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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Trading Shots: With the hype heating up, will fans come around to Bisping vs. GSP?

The UFC hype machine is kicking into high gear to sell a UFC 217 main event that was booked amid a wave of apparent fan apathy, but can the case for “The Count” vs. GSP convince fans to put aside their concerns and get out their credit cards? Retired WEC and UFC fighter Danny Downes joins MMAjunkie columnist Ben Fowlkes to discuss.

Downes: No UFC event this weekend Ben, but that gives us time to get excited about the next big fight. And that is (*checks schedule*) Georges St-Pierre vs. Michael Bisping?

The promotion for their UFC 217 match is in full force as the two participated in the ceremonial puck drop for this weekend’s game between the Montreal Canadiens and Toronto Maple Leafs. They’ve also been speaking to the media with the expected results: St-Pierre is “super focused,” while Bisping works his shtick as the unlikable Englishman.

Seeing that this is the middleweight title fight that nobody (save for GSP or Bisping) actually wanted, can any promotion get you excited for it? I know the fever pitch surrounding a fight doesn’t usually kick in until fight week itself, but do you think that will happen this time around?

Fowlkes: You don’t think people are starting to get excited about this fight? I mean, OK, they don’t want to admit it. It’s not cool to say that you’re hyped about Bisping vs. GSP. It feels like admitting that you’re looking forward to a big, dumb action movie. The fight feels like a sinister plan to get in our wallets, which it is.

But what are you going to do? Are you seriously going to not watch this event, which comes with two additional title fights, both of which are solidly #wouldwatch affairs, just because you’re resentful of a nonsense headliner that seems like something a piece of marketing software came up with?

Plus, have you actually watched these two together? GSP doesn’t even have to do anything. He just smiles and plays the nice guy and lets Bisping carry the promotional load, which he does with a perfect, sneering efficiency.

Seriously, watch him here. You’re telling me you don’t want to see that guy get punched in the face? And if you don’t, it can only be because you actually want to see him do what he claims he’ll do. Point is, there’s no way to be indifferent about a person like that, and that’s promotional gold.

Are you really not into this fight, despite or possibly even for all its stupidity? Or would you just feel like too easy mark for admitting it?

Downes: What happened to you, Ben? Have the years been so unkind that now your standards are degrading faster than the cartilage in your joints?

First off, your #wouldwatch standard doesn’t mean anything. You’ve admitted that you’d watch any number of freak show fights. Just because you say you’ll watch something, that does not mean it’s quality.

I’ve watched more episodes of “House Hunters” than I’d care to admit. That doesn’t mean the show isn’t formulaic, scripted and predictable. I’ve seen the movie “Gymkata” multiple times. Maybe that means it should win an Academy Award?

Secondly, disliking Bisping and wanting to see him get punched in the face does not mean you should like every one of his fights. There are plenty of unlikable fighters in MMA. If we use Ben Fowlkes logic, that means every one of them is a must-see fight! What if there’s a fighter that we really like and don’t want to see get punched in the face? I guess that means he or she is always in a bad fight?

Does Bisping know how to push people’s buttons? Absolutely. Throughout his career he’s been able to create a buzz and make himself relevant even when many were willing to write him off. That being said, the act has worn thin on me.

Bisping is slightly more sincere than Chael Sonnen when it comes to the gimmick, but that’s not saying much. He’s already walked back his “GSP is on steroids” talk when he was on Conan O’Brien. How do you take him seriously now?

I’m all for “fun” fights in general, but nothing exists inside a vacuum. By GSP vs. Bisping going down, the middleweight division is put on hold. MMA may be more carnival than actual sport, but we have to recognize when the pendulum swings too far to the other side.

Do you not see how this title fight represents that? Or did the UFC already send you some talking points you’d like to regurgitate?

Fowlkes: Watch out, everybody. Looks like Danny’s off his meds again. And by meds I mean grapefruit IPAs.

Look, I’m not disagreeing that this is a straight-up cash grab with little to no relevance to the middleweight division. To the contrary, I’m the first one to point out that, the way it stands now, Bisping looks like he’s trying to be the first UFC middleweight champ to avoid defending his belt against any top contenders.

All I’m saying is, this is the fight we have. It’s Bisping vs. St-Pierre, an all-time great MMA heel against an all-time great MMA fighter. And what makes this bout even more weirdly compelling in a way I hate to admit that I like? It’s that the welterweight GOAT is probably going to lose. Bisping probably is going to beat him up, just like he says, at which point he’ll be able to walk around calling everybody “buddeh” as he points out that he beat both Anderson Silva and GSP, the two greats of his era.

Or maybe he doesn’t. Maybe St-Pierre comes charging back after all this time and takes the title that most of us thought Bisping would never win in the first place, and which he’s only managed to defend once, just barely, against a senior citizen who nearly knocked him stiff.

Those stakes are good enough for me, I’m sorry to say. Would I rather see a middleweight champ against a middleweight contender? Sure. Will I still regard Robert Whittaker as the top 185-pounder after this, regardless of the outcome? Probably.

But am I going to boycott a bizarrely interesting fight and miss Cody Garbrandt-T.J. Dillashaw and Joanna “Champion” vs. “Thug Rose” just for spite? No way. And, once you get enough craft beers in you to be honest with yourself, I think you’ll be able to admit that you’re not about to miss it either.

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

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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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UFC champ Michael Bisping and Georges St-Pierre meet on the ice

Dann StuppThe promotion continues for UFC 217’s headliner between middleweight champion Michael Bisping and Georges St-Pierre.

The rivals today met at center ice for the ceremonial puck drop between the NHL game between the home Montreal Canadiens and visiting Toronto Maple Leafs.

St-Pierre, a French-Canadian who gave Canada some of the biggest events in UFC history, got a thunderous welcome from the crowd of 20,000-plus. Bisping, meanwhile, got the type of reception you might expect for an outspoken Brit who’s soon fighting the hometown hero.

Here’s video, which includes UFC President Dana White and some jawing between the fighters (via Twitter):

Bisping (30-7 MMA, 20-7 UFC), who’s No. 1 in the USA TODAY Sports/MMAjunkie MMA middleweight rankings, and St-Pierre (25-2 MMA, 19-2 UFC), a longtime welterweight champ who returns from a four-year layoff, meet in UFC 217’s pay-per-view headliner at Madison Square Garden in New York City on Nov. 4.

Their recent press conference had plenty of fireworks.

For more on UFC 217, 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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UFC 217's Georges St-Pierre: No fight enhances my legacy more than Michael Bisping

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TORONTO – Georges St-Pierre is ending his four-year hiatus from UFC competition with a single purpose, and that’s to make his already legendary resume inside the octagon even better.

St-Pierre (25-2 MMA, 19-2 UFC) is one of the most credentialed UFC fighters ever. His 19 wins are second most in promotional history, and he has a record 12 title-fight victories to go along with it. The former longtime welterweight champ will attempt to join a small group of fighters to claim titles in two weight classes when he challenges Michael Bisping (30-7 MMA, 20-7 UFC) for UFC middleweight gold in next month’s UFC 217 headliner.

“Rush” said he needed a certain type of motivation to step back in the cage for the first time since November 2013, and that’s why he targeted Bisping. The current 185-pound titleholder has a lengthy list of accomplishments in the UFC, and St-Pierre said beating the Brit will bring further prestige to his own career.

“His resume speaks by itself,” St-Pierre said at today’s UFC 217 news conference in Toronto. “He’s trying to get on my nerves and stuff, but as a fighter I really respect him. He’s accomplished a lot of great things in this sport and that’s why I was very excited to take that fight. I didn’t want to fight nobody else, and Michael, for me, he’s the highest guy right now in the sport. There’s nobody else in the game right now that will help my legacy as much as if I beat Michael Bisping.”

UFC 217 takes place Nov. 4 at Madison Square Garden in New York City. St-Pierre challenges Bisping in the pay-per-view headliner following prelims on FS1 and UFC Fight Pass.

After so much time off from the sport, St-Pierre is coming back to a tall task. He’s never fought in the middleweight division during his 27-fight career, and moving up for the first time to take on the champion is a risk, even for a fighter who hasn’t lost in more than 10 years.

St-Pierre said he’s not totally concerned about what “The Count” brings to the table, though. Other than size, St-Pierre said there’s nothing Bisping can offer that’s truly a threat.

“He’s got a lot more things to worry about than I have about him,” St-Pierre said. “I can take him down, strike him, submit him. I can do all these things. Cardio has never been an issue for me. I’ve got a lot more weapons than he does. He’s only bigger, that’s it. I got a lot more weapons. My fight IQ is much higher than his.”

One place where Bisping seems to hold an undeniable advantage, however, is in the mental warfare. Bisping has got St-Pierre riled up at multiple press conferences in the lead-up to UFC 217, and although the French-Canadian has displayed some agitation by shoving Bisping during two different staredowns, St-Pierre insists his mental game is strong.

“All this is a mind game and I’m used to that,” St-Pierre said. “They always come out with the same song, every time. I hear it before. It’s no problem. It’s not going to change anything to me. I do my talking in the fight and that’s it. English is not my first language. If I would start a war of words with Michael, obviously he’s British, I’m French-Canadian and my English is not as good as his. He will win every time. I choose my battles. I will fight him in the octagon and beat him there. That’s where it’s important for me.”

St-Pierre has said in the past that he’s taking his comeback one fight at a time. If he wins, a title unification bout with interim UFC middleweight champion Robert Whittaker is apparently next, but a loss could send him riding off into the sunset once and for all.

For now, St-Pierre said he’s embracing the significance of his fight at UFC 217. The event is one of the biggest of the year, and St-Pierre said he’s not going to fall short on such a monumental platform.

“I’m not planning on losing anytime soon,” St-Pierre said. “I don’t lose. I do not lose. … I take a fight at a time. I used to see too much ahead of time. I’m trying to have fun and live in the present moment. It doesn’t get bigger than this. Michael Bisping middleweight title, Madison Square Garden – it’s a dream come true.

“I couldn’t wish for a better scenario. I wanted to have the biggest fight possible for my comeback and I’m at my best when I’m fighting under pressure, when I’m on the edge. That’s when I perform the best.”

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

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Georges St-Pierre frightened a child after an altercation with Michael Bisping

UFC middleweight champion Michael Bisping and former welterweight champ Georges St-Pierre apparently didn’t get everything off their chests at today’s UFC 217 news conference in Toronto.

After spending nearly 30 minutes going back-and-forth and answering questions for the media (then getting heated during a staredown), the animosity between Bisping (30-7 MMA, 20-7 UFC) and St-Pierre (25-2 MMA, 19-2 UFC) spilled over behind the scenes.

Bisping and St-Pierre had to be restrained as they shouted profanities at each other while the UFC PR staff attempted to separate them. The chaos was so much, in fact, that it frightened a child out of taking a photo with St-Pierre.

Watch the complete video above.

For more on UFC 217, 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

Champ Michael Bisping walks back retirement talk ahead of UFC 217 title defense

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TORONTO – Despite previously saying otherwise, UFC middleweight champion Michael Bisping now says he won’t be hanging up his gloves after his UFC 217 showdown with Georges St-Pierre.

Not long after his title defense against St-Pierre (25-2 MMA, 19-2 UFC) was made official for UFC 217, Bisping (30-7 MMA, 20-7 UFC) said there was a good chance he would walk away from the sport regardless of whether he defended or lost his title.

Bisping, 38, has been part of the UFC roster since 2006 and has made a record-tying 27 octagon appearances. He has more than five hours of cage time over his tenure with the promotion, and though it would be understandable if he decided he’s had enough, “The Count” said at today’s UFC 217 news conference in Toronto that retirement is no longer on the table.

“Listen, a lot of people were asking me about (retirement),” Bisping said. “I love this too much. I love this whole process, getting ready for a training camp. Eight weeks ago I was out of shape. Now I feel like I’m the champion of the world, I can beat anyone on this planet, especially this guy. I love that whole process. So, no, I won’t be retiring.”

If Bisping beats St-Pierre at UFC 217, it will be another high-profile name to add to a resume that already includes Anderson Silva, Dan Henderson and Luke Rockhold. Bisping believes St-Pierre ended his four-year hiatus from competition to pursue a fight against him because “Rush” sees him as an easy target, but the Brit said he’s going to prove otherwise.

Over the course of his career, Bisping has been called out as much or more than any fighter in the promotion’s history. He’s managed to win 20 of the 27 times he’s stepped in the octagon, though, and he said St-Pierre is going to be the latest to find out that taking his belt is no walk in the park.

“The truth of the matter is that Georges fell into the trap of what a lot of people fall into,” Bisping said. “You fell into the trap of thinking he can beat me – that’s it. That’s why you want to fight me. That’s why you keep asking Dana for me. Nobody else, because you think you can beat me. You think in your little tiny pea-brain that you can beat me. But you can’t.

“That will be the mistake you make, the trap that a lot of people fall into. They see me on TV, they say, ‘This guy is beatable.’ But what you can’t see is what I’ve got in (my heart and my mind). Nov. 4, you’re going to find out, pal.”

UFC 217 takes place Nov. 4 at Madison Square Garden in New York City and airs on pay-per-view following prelims on FS1 and UFC Fight Pass.

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

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Watch the latest heated face-off between Michael Bisping and Georges St-Pierre in Toronto

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TORONTO – There was a hint of bad blood once again today when Michael Bisping and Georges St-Pierre got together.

Bisping (30-7 MMA, 20-7 UFC), the UFC’s middleweight champion, fights former longtime welterweight champ St-Pierre (25-2 MMA, 19-2 UFC) in the UFC 217 main event next month. St-Pierre is returning after a four-year layoff to move up a weight class to challenge for Bisping’s 185-pound title.

Today in Toronto, they met the media, then got face to face again. And when Bisping put his finger toward St-Pierre’s chin – just like their previous meeting – “Rush” took exception.

Check out the video of their face-off with UFC President Dana White above.

UFC 217 takes place Nov. 4 at Madison Square Garden in New York City and airs on pay-per-view following prelims on FS1 and UFC Fight Pass. It will be the UFC’s second show at MSG following the historic UFC 205 in November 2016.

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

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Go inside Georges St-Pierre's return and 3 title fights in UFC 217 extended preview

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When the UFC descends on New York City for the second straight November, there once again will be three titles on the line.

In the UFC 217 main event next month, Georges St-Pierre (25-2 MMA, 19-2 UFC) returns to the octagon after a four-year layoff to challenge champ Michael Bisping (30-7 MMA, 20-7 UFC) for the UFC middleweight title. St-Pierre was a longtime welterweight champ before he walked away from the sport, and now will attempt to become just the fourth two-division champ in the UFC’s history.

In the co-main event, there is bad blood all over the place when bantamweight champion Cody Garbrandt (11-0 MMA, 6-0 UFC) meets former teammate T.J. Dillashaw (14-3 MMA, 10-3 UFC). The two coached opposite each other on Season 25 of “The Ultimate Fighter” and were supposed to meet over the summer until a Garbrandt surgery delayed things.

And also on the main card, strawweight champion Joanna Jedrzejczyk (14-0 MMA, 8-0 UFC) will defend her title against Rose Namajunas (6-3 MMA, 4-2 UFC). With a win, Jedrzejczyk will hold the record for most title wins by a UFC women’s fighter.

The way Kevin Lee sees it, destiny placed him opposite Tony Ferguson.

“Me and Tony were bound to fight, whether it was going to be headlining at T-Mobile Arena for a world championship, or if it was going to be in my backyard,” Lee said in an extended preview for UFC 216.

UFC 217 takes place Nov. 4 at Madison Square Garden in New York City and airs on pay-per-view following prelims on FS1 and UFC Fight Pass. It will be the UFC’s second show at MSG following the historic UFC 205 in November 2016.

In the extended video preview above, go inside the three title fights atop the card in New York City.

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

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

Watch today's UFC 217 press conference with Michael Bisping, Georges St-Pierre at 10 a.m. ET

Filed under: News, UFC

TORONTO – Check out a live stream of today’s UFC 217 press conference from the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto, featuring Dana White, Michael Bisping and Georges St-Pierre live here on MMAjunkie at 10 a.m. ET (7 a.m. PT).

UFC 217 takes place Nov. 4 at iconic Madison Square Garden in New York City. The main card – one of the best of the year – airs on pay-per-view following prelims on FS1 and UFC Fight Pass.

In UFC 217’s featured bout, middleweight champion Bisping (30-7 MMA, 20-7 UFC) takes on former longtime welterweight titleholder and all-time MMA great St-Pierre(25-2 MMA, 19-2 UFC), who returns from a four-year absence and moves up a weight class for the fight. Two other title fights are also on the card as bantamweight champ Cody Garbrandt (11-0 MMA, 6-0 UFC) takes on challenger T.J. Dillashaw (14-3 MMA, 10-3 UFC) in the co-headliner, and women’s strawweight champ Joanna Jedrzejczyk (14-0 MMA, 8-0 UFC) meets Rose Namajunas (6-3 MMA, 4-2 UFC).

MMAjunkie, which will be on site, will have full coverage of today’s media event

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