UFC / MMA News

Khabib has no interest in fighting Conor McGregor again, reveals new fight promotion

UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov on Wednesday announced his new fight promotion, but also reiterated that he has no interest in returning to the UFC to fight the winner of Conor McGregor vs. Dustin Poirier.

Khabib held a press conference on Wednesday in Russia, where he revealed his new fight promotion, Eagle Fighting Championships.

He recently retired following his submission of Justin Gaethje at UFC 254 in October. UFC president Dana White, however, has not declared the belt vacant, instead giving Khabib time to think it over and reconsider.

White has said many times that he believes Khabib will forego his promise to his mother to quit fighting and instead honor the plan he had with his father to notch a 30th victory before retiring. He is currently 29-0.

Khabib has not yet said that he would not consider returning to the Octagon, and admitted that he and White are meeting soon to discuss his future.

One thing Khabib has been adamant about is that he has no desire to return simply to fight McGregor or Poirier, both of whom he has submitted in the past couple of years.

Khabib submitted McGregor in the fourth round at UFC 229 in October of 2018; the same night that he jumped the Octagon fence to brawl with McGregor cornerman Dillon Danis in the crowd. He then submitted Poirier in September 2019.

With those victories under his belt, Khabib insists that neither of them is enough to lure him back to the Octagon.

At his press conference in Russia, Khabib told reporter Igor Lazorin that White would probably first offer him money, but that wouldn’t be enough and he couldn’t see who would be a tempting opponent.

When questioned about McGregor or Poirier, Khabib said, “What for? I choked both. Why I should do this?”

Obviously, especially if it were McGregor winning against Poirier in the UFC 257 headliner in January, there is another blockbuster payday on the table. Khabib admitted as much, but downplayed the temptation to fight again solely for the money.

“Yes, only money. There is no sports interest there. I choked both of them, both were champions, both surrendered to me,” he said.

“As our proverb says: a horse doesn’t run until the donkey wins. Donkeys don’t even take part in competitions where horses run. I have no interest in fighting against these opponents. Imagine UFC offered you $100 million. This is already a problem. But there is no sports interest there.”

Khabib also intends on making MMA an Olympic sport

Aside from launching his new Eagle FC fight promotion (which was born out of purchasing Gorilla Fighting Championship and rebranding it), Khabib hopes to be a driving force in getting mixed martial arts approved for the Olympic games as soon as Paris in 2024, though he admitted a more likely target would be Los Angeles in 2028.

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Leon Edwards vs. Khamzat Chimaev latest UFC main event canceled by COVID-19

The UFC’s final event of the year is the latest casualty in a string of main event cancellations or changes. UFC Vegas 17, slated for Dec. 19, on Tuesday lost its headliner after Leon Edwards was pulled from his bout with Khamzat Chimaev after he tested positive for COVID-19.

UFC broadcast partner ESPN on Tuesday reported that Edwards was out of the bout with a severe case of COVID-19. He apparently hasn’t been able to train at all for the bout with Chimaev and has lost 12 pounds in four days.

Chimaev, who made his UFC debut in July and has reeled off three straight victories in the Octagon, had hoped to use Edwards as his stepping stone to the top of the welterweight division.

No. 3 ranked Edwards last fought in July of 2019. He had hoped to return to face former UFC welterweight champion Tyron Woodley in March, but the nearly global lockdown forced the event’s cancellation.

UFC’s final leg of 2020 plagued by COVID-19 cancellations

Every one of the UFC’s final six events of a pandemic plagued 2020 has suffered a change to its main event or outright cancellation. Most have COVID-19 to blame.

UFC Vegas 14 on Nov. 14 was originally slated to feature former lightweight champion Rafael dos Anjos returning to the 155-pound division opposite Islam Makhachev. Paul Felder stepped in to face dos Anjos on short notice when Makhachev withdrew because of a staph infection.

UFC 255 on Nov. 21 was supposed to feature Deiveson Figueiredo’s first flyweight title defense opposite Cody Garbrandt. That bout was nixed after Garbrandt fell out because of COVID-19. Figueiredo instead successfully defended his belt against Alex Perez.

The following week’s UFC Vegas 15 heavyweight main event between Curtis Blaydes and Derrick Lewis was canceled the morning of the weigh-in when Blaydes tested positive for COVID-19. Co-main eventers Anthony Smith and Devin Clark were elevated to headlining status.

This week’s UFC Vegas 16 main event between Jack Hermansson and Kevin Holland shifted gears after Holland tested positive for COVID-19. Holland was moved to the Dec. 12 UFC 256 fight card to face Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza. Jacare’s opponent, Marvin Vettori, has been enlisted to fight Hermansson in the UFC Vegas 16 main event in a swap of opponents.

UFC 256 has undergone several changes, though none were COVID-19 related. Having gone through several championship main event cancellations, UFC 256 finally landed on Figueiredo making a quick return to defend his belt for the second time. Barring any more changes, he will headline the card opposite No. 1 contender Brandon Moreno, who also fought and won at UFC 255.

With Edwards vs. Chimaev nixed, UFC Vegas 17 may now feature a welterweight bout between Stephen Thompson and Geoff Neal, two ranked contenders that were already inked for the Dec. 19 fight card. UFC officials, however, have not confirmed the new main event yet.

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YouTuber Jake Paul claims he’s in talks to fight Conor McGregor

A couple days after YouTube sensation Jake Paul knocked out former NBA player Nate Robinson on the Mike Tyson vs. Roy Jones Jr. undercard, he claimed that he is in talks to fight UFC superstar Conor McGregor.

Though Paul is most famous for building a multi-million subscribers strong YouTube following, he insists that he’s not playing when it comes to boxing.

“I have been training my ass off for the past year. I am taking this seriously,” Paul said after fighting on the Tyson vs. Jones undercard. “There is a long list of opponents I want, like Conor McGregor and (McGregor teammate) Dillon Danis. I want to knock both of them out. I want to be in this sport for a long time. I’m in love with this so why not?”

Whether in boxing or mixed martial arts, that is a tall order for Paul, who has fought only twice: once against fellow YouTube star AnEsonGib and then against Robinson, who had just three months of training prior to their bout.

In a recent interview with TMZ Sports, however, Paul insists that his team has been in talks with McGregor’s, though he didn’t exactly indicate the fight would happen any time soon.

“The Jake Paul vs. Conor McGregor fight is gonna happen. It’s just a matter of when. It’s gonna be legendary,” Paul said.

“I’m gonna win, too. I’m gonna dedicate my life to winning that fight. I’m not just going in there just to f—ing say I did it. I’m going in there to f—ing f— Conor McGregor up.”

Paul knocked Robinson down several times in their bout, finally sending him crashing face first to the canvas in the second round for the knockout. Whether or not he could ever hope to do that to McGregor or Danis, who each have a lifetime of training, remains to be seen.

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Mike Tyson: ‘YouTube boxers saved boxing, UFC was kicking our butt’

It’s no secret that boxing’s popularity has been on the decline for years for multiple reasons. The inability to put together big fights, poor marketing, and the emergence of mixed martial arts were all factors.

As interest in boxing declined, social media networks and online video platforms became a part of everyday life. According to former undisputed heavyweight champion Mike Tyson, it was those platforms that saved a dying sport.

“My ego says so many things, but my reality says this, they helped boxing so much. Boxing owes these guys some kind of… they owe these YouTube boxers some kind of respect.

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“They should give these guys some belts because these guys make boxing alive,” Tyson said during the post-fight press conference following his exhibition bout against former four-division world champion Roy Jones Jr. on Saturday.

On the fight card, boxer, actor, and YouTube personality Jake Paul scored a second-round knockout win over former NBA player Nate Robinson. Paul’s YouTube channel has 20.2 million subscribers. Tyson credited Paul as one of the “YouTube boxers” that helped the boxing return to popular culture.

“Boxing was pretty much a dying sport. The UFC was kicking our butt,” Tyson said. “Boxing is going back thanks to the YouTube boxers.”

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UFC middleweights swap opponents after Kevin Holland tests positive for COVID-19

The UFC round robin continued on Saturday after Kevin Holland tested positive for COVID-19.

The dominoes began falling on Friday when Curtis Blaydes tested positive for COVID-19. That nixed his UFC Vegas 15 headlining heavyweight bout opposite Derrick Lewis on Saturday.

The second domino fell on Saturday when Kevin Holland, who was set to headline UFC Vegas 16 next week, also tested positive for COVID-19. He was quickly replaced by Marvin Vettori, who steps into the UFC Vegas 16 main event opposite Jack Hermansson.

By the time the UFC was ready to confirm that Vettori had stepped in for Holland, they already had Holland rebooked.

In what becomes a swap of middleweight opponents, Holland has already agreed to face Vettori’s UFC 256 opponent Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza at the Dec. 12 pay-per-view event.

That’s a fairly quick turnaround after having just tested positive for COVID-19. The assumption would be that Holland is asymptomatic and otherwise healthy. If that is so, he should have just enough time to try and get clear of COVID-19, but of course he will have to undergo multiple tests again prior to stepping into the Octagon with Jacare.

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UFC Vegas 16 undergoes main event change after Kevin Holland tests positive for COVID-19

Twenty-four hours after Saturday’s UFC Vegas 15 underwent a last-minute main event change, next week’s UFC Vegas 16 headliner has morphed to a new match-up as well.

UFC Vegas 16 was scheduled to feature a middleweight main event between Jack Hermansson and Kevin Holland. Holland, however, was removed from the bout on Saturday after testing positive for COVID-19.

He has since been replaced by Marvin Vettori, according to a report by ESPN’s Brett Okamoto.

Vettori had been slated to face Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza at UFC 256 on Dec. 12, but he’ll instead face Hermansson in the Dec. 5 UFC Vegas 16 main event. It’s unclear what officials will do with Jacare.

UFC Vegas 15 main event canceled just prior to weigh-ins

The change marks the second main event shake-up in just 24 hours.

Saturday’s UFC Vegas 15 main event heavyweight showdown between Curtis Blaydes and Derrick Lewis was nixed on Friday. Just before the UFC Vegas 15 weigh-in got underway, it was revealed that Blaydes had tested positive for COVID-19 and removed from the fight card.

UFC officials are hoping to rebook the bout in the near future. The initial target was UFC 256 on Dec. 12, but sources indicate that date isn’t likely. There are better odds that Blaydes vs. Lewis will be rescheduled for a January fight card.

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