Edson Barboza accepts UFC 219 fight vs. Khabib Nurmagomedov: 'It's on him now'

As UFC lightweight champion Conor McGregor continues to plot his next move – be it a return to MMA or a boxing match with Paulie Malignaggi – things at the top of the division continue to fall into place.

Tony Ferguson won the interim title earlier this month after submitting Kevin Lee at UFC 216. Eddie Alvarez and Justin Gaethje, ranked Nos. 4 and 5, respectively, in the official UFC rankings, are set to square off Dec. 2 at UFC 218.

And now it appears another booking of top contenders could be close.

On Tuesday, Edson Barboza said during an Instagram Live stream that he’s accepted an offer from the UFC to fight Khabib Nurmagomedov on Dec. 30 at UFC 219 in Las Vegas. The onus, Barboza says, is now on “The Eagle.”

“They offered me this fight, and I accepted it,” Barboza said, via MMAFighting.com. “I said I’ll be ready for December 30th, and it’s on him now. We’ll see what he does. I saw an interview with him yesterday, and he said he’ll fight me if Conor fights Ferguson, and (UFC President) Dana (White) already said that fight will happen, so I believe my next fight will be against Khabib.”

Barboza (19-4 MMA, 13-4 UFC), now recovered from shoulder surgery, told MMAjunkie earlier this month that a fight with Nurmagomedov (24-0 MMA, 8-0 UFC) makes sense, all things considered. Barboza has won three straight, most recently scoring a flying-knee knockout of Beneil Dariush in March at UFC Fight Night 106. He’s been adamant in his belief that McGregor (21-3 MMA, 9-1 UFC) isn’t a real champion. McGregor, who lost an August boxing match to Floyd Mayweather via TKO, hasn’t defended his title since winning it from Alvarez last November at UFC 205.

Nurmagomedov said in September he expected to fight the Ferguson-Lee winner. Ferguson, naturally, prefers a title-unification bout with McGregor.

While Barboza said he’d also be content with a shot at Ferguson’s interim title, it appears he’s got his sights set on the undefeated Nurmagomedov and will be satisfied if the fight is made official.

“He’s definitely one of the best in the division,” Barboza told MMAjunkie. “I think this fight really makes sense for me. I’m ready. If the UFC books this fight, I’m ready.”

For more on UFC 219, visit the UFC Rumors section of the site.

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Source: MMA Junkie

Paulie Malignaggi says discussions underway for Conor McGregor fight and PLEASE GOD NO

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According to former boxing champ Paulie Malignaggi, discussions are underway for a potential fight with sparring partner-turned bitter rival Conor McGregor.

“I know Al Haymon’s talking with Dana White,” Malignaggi told Fight Hype. “I know they’re speaking, so if they want the fight they’ll make it.”

Dear god, let us hope they do not want the fight. Let us do more than hope. Let us offer up blood sacrifices to avoid this fate. Let us throw a virgin into a volcano and slaughter a goat on the first fine market day. Let us seize the property of those who would advocate for such a fight, then gather their belongings in the town square and set them ablaze. Let us never relent.

On some level, sure, I get it. Malignaggi sniffs a payday. He has an image to maintain. He has a very personal grudge against McGregor that has at times drifted into restraining order territory. He has a very distinct way of pronouncing the word “balls,” (boo-awls) and a corresponding love of saying it over and over again.

It’s not surprising that he wants this fight, but the powers that be must not let him have it. The reason is very simple: While a little bit of ridiculousness can be fun, too much is just plain stupid.

McGregor’s boxing match with Floyd Mayweather, for instance? Just absurd enough to be a good time, though even then we had to exercise extreme patience and suspend more than a little disbelief in order to enjoy it.

But another boxing match, especially against Malignaggi, all while his UFC lightweight title goes undefended? That’s the point where McGregor would drift hopelessly into self-parody.

And for what? I mean, money, sure. But there’s plenty of that to be found elsewhere. The UFC is desperate for McGregor’s return. MMA fans are, too. A better-than-expected performance against Mayweather likely only increased his star power, which means he could defend his UFC title against a coat rack right now and still break MMA pay-per-view records.

A boxing match with Malignaggi, on the other hand, would be a step backwards in every meaningful sense. It would be the lazy sequel to the breakout hit, the “Speed 2: Cruise Control” of combat sports matchups. And you know something? There’s a good reason Keanu Reeves turned that sequel down, and it’s because he has some sense.

Back in the UFC there are a plethora of options for McGregor’s next fight, ranging from the logical choices like Tony Ferguson and Khabib Nurmagomedov to the purely profit-driven possibilities like Nate Diaz or Georges St-Pierre.

All of them would be better ideas than another stupid boxing match against a lesser draw who’s been following McGregor around like a bad credit score ever since their fallout as sparring partners.

Fighters and promoters want to make money. Fans want to have some fun. But we can do all those things without being idiots about it.

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

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Source: MMA Junkie

Conor McGregor's next move will determine if his return lasts

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Retired MMA fighter and Sirius XM host R.J. Clifford is looking at Conor McGregor’s next move to judge whether his MMA return is short-lived, or a new lease.

“If he chooses to face Nate Diaz next, that signals to me that he’s just about done,” Clifford told MMAjunkie Radio. “Maybe a Nate Diaz trilogy and maybe a Georges St-Pierre fight, and then he’s walking away a bajillionaire and doing whatever he’s going to do.

“If he does take a Tony Ferguson fight next, that’s signaling to me he has a couple more years in him and wants to keep fighting.”

If recent events are any indication, McGregor (21-3 MMA, 9-1 UFC) is thinking long term. UFC President Dana White said McGregor will next defend his belt against newly minted interim champ Tony Ferguson (24-3 MMA, 14-1 UFC), who got a special tweet-out from the undisputed lightweight champ. There’s even been speculation as to a meeting at UFC 219, which takes place Dec. 30 at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.

Then again, McGregor has said he’d open to a lot of different options, including a trilogy with Diaz. The good news, according to Clifford, is that he can still make that fight happen even if he faces Ferguson next.

“(McGregor) can afford to lose and not take any shine off the Nate Diaz trilogy,” Clifford said. “They could both lose three fights in a row, and that trilogy of theirs still sells two million PPVs.”

Whatever happens next, the sure bet is that it will be entertaining.

Check out the video above for more from Clifford.

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

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Source: MMA Junkie

Only one man can stop Hurricane Ophelia: (Fake) Conor McGregor

Dann StuppAs Hurricane Ophelia bears down on Ireland and the U.K., one man is ready to step up to the challenge: (Fake) Conor McGregor.

Ophelia has forced the region to shut down schools, businesses and government offices – and has wreaked havoc on travelers – to start the work week, and the tropical storm has found an enemy.

Although the storm has been downgraded from a hurricane to a post-tropical cyclone, it’s still expected to pack a punch and bring hurricane-force winds and flying debris – exactly 30 years after the “Great Storm of 1987” killed 18 people in Europe.

Yet, one man is undeterred (via Twitter):

Al Foran, who’s gained some notoriety with his McGregor impression, posted the above video, co-starring a fake mom.

Fake McGregor: Mark my words: I will knock that hurricane out within two rounds!

Fake Mom: It’s bigger than you!

Fake McGregor: It’s not bigger than me.

Fake Mom: Conor, it’s bigger than you!

Fake McGregor: Fook that hurricane!

Fake Mom: Come in!

Fake McGregor: Where is it? It’ll do absolutely nothing! It’ll do fookin’ nothing! Ahhh! Where are you, Ophelia?

Ultimately, the fake mom won out (via Twitter):

As for the real McGregor (21-3 MMA, 9-1 UFC), the UFC lightweight champion, what’s next? Following a massive payday for his recent 10th-round TKO loss to Floyd Mayweather in a boxing pay-per-view blockbuster, the famed Irishman is expected to fight recently crowned interim titleholder and budding rival Tony Ferguson (24-3 MMA, 14-1 UFC) at an upcoming UFC event.

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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Source: MMA Junkie

What would it take to make Conor McGregor vs. Georges St-Pierre a reality?

Ever since Georges St-Pierre officially announced his return to MMA competition after a four-year hiatus, speculation has drifted to a possible fight with Conor McGregor. It might happen, but according to UFC President Dana White, it’s a long ways off.

McGregor (21-3 MMA, 9-1 UFC), the current UFC lightweight champion, and St-Pierre (25-2 MMA, 19-2 UFC), the former longtime welterweight champ, are two of the biggest names and successful pay-per-view sellers in MMA history. If they were to fight, it would surely be one of the biggest events in UFC history, but many hurdles remain.

Not only does St-Pierre, who meets middleweight champ Michael Bisping (30-7 MMA, 20-7 UFC) in UFC 217’s main event on Nov. 4, have to win the title, but he’d be contractually obligated to meet interim 185-pound champ Robert Whittaker in a unification match.

McGregor, meanwhile, is being targeted for a title-unification match of his own – with interim 155-pound titleholder Tony Ferguson. White said all those fights must take place before giving any real thought toward booking “The Notorious” vs. “Rush.”

“GSP would need to defend his title first at 185, and Conor has some business to handle himself,” White told TSN.ca while in Toronto for a UFC 217 media tour. “It would be a year and a half down the road before we even started talking about that.”

White said it’s especially difficult to look so far ahead when it comes to St-Pierre. The French-Canadian hasn’t stepped in the octagon since November 2013 and has already stated that an official retirement could happen at any time, especially if he loses a fight.

Additionally, St-Pierre said he’s not going to pursue a fight with McGregor because he doesn’t call out smaller fighters, but he admitted he would be “honored” to compete against the brash Irishman.

St-Pierre has said he will likely walk away from the sport for good if he can’t beat Bisping at UFC 217, but White said he’s not necessarily buying that. St-Pierre hasn’t lost in more than 10 years, and White said his competitive instincts wouldn’t allow him to hang up his gloves on his a loss.

“I think GSP is one of those guys who wouldn’t want to go out like that,” White said. “I think he will go back to 170 (pounds) and take a fight there. I would imagine. Guy’s been a world champion most of his career. I just don’t see him going out like that.”

White said he doesn’t hate the idea of St-Pierre eventually fighting McGregor, though, but that’s mainly because he thinks any fight involving McGregor has mass appeal and significance.

“Everybody’s intriguing for Conor McGregor,” White said. “If you look at Conor at 145, 155 and 170 – everything is intriguing.”

For more on UFC 217, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.

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Filed under: News, UFC
Source: MMA Junkie

MMA has inspired some terrible tattoos, but this McGregor-Diaz ink is pretty amazing

One MMA fan now has quite the way to remember UFC 202 and the rematch between Conor McGregor and Nate Diaz.

On Aug. 20, 2016, at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, then-featherweight champion McGregor narrowly edge Diaz via majority decision in a non-title welterweight bout. McGregor avenged a submission loss to Diaz from earlier in the year, and it ultimately set up a move to lightweight, where McGregor beat Eddie Alvarez to claim the 155-pound title.

The rematch between McGregor (21-3 MMA, 9-1 UFC) and Diaz (19-11 MMA, 14-9 UFC) was a back-and-forth, bloody and often-grueling five-rounder that earned plenty of “Fight of the Year” accolades. UFC 202, which had the two rivals on the top of the bill, is also reported to have done 1.6 million pay-per-view buys – a UFC record.

So how do you honor one of the biggest fights in MMA history? One MMA fan got some nifty ink to do it.

Here’s the tattoo, in video form (via Instagram):

Instagram Photo

It appears to be inspired by this image from AP photographer Isaac Brekken:

For more on UFC 202, 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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Source: MMA Junkie

Evan Dunham is a Conor McGregor fan – but if anybody asks, Tony Ferguson is the UFC champ

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While matchmaking is not an exact science, there is a general logic to the process, which often involves fighters paired with peers who are coming off equally positive or negative outcomes.

But then how do you go about planning your octagon future when you neither won nor lost your most recent bout?

That’s what lightweight Evan Dunham, who fought Beneil Dariush to a majority draw last week at UFC 216, will find out.

“I’m not going to fight down,” Dunham told MMAjunkie Radio. “I’ll tell you that right now. I’m only fighting up. And I said that going into my last fight. Because they tried to give me someone who wasn’t ranked.

“And I was like, ‘Dude, I’m coming off four wins. If this isn’t an opportunity for me to fight up, I don’t know what is.’ And since I didn’t take a loss, I’m not changing my stance.”

Dunham (18-6-1 MMA, 11-6-1 UFC) and Dariush (14-3-1 MMA, 8-3-1 UFC) opened UFC 216’s pay-per-view main card on a solid note. Dariush’s strong start had him taking a pair of 10-8 scores in the first round, but Dunham’s rally granted him the 10-9 scorecards that he needed to even things out – despite one judge seeing it Dariush’s way.

As it often happens with outcomes like these, both Dariush and Dunham were left thinking they’d done enough to win the fight. But at least one of them found out that, after 10 years, there are still surprises to be had in the octagon.

“A draw never even crossed my mind until they said it, to tell you the truth,” Dunham said. “Because I think this was what, my 33rd fight or something like that total, counting amateurs. And I’d never had a draw before. So I wasn’t thinking draw. I was actually thinking I won that, because I won (Rounds 2 and 3).

“When I’m there, I don’t think about, ‘How did they score this round?’ I think about, ‘Did I win that round, or did I lose that round?’ But after this fight I’m probably going to start thinking a little bit more, like ‘OK, how exactly did they score it?’”

Dunham’s plans moving forward were made clear: He’s not dipping below himself in the official UFC rankings, in which he occupies the No. 14 spot. But like a lot of his fellow UFC lightweights, Dunham knows that making your way up can be complicated given the division’s current state of affairs.

“Kevin Lee said it best, the rankings don’t mean (expletive) at this point,” Dunham said. “Which breaks my heart, hearing that as a guy who’s based my whole career trying to make my way up the rankings. Because, in my idea, you work your way up the rankings, that’s what gets you a title shot.”

Instead, Dunham believes there’s a logjam atop the division – with a few key players making it harder by their inactivity. That starts with champion Conor McGregor, who Dunham clarifies he is actually a fan of, but also goes by the likes of McGregor’s two-time opponent Nate Diaz and undefeated contender Khabib Nurmagomedov.

“The division is so jammed up at the top that it makes it really tough for anybody to work their way up,” Dunham said. “Because you’ve got Diaz, who’s not doing anything. You’ve got Conor, who’s – well, last weekend kind of helped it out. Now we have an interim champion, and there is starting to be some movement.”

The way Dunham – as well as a large group of people that includes UFC President Dana White – sees it, the title fight to make now is between newly crowned interim champion Tony Ferguson (24-3 MMA, 14-1 UFC) and McGregor (21-3 MMA, 9-1 UFC). Of course, rankings logic is one good reason for that. But Dunham also sees the battle as an intriguing stylistic matchup.

“That’s why the interim title was made,” Dunham said. “That’s the reason why they did the whole thing last weekend. Ferguson is the champ. In my book, if anybody asks, Ferguson is the champ of the 155 division right now.”

The next title challenger, Dunham reasons, could very well emerge from a UFC 218 meeting between ex-titleholder Eddie Alvarez and former WSOF champion Justin Gaethje. A meeting that, it turns out, Dunham is particularly invested in.

“I would like to fight the loser of that,” Dunham said. “Usually, they go loser-loser, and I’m kind of in this grey area of a draw. I don’t know what it means, but I guess I’ll figure it out pretty soon. But I would love to fight the loser of that fight, because the winner should get a title shot. It makes sense to me.”

For more on the UFC’s upcoming schedule, 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 to www.mmajunkie.com/radio.

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Source: MMA Junkie

Tony Ferguson responds to Conor McGregor with perfect(ly odd) 'Grand Theft Auto' video on Twitter

UFC lightweight champion Conor McGregor broke his silence on interim title holder Tony Ferguson (we think) when he tweeted a picture Friday casting himself as Tony Montana from “Scarface” – using the style of the “Grand Theft Auto” video game – with the simple caption: “Tony.”

As expected, the Tony we believe McGregor was calling out had a rather quick response in the form of a “Grand Theft Auto”-inspired video of sorts.

I say “of sorts” because … well, just take a look:

“Zero 😎Fucks” 🇺🇸🏆🇲🇽#DefendorVacate MF’er 😎🖕🏽#TonyFergusonMMA SnapJitsu™ #SnapDownCity This Is My Mat.

Is your mind not blown after watching that? And if your mind isn’t blown, that’s because you accept the fact this is “El Cucuy” we’re talking about.

Which is to say just go with it.

Like the montage, McGregor (21-3 MMA, 9-1 UFC) has been all over the map about his future plans. But is there any doubt that his next move shouldn’t be a title unification with Ferguson (24-3 MMA, 14-1 UFC). The build-up alone should be epic.

Tell me you wouldn’t watch. 

For more on the UFC’s upcoming schedule, visit 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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Source: MMA Junkie

Tony Ferguson (or Tony Montana) – UFC champ Conor McGregor breaks silence on Twitter

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UFC lightweight champion Conor McGregor finally has spoken up, and it looks like he’s accepted a fight with Tony Ferguson.

McGregor (21-3 MMA, 9-1 UFC) today tweeted a picture casting himself as the fictional character Tony Montana from “Scarface” – a la popular video game “Grand Theft Auto” – with the simple caption: “Tony.”

That can be no other Tony than Tony Ferguson (24-3 MMA, 14-1 UFC), who this past Saturday claimed the interim lightweight title with a third-round submission of Kevin Lee (16-3 MMA, 9-3 UFC) at UFC 216.

McGregor was all over the map about his future plans during a press conference this past month, indicating he could return to boxing, or possibly fight a trilogy with rival Nate Diaz (19-11 MMA, 14-9 UFC), or face off with the winner of the interim title fight.

UFC President Dana White was a little less flexible, indicating after Ferguson’s victory that he is next to face McGregor and unify the titles. Today during a press conference in support of a middleweight title bout between champ Michael Bisping and ex-welterweight kingpin Georges St-Pierre at UFC 217, he said the same.

“The Ferguson fight is the fight that makes sense,” White said.

After advocating for a rubber match with Diaz, McGregor’s team appears to be getting used to the idea of a fight with Ferguson.

“Here we go…,” tweeted McGregor’s longtime coach John Kavanagh.

Ferguson this week told MMAjunkie Radio he’s ready to unify the belts by year’s end.

“What (McGregor) needs to do is defend or vacate,” he said. “That dude’s got like less than a month. I mean compared to what UFC rules state, he’s got a year to start defending his belt. I’m more then ready for December. He said he wants to fight in 2017. I think the fans deserve it. I think I deserve it.”

UFC 219 perfectly fits the bill for a pay-per-view attraction that could accomodate the fight. But as we’ve seen before, there’s a lot that can get in the way of an easy setup.

For more on UFC 219, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.

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Source: MMA Junkie

New UFC champ Tony Ferguson: I'm going to expose Conor McGregor

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The UFC’s new interim lightweight champ is willing to let Conor McGregor avoid a confrontation by vacating share of the title, but he’d rather deliver an ass-whooping to entertain the masses.

“What (McGregor) needs to do is defend or vacate,” Tony Ferguson told MMAjunkie Radio. “That dude’s got like less than a month. I mean compared to what UFC rules state, he’s got a year to start defending his belt. I’m more then ready for December. He said he wants to fight in 2017. I think the fans deserve it. I think I deserve it.

“What sounds better than 10 consecutive? Eleven, and it’s got Conor’s name written all over that mother(expletive). You guys heard my post-speech. There’s nowhere for him to run, man. He’s got me to deal with, and I’m going to expose that dude.”

Ferguson (23-3 MMA, 13-1 UFC), currently ranked No. 2 in the latest USA TODAY Sports/MMAjunkie MMA lightweight rankings, claimed his share of the belt with an impressive win over a very tough Kevin Lee at this past weekend’s UFC 216 event. It was Ferguson’s 10th consecutive victory.

Meanwhile, McGregor (21-3 MMA, 9-1 UFC) – ranked No. 1 – originally claimed the undisputed belt at this past November’s UFC 205 but hasn’t entered the octagon since, instead taking a boxing match with Floyd Mayweather this past August.

There’s debate about McGregor’s next move, since a trilogy fight with rival Nate Diaz would obviously be a huge pay-per-view event, but UFC President Dana White insisted that wasn’t the current plan, instead pointing to a unification fight with Ferguson as the fight that “has to happen.”

Ferguson agrees, insisting marketability is no way to decide a championship fight.

“It’s not about the money fight,” Ferguson said. “It’s about the pride fight, and this dude’s going to be sitting on the sidelines if he doesn’t want to fight.

“I don’t think he wants that grubby little belt to be in my hands because I’ll enjoy it, and I will defend it. That dude hasn’t defended that belt one time – not one time. I will probably defend my interim belt more times than that dude would ever defend that belt.”

McGregor has stated he’d like to fight at the UFC’s year-end show on Dec. 30, but if that’s to happen, the promotion will need to make arrangements fairly quickly. Ferguson said he’s going to take a few days off for vacation but keep himself in shape and prepared for that very opportunity.

Unless McGregor wants to streamline the whole process and just rid himself of the belt.

“I already told him one time: Just set it down and walk away and nobody will get hurt. But also in every reality, we want the fans to have the fight, and I think the fans deserve it, straight up, because he’s the next one in line, and Khabib (Nurmagomedov) is not there. He’s out of line. He’s not even in the picture.

“So Conor, you need to either (expletive) defend or vacate. You need to get your (expletive) together and come fight me, straight up.”

For complete coverage of UFC 216, check out the UFC Events section of the site.

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