said.

Imagine LeBron James saying something along the lines of, “I don’t know what’s a 3-pointer anymore — and I’m a basketball player.” Cruz was saying he is not clear on how to actually win at his sport. That seems unimaginable. But he’s not alone; in fact, he’s the majority.

This is no knock on Cruz or on fighters. While more could be done from a fighter’s perspective to seek out information from athletic commissions and promoters, it’s certainly not mostly on them.

For too long, commissions have been intentionally opaque, letting things go unsaid and uncorrected. Every time I hear a commentator refer to “three points of contact,” I slap my hand against my forehead. That is and has never been the rule for a grounded fighter. But it has been said over and over again by broadcasters, so now it has become the narrative from the perspective of fans, fighters and coaches.

Last year, Tim Means admitted to not knowing the rule for a grounded fighter when he nailed Alex Oliveira with a pair of illegal knees. Oliveira had both knees on the ground — clearly a grounded fighter by rule. The rule, before it was changed by the Association of Boxing Commissions and Combative Sports (ABC), was that anything other than the soles of the feet on the floor makes for a grounded fighter. Even under the new rules (and I’ll get to those in a bit), a knee down means a fighter is down.

Means didn’t know, though. UFC color commentator Joe Rogan and UFC regulatory head Marc Ratner also got it wrong on the broadcast, saying Means’ knees were legal. Rogan corrected himself after speaking to legendary referee John McCarthy moments later. Luckily, referee Dan Miragliotta was on top of it and made the correct call that the blows were illegal.

No commission issued a written explanation, though. Nor did the ABC. So confusion remains. The knee-jerk reaction is always that the referee or judge is incompetent. Even when that’s not the case, that becomes the narrative because of a lack of education.

The same thing has happened over the years with scoring. The words “Octagon control” and “aggression” have been repeated so many times by broadcasters that a lot of fans and fighters believe those are the ways you win rounds. They’re not — not under the old rules or the new rules. Effective striking/grappling is the primary determination. The other two are only tiebreakers, when effective striking/grappling is completely equal. Effective aggression is the first tiebreaker and cage control is the second.

Commissions and the ABC need to do a better job of educating fighters, especially. And those doing play-by-play and analysis on television should get more up to speed on rules and judging. It was only last year that the UFC added to its scoring introduction on broadcasts that the three criteria were used in order, from effective striking/grappling on down.

Now more than ever, education is needed. Because there is a lot of confusion between the old rules and new rules, which many commissions have yet to adopt. There was a lack of understanding even before there was an alteration to the Unified Rules of MMA. Believe it or not, it has gotten worse — shocking, right?

ABC president Mike Mazzulli has done well in his two years leading the overseeing body, though is in a precarious position because state commissions do not have to follow the ABC. The organization is more of a handshake agreement than anything else. State governments still ultimately decide their respective rules.

But what the ABC can do is control the education and understanding of rules and scoring. Mazzulli installed Sean Wheelock as chairman of the new MMA rules and regulations committee, which recommended the package of rules changes that got passed last year. Maybe the next step is adopting a committee of fighters — 10 athletes who will be in direct communication with the ABC, other committees and commissions.

Fighters need more of a voice when it comes to athletic commissions, which manager Alex Davis wrote about recently for MMAjunkie. Randy Couture, Matt Hughes and Jeremy Horn are on the ABC rules committee, but input from active fighters is necessary, too, ideally with their own committee.

One of the main missions for an athletic commission is to be an advocate for the fighter and not just on the health and safety level. As it is now, commissions communicate almost solely with promoters and matchmakers. The fighters need a seat at the table. This might not be as effective as a union or association for the athletes, but it’s a start.

At the very least, regulators need to get in a room with a group of fighters (and maybe coaches and managers) and explain fully the rules changes and the scoring criteria. They need to explain what makes a fighter grounded and the tiered system of scoring.

It’s a crime for someone as intelligent, pro-active and skilled as Cruz to admit that he isn’t clear on how rounds are won. Maybe some kind of fighter summit can be set up, much in the same way the California State Athletic Commission (CSAC) held a weight-cutting summit in 2015.

MMA is a billion-dollar sport now. We’ve come too far to continue having misguided conversations about judging and in-cage rules. Fighters (and fans, too) need more than just McCarthy explaining regulations and scoring on Twitter and Nevada Athletic Commission executive director Bob Bennett answering questions at a press conference.

Both of those things are a breath of fresh air. They should be the rule, not the exception.

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Verbal jabs fly between Georges St-Pierre and tardy Michael Bisping: ‘Are you still drunk right now?’

LAS VEGAS — Georges St-Pierre is officially back in the UFC, and it didn’t take long for the bad blood to materialize for his comeback fight against UFC middleweight champion Michael Bisping.

St-Pierre and Bisping held an introductory press conference for their upcoming UFC tilt on Friday at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, and although Bisping was several minutes late to the proceedings, sparks flew from the moment the bombastic Brit emerged onto the stage. Bisping immediately announced his arrival by hurling insults at St-Pierre and repeatedly telling the former welterweight great to “shut the f*ck up,” all while sporting a raspy voice that sounded as if it had been through a long night.

“I think Vegas got the best out of you, unfortunately,” St-Pierre said to Bisping.

“It doesn’t matter because I’m going to get the f*cking best out of you, so shut the f*ck up,” Bisping said.

That opening exchange set the tone for a surprisingly hostile dynamic between Bisping and St-Pierre, who over the past year have continually angled to fight one another, despite the fact that St-Pierre is a career welterweight who has never competed inside the Octagon above 170 pounds.

“You’re talking about being a f*cking welterweight. You are a welterweight, okay? I’m a middleweight,” Bisping said to St-Pierre. “I can’t wait to f*cking square up against you. Square up. Stand up and look at the size of me, and look at the size of you. Go back to f*cking, Canada.”

“That’s all you have on me,” St-Pierre shot back. “That’s all you have. Skill, fighting IQ, athleticism, everything is on my side.”

“Oh, is it really?” Bisping replied. “Height? Reach? Good looks? This f*cking accent? The jab, the punch, the kick? Everything. Listen, Georges, while you were away, because you were so scared of everybody taking steroids, I was man enough to still be fighting those guys. You went away. You went and f*cking chased aliens. I don’t know what you did. No one gives a f*ck where you were and what you did. Coming back, the sport is in a different place. Game over.”

“I think you should shut up. You’re embarrassing yourself right now,” St-Pierre said quickly. “Are you still drunk right now? Are you still drunk or what? What’s going on? What is going on with this? Your voice is kinda, what is happening with you? My God. Are you healthy? Are you okay? Up here, did you get hit too much or what?”

“Hey Georges, I’ll go out on an all-night f*cking bender and still beat you, pal,” Bisping said. “I won’t even train. Look at the state of you, you little f*cking midget.”

Bisping and St-Pierre are expected to meet sometime in the second half of 2017, with UFC president Dana White targeting a July date during International Fight Week as the promotion’s goal.

When the time comes, the fight will mark the end of a near four-year hiatus for St-Pierre, who served as a record-breaking UFC welterweight champion before exiting the sport in 2013 following his ninth consecutive title defense. St-Pierre always hinted that he would be back though, and the Canadian icon announced his desire to fight Bisping last June following the upset win over Luke Rockhold that catapulted Bisping into his place atop the UFC middleweight division.

“Hey Georges, where’s your belt? Where’s your f*cking belt? You don’t have one,” Bisping said at one point to St-Pierre. “The sport moved on, buddy. The sport moved on.”

“Well, I could’ve stolen one while you were out in Vegas drinking,” St-Pierre responded, adding later, “I’m here to do a job, and that’s going to be to beat up that drunk man right now.”

“Why is the onus on me being f*cking drunk?” Bisping responded. “What’s that got to do with anything? I’ve been drunk throughout my entire f*cking career. Dana will testify to that. Why does that make this fight any f*cking different? Why does that matter? I’m English. I’m in f*cking Vegas. I haven’t got a fight. Hey, when is the fight, Georges? When is the fight? When you do want to fight? Because I’ll fight right now. I’ll fight right now, motherf*cker. That’s the difference between you and me.”

“You don’t scare me, not even one bit,” St-Pierre replied.

“I’m not trying to scare you,” Bisping said. “But here’s the facts: I’m a real fighter. I’m a real fighter. You’re an athlete, and good for you. You’re a very, very good athlete, but you’re an athlete. I’m a fighter. Fact.”

St-Pierre resisted a move up to middleweight throughout his days as welterweight champion, despite the UFC’s desire to stage a superfight against 185-pound legend Anderson Silva. But now that St-Pierre is back, he plans to fulfill those long-discussed goals of becoming just one of four men to win UFC titles in two separate divisions.

“I’m going to make some adjustments, of course, try to gain on some weight,” St-Pierre said. “Realistically speaking, I won’t be able to get so much bigger. I’m going to try to put on some muscle mass, get prepared efficiently, come out and do my job.

“I just wish Michael Bisping would come out with a different song than all of the guys that I’ve fought before. ‘Oh, you’re just an athlete, blah, blah, blah. You’re not a fighter.’ My journey in mixed martial arts is more than legend. I’ve [overcome] incredible obstacles. I’ve fought guys, I’ve had to come back. Carlos Condit and everybody I’ve fought. B.J. Penn 1, I came back and I showed true heart, and that’s why I’m here today. I’m not an easy target and my journey is honorable.”

“You’re talking about beating B.J. Penn, a featherweight,” Bisping responded. “He’s a featherweight. I’m a middleweight. I’m a legit middleweight. I used to fight at light heavyweight. I was 15-0 at light heavyweight, pal. You are a very, very good fighter, Georges. I respect you very much. But at the end of the day, there’s a reason why they have weight classes. It’s a simple as that.

“And I respect you coming back, but I know why you picked me. You think I’m an easy fight, just like Anderson did, just like Luke Rockhold did when I knocked him out in the first round. Just like everybody does. And time and time again, I prove them wrong. So, this is the guy, the greatest of all-time, didn’t want to face Anderson when he was the man, but he comes out of retirement to face me? Yeah, real good fighter.”

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Fireworks erupt between Khabib Nurmagomedov, Tony Ferguson in heated UFC 209 conference call

With a little over a week to go before Khabib Nurmagomedov and Tony Ferguson throw down for the UFC interim lightweight title at UFC 209, tensions are already running high between the world’s top 155-pound contenders.

The two lightweights effectively took over the UFC’s media conference call ahead of UFC 209 on Thursday, erupting into bitter exchanges over everything from their past opponents to Ferguson’s contract negotiations with the UFC, with neither man rarely letting the other get a word in edgewise.

“Look man, if somebody doesn’t piss me off, I’ll finish them in the first round. This dude pissed me off,” Ferguson said at one point following another heated exchange. “I’m going to drag him into deep waters and make him deal with the hammerhead.

“I’ve already talked to him about it. You guys are going to see f*cking fireworks. This should be the main event. I don’t know why Stephen Thompson and T-Wood (Tyron Woodley) are the main event. This is the sh*t everybody is talking about. This is the third time. The third time’s the charm.”

The fight between Nurmagomedov and Ferguson is one the UFC has attempted to make three times over the past several years, only for plans to inevitably fall apart due to injuries sustained on both sides. But now both lightweights are healthy and riding the two longest win streaks of the division. Ferguson has won nine UFC consecutive fights while Nurmagomedov has won eight, and the winner of UFC 209’s co-main event will claim the interim 155-pound title underneath reigning champion Conor McGregor.

Nurmagomedov went so far as to call the bout “the greatest match-up in lightweight history.” But he also continually pointed to the fact that the fight very nearly failed to come to fruition due to stalled contract negotiations on Ferguson’s side. Things were only booked after Nurmagomedov turned down an offer to fight current UFC featherweight champion Jose Aldo for an interim lightweight strap, and Nurmagomedov reminded Ferguson of that fact over and over again on Thursday.

“Everybody knows I make this fight. And Tony knows I make this fight, because he tried running away,” Nurmagomedov said. “I ask you about money. Why don’t you take money? I ask you about $ 200,000. This is big money in USA.”

“I don’t want your fake-ass money, dude,” Ferguson responded. “You know what, you keep this money, you wipe your ass with it, do whatever the f*ck you want with it. Why don’t you donate it? Why don’t you be a man and donate that.”

“No, calm down, calm down, relax, relax,” Nurmagomedov said. “Because you understand. You understand who is who and what happens after this fight.

“I bring you here. Nobody bring you. I bring you.”

“You didn’t make sh*t, dude,” Ferguson said. “You didn’t make sh*t. What, you going to fight another Darrell Horcher? Is that what you’re going to fight? Another Darrel Horcher and bully him? Come on, man. Nobody brought (me here). So all the nine victories that I have, nine victories that I have in a row, you’re going to be like: ‘I did that. Tony, I did that. I did all the work.’ You didn’t do sh*t. F*ck you, Khabib. You didn’t do nothing, dude. You’re a bully. I’m a f*cking matador. I’m going to finish your ass. You ain’t got sh*t against me.”

And so it went, two of the world’s most dangerous 155-pounders trading shots back and forth about virtually every topic under the sun, from Ferguson’s wrestling capabilities to Nurmagomedov’s manager to both men’s combined records against shared opponents.

“You got too many people talking in your ear,” Ferguson said at one point. “And that’s your problem. That’s why I’m going to win. That’s it. You’re focusing on so much other bullsh*t, dude. You’re talking about breaking arms and talking about fighting Conor, doing this and that and all this other stuff. Dude, I hear you. I understand it, man. You’re going to lose. You’ve got to look out for yourself.”

“I think about you,” Nurmagomedov responded. “I think I’m going to break you. This is what I think. I don’t think about Conor, other stuff. What are you talking about? You talk about Conor.”

“Dude, I am unbreakable,” Ferguson said. “Trust me, dude, I’m a f*cking machine now. You have no idea what you’re dealing with. You just woke me up. You keep laughing. You keep laughing. I’m the new John Wick.”

“How many times you lose?” Nurmagomedov replied. “Danny Castillo beat your ass. You remember this?”

“Danny Castillo didn’t do sh*t,” Ferguson angrily shot back. “He f*cking laid on me, dude. I beat his ass too. Trust me, the only thing he could do is hold on for dear life. You lost to (Gleison) Tibau. I’m sorry but you lost to Tibau. Sorry, not sorry. You remember that fight? Look, I’ll post it up today. I’ll post it up today, and I’ve seen you lose in that Sambo fight, that Sambo match where you were f*cking crying on your knees because you lost.”

“Which Sambo fight?” Nurmagomedov said. “When I am 17 years old? Of course I lose a lot of times when I competed immature. But professional career…”

“Everything’s been handed to you,” Ferguson interrupted. “Nothing’s been handed to me. Nothing has been handed to me. I had to earn every single step of the way.”

Considering the length of time Nurmagomedov and Ferguson have been forced to think about one another due to past bookings, it was evident the rivalry had grown personal ahead of UFC 209. But through it all, the fire raging on the two sides always came back to Nurmagomedov’s assertion that it was his stand against the UFC that led Ferguson to secure the biggest payday of his Octagon career.

And with nine days to go until the two meet on March 4 in Las Vegas, Ferguson wasn’t trying to hear it.

“Doubt never got me here, and nobody else held my hand to get me here,” Ferguson said. “My f*cking hard work, my determination, and my finishing people and earning performance victories has gotten me here. I’m going to finish this dude like I did everybody else. I’m not going to tell you how, because I’m not like anybody else. This guy wants to talk about trying to break me, break my arm, break this, and he says I talk too much? Dude, I haven’t even f*cking said nothing. You got 1.9 million people that are going to be f*cking sad as f*ck when I go in and I finish your ass.”

“I want to say something,” Nurmagomedov interjected. “Please, listen. When you UFC asks me, ‘Khabib, you have to fight with Tony,’ I said okay, let’s go. This is what I want, because you have nine win streak, I have eight win streak, we have to fight. And after UFC asked me, you said, ‘please, please, give me money, give me this.’ You tried to run.”

“Oh, there’s no f*cking please, please,” Ferguson shot back. “Dude, it’s what I’ve earned. You can talk as much sh*t. Like I said, your management speaks for you. And you know what? I don’t give two f*cks. Try to hype it up. You were trying to f*cking pay me. I said, you know what? I spit on your money. Your money is f*cking worthless to me. I can give two f*cks. I want the UFC’s money because I earned it.”

“You know why you ask for too much money?” Nurmagomedov responded. “Because you know this is your last fight. This is your last fight in UFC. That’s why. We’ll see March 4th. I’m going to break your face. I’m going to break your career.”

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