UFC on FOX 26 tickets on sale this week, and $316 Canadian gets you cageside

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The UFC returns to Winnipeg next month, and tickets for the event go on sale this week.

Featuring a welterweight title eliminator in the main event between former champion Robbie Lawler (28-11 MMA, 13-5 UFC) and ex-lightweight champ Rafael dos Anjos (27-9 MMA, 16-7 UFC), UFC on FOX 26 takes place Dec. 16 at MTS Centre in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. The main card airs on FOX following prelims on FS1 and UFC Fight Pass.

Tickets, in Canadian dollars, are priced at $316, $212.50, $179, $144.75, $111.75 and $77.50 and include fees. They go on sale to the general public at Ticketmaster.ca on Friday at 10 a.m. CT.

UFC newsletter subscribers have access to a special pre-sale beginning Thursday at 10 a.m. CT, while UFC Fight Club members can purchase tickets Wednesday 10 a.m. CT.

The co-main event is a featherweight rematch from a past title fight. Former featherweight champ Jose Aldo (26-3 MMA, 8-2 UFC) will take on former title challenger Ricardo Lamas (18-5 MMA, 9-3 UFC) in the co-feature.

In addition, UFC on FOX 26 features a pair of welterweight bouts between Mike Perry (11-1 MMA, 4-1 UFC) and Santiago Ponzinibbio (25-3 MMA, 7-2 UFC) and Jordan Mein (29-12 MMA, 3-4 UFC) vs. Erick Silva (19-8 MMA, 7-7 UFC).

UFC on FOX 26 includes:

  • Robbie Lawler vs. Rafael dos Anjos
  • Jose Aldo vs. Ricardo Lamas
  • Mike Perry vs. Santiago Ponzinibbio
  • Jordan Mein vs. Erick Silva
  • Misha Cirkunov vs. Glover Teixeira
  • Jared Cannonier vs. Antonio Rogerio Nogueira
  • Tim Elliott vs. Justin Scoggins
  • Galore Bofando vs. Chad Laprise
  • John Makdessi vs. Abel Trujillo
  • Sultan Aliev vs. Nordine Taleb
  • Oluwale Bamgbose vs. Alessio Di Chirico
  • Julian Marquez vs. Vitor Miranda

For more on UFC on FOX 26, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.

Filed under: News, UFC
Source: MMA Junkie

Jose Aldo vs. Ricardo Lamas rematch co-headlines UFC on FOX 26; Perry-Ponzinibbio, Mein-Silva added

A featherweight rematch from a past title fight has been booked as the co-main event for the UFC’s return to Winnipeg in December.

Former featherweight champ Jose Aldo (26-3 MMA, 8-2 UFC) will take on former title challenger Ricardo Lamas (18-5 MMA, 9-3 UFC) in the UFC on FOX 26 co-feature, UFC President Dana White today told Canada’s TSN. The two first fought for then-champ Aldo’s title at UFC 169 in February 2014, where Aldo won a unanimous decision.

In addition to that matchup, UFC on FOX 26 has added a pair of welterweight bouts between Mike Perry (11-1 MMA, 4-1 UFC) and Santiago Ponzinibbio (25-3 MMA, 7-2 UFC) and Jordan Mein (29-12 MMA, 3-4 UFC) vs. Erick Silva (19-8 MMA, 7-7 UFC).

UFC on FOX 26 takes place Dec. 16 at MTS Centre in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. The main card airs on FOX following prelims on FS1 and UFC Fight Pass.

With the additions, UFC on FOX 26 now includes:

  • Robbie Lawler vs. Rafael dos Anjos
  • Jose Aldo vs. Ricardo Lamas
  • Mike Perry vs. Santiago Ponzinibbio
  • Jordan Mein vs. Erick Silva
  • Misha Cirkunov vs. Glover Teixeira
  • Jared Cannonier vs. Antonio Rogerio Nogueira
  • Tim Elliott vs. Justin Scoggins
  • Galore Bofando vs. Chad Laprise
  • John Makdessi vs. Abel Trujillo
  • Sultan Aliev vs. Nordine Taleb
  • Oluwale Bamgbose vs. Alessio Di Chirico
  • Julian Marquez vs. Vitor Miranda

For more on UFC on FOX 26, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.

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

Report: Rematch between ex-UFC champ Jose Aldo and Ricardo Lamas targeted for December

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Jose Aldo has been clear about his desire to return to the octagon in 2017. Thanks to a familiar foe, it seems he’ll be able to get his wish.

Brazil’s Combate.com says the ground has been prepared for a rematch between former 145-pound champion Aldo (26-3 MMA, 8-2 UFC) and contender Ricardo Lamas (18-5 MMA, 9-3 UFC) – who unsuccessfully challenged for the then-champ’s belt at UFC 169 in 2014. According to the report, both men have said yes to a meeting in December, but have yet to set a specific date.

Aldo’s original plan was to fight at UFC 217, which takes place in New York City on Nov. 4. But, also according to the report, the promotion opted for the following month after Lamas asked for more time. This would entail one of two likelihoods: UFC 218, which takes place in Detroit on Dec. 2, or UFC 219, set for Dec. 30 in Las Vegas.

While this means Aldo won’t get to fulfill his dream of fighting in Madison Square Garden, it’s still in line with his general return plans after a UFC 212 loss that saw him surrender the featherweight crown to Max Holloway.

The outlet, which spoke to the former champion Sunday during a non-related event in Rio de Janeiro, said the featherweight champ wouldn’t commit to a name – but did say he had a fight ready to go.

“It’s not 100 percent because we haven’t signed the contract yet,” Aldo said. “(But) it’s certain and I’m waiting for the day to fight.”

Although the first name linked to Aldo’s return wasn’t Lamas’, and rather that of fellow former foe Cub Swanson, this isn’t the first we’re hearing of this matchup either. Earlier this month, Aldo’s head coach and manager Andre Pederneiras addressed fresh rumors of the Lamas rematch with MMAjunkie.

According to Pederneiras, Lamas’ name had been brought up by the UFC after Swanson and his wife had a baby. But, by then, Pederneiras had yet to get a confirmation from them on Lamas’ end. Then alerted to a Tweet by a reporter who said Lamas had shut down the rumors, Pederneiras answered.

“I figured as much,” Pederneiras said. “Because I’m trying to follow up, and they’re not saying anything back. But Aldo wants to fight. And the last thing he heard from my mouth was that it could be Ricardo Lamas and it could be either Nov. 4 or December. So we’re waiting.”

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

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

Jeremy Stephens would love to fight Jose Aldo – just not in November (and understandably so)

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EDMONTON – Veteran UFC featherweight Jeremy Stephens just finished his 26th octagon appearance and snapped a two-fight losing skid.

He feels a raise is due.

“My kids are growing, and I want the best for them and the best for me and to set them up in the future,” Stephens (26-14 MMA, 13-13 UFC) told MMAjunkie after Saturday’s UFC 215 event, where he outpointed former Strikeforce champ Gilbert Melendez (22-7 MMA, 1-5 UFC) in the pay-per-view opener at Rogers Place in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. “I’m just now starting to make good money in this sport, and it’s been a long time.

“I feel like I should be making a (expletive) more money, especially since I just beat a guy who makes probably double what I do.”

That guy, of course, expertly used the free-agency process to win a lucrative new deal with the UFC. Stephens is most known for his work in the UFC octagon, so his opportunity to leverage one promotion against the other was not as strong as Melendez’s.

Still, with his contract nearing completion, Stephens said it’s time to get a bump.

“I’m definitely going to be begging for some more money and putting on these performances (so) I can retire nice,” Stephens said. “I definitely want to retire and do some FOX analysis (work). But right now I’m a fighter, and I want to make as much money as I can.”

Stephens has a good idea of an opponent that might earn him a bigger paycheck – ex-champ Jose Aldo (26-3 MMA, 8-2 UFC). He noted the Brazilian’s desire to fight in November after the loss of his belt to Max Holloway earlier this year.

While that timeline doesn’t exactly jibe with Stephens’ schedule – he did, after all, put off his wedding for UFC 215 – a matchup later this year sounds perfect.

“I would love that fight, but November, it’s a little tight on my schedule, and I can’t push two things back,” Stephens said. “So December or January, something like that – that would be something I’d definitely look forward to. He’s a banger and a class act.

“I think me and him could get it on and give the fans a great showing. But I just can’t do November. I can’t keep pushing things back.”

To hear more from Stephens, check out the video above.

And for complete coverage of UFC 215, check out the UFC Events section of the site.

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Source: MMA Junkie

UFC's Michael Johnson explains move to featherweight, wanting to fight Jose Aldo first

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ROTTERDAM – Last Friday, longtime lightweight contender Michael Johnson made news by announcing somewhat unexpected plans: a move to the 145-pound division.

But the plans, he says, has long been in the making all along.

Although he is coming off two straight losses, first to contender Khabib Nurmagomedov and then to former WSOF champion Justin Gaethje in a “Fight of the Year” candidate, Johnson says he always intended to try his hand at a new division.

“There’s always been a thought in my head to drop down,” Johnson told reporters backstage at UFC Fight Night 115 after announcing his idea during a Q&A at Ahoy Rotterdam in the Netherlands. “Regardless of how I was doing in this division, win or lose, that was kind of a plan of mine – to drop down to 145, test the waters.

“Come back up to 155, maybe, because I fought everybody in the top 10 of the 155. I fought numerous people. I just wanted to see new changes, new faces and to see how I react. It has nothing to do with the fact that I lost to Justin. Even if I would have won, 145 still would have been a thought in my mind.”

Johnson has indeed faced mostly top competition in his UFC career. In fact, including Nurmagomedov and Gaethje, seven of his previous opponents are currently featured on the USA TODAY Sports/MMAjunkie MMA lightweight rankings – where Johnson sits at No. 12.

Taking his history into account, it didn’t look exactly out of character when Johnson (17-12 MMA, 9-8 UFC) listed former featherweight champion Jose Aldo (26-3 MMA, 8-2 UFC) – who’s only lost twice in both his UFC and WEC runs combined – as an initial target.

Aldo, who’s eager to fight in either November or December after a title-costing UFC 212 loss to Max Holloway, seemed OK with the matchup. Aldo’s coach, Andre Pederneiras, took a “put your money where your mouth is” route when asked about it.

After a few days of a balanced diet consisting mostly of ice cream and cake in the Netherlands, Johnson hasn’t yet come up with a plan for the weight-cut. Whatever the route, he already has an idea of when he wants it done by.

“I was looking toward December, and November got brought up, so we’ll have to see,” Johnson said. “We’ll have to see everybody’s schedules and see where they can fit me in.”

The timeline, it just so happens, fits perfectly with Aldo’s own return expectations. But, if for some reason that matchup can’t materialize, who could be a worthy substitute?

“The next toughest guy in line,” Johnson said. “I think that’s maybe detrimental to my career, maybe hurts it a little bit that I always go for the toughest fight. But my first fight at 145, Aldo is a former champ, he’s one of the best in the world – always been.

“So that’s one guy that I would love to fight. I’m not in this sport to fight the guy that’s OK. I want the toughest guy. I want everybody that says he can’t be beat.”

The UFC, Johnson says, is totally fine with his idea to join the featherweight roster. But he clarifies it’s going to take something special to get him to drop those added 10 pounds.

“I think that (the UFC brass and I) have a really good relationship, because I put on good fights,” Johnson said. “Regardless of where it’s going to be, whatever night. So, fingers crossed, hopefully a big fight comes at 145. Because in order for me to make that drop, it has to be a big fight. It’s going to be quite a bit of weight for me.”

To hear more from Johnson, watch the video above.

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

Jose Aldo and head coach Andre Pederneiras weigh ex-UFC champ's future options

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Former UFC champion and avid sports fan Jose Aldo has always dreamed of fighting in Madison Square Garden. With UFC 217 looming, that dream could very well come true in Nov. 4.

All he needs is a dance partner for the New York City event. And that’s when it gets muddy.

Before losing the belt to Max Holloway at UFC 212, Aldo had already expressed the desire to stay active. With that unchanged by the loss, the first name that was thrown around was Cub Swanson’s (25-7 MMA, 10-3 UFC), whom Aldo (26-3 MMA, 8-2 UFC)  had met (and made quick work of) before – under the now-defunct WEC banner.

Swanson, whose only reply to the idea was a low-key jab, became a father shortly after. Then, another rematch started being rumored – this time with Ricardo Lamas (18-5 MMA, 9-3 UFC), who’d unsuccessfully challenged for Aldo’s belt at UFC 169.

So, where exactly do things stand right now? Head coach and manager Andre Pederneiras explained.

“When we started negotiating way back, it was Cub Swanson,” Pederneiras told MMAjunkie on Friday. “But then he got pregnant. So he wouldn’t be ready for November, (which was) the date we wanted. November or December.

“So when I met someone else, they mentioned Ricardo Lamas’ name. They haven’t confirmed it yet. I think – I think that Lamas didn’t confirm it.”

When alerted to the fact a reporter had already spoken to Lamas, who dismissed the matchup rumors, Pederneiras replied.

“I figured as much,” Pederneiras said. “Because I’m trying to follow up, and they’re not saying anything back. But Aldo wants to fight. And the last thing he heard from my mouth was that it could be Ricardo Lamas and it could be either Nov. 4 or December. So we’re waiting.”

Aldo, who’d talked to reporters earlier that day, didn’t go into specifics of matchup negotiations; instead, he said he was expecting to hear good news from Pederneiras. He was quite clear on one thing, though: He wants to return soon. Hopefully, in New York City.

“It’s a dream of mine to fight there, especially at Madison Square Garden,” Aldo said. “I grew up watching boxers fight there. So, for me to fight at that venue, it’s historic, so I do want to be (at UFC 217).”

As for whom he’d like to meet on Nov. 4, Aldo doesn’t have a personal preference. He wants a fight – whether that means facing 145-pound contenders like Lamas or Swanson, or even accepting longtime lightweight Michael Johnson’s (17-12 MMA, 9-8 UFC) recent invitation to be his first featherweight challenge.

“I think (a matchup with Johnson) is great,” Aldo said. “I see no problem with that. First, you have to talk to (Pederneiras). He’s the one who handles this. The more people saying my name, the better. That’s what keeps me up there. I see no problem.”

So if both Aldo and Johnson are down, it should be simple, right? Let’s just say that, after a learning experience with lightweight contenders Tony Ferguson and Khabib Nurmagomedov, Pederneiras is skeptical as to how this one is going to pan out.

“Everyone talks,” Pederneiras said. “(But) when it’s go time, everyone stays behind the curtains. These guys, what they say in front of the cameras, they don’t say behind it – and these are words by the matchmakers.”

Before the loss to Holloway, Aldo had repeatedly expressed another desire: trying his hand at the 155-pound division. That, it turns out, is not yet out of the picture. But it seems the former champion has some unfinished business to tend to first.

“We have this idea of moving up,” Pederneiras said. “But Aldo wants to try the title for a third time. (He wants to) fight for the belt again. We think there’s a good chance. Because in my head, Frankie Edgar is going to beat Holloway. Because their games don’t go together. And then (Aldo) would have a third stab at the belt. He can win the title and then move up.”

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

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Source: MMA Junkie

Jose Aldo: No moral victory for Conor McGregor in TKO loss to Floyd Mayweather

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RIO DE JANEIRO – Among the mostly positive feedback from the MMA community after Conor McGregor’s display in his loss to Floyd Mayweather, some of the lightweight champ’s UFC peers stood out for somewhat saltier responses.

One of them was former featherweight champion Jose Aldo, whose series of laugh-crying emojis in the moments after the 10th-round TKO stoppage spoke louder than words. (via Twitter)

Speaking on the matter for the first time Friday, Aldo offered an explanation for the tweets – or something close to that.

“First of all, I didn’t even watch the fight,” Aldo said during the launch of one of his burger shops in Rio de Janeiro. “I was at a football game. It’s a No. 1 sport for me. I’m very passionate about it – Rams and Chargers. So I didn’t even watch the fight. I don’t know. I have people who take care of my social media.

“I can’t even talk about what happened, because I didn’t watch the fight. I talked about it a lot. I was surrounded by boxers where I was, and they talked about the fight. But I didn’t watch it myself.”

Asked directly if that mean he wasn’t the one who tweeted it out, Aldo went with misdirection.

“You know every athlete has people who handle their social media – who work their social media,” Aldo said.

Aldo (26-3 MMA, 8-2 UFC) and McGregor (21-3 MMA, 9-1 UFC) don’t have the friendliest of pasts. Before their UFC 194 fight – which ended with McGregor snapping Aldo’s decade-long unbeaten streak and taking the featherweight belt –  the two traded some serious barbs for months.

Aldo, who just returned home after a stint sharpening up his own boxing skills in California, says he still hasn’t had a chance to watch “The Money Fight.” But as he got home from the game, he got updates about what was happening from a friend.

And the ex-champ says he wasn’t particularly surprised when he caught wind of the result.

“I spent this entire time with them, and they said that was going to happen,” Aldo said. “Conor doesn’t have good cardio, and (they) knew he’s not used to boxing. Mayweather was closed up, just waiting for the time to pounce. The guy hadn’t fought for two years.

“A lot of people talk a lot of crap, like, ‘Oh, he landed many more blows than (Manny) Pacquiao or (Miguel) Cotto and everyone.’ But no one says that (Mayweather) didn’t fight for two years. He didn’t even prepare for the fight. He knew, like everyone at the gym said, that it would be very hard (for McGregor to win) – very, very hard.”

While McGregor did in fact succumb to Mayweather, as most expected, the fact that he managed to survive 10 rounds against the undefeated boxer drew praise from many of his peers. Considering it was McGregor’s professional boxing debut – and all the odds against him – some would say the result was a moral victory.

That group, it turns out, does not include Aldo.

“Of course not,” Aldo said. “Moral? First of all, you try to prove that with someone who’s almost 41, who’s been away (from the sport). Of course, it was a money fight. A moral victory would have been taking on an active boxer, a champion, and then fought him. And then you’d see how he would barely last a round. Because it’s an entirely different sport. We need to put ourselves in our places.

“I’m an MMA athlete. I can’t go tomorrow and say I’m going to do muay Thai in Thailand with a Thai fighter, because I can punch and kick well. There’s no way. Each one in their places. I respect martial arts, so I put myself in my place. I don’t see a moral victory.”

Aldo’s outlook on the showdown is not entirely grim. On the bright side, the former 145-pound kingpin believes it brought added eyeballs to MMA – which, in turn, might translate to some heftier paydays for all parties involved.

“I’m happy he did a big fight, and I think it promoted MMA,” Aldo said. “I’m happy because of that. But as for the fight itself? Nobody liked the way it happened. They thought it was a circus. I don’t know what they’re saying (in Brazil), but in America that was the comment – that it was a circus fight.”

Aldo had made no secret of his interest in starting out a boxing career of his own. In his case, though, he says he wants to start from the bottom and make his way up. Immersing himself in this universe, he explained, did light up a spark in him – but it also showed him how much he has to learn.

“I trained with champions at the gym, at Robert Garcia’s,” Aldo said. “There were practically only champions (there). I got to spar and to train with them and see how boxing is. I don’t think I have the level today to go in there and challenge a champion. First of all, I don’t think I even have the nerve to challenge someone. I think I respect it.

“I think there are many people who have been training their entire lives to get there and fight for a world title in boxing. I’d rather start from scratch and go step-by-step, not disrespecting anyone. Because I think this way I can make it much further.”

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

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Source: MMA Junkie

Luck of the Irish: 7 things that broke Conor McGregor's way to land huge Floyd Mayweather payday

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Here we are on the eve of a fight that, when you really think about it, has no business happening. A 49-0 boxer vs. an 0-0 boxer in a boxing match. How could the Nevada State Athletic Commission have possibly sanctioned this?

And yet, UFC lightweight champion Conor McGregor (21-3 MMA, 9-1 UFC) and boxing legend Floyd Mayweather (49-0 boxing) will face off Saturday night at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas in a pay-per-view event expected to be the most lucrative prize fight of all time.

Because that’s really what this is all about: money. A while back – the day McGregor was issued a California boxing license, in fact – is when I truly started to accept the possibility of this fight happening. It still kind of stuns me that it actually is, though.

We know Mayweather could fight whoever he wants any time. McGregor, on the other hand, had to put in a lot of work to reach this life-changing payday that could earn him $100 million, which remains only a dream for every other UFC fighter.

So how did “The Notorious” get here? How exactly did McGregor pull this off? Hard work is one answer. But you don’t break a barrier like this and make a once-thought-to-be-only fantasy fight simply with hard work.

Plenty of luck was involved, too, and here are seven things that broke McGregor’s way:

Only needing to beat Dennis Siver to earn a title shot

Conor McGregor and Dennis Siver at UFC Fight Night 59.

When McGregor fought Dennis Siver at UFC Fight Night 59 on Jan. 18, 2015, Siver already was 36 years old and on the down slope of his career. Ranked No. 10 in the UFC rankings at the time, Siver was 3-2-1 in his previous six bouts, the no-contest coming as a result of an overturned win thanks to a failed drug test.

Somehow, though, the decision was made that a win in this fight would earn McGregor a UFC title shot?

McGregor had yet to beat anyone ranked ahead of him (he was No. 5) and without a signature win to date. While some might point to current featherweight champion Max Holloway as a notable win, Holloway was just a 21-year-old kid and nowhere near the fighter he is today. Simply having to beat an aging Siver, which McGregor did via second-round TKO, to earn a title shot was a clear indicator that the UFC was eager to push him into the spotlight – and it worked.

Chad Mendes replacing Joe Aldo at UFC 189

Conor Mcgregor and Chad Mendes at UFC 189. (USA TODAY Sports)

McGregor and Jose Aldo embarked on a wild and crazy six-city, five-country world tour to promote their UFC 189 featherweight title fight, which is why it was such a shame that Aldo had to withdraw late.

And so on less than two weeks notice, Chad Mendes took the opportunity to face McGregor for an interim title. Mendes spent the first round taking down McGregor pretty easily and employed some solid ground-and-pound that even cut him open. But it was clear in between rounds that Mendes already was starting to gas out. His lack of cardio on short notice wouldn’t suffice for his grinding wrestling style. Sure enough, it didn’t, and McGregor capitalized with a TKO finish near the end of Round 2 by landing some hard combinations that turtled up an exhausted Mendes.

Given how that first round went, though, it makes you wonder what might’ve happened if Mendes was on a full camp.

Knocking out Jose Aldo in 13 seconds at UFC 194

Conor McGregor finishes Jose Aldo at UFC 194. (USA TODAY Sports)

There was an added benefit to Aldo pulling out of his first scheduled fight with McGregor: It gave him an extra five months get under Aldo’s skin with his trash-talk and antics during the build-up.

When they finally met at UFC 194, Aldo did something he normally wouldn’t and came out firing in the opening moments, head forward, chin out. It was reckless and provided all the momentum McGregor needed to catch him with a short left hand that knocked him out cold in just 13 seconds. The crazy thing is that Aldo actually landed, as well, but it simply didn’t faze McGregor.

Why do I chalk up this fair-and-square win as a lucky break for McGregor? I’ll answer my own question with a question: Would we have seen the same result or anything close to it if they had rematched? “Getting caught” is a phrase we use in MMA for a reason. It happened to Aldo on this night.

Getting a Nate Diaz rematch we didn’t need

Nate Diaz and Conor McGregor after their UFC 202 fight. (USA TODAY Sports)

UFC President Dana White is right about McGregor’s willingness to fight anyone, any time, anywhere, and I commend him for that. There was no upside to facing Nate Diaz the first time at UFC 196 after Rafael dos Anjos was forced to withdraw from their lightweight title fight on just two weeks notice, but McGregor accepted anyway – at welterweight.

It was a decision that backfired on McGregor, who tapped out to a rear-naked choke in the second round. Business with Diaz should’ve been done there. After all, McGregor was the featherweight champion and had challengers waiting. Rather than defend his title, though, McGregor insisted on a rematch with Diaz at welterweight. It was supposed to headline the UFC’s landmark 200th pay-per-view but fell through when McGregor refused his obligations to promote the fight.

Not even a feud with White would induce punishment on McGregor. The fight still happened at UFC 202 in August of last year, with McGregor winning a hard-fought majority decision in an epic encounter responsible for the most pay-per-view buys in UFC history. It truly was a gutsy performance by McGregor – and Diaz. But did we really need the fight? No. But without that unnecessary opportunity at redemption, the legend of McGregor doesn’t continue to grow and keep us moving toward “The Money Fight.”

Becoming a simultaneous 2-division champion (technically)

Conor McGregor after UFC 205.

By the time McGregor challenged Eddie Alvarez for the lightweight title at UFC 205, he’d held the featherweight division hostage for 11 months by not defending his title even once. McGregor went on to dominate Alvarez and finished him via second-round TKO for the greatest win of his career.

With that, McGregor made history by becoming the first fighter in UFC history to simultaneously hold championships in two divisions. The fact that it happened on the UFC’s biggest stage, in the promotion’s debut at Madison Square Garden in New York, was icing on the cake.

A star was born beyond just MMA thanks to the history-making win. This in-cage achievement is the reason McGregor’s mainstream popularity took off. But if McGregor never intended on defending the featherweight belt in the first place – and make no mistake that he didn’t – doesn’t the “history-making” aspect sort of ring hollow? Holding two belts at the same time is the kind of accolade that starts getting you noticed by Mayweather, though.

Floyd Mayweather actually entertaining the idea of a fight

Floyd Mayweather and Conor McGregor on the New York stop of their world tour. (USA TODAY Sports)

Mayweather had been comfortably retired for more than a year when McGregor started ramping up talk of a boxing match with the former boxing pound-for-pound king. At first, Mayweather viewed it as disrespect to even mention his name in the same breath as McGregor. On the day McGregor was issued his California boxing license, Mayweather Promotions CEO Leonard Ellerbe told ESPN.com “the con game is over,” suggesting McGregor stop trying to use Mayweather’s name for his own gain.

That’s how unrealistic Mayweather-McGregor seemed.

As everyone involved in promoting this fight has reminded us, “the fans wanted this.” There are at least 150 million reasons why Mayweather decided to finally change his mind. Without the previously mentioned string of events, though, to boost McGregor’s profile, he remains a nobody to Mayweather.

Dana White changing his mind

Conor McGregor and Dana White on the Los Angeles stop of the May-Mac world tour. (USA TODAY Sports)

As crazy as it is that Mayweather changed his mind, perhaps nobody has come a longer way than White. Just earlier this year in January, he promised “an epic fall” if McGregor wanted to defy the UFC and move forward with trying to box Mayweather. Now? The UFC president is McGregor’s No. 1 fan, reminding us often that he calls him “The Unicorn” and warning anyone not to doubt his top draw.

What a time to be alive.

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

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Conor McGregor '100 percent' still considers himself both UFC lightweight, featherweight champ

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Conor McGregor’s message to the UFC is still “you’re fooling nobody.”

Although the UFC lightweight champion hasn’t appeared in the octagon since last November and has never defended either of the two tiles he’s won, McGregor said he “100 percent” considers himself the champion of both divisions.

“I mean, how can I not consider myself the UFC featherweight world champion and the UFC lightweight world champion?” McGregor (21-3 MMA, 9-1 UFC) said Wednesday during a conference call promoting his foray into boxing against Floyd Mayweather (49-0 boxing) on Aug. 26 at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.

When it comes to his status in the UFC, McGregor’s reasoning is simple: He owns the 155-pound title and has beat the guy holding the 145-pound belt.

“The current UFC (featherweight) champion is Max Holloway, a man I dismantled. And the former was Jose Aldo. I still reign supreme over that division. And then also the 155-pound division. I know there’s talk of an interim belt. I won that belt and literally one month later there was an interim scheduled.

“But it is what it is. Everyone knows I am the multiple world champion of the UFC featherweight division and lightweight division. I look forward to coming back and continuing where I left off.”

As McGregor’s boxing conquest draws nearer, the UFC plans to crown a new interim lightweight champion after an ill-fated attempt earlier this year. Tony Ferguson will get his second shot at gold when he faces Kevin Lee at UFC 216, which takes place Oct. 7 at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.

Ferguson was scheduled to fight for the interim belt in March at UFC 209, but opponent Khabib Nurmagomedov was forced to withdraw the day before after being hospitalized due to a bad weight cut. Ferguson and Nurmagomedov both have tried to talk their way into a fight with McGregor, no doubt seeking the lightweight title and a lucrative payout with the UFC’s biggest draw.

McGregor is expected to take home at least $75 million for his boxing match with Mayweather, who on Tuesday said he’ll make a staggering $350 million if the event sells as planned.

Holloway isn’t pining for McGregor’s return. In fact, he thinks the Irish champ won’t ever fight MMA again after making such a huge payday against Mayweather. A title defense against ex-lightweight champ Frankie Edgar is likely next on Holloway’s list.

So, the 145-pound and 155-pound classes are moving on in McGregor’s wake. He left quite a stamp on both.

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

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Cub Swanson has interesting response to ex-champ Jose Aldo's sudden interest in rematch

Cub Swanson has heard about Jose Aldo’s interest in fighting him. And he feels some type of way about the timing of it.

Nearly two months after a title-costing TKO loss to Max Holloway at UFC 212, former featherweight champ Aldo (26-3 MMA, 8-2 UFC) said he would like an octagon return before November – and that, as far as targets go, Swanson (25-7 MMA, 10-3 UFC) would fit the bill.

The meeting, of course, would be a rematch – their first bout, which took place over eight years at WEC 41, ended in less than 10 seconds thanks to Aldo’s perfectly-placed knees. Now, Aldo’s the one coming off a loss. And Swanson is riding a four-fight streak – including two “Fight of the Night” battles – since his own loss to Holloway and has been making the case for his first UFC title shot.

In light of this turn of events, Swanson took to Twitter – and the ancient art of GIF expression – to issue a response.

The matchup does carry some logic, though. Despite Swanson’s pleas, it seems like former lightweight champion Frankie Edgar will be the one challenging for Holloway’s 145-pound belt. And, currently ranked No. 6 in the USA TODAY Sports/MMAjunkie MMA featherweight rankings, Swanson could do worse than No. 2 Aldo.

Aldo, in turn, would be involved in his first non-title fight since he joined the UFC as its original 145-pound champion back in 2011. He’s now lost two of his past three fights – a UFC 200 win over Frankie Edgar sandwiched in between the TKO to Holloway and a knockout to lightweight champ Conor McGregor.

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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