Why it matters that Dana White is truthful about UFC having its 'biggest year ever' in 2017


Filed under: Featured, News, UFC

The UFC is having a good year in 2017. Better than good. It’s great – the “biggest year ever” in the history of the company. Don’t believe it? Just ask Dana White. In fact, only ask him and no one else. Because, to hear the UFC president tell it, he is the only reliable source of information about the UFC.

“It drives me crazy when I see these guys write these stories about the business,” White said in a media scrum this past week before UFC 217. “You know what you know about the business? What I tell you. That’s what you know.”

Moments later, White would take it one step further: “There’s nothing factual about anything that’s ever written about this business.”

Pause for a moment and let that sink in. Adjust for the requisite fight promoter hyperbole. Cross-reference with the claims White made all week about revenue and pay-per-view numbers. Add in his stated belief that any and all accurate information about the MMA business must come directly from Dana White. Spend the next few minutes numbly considering the nature of truth itself.

It isn’t the first time White has drifted into this territory. On several occasions he has admonished fans never to believe anything they hear about the UFC and its plans unless it comes from the UFC itself.

Nevermind the fact that the UFC has, on numerous occasions, disavowed media reports only to later admit that they were true. Forget that a vehement denial from White himself has become a kind of joking shorthand for official confirmation among many MMA fans.

Anybody who claims to have a monopoly on the facts should expect some skepticism. That goes double when your relationship with the truth has historically been, to put it mildly, strained. (Anybody else remember when the UFC definitely wasn’t for sale, and anyone who said otherwise should expect to hear from the UFC’s lawyers?)

Which brings us back to the question that started all this: What kind of year is the UFC having in 2017?

It’s a fair question. It’s been on people’s minds, especially after two monster years in 2015 and 2016, leading up to the UFC’s $4.2 billion sale. If you were paying attention lo these past 10 months, you might have noticed that business seems to have slowed from that frenzied peak.

There are reasons for it. Conor McGregor, the biggest PPV star in MMA history, hasn’t fought for the UFC at all in 2017. Neither has Ronda Rousey, the other star who helped propel the UFC to unprecedented recent PPV success. Brock Lesnar, who returned for one fight in 2016, got chased back to pro wrestling by USADA. And speaking of USADA, Jon Jones returned from suspension for one fight this year – and that was all it took to line him up for another suspension.

According to reported buyrates, the UFC had five PPVs in 2016 that sold more than 1 million buys. Coming into UFC 217 (which White claimed had eclipsed 1 million buys, with help from record-breaking sales in Canada), the company had yet that mark with a single event this year.

But there’s where White takes issue, with the whole idea that any of us could know how many PPVs the UFC sells.

“Whose indications (that PPV are down) are that?” White said following UFC 217. “People who don’t know what the (expletive) they’re talking about.”

And there we are again. The truth in these matters is known only to White, so we have to take his word for it. In that case, it’d be nice if he didn’t have such a reputation for lying straight to our faces, but what are you going to do, right?

Except that, occasionally we do get a glimpse inside the UFC’s business. We got a pretty good one thanks to that investor presentation that the new owners put together last summer.

Prior to this, most UFC PPV sales estimates came from longtime MMA and pro wrestling writer Dave Meltzer. And when we compare Meltzer’s numbers with those reported to potential UFC investors, we see an awful lot of agreement. In several cases, internal UFC documents reported the same buyrate figures that Meltzer did. For a guy who doesn’t know what he’s talking about, that’s a hell of a lucky guess.

But you don’t necessarily need to look at the UFC’s books in order to guess that a year without McGregor and Rousey and Lesnar – with only brief help from Jones – probably resulted in a down year on PPV. That’s just common sense. To claim that the UFC did even better on PPV without them than it did with them is to claim that these stars don’t matter, that in fact all the fighters are more less interchangeable and it’s only the UFC brand that matters.

Which is not to say that the UFC couldn’t have still done well in terms of revenue this year, even with a dip in PPV sales.

Don’t forget, the sale in 2016 came with some serious “cost savings opportunities,” including heavy staff reductions and greater “corporate discipline,” in the words of the investor pitch. Then there’s the actual biggest fight of the year, the boxing match between McGregor and Floyd Mayweather.

The UFC got a cut of that money in exchange for letting McGregor participate in the fight, and it was reportedly the largest single payday for the company all year. White essentially admitted that he was including that windfall in his assessment of the UFC’s overall financial health, but all that fight told us is that McGregor and Mayweather are both bankable stars – not that the UFC is soaring higher than ever.

The only reason this conversation should even matter to fans is because it clearly matters to the UFC. The forces of revenue and PPV buys shape nearly every decision the UFC makes, and those decisions in turn shape the entire sport.

The overall strength of fight cards, the state of fighter pay, the trunks that fighters wear into the cage, the price of UFC PPVs and UFC Fight Pass subscriptions, it’s all tied up in this same math problem.

What you see when you turn on a UFC event is inextricably linked to what the owners see when they look at their sales figures. Fans are watching a sport; the UFC is running a business.

Not that anyone who isn’t named Dana White could possibly know anything about it, of course. He says it’s all going fine, just great, couldn’t be better. And what possible reason would he have to lie about something like that?

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

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Watch Dana White goof on the tattoos of Conor McGregor, Brock Lesnar, Alan Belcher

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

Dann StuppUFC President Dana White says he isn’t really a tattoo guy, which might be surprising for an MMA promoter.

In a new video from GQ.com, White plays a game of “Guess Those Tattoos.” And in the world of MMA, there’s no shortage of ink.

It gives White ample opportunity to goof on the likes of UFC lightweight champion Conor McGregor, ex-heavyweight champion Brock Lesnar, former interim titleholder Carlos Condit, former contender Alan Belcher (and his infamous Johnny Cash ink), vet Darren Elkins, WWE star turned MMA fighter Phil “CM Punk” Brooks and others.

“I think tattoos are a bad idea, whether you’re a fighter or not,” White says. “But man, fighters got some bad taste in tattoos.”

When asked to identify fighters by their tattoos alone, White had a surprisingly solid success rate.

Check out the full video above.

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

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

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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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Today in MMA History: Cain Velasquez dethrones Brock Lesnar, who faces the beginning of the end

UFC 212On a crisp October evening in Anaheim, Calif., the UFC heavyweight champion marched into a packed arena, shoved a police officer out of his way, and then promptly got his behind handed to him by a challenger who shrugged off a 20-pound weight difference to give him the most lopsided beating of his young career.

It was frantic. It was messy. It took just a shade over four minutes.

When it was over, Cain Velasquez was the new UFC heavyweight champion. Brock Lesnar was the big, bloody guy stumbling down the octagon steps with his face split open, his Viking beard stained crimson, staring in numb silence at the former pro wrestling colleague who stood there waiting for him.

Whether anybody knew it or not at the time, this was the beginning of something. Depending on your perspective, that something might have been an ending.

The date was October 23, 2010. For the main event of UFC 121, Zuffa executives had put together the biggest fight possible between the sport’s two top heavyweights. One was a stoic buzzsaw of a man who’d never been beaten. The other was a superstar pro wrestler who had jumped straight into the highest level of a new sport and now made headlines with his every move.

But just a year earlier all that was in jeopardy. After debuting in the UFC with a submission loss to Frank Mir in 2008, Lesnar had rebounded to win the UFC heavyweight title in just his fourth pro fight, beating a severely undersized Randy Couture at UFC 91.

That event would reportedly top 1 million pay-per-view buys, effectively minting Lesnar as the UFC’s newest box office star just as he laid claim to the belt that traditionally came with the title “baddest man on the planet.” Lesnar would defend it again at another million-buy event the following summer, getting his revenge on Mir at UFC 100.

But just as the UFC was angling for a showdown between Lesnar and Shane Carwin, the division’s other terrifying behemoth, illness struck the champion. While on a hunting trip in the Canadian wilderness, Lesnar had to be rushed to a nearby hospital (which he would later claim was so thoroughly incapable of treating him that it nearly caused his death at the hands of the Canadian healthcare system). The culprit was diverticulitis, a painful disorder that would eventually require surgery to remove a foot of Lesnar’s intestine.

By the summer of 2010, however, Lesnar appeared well enough to return to competition. He finally met Carwin, who had become the interim heavyweight champion, that July. After spending most of the first round being beaten to a bloody pulp, Lesnar survived to submit an exhausted Carwin early in the second.

Brock Lesnar and Cain Velasquez before UFC 121.

With that, his comeback story seemed complete. Lesnar was officially the man once again. When the UFC booked him to fight Velasquez some three months later, the champ seemed to be feeling it, too.

Lesnar was never short on confidence, but he seemed to have some extra swagger when he showed up in Southern California that fall. At the pre-fight press conference inside the dizzying walls of the Walt Disney Concert Hall in downtown Los Angeles, the newly bearded Lesnar just chomped his gum and shook his head when asked whether Velasquez was his most dangerous challenger to date.

“I think they’re all the same,” Lesnar said.

The fans ate it up.

Velasquez, meanwhile, was the quiet favorite among many of his peers, even if he was the underdog with the bookmakers. Sure, he’d give up plenty of size against Lesnar, but he also had speed and technique and cardio. He was the rare heavyweight whose motor never seemed to slow, and it became such an omnipresent topic of conversation surrounding his fights that Lesnar seemed already sick of it a few days before the fight.

“That’s the only thing I ever hear about, is Cain Velasquez’s conditioning,” the champion complained.

But Velasquez had power, too. He’d punched his ticket to the title fight with a first-round knockout of former PRIDE heavyweight champion Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira some eight months prior. Before that, he ran through Ben Rothwell in a performance that proved just how effective his method of constant assault could be against a bigger, slower fighter.

At the weigh-ins the day before his big title shot, a grimly resolute Velasquez promised a war. When asked how he saw the fight going down, Lesnar was slightly more assertive.

“Brock Lesnar getting his hand raised,” he said. “That’s exactly how it’s going to go.”

The fight card slated for the Honda Center that night brought a fair amount of firepower in support of the main event.

The undercard included Tito Ortiz dropping a decision to former protege Matt Hamill, who Ortiz believed would be easier to knock out because his deafness had given him “a soft head.” In a welterweight bout, Diego Sanchez and Paulo Thiago earned “Fight of the Night” honors for a three-round battle that ended in a win on the scorecards for Sanchez. The co-main event saw Jake Shields make an unimpressive, but still barely victorious UFC debut against Martin Kampmann after vacating the Strikeforce middleweight title earlier that year.

But it was all preamble to the heavyweight title clash in the top spot.

Velasquez entered first, with a Mexican flag wrapped around his fist. Lesnar strolled out second, brushing aside a cop on his security detail as UFC commentator Joe Rogan chuckled with delight.

“A thousand years ago the only way you saw a guy like this was if he showed up on your shore in a boat,” Rogan told his broadcast partner Mike Goldberg. “And then you ran.”

As the two fighters faced off in the center of the cage, the size difference was impossible to ignore. Lesnar stood a couple inches taller, but his hulking mass seemed to loom over Velasquez. The challenger’s physique did little to indicate his tremendous physical conditioning. In a bodybuilding contest, it was Lesnar in a landslide.

But in a cage fight? That was something different, which quickly became apparent.

Cain Velasquez and Brock Lesnar at UFC 121.

Referee Herb Dean gave the signal to fight. Lesnar immediately turned and walked off to one side, as if he’d changed his mind and was looking for the door. Then he turned abruptly and bull rushed Velasquez, driving him backward but failing to take him down in the process.

Lesnar kept digging for the underhooks. He clinched up and threw a series of frenetic knees, at one point leaping at Velasquez, and in the process showing off the spry athleticism that you could almost forget such a big man could possibly possess. When he tried again for the takedown moments later, he got it.

But instead of allowing himself to be smothered by Lesnar’s bulk, Velasquez pushed off on the champion’s hips and scrambled back to his feet. Lesnar worked even harder to haul Velasquez down a second time, but that one was even more short-lived. When he had to stand in the pocket and trade punches with the swift challenger, his long arms seemed to slide past Velasquez’s head just as the counters came thumping back in return.

And then something seemed to shift. Lesnar’s punches slowed. Velasquez slipped under and got a takedown of his own off a single-leg. As Lesnar struggled to get up from his knees, Velasquez chipped away at him with short, quick blows. By the time he made it back to his feet, the champion’s face was smeared with blood from a cut under his left eye. Even worse, now he had his back against the fence, and it was Velasquez on offense.

Cain Velasquez and Brock Lesnar at UFC 121. (Associated Press)

The first sign of real trouble came when Lesnar went lunging for a desperation takedown and then tumbled all the way across the cage as Velasquez shrugged him off. By the time he regained his balance Velasquez was on him, swarming Lesnar with a combination that convinced him to duck his head just in time to catch a hard knee from Velasquez directly to the face. A clearly wounded Lesnar jogged off to one side and caught a hard right hand behind the ear that put him down.

Then it was panic mode. The first round of the Carwin fight all over again, only this time his pursuer was measured and patient. Velasquez didn’t sprint blindly toward a finish. Instead, he hunted calmly for it, peppering Lesnar with short punches and elbows while he lay on his back, then shrugging off the takedown attempt and stinging him with a sharp right once Lesnar got back to his feet.

Bloodied and wincing in pain as he covered up and rolled from one side to the next, trying to escape the storm, Lesnar couldn’t stop the onslaught. With 48 seconds left in the first round, Dean stepped in to shove Velasquez off. No more. That was plenty.

Velasquez walked to the center of the cage, looking up to the sky with his hands first in the air, then resting almost in disbelief on his own head. He even smiled through his Mexican flag mouthpiece, a rare enough occurrence that it had to mean something special.

Lesnar stood up and wavered from one foot to the other as a cutman worked on the gash below his eye. Blood from the wound decorated his enormous shoulder as he lowered himself onto his stool. In the post-fight interview, Rogan would offer his confident opinion that Lesnar would come back stronger as a result of the loss.

Cain Velasquez and Brock Lesnar at UFC 121. (Associated Press)

“That’s what a champion does, right?” Lesnar responded.

As he exited the cage, a fellow pro wrestling star was waiting. Mark Calaway, better known as “The Undertaker” of  WWE fame, was halfway into an interview with Ariel Helwani when Lesnar passed him on the way back to the locker room.

“You want to do it?” Calaway asked.

Lesnar just looked at him and kept walking. Whatever “it” was, he seemed uninterested for the moment. As Lesnar would later explain, the timing could have been better.

“Cain put me on a street that I didn’t know the name of, so I was looking for my way home,” Lesnar said.

In a way, maybe he found it. Lesnar would never again hold a UFC title. After being further hampered by diverticulitis he would only return to the UFC a little over a year later, suffering a quick TKO loss to Alistair Overeem at UFC 141. Then it was back to pro wrestling for him, a stint interrupted only by a brief return to the UFC that lasted all of one fight, which was enough for Lesnar to fail two drug tests and get slapped with a suspension after having his win over Mark Hunt at UFC 200 overturned.

Cain Velasquez after winning at UFC 121. (Associated Press)

While the fight signaled the beginning of the end for Lesnar, it seemed like only the beginning for Velasquez. But when he showed up for his first defense in the very same building the next fall, he was a shadow of his usual self. Hampered by injuries, he was reluctant to pull out of a title fight with Junior Dos Santos that was set to be the only fight on the UFC’s maiden FOX network broadcast.

The fight lasted 64 seconds, ending with Velasquez face-down on the mat, all in front of a network TV audience of nearly nine million people.

He’d get the title back the very next year. He would even take the best two out of three against Dos Santos. But a poor performance at high elevation against Fabricio Werdum in 2015 took the title from Velasquez, and injuries have hampered him ever since.

Victories seemed to come easy when he was healthy. But then? It was like Lesnar himself said at the at press conference just a few days before Velasquez sent him on a downward spiral.

Especially in a sport like MMA, Lesnar said, “if you don’t have your health, you’re not fighting.”

What he couldn’t have known then was just how fleeting good health would be, both for himself and the man waiting on the other side of the podium.

“Today in MMA History” is an MMAjunkie series created in association with MMA History Today, the social media outlet dedicated to reliving “a daily journey through our sport’s history.”

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Source: MMA Junkie

Rory MacDonald's all-caps Reddit AMA included a Robbie Lawler PED accusation

Dann StuppFormer UFC welterweight title challenger and current Bellator contender Rory MacDonald didn’t hold back during today’s Reddit AMA.

MacDonald (19-4 MMA, 1-0 BMMA), who recently made a successful Bellator debut with a submission victory over vet Paul Daley in May, answered a number of questions from fans as part of the social-media site’s “ask me anything” event.

However, one answer stuck out – one that involved former champion Robbie Lawler, who scored a come-from-behind TKO victory over MacDonald in a legendary bout that was named MMAjunkie’s 2015 “Fight of the Year.”

During today’s Reddit AMA, user “cczzrr” asked Macdonald if Lawler “was on peds when you fought.”

His answer (which came in all caps, like all of his other answers) was succinct: “IM CONVINCED HE WAS.”

The July 2015 bout took place just weeks after the UFC launched its drug-testing program with the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA). According to the Nevada State Athletic Commission, which also tested UFC 189 fighters, all of the tests – including Lawler’s – came back clean.

MacDonald, though, seems convinced otherwise, though he didn’t go into details or elaborate during the AMA.

The 28-year-old Canadian also weighed in a number of other topics, including:

What he did for the first few weeks after the UFC 189 fight with Lawler:


Thought on Jon Jones’ latest failed drug test:


Best/worst walkout song:



Reaction to speculation that some especially tough fights may mean a shortened career:


On watching the recent fight between UFC welterweight champion Tyron Woodley and Demian Maia, knowing he’s got past wins over both of them:


Thoughts on Woodley:


If he rematched Woodley:


What if “some billionaire offered you $800k to walk up to Brock Lesnar and give him a ‘Stockton Slap,’” would he do it?:


If not MMA, what would he have done for a career?


Potential next fights?


Why Bellator?






What it would take to fight Cris Cyborg:

“1 MILL”

On whether UFC flyweight champ Demetrious Johnson is MMA’s pound-for-pound fighter:


On whether he broke “your caps lock on your keyboard” during the AMA:


For more on the Bellator’s upcoming schedule, check out the MMA Rumors section of the site.

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

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

UFC's Stefan Struve: A quick Brock Lesnar return to fight Jon Jones 'would be the worst message'

Filed under: Featured, News, UFC

The idea of a Jon JonesBrock Lesnar superfight excites many MMA fans. UFC heavyweight Stefan Struve, however, has concerns.

Jones  (23-1 MMA, 17-1 UFC) and Lesnar (5-3 MMA, 4-3 UFC) started going back and forth during UFC 214 fight week, and the possibility of a future battle increased when Jones called out Lesnar following his knockout victory over Daniel Cormier to reclaim the light heavyweight title. That prompted a warning from Lesnar.

The problem, of course, is that not only is Lesnar currently retired (and employed by WWE), he still has six months left to serve on a suspension from the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency stemming from multiple failed drug tests around the time of last year’s UFC 200. When Lesnar came out of retirement to face Mark Hunt at the July 2016 event, the UFC gave Lesnar a four-month exemption from USADA testing so he could take the fight right away.

If the UFC were to try that again and allow Lesnar to jump right back into a superfight and earn a big payday, Struve (28-8 MMA, 12-6 UFC) feels strongly about the detrimental message it sends.

“They cannot do that. That’s impossible,” Struve told Submission Radio. “That would be the worst message the UFC could ever send out. So if he fights again, he should go through six months of testing, I believe, before he fights again. I think that’s the rule right now. So if he comes back, and they let him go through those six months of testing, then I’m curious to see how he steps in the cage.”

Struve, who headlines next month’s FS1-televised UFC Fight Night 115 against Alexander Volkov, expects Jones would win against a clean or dirty Lesnar regardless.

“I think Jones beats him anyway – simple as that,” Struve said. “Jones is too good of an athlete. I don’t think Lesnar gets a hold of him to take him down. Jones moves too well. I think ‘D.C.’ is a great fighter, and of course that kick was great, but before that I didn’t see the Jon Jones who we used to see as dominant as he used to be.

“So I’m curious to see if he re-finds himself and gets to be more dominant again. But I don’t think Lesnar takes him down or anything, and he’s definitely not going to win the fight on the feet.”

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

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

Jon Jones recognizes Brock Lesnar could be using him for leverage in WWE contract negotiations

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UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones is hopeful an octagon encounter with Brock Lesnar will eventually come to fruition. However, he’s also preparing for the possibility it won’t.

Jones (23-1 MMA, 17-1 UFC), who regained the 205-pound belt with a third-round knockout of Daniel Cormier at UFC 214 last month, called out Lesnar (5-3 MMA, 4-3 UFC) following his victory, further fueling the hype for a potential matchup.

The subject of a Jones vs. Lesnar fight was first broached early in UFC 214 fight week when a fan asked “Bones” about it during a Facebook Live Q&A. Once it came up, though, he began to give it serious consideration, and from there the topic took on a life of its own.

“I had no intentions of fighting Brock Lesnar – he wasn’t on my radar,” Jones told MMAjunkie. “It’s honestly not even my style to call out people. People were asking me on Facebook Live. I didn’t expect it to go anywhere. There was only like 30 viewers logged in at the time. Little did I know Facebook Live actually records. I was just speaking freely and loosely. I got asked about Brock, and it went back to his camp, and they released a statement right away, and it kind of took off from there.”

The timing of it all is curious. Lesnar, who is typically borderline inaccessible to the media, has responded to Jones, the No. 1-ranked fighter in the latest USA TODAY Sports/MMAjunkie MMA pound-for-pound rankings, at every turn. He’s warned Jones to “be careful” what he wishes for, but whether he’s serious about another UFC comeback remains to be seen.

Lesnar has fought just once since December 2011, defeating Mark Hunt in July 2016 at UFC 200 in a result that was later overturned to a no-contest when Lesnar flunked multiple drug tests around the time of the bout. Lesnar still owes the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) more than six months of suspension time after retiring in February, which means a comeback is still far off.

Moreover, talk of Lesnar fighting for the UFC comes up on almost a yearly basis. He signs short-term contracts with WWE, and rumors of switching professions comes up each time a new negotiation period surfaces. His current deal is reportedly done after WrestleMania in April.

With that knowledge in mind, Jones knows he could simply be part of Lesnar’s ploy to maximize his next contract with WWE. However, he thinks a UFC return to fight him would be a massive financial opportunity, as well.

“I could see it being a leverage point to get paid the bigger bucks to stick around (with WWE) or come over to the UFC,” Jones said. “Either way, I think it would be great if he comes over to the UFC to get a gigantic payday, probably his biggest UFC payday. Now he has this as a leverage point from whichever direction he decides to go in. Good for Brock to have options.”

Jones said given the entire scope of the situation, he’s unlikely to fight Lesnar next. He’s still waiting on word of his next opponent but told MMAjunkie he’s open to a long-awaited rematch with Alexander Gustafsson, just not at UFC 217 in New York City.

Whatever comes in Jones’ future is going to be a significant moment as he looks to make his second UFC title reign better than the first. When it comes to big-fight opportunities, though, especially ones where he likes his chances of winning, Lesnar sits atop the mountain.

“I asked my coaches how they felt about it and everyone said, ‘You know what, Jon? That’s a very winnable fight, and it’s such a huge payday – why not?’” Jones said. “I just kept it going and have been entertaining it, and now it’s taken off. It’s something that could be in the works.”

Jones is so interested in the fight, in fact, that he may consider crashing Lesnar’s upcoming Universal Title defense at WWE SummerSlam in Brooklyn, N.Y., on Aug. 27 (via Twitter):

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

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

Is this what Jon Jones can expect from Brock Lesnar if they fight?

Filed under: Blue Corner, Featured Videos

Brock Lesnar may or may not be serious about making a return to the UFC for a fight with Jon Jones. The former UFC heavyweight champion is currently enjoying another successful run with the WWE, where he holds the Universal championship, and there’s no denying that at 40, he’s still in ridiculous physical condition.

The chances of Lesnar (5-3 MMA, 4-3 UFC) vs. Jones (23-1 MMA, 17-1 UFC) unfolding inside the octagon will only become clear once Lesnar enters back into the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) testing pool and serves the final six-plus months of his suspension stemming from his previous UFC return against Mark Hunt at UFC 200.

In the meantime, Lesnar is wrecking shop in his own world as perhaps the most dominant figure in professional wrestling under the WWE banner. He made one of his infrequent television appearances on this week’s edition of Monday Night Raw, and he was booked in a one-sided segment to begin the show at Air Canada Centre in Toronto.

The Blue Corner was there to capture the footage of Lesnar’s fierce attack (via Instagram):

Instagram Photo

Jones, No. 1 in the latest USA TODAY Sports/MMAjunkie MMA light heavyweight rankings, said he would love to fight Lesnar because it would result in the biggest payday of their respective careers. He realizes it might not happen, though, and is already entertaining the idea of other opponents.

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

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

Don't look now, but the McGregor Effect is spreading – and we haven't seen the end of it yet

Filed under: Featured, News, UFC

Jon Jones explained it in a way that everyone could understand. Sitting there in Anaheim, Calif., after knocking out Daniel Cormier in UFC 214’s pay-per-view main event, he told us exactly why he’d rather spend a move up to heavyweight fighting Brock Lesnar, a middle-aged part-timer, instead of Stipe Miocic, the actual heavyweight champion.

Conor McGregor, he has been a tremendous inspiration to me,” Jones said. “He has shown me, who has been at the upper echelon of this sport for many years now, he has shown me that these huge paydays are possible. I never thought in my time as champion that we would be able to see fighters making $70 million or whatever he’s making for this (Floyd Mayweather) fight. It’s an inspiration that you can do it. I see it as possible, and that’s what McGregor has done for me.”

Jones isn’t the only one feeling the McGregor effect. Just look at Miocic. You think he’s bummed about Jones looking past him toward a potentially bigger paycheck against a lesser heavyweight? Hardly. He’s playing a similar game, calling out heavyweight boxing champ Anthony Joshua in a copycat bid to replicate McGregor’s crossover payday for himself.

If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, then McGregor must be feeling the love right about now. The fight is still three weeks away, the money is still mostly hypothetical, and already some of the best fighters in the world are trying to follow where he leads.

Can you blame them? This is prizefighting, after all. “Prize” comes first.

But it’s not just fighters who feel the effects of a seismic shift like this one. For McGregor (a man with zero professional boxing experience) to even book a fighter with Mayweather (the best boxer of his generation), perceptions needed to change. People needed a way to feel like they had permission to want what they wanted, whether it made sense or not.

McGregor gave them that with his actual accomplishments in the UFC – which, people outside the MMA bubble seem to forget, actually are unprecedented, both in terms of belts and box offices – but also with the force of his personality.

He might be the only fighter who can convince his fans, without even really trying, that the absence of information about his boxing game is itself a strength. Because, hey, if we’ve never seen the guy in a boxing match, how do we know he isn’t already the best in the world?

But it’s not just the McGregor faithful who have been roped in here. People want this fight, this clash of sports and ideas and worlds and celebrities. The more you tell them that it’s likely to be ridiculous, the more intent they are on watching it. That’s because ridiculous, when done on a large enough scale, is historic. A small farce is pathetic. A massive one is a cultural moment.

Once we accept and normalize the idea, then a lot of things change. Suddenly that Miocic-Joshua bout doesn’t seem so absurd. And Jones-Lesnar? That’s reasonable almost to the point of being required. Sure, one’s a pro wrestler on a drug suspension and the other’s the greatest MMA fighter alive, but at least they both have experience in the same sport.

And admit it, we’d all watch the hell out of a Jones-Lesnar fight. Demetrious Johnson could fight every UFC flyweight in a public park on the same night, and we’d go sprinting past with our credit cards held high just to see Jones bounce a spinning elbow off Lesnar’s cinderblock skull. It’s a pairing just weird enough to capture our attention and our curiosity, both of which are more reliable drivers of pay-per-view revenue than any promise of meaningful athletic competition.

Is that a bad thing? I don’t know. The UFC has spread its brand far and wide, flooding the market with cheap combat-sports action. If you just want to see two people in a desperate struggle for money and supremacy inside a cage, there’s no need to pay. It’s on TV in airport bars. It’s on YouTube and basic cable. Any given weekend you can channel surf your way into it without even trying, so how’s the UFC supposed to convince you to drop a couple steak dinners worth of cash on any one event?

Capturing the power of the spectacle is one way. But we develop a tolerance for that over time. You have to make it louder, bigger, dumber. If we’re not arguing about whether or not it should be allowed to happen, then you’re not even in the ballpark. In this way, the mile markers of normalcy keep marching over the horizon.

But the thing to remember about the shift spurred on by McGregor is that we can’t see the big picture yet. If he gets so thoroughly trashed by Mayweather that we all go away hating ourselves for the part we played in it, the next MMA fighter to try calling out a big name boxer is in for a much harder sell. And if the PPV receipts don’t match expectations, the incentive to wade through the same river of crap in order to try it all again diminishes considerably.

That’s what makes this fight feel even more like an important cultural moment, somehow. It’s a test of what the market will bear. This is us checking the gauges on our own desire for big, crazy, sports-themed train wrecks. Clearly, the fighters and promoters are paying attention.

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

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

Tommy Toe Hold brings you the (NSFW) post-UFC 214 press conference you wish you had watched

Filed under: Featured Videos, News, UFC, Videos

Sure, UFC Fight Night 114 is nearly upon us, but there’s still time to relive UFC 214, right? Especially if it’s Tommy Toe Hold’s version of UFC 214.

A cartoon who says bad words, Toe Hold’s recollection of UFC events differs ever-so-slightly from what the MMAjunkie cameras often collect onsite. Nevertheless, they never fail to entertain. Toe Hold may never have graced the pages of MMAjunkie before, but he’s a perfect fit for The Blue Corner.

In his latest episode, Toe Hold covers the aftermath of UFC 214, including some bold claims from UFC champions Jon Jones and Tyron Woodley, as well some impressive cameos from Brock Lesnar and Michael Bisping. Check out the video above.

For complete coverage of UFC 214, check out the UFC Events section of the site.

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

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