UFC 232 In Review: The Outer Limits
By: Jesse Donathan
They say where there is smoke, there is fire. The oddities surrounding former UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones’s UFC 232 to rematch against Alexander Gustafsson has left me with the distinct feeling we have entered The Twilight Zone. If money is the root of all evil, then the absolutely bizarre circumstances leading up to the UFC 232 rematch between Jones and Gustafsson must mean the devil is laughing all the way to the bank. While the circus like exhibition didn’t just start in the lead up to UFC 232, but it has certainly manifested itself on full display for the public at large to observe and revel in its glorious insanity.
Searching for a good place to start, we look no further than Bad Guy Inc. CEO, former UFC middleweight title contender Chael Sonnen’s September 5, 2018 YouTube podcast excerpt titled, “Tainted Supplements, USUDA, Jon Jones and Madison Square Garden” where Sonnen elaborates on his personal experience in violating these same rules Jon Jones is accused of and his opinion on Jon Jones’s ultimate fate under the regulatory body’s disciplinary guidelines.
To tie this back in with Jon Jones, if he had a tainted supplement, they would be able within precedent to allow him to fight earlier than the two-year ban which would bring you which would be the four would be the minimum ban for a repeat offender which would bring you the summer of 2019. I don’t know of any other way that they could possibly find a way around it. I just don’t know. I will be learning something when and if they do it and I am predicting they will do it.
According to a September 20, 2018 cbssports.com article by Jake Crosby titled, “Jon Jones receives retroactive 15-month USADA suspension, eligible for UFC return in 2018” Jones was ultimately cleared to compete after it was ruled his positive test was the result of a tainted substance through no fault of his own.
The arbitrator found that Jones never intentionally or knowingly took steroids, and the result of the positive test was the result of a contaminated substance,” White said. “The science completely supports that finding. The science doesn’t lie, so I look forward to getting him back early next year.
Bloodyelbow.com mixed martial arts journalist Mookie Alexander remarked of the sentence, “absolute madness that this case has taken such a wacky turn,” in his September 19, 2018 piece titled, “Jon Jones gets 15-month USADA ban for Turinabol, eligible to return as early as UFC 230.” While getting his Jheri curls trimmed up down at the barbershop, “The Gangster from West Linn” Chael Sonnen remarked that he found the entire episode surrounding Jones’s sentence confusing according to his September 28, 2018 video “Was Jon Jones actually found innocent?”
There’s a three-strike rule with USADA and Jon already had a strike so this will be strike two. If he was in fact found innocent then it means he does not have a strike. And nowhere in that do I interpret that he was found innocent, but he used that word and it was a very confusing and surprising deliberation to start with.
Sonnen would later go on to say via YouTube on September 28, 2018 in his podcast video excerpt titled “Did Jones receive a reduced sentence then refuse to fight at MSG?” that Jones’s reduced sentence was just in time for the UFC’s main event at the Madison Square Garden card against Alexander Gustafsson but Jones refused the fight. They were trying to rush Jones right in against a very serious opponent in Gustafsson and the Jones camp was having no part of it.
They tried to make Gustafsson vs Jones. They tried to do that fight. Jon Jones got cleared, everybody went through the hoops, everybody did everything that they were supposed to do. Jon Jones didn’t want to do the fight that fast. Jon Jones did not want to go in and do the fight that fast.
Fast forward to UFC 232, Jones was finally set to rematch Alexander Gustafsson after leaving the UFC holding the ball at UFC 230 at Madison Square Gardens. This after receiving a reduced sentence after violating USADA anti-doping rules and then the unthinkable happened, again. According to a Washington Post article by Des Bieler titled, “UFC 232 hastily moved to Los Angeles after a Jon Jones drug test gets flagged in Nevada” Jon Jones has once again tested positive for the steroid Turinabol” and utter chaos ensued as a result. The Nevada State Athletic Commission (NSAC) refused to license Jones and the entire event had to be relocated to an area just outside of Los Angeles, California where Jones could be licensed by the California State Athletic Commission despite the NSAC’s better judgement.
The catch is that Jones won’t be able to compete in Nevada, where UFC 232 was set to take place on Saturday at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. Instead, the entire event — comprising 13 fights in all, including a titanic battle between Cris Cyborg and Amanda Nunes — will be hastily moved to the Los Angeles-area Forum.
As if things couldn’t get any weirder, news breaks that referee Herb Dean has suffered an unspecified injury and is out of the UFC 232 circus act. According to Sherdog.com’s Tristen Critchfield’s December 26, 2018 article, “Mike Beltran Replaces Injured Herb Dean to Referee UFC 232 Main Event” that Dean, the NSAC’s originally assigned referee has went down and is out for the count.
According to a report from MMAFighting.com, Mike Beltran will replace Herb Dean as the official for the light heavyweight championship clash between Jones and Alexander Gustafsson. Dean, who was appointed by the Nevada Athletic Commission, suffered an injury and will not be able to work on Saturday night at the Forum in Inglewood, Calif. UFC 232 was moved from Las Vegas to California when the NAC declined to license Jones.
Just when you think things couldn’t get any more bizarre, enter the UFC press conference leading up to the December 29 fight where the side show between the UFC and the MMA press corps was on full display. According to a December 27, 2018 bloodyelbow.com article written by Tim Burke titled, “UFC 232: Jon Jones rips female reporter for asking about positive tests: ‘Better journalism, you suck’” we find the bizarre nature surrounding UFC 232 simply knows no end.
When Izabelle Kostic of Swedish MMA outlet Kimura.se asked “How come this is the third time we’re actually taking focus from the fighters and the fights and talking about what you have in your body? Whether it’s a picogram or a pictogram, why have you tested now positive?”, Jones brushed it off and just said “next question” with a smile.
While watching the press conference video from the safety of my computer, if I didn’t know any better, I would have thought there were professional agent provocateurs mingled amongst the crowd whose job it was to heckle and intimidate members of the press corps who may have been bold enough to ask legitimate questions concerning the completely bizarre events in the lead up to UFC 232. Swiss journalist Izabelle Kostic unfortunately received a first-hand lesson in how big-league sports politics are practiced and the extent in which the sports entertainment industry will go to deflect criticism and attempt to turn the tables on those questioning the perception of impropriety.
“Jones closed it out by saying “Better journalism, you suck,” writes Burke of the Swiss journalist Kostic’s experiences at the UFC 232 press conference with Jon Jones as Dana White lead the circus in undermining the veracity of the questions and the seriousness of the situation from the podium. Interestingly, news broke on December 27, 2018 that, “In the wake of a controversial drug test prior to UFC 232 involving Jon Jones, the UFC has renewed their contract with the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency,” writes Nicole Bosco in her article titled “UFC, USADA contract extended, drug tests to increase” for fansided.com.
With Jones allegedly receiving a reduced sentence under the USADA regulatory guidelines only to leave the UFC out in the cold at UFC 230 in Madison Square Garden it is fascinating to explore the UFC’s renewed contract with USADA after Jones tests positive again for residual amounts of the same substance he was previously sanctioned for. The resulting penalty little more than the NSAC’s refusal to license Jones in the state of Nevada, forcing the UFC to relocate to California just outside Los Angeles and burdening many of those who had made previous plans to attend UFC 232 in Vegas. And in a bizarre twist of fate, with a new venue change in comes a new referee change as well.
Even the appearance of impropriety should be staunchly avoided, especially when your job is to add credibility to a sport whose reputation is that of one saturated in illegal performance enhancing drug use. According to a December 28, 2018 mymmanews.com article by Mike Pendleton, the “California State Athletic Commission was not informed of Jon Jones’s test findings before the license hearing in December” in a convenient all too transparent excuse as to why a fight with millions of dollars on the line is still being allowed to continue as scheduled despite a positive test for performance enhancing drugs as the regulatory bodies apparently look on and attempt to justify and excuse it. Pendleton would go on to write, “when asked why CSAC was not informed of the findings before their December 11th hearing with Jones”, the UFC Vice President of Athlete Health and Development Jeff Novitzky replied:
Nevada knew at that time, but California didn’t. I mean, in hindsight, maybe USADA should have told CSAC. I’m definitely a proponent in as much transparency as possible. Unfortunately, how do you think of every scenario? I think in USADA’s mind, they had no obligation to let Nevada know about this at all. It wasn’t within their jurisdiction. I think out of an abundance of caution, they did it. Could they have given it to CSAC as well? I think potentially.
In a December 28, 2018 mmafighting.com article by Marc Raimondi titled, “CSAC was not given Jon Jones adverse finding information before December hearing” Raimondi followed up on Novitzky’s hindsight being 20/20, stating, “Foster confirmed with MMA Fighting on Friday that CSAC had no knowledge of the adverse findings until last week. He declined to comment further.”
Figuratively speaking, the circus has rolled into town. UFC 232 has been reduced to a side show attraction where even the regulatory bodies tasked with protecting the fighters are ridiculously inept to the point of suspicion. While this event may resemble an outer limits plot, in my opinion what it actually represents are the wheels of the machine being set in motion in order to funnel the direction of the winds into a particular path and direction. What is easily explained away by buffoonery and a genuine lack of class are in fact the shroud masking the men behind the curtain dutifully at work to set the stage for the events finale.
With Jon Jones’s immediate future in prize fighting very much in doubt, he managed to pull a rabbit out of a hat and miraculously his initial positive test for steroids in 2017 was ruled the result of a tainted supplement. With his eligibility to compete reinstated just in time for UFC 230, Jones leaves the UFC high and dry at Madison Square Garden’s forcing a last second main event fight between Daniel Cormier and Derrick Lewis after Jones declined to headline the card against Gustafsson in the rematch. To the amazement of nearly everyone, Jones once again test positive for the same steroid he was previously sanctioned for in 2017 and the UFC, USADA and even the athletic commissions themselves in two states are complicit in licensing and sanctioning a bout with a fighter who has absolutely, positively tested positive for a banned substance. Instead of a zero-tolerance policy, there appears to be room for performance enhancing drugs in the sport of mixed martial arts after all.
In keeping with UFC 232’s theme, ESPN mixed martial arts reporter Brett Okamoto described the Cat Zingano fight with Megan Anderson via twitter as an, “extremely bizarre finish.” Noting that it, “looks like Megan Anderson’s toe went into Cat Zingano’s eye in a head kick attempt and she stopped fighting. That’s not like an eye poke. Zingano turned around and stopped, fight is over. First round TKO.” UFC Hall of famer BJ Penn was made short work of by Brazilian Jiujitsu phenom Ryan Hall who caught Penn in a highlight reel Imanari style heel hook submission to seal the deal early in the first round. A passing of the guard occurred Saturday night at UFC 232 as well as bantamweight champion Amanda Nunes torched feared perennial powerhouse Cris Cyborg to capture the women’s featherweight title and become the first two division women’s champion in UFC history. The main event, to absolutely no one’s surprise saw Jon Jones convincingly out work Alexander Gustafsson in route to a third-round technical knockout victory to recapture the UFC light heavyweight title and bring to close this circus side show attraction of an event that will surely continue to smolder long after the lights go out.
A Closer Look at Performance Enhancing Drugs in Sports
By: Jesse Donathan
“He tested positive again!” Those were the words I was greeted with upon logging on to twitter Sunday, December 23 and seeing the first message of the day from UFC two division champion Daniel Cormier. Unfortunately, Cormier didn’t even need to elaborate any further. Those four short words said it all. Subconsciously, we all knew who Daniel was talking about without needing any further explanation. He of course was talking about Jon “Bones” Jones. Widely considered the best fighter in the sport, according to a December 23, 2018 Jack Crosby article from cbssports.com titled, “UFC 232 moved to Los Angeles after Jon Jones drug test includes miniscule amount of banned substance” Jones has tested positive for performance enhancing drugs once again though he has not been suspended and his title fight against Alexander Gustafsson remains as previously scheduled.
An abnormality in a pre-fight drug test taken by former UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones has forced UFC to move Saturday’s UFC 232 pay-per-view from Las Vegas to just outside of Los Angeles. Jones’s drug test showed a trace amount of Turinabol, the banned substance that saw him suspended 15 months by the United States Anti-Doping Agency, remained in his system. The USADA referred to it as “an extremely low level,” concluding that it is a residual amount “from his prior exposure for which he was previously sanctioned.
In an espn.com article from Brett Okamato, “Jon Jones subject to drug testing from USADA, VADA” published on December 24, 2018 Okamato reports that as a result of the “atypical” anti-doping test results Jones will be enrolling into VADA testing, testing Jones had initially elected not to participate in, drawing widespread criticism before this latest flagged test result. Okamato would go on to write:
Jon Jones, as of Monday afternoon, is subject to drug testing from both the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) and the Voluntary Anti-Doping Association (VADA).
According to California State Athletic Commission executive director Andy Foster, Jones, 31, enrolled in the VADA program on Monday. As a UFC athlete, he is still enrolled in the promotion’s mandatory USADA program as well, making him the first MMA fighter to be enrolled to both programs at the same time.
Jones is no stranger to banned substances, as described above this latest positive test for miniscule amounts of Turinabol are alleged to be trace deposits from the last positive test which Jones failed over a year ago. According to a September 13, 2017 article, “Jon Jones’ B sample confirms failed drug test from UFC 214” written by the BBC, “USADA confirmed that Jones had tested positive for an anabolic steroid called Turinabol, just one day before he defeated Daniel Cormier in Anaheim to reclaim the UFC’s light-heavyweight title.
Jones has denied knowingly taking the banned substance, and requested the test of his B sample, but this has now confirmed presence of Turinabol.” This latest December 2018 “atypical” result is alleged to be from this previous 2017 offense. Mixed martial arts journalist Dave Meltzer of The Wresting Observer isn’t so sure, stating via twitter social media on December 24, 2018 that, “when the same expert says a substance can only be detected for 6 weeks in 2017 and then tells you it was detected 17 months later in 2018, that tells me the “expert” may be smart, but also may be a con.”
Originally reported by Aaron Bronsteter, UFC content editor for The Sports News (TSN) via twitter, Jones tested at 60 picograms per milliliter on December 9, 2018. Interestingly enough, according to Bronsteter Jones originally tested positive back in 2017 for the same banned substance of between 20-80 picograms per milliliter. In other words, Jones’s most recent “atypical” flagged test is within the same range of his 2017 failed urinalysis for which he was originally sanctioned. Yet, Jones’s fight with Gustaffson remains as previously scheduled despite the NSAC’s refusal to license Jones. Rather questionably, the California State Athletic Commission is signing off on this fight when the Nevada State Athletic Commission would not, as the UFC bends over backwards to make sure the fight continues as scheduled.
According to a NCBI.gov article titled, “The pharmacokinetics of Oral-Turinabol in humans” originally published in September of 1991 by Schumann, W. oral-Turinabol has a terminal half-life of 16 hours. For those who may not be familiar with the term half-life, it is defined by Merriam-Webster’s dictionary as, “the time required for half the amount of a substance (such as a drug, radioactive tracer, or pesticide) in or introduced into a living system or ecosystem to be eliminated or disintegrated by natural processes.” Note, it’s been over a year since Jones’s original positive test.
In a July 7, 2016 Associated Press report at the nydailynews titled, “Tearful Jon Jones denies taking PEDs after positive test blows up UFC 200’s main event” Jones was reportedly adamant that, “he (had) no idea why his June 16 test would yield a violation after he passed seven other doping tests this year.” It was later revealed that Jones had tested positive for the anti-estrogen blocker clomiphene and the aromatase inhibitor Letrozole according to Marc Raimondi of mmafighting.com in his July 23, 2016 article titled, “Brock Lesnar tested positive for anti-estrogen; Lesnar, Jon Jones won’t face UFC fine.”
In a January 8, 2015 Ariel Helwani article for mmafighting.com, “Nevada Athletic Commission head: Jon Jones’ testosterone clean prior to UFC 182; carbon isotope ratio test conducted” we find some invaluable information in understanding the parallel world of doping in combat sports. In explaining testosterone to the reader, Helwani heads to WebMD to define testosterone as “the “male” hormone accounting for strength and endurance.” The WebMD definition goes on to state “for every molecule of testosterone produced by the body, another molecule of a substance called epitestosterone, which does not enhance performance, is made.” In examining some of the criteria set forth by regulatory bodies in mixed martial arts, the Helwani article would go on to explain that:
In a normal male body, the ratio of testosterone to epitestosterone, the T/E ratio, is about 1:1. But variation can occur in individuals, and the World Anti-Doping Code has deemed 4:1 as the threshold for a positive test.”
Note: Nevada’s threshold is 6:1.
This is some information worth sitting on and examining closer, because these ratios are incredible in comparison to the data we previously broke down barney style. Though I admittedly only had a C average when I graduated with a Bro-Science degree in English, the fact “the World Anti-Doping Code has deemed 4:1 as the threshold for a positive test,” seems to me to be a piece of information too incredible to skip over. There is nothing to see here people… move along!
If 1:1 is our baseline for normal, athletes could potentially have a 3:1 ratio of testosterone molecules made to every molecule of epitestosterone and still be well within the acceptable range of the World Anti-Doping Code and therefor passing the test with flying colors. That is literally three times what is considered normal and the scary part is that only a 4:1 ratio is considered a positive test. Understanding this information alone puts the performance enhancing drug question in combat sports in an entirely different light. If you are normal male athlete with a 1:1 T/E ratio you may think twice about stepping in there with another normal athlete who has a T/E ratio of 3:1 or even greater. Suddenly, the question of performance enhancing drugs in sports moves from the lens and perspective of cheating to an entirely new premise of leveling out the playing field.
According to Dr. Johnny Benjamin of mmajunkie.com, a noted medical combat-sports specialist, in his April 5, 2012 article titled, “Medical Beat: What are T:E ratios? And why do cut off limits vary?” ethnicity and other variables can play a role in T:E ratios.
Most men have a ratio of T to E of 1:1, which means normal men have equal amounts of T and E in their blood. There is some normal ethnic and time of day variation in the normal T/E ratio (as low as 0.7:1 and as high as 1.3:1).
Statistics reveal that a ratio of up to 3.7:1 will capture 95 percent of all normal men, and a ratio of up to 5:1 will capture greater than 99 percent of all men. That’s why the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) allows up to 4:1 (so its test is at least 95 percent accurate) and the Nevada State Athletic Commission, the NCAA and some others allow up to 6:1 (for 99 percent accuracy).
Flashing back to Helwani’s January 2015 article, he would go on write about Jon Jones’s flagged urinalysis sample:
So on Dec. 4, Jones’ T/E ratios came up as .29 and .35. Jones actually took two drug tests that day because, according to Nevada Athletic Commission executive director Bob Bennett, his first urine sample was “watery.” On Dec. 18, his T/E ratio came up as .19. Clearly, all three ratios were below that of the average male.
When our baseline is a 1:1 ratio, punching that information into the calculator still returns a result of one when you attempt to divide 1 by itself. Notice where Jon Jones’s decimal point is, we aren’t talking about 2.9 here. We are talking about 0.29, followed by 0.35 and incredibly on December 18 he tested out at 0.19. Jones was on his way to ruling the women’s UFC light heavyweight division until his dying day with those kinds of results. Helwani later writes, “by contrast, Daniel Cormier, Jones’ opponent at UFC 182, had a T/E ratio of .4 on Dec. 2 and .48 on Dec. 17. Cormier passed both those tests.” Even Daniel Cormier’s numbers are well below the 1:1 ratio considered as the baseline for normal testosterone to epitestosterone molecule production according to the WebMD synopsis originally provided by Helwani. While Jones’s test was the more suspicious between the two, there is no question Cormier is testing well below the normal threshold by regulatory body standards.
The World Anti-Doping code provides leeway up to a 4:1 ratio, the Nevada State Athletic Commission 6:1 according to Helwani and both Jones and Cormier are testing out with their decimal points on the wrong side of the calculations. Instead of testing for a high testosterone to low ratio epitestosterone, their decimal points are on the wrong side of the dotted line. In my opinion, both athletes have curiously low T/E ratios, however with Jones being the more questionable between the two he seemed to get the vast majority of negative publicity surrounding the testing results. In a seemingly real-life Jedi Mind trick, Nevada State Athletic Commission executive director Bob Bennet was quoted by Helwani as stating that, “there’s no problem with Daniel, trust me.”
Putting things into perspective here, according to an April 5, 2012 article by Jesse Holland of mmamania.com titled, “Report: Alistair Overeem T/E ratio comes back a whopping 14:1 following failed drug test” manipulating an athlete’s testosterone to epitestosterone ratio is a known performance enhancement technique in competitive sports and one which is exploited by athletes in combat sports.
Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Heavyweight number one contender Alistair Overeem, who flunked a surprise drug test in advance of his UFC 146 title fight opposite Junior dos Santos on May 26 in Las Vegas, has returned a staggering testosterone-to-epitestosterone (T/E) ratio of 14:1 in his failed urine test, according to Nevada State Athletic Commission (NSAC) Executive Director Keith Kizer.
Holland would go to write, “by comparison, Chael Sonnen’s T/E ratio following his failed urine test in the wake of his middleweight title fight in the UFC 117 main event back in October 2010, was 16.9:1.” Let that sink in for a second, 16.9 molecules of testosterone per one molecule of epitestosterone. In a universe where 1:1 is considered the baseline normal ratio, that’s simply unfathomable. Those are the kinds of numbers that would make Lance Armstrong blush. And according to Nevada State Athletic Director Bob Bennett Daniel Cormier competing at .40:1 and .48:1 isn’t a problem? “These are not the droids you’re looking for,” echo’s Obi Wan Kenobi in a galaxy, far, far away.
Yet, Jon Jones’s .29:1 and .35:1 ratio is a problem? With a third test ordered for Jon Jones and Jones only on December 18th with an astonishingly low .19:1 T/E ratio result obviously raising red flags on top of red flags. These are the T/E ratios I would expect from an adolescent child, yet they are the results of performance enhancing drug tests for two of the world’s leading mixed martial arts champions?
Astonishingly, in a July 1997 report by Werner W. Franke and Brigette Berondonk, “Hormonal doping and androgenization of athletes: a secret program of the German Democratic Republic government” published at Clinical Chemistry we find a wonderfully insightful and behind the scenes look at the world of pharmaceutical based athletic performance enhancing drug use. Describing the East German Democratic Republics (GDR) state sponsored doping program, Franke and Berondonk wrote of one of the GDR symposium’s goals to evade increased scrutiny by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) by administering, “testosterone as well as dihydrotestosterone by nasal spray, especially in those events in which the psychotropic effects of testosterone, such as increased aggressiveness, are considered important, as well as to evade the doping tests.”
In a fascinating and insightful look at the corruption within the regulatory bodies, Werner and Berondonk describe how situations deemed embarrassing or too damaging for some nations, regulatory bodies, promotions or athletes were simply covered up.
Finally, however, even when an athlete of the GDR, or another socialist country, was tested at a risky moment, i.e., when her or his urine was expected to still contain metabolites of synthetic steroids or an above-normal T:E ratio, there was no reason to panic. From the written records, it appears that, usually, one of the members of the international doping control committee was able to clear away the sample. For example, the Stasi reports from Höppner, who served many years on control committees, describe when and how he covered up certain drug-positive cases and arranged falsely negative findings, often after consultation with a ZK member; if worst came to worst, he acted directly by carrying out a urine exchange.
It’s unreal that Jon Jones has tested positive, again, yet reportedly for residual amounts from a previously failed test which he has already been sanctioned for. Contributing to the madness is the fact Jones is reportedly unable to be sanctioned by the Nevada State Athletic Commission, so the UFC has moved the entire show to just outside Los Angeles, California where Jones can be sanctioned by the California State Athletic Commission. The logistics involved for this kind of move, the money lost, and tremendous burden put on nearly everyone who had planned on attending the event in Las Vegas, with flights and hotels booked etc. is simply mind blowing.
There is plenty of blame to go around here. While Jones is the obvious target, how is it just days before the fight with Gustafsson this trace amount of Turinabol was only now discovered? If anything, this latest embarrassment for Jones only shines the light on the ineptitude of regulatory bodies and their administrative policies which ultimately lead to public relations nightmares just like this latest positive test by Jones for a performance enhancing drug he had been previously sanctioned on over a year ago now. Its time for additional oversight and reform in the combat sports entertainment industry.
Khabib vs. McGregor in Boxing?
By: Michael Kane
Conor McGregor fought UFC Lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov in October, and was convincingly defeated. McGregor would like a rematch and so it seems would Khabib Nurmagomedov’s father.
Only next time in a boxing ring.
After the Dagestani’s win, he called out Floyd Mayweather, Mayweather said the fight may happen and that he could make more money fighting Khabib than he did when he beat McGregor in the 10th round last year.
The rumours on this potential match up have gone quiet and now it seems Khabib and his team still fancy a boxing bout against his old foe, McGregor.
Whether this would hold much appeal to boxing aficionados around the world is debatable however, could it launch the much talked about entrance to the boxing world of Zuffa Boxing?
Speaking to Russian newspaper, Izvestia, Abdulmanap Nurmagomedov said, “As for the fight against Conor under boxing rules, this is a fight we are interested in. Khabib showed that he is able to beat the best strikers of mixed martial arts.
“He said this before, but few believed it. However, after strong victories over Michael Johnson, Edson Barboza and Conor, people begin to believe.”
Nurmagomedov knocked McGregor to the canvas in the second round of their bout at UFC 229 and may have taken some confidence that He could out strike the Irishman.
“Nurmagomedov is able to do it in the boxing ring. Khabib has all the skills to win by the rules of boxing. One of the key skills can be called endurance.
“I remember his five round fight with (Al) Iaquinta, in which Khabib showed his willingness to fight in absolutely any area, using everything from a left jab to control on the ground. I want to note that the fight against Iaquinta was of great importance to us, there was a belt at stake and it was important to keep the bout calm and take the win. Which we did!”
Combatant in Chief: The Story of Donald Trump and Combat Sports Debuts on UFC Fight Pass on Wednesday, November 14th
UFC®, the world’s premier mixed martial arts organization, continues its celebration of the company’s silver anniversary with the ongoing release of a 25-part documentary series entitled UFC 25 Years in Short. The compilation of short films represents 25 captivating UFC stories, one for each year of the promotion’s existence, that examine UFC’s amazing evolution, fascinating characters, and lasting influence. UFC 25 Years in Short streams on UFC FIGHT PASS®, the promotion’s digital subscription streaming service.
“COMBATANT IN CHIEF: The Story of Donald Trump and Combat Sports”
When Donald Trump opened his Atlantic City casino to the struggling UFC, it was the start of an unlikely friendship between the current POTUS and UFC president Dana White.
Directed by Adam Condal and Michael Hayden.
Premiere Date: Wednesday, November 14 at 12 a.m. PT / 3 a.m. ET
The history of UFC and President Donald Trump are intertwined, as President Trump played a pivotal role in legitimizing UFC and the sport of Mixed Martial Arts. Trump Taj Mahal hosted UFC 30 in Atlantic City in February 2001, making it the first UFC event held by new owners Zuffa, LLC, which purchased the promotion in January that year. UFC 30 was also the first state-sanctioned UFC event held in New Jersey. UFC returned to Trump Taj Mahal in May 2001 with UFC 31, the first UFC event held under the new Unified Rules of Mixed Martial Arts, which the New Jersey State Athletic Control Board had adopted a month earlier.
Khabib’s Explosion: Was it Unexpected and Justified?
By: William Holmes
“This is respect sport….This is not trash-talking sport…I don’t want people talk shit about opponents, talk shit about his father, religion. You cannot talk about religion. You cannot talk about nation. Guys, you cannot talk about this stuff.”-Khabib Nurmagomedov
The talk of the combat sporting world this weekend was the Khabib vs. Conor McGregor UFC fight, which featured Khabib picking McGregor apart before submitting him in the fourth round, then suddenly jumping out of the octagon cage and into the crowd to attack Dillon Danis, a member of McGregor’s team who was sitting cage side and allegedly taunting Khabib.
Chaos ensued afterwards and members of Khabib’s team jumped in the cage to attack McGregor. Suspensions will likely be given out, loss of purse and titles are also a possibility.
The sports world was divided. Were Khabib’s actions justified? Were his actions unexpected?
In order to attempt to understand Khabib, one first has to understand his background and where he is from, something that he was evidently trying to explain in his post fight explanation.
Khabib is from Dagestan, a Russian republic. It has been the forefront of Islamic Insurgency and ethnic tension since the 1990s. It borders Chechnya, the location of a severe conflict with Russia that often featured Chechen fighters infiltrating Dagestan to call for Jihad.
Khabib is a devout Sunni Muslim and well educated. He speaks several languages and is very proud of his culture and heritage.
Insults aimed at his religion or nation are not taken likely. I’m not arguing that Khabib is a terrorist or that he supports armed violent jihad, but pointing out that disrespect against his religion is taken very seriously.
So should we have been surprised by Khabib’s actions? Well, if you had some general knowledge about the region he is from, probably not. McGregor is notorious for his trash talking, but when he insulted Khabib he questioned the support Khabib has in his nation, mocked Khabib by offering him alcohol even though he’s a Muslim who does not drink, and called his manager a terrorist rat.
Khabib has been exposed to religious warfare and terrorism, and to lump him and his team with real terrorists was undoubtedly an insult that he could not ignore.
Khabib claims Dillon Danis hurled Muslim insults at him after the fight and that’s why he jumped over the fence, a claim Danis denies. But nobody should have been surprised that Khabib was still fired up after his fight with McGregor was over.
“I know my father’s gonna smash me when I go home because…I know he’s gonna smash me.”-Khabib Nurmagomedov
“I think that for Khabib, the most severe sanctions would be my regard. I am going to regard this severely. I warned him. For me, the most important thing is discipline. You can do whatever you want in the octagon, but beyond its barrier-this is the border separating civilians, there are children, women, bystanders.
This fight took place within the octagon. That’s the spectacle But I am categorically against fighting outsid the octagon. Outside of the octagon, you need to exist peacefully. Fight in the octagon.”
Now for the million dollar, or two million dollar question. Were his actions justified?
Pre-fight trash talk has been a part of combat sports for years. McGregor and Mayweather’s trash talk was probably more entertaining than the actual fight itself.
But even though Mayweather and McGregor insulted each other greatly leading up to the fight, they were able to be cordial in the post fight interviews.
It’s difficult to find too many situations where a fighter leaped into the crowd immediately after a fight to engage someone in the crowd.
But there has been several situations where members of a boxer’s team jumped in a cage to start a brawl, and they were usually dealt with by the commission harshly.
Roger Mayweather jumped in the ring when Floyd fought Zab Judah and was hit with a low blow and a punch behind the head. An all out melee ensued when members from both camps entered the ring and brawled. Afterwards, Yoel Judah was fined $100,000 and had his license revoked for a year. Roger Mayweather was fined $200,000 and had his license revoked for one year. Leonard Ellerbe was fined $50,000 and had his license revoked for four months. Even Zab Judah received a fine of $350,000 and had his license revoked for a year.
Another example of a brawl happening in boxing was during the riot during the first Riddick Bowe/Andrew Golota fight. The fight was stopped after Golota landed several low blows on Bowe after repeated warnings. Members of Bowe’s security team jumped in the ring and went after Golota.
Rock Newman, Bowe’s manager and promoter, was suspended for a year and fined $250,000 for the incident.
More recently, one would have to look at the fight between Jose Uzcategui and Andre Dirrell, which featured Leon Lawson Jr., the Uncle of Dirrell, sucker punch Uzcategui. Lawson was suspended by the Maryland State Athletic Commission and faced criminal charges as a result.
Of course, one of the most famous post fight brawls or sucker punches was when James Butler sucker punched Richard Grant on ESPN after he lost his fight. He was charged with assault and suspended. In fact, he served four months at Rikers Island as a result.
Were his actions, jumping into the crowd to attack bystanders, justified? Precedent by athletic commission for boxers and members of their team behaving poorly and attacking fighters after a sanctioned fight is over are usually dealt with harshly.
There really isn’t any specific precedent to determine if the actions of Khabib were justified, but it appears likely that the commission won’t find any justification for a fighter to jump into a crowd to start a wild brawl, and will also likely deal with him harshly.
Justified? Also no.
Khabib’s punishment awaits.
UFC 229 Results: Khabib Submits McGregor and Immediately Shames MMA
By: William Holmes
The T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada was the host site for the biggest UFC PPV of 2018, featuring a main event between Khabib Nurmagomedov and Conor McGregor for the UFC Lightweight Title.
Photo Credit: UFC Twitter Account
The arena was starting to fill by the time of the first fight of the main card of the ppv, a strawweight woman’s bout between Michelle Waterson (15-6) and Felice Herrig (14-7).
Waterson opened up with using her kicks more like jabs and was effective with her front leg side kick to the thigh. Herrig was able to land a solid straight right in the opening round, but Waterson was more effective with her strikes.
Herrig was able to get Waterson’s back against the cage in the early moments of the second round, but Waterson was eventually able to break free and land a hard high kick to the head of Herrig before throwing her to the ground. Waterson was able to finish the second round with some strong ground and pound.
Herrig was able to find some success in the third round with her dirty boxing and was able to defend one of Waterson’s takedown attempts and maintain control on top. But Waterson was able to land some hard elbows from the bottom and briefly threatened with an omoplata.
The final scores were 30-26, 29-28, and 30-27 for Michelle Waterson.
The next bout of the night was a heavyweight bout between Former M1 Heavyweight Champion Alexander Volkov (29-6) and Derrick Lewis (20-5) .
Volkov was the much taller fighter and was controlling the first round with his reach and counter right hands. He was able to get side mount and transition to taking the back of Lewis, but Lewis was able to regain top position and land some short elbows as the round ended.
Volkov was able to stun Lewis with a combination in the opening minutes of the second round and had the left eye of Lewis swollen. Lewis took several hard shots but was able to stay on his feet.
Lewis took several hard right hands form Volkov in first half of the third round but showed he had a strong chin and took his best shots. Lewis looked like he was going towards a decision loss but he landed a devastating right cross followed by some concussive ground and pound that turned off the lights of Volkov.
Derrick Lewis wins by shocking knockout at 4:49 of the third round.
The next bout of the night was between Ovince Saint Preux (22-11) and Dominick Reyes (9-0) in the light heavyweight division.
Reyes, a southpaw, exchanged body kicks with Saint Preux in the opening round and was able to stuff the takedown attempts of Saint Preux. Reyes was able to land some short elbows to the side of Saint Preux’s head on some of the takedown attempts, and had Ferguson is applying pressure. Lands a hard straight right.
By the second round Reyes had landed six times the number of strikes that Saint Preux had landed, and had the forehead of Saint Preux badly bleeding. Saint Preux looked exhausted near the end of the second and Reyes had built a comfortable lead.
Saint Preux needed a stoppage in the final round to pull out the victory and he did press the action, but Reyes was able to fight wisely and suddenly landed a stunning left cross to the chin of Saint Preux that sent him crashing to the mat as the round came to an end.
Dominick Reyes wins by decision with scores of 30-27 on all three scorecards.
The co-main event of the night was between Tony Ferguson (25-3) and Anthony Pettis (21-7) in the lightweight division.
Ferguson looked like the significantly bigger man but was hobbled by leg kicks from Pettis early on. Ferguson and Pettis both tried spinning back fists in the opening round and were able to land hard shots, but Ferguson was landing the harder shots.
Pettis was able to drop Ferguson early in the second round, who had blood pouring out of his mouth from the shots of Pettis. Ferguson was able to cut Pettis to and get back to his feet and recover, and continued to apply continuous pressure and pound on Pettis from cage side to cage side. Pettis had a cut by his hairline and the ringside doctor took a look at it but allowed the fight to continue. Pettis got tagged badly several times as the round came to an end.
When Pettis went back to his corner he told his corner he broke his hand and his corner stopped the fight
Tony Ferguson wins by TKO at the end of the second round due to a broken right hand on Anthony Pettis.
The main event was between Khabib Nurmagomedov (26-0) and Conor McGregor (21-3) for the UFC Lightweight Title.
McGregor, despite being the bigger draw, entered the Octagon first to a positive fan reaction and Khabib entered second to mainly boos and jeers.
McGregor pressed forward in the opening round and was able to land an overhand right and some low leg kicks. Khabib went immediately for a takedown and McGregor was able to immediately stop it. Khabib completed the takedown and finished the round on top of McGregor but was not able to do much damage from there.
McGregor got tagged with an unexpected vicious overhand right in the second round by Khabib that had McGregor mometarily hurt. Both were throwing hard, wild punches and Khabib goes in for a takedown and is able to finish it. Khabib lands some hard ground and pound through the remainder of the round and at one point threatens McGregor with a kimura but doesn’t finish it.
McGregor had a much better third round and was able to tag Khabib with several combinations and stuffed his takedown attempts. McGregor appeared to gain some momentum this round and Khabib showed signs of tiring.
Khabib appeared fired up at the end of the third round and was yelling at McGregor as he went back to his corner.
Khabib opened up the fourth round by throwing a wild two punch combination but missed wildly, and McGregor was able to land with a two punch combination of his own. Khabib goes in for a takedown and completes it and transitions into a full mount. Khabib lands some heavy ground and pound before before taking McGregor’s back and sinking in a rear naked choke.
McGregor is forced to tap and Khabib doesn’t immediately let go. As Khabib rises to his feet he appears to spit in the direction of McGregor and immediately begins yelling at the corner of McGregor.
Khabib, who just had the biggest win of his career, then goes nuclear and jumps out of the octagon and goes after one of McGregor’s cornermen and starts a fight in the crowd.
All hell breaks loose and one of Khabib’s teammates jumps in the ring and begins unloading on McGregor. It takes several minutes before officials are able to restore order.
Khabib, still enraged, demands his belt but Dana White refuses to put it on him. Khabib is escorted out of the cage and into the back with a lengthy suspension almost certainly to follow.
A career defining win for Khabib turns into one of the most shameful moments in MMA history.
UFC 229 Preview: Khabib Nurmagomedov vs. Conor McGregor
By: William Holmes
On Saturday night the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada will host the biggest pay per view of the year in either boxing or MMA as the UFC Lightweight Title will be up for grabs when undefeated Khabib Nurmagomedov faces Conor McGregor in the main event of the evening.
McGregor is the UFC’s biggest draw, and Khabib is McGregor’s toughest test to date in MMA. This blockbuster event will be getting a lot of attention in the mainstream media leading up to Saturday.
The co-main event of the evening will be between Anthony Pettis and Tony Ferguson in the lightweight division. The winner of this bout will likely be in line for a future title shot against the winner of Khabib and McGregor.
Photo Credit: UFC Twitter Account
The undercard has some intriguing fights throughout. Ovince Saint Preux will face Dominick Reyes in the light heavyweight division, Derrick Lewis will face Alexander Volkov in the heavyweight division, Sergio Pettis will face Jussier Formiga in the flyweight division, and Michelle Waterson will face Felice Herrig in the Women’s Straweight division.
The UFC tends to show more fights on their pay per view offerings than boxing so five fights will likely be televised.
The following is a preview of the co-main event and the main event of the night.
Anthony Pettis (21-7) vs. Tony Ferguson (23-3); Lightweights
The winner of the co-main event of the night will likely move on to a future title shot.
Anthony Pettis was once considered a top rated contender, but he has struggled recently and has only gone 3-3 in his last six fights, and actually has a losing record of 3-5 in his last eight fights.
Tony Ferguson has been on a roll and is currently riding a ten fight win streak. However, his activity is of some concern as he has only fought three times since the beginning of 2016, while Pettis has fought seven times since the beginning of 2016.
Ferguson is 34 years old and three years older than Pettis. Ferguson will have a very slight two inch height advantage on Pettis.
Both fighters like to finish their fight. Of Pettis’ 21 victories, 17 have come by way of stoppage. 18 of Ferguson’s victories have come by way of stoppage.
There really is no such thing as an easy fight in the UFC. Pettis has defeated the likes of Michael Chiesa, Jim Miller, Charles Oliveira, Gilbert Melendez, and Benson Henderson. His losses were to Rafael Dos Anjos, Eddie Alvarez, Edson Barboza, Max Holloway, and Dustin Poirier.
Ferguson’s only losses were to Michael Johnson and two lesser known fighters very early in his career. He has defeated the likes of Kevin Lee, Rafael Dos Anjos, Edson Barboza, Josh Thomson, Gleison Tibau, Abel Trujillo, and Danny Castillo.
Pettis might have a slight edge in striking, but Ferguson has a strong edge in grappling. Ferguson was a NCWA Collegiate National Champion in Wrestling and was a high school state champion in Michigan. Pettis didn’t pick up on grappling until later on in his life.
Ferguson should win this fight by decision. He’s never been stopped by strikes in his career, and that’s Anthony Pettis’ best weapon.
Khabib Nurmagomedov (26-0) vs. Conor McGregor (21-3); UFC Lightweight Championship
As stated earlier, there really is no such thing as an easy fight in the UFC, and that’s why it’s very impressive for Khabib Nurmagomedov to have an undefeated record.
Khabib is a fighter with a very strong grappling background. He was born in Dagestan, Russia and has never lost. His win streak currently stands at 26 victories in a row.
Both Khabib and McGregor are 30 years old, though Khabib will have a two inch height advantage on McGregor.
Khabib has a history of injuries and trouble making weight, though he has made weight for this weekend. 16 of his 26 wins were by stoppage, with eight by TKO and eight by submission.
McGregor’s excitement as a fighter is much more than his personality. Of McGregor’s 21 victories, 18 have come by TKO/KO and one by submission. Only two of his wins were by judges decision.
Neither fighter can consider themselves to be super active since 2016. Khabib fought once in 2018, once in 2017, and twice in 2016. McGregor did not fight yet in an MMA cage in 2018 or 2017. He fought three times in 2016 and was last seen competing in a boxing ring when he was stopped by Floyd Mayweather Jr.
McGregor has beaten the likes of Eddie Alvarez, Nate Diaz, Jose Aldo, Chad Mendes, Dennis Silver, Dustin Poirier, and Max Holloway. His losses were to Joseph Duffy, Nate Diaz, and Artemij Sitenkov.
Nobody has ever beaten Khabib. He has defeated the likes of Al Iaquinta, Edson Barboza, Michael Johnson, Darrel Horcher, Rafael Dos Anjos, Thiago Tavares, and Gleison Tibau.
One of the biggest factors that jumps out at this writer is that McGregor’s three losses were all by submission and he’s facing a fighter who’s known for being a very strong grappler. Khabib has finished 8 previous opponents by submission.
If McGregor is going to win he’ll have to stop Khabib with strikes, it’s difficult to imagine him keeping the fight standing for five rounds.
Even though McGregor recently signed a lucrative contract extension with the UFC and is their most popular fighter, his recent inactivity and weakness in grappling will likely be issues that Khabib will exploit.
This writer feels that Khabib’s strengths will make for a very bad matchup for McGregor on Saturday.
For Boxing Fans Not Interested in the UFC; Streaming with DAZN and ESPN+ is the New Normal
By: William Holmes
On Saturday night the number one PPV attraction in combat sports will defend his world title.
I’m not talking about Floyd Mayweather Jr., the past PPV king who has yet to officially announce the details of his next proposed fight.
I’m talking about Conor McGregor, the UFC’s cash cow who’s set to take on undefeated challenger Khabib Nurmagomedov.
Photo Credit: DAZN Twitter Account
As recently as last year, if a UFC fight card was on PPV and an outlet like HBO or Showtime put on a competing card, you could expect HBO or Showtime to still get decent ratings.
However, the times have changed and HBO is making an exit from broadcasting boxing and will be completely out of boxing by the time 2019 arrives.
The future for boxing fans is streaming, and the future is here.
One of the bigger complaints against HBO Boxing was that you couldn’t watch a fight on their network live via streaming. You could subscribe to a service like HBO GO without a cable television provider or satellite provider, but you could not watch fights live, only on tape delay. Showtime has that option for their subscribers, which reflects the inclinations of the younger generation to cut the chord and stream their programming and also reflected Showtime’s commitment to the sport of boxing.
Showtime would still probably get good numbers if they were to counter program against the UFC, but they even have a streaming option for fights available for their customers.
HBO has a wide array of programming for their subscribers and charges approximately $15 per month. Some of their consumers got HBO solely for boxing, and would shell out additional money per month for their PPV offerings.
The number of fights that HBO put on yearly has been on the decline, as well as their budget. For the same $15 a month, fight fans can get high quality fights on both ESPN+ and DAZN and a much larger number of boxing matches.
DAZN has contracts to televised both boxing and MMA. They plan to televised 16 boxing events in the United States and 16 boxing events in the United Kingdom with Matchroom Boxing per year. They plan to show 15 World Boxing Super Series events per year with 21 tournament bouts. They have a contract with Combate Americas for thirteen events a year. They also have a contract to broadcast some of Bellator MMA’s biggest events, who have named fighters such as Chael Sonnen, Rampage Jackson, Rory McDonald, Gegard Mousasi, and Fedor Emelianenko under contract.
ESPN+ also has plans to put on a large number of MMA and boxing events on their platform. When ESPN originally announced their contract with Top Rank they indicated they will show at least 12 live fight cards from the US and six international cards. They’ve already signed an extension on that deal that will call for 18 cards to air on ESPN, 12 prime-time cards that will stream exclusively on ESPN+, and 24 premium international events to be shown on ESPN+.
While DAZN has Bellator and Combate Americas; ESPN+ has a contract with the UFC, the MMA powerhouse. The deal that ESPN+ has with the UFC is for 10 UFC Fight Night cards on ESPN and 20 UFC Fight Night cards on ESPN+ per year.
In the past boxing fans who were not fans of the UFC would usually turn to their premium networks to watch boxing during a UFC PPV. This weekend, boxing fans have plenty of other options.
On ESPN+ they can watch a bantamweight bout between Luis Nery and Jason Canoy from Tijuana, Mexico and also watch a junior welterweight fight between Jack Catterall and Ohara Davies from Leicester, England in the junior welterweight division.
On DAZN they can watch a welterweight bout between Jessie Vargas and Thomas Dulorme, as well as an IBF Light Heavyweight bout between Artur Beterbiev and Callum Johnson, as well as a WBA Junior Featherweight bout between Danny Roman and Gavin McDonnell.
Additionally, fight fans can also watch on DAZN a WBA Bantamweight Title bout between Naoya Inoue and Juan Carlos Payano as well as a WBA Junior Welterweight bout between Kiryl Relikh and Eduard Troyanovsky. These bouts are part of the World Boxing Super Series and will be broadcast from Yokohama, Japan.
So while all the hype and marketing this week is behind Conor McGregor and Khabib Nurmagomedov, boxing fans still have a chance to see a high quality card from Chicago and Japan on DAZN, and a boxing card from England and Mexico on ESPN+. If you’re already a subscriber you know of the quality and quantity of boxing fights these services offer.
Finally, the streaming services offer viewers an opportunity to watch an entire card, from opening fight to the main fight, and not just the top two or three fights. This will allow fans to get a better look at prospects early on in their career.
For boxing fans, the price of ESPN+ and DAZN combined is about the same price as a monthly subscription to HBO. But the quality and quantity of content is far greater with these streaming services.
If you’re not a fan of the UFC and are looking for other viewing options, might as well sign up with these streaming services for a month and enjoy.
And get used to it, for streaming is the new normal for boxing fans. At close inspection, it appears to be a better normal.
Conor McGregor’s Return to MMA Post-Mayweather
by Bryanna Fissori
Conor McGregor (21-3) will be fighting again for the first time since his pro boxing debut against Floyd Mayweater Jr, just over a year ago. The former 2-Division UFC Titleholder faces potential his toughest MMA opponent yet in Khabib Nurmagomedov (26-0).
More Than a Championship Title
The bout is for the UFC Lightweight Title, which McGregor was stripped of earlier this year due to inactivity. But, there is more on the line this fight than just a championship belt. McGregor and Nurmagomedov have an open dislike for each other for years.
In April, McGregor flew from Ireland to the U.S. to hurl a handtruck through the window of Nurmagomedov’s bus, which was also carrying several other UFC fighters. The event was supposedly instigated by Khabib slapping a teammate of McGregor’s.
Recent Comments About the Bus Situation
In the recent UFC press conference, McGregor had something to say about the event,
“I showed you my hands, no weapons. The first thing [I did] when I showed up at that bus, I showed my hands to let him know, ‘I have come unarmed, no weapons. Step off the bus, you talked a big game and now I’m here.’ He done f*cking nothing. He sat there and took a shit on that bus. He hid and cowered behind women and caused [what happened], so that’s f*cking that. So here’s my location now, you little fool — right in front of you . . . “
“If you got off that bus, you’d be dead now. You’d be dead and I’d be in a cell, so shut your f*cking mouth…”
It was unclear for some time whether Conor McGregor would face legal ramifications preventing him from competing. Instead, he lives up to his nickname “Notorious” and has added fuel to the fire for this bout. Maybe he learned more than boxing moves last summer when he was studying Mayweather, who seems to know his way around a courtroom.
Toughest MMA Match to Date
The matchup between Conor McGregor and Khabib Nurmagomedov is a classic striker vs grappler, although both are well-rounded, high-level martial artists. Seven of McGregor’s nine wins in the UFC have come via knockout or technical knockout. He’s well known for his fan-friendly striking style. Nurmagomedov is noted to be a brutal grappler with a tough chin.
Though many fight promotions are guilty of promoting main events as “The Best Fight in History,” this one does seem to have some serious potential.
Conor McGregor vs Khabib Nurmagomedov is schedule as the main event on UFC 229 at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. The fight will be five – five-minute rounds for the UFC Lightweight Championship Title. Tickets to the event sold out in a just few hours. The rest of us will be watching it on Pay-Per-View.
Jon Jones Claims Interest in Seeing Him Take on Wilder and Joshua
By: Michael Kane
Jon Jones, one of the finest MMA fighters on the planet, has said ‘people’ want to see him take on Deontay Wilder and Anthony Joshua.
Just who these people are, no one knows.
Photo Credit: Jon Jones Twitter Account
Jones who has just had a 4 year suspension cut to 14 months by USADA for helping them in their investigations of the use of illegal substances within the UFC, is expected to make a return to the sport towards the end of the year.
With Conor McGregor having made a lot of money by facing Floyd Mayweather in the boxing ring, it seems Jones would like to so something similar.
“Right now my mindset is more about making money, even those big fights,” Jones told RT Sports.
“You know, I watched Conor McGregor fight Floyd Mayweather, and it was high risk, high reward. There’s a saying, ‘scared money don’t make money’. I gotta be brave when I get back in the game and start challenging guys that I could possibly lose to, because that’s what people want to see.”
The former light heavy weight UFC champion could make a return in the heavyweight division, especially as arch rival Daniel Cormier has become the heavyweight champion to add to the light heavyweight strap he holds.
It was the heavyweights in both sports that he gave a mention to.
“They want to see Jones versus Velasquez, they want to see Jones versus Ngannou, that’s what people want to see, and that’s where my mindset is,” Jones said.
“Jones versus Anthony Joshua, or Deontay Wilder, you know, that’s what people want to see.”
We’ll find out if the fan interest for the fight is there.
McGregor Claims He’ll Take What He Learned Boxing Into Octagon
By: Sean Crose
“I’ve been on both sides of the world,” Conor McGregor said during a Thursday press conference to promote his UFC superfight with Khabib Nurmagomedov. “I’ve been on the boxing side and I’ve been on this side.” Rather than blow off last year’s fight with Floyd Mayweather, where he was stopped in the tenth round by the fighter known as “Money” in the boxing ring, McGregor made it clear to the media that he’s willing to take what he’s learned from the sweet science and bring it into the octagon.
“We are looking forward to showcasing to the world what I have learned from my boxing venture,” McGregor said, “and through my return to mma with this boxing venture.” No one would deny that McGregor certainly benefited financially from his foray into boxing, for the man reportedly earned roughly one hundred million dollars fighting Mayweather. “From the last match,” McGregor said, “I’m set for life.” Nurmagomedov himself enjoyed mentioning McGregor’s bout with Mayweather. “After this fight he goes back to boxing,” the undefeated Russian claimed.
The press conference was certainly a heated, sometimes tedious affair, with McGregor behaving over top and perhaps a bit inebriated as he drank his own brand of “Proper” whiskey before the media. “This is a direct competitor to Jameson,” the outspoken Dubliner said, in reference to the famous Irish whiskey. The main topic of conversation, however, remained the grudge match the two fighters are set to have in a few weeks. “When he’s tired, he always gives up,” said Nurmagomedov in his broken English. “He move to box(ing) and he tap there.”
When asked directly about the Mayweather fight, McGregor – who loves to taunt his competition during such affairs – became serious and seemingly respectful. “It was a great match,” he said of the Mayweather bout, “it was a great boxing match…30 minutes, my longest contest that was.” The biggest star in mma then went on. “I learned some things,” he added of his ring experience. “Of course you take with you from every fight, you learn and grow. I was very happy with the experience as a whole.” When asked what he thought of Mayweather’s warning that McGregor fears no one, Nurmagomedov had a ready reply. “I am the Floyd Mayweather of MMA,” he said. “You’re a door box.” McGregor snapped back.
“You’ll see on October 6th,” McGregor claimed, “the lessons I have learned.”
Implications for Zuffa Boxing Sanctioning Intentions
By Bryanna Fissori
Dana White has been teasing fans and fighters with the possibility of Zuffa Boxing becoming boxing’s latest promotional phenomenon.
Multiple press conferences and interviews have confirmed that the promotion will be hosted under the UFC umbrella with a similar format, which is heavily based on promoting and building the personalities of fighters through widespread marketing. Unlike most current boxing promotions which base the vast majority of marketing on only the main event, the UFC is known to have cards that have a significant draw starting at the undercard.
Zuffa Boxing Scouts Talent
Though nothing has been confirmed, there have been solid rumors that WBO champion Mikey Garcia is on Zuffa’s list of boxers they would like to sign. Anthony Joshua is also at the top of that list. Many other boxers and current UFC fighters have also shown interest in the promotion.
In an interview several months ago, White stated that he would not be moving his MMA fighters to over boxing. That being said, White also previously stated that women would never be in the UFC. The reality will likely depend on whatever makes the most financial sense.
New Boxing Sanctioning
One of the potential hiccups for Zuffa Boxing is that they have a number of limitations on current boxing enterprises that they will work with. White has been vocal about his distaste for Golden Boy Promotions, Top Rand and Showtime. Just a few days ago, White also confirmed that Zuffa Boxing would not work with any of the current boxing sanctioning bodies. These include the WBA, WBC, IBF, IBO and WBO.
Over the years there has been continual talk of belt unification since there are so many different sanctioning bodies. Zuffa Boxing is uninterested in that conversation and intends to create a separate league. This is not a big surprise. The UFC has found a great amount of success in promoting their champions as superior to those of other organizations.
Ali Act Implications
The Muhammad Ali Boxing Reform Act is a major part of deciding what can and cannot happen on the business end of boxing. Having both a promotion and a sanctioning body may prove difficult under the rules of the Ali Act. The Ali Act does not explicitly deny a promotion the ability to also host a sanctioning body. But there is an approval process through the ABC and Federal Trade Commission that has to be completed before the sanctioning body can receive compensation. There are also tight restrictions on contracts and ancillary rights agreements that differ from the UFC’s current protocol.
There is a currently a movement amongst MMA fighters to extend the Ali Act to encompass all combat sports participants. The UFC has opposed the movement.
What’s Next for Zuffa Boxing?
It has been nearly 10 months since Conor McGregor and Floyd Mayweather Jr. stood toe to toe in the ring. Rumors of Zuffa Boxing began before the first bell rang. Since then, fighters and fans have been waiting to see what is next. Unlike a small regional promotion, Zuffa Boxing will have a lot more legwork to do before hosting their own boxing card. This is especially true if they plan to create their own sanctioning body and fresh set of fighters contracted to the organization. Until then, we continue to wait and see.
How Many Older Boxing Fans Have Switched to MMA-UFC?
By: Ken Hissner
At age 74 this writer has been a boxing fan since at age 8 watching the rematch between then World Heavyweight Champion Rocky Marciano and the former champion “Jersey” Joe Walcott on TV with my dad.
I’ve watched many changes especially in boxing. The then great trainers didn’t always pass down their knowledge possibly in fear of losing a fighter they trained. Trainers are in a position where “they do not have a contract with a boxer” as the manager does so there is little protection. You lose a fight today and the boxer changes trainers as if it were the fault of the trainer and not the boxers.
At an early age I loved watching professional wrestling. Several of my favorites were Argentina Rocca and Haystacks Calhoun. With age I realized the results in wrestling was known prior to the match. I was told by one who was involved in wrestling a “blood capsule” was placed in the mouth of a wrestler and when “hit” the blood from the capsule looked like real blood coming out. Granted, they had to be in good enough condition to take the tumbles and falls they did.
In time I grew out of watching wrestling though once watching high school wrestling at state championships in Pennsylvania with three events going on at once I knew that at that level let alone college it was really a tough sport. That is probably where some of the better MMA-UFC fighters have an advantage today.
We now live in a “blood thirsty” society that the more violence the better for the say 20 to 50 crowd enjoy the more blood and violence the better! I don’t even want to get into the NFL’s violence. Do they test for steroids?
So as more American men today rather choose playing a team sport where they can make plenty of money without having to take all the “blame” whereas unless it’s a last play failing the team takes the blame for the loss not the individual as in boxing it’s “safer!” Today in boxing you have some of the best P4P boxers coming from Eastern Europe where they come to the United States “hungry” like the Americans did say in the 50’s and 60’s they have great success. The Ukraine’s Vasyl “Hi-Tech” Lomachenko and Kazakhstan’s Gennady “GGG” Golovkin are great examples of that today.
So along comes MMA-UFC and I can’t believe how the fan’s go crazy for the violence as they do for American football where the injuries are horrific. A quarterback literally takes his life into his hands waiting to be crushed by a 250 pound “monster” hitting him from the-blindside! I couldn’t believe it when while serving in the Army in the mid 60’s when NY Jet quarterback Joe Namath claimed he couldn’t go in because of “bad knees!” Bad knees? How dangerous would it have been getting inducted and probably leading recruits into calisthenics? You think the greats like Joe “The Brown Bomber” and “Sugar” Ray Robinson were put into combat while serving during World War II?
The Gracie family has brought their development of Brazilian jiu-jitsu into Mixed Martial Arts and made their mark! From this writers point of view I see two guys wrestling to the ground as in a street fight with one on top of the other smashing his face into submission and think “such brutality”. There are skills I don’t watch long enough to pick up on. At least in boxing it is against the rules of “hitting below the belt”.
Now there seems to be a resurgence coming in Bare Knuckle Boxing. Top unbeaten BKB fighter Bobby Gunn once told me “it’s not as brutal as boxing” because one punch usually can end it much sooner than taking a beating over ten rounds with boxing gloves on.
To make long story by now not so short for someone over 60 getting the thrill watching MMA-UFC as one would seeing for example the first Marciano-Walcott fight when the challenger was well behind going into the thirteenth round and pulls out by way of knockout is second to none!
Floyd Mayweather vs. Himself: The Octagon Theory
By: James Risoli
What makes a person who they are? What propels and motivates us to do the things we do? More specifically, why do fighters have such a hard time in the twilight of their careers with hanging up their gloves, unable to walk off into the sunset, after such an arduous journey which often times consists of unforgiving years of blood, sweat, and tears?
If one was to look up the word fighter in the dictionary the definition is one that any person that ever lived would know does not encapsulate it’s real world meaning. A fighter by any sense of the word is someone who challenges themselves. Who goes beyond their normal limits to achieve success in whatever endeavor they are trying to complete. A fighter may not always seek out but will always stand up to challenges and tribulations put forth or laid out before them. All fighters, especially those in the fight game, need to be able to know that the person staring back at them is the same person they believe themselves to be in their heart of hearts.
For those of us that do not know Floyd Mayweather, the man has been a fighter in every sense of the word way before any serious consideration was given to it becoming his profession. Born on February 24th 1977 in Grand Rapids Michigan and then moving at a very early age to the Hiram Square neighborhood of New Brunswick, New Jersey. Mayweather learned about the sometime all too familiar hardships of life at an early age in dealing with poverty and drugs, including a drug addicted mother. Mayweather would later say, “When I was about eight or nine, I lived in New Jersey with my mother and we were seven deep in one bedroom and sometimes we didn’t have electricity. When people see what I have now, they have no idea of where I came from and how I didn’t have anything growing up.” Mayweather’s story however, is one of a more personal nature and perhaps one that would be better told by himself than this author. However, it is important to mention because it bears significance to the “term” fighter. His story could possibly bare some insight into some of his current state of affairs and those future decisions and or plans that may be taking shape or unfolding in his mind’s eye.
By most accounts and for all intents and purposes, Floyd Mayweather has achieved everything there is to achieve in boxing. In a career that spanned two decades Mayweather has done what only one other person could, that being Rocky Marciano. 50 times Floyd Mayweather entered the ring and 50 times Floyd Mayweather’s hand was raised in victory. During his career, he has held multiple world titles in five weight classes and the lineal championship in four of those. In 2016, Mayweather was ranked as the best pound for pound fighter in the past 25 years by ESPN. He is one of the most marketable pay per view fighters of all time, as well as, one of the highest paid athletes in the world. So, the real news and noteworthy question of the day is, why after all this is Mayweather talking about the UFC and walking in the octagon?
Many people have been asking this particular question. Most people think the idea is outrageous, if not borderline crazy, or an actual joke. A statement muttered in jest. However, I for one do not believe that to be the case. Although not the norm, it is not completely uncommon for fighters to attempt a chance at crossing over from discipline to discipline. All one would have to do is just look to Floyd’s most recent and last opponent, Conor McGregor, who tried to accomplish this exact same feat. So, once again, why then is Mayweather entertaining this idea? Why after all the victories and all the achievements is it possible that this is in all actuality a real plausible possibility? Simple, because for the fighters we love and adore, those that bleed and train for the fans to see, cheer, and adore the answer is quite simple. All one would have to look at is the meaning of the word fighter.
Anthony Joshua: “This Isn’t About Being A Fan Favorite”
By: Sean Crose
“Preparations’ gone really well,” Anthony Joshua claimed on a Wednesday conference call to promote his heavyweight title unifier against Joseph Parker on March 31st in Cardiff, Wales. “ I do believe a happy fighter makes a good fighter.” Joshua, the 20-0, WBA and IBF world heavyweight titlist, has good reason to be happy. He’s pretty much regarded as the king of the heavyweight division and has a superfight with Deontay Wilder around the corner, provided he bests Parker. The man’s also enormously popular.
“Two hundred and forty thousand fans,” promoter Eddie Hearn bragged in reference to stadium sized crowds Joshua has been packing in throughout Great Britain. “Over two and a half million UK pay per view buys. It’s been an incredible run.” For the time being, however, Team Joshua has made it clear the focus is on the 24-0 Parker. “I’m not the one overlooking Joseph Parker,” Joshua claimed, “and I’m not the one hooting and hollering on what’s happening next.” Hearn backed up his fighter’s assertion. “We never have to worry about Anthony’s focus,” the superpromoter claimed. And besides, “he’s not really into hype.”
What Joshua is into, however, is boxing. Listening to the man for just a few minutes’ time, one gets the impression that Joshua more than just competes as a fighter. He studies the sport objectively. For instance, his opinion of former foe Wladimir Klitshcko, who he feels was a bigger threat than Parker, is quite telling. “Wladimir was a phenomenal champion,” he claimed. “He was a great champion. Ten years on top. Phenomenal.” Joshua made it clear his 2017 fight with Klitschko was an incredible growing experience. “Everything I learned form that fight was a blessing,” he said.
Not that Joshua is underestimating New Zealand’s Parker. “Parker still possesses a threat,” Joshua claimed, “but he doesn’t have half the experience Wladimir had.” Parker brings his own set of experiences, though, something that Joshua noted. “He knows how to fight,” he said of Parker. “He’s traveled the world.” To Joshua, boxing is a most serious business. He made it obvious on Wednesday that one doesn’t dominate the heavyweight division with just “a right hand and a good chin.”
“We’re talking about balance,” he said. “We’re talking about footwork…being in range, being out of range…the jab.” To Joshua, boxing mastery entails an entire litany of subjects. “Everything,” he stated. “We’re talking about everything.” Now that he’s at the top of boxing’s pecking order, the fighter intends to make the most of it. “I just realize that this is my time,” he said. Perhaps surprisingly for someone as personable as he is, Joshua makes it clear that he’s in the business primarily for himself. “This isn’t about being a fan favorite,” he pointed out. “I’m here to handle my business the best way possible.”
Despite what Joshua may want, fans are dying to see him get in the ring with WBC titlist Deontay Wilder, something Joshua is aware of, though he admits he hasn’t “thought much about it.” Not that he wants to avoid the American knockout artist. “There’s no doubt in my mind that that fight will happen,” he said, “and there’s no doubt in my mind I’ll beat Wilder, as well.” So promising does Joshua’s career appear at the moment that UFC honcho Dana White reportedly wants in on the Joshua business.
“Listen,” Joshua said, “I’m riding with Eddie (Hearn)…I’m a boxer. I’m not into the UFC. I don’t know what their plans are.” Yet White needn’t fret. “I’m interested,” Joshua claimed, “because we can work together.” Not surprisingly, the titlist puts his faith Hearn when it comes to such matters. “I’m sure Eddie has an interest in working with Dana White,” he claimed. “We’re listening and, one hundred percent, if it makes sense, we’re all in.” Not that it’s foremost in Joshua’s mind right now.
“I’m wracking up wins,” he said. “It’s been going well. I’m not focusing on anything else, really.”