Category Archives: Amanda Nunes

UFC 215: Latest fight card and trailer – with champ Demetrious Johnson chasing a major record,AAAABvaL8JE~,ufBHq_I6FnxR-PQW_F3sm5QdUbP7D6E9&bctid=5540615476001
Filed under: Featured, News, UFC, Videos

Sure, another major event has captured the spotlight, but the UFC soon returns with a pay-per-view event.

UFC officials have largely cleared their August schedule to throw their promotional muscle behind the Aug. 26 boxing mega-fight between UFC lightweight champion Conor McGregor (21-3 MMA, 9-1 UFC) and Floyd Mayweather (49-0 boxing). But on Sept. 9, the UFC hosts UFC 215, a championship doubleheader.

The PPV event takes place Sept. 9 at Rogers Place in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, and the main card follows prelims on FX and UFC Fight Pass.

Check out a preview of the event – and its top three fights – above.

In the main event, flyweight champion Demetrious Johnson (26-2-1 MMA, 14-1-1 UFC) looks for his record 11th consecutive title defense when he takes on challenger Ray Borg (11-2 MMA, 5-2 UFC).

Johnson, who’s No. 1 in the USA TODAY Sports/MMAjunkie MMA flyweight rankings (and No. 2 pound-for-pound), could break middleweight great Anderson Silva’s longstanding title-defense record if victorious. “Mighty Mouse” is currently a 10-1 favorite to beat No. 5-ranked Borg, who’s won two straight and five of his past six, though he missed weight on two occasions.

In the co-headliner, women’s bantamweight titleholder and No. 1-ranked female 135-pounder Amanda Nunes (14-4 MMA, 7-1 UFC) rematches No. 2-ranked Valentina Shevchenko (14-2 MMA, 3-1 UFC). Nunes, who took the title from Miesha Tate during her current five-fight winning streak, also defeated No. 2-ranked Shevchenko via unanimous decision during her current run. Shevchenko has since rebounded with wins over ex-champ Holly Holm (decision) and Julianna Pena (submission).

UFC 215 also features a major heavyweight clash as ex-champ and No. 5-ranked Junior Dos Santos (18-5 MMA, 12-4 UFC) takes on No. 9 Francis Ngannou (10-1 MMA, 5-0 UFC). Although Dos Santos lost to champ Stipe Miocic in his most recent bout, a title shot could be on the line for him or Ngannou, who’s won nine straight, including five in the UFC (four knockouts and one submission).

The latest UFC 215 lineup includes:

    • Champ Demetrious Johnson vs. Ray Borg – for flyweight title
    • Champ Amanda Nunes vs. Valentina Shevchenko – for women’s bantamweight title
    • Junior Dos Santos vs. Francis Ngannou
    • Gilbert Melendez vs. Jeremy Stephens
    • Rafael dos Anjos vs. Neil Magny
    • Sara McMann vs. Ketlen Vieira
    • Ilir Latifi vs. Tyson Pedro
    • Henry Cejudo vs. Wilson Reis
    • Rick Glenn vs. Gavin Tucker
    • Arjan Bhullar vs. Luis Henrique
    • Ashlee Evans-Smith vs. Sarah Moras
    • Kajan Johnson vs. Adriano Martins
    • Mitch Clarke vs. Alex White

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

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

Here's the official poster for UFC 215, featuring 2 title fights and heavyweight hitters

After a light August schedule, the UFC makes its return to pay-per-view next month with UFC 215.

The event, which takes place Sept. 9 at Rogers Place in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, features a pay-per-view main card following prelims on FS1 and UFC Fight Pass.

UFC flyweight champion Demetrious Johnson (26-2-1 MMA, 14-1-1 UFC) attempts to make a record-breaking 11th consecutive title defense when he takes on Ray Borg (11-2 MMA, 5-2 UFC) in the main event. In the co-headliner, women’s bantamweight titleholder Amanda Nunes (14-4 MMA, 7-1 UFC) rematches Valentina Shevchenko (14-2 MMA, 3-1 UFC) in a bout pushed back from July.

Check out the official event poster below:

The complete UFC 215 lineup includes:

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

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

Filed under: Blue Corner, Featured Videos, UFC
Source: MMA Junkie

Twitter Mailbag: Is this McGregor-Malignaggi thing a feud or a plan for the future?

Is a sparring partner feud just an attempt to set up another boxing match down the road for MMA’s biggest star? After years of pushing for it, why don’t fighters want to work in New York anymore? And will UFC 215 bring a return to normalcy, even if that’s bad for the box office?

All that and more in this week’s Twitter Mailbag. To ask a question of your own, tweet to @BenFowlkesMMA.

* * * *

I’m not going to say that the gym feud between Conor McGregor and Paulie Malignaggi is fake, exactly, but it sure seems like both sides are determined to milk it for every last ounce. Malignaggi can’t seem to stop talking about his brief time as McGregor’s sparring partner, whether it’s on social media or in multiple interviews. Team McGregor naturally has a conflicting account of the saga, which has served to keep this a top news story all week.

For promotional purposes, that’s all great news. After the press tour and the subsequent shock and awe that follows four days of loud, inane swearing, this fight needed a new kick to fuel headlines as Aug. 26 creeps closer. McGregor vs. Malignaggi provided that kick, and right on time, which ought to make us at least question what we’re seeing here.

Will it result in an actual fight? A lot will depend on how McGregor does against Floyd Mayweather. If he gets thoroughly schooled by Mayweather, I’m not sure how interested people would be in seeing him fight a lesser opponent for the sake of a grudge.

If McGregor hangs tough against Mayweather, but ultimately loses, that would still surprise enough people to generate some continued interest in him as a boxer. Of course, at some point the UFC is going to get less supportive of McGregor’s boxing career, but a contractual challenge to his right to box could potentially force an Ali Act showdown, which the UFC might rather avoid.

Then there’s the least likely scenario, which is a McGregor victory over Mayweather. If that happens, why fight a recently retired former champ like Malignaggi next? Why do anything except an immediate rematch, and for literally all the money that exists in the world?

First would be, don’t overdo it all at once. Remember the old Jon Jones, the one who wanted us to see him as a nice, polite choir boy even while he was partying his way through training camp? People didn’t buy it because it was so clearly an image he was trying to project rather than a life he was trying to actually lead. Eventually the dissonance between the two erupted in a way that was impossible to miss, which is bound to breed some skepticism going forward.

It’s not going to be as simple as fan giveaways or gracious interviews. That’s the stuff we can all see, and we know that he knows it. His problem in the past has been the stuff he says and does when he thinks we can’t see.

If Jones wants to change his image, he’ll have to do it over a longer timeline. It won’t just be what he does, but what he doesn’t do. Because, yeah, we see you being nice to fans and enemies alike. We’re also wondering if there’s not more police bodycam footage in your future. You’re going to have to convince us the same way you convince your insurance company: slowly, over time, and with the absence of notable events.

Any sport where people are hitting each other in the head repeatedly and on purpose is bound to be bad for the brain. Helmets won’t save you, as NFL players have discovered. And while more rest and greater training precautions could probably help fighters, you’re never going to completely remove the risk of brain trauma from combat sports like MMA and boxing.

MMA and its fans will have to find one way or another to make their peace with that, just like with the NFL. One thing that makes it tougher in our sport is that fighters will likely face many of the same health challenges as they age, but without all the money and ongoing care that comes largely as a result of the NFL Players Association.

If you think it can’t get worse than former sports heroes freezing in their cars because they can’t remember to put a coat on, just imagine them doing that with less money and fewer resources to help them when they need it. My guess is MMA has a lot of depressing GoFundMe campaigns in our future.

I’m worried about Johny Hendricks. It was a little over a month ago that he came in heavy at middleweight, then got knocked out by Tim Boetsch. He didn’t look good at any point in that outing, whether before or during or immediately after. Frankly, he looked like a guy who might need to take some time and get his act together before he thinks about fighting again.

So what’s he do? He turns right around and signs to fight Paulo Borrachinho at UFC 217 in November. If Borrachinho’s name doesn’t ring a bell, he’s the guy who knocked out Oluwale Bomgbose at UFC 212. He’s undefeated powerhouse of a middleweight, and he’s a scary dude to face if you’re not completely focused and prepared.

Just as concerning is what this booking says about how the UFC views Hendricks right now. He’s 2-5 since winning the vacant UFC welterweight title, and he hasn’t looked like he really wants to be there in a very long time.

I don’t get the sense that the UFC is throwing him in against Borrachinho because it wants to halt the young Brazilian’s momentum. Seems more likely that the goal here is to give the unbeaten prospect a win over a former champ, making Hendricks the wet rag that the UFC is intent on squeezing every last drop of value from before it tosses him aside. That ought to worry him. The possibility that it’s still not motivating enough for him at this point is what worries me.

First, take a day off and try not to think about what size gloves McGregor and Mayweather will wear, or whether the two megalomaniacs threatening each other with nuclear fire will actually pull the trigger and doom us all. Just mental health-wise, you need a break.

But if it’s going to be a true break, you need to get away from anything that might alert you to what’s happening on the internet/world. For this, I suggest a book, like maybe this one, in which Elmore Leonard spins a fictional yarn about a U.S. Marshall and a bunch of captured Nazi soldiers. Or how about this one, a nonfiction tale about the sinking of the Lusitania, which may or may not have been part of a conspiracy to pull the U.S. into World War I.

What’s that you say? You can’t actually read? In that case, watch a movie or something. Have you seen the documentary “Tickled”? Because that is straight-up bananas. And if you don’t like movies, I don’t know, go see a play or something, you weirdo.

The good news for New York fight fans concerned about a fighter-led boycott is that most fighters don’t have the pull that Jones does, and therefore can’t avoid the Empire State so easily. Also, plenty of them are still starstruck enough by the idea of fighting in Madison Square Garden that they’ll overlook the tax burden that comes with it.

But honestly, I’m weirdly glad to see some fighters getting a little smarter about their tax situation. Pro athletes who work as independent contractors in several different states over the course of any given year face a tricky deal come tax time. If this is how we end up with Jones defending his title exclusively on floating barges in international waters, so be it.

UFC 215 might be a good barometer of the general MMA pay-per-view market in the year 2017. As we saw in Anaheim last month, the UFC can still do big numbers on pay-per-view without McGregor or Ronda Rousey. It just has to offer something special, like a much-hyped rematch between two of the best in the world, plus two extra title fights in support, in order to make up for the loss of the two most famous fighters on the roster.

But UFC 215 is a bit of a throwback. It’s got two title fights featuring zero famous people. The two champions – Demetrious Johnson and Amanda Nunes – aren’t exactly beloved even inside the MMA bubble right now. History tells us that sales should be dismal.

But wait, the undercard for this one is actually really compelling. Francis Ngannou vs. Junior Dos Santos? Jeremy Stephens vs. Gilbert Melendez? Rafael dos Anjos vs. Neil Magny? When you lump them all together, you get a pretty good value for your money.

The question is whether fans will care. The surest path to breaking through on pay-per-view is with a name-brand star. But those are tough to come by, and the problem for the UFC has been that such stars quickly look to leverage their drawing power in some other field, like boxing or movies, because even big paydays for MMA are relatively small paydays for those other endeavors.

That’s something the UFC will have to figure out if it wants to continue basing so much of its business on pay-per-view in a changing media landscape.

Ben Fowlkes is MMAjunkie and USA TODAY’s MMA columnist. Follow him on Twitter at @BenFowlkesMMA. Twitter Mailbag appears every Thursday on MMAjunkie.

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

Twitter Mailbag: Was post-fight Jon Jones the real one, or just a convincing fake?

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In this week’s Twitter Mailbag, was the UFC light-heavyweight champion extending a sincere olive branch to his vanquished challenger, and where does all this leave the former champ’s legacy? Plus, is GSP-Bisping the fight that no one but the participants has been asking for? And can you really blackmail your way into an apology from the UFC president?

All that and more in this edition of the TMB. To ask a question of your own, tweet it to @BenFowlkesMMA.

* * * *

I think he was being sincere. The things Jon Jones said about Daniel Cormier immediately after the fight were not so different from what he said about him a few days before the fight. Talking to reporters after the open workouts, Jones called Cormier “a good (expletive) dude” and admitted to liking him as a person. What stopped them from getting along, he said, was that Cormier had this weird hangup that simply wouldn’t allow him to admit that Jones was better than he was.

Now, we hear that and we can spot the ridiculousness in the argument. Of course Cormier can’t admit that. He’s one of the best fighters in the world. His whole life is about being the absolute best. He’s not killing himself in the gym just to be second place. How could Jones not realize that?

I think the answer has to do with the inherent narcissism that comes with being the best fighter in the world. It’s so obvious to Jones that everyone else is just a character in his story. So why can’t they see it, and just be happy to have a supporting role in the great drama?

That’s where his head seemed to be at before the fight. Once Jones had knocked out Cormier, then he was free to let his guard down and admit that Cormier was a good guy and a great fighter. Why not? If you praise him now, it just makes you seem greater for having beaten him. And it’s not like anybody will get confused about who the best is while Cormier is stumbling around off-camera.

So yes, I think he meant every word. I also don’t think for one second that he would have uttered anything close to that if he’d lost.

The book isn’t closed on Cormier just yet. He could stick around at light heavyweight and still trash nearly everyone in the top 15. Or he could go to heavyweight and end up fighting for the title by this time next year. A lot depends on what he wants to do next, so it’s hard to make too many sweeping statements about his legacy.

That said, if it ends here? I wouldn’t be surprised if the collective conventional wisdom fails to give Cormier his due. He was champion in the absence of Jones, that’s true. In a different era, he might have been his own dynasty. In my book, that puts him ahead of Tito Ortiz and somewhere right behind Chuck Liddell. Both those guys should be glad they came along before Jones did.

Yes. However he wants.

Tempers seem to have cooled somewhat between Tyron Woodley and UFC President Dana White, but you’re right, that was not a great strategic move on the champ’s part. The problem with trying to blackmail your way into an apology is that even if you get what you want, what does it really mean? An apology given just to stop something bad from happening is completely insincere, thus defeating the entire point.

Then there’s the question of what you’re supposed to do about it if you don’t get the apology. Assuming Woodley really does have damaging info on the UFC, leaking it because the boss hurt his feelings would probably not improve his relationship with his employers. It also doesn’t turn him into some hero of transparency in the eyes of the public, because he already told us that the only reason he was telling secrets is because White wouldn’t say he was sorry.

Of course, if White doesn’t give you that public apology and then you back down from your leak threat anyway, it just makes you look weak and desperate.

That brings us to what actually happened in the end to resolve this situation (at least for now). According to White, he spoke to Woodley privately and smoothed things over. Also according to White, Woodley explained his outrage and his threats by saying that “he was just pissed and upset and didn’t mean it.” Maybe it’s just the source, but it kind of sounds like the apology went in the opposite direction.

I see the logic at work here, but how do you enforce something like that? Especially when MMA referees seem to have such a hard time enforcing the existing rules. What, do we require fighters to tell the ref in advance what they’re game plan is, so the ref can be on higher alert for illegal moves that might nullify it? Is the ref then required to share that info with the opponent, so he can know which type of cheating will be more severely punished?

The only fix I can see is that we either allow fence-grabbing or we don’t. And if we don’t, then why aren’t fighters punished as soon as they do it? It’s not like they’re learning the rules on the fly. And a fence grab isn’t like throwing an inside leg kick and accidentally hitting the groin. It’s something you can only do on purpose. So why aren’t you penalized the moment you do it, regardless of what your opponent’s game plan is?

There’s a growing sense that this is the fight no one asked for outside of Michael Bisping and Georges St-Pierre themselves. And that’s funny, since the reason they both seem so intent on it is because they’re convinced it will make a lot of money. But how does it make money if fans are lukewarm about it?

It’s possible that we’re just suffering from hype fatigue. They’re been talking this fight up for over a year, and still nothing. Maybe by the time it actually happens we’ll have changed our tune. The return of GSP is always going to be a big deal, and Bisping is so easily hatable whenever he opens his mouth that you know he’ll convince some people to pay just on the hope that he’ll get beaten up.

But right now? I can’t say I’m excited. There are so many compelling fights for Bisping at middleweight, and welterweight is going to need some help very soon. The more I think about this fight, the more it seems like we’re all being asked to go along so that the already rich guys can make more money. Maybe it’s just me, but that is not a compelling sales pitch.

Oh, Cameron. Are you really going to force me to be the jerk who points out that there is a difference between being a legend and just being old? Not that I don’t have a lot of affection for Daniel Kelly, who seems awesome, but he’s also 13-2 at the age of 39. Sam Alvey beat him in 2015, when he had to cover slightly fewer body parts in supportive wrap, but he still wasn’t exactly a young sprout back then.

Rashad Evans is a slightly different story (even if he does have a recent split-decision loss to Kelly). He’s also edging into his late 30s, but he’s a former UFC light-heavyweight champion. Then again, he’s on a three-fight losing skid and has dropped five of his past seven.

You really want to know how far this is from being a part of any kind of legends tour? Just look at where it is, in the middle of the main card at UFC Fight Night 114 in Mexico City, on the week after the biggest pay-per-view of the year. Does that seem like where you’d stick your legends, if you thought they still qualified as such?

I suspect you are not the only one, especially since the UFC chief recently went out of his way to disparage both champions who are slated to defend their titles at UFC 215. Plus, those other three fights each feature a former champ, and they’re all likely to be exciting, competitive matchups.

That makes you wonder how they’ll do on pay-per-view, doesn’t it? We know that the UFC has written Demetrious Johnson off as box-office poison. Amanda Nunes hasn’t been a huge draw either, and is probably less of one after pulling out of UFC 213 and getting scorched by the boss for it. But that undercard? How do you not pony up the dough to see those fights? Even if you’re not that interested in what follows.

This feels a little like a return to the old UFC strategy, back before it could rely on any one fighter to sell tons of PPVs. If the main attraction won’t do it, you have to make your case in the aggregate. Honestly, this lineup looks like a pretty good way of doing just that.

From the sound of it, Volkan Oezdemir likes that fight too, and he’s even suggested that the winner would be dubbed “the real king of Europe,” which is obviously pretty awesome.

If I’m Alexander Gustafsson, I might rather wait for Jones. But if Jones is holding out for a big money fight with someone like Brock Lesnar, how long does Gustafsson really want to sit around waiting and not making money?

As for whether “No Time” has it in him to be the division’s new knockout artist, early indicators are good. But let’s not forget that in recent years there’s been a major drop-off in talent in that division once you get past the top three or four. If Oezdemir wants to prove he belongs in that elite club, Gustafsson’s a tough test to get in.

Ben Fowlkes is MMAjunkie and USA TODAY’s MMA columnist. Follow him on Twitter at @BenFowlkesMMA. Twitter Mailbag appears every Thursday on MMAjunkie.

Filed under: News, UFC
Source: MMA Junkie

'King Mo' defends Amanda Nunes pulling out of UFC 213: 'What's there to fear?',AAAABvaL8JE~,ufBHq_I6FnxR-PQW_F3sm5QdUbP7D6E9&bctid=5510492651001
Filed under: News, UFC, Videos

UFC women’s bantamweight champion Amanda Nunes took a lot of flak earlier this month when she pulled out of her UFC 213 main-event bout vs. Valentina Shevchenko at the last minute because of illness

That’s not fair, says one of her American Top Team teammates.

“She came (to Las Vegas) two weeks in advance five pounds over. She was good. She was prepared,” Bellator fighter Muhammed Lawal recently told MMAjunkie Radio. “She’s ready for battle. But something obviously happened. A lot of times people come to Vegas, and they underestimate the heat. They also underestimate their allergies. …

“People forget the dry air, the heat. We’re coming from Florida. That might’ve gotten her, as well. The doctors might say she could compete; the doctors are not in her head.”

The criticism against Nunes (14-4 MMA, 7-1 UFC) increased when UFC President Dana White revealed she chose not to fight despite being cleared by doctors. That only angered Shevchenko (14-2 MMA, 3-1 UFC) even more. Nunes would later reveal that complications from “chronic sinusitis” led to her decision.

Still, though, there are fans who believe Nunes should’ve fought anyway, even going so far as to say she was scared to face Shevchenko.

“King Mo” can’t believe that.

“She came from a favela in Brazil,” Lawal said. “Had nothing. Made something of herself. Came out to people that she’s openly gay. She put herself out there. What’s there to fear? She’s fought the girl before.”

And won in a three-round decision last year.

The Nunes-Shevchenko rematch has been rebooked as the co-main event of UFC 215, which takes place Sept. 9 at Rogers Place in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, and airs on pay-per-view.

To hear more from Lawal, including an injury update, watch the video above.

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

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

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

Daniel Cormier believes Amanda Nunes was sick at UFC 213, had 'every right to not compete',AAAABvaL8JE~,ufBHq_I6FnxR-PQW_F3sm5QdUbP7D6E9&bctid=5503089368001
Filed under: Featured, Featured Videos, News, UFC, Videos

As a UFC champion who’s put his belt on the line twice, Daniel Cormier is one of the few people who can understand Amanda Nunes’ position heading into UFC 213.

And he’s standing by the women’s bantamweight champ in light of her withdrawal from last Saturday’s scheduled headliner.

“I don’t believe she was afraid,” Cormier told MMAjunkie Radio. “I believe that she was sick. And if she was sick and could not compete, then she had every right to not compete.”

Nunes has received both support and criticism since revealing the bad bout of sinusitis that kept her out of the five-round rematch with Valentina Shevchenko. The heat stemmed mostly from the fact that, as UFC President Dana White first revealed, the champ had technically been cleared to compete after two trips to the hospital.

Nunes, in turn, used social media to explain her chronic condition. She had fought while dealing with the issue before, but the champ said this time it got particularly bad.

“I was not feeling well enough to risk getting punched in the head with such pressure,” Nunes said. (via Twitter)

The bout was a rematch from a three-round UFC 196 encounter that saw Nunes walking away victorious. For Cormier, who admittedly tends to side with the athlete, Nunes’ (14-4 MMA, 7-1 UFC) history is quite enough proof that she would have any motive other than actual illness to avoid rematching Shevchenko (14-2 MMA, 3-1 UFC).

“This is a woman who has already fought and beat Valentina Shevchenko,” Cormier said. “This is a woman who beat Ronda Rousey. A woman who beat Miesha Tate. Two women who are no longer fighting because of the beatings that they took at the hands of Amanda Nunes, essentially.”

But Nunes isn’t the only one catching flack. White has also received criticism for his harsh handling of the situation. After casting doubt around the severity of Nunes’ condition, calling the withdrawal “90 percent mental and maybe 10 percent physical,” White said she would never headline a UFC card again.

As far as the boss’ reaction goes, Cormier chose the diplomatic route.

“Dana is an emotional guy a lot of times,” Cormier said. “He’ll just shoot you straight. In the best of times, he shoots you straight. In the worst of times, he shoots you straight. And I think that’s what you got.”

Cormier is set to defend his light heavyweight belt against longtime foe and ex-champ Jon Jones at UFC 214 on July 29 at Honda Center in Anaheim, Calif. The bout headlines the pay-per-view card – which may serve as encouragement for Nunes, considering White had also said Jones would never get to main event a UFC card again.

The Nunes vs. Shevchenko rematch in turn is being targeted for UFC 215, which takes place Sept. 9 at Rogers Place in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. On her end, at least, the champ seems to be absolutely fine with that idea. (via Instagram)

Instagram Photo

For more on UFC 214 and UFC 215, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.

MMAjunkie Radio broadcasts Monday-Friday at 1 p.m. ET (10 a.m. PT) live from Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino’s Race & Sports Book. The show is hosted by “Gorgeous” George Garcia and producer Brian “Goze” Garcia. For more information or to download past episodes, go

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Source: MMA Junkie

Twitter Mailbag: Is McGregor getting to Mayweather, or does calling him 'boy' go too far?

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Is Floyd Mayweather losing the press tour portion of his fight with Conor McGregor? Did McGregor cross a line by calling Mayweather “boy”? What, if anything, should the journalists association do about Ariel Helwani’s removal from the Showtime team?

All that and much more, including some insight on fighter pay from Dana White’s Tuesday Night Contender Series, in this week’s Twitter Mailbag. To ask a question of your own, tweet to @BenFowlkesMMA.

You know what press conferences tell you? They tell you who is better at doing press conferences. And clearly, that would be Conor McGregor. He’s a more energetic and charismatic figure on stage than Floyd Mayweather is, and it’s not even close. He’s also just generally easier to like, seeing as how he does not have a history of assaulting women.

Mayweather doesn’t excel at firing up a crowd the way McGregor does, except for when he’s inviting them to hate him. But he was right about one thing he said at Wednesday’s press conference in Toronto: The fans, as enthusiastic as they are, can’t fight for McGregor.

There is no part of me that believes Mayweather is the least bit worried about McGregor’s boxing skills. Mayweather has been at this since childhood. He’s seen just about everything there is to be seen inside a boxing ring. McGregor has never even been there as a professional.

It’s possible that Mayweather could get too confident and take it too easy in either preparation or execution. It’s possible that McGregor could land one magic punch.

But I’m reminded of what Larry Holmes said about Eric “Butterbean” Esch before their fight, as documented in the excellent story “Champion at Twilight” by Carlo Rotella. After briefly trying to sell the fight as a competitive affair, Holmes gave up and admitted the truth, which was that he didn’t see anyway Butterbean could hurt him.

“Maybe he lands a lucky punch, but I don’t believe in luck,” Holmes said. “Not that kind.”

Yeah, so, in case you didn’t hear, in two consecutive press conferences McGregor referred to Mayweather as “boy.” The first time he did it, encouraging a shadowboxing Mayweather to “dance for me, boy,” he seemed to immediately realize his error, at which point he switched to “dance for me, son.” Then at the following day’s press conference he went right back to “boy,” forcing me to do the Britney Spears cringe face.

If he’d said the same thing to Khabib Nurmagomedov, it wouldn’t be worth mentioning. But since he said it to a black fighter in a country where “boy” was historically used by white men in order to demean black men, it understandably set off some alarms.

You could make the case, and many have, that McGregor should get a pass on this one since he comes from a different country and culture where terms like this don’t have the same historical resonance. I can buy that to some extent. You can’t grow up in the U.S. and not know that a white man calling a black man “boy” carries some serious baggage. But could you grow up in Ireland and genuinely not know it? Sure, probably.

Still, at some point you’d think someone would whisper a history lesson in his ear. He’s working in the rare field in which he can call his colleague all sorts of derogatory names at considerable volume in the most public of settings, and he’ll be rewarded instead of punished. The list of words he’ll actually get in trouble for using is pretty short. It wouldn’t be so hard to steer clear of this one, and it would even make sense. (One of McGregor’s other talking points is how old Mayweather is; you can’t call a man 12 years your senior a boy.)

I don’t think McGregor is racist. I think he’s doing his best to be inflammatory, as he has with all his pre-fight talk, and that’s one of the main reasons he’s on that stage with Mayweather, getting ready to cash a huge check. But when these questionable moments start to pile up, soon even comments like this one, where he refers to “dancing monkeys” in the gym during “Rocky III,” begin to catch people’s attention.

Do I think he meant that as racist? No, I heard it and thought he actually meant the earlier scene, not the one where Apollo takes Rocky to the gym full of black fighters, but the one where Rocky’s so famous his training camp has become a media circus (and Mickey haaates it). Warning: I don’t remember it all that well, because who watches “Rocky III” except for the Mr. T parts, but you could almost convince me that there were literal dancing monkeys in that first gym. Hell, in the next movie Rocky’s brother-in-law sexualizes a robot that was given to him as a gift from his family. Dancing monkeys would not be unthinkable for the Rocky franchise.

Still, wouldn’t it be nice if we didn’t have to wonder what he meant by that? Or if we didn’t have to give ammunition to the “MMA is all racist skinheads” crowd? McGregor is MMA’s representative in what’s likely to be the most-watched pay-per-view fight of all time. It’d be great if we didn’t have to defend him before the fight even starts.

It’s a tough call for a few reasons. For one, the MMAJA is still in the process of adding members, so any action right now would have to come from those of us on the interim board, which is only six people. Speaking up or taking action would mean speaking on behalf of newly confirmed members, who had no say in the decision because they just joined this week. That doesn’t seem fair.

Also, while I think it’s extremely petty (and yet soooooo in character) on Dana White’s part if indeed he did pressure Showtime into yanking a job opportunity away from Ariel Helwani, it’s still an employment issue – not an access issue. If White had banned Helwani from attending this press tour, that would be different. But he didn’t. Helwani is there at every stop, doing his job as a journalist for the same outlet he’s more or less always worked for.

Does that make it a cool move on the part of White or on the part of Showtime, which just let itself be dragged into a nonsensical grudge by caving to the demands of one of the least essential parties to this fight? No it does not. But the MMAJA is and should be focused on creating and maintaining an environment where media members can effectively do their jobs. All week at this traveling circus, Helwani has been doing his.

People are putting too much emphasis on two key things here: The fact that Amanda Nunes withdrew the day of the fight, and that she was “cleared” by a doctor.

It’s relatively easy to know when you should withdraw from a fight with a broken hand, and it’s the minute you see the X-ray. The rate at which your bones heal is fairly predictable. But if you’re sick, especially with an illness you’ve struggled with before, how do you know you won’t feel better tomorrow? Or at least better enough to fight? Maybe Nunes held onto that hope for too long, but if so I’m inclined to believe that it was because she really wanted to fight.

As for being cleared, according to Nunes and her camp that consisted of a doctor checking her blood and her hydration levels. People who’ve dealt with sinusitis say it sometimes takes weeks and multiple doctors to even get a correct diagnosis, so maybe it’s not the easiest thing to identify. Even then, it’s not like there’s some magic test doctors can perform to determine physical fight readiness. At best, all they can do is tell you when you absolutely shouldn’t compete. Even then people get cleared with broken bones and torn ligaments and facial lacerations that were very recently glued shut.

Could Nunes have fought sick? Probably. Would it have harmed her chances of winning? Almost certainly. By pulling out the day of the fight, she made some people mad at her. But how many of those people would have cared about her if she’d gone through with it and taken a career- and/or life-changing beating while she was already sick?

People want to compare it to other jobs, or even other pro sports. If a quarterback has the flu and still plays in the big game, for one thing, everybody knows and talks about it in advance. It’s also a shared decision with shared responsibility. He plays poorly? Hey, maybe the coach should have gone with the backup. And why didn’t the front office sign a better backup?

In fighting, you’re all alone. No one wants to hear your excuses afterward. And one fight can be the difference in hundreds of thousands of dollars in future earnings. So I don’t blame a fighter who looks out for herself. Who else in this sport will do it for her?

Preach, brother. When I hear that Justin Gaethje is targeted as a coach on an upcoming season of “The Ultimate Fighter,” all I hear is that I’ve got no chance of seeing him do the one thing I want to watch him do for at least a few months.

Even then, coaches on “TUF” don’t have the best track record of actually making it to the promised fight at the end. (Just ask last season’s coaches, Cody Garbrandt and T.J. Dillashaw, who were supposed to fight last weekend and didn’t.)

I’m sure that, especially with his fighting style, Gaethje could probably use a break to rest and recover. But I’m not particularly interested in watching the process unfold on reality TV.

According to the Nevada State Athletic Commission, the fighters on “Dana White’s Tuesday Night Contender Series” (note that it’s not the UFC, but DWTNCS LLC that’s the promoter of record) all got $5,000 to show and $5,000 to win.

That’s half the entry-level pay for many UFC fighters, but it’s still pretty competitive for what most of these fighters would make in smaller shows. As far as why they do it, obviously they’re hoping it will vault them into the UFC, and maybe even with a little extra push after we watched them cave in someone else’s nose at the job interview.

Competition between fight promotions is a good thing for fighters and fans. It leads to better products from both Bellator and the UFC, since they’re forced to up their game in the race against one another. It leads to better pay and treatment for fighters, as both fight promoters try to sign the fighters they want and keep the ones they already have. The only people it’s not good for are the executives who would rather make more for giving us less.

What’s different about the Gegard Mousasi signing is that it’s a fighter on the upswing leaving the UFC for what he perceives as a better deal with better treatment in Bellator. If that pays off – if two years from now you hear Mousasi raving about his Bellator life rather than ruefully regretting this decision – that will have an impact on other fighters.

The other piece of the puzzle is that at some point Bellator will reach a certain critical mass of fighters who matter. You get one or two big names, so what? Big fights require two big fighters. A few free agent signings mean nothing if you don’t have anyone worthwhile to match them up against.

But Bellator is gradually beefing up some of its key divisions now, and with fighters who can and will fight in multiple weight classes. That means matchups worth making and fights worth seeing. If the money’s right and the treatment is better, don’t be surprised if more fighters decide they might like to join that party.

Good question. Again, it depends what kind of hall of fame the UFC wants to have (and that decision is entirely left to the UFC at this point). As my podcast co-host Chad Dundas likes to frame it, it’s a question of whether you want to have an all-time greats hall of fame or just an awesome dudes (and dudettes) hall of fame.

If it’s the second one, then yes, Jim Miller gets in. He’s been an exciting, reliable workhorse for the UFC, and he’s had tons of memorable battles over many, many years.

But if this is just for the all-time greats? Sorry, but I don’t think so. Miller’s never held a UFC title or even challenged for one. The only other current UFC HOF member with a similar deal is Stephan Bonnar, and clearly he’s there just for one important fight. But who knows, maybe there’s still time for Miller to make his case on those grounds.

Ben Fowlkes is MMAjunkie and USA TODAY’s MMA columnist. Follow him on Twitter at @BenFowlkesMMA. Twitter Mailbag appears every Thursday on MMAjunkie.

For more on “The Money Fight: Floyd Mayweather vs. Conor McGregor,” check out the MMA Rumors section of the site.,AAAABvaL8JE~,ufBHq_I6FnxR-PQW_F3sm5QdUbP7D6E9&bctid=5505168498001
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10 memorable moments from TUF 25 Finale and UFC 213, including Justin Gaethje's crazy debut

Filed under: News, UFC

The UFC’s sixth annual International Fight Week featured two fight cards, Friday’s The Ultimate Fighter 25 Finale and Saturday’s UFC 213, both of which took place at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. Plenty of memorable moments emerged.

Over the course of the two events, 22 fights took place, including former WSOF lightweight champion Justin Gaethje’s winning UFC debut in a potential “Fight of the Year” contender, as well Robert Whittaker capturing the interim middleweight title.

Of course, they weren’t the only noteworthy occurrences. As one would expect, a good number of the key takeaways from this year’s International Fight Week took place in the cage, but not all of them – and at least one revolved around someone who didn’t even strap on a pair of four-ounce gloves.

Here are the 10 most memorable moments from International Fight Week 2017.

1. How to make a first impression

As far as remarkable UFC debuts go, Gaethje’s has to rank near the top. The former WSOF lightweight champion came to the UFC and delivered what he promised: an all offense attack, with no thought of self-preservation.

As in his previous 17 fights, Gaethje (18-0 MMA, 1-0 UFC) walked away the victor, but until he finished Michael Johnson late in the second round, victory wasn’t a sure thing. After all, Johnson (17-12 MMA, 9-8 UFC), who gave his best, hurt Gaethje several times.

Those unfamiliar with Gaethje before the TUF 25 Finale card should be now. Those who had doubts about Gaethje’s UFC readiness should’ve had those questions answered. Even UFC lightweight champion Conor McGregor tipped his hat in appreciation (via Twitter):

After his win, Gaethje, who earned two bonuses (“Fight of the Night” and “Performance of the Night”), took to the mic and asked, “Who’s next?”
Gaethje later said he wouldn’t mind facing Tony Ferguson (23-3 MMA, 13-1 UFC), who as Gaethje predicted, dismissed him unless the fight will be for UFC gold.


2. One more hill to climb

Since joining the UFC middleweight ranks, Whittaker has done nothing but win while looking better each time he’s done so.

Whittaker earned his seventh victory in the division and his sixth post-fight bonus, defeating Yoel Romero by decision in a masterful performance in UFC 213’s main event. More important than the money and the accolades, the victory gave the 26-year-old the interim title, setting up a fight with 38-year-old champion Michael Bisping.

Like Bisping (30-7 MMA, 20-7 UFC), Whittaker (19-4 MMA, 10-2 UFC) is a fighter with considerable will. It’s something Whittaker displayed during the Romero (12-2 MMA, 8-1 UFC) fight, battling through a knee injury the Cuban exacerbated with a kick in the first round. The title fight between Bisping and Whittaker, when it does occur, will be highly anticipated and easily promotable, even if Bisping decides against playing the heel role.



3. OK to be frustrated, but…

In the aftermath of International Fight Week, social media should have been discussing the fights and futures of Gaethje and Whittaker. Instead, most of the talk surrounded UFC women’s bantamweight champ Amanda Nunes’ decision to withdraw from her title defense against Valentina Shevchenko, which was scheduled as UFC 213’s main event.

A lot of that talk is due to UFC President Dana White’s willingness to shame Nunes for her decision not to compete while suffering from what she revealed was “chronic sinusitis.”

Lost in many of these 140-character discussions is that if Nunes had fought and lost, she would have relinquished not only her title, but future earning potential as UFC champ.

Nunes was scheduled to make $105,000 to show and an additional $105,000 had she defended her title. Additionally, her UFC-Reebok sponsorship amount, as champion, was to be $40,000. Had she lost, Nunes would have dropped to the $5,000 tier. That’s not to mention the fact that her job is to punch and be punched in the head, something you don’t want to do when not feeling up to par.

The frustration on this matter is understandable. The condemnation though? That’s disconcerting.

4. A real redemption story

In 2008 Jesse Taylor made it to the tournament final of “The Ultimate Fighter 7.” He didn’t fight on that card due to actions that forced his removal from the show. Instead of a UFC career, Taylor toiled in the lower rungs of MMA until this year, when he got his chance to participate in the redemption season of “TUF.” He made the most of that opportunity.

Taylor (31-15 MMA, 1-1 UFC) did what was expected in his welterweight bout vs. Dhiego Lima (12-6 MMA, 1-4 UFC), relying heavily on his wrestling and submission skills to finish the fight in the second round via rear-naked choke. The win earned Taylor the $290,000 prize as the winner of “TUF 25.”

Now that he’s redeemed himself and back with the promotion, Taylor has his eye on UFC gold.


5. Return to form

Anthony Pettis needed a win at UFC 213. It didn’t have to be impressive or memorable; he just needed a victory so he could put a 1-4 stretch behind him.

Pettis earned that win, and he did so with an aggressive performance that left fans nodding their heads in appreciation and thinking the “Showtime” Pettis of yore is ready for a top-tier lightweight opponent following an ill-fated two-fight run at featherweight.

Pettis (20-6 MMA, 7-5 UFC) worked through some adversity early thanks to the leg kicks of Jim Miller (28-10 MMA, 17-9 UFC), but once Pettis found his groove he dominated the well-rounded Miller in all aspects of the fight, especially in the creative striking department on his way to a decision win.


6. The door is open

Alistair Overeem defeated Fabrico Werdum by narrow majority decision at UFC 213. The victory was far from dominant and left many questioning the judges’ decision.

The matchup between these two highly ranked heavyweights should have put the winner in position to challenge heavyweight champion Stipe Miocic. Instead, the bout had UFC President Dana White commenting on the FOX post-fight show that the fight would not put “anybody in position for a title.”

Overeem seemed to agree.

“If we have to face somebody else first, fine,” Overeem told MMAjunkie after the event.

White’s comments seem to leave the door open for rising star Francis Ngannou (10-1 MMA, 5-0 UFC) to claim a title shot should he get past former champion Junior Dos Santos (18-5 MMA, 12-4 UFC) at UFC 215.


7. Earning his nickname

Aleksei Oleinik picked up one of the biggest wins of his lengthy career with his second-round stoppage of Travis Browne. Oleinik (52-10-1 MMA, 4-1 UFC), who was coming off the first submission victory via Ezekiel choke in UFC history, forced Browne (18-7-1 MMA, 9-7-1 UFC) to tap to what UFC announcer Bruce Buffer simply referred to as a “submission.”

After the fight, Oleinik provided some detail on the hold that sent Browne to his fourth straight defeat.

“This choke was a unique submission but something I use a lot,” Oleinik said. “I set it up like a rear-naked choke but also use my body weight to twist my opponent. You could say it is actually a double submission from that angle. This is why I am ‘The Boa Constrictor.’”

Browne’s loss left White suggesting Browne retire.


8. On the come up

If you’re looking for an under-the-radar win that stood out during International Fight Week, Rob Font deserves consideration. Font (14-2 MMA, 4-1 UFC) put on the best performance of his UFC career in earning a “Performance of the Night” bonus for his submission win over Douglas Silva de Andrade (24-2 MMA, 2-2 UFC) at UFC 213.

Font has been tagged as a fighter with a high upside for some time, but his decision loss to John Lineker in 2016 cooled that talk. With two consecutive stoppages since then, Font looks ready to wade back into the deep end of the bantamweight pool.


9. Not letting that one go

In December, Gray Maynard was involved in one of the most frustrating contests of his career. The former lightweight title challenger, now competing at featherweight, struggled to mount any offense against the jiu-jitsu based Ryan Hall and eventually lost a decision.

Maynard (13-6-1 MMA, 11-6-1 UFC) bounced back at the TUF 25 Finale, using his wrestling to dominate Teruto Ishihara (9-4-2 MMA, 2-2-1 UFC) and earn a unanimous-decision victory.  Instead of focusing on the future and his win, Maynard disparaged Hall.

“There was no risk in that fight (with Hall),” Maynard said. “It was a waste of time. And everybody still called me out. That’s not my fault. He’s the (expletive); he’s the coward. And I’ll never take a fight like that again.”


Maynard then called for a bout against Artem Lobov.

For his part, Hall seemed amused.

10. An emotional victory

Tecia Torres wanted to fight Michelle Waterson in August, but when Amanda Ribas was pulled from her fight against Juliana Lima for a potential USADA violation, Torres offered her services.

The UFC accepted, and the gamble paid off for Torres, (9-1 MMA, 5-1 UFC), and she submitted Lima (9-4 MMA, 3-3 UFC) in the second round of their TUF 25 Finale fight via rear-naked choke. The stoppage was the first of Torres’ career and earned her the first post-fight bonus of her UFC run.

After the win, Torres broke down in tears. Backstage, Torres spoke about the tragedy that caused her to react with such emotion: the death of former teammate Aaron Rajman.

“This is the first time (I’ve had to go through that kind of adversity),” Torres said. “It really hit home because he was there for me at the end of my amateur career. He had his own show too. I fought my last amateur fight on his show. He was a good friend. We hadn’t talked in a while, but whenever we would connect, we would be together.”


And that Waterson fight? Torres still wants it.

For more on The Ultimate Fighter 25 Finale and UFC 213, check out the UFC Events section of the site.

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Trading Shots: Should Amanda Nunes have fought sick at UFC 213?

Amanda Nunes set off an avalanche of criticism, both from fans and UFC President Dana White, when she pulled out of her UFC 213 main event bout against Valentina Shevchenko on Saturday in Las Vegas. Now retired UFC and WEC fighter Danny Downes joins MMAjunkie columnist Ben Fowlkes to debate what Nunes should have done, and whether the powers that be are treating her unfairly.

Downes: There wasn’t a Papa Roach concert (that I know of), but “International Fight Week” provided some great action this weekend, Ben. On Friday night, Justin Gaethje and Michael Johnson had the potential “Fight of the Year.” Not to be outdone, your boy Robert Whittaker withstood some early trouble and a bum leg to become the interim middleweight champion.

What we didn’t see, however, was Amanda Nunes defending her UFC women’s bantamweight title against Valentina Shevchenko. We still don’t have all the details, but it sounds like Nunes became ill and pulled out of the fight. Dana White says that Nunes was medically cleared and her decision not to fight was “90 percent mental.”

Since you threw Germaine de Randamie under the bus a few weeks ago, it’s safe to assume that you, too, will call Nunes a coward?

Fowlkes: You know what I like about you? Your willingness to strip all context away while making these comparisons. Wait, did I just type “like”? Sorry, I meant the opposite of that.

Here’s what happened with Germaine de Randamie, Danny, since you seem to have forgotten. First she won the UFC women’s featherweight title. Then, the moment she was asked about defending that title, likely against Cristiane Justino, she remembered she needed hand surgery. Maybe. Then some weeks later she remembered that Justino has a history of failed drug tests, and so that’s why she wouldn’t fight her.

Nunes? She already fought Shevchenko once – and won. She signed to fight her again, then ended up in the hospital twice in the hours leading up to the fight, before eventually withdrawing.

White has gone out of his way to frame this as a mental and not a physical issue for Nunes. That’s not uncommon for the UFC president. He loves to trash his own fighters when they cost him money or even just go against his wishes, and it doesn’t seem to matter how good or tough or awesome they are at their jobs.

Remember when he did a media conference call to hammer Jon Jones after the UFC 151 cancellation? Remember when he went on an “official” UFC podcast to talk smack on Demetrious Johnson?

Now it’s Nunes’ turn. She was “cleared” to fight by doctors, White said, but simply wouldn’t do it. I guess that’s because she likes throwing her money away on training camps only to miss out on the payday of the fight itself. Either that, or she was so terrified of the prospect of a fight against someone she already beat that she simply couldn’t go through with it.

Or – bear with me, because I know this theory is a little crazy – maybe she felt like she was too freaking sick to fight, Danny. Maybe she knew that if she fought sick and lost, her willingness to do the UFC a solid wouldn’t do much to help her chances of getting a rematch. Maybe she felt like she had to look out for herself, since who else is going to do it if she doesn’t?

Are you really going to tell me that you can’t imagine how a fighter might reach that conclusion? Or are you just that comfortable taking White’s word as solemn gospel, despite his troubled history with the truth?

Downes: MMAjunkie is truly lucky to have someone like you on staff. Your ability to easily discern which fighters are running scared and which ones are a victim of circumstance is astounding. Coupled with your apparent medical knowledge, I’m simply in awe. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised, though. I mean, you did play Division III football, after all.

I know nuance is a dirty word to you, so I’m going to try to break it down as simply as I can. You are correct to be suspicious of White’s interpretation of events. He had a lot to lose and nothing to gain by canceling his main event. And when you mess with his fight cards, he goes scorched Earth. That is, unless you get picked up for a felony assault warrant. Then he’ll go to bat for you all day long.

But your mistake here is letting the personality of the fighter cloud your judgment. You like Nunes. Therefore, she’s a victim of a smear campaign. If it had been Vitor Belfort, Michael Bisping or anyone else on your hit list, I doubt you would be so forgiving.

Nunes said that “chronic sinusitis” was the reason for her pulling out of the fight. Now before you claim victory, she’s also said that she’s fought through this before. I don’t know about White’s 90/10 split on the mental vs. physical aspect of Nunes’s decision, but even you would have to admit the mental aspect played a role.

Obviously you don’t have to be on your deathbed to be “too sick to fight,” but even a slight annoyance leading up to a fight can be magnified 1000 times over in your mind. I’m sure you had the same feelings on…uh…scrimmage week or something. Even if it’s a condition you’ve dealt with thousands of times before, the stakes become bigger once you’re the headliner.

I don’t think Nunes was scared. I don’t think she spent all that time/money on training camp to go to Las Vegas and walk away with $0. What I do think is the stress of being the champion can weigh on a person. Would she have pulled out of this fight if she were the challenger? Probably not. Like de Randamie or Bisping or even Conor McGregor, she has a title now and wants to do everything in her power to hold onto it.

All those aforementioned champions have gone through widely disparate machinations to hold on to their respective titles, but the larger point still stands. Once they have their precious, they’ll do whatever necessary to keep it theirs. Even it means being a bit more cautious than usual.

Fowlkes: You want to talk nuance? Want to talk about medical clearances? Then let me pull your chain about a cat name of Donald Cerrone.

That’s right, I’m talking about our beloved “Cowboy.” Now there’s a man who’ll fight through anything. Pulled groin? Infection in his blood? Doesn’t matter. If the doctor and the promoter will let him, he’s putting that mouthpiece in and making that walk. What a savage.

Know something else about Cerrone? He’s never been a UFC champ. It could be because he fights all the time, under whatever circumstances, and so inevitably he’s going to lose one here and there. And what happened when he complained about the state of fighter pay, Danny? That’s when Mr. White explained that you “have to win them all” if you want to make that serious money.

But, wait, I’m confused. If you have to win them all, wouldn’t you be wise to refrain from fighting when you aren’t feeling healthy enough to give yourself a good shot at victory? But if you do that, then you’ll get excoriated on the Internet for not being a “real” fighter, regardless of how many times you’ve already proven the opposite.

This isn’t someone turning down the top contender in the division. It isn’t someone picking and choosing for an easier or more profitable fight. This is a champion who said yes, who showed up, and who got sick.

If our response is to yell at her for not being willing to take the beating anyway for the sake of our entertainment, then we need to reevaluate some things, up to and including how we treat losing fighters who tell us what was ailing them. And until we’re ready to do that, we shouldn’t be surprised when a fighter decides to act in her own best interests. Maybe instead we should be surprised that it doesn’t happen more often.

For complete coverage of UFC 213, check out the UFC Events section of the site.

Ben Fowlkes is MMAjunkie and USA TODAY’s MMA columnist. Danny Downes, a retired UFC and WEC fighter, is an MMAjunkie contributor who has also written for and UFC 360. Follow them on twitter at @benfowlkesMMA and @dannyboydownes.

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