All posts by Simon Samano

UFC 215: Demetrious Johnson-Ray Borg, Amanda Nunes-Valentina Shevchenko title fights headline

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UFC 215 will feature two title fights, with Demetrious Johnson being granted his wish and a recently canceled rematch rebooked.

The UFC announced today that Johnson (26-2-1 MMA, 14-1-1 UFC) will defend his flyweight title against Ray Borg (11-2 MMA, 5-2 UFC) in the night’s main event, while a women’s bantamweight title fight between champ Amanda Nunes (14-4 MMA, 7-1 UFC) and Valentina Shevchenko  (14-2 MMA, 3-1 UFC) will serve as the co-headliner.

UFC 215 takes place Sept. 9 at Rogers Place in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. The main card airs on pay-per-view following prelims on FS1 and UFC Fight Pass, though the bout order hasn’t been finalized.

Both championship fights will happen after some drama with each.

In the case of Johnson-Borg, the UFC’s original hope was to have Johnson defend his title against T.J. Dillashaw as “Mighty Mouse” aims to break Anderson Silva’s record for most consecutive title defenses. But Johnson pushed back, which stirred up a weeks-long feud between he and UFC President Dana White. Johnson insisted Dillashaw didn’t deserve to jump the line for a title shot in a new division after his bantamweight title fight with Cody Garbrandt was scrapped.

With that now behind them, the pound-for-pound king will defend his title against Borg, who is ranked No. 5 in the current USA TODAY Sports/MMAjunkie MMA flyweight rankings. Borg has won five of his last six fights, including recent back-to-back decisions over Louis Smolka and Jussier Formiga. Two of Borg’s last four fights have come at a catchweight after he failed to make the 126-pound limit.

For Nunes-Shevchenko, the booking is a second attempt to make the rematch. Their scheduled UFC 213 main-event bout earlier this month was canceled hours before it was set to happen when Nunes withdrew over illness, despite being medically cleared. Nunes would later reveal that complications from “chronic sinusitis” weakened her to the point she couldn’t compete.

It was an unfortunate development after the two got heated in the build-up during the summer kickoff event in May. Nunes and Shevchenko fought last year, with Nunes winning a three-round decision.

With the addition, the latest UFC 215 lineup includes:

  • Demetrious Johnson vs. Ray Borg – for flyweight title
  • Amanda Nunes vs. Valentina Shevchenko – for women’s bantamweight title
  • Francis Ngannou vs. Junior Dos Santos
  • Ilir Latifi vs. Tyson Pedro
  • Henry Cejudo vs. Wilson Reis
  • Rick Glenn vs. Gavin Tucker
  • Ashlee Evans-Smith vs. Sarah Moras
  • Arjan Bhullar vs. Luis Henrique
  • Gilbert Melendez vs. Jeremy Stephens

For more on UFC 215, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.

Filed under: Featured, News, UFC
Source: MMA Junkie

Mike Winkeljohn explains possible key to Conor McGregor upsetting Floyd Mayweather

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If there’s an MMA coach out there who understands the intricacies of boxing well, it’s Mike Winkeljohn.

As a renowned striking coach at Jackson Wink MMA in Albuquerque, N.M., Winkeljohn is heavily responsible for grooming Holly Holm into a former UFC women’s bantamweight champion and continues to train her. This following Holm’s transition to MMA after an 11-year boxing career that saw her win multiple championships.

So needless to say, Winkeljohn’s assessment of the upcoming boxing showdown between Floyd Mayweather and UFC lightweight champion Conor McGregor should carry weight, and he shared his thoughts recently with ESPN.

Floyd is going to go into his shell and hold his shoulder high. You can’t do that in MMA and you can’t do that in a street situation, but in boxing it’s a beautiful thing.

He has a god-given knack of not getting hit and using his defensive ability so well. Conor’s got the power, though. I think Conor is a big, strong fighter who has speed and is a little slicker. What Conor can bring to the table is maybe some offline angles with his footwork that comes out of MMA and will be something Floyd might not be used to. Attack where Floyd can’t hide behind his shoulder.

We’re going to know one way or the other right away. Conor comes with a game plan of attacking Floyd in a way he has never seen before. Once it fails, or I should say “if” it fails, then it will fall into a traditional boxing match, which obviously favors Floyd. I’ll tell you what, though, Conor’s got a smart camp, and they’re going to come up with something. It might be worth putting some money on Conor as the underdog.

McGregor (21-3 MMA, 9-1 UFC) and Mayweather (49-0 boxing) face off on Aug. 26 at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas in a pay-per-view event expected to be the most lucrative prize fight of all time.

Winkeljohn’s analysis was part of a larger feature in which ESPN’s Brett Okamoto compiled the opinions of some of MMA’s most prominent coaches, which you can read here.

For more on “The Money Fight: Floyd Mayweather vs. Conor McGregor,” check out the MMA Rumors section of the site.

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Source: MMA Junkie

Why Kevin Lee gives 'culture vulture' Conor McGregor a pass on perceived racism

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How can Conor McGregor truly know what he’s saying if he doesn’t understand it?

That seems to be Kevin Lee’s assessment of McGregor after the UFC lightweight champion came under fire last week for remarks that ventured into racially insensitive territory during his world tour with Floyd Mayweather.

“Honestly, I think that Conor doesn’t really understand, because he’s from a different culture,” Lee told MMAjunkie. “He’s an Irishman. He’s a culture vulture.”

McGregor (21-3 MMA, 9-1 UFC) and Mayweather (49-0 boxing) face each other on Aug. 26 at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas in a pay-per-view event expected to be the most lucrative prize fight of all time. Their four-city, three-country press event shined a spotlight on McGregor’s perceived racism.

It started on the first two stops in Los Angeles and Toronto, where McGregor twice commanded Mayweather to “dance for me, boy” while on stage. It amplified after the Toronto stop when McGregor made an appearance on “Jimmy Kimmel Live” and wondered if “Rocky 3” was “the one with the dancing monkeys in the gym.” It reached its lowest point in New York, where McGregor declared himself “half-black from the bellybutton down” to the Barclays Center crowd before humping the air as “a little present for my beautiful black female fans.”

Combine all that with the over-the-top swagger McGregor tries to exude, and Lee (16-2 MMA, 9-2 UFC) sees someone who’s simply confused.

“You look at any other Irishman, no other Irishman got swag like that,” said Lee, No. 8 in the current USA TODAY Sports/MMAjunkie MMA lightweight rankings. “He’s a culture vulture. He is what he is. But I think he doesn’t understand the culture. He’s trying his best, and it’s just something that he didn’t grow up with. He ain’t grew up over here in the States. He doesn’t understand it to the core. He kind of understands it a little bit, but he don’t really understand it.

“He’s trying his best, but I didn’t hold it against him, because I honestly don’t think he understands it.”

Lee, who is coming off a submission win over Michael Chiesa last month, expects to fight McGregor in the future. And he likes that McGregor continues to focus on Mayweather and boxing.

“He’s getting worse. I’m getting better,” Lee said. “So we’ll see what happens when we cross paths.”

For more on “The Money Fight: Floyd Mayweather vs. Conor McGregor,” check out the MMA Rumors section of the site.

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Source: MMA Junkie

Watch as Snoop Dogg chills, smokes a blunt and calls Dana White 'Contender Series' premiere

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Filed under: Featured Videos, News, UFC, Videos

The sale of recreational marijuana in Nevada kicked off July 1, just in time for the premiere of “Dana White’s Tuesday Night Contender Series.”

Why does that matter? Because Snoop Dogg, obviously.

The UFC made quite the splash when it announced Snoop, along with Urijah Faber, would be calling an alternate broadcast of “DWTNCS.” And with Nevada’s new law taking effect right before the July 11 premiere episode at UFC Gym in Las Vegas, let’s just say fighters in the octagon weren’t all that was getting lit up.

Check out the video above for highlights of Snoop and Faber on the call.

And for more on the UFC’s upcoming schedule, visit the UFC Rumors section of the site.

Filed under: Featured Videos, News, UFC, Videos
Source: MMA Junkie

Conor McGregor's father: My son is 'unequivocally not racist'

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Perhaps not at all surprising, Conor McGregor’s father is defending the words and actions of his son.

There was plenty to be turned off by during last week’s world tour with McGregor and Floyd Mayweather to promote their boxing match. But one of the ugliest, raunchiest moments happened on the third stop in New York, where McGregor bombed on stage in trying to make light of his perceived racism.

McGregor, in addressing previous comments that ventured into racially insensitive territory, strolled down the catwalk and called the controversy “(expletive ridiculous),” citing that he’s “half-black from the bellybutton down” as the reason why. He then followed up with “a little present for my beautiful black female fans” and proceeded to hump the air.

This happened after McGregor (21-3 MMA, 9-1 UFC) implored Mayweather  (49-0 boxing) to “dance for me, boy” on the tours two previous stops in Los Angeles and Toronto, and also wondered if “Rocky 3” was “the one with the dancing monkeys in the gym” while answering a question on “Jimmy Kimmel Live.”

All of that – and then some – amplified accusations of the UFC lightweight champion being racist, though his father, Tony McGregor, vehemently denied it during an appearance on “The MMA Hour”.

“Conor McGregor is not racist,” Tony McGregor said. “This fight is not about race. This fight is about skill and technique. In fact, I don’t think any fight is ever about race. The color of skin is immaterial. It’s the victory that Conor is looking for. It’s imperative. That’s the only thing I’d say in that.”

Mayweather, one day before firing a homophobic slur at Conor McGregor in London, took “The Notorious” to task and called for respect. Tony McGregor, it would seem, is of the opinion that his son never lacked it.

“Conor is absolutely, unequivocally not racist,” he said. “It’s not about skin color. No two combatants would ever get into a ring and the issue would be the color of their opposing skin. No, absolutely not. It’s a fight issue, not a race issue.”

For more on “The Money Fight: Floyd Mayweather vs. Conor McGregor,” check out the MMA Rumors section of the site.

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Source: MMA Junkie

Every stop on the Floyd Mayweather vs. Conor McGregor world tour, ranked and scored

Prior to this week’s Floyd Mayweather vs. Conor McGregor world tour, UFC President Dana White said he expected it to be a “sh*t show.”

It was worse.

McGregor (21-3 MMA, 9-1 UFC) and Mayweather (49-0 boxing) face off Aug. 26 at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas in a pay-per-view event expected to be the most lucrative prize fight of all time.

Their three-country media event in four consecutive days kicked off Tuesday in Los Angeles, and it then continued in Toronto and New York before wrapping up Friday in London. If you’re into two fighters firing profane salvos at each other at the top of their lungs, then this world tour was for you.

Below I rank each stop from best to worst and provide scores from myself and MMAjunkie’s John Morgan and Mike Bohn to reach a winner.

****

No. 1 – Toronto, Budweiser Stage, July 12

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How was this second stop not the high point of the entire tour? McGregor, following what was widely considered a victory for Mayweather the day before in L.A., was absolutely on fire. He opened up his session by calling on the Budweiser Stage crowd to chant “F*ck the Mayweathers!” – which they happily obliged twice. That led right into one of the most unexpected moments, when McGregor approached Showtime executive Stephen Espinoza and went off on him, calling him a “(expletive) weasel” over controversy surrounding McGregor’s microphone being cut in L.A. From there, McGregor continued in classic form.

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When it was Mayweather’s turn on the mic, he couldn’t win over even a sliver of the crowd despite wearing the Canadian flag on his “TMT” T-shirt and cap. Mayweather had no way of recovering, and he seemed to realize it when he decided to praise UFC President Dana White and apologize to him for their beef over the years. Mayweather managed to pull an Irish flag from someone in the front. That’s when McGregor got up from his seat to grab Mayweather’s backpack, which had some stacks of cash in it.

The crowd was wildly into everything on this day. And with McGregor in vintage form carrying the show, Toronto was easily the best and most entertaining stop on the tour.

Scores: 10-8 McGregor (Samano), 10-8 McGregor (Morgan), 10-9 McGregor (Bohn).

No. 2 – Los Angeles, Staples Center, July 11

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The kickoff at Staples Center was crazy and wild, but in retrospect, it wasn’t that crazy and wild compared to the rest of the tour. Having been there live, I think what boosts the L.A. stop is the novelty. We wondered for months whether a fight between the greatest boxer of a generation and the current biggest star in the UFC  would actually happen. So to see them on the same stage for the first time truly felt special.

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That being said, this stop didn’t lack for entertainment and set the tone for trash-talk we’d hear repeatedly the rest of the way. It might’ve been better – or worse depending on your viewpoint – had McGregor’s microphone not been cut off during Mayweather’s time. The coolest thing about this stop might’ve been words McGregor didn’t utter out loud, but he still got a message across by wearing a custom-made suit with “F*CK YOU” stitched in as pinstripes.

Scores: 10-9 Mayweather (Samano), 10-9 Mayweather (Morgan), 10-9 Mayweather (Bohn).

No. 3 – London, SSE Arena Wembley, July 14

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As the last stop on the tour, London probably was always doomed for nothing better than a mediocre show. And that’s what it got. The setup was different with a ring constructed in the center – as opposed to a stage at one end – of SSE Arena Wembley. So seeing Mayweather and McGregor inside a boxing ring for the first time I guess was kind of cool.

The European crowd naturally was almost – if not probably – 100 percent pro-McGregor. But he failed to really capitalize with something spectacular, even on his birthday. McGregor again berated Espinoza for the third time (poor guy). McGregor also tapped Mayweather’s bald head, which was a surprise and scared White for a moment. Other than that, though, we’d already heard it all from McGregor by this point.

Mayweather didn’t stand a chance at winning when he took the mic. And one day after railing against McGregor for racially controversial remarks, Mayweather brought the tour to its lowest point when he outright called McGregor a homophobic slur without shame. There was also an increase in misogynistic messages from both men.

Simply put, they sounded like junior high kids on a playground. None of their trash-talk could qualify as entertainment.

Scores: 10-9 McGregor (Samano), 10-9 McGregor (Morgan), 10-9 McGregor (Bohn).

No. 4 – Brooklyn, Barclays Center, July 13

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After reaching its peak the day before in Toronto, New York is where everything fell apart. Yes, McGregor’s outfit featuring a “polar bear coat” – and no shirt, mind you – was a sight to behold. But the fighters showing up 90 minutes late really seemed to agitate the crowd at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y. The same old profanity-laced back-and-forths got stale, too.

Where the press conference really got ugly was when McGregor, in an apparent attempt to bring levity to concerns over racially insensitive remarks, said he was “half black from the bellybutton down” and decided to hump the air as “a little present for my beautiful black female fans.” The attempt at humor completely bombed and only raised more awareness of McGregor’s perceived racism.

When Mayweather took the mic, there was a noticeable lack of energy in the arena. Mayweather’s stunt in making it rain $1 bills on McGregor didn’t receive much of a reaction. What did, though, was when Mayweather ordered his bodyguards to surround McGregor, nearly causing both sides to come to blows.

Still, though, nothing about the New York stop could be classified as a win. It was that bad.

Scores: 10-9 Mayweather (Samano), 10-9 Mayweather (Morgan), 10-9 Mayweather (Bohn).

Overall scores

Winner (McGregor via majority draw): 38-37 McGregor (Samano), 38-37 McGregor (Morgan), 38-38 draw (Bohn)

For more on “The Money Fight: Floyd Mayweather vs. Conor McGregor,” check out the MMA Rumors section of the site.

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Conor McGregor: I'd like to fight Khabib Nurmagomedov; Nate Diaz trilogy 'also on my mind'

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LONDON – Will UFC lightweight champion Conor McGregor return to MMA after potentially making $100 million for his boxing superfight with Floyd Mayweather? That question seems to be on the minds of many.

It especially was late last month when UFC President Dana White caused a stir after telling MMAjunkie that McGregor (21-3 MMA, 9-1 UFC) wishes to defend his title in against Khabib Nurmagomedov (24-0 MMA, 8-0 UFC) in December.

In Russia.

McGregor’s coach, John Kavanagh, seemed to corroborate that story this week when he said McGregor “seems very, very motivated to go to Russia in December” but without specifically mentioning Nurmagomedov as an opponent.

On Friday, following the final press conference of the Mayweather vs. McGregor world tour in London, “The Notorious” sort of cleared the air on a potential bout with “The Eagle” in Russia.

“It’s certainly one of the things I would like to do,” McGregor told MMAjunkie backstage at SSE Arena Wembley. “Whether it’s next, I don’t know. I don’t even know how close the Russia thing is. Whether Khabib can pull his (expletive) together; he missed weight.”

If not Nurmagomedov, McGregor has no shortage of options, with Tony Ferguson (23-3 MMA, 13-1 UFC) and Edson Barboza (19-4 MMA, 13-4 UFC) also possible contenders.

“There’s a few of them in the mix,” McGregor said. “A few of them need to pull their (expletive) together, though, and get interest going and get me interested. Right now I don’t actually see anything.”

But then McGregor dropped this line that’s sure to perk up Nate Diaz.

“That Diaz trilogy is also on my mind,” he said.

If money is McGregor’s primary motivation upon his return to the UFC, then Diaz (19-11 MMA, 14-9 UFC) as his first title defense would seemingly make the most sense. The their two headliners last year were responsible for two of the top three best selling UFC pay-per-views of all time. The rematch at UFC 202, which McGregor won via majority decision, is No. 1 all time. Diaz choked out McGregor in their first encounter at UFC 196, which is No. 3 all time.

Diaz has declined fight offers from the UFC since the loss. He’s also been outspokenly against the Mayweather-McGregor fight, which McGregor doesn’t understand.

“He should really be thankful,” McGregor said. “Before he fought me he was (getting paid) 20,000 to show and 20,000 to win. His 19th fight in the UFC, and he was on 40 grand. Now he’s a multi-millionaire. So, I don’t know why he’s sitting there so bitter. Maybe them smacks he took in that rematch messed with his head a little bit. I hope not, but I think they did.”

For more on “The Money Fight: Floyd Mayweather vs. Conor McGregor,” check out the MMA Rumors section of the site.

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Conor McGregor doesn't see why Floyd Mayweather hurling anti-gay slur at him is a big deal

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LONDON – Conor McGregor was no stranger to inciting controversy during the world tour with Floyd Mayweather to promote their boxing match. On Friday, though, it was Mayweather’s turn.

One day after Mayweather took McGregor to task for using racially insensitive language in New York, Mayweather fired off an anti-gay slur at McGregor on the tour’s final stop in London.

“I actually didn’t even hear that,” McGregor told MMAjunkie backstage at SSE Arena Wembley.

Rather than drop the subject, McGregor proceeded to explain that he felt the use of the slur is no big deal.

“People are so touchy on words. It’s absolutely crazy,” McGregor said. “If he said that, I couldn’t give a (expletive). I think what he was trying to do was to switch it up and get the people back in his favor. I think it was a bit of a (expletive) move to try and instigate that on me.

“Everyone with a sane mind that is watching knows what way it is. It is what it is. Some dirty tactics out there, but that’s what to expect. The fight game is a ruthless business.”

McGregor (21-3 MMA, 9-1 UFC) and Mayweather (49-0 boxing) face off Aug. 26 at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas in a pay-per-view event expected to be the most lucrative prize fight of all time.

Whether both men’s questionable choice of words on the four-city, three-country tour ultimately turns off potential buyers on the fence, that remains to be seen.

Check out the video above to hear more from McGregor.

For more on “The Money Fight: Floyd Mayweather vs. Conor McGregor,” check out the MMA Rumors section of the site.

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Source: MMA Junkie

Conor McGregor: I won world tour over Floyd Mayweather 'in a whitewash'

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LONDON – With the world tour to promote his boxing match against Floyd Mayweather now in his rear view, Conor McGregor took a moment to reflect on his 29th birthday what it feels like to be on top of the combat sports world as he’s on the cusp of a potential $100 million payday.

“It’s some crazy experience, I’ll tell you that,” McGregor told MMAjunkie on Friday. “It’s an honor. It did not happen overnight – many, many years of hard work. Many, many years of sacrifice. It’s breathtaking. It’s inspiring. And here’s the thing: I’m only warming up.”

McGregor (21-3 MMA, 9-1 UFC) and Mayweather (49-0 boxing) face off Aug. 26 at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas in a pay-per-view event expected to be the most lucrative prize fight of all time. Their press conference at SSE Arena Wembley concluded an intense, profanity-laced – and often downright nasty – world tour that spanned four consecutive days in three countries.

Friday’s event hit a new low, with Mayweather hurling a homophobic slur at the UFC lightweight champion in front of a packed pro-McGregor crowd. Mayweather, who’d already fulfilled his backstage media obligations prior to the press conference, did not speak to reporters after.

The controversial moment happened just one day after McGregor failed to add levity to a growing controversy over his remarks that entered racially insensitive territory. In response, McGregor stood up on stage Thursday in New York and declared himself “half black from the bellybutton down” before humping the air as “a little present for my beautiful black female fans.”

Not that anyone was officially keeping score, but McGregor believes he won the world tour with flying colors.

“I would say it was a whitewash,” McGregor said. “I’ll say I was 4-0 and then the second round in Toronto was a 10-7. He was dropped twice. One or two (days) were maybe close. But who garnered the most interest? who went viral multiple times? That was me. I brought many factors to it. I switched it up multiple times. I believe it was no contest.”

Check out the video above to hear more from McGregor.

And for more on “The Money Fight: Floyd Mayweather vs. Conor McGregor,” check out the MMA Rumors section of the site.

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Source: MMA Junkie

Video: 'Bad Lip Reading' perfectly roasts Floyd Mayweather vs. Conor McGregor world tour

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The folks over at “Bad Lip Reading” are famous for their hilarious videos, and they knocked it out of the park in roasting the Floyd Mayweather vs. Conor McGregor world tour.

McGregor (21-3 MMA, 9-1 UFC) and Mayweather (49-0 boxing) face off Aug. 26 at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas in a pay-per-view event expected to be the most lucrative prize fight of all time.

Their world tour started out strong in Los Angeles and Toronto but became off-putting by the time it reached New York and London. This video should provide some laughs and serve as a much-needed breath of fresh air.

Watch it out above. And to check out more “Bad Lip Reading” videos, click here.

For more on “The Money Fight: Floyd Mayweather vs. Conor McGregor,” check out the MMA Rumors section of the site.

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Source: MMA Junkie