The List: Who's on Santa's nice list for this Christmas?

For too long, our writers’ hyper-specific arguments have been confined to the private corridors of the Internet. Welcome to The List, where we take their instant message bickerings, add a little polish, and make them public.

Today, with Christmas Day upon us, which MMA notables find themselves on Santa’s nice list?

(ALSO SEE: The List: Who’s on Santa’s naughty list for this Christmas?)

* * * *

Max Holloway, the champion we don’t deserve

Fernanda Prates: At a time when it seems so tricky to get a UFC title run  right, you’d be hard-pressed to find anything that featherweight champion Max Holloway did wrong.

From his way to the top to his future plans now that he’s there, Holloway’s career evolution has been as by-the-book as they come. While many opt for aggressive social-media beefs or just some good ol’ trashing of entire nations, Holloway’s scenic route to the title shot was paved by one main ingredient: wins.

Ten of them, to be more precise.

For a lot of it, Holloway was quiet. But when he decided to speak up, backed up by what he’d already done in the cage, he did it with some swagger. Even his taunts came with a dash of respect, offering just enough to capture our attention (and maybe piss off his grandma a little bit) but not enough to trigger angry YouTube comments.

Well, actually, anything is enough to trigger angry YouTube comments. But I digress.

Then, in order for Holloway to effectively become king, he had to venture into Aldo’s kingdom. No problem, Holloway said, before knocking Aldo out. Surely, after all of that, Holloway had to be eyeing a super fight, right? Nah. He wanted to fight the rightful contender. And when Frankie Edgar couldn’t make it, Holloway didn’t hesitate to extend Aldo the courtesy of a rematch.

By the time he beat Aldo again, Holloway had earned enough bragging rights to be at least a little bit of an A-hole. But he still declined that role, first reassuring his commitment to the novelty concept of actually defending his belt and then making sure everyone remembered just how big of a badass the champion he dethroned actually was.

The “Blessed Era” is indeed upon us – and it was about damn time.

The wholesome post-fight interviewees

Rose Namajunas

Dann Stupp: So, you’ve won an MMA fight – perhaps it came after some nasty pre-fight trash-talk from your opponent – and now’s your chance to rub a little salt in the wound, right?

Not necessarily.

This year, we saw some downright wholesome post-fight interviews.

Take for instance new UFC women’s strawweight champion Rose Namajunas, who dethroned Joanna Jedrzejczyk after some contentious pre-fight smack talk that sometimes bordered on cruel.

“You are mentally unstable, and you are broken already, and I will break you in the fight,” Jedrzejczyk said before their title bout.

When Namajunas pulled off the upset with a first-round stoppage – delivering “Joanna Champion” the first loss of her career – “Thug” went the opposite direction.

“There’s just been a lot of trash-talking,” Namajunas said after UFC 217. “People aren’t really being true to themselves or honest. Maybe that’s just what they feel they need to do to entertain, but I’m kind of sick of it. I’m sick of all the hate and anger. I feel like we have a duty as fighters to try to be a better example. Martial arts is about honor and respect. It takes a lot of courage to get in that cage no matter who you are. I just want to try to set an example in that way.”

Namajunas wasn’t alone, though. After beating Artem Lobov at UFC Fight Night 118, Andre Fili put MMA on the back burner to discuss bigger issues.

“To be honest, I don’t even want to talk about fighting right now,” he said after his story. “I want to say something real quick: The whole two months I was in my fight camp, all I saw on the news was mass shootings and bombings and tsunamis and hurricanes, and there are forest fires all up and down California.

“You guys, we’ve got to start treating each other like human beings. We’ve got to show each other a little love. There’s only one race, and it’s the human race. We got to start giving a sh*t about each other and giving a sh*t about this planet we inherited, and our kids and our grandkids are going to inherit.”

Brian Ortega also got in the mix after beating Cub Swanson in UFC Fight Night 123’s headliner. With his post-fight interview, he praised Swanson and spoke of the virtues of charity work (via YouTube):

The world – especially the MMA world – could use a little more of this wholesomeness.

Those efficient UFC Fight Pass events

Ben Fowlkes: Right off I’ll admit it, I was not an instant fan of the UFC’s Fight Pass-only fight cards from far-flung locales. It seemed like a way to introduce a new, lower tier of UFC programming, while also cramming even more events into an already packed schedule, thereby diluting the overall product.

And, sure, both those things are still true. But if I’m going to wake up at three o’clock in the morning to watch a bunch of MMA neophytes do battle in Shanghai, I have to at least appreciate the pacing of these shows for reminding me that MMA doesn’t have to be a marathon slog.

That’s easy to forgot when sitting through more than six hours of fights and commercials (mostly commercials) on FOX Sports 1. Compared to that, the Fight Pass events practically breeze by, giving us all the action without all the filler – plus that international commentary team that’s just as classy as a rented tux.

Granted, it’s still the lowest level of UFC programming, just in terms of which fighters get added to those events. And the UFC has not-so subtly tried to sneak some commercials in there lately (don’t have me up at four a.m. watching some ad for tires on what is already a paid streaming service, UFC).

But still, it’s as close to a no-frills product as you’re going to get from the UFC these days. And there’s something about having my MMA with my (extremely) early morning coffee that I can really get into. You know, as long as I can grab a nap later.

Artem Lobov, Friday morning MVP

John Morgan: Listen, I’m going to let you in on a little-known secret: Friday used to be the easiest day of fight week for MMA journalists.

Sure, Wednesday and Thursday are generally packed with interviews and appointments and racing to be the first to get your content on the Internet, but Friday used to be a day to sleep in, recover, roll in to the fan Q&A at about 2 p.m., cover the fighters hitting the scale at 4 p.m. and then call it a day. There’s a reason we decided to record “The MMA Road Show” on Thursday nights – because we could have all the frosty beverages we wanted, talk some MMA, and then sleep in the next morning!

No more.

With early weigh-ins now the norm, the alarm generally goes off at about 7 a.m., making Friday just another long work day. And believe me, sitting in a room for two hours waiting for guys to show up in their underwear isn’t always the most exciting process, especially if you’re slightly hungover.

(Oh, by the way – heavyweights, you don’t get until 11 a.m. anymore. We know you’re not cutting weight. You’re just sleeping. Get down to the room and get your weight set. Your new cutoff is 10 a.m., OK? Thanks.)

But then, thankfully, there’s Artem Lobov.

I get it. It’s easy to hate on Artem. His career record isn’t that impressive. He’s probably received a favor or two that can be directly attributed to his friendship with Conor McGregor. But for my money, this guy should stay in the UFC as long as he wants to compete. Win or lose, he’s going to get into the cage and give you a fight, every time out. And even more importantly, on Friday morning, when the head is still a little foggy and all you want to do is crawl back in bed, he’s going to give you this:

‘Nuff said.

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

Artem Lobov throws shade at Rita Ora for 'date night' tweet about Conor McGregor

British pop singer Rita Ora caused quite the fuss on social media Tuesday when she posted photos of herself with Conor McGregor at the British Fashion Awards in London.

Now, they’re just innocent photos of two people enjoying each other’s company at a fancy gathering. They shouldn’t mean anything, except for the fact that Ora’s accompanying caption was a curious choice of words (via Twitter):

Date night @TheNotoriousMMA

Whoa, hey now. “Date night” might not be the proper caption for a photo with McGregor when the UFC lightweight champion has his wife, Dee Devlin, and 7-month-old son at home. Ora took some heat for her word choice for that reason, and that included – from out of nowhere! – McGregor’s teammate, Artem Lobov, putting her on blast (via @TheMMABible on Twitter):

Sick burn!


The Blue Corner is MMAjunkie‘s official blog and is edited by Mike Bohn.


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

Conor McGregor on using homophobic slur: 'I meant no disrespect' to LGBT community

Filed under: Featured, News, UFC

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UFC lightweight champion Conor McGregor today apologized for his use of a homophobic slur in an exchange caught on tape, saying he meant “no disrespect” to the LGBT community.

During a taped appearance on the Irsh TV show “The Late Late Show,” McGregor (21-3 MMA, 9-1 UFC) told Ryan Tubridy he was overwhelmed by emotion following the loss of longtime teammate Artem Lobov (13-14-1 MMA, 2-4 UFC) and let his words get away from him.

“I witnessed him lose a fight in a potential career-defining or a career-ending fight in a manner where the opponent was stalling and running away, and I was upset,” McGregor said. “I was whispering in his ear, and I was speaking on that, and I said what I said. I meant no disrespect to nobody, to anybody in the LGBT community.”

McGregor defended his record with the LGBT community, citing his efforts to legalize gay marriage in Ireland.

“I was campaigning for that,” McGregor said. “It’s another one where things just get blown out. Any chance they get, they love to throw me under the bus. I just have to say sorry for what I said and try and move on from it.”

It’s not the first time McGregor’s words have landed him in hot water.

During a promotional tour for his blockbuster “Money Fight” opposite boxing kingpin Floyd Mayweather in August, McGregor drew heavy criticism for racially tinged language and defended himself as “very multi-cultural and a very multi-cultured individual.”

McGregor’s latest remarks came to light when video was posted of his walk backstage with Lobov at UFC Fight Night 118. Comforting Lobov after a unanimous-decision loss to Andre Fili, the UFC champ said, “I thought you were going to sleep him. All I’m saying, he’s a (expletive). I never knew he was a (expletive).”

The exchange came after McGregor was warned by referee Marc Goddard for attempting to corner Lobov in violation of the rules, prompting UFC officials to restrain him during the fight, which took place at Ergo Arena in Gdansk, Poland.

Lobov later hinted at retirement following his loss. McGregor said the experience of watching his friend and teammate was deeply upsetting, to the point where he couldn’t control himself.

“I was watching a fighter, a sparring partner, a friend, a brother of mine who was giving his health – his body health, his brain health, everything – to help me prepare for fights to give my brain health and my body health to entertain the public,” McGregor said. “That’s the fighter I was going to watch and support.”

For complete coverage of UFC Fight Night 118, check out the UFC Events section of the site.


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

Dana White: No one wants Conor McGregor vs. Paulie Malignaggi, who turns focus to Artem Lobov

UFC President Dana White adamantly denies Paulie Malignaggi’s claim that a fight with Conor McGregor is in negotiations and doubts anyone would want to see the UFC champ compete against the retired boxer, anyway.

Malignaggi and McGregor have been feuding since the former boxing champ made a brief and dramatic appearance in McGregor’s camp prior to his August bout with Floyd Mayweather. Malignaggi had a pair of sparring sessions with McGregor, and the fallout included accusations of mistreatment, released sparring clips and a whole lot more back-and-forth in the public eye.

It’s been clear ever since Malignaggi made a furious exit from McGregor’s camp that he was angling for a showdown with the brash Irishman. McGregor said he would welcome Malignaggi to the octagon for an MMA fight, but UFC President Dana White has absolutely no interest in booking the matchup, be it under MMA, boxing or any other combat sports ruleset.

“Paulie Malignaggi never says (expletive) that isn’t true,” Dana White sarcastically told the “Real Quick with Mike Swick” podcast, hosted by former UFC fighter Mike Swick. “Do you think people really want to see Conor vs. Paulie Malignaggi? People want to see Conor fight in MMA. That’s what they want to see. The Mayweather fight was a one-off, (expletive) crazy deal. This is where he belongs, this is the sport he’s in, this is the sport he excels in and this is where he’s a world champion. This is where he needs to be.”

In the midst of Malignaggi pursuit of the fight, he’s been caught in the crosshairs of Artem Lobov, who is one of McGregor’s good friends and training partners. The pair has engaged in social media warfare, with Malignaggi claiming he could beat both McGregor and Lobov in one night. Lobov said he would be more than willing to step in the boxing to bring the bout to reality (via Twitter):

Whether there’s a chance of Lobov vs. Malignaggi really happening remains to be seen. Lobov said following a recent unanimous decision loss to Andre Fili at UFC Fight Night 118 that he’s considering asking for his UFC release in order to compete in boxing matches. Lobov might not have to go anywhere, though, because White recently revealed boxing could be introduced under the company umbrella in 2018.

White said he understands why Malignaggi would want to fight McGregor given their history, but at this point he has no interest in seeing it. He also believes the majority of the combat sports audience feels the same way.

“Why did Paulie Malignaggi get up and walk out of camp after two sparring sessions? Because it was the right (expletive) thing to do,” White said. “Because he was going to get hurt, because he was going to take damage that was going to affect him for the rest of his life that he didn’t need to (expletive) take. It’s not like they were paying him big money or he had a (expletive) fight coming up himself.

“Paulie Malignaggi got up and left camp, and he should have (expletive) got up and left camp because Conor was going to (expletive) hurt him badly. It’s no disrespect to the guy. It’s a fact. I was there. I watched the whole (expletive) sparring session. That guy needed to go home and he needed to leave Las Vegas.”

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

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Filed under: News, UFC
Source: MMA Junkie

Twitter Mailbag: Where's the hype for UFC 217?

Is UFC 217 getting the promotional push the card deserves? Say we end up with a new UFC middleweight champ, then what? And just how far-fetched is it to think that Bellator could one day become the second Scott Coker-led venture to be acquired by the UFC?

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

* * * *

Outside of the Michael Bisping and Georges St-Pierre Public Shoving Tour 2017, I haven’t seen a ton of promotion for the event in general, which surprises me.

This ought to be a big event for the UFC. The return of GSP at Madison Square Garden? Fighting to become a two-division champ? And on the same card as two other title fights, one of which in (Cody Garbrandt vs. T.J. Dillashaw) may be the best pure talent matchup that we’ll see all year? That should feel like a huge deal. A little over a week out, the hype should be inescapable.

I don’t know about you, but I can’t say I feel that. If you’re in the MMA bubble and reading all the usual websites, sure, you see stories and videos about the two headliners. You even see some about the other two title fights if you’re really paying attention.

As for a hard push outside the bubble, I don’t see it. You could hardly draw breath on this planet without knowing about Floyd Mayweather vs. Conor McGregor weeks before it happened. But the former “king of pay-per-view” returns to the sport he dominated after four years away, and it almost feels like the UFC can’t be bothered to get out there and make a case for our money.

Is it complacency? Entitlement? Have the powers that be concluded that all the people who care to know about this event already do? Are they waiting for fight week to power up the big spotlight? I don’t know. But if I were counting on pocketing a piece of that pay-per-view, it might concern me just a little bit. If I were one of the champions getting almost ignored outside the main event, it might even piss me off.

Hahahahahahaha, no. Have you seen how much trouble the UFC has keeping regular old fight cards together? Injuries and illnesses and weigh-in disasters and day-of withdrawals. A one-night tournament is like packing all those usual troubles into a phone booth and then also adding a hive of angry bees. Nobody down at UFC headquarters wants that stress.

Whoa there. Let’s take this one step at a time. If St-Pierre beats Bisping, then he’s the UFC middleweight champ, and with a pack of hungry contenders waiting in line to get at him. How deeply unsatisfying would it be for him to decide, you know what, he’s actually all done being middleweight champ now?

I know it’s what some people (including Luke Rockhold) expect, but it would also make this whole thing feel like a pointless waste of time. So, what, we’re supposed to then turn around and get excited about seeing him face Tyron Woodley? Not bloody likely.

But then there’s the Irish elephant in the room. You can’t pay any sort of attention to how the UFC does business in 2017 and not at least consider the possibility of a GSP vs. Conor McGregor fight at some point down the road. It’s silly and sort of illogical, but when you have two pay-per-view stars within 30 pounds of each other, you don’t have to be a UFC accountant to see the potential value in throwing them in a cage together.

But what would they fight over, exactly? Bragging rights? The UFC equivalent of “The Money Belt”? At what point would fans rebel against this just-to-get-into-your-wallet matchmaking? And even if that point never comes, fights like that don’t lead anywhere. It’s just a one-off cash grab that leaves you lost and searching for the next payday.

For St-Pierre, the problem for the moment is Bisping. In a lot of ways, his future options open up more with a loss. Because if he wins and doesn’t defend the belt next, it’s going to get harder to convince us that he came back to do anything that matters.

Must I restrict myself to UFC history? Because I’m enough of a mark for the late-2000s era of MMA to still feel like Randy Couture vs. Fedor Emelianenko is the one that got away. Then again, I also still remember the year of the superfight that never was, so GSP vs. Anderson Silva feels like a lingering promise unfulfilled.

But if I can really do anything, and just treat the entire history of the UFC roster like my personal video game? Give me Jon Jones vs. (sea-level) Cain Velasquez. And when Velasquez pulls out of the fight injured, go ahead and sub in pre-diverticulitis Brock Lesnar.

For me, almost as important as who the documentary is on is who makes it and why. Is it a vanity project to cater to some fighter’s ego? Is it a glorified commercial produced by his management? Or is it a truly honest and independent effort made by a real filmmaker?

If someone with that kind of focus and access and determination were to follow Jon Jones around during these tumultuous years, I’d be the first in line when the movie came out.

Michael Page is a whole lot of fun to watch, but his focus in MMA and now boxing seems to be finding opponents against whom he can be at his most fun. That makes for great highlights, and I’ll watch the GIFs of the finishes along with everyone else, but don’t expect me to act like it means anything.

As long as the UFC is in court on antitrust claims, purchasing its most significant competitor would probably be a bad idea. Which is not to say that it could never, ever happen. The NFL got around antitrust laws by working with a players association, and the current lawsuit against the UFC has very similar goals. You could even argue that a fighters association becomes more workable with one major organization than with two.

Would that result in a better product for fans and/or better working conditions for fighters? Maybe. But if you’re the UFC right now, you might feel like you can sit back and wait Bellator out and see how long its parent company Viacom wants to keep plugging away at the maddening business of MMA.

A new spine. Can I borrow yours?

Him and plenty of others, but how are you going to stop him if he wants to keep at it? Fortunately, Artem Lobov seems to be at least considering the possibility of retirement, or so he says when he’s not considering a boxing match with He Who Shall Not Be Named.

A lot of times, these retirements are like break-ups. Mentioning the possibility out loud is the first step, but it usually doesn’t mean you’re there yet. Also like break-ups, sometimes it takes a few tries to really make it stick.

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

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Filed under: News
Source: MMA Junkie

Film review: 'Conor McGregor: Notorious' is a fascinating fly-on-the-wall documentary

Filed under: Blue Corner, Featured, Featured Videos, News, UFC

Before he became one of the richest athletes in the world, before he became a massive box off attraction and pay-per-view draw, before he became a two-weight champion in the UFC, before he was even signed to the premier MMA organization in the world, Conor McGregor had the foresight to document his impending journey on film while still fighting for Cage Warriors on the regional circuit in Europe.

In the hands of some very capable filmmakers lead by director Gavin Fitzgerald, the result is “Conor McGregor: Notorious,” a fascinating fly-on-the-wall documentary showcasing the meteoric rise of the biggest star the sport has ever seen. It’s sure to appease MMA junkies and casual fans alike.

The film opens with a montage of highlights from the Nate Diaz rematch at UFC 202. From there we, the audience, are asked to hop into the proverbial DeLorean and jump back to 4 years earlier, where we find McGregor staring at a debt collectors letter and laughing it off. The humble beginning is double stamped as we see him interact with SBG teammate and training partner Cathal Pendred at the SBG gym in Dublin, Ireland as the pair joke borrowing each other’s head gear because they can’t afford their own.

The opening to the film establishes where McGregor came from – nothing. What it also establishes is the rock-solid relationship he’s had with girlfriend Dee Devlin, who has arguably been his biggest support system and anchor from the get-go.

Courtesy image: NBC Universal

From there we’re introduced to the entire supporting cast of characters from teammates and training partners, Artem Lobov, Gunnar Nelson, the aforementioned Pendred, coaches John Kavanagh and Owen Roddy, as well his immediate family; Tony and Margaret McGregor et al. It’s fascinating to see these young and innocent faces, yet to be exposed to the world they all inhabit now, as they embark on this journey with McGregor. There are cameos from Dillon Danis and James Gallagher later. However, it’s clear that aside from the hours spent in the gym, the bond McGregor has with his team is just as crucial to his success, which is a running theme throughout the film.

The largest portion of the film is dedicated to the build-up to the Jose Aldo fight, which ultimately took place at UFC 194. However, it’s the build-up to UFC 189 that produces some of the most fascinating behind-the-scenes moments and never-before-seen footage, which will resonate most with hardcore fans of the sport.

We see McGregor struggle but ultimately deal with a severe knee injury (ACL tear), which at the time was only known to his teammates and coaches. We then witness UFC President Dana White and then co-owner Lorenzo Fertitta visit the ‘Mac Mansion’ in Las Vegas to break the news that Aldo was injured and out of the fight.

Another amazing moment captured on film is McGregor being paid a visit by none other than Arnold Schwarzenegger. The interaction between the two is fun and although it’s just a few moments, the biggest takeaway is when McGregor and Devlin show the “The Austrian Oak” out and as they shut the door, there’s a real moment of innocence as they both look at each other, smiling and laughing, gobsmacked that one of the biggest stars in Hollywood took time out of his schedule to pay them a visit. Instances like this captured throughout the film are real high points providing a good balance of showcasing McGregor the fighter versus the everyday guy thrust into the A-list world – that despite the money, fame and everything that comes with celebratory status, McGregor thoroughly enjoyed the journey, even if he had to pinch himself from time to time.

Courtesy image: NBC Universal

The final portion of the movie is dedicated to his biggest rival, Diaz. Up until now the audience has seen McGregor overcome injuries, defeat a legend in Aldo, become a bonafide superstar and do it all with a cheeky smile, as if he had foreseen this all, which remarkably isn’t far from the truth. What we have yet so see is McGregor go from the highest of highs to the lowest of lows, his first loss in the UFC, which came at the hands of Diaz at UFC 196.

It would’ve been easy for McGregor to tell the production crew to turn the cameras off as he gathers his thoughts post-fight in the locker room, minutes following the loss. But he doesn’t. Once again, like many times throughout the film, we’re right there with him and his teammates, coaches and manager in an emotionally charged moment. It’s fascinating to see him be so self-critical and at the same time see the determination in his eye to come back, which, of course, he did at UFC 202. It’s this continued unprecedented access throughout the four-year span the film covers that helps it stand head and shoulders above other sports documentaries.

The final minutes of the film quickly put a spotlight on his historic win at UFC 205 in the world’s most famous arena, Madison Square Garden, where he defeated Eddie Alvarez to capture the UFC lightweight championship, thus becoming the first fighter in the promotion’s history to hold two titles at the same time.

As the credits roll we get highlights from the May-Mac World Tour.

The film ends at the 90-minute mark, which for the sake of pacing is the sweet spot. There’s real energy and vigor with the use of music overlaying careful section of footage. Like all good documentaries, the film is stitched together diligently, and while ardent fans of both McGregor and the sport might wish the story telling had extended beyond the Diaz rematch to put emphasis on both UFC 205 and the Floyd Mayweather boxing match, I’ve got no doubt there’s plenty left on the table for a sequel.

Courtesy image: NBC Universal

In the fight game it’s quite rare for a fighter to give unprecedented access to a film crew over a vast period of time, especially when information regarding injuries being leaked to the media can drastically help opponents. That’s where a long-term relationship with Graeme McDonnell, founder of and who serves as a producer on “Notorious,” clearly plays a factor. There’s a genuine trust established between McGregor and the film crew, and the brash Irishman is totally open with every minutia of his journey. Whether it’s intimate moments with Devlin, showcasing his rehab (at times in total isolation) or the relationship with Kavanagh, it’s all there to be seen.

For the MMA junkies, we get a few extra layers to the McGregor story we’ve been witness to. For everyone else, it’s an opportunity to get to know the man behind the fighter, and perhaps in the process be inspired. Aesthetically the film has a rich production quality to it. There’s a certain texture to everything, which gives it that Hollywood gloss.

It would’ve been easy for this to be nothing more than a jacked-up countdown show throwing together all of McGregor’s classic moments at press conferences, interviews and weigh-ins. Where “Notorious” succeeds is giving an authentic and honest look at a fighter that quite literally went from nothing to something to everything and then some.

My top 5 moments from Conor McGregor: Notorious

  • 1. McGregor toasting to some good business, sipping on some fine (and no doubt expensive) whisky with Dana White, Lorenzo Fertitta and other executives backstage at major UFC events.
  • 2. McGregor’s first time meeting “The Terminator” himself, Arnold Schwarzenegger
  • 3. McGregor waking up, hair all over the place, being greeted by his team, Dana White and Lorenzo Fertitta first thing in the morning before learning of the Aldo injury news leading up to UFC 189.
  • 4. McGregor speaking to himself, saying “I p***ied out” while all those around him try to keep his spirits high following the loss to Diaz at UFC 196.
  • 5. McGregor parking one high end car, informing the person responsible for washing it that two more are on their way.

“Conor McGregor: Notorious” hits U.K. theaters Nov. 1, with a special one-day release in North America on Nov. 8. The film will be available on DVD and digital download Nov. 20.

The Blue Corner is MMAjunkie‘s official blog and is edited by Mike Bohn.

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

Andre Fili on Conor McGregor acting as 4th cornerman at UFC-Gdansk: 'Didn't notice him at all'


Filed under: Featured, News, Radio Highlight, UFC, Videos

In case it wasn’t clear when he broke out the ‘Billionaire Strut,’ Andre Fili clarifies that he wasn’t the least bit fazed by Conor McGregor’s presence to support his UFC Fight Night 118 opponent.

If anything, Fili thought the pre-fight antagonism was pretty cool.

Fili (17-5 MMA, 5-4 UFC) got back on the winning path after beating Artem Lobov (13-14-1 MMA, 2-4 UFC) via unanimous decision at Ergo Arena in Gdansk, Poland. But that wasn’t the only highlight of Fili’s evening.

After his victory was announced, Fili sealed it by delivering a moving post-fight speech. And, before the fight even started, he made sure to capitalize on a high-profile presence when he used lightweight champ McGregor’s own gimmick to provoke him.

McGregor was there, of course, to support friend and training partner Lobov. And McGregor he got so excited doing it that referee Marc Goddard had to step in and ask him to keep things professional.

So how was it for Fili to have a third and notable antogonist lingering around the cage?

“I was aware of him, obviously. While Artem was walking out I saw him,” Fili told MMAjunkie Radio. “We had our little pissing contest, our little staredown. I (expletive) started, he was talking (expletive), he was talking (expletive). We were kind of doing our thing. But I liked that. I thought it was cool. I think the fans thought it was cool.

“I think part of this sport is showmanship. Also, if it has to do with McGregor, people are going to be excited. I thrive off that (expletive). I (expletive) love confrontation. So him being there and him sort of – actually, it was cool.”

As Fili told MMAFighting today, though, Fili was later made aware of a much less pleasant side of the champ’s attitude. Having shared mutual declarations of respect with McGregor at the event, Fili took issue with the “fake” attitude of saying things behind his back. But, also, he was adamantly against the homophobic slur he used in the process.

“There’s no need to use words like that,” Fili said. “You don’t need to demean other people to make yourself seem bigger. Whenever you hear someone use that word or call someone a ‘bitch,’ that makes you look so insecure.”

In any case, once the fight was on, Fili was all business.

“During the fight I didn’t notice him at all, to be honest,” Fili told MMAjunkie Radio. “I was just focused on the fight. I didn’t notice he was circling around. When (Goddard) stopped me and Artem, when I was on top of him, I didn’t know why the (expletive) he was stopping. I didn’t even hear McGregor. I was just hearing my cornerman, and I was just trying to beat Artem up.”

That, he did.

Despite a late rally by Lobov in the third round, Fili did enough to earn a clean 30-27 sweep on the judges’ scorecards. The result landed Fili back on the winning track following a decision loss to Calvin Kattar in July – and maybe spelled retirement for Lobov.

Of course, it wasn’t an entirely flawless night. Fili, who told MMAjunkie prior to the bout about his issues getting used to Poland’s timezone, believes that affected his performance. And he does wish that his first-round head kick had sealed the deal. But, all in all, he thinks the fight went “pretty good.”

“The travel time was like over 20 hours with all the layovers added up,” Fili said. “And I didn’t sleep more than a couple of hours each night because I was trying to get used to the time difference. So I really felt that in the third round. The third round didn’t go how I wanted.

“But I did what I needed to do to get the win. I felt the fight was still pretty exciting, all things considered.”

Now, as he reclaims both momentum and excitement to be in the cage, Fili already has some ideas for his next steps. First, he’ll probably need a few days to recover from the tattoo he was getting done during the interview with MMAjunkie Radio – a realistic portrait of The Grinch, in case you were wondering.


To hear from Fili, check out the video above (just pardon his occasional, tattoo-motivated grunts).

And for complete coverage of UFC Fight Night 118, check out the UFC Events 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 to

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

UFC-Gdansk medical suspensions: Forced time off for Donald Cerrone with potential 6-month term

UFC welterweight Donald Cerrone hates to take time off, but with a potential six-month medical suspension, he’s benched for the time being.

Cerrone (32-10 MMA, 19-7 UFC), who reported a broken nose following a first-round TKO loss to Darren Till (16-0-1 MMA, 4-0-1 UFC) at UFC Fight Night 118, drew a six-month suspension from the UFC, according to medical suspensions released by the UFC and reported by official ABC record keeper

That suspension can be lifted, of course, with clearance from a doctor, in this case a maxillofacial specialist. But Cerrone is also suspended 45 days with 30 days no contact for his stoppage loss, which marked his third straight defeat.

In other notable suspensions, light heavyweight opponents Jan Blachowicz (20-7 MMA, 3-4 UFC) and Devin Clark (8-2 MMA, 2-2 UFC) both drew potential 180-day terms for injuries sustained prior to Blachowicz’s surprise second-round submission. Despite a gritty effort, bantamweight Damian Stasiak (10-5 MMA, 2-3 UFC) needs clearance for his right knee or faces a six-month suspension. So, too, does Sam Alvey (31-10 MMA, 8-5 UFC), who’s listless performance against Ramazan Emeev (16-3 MMA, 1-0 UFC) may have been influenced by an apparent right knee injury.

All fighters received a minimum 7 day suspension.

The full list of medical suspensions stemming from UFC Fight Night 118 includes:

  • Donald Cerrone: suspended 180 days or until cleared by maxillofacial doctor, and suspended 45 days with 30 days no contact
  • Darren Till: suspended 7 days
  • Jody Esquibel: suspended 30 days with 21 days no contact
  • Karolina Kowalkiewicz: suspended 30 days with 21 days no contact
  • Jan Blachowicz: suspended 180 days or until cleared by left foot X-ray, and suspended 30 days with 21 days no contact
  • Devin Clark: suspended 180 days or until cleared by right calf and right elbow X-ray, and suspended 30 days with 21 days no contact
  • Oskar Piechota: suspended 7 days
  • Jonathan Wilson: suspended 30 days with 21 days no contact
  • Marcin Held: suspended 30 days with 21 days no contact
  • Nasrat Haqparast: suspended 30 days with 21 days no contact due to right orbital laceration
  • Brian Kelleher: suspended 30 days with 21 days no contact
  • Damian Stasiak: suspended 180 days or until cleared by right knee MRI, and suspended minimum 45 days with 30 days no contact
  • Ramazan Emeev: suspended 7 days
  • Sam Alvey: suspended 180 days for until cleared by right knee MRI
  • Andre Fili: suspended 45 days with 30 days no contact
  • Artem Lobov: suspended 30 days with 21 days no contact due to left brow laceration
  • Warlley Alves: suspended 30 days with 21 days no contact due to right brow laceration
  • Salim Touahri: suspended 30 days with 21 days no contact
  • Aspen Ladd: suspended 7 days
  • Lina Lansberg: suspended 45 days with 30 days no contact due to TKO
  • Josh Emmett: suspended 30 days with 21 days no contact due to right brow laceration
  • Felipe Arantes: suspended 30 days with 21 days no contact

For complete coverage of UFC Fight Night 118, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.

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Filed under: News, UFC
Source: MMA Junkie

UFC Fight Night 118 post-event facts: Details behind single-round knockdown record

Donald Cerrone had a chance to make all sorts of UFC history on Saturday in the UFC Fight Night 118 main event. Unfortunately for him, Darren Till had other plans.

Till (16-0-1 MMA, 4-0-1 UFC) prevented Cerrone (32-10 MMA, 19-7 UFC) from tying the all-time UFC wins record in the UFC Fight Pass-streamed welterweight headliner at Ergo Arena in Gdansk, Poland, scoring a one-sided first-round TKO victory to add to his undefeated record.

The Brit is quickly climbing the ladder of longest streaks without a loss among UFC fighters, and his performance highlighted an 11-bout card. For more on the numbers in the UFC’s second fight card in Poland, check below for 35 post-event facts to come out of UFC Fight Night 118.

* * * *


The UFC-Reebok Athlete Outfitting payout for the event totaled $100,000.

Debuting fighters went 3-3 at the event.

Till, Jan Blachowicz, Brian Kelleher and Damian Stasiak earned $50,000 UFC Fight Night 118 fight-night bonuses.

UFC Fight Night 118 drew an announced attendance of 11,138 for a live gate of $677,000.

Betting favorites went 8-3 on the card.

Total fight time for the 11-bout card was 2:18:34.

Main card

Till’s 17-fight undefeated streak in MMA competition is fifth longest among active UFC fighters behind Khabib Nurmagomedov (24), Jimmie Rivera (20), Cris Cyborg and Justin Gaethje (18).

Till has earned 12 of his 16 career victories by stoppage.

Till has earned both of his stoppage UFC victories by knockout.

Cerrone fell to 4-3 since he moved up to the UFC welterweight division in February 2015.

Cerrone suffered his third consecutive loss to extend the longest skid of his career. He hasn’t earned a victory since December.

Cerrone has suffered both of his UFC welterweight stoppage victories by knockout.

Karolina Kowalkiewicz (11-2 MMA, 4-2 UFC) has all four of her UFC victories by decision. She hasn’t earned a stoppage since May 2014.

Blachowicz (20-7 MMA, 3-4 UFC) earned his first submission victory since May 21, 2011 – a span of 2,345 days (more than six years) and 11 fights.

Devin Clark (8-2 MMA, 2-2 UFC) suffered the first submission loss of his career.

Oskar Piechota (10-0-1 MMA, 1-0 UFC) earned the first decision victory of his career.

Jonathan Wilson (7-3 MMA, 1-3 UFC) suffered his third consecutive loss after starting his career on a seven-fight winning streak. He hasn’t earned a victory since August 2015.

Wilson was unsuccessful in his UFC middleweight debut.

Preliminary card

Marcin Held (23-7 MMA, 1-3 UFC) snapped the first three-fight losing skid of his career and earned his first victory since May 2016.

Nasrat Haqparast (8-2 MMA, 0-1 UFC) had his eight-fight winning streak snapped for his first defeat since December 2012.

Haqparast suffered the first decision loss of his career.

Kelleher (18-8 MMA, 2-1 UFC) has earned 15 of his 18 career victories by stoppage. That includes both of his UFC wins.

Stasiak (10-5 MMA, 2-3 UFC) suffered the first knockout loss of his career.

Ramazan Emeev (16-3 MMA, 1-0 UFC) improved to 13-1 in his past 14 fights. He hasn’t suffered a loss since September 2014.

Sam Alvey (31-10 MMA, 8-5 UFC) has suffered eight of his 10 career losses by decision.

Andre Fili (17-5 MMA, 5-4 UFC) has alternated wins and losses over his nine-fight UFC career.

Artem Lobov (13-14-1 MMA, 2-4 UFC) fell to 5-6-1 in his past 12 career fights.

Lobov has suffered 11 of his 14 career losses by decision. That includes all four of his UFC defeats.

Aspen Ladd (6-0 MMA, 1-0 UFC) has earned five of her six career victories by stoppage.

Lina Lansberg (7-3 MMA, 1-2 UFC) has suffered all three of her career losses by knockout.

Josh Emmett (12-1 MMA, 3-1 UFC) was successful in his UFC featherweight debut.

Emmett has earned all three of his UFC victories by decision.

Emmett’s four knockdowns are tied for third most in a UFC fight. Only Jeremy Stephens (six) at UFC 215 and Forrest Petz (five) at UFC Fight Night 6 have scored more knockdowns in a fight.

Emmett’s four knockdowns in a round marked the new single-fight UFC record.

Felipe Arantes (18-9-1 MMA, 5-5-1 UFC) was unsuccessful in his return to the UFC featherweight division.

Arantes has suffered seven of his nine career losses by decision. That includes all five of his UFC defeats.

For complete coverage of UFC Fight Night 118, check out the UFC Events section of the site.

FightMetric research analyst and live statistics producer Michael Carroll contributed to this story. Follow him on Twitter @MJCflipdascript.

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

UFC Fight Night 118 Athlete Outfitting pay: Total among lowest of 2017

GDANSK, Poland – Fighters from Saturday’s UFC Fight Night 118 event took home UFC Athlete Outfitting pay, a program that launched after the UFC’s deal with Reebok, totaling $100,000.

UFC Fight Night 118 took place at Ergo Arena in Gdansk, Poland. The entire card streamed on UFC Fight Pass.

Leading the way was Donald Cerrone, who earned a maximum non-title payout of $20,000 in his loss to Darren Till in the welterweight headliner.

The full UFC Fight Night 118 UFC Athlete Outfitting payouts included:

Darren Till: $2,500
def. Donald Cerrone: $20,000

Karolina Kowalkiewicz: $5,000
def. Jodie Esquibel: $2,500

Jan Blachowicz: $5,000
def. Devin Clark: $2,500

Oskar Piechota: $2,500
def. Jonathan Wilson: $2,500

Marcin Held: $2,500
def. Nasrat Haqparast: $2,500

Brian Kelleher: $2,500
def. Damian Stasiak: $2,500

Ramazan Emeev: $2,500
def. Sam Alvey: $10,000

Andre Fili: $5,000
def. Artem Lobov: $5,000

Warlley Alves: $5,000
def. Salim Touahri: $2,500

Aspen Ladd: $2,500
def. Lina Lansberg: $2,500

Josh Emmett: $2,500
def. Felipe Arantes: $10,000

Under the UFC Athlete Outfitting program’s payout tiers, which appropriate the money generated by Reebok’s multi-year sponsorship with the UFC, fighters are paid based on their total number of UFC bouts, as well as Zuffa-era WEC fights (January 2007 and later) and Zuffa-era Strikeforce bouts (April 2011 and later). Fighters with 1-5 bouts receive $2,500 per appearance; 6-10 bouts get $5,000; 11-15 bouts earn $10,000; 16-20 bouts pocket $15,000; and 21 bouts and more get $20,000. Additionally, champions earn $40,000 while title challengers get $30,000.

In addition to experience-based pay, UFC fighters will receive in perpetuity royalty payments amounting to 20-30 percent of any UFC merchandise sold that bears their likeness, according to officials.

Full 2017 UFC-Reebok sponsorship payouts:

Year-to-date total: $4,592,500
2016 total: $7,138,000
2015 total: $3,185,000
Program-to-date total: $14,915,500

For complete coverage of UFC Fight Night 118, check out the UFC Events section of the site.

Filed under: News, UFC
Source: MMA Junkie