Category Archives: Khabib Nurmagomedov

Khabib Nurmagomedov expects Lee-Ferguson winner in December – and says so in super polite way


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

In the verbal battle that seems to have become the norm atop the UFC’s lightweight division, contender Khabib Nurmagomedov has brought out a rather unique weapon.

It appears to be … niceness?

“I know (Tony Ferguson and Kevin Lee) talk (expletive) about everybody, but I don’t want this,” Nurmagomedov said. “I know this: Both guys are great athletes, good fighters. I’m going to say good luck, don’t get injured, and see you in December. Good luck, guys.”

Nurmagomedov isn’t exactly off when discussing his opponent’s aggressive ways; he’s someone who’s been called everything from “(expletive) lazy” to simply “a (expletive).” But it’s not like the Dagestani fighter has been particularly shy about throwing some shade of his own when he feels so inclined.

While now it’s Ferguson (22-3 MMA, 12-1 UFC) and Lee (16-2 MMA, 9-2 UFC) who have a date set – they fight on Oct. 7 at UFC 216 with the interim 155-pound title on the line – Nurmagomedov remains a constant presence in the title conversation of a weight division ruled by a somewhat elusive champion in Conor McGregor.

With lightweight champion Conor McGregor’s return plans still unknown and the ever-present ghost of injuries hovering above the roster, it’s hard to foresee how the title picture is going to look like a few months from now.

But it seems Nurmagomedov, who was supposed to have had his chance at interim belt before weight issues took him off a scheduled UFC 209 bout with Ferguson, is expecting to meet the victor of October’s encounter as soon as December.

And who would that be, he thinks?

It’s “60-40 in favor of Ferguson,” Nurmagomedov said. “I think these guys are going to fight all five rounds.”

To hear from Nurmagomedov, check out the video above.

And for more on UFC 216, 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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Filed under: Blue Corner, Featured Videos, News, UFC, Videos
Source: MMA Junkie

Manager: Conor McGregor wants Nate Diaz trilogy, but Ferguson, Lee, Khabib and Holloway options


Filed under: Featured, News, UFC, Videos

LAS VEGAS – Conor McGregor won’t be taking a departure from the combat sports scene following his loss to Floyd Mayweather in “The Money Fight” on Saturday.

McGregor (21-3 MMA, 9-1 UFC, 0-1 boxing), who suffered a 10th-round TKO loss to Mayweather (50-0 boxing) in the pay-per-view headliner at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, earned a guaranteed $30 million payday. That amount of money (with more on the way) led some to believe he would vanish from fighting. But his manager, Audie Attar, said that’s far from the case.

Although McGregor said he was undecided about having his next fight in boxing or MMA during “The Money Fight” post-fight news conference, Attar alluded to the likelihood of the UFC lightweight champion returning to the octagon to defend his belt next.

Who will he fight, though? A trilogy with Nate Diaz (19-11 MMA, 14-9 UFC) is one possibility, as is a showdown with the winner of October’s interim lightweight title fight between Tony Ferguson (22-3 MMA, 12-1 UFC) and Kevin Lee (16-2 MMA, 9-2 UFC) at UFC 216. Top contender Khabib Nurmagomedov (24-0 MMA, 8-0 UFC) is also an option; the same can be said for a rematch with UFC featherweight titleholder Max Holloway (18-3 MMA, 14-3 UFC).

The world is essentially McGregor’s oyster, and Attar said that’s a good problem to have.

“He wants that trilogy (with Diaz),” Attar told MMAjunkie. “You’ve got Khabib calling him out, then you obviously have Tony Ferguson and Kevin Lee who are fighting for the interim lightweight title. You have Max Holloway, who is the 145 champ now, who Conor beat after blowing out his ACL at the beginning of the fight. You have options, and he loves mixed martial arts.

“Everyone is like, ‘Oh, he’s going to retire – he made so much money.’ He’s ambitious. He’s super ambitious, and he loves to fight. He loves to compete and he’s a superb professional athlete. So there’s much more of Conor McGregor that everybody will see, and we’ll see what’s next.”

Despite the contest not going his way, Attar said the entire experience of the Mayweather fight was genuinely special. The ultimate goal was victory, but considering McGregor probably shouldn’t have even been in the ring with Mayweather, let alone take a few rounds from the future boxing Hall of Famer, Attar said there’s nothing to be ashamed of.

“We proved the naysayers wrong in more than one way,” Attar said. “Whether it was to step in the ring against Floyd Mayweather in a boxing match or whether it was to land punches, or whether it was to go as far as we did … Ultimately, look – we felt it was an early stoppage. But nonetheless, hat goes off to Floyd – it was his night. You’re going up against arguably the greatest boxer of our generation, in his sport. I’m proud of Conor.”

Attar said McGregor is nowhere near content with the result, though.

“He’s so critical of himself,” Attar said. “He’s already watching film and dissecting his performance and what went wrong and it really reminded me of (the first) Diaz fight. You saw him there, humble in defeat, retool, learn, grew, came back in the rematch and looked like a different fighter. It kind of had that feeling. Bittersweet, but nonetheless I’m super happy for him.”

McGregor’s immediate plans after the Mayweather fight included indulging in a bottle of his new brand of Irish whiskey. The when and wheres of his future beyond that are uncertain, but Attar said he’s going to do his best to ensure McGregor gets exactly what he wants.

“It’s whatever makes him happy,” Attar said. “Every client has his own goals, but I know he has some very bold ambitions and I’m excited to be a part of that and help him realize his dreams as I do with all my clients. You want each client to realize their own dreams.”

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

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

UFC interim title challenger Kevin Lee says Khabib b-tched out and doesn't want to fight,AAAABvaL8JE~,ufBHq_I6FnxR-PQW_F3sm5QdUbP7D6E9&bctid=5545318395001
Filed under: Featured, News, UFC, Videos

How did UFC lightweight Kevin Lee end up fighting Tony Ferguson for the interim title at UFC 216?

According to Lee, the promotion called, and he said yes. That’s the short version.

As for how he got the opportunity over Khabib Nurmagomedov, there’s a different explanation – one less flattering to the undefeated contender.

“We can cut the (expletive) – (Nurmagomedov’s) just being a (expletive) about it,” Lee (16-2 MMA, 9-2 UFC) today told MMAjunkie Radio. “He just doesn’t want to fight. Bottom line, he doesn’t want to fight.

“He wants to hold on to that imaginary zero that he’s got.”

Nurmagomedov (24-0 MMA, 8-0 UFC) did appear to have the inside track on the next interim lightweight title shot. UFC President Dana White said a green light from the UFC Performance Institute would trigger a fourth attempted booking with Ferguson (23-3 MMA, 13-1 UFC). Over Twitter, the rivals took more shots at each other about a potential booking for UFC 217.

But according to White, Nurmagomedov is “not ready.

Nurmagomedov’s manager, Ali Abdelaziz, declined comment on the reasons why his client can’t take the fight. He said the plan is for Nurmagomedov to face the winner of Lee vs. Ferguson and then unify the title against champ Conor McGregor. But he cautioned “a lot of things can happen.”

Abdelaziz deflected Lee’s talk and predicted he will beat Ferguson at UFC 216, which takes place Oct. 7 at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.

“I think he should focus on Tony,”Abdelaziz said. “He shouldn’t even care about Khabib.”

Lee, meanwhile, believes making weight still is a problem for Nurmagomedov and dismissed his issues at the scale, which led to the cancellation of an interim title bout against Ferguson at UFC 209.

“I’m bigger than Khabib,” Lee said. “You stand me next to him – I’m 186 pounds right now, and I’m going to make the weight. I usually start at 188, 189.”

He also implied Ferguson is too big a threat for Nurmagomedov.

“Everybody knows – if you ask any fighter in this division, Tony is the toughest fight in this division,” Lee said. “Hands down. To me, he’s the real champ. You can say McGregor’s the champ, because he’s that on paper. But the man only has one fight. Tony’s got 11, 12? He’s already got double-digit fights in the (UFC’s) lightweight division.”

It’s that kind of challenge Lee said he’s pursuing as he fights his way to the title. Still, when it comes to the real pecking order at 155 pounds, he has no doubt where he stands.

“I’m (going to expletive) Tony Ferguson up,” Lee said. “There’s a reason why none of these dudes put my name in their mouth.”

For more on UFC 216, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.

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Source: MMA Junkie

Twitter Mailbag: How big a deal are these eight-ounce gloves for McGregor and Mayweather?,AAAABvaL8JE~,ufBHq_I6FnxR-PQW_F3sm5QdUbP7D6E9&bctid=5542932196001
Filed under: News, UFC

How much difference will two ounces really make on the fists of McGregor and Mayweather? Why does the UFC middleweight champion still get no respect? With a UFC interim lightweight title bout scheduled, where’s “The Eagle” when you need him?

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

The big deal here isn’t the what, it’s the why. Is there a difference between using eight-ounce gloves and 10-ounce ones? Sure there is. (For a more detailed answer on that, I’d recommend this Twitter thread.) But the big issue here is the Nevada State Athletic Commission reversing what it had previously described as a vital safety rule, and without any very good explanation for why.

The Association of Ringside Physicians came out against the glove switch. The commission itself had said it would need to be presented with compelling evidence in order to issue a waiver. That didn’t happen, but the NSAC issued the waiver anyway. Then it tacked on a request that the gloves be turned over to the commission after the fight, ostensibly for a “study” on the effects of glove size. That this study would also give the commission possession of valuable sports memorabilia seems like a happy accident.

Both Conor McGregor and Floyd Mayweather are enthusiastically supportive of the glove switch, and it might not make a huge difference in the end. But it is worth asking why the NSAC even has these rules if it will throw them out the window the instant the big money draws ask it to.

This was a social media post that snowballed into an actual rule change. As much as the commission said it didn’t want to be used in any stunts to keep the hype alive, that’s it exactly what it did here, and without putting up much of a fight. Kind of makes you wonder what these people wouldn’t agree to for the sake of a dollar.

I don’t want to speak for everyone, but yes, we do all want that. But according to UFC President Dana White, Khabib Nurmagomedov still isn’t ready. That leaves us with Tony Ferguson vs. Kevin Lee in an interim title fight that’s interesting and all, but is bound to lack that title fight feel.

What it’s going to feel like instead is a fight in which the UFC had a date and an interim belt, and it filled in the names based on availability. The reason it will feel like that is because that’s exactly what it is.

Still, right now the UFC has the advantage of working with a division that’s loaded with talent. It would almost be hard to make a bad fight at 155 pounds right now. That’s good, since who knows if or when the real champ will ever return from his epic payday. It’s not hard to imagine that interim belt suddenly morphing into the real thing.

I think we all kind of get it, even if we also kind of don’t. Even before he had the UFC middleweight title, Michael Bisping was a much better fighter than he got credit for. It’s partially due to his personality – a lot people, fighters and fans, just don’t like him, and therefore don’t want to admit that he has legit skills – but it’s also a question of style.

You look at a lot of Bisping’s biggest victories and you see fights with too much room for debate. The knockout win over Luke Rockhold is a glaring exception to most of his recent work, where he won by small margins after nearly losing. That’s how it went against Anderson Silva. It was a similar story in his lone title defense against Dan Henderson.

And that’s the other thing, which is that his reign as middleweight champ isn’t exactly helping him. He’s had the belt for over a year now and has defended it only once, somewhat unconvincingly, against a non-contender who was rapidly closing in on senior citizen discount territory. That’s not the kind of thing that’s going to earn you a ton of respect.

The question is whether the Georges St-Pierre fight will offer him a better opportunity in that regard. On one hand, St-Pierre was a pound-for-pound great and a legend in the division below Bisping. But if Bisping wins, I’m sure a lot of people will write it off to GSP’s age and time off, not to mention the fact that he’s not even a middleweight.

In that sense, it’s kind of a no-win situation for Bisping. In the financial sense, however, it’s exactly the opposite, which explains how we ended up here.

I’m not sure it’s going to change anybody’s viewing habits, but now would be a fair time to ask the UFC president if he’s reconsidering his support, especially since a lot of CEOs have sprinted away from Donald Trump after his response to the unrest in Charlottesville over the weekend.

I feel like I already know what White would say. He’d probably give us the same spiel about how he’s not really political, and he only gave that speech to help out a friend who had helped him out in the past.

And sure, that will placate people up to a point. But when other business leaders have raced to publicly distance themselves from Trump, it might be time to start wondering if we’ve finally passed that point.

If McGregor beats Mayweather, chances are he’ll have to knock him out. And if he knocks out the best boxer in a generation, giving him his first career loss and beating him at his own game the first time out? Then forget fighter, I don’t see how you don’t crown him athlete of the year.

That’s a very good question. Ronda Rousey was tested nine times in 2016, according to the online USADA test history database. As far as we know, she hasn’t officially retired, so she should still be subject to testing, especially since USADA is still looking for other inactive but not technically retired fighters, such as Nick Diaz.

Yesterday I sent an email to USADA to ask if there’s any reason it is suddenly way less interested in Rousey, but so far I haven’t heard back. I suppose it’s possible that her number just hasn’t come up yet this year. But the more time passes, the less plausible that explanation is going to be.

Seriously? This one is really hard for me to pick. A few years ago and forget it, even with the size difference you’ve got to take St-Pierre all day. But the man’s been gone for nearly four years, all while time has marched brutally onward. It’s true that he doesn’t seem like the type to let himself get too out of shape, and clearly he wasn’t about to rush (ha) his return, even if it jeopardized (in theory) his chances of getting the fight.

But still, we have to admit that we’re just guessing when it comes to what GSP will look like in the cage now. Bisping isn’t an easy guy to take down, and if St-Pierre’s timing is off it could spell trouble for him. Plus, while Bisping isn’t exactly known as a knockout artist against middleweights, he might have more power than we think when he’s throwing at a welterweight. If you make me pick right now, I guess I’ve got to go with the champ.

It depends. What does success look like for a weekly internet fight show? Dana White’s Contender Series is filmed in a gym and the fighters make about half the typical UFC minimum, so it’s relatively cheap to make. And if it helps the UFC lock down some talent or snag some Fight Pass subscribers, that might be all it takes to justify the pretty meager expense. Maybe the better question is, what would failure even look like for something like this?

If you had the ability to be at or near the top of either sport, I can’t imagine why you’d pick MMA. In addition to the differences in pay and contractual restrictions, there are just so many more ways to get hurt in MMA. For a long time we’ve told ourselves that boxers suffer more head trauma over the long term, and that may be true, but it’s not like MMA fighters suffer none, plus I know plenty of MMA retirees who are limping around on bad joints after years of grappling in the gym and the cage.

Also, notice how MMA fighters keep calling out boxing champs, trying to get a piece of that pie now that they see how well it’s working for McGregor? Notice how you don’t see so many boxers trying to do the same thing in reverse? That ought to tell us something.

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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Source: MMA Junkie

Conor McGregor '100 percent' still considers himself both UFC lightweight, featherweight champ,AAAABvaL8JE~,ufBHq_I6FnxR-PQW_F3sm5QdUbP7D6E9&bctid=5541881052001
Filed under: Featured, News, UFC

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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Source: MMA Junkie

UFC's Tony Ferguson and Khabib Nurmagomedov in new round of online beef – or is it tiramisu?

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After so many months of back-and-forth, it’s almost refreshing to see that lightweight contenders Tony Ferguson and Khabib Nurmagomedov haven’t run out of creativity yet.

Ferguson (22-3 MMA, 12-1 UFC) and Nurmagomedov (24-0 MMA, 8-0 UFC) had a few near-misses when it comes to meeting in the octagon, but at UFC 209 the two went as far weigh-in day before something went awry. That something, we know, turned out to be Nurmagomedov’s weight cut, which landed him at the hospital and had the interim title fight removed from the card.

While Ferguson took the classy route then, he hasn’t turned out many chances to take jabs at Nurmagomedov’s weight status. And, this Tuesday, he added some crafty visuals to go with the habitual verbal offense (via Facebook).

The two had also exchanged some words on Twitter that day. After another tiramisu-related montage by Ferguson, Nurmagomedov said he was waiting for the fellow contender in New York – presumably UFC 217, set to take place at Madison Square Garden on Nov. 4.

When Ferguson retorted that a possible matchup had already been turned down by Nurmagomedov’s manager, the Dagestani contender said there was no need for a third party to speak on his behalf. And, this morning, Nurmagomedov reiterated his desire for the meeting.

Whether we’ll ever get to see that matchup remains to be seen. But we can’t really blame the fans for being skeptical.

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.

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

Conor McGregor: I'd like to fight Khabib Nurmagomedov; Nate Diaz trilogy 'also on my mind',AAAABvaL8JE~,ufBHq_I6FnxR-PQW_F3sm5QdUbP7D6E9&bctid=5508451771001
Filed under: Featured, Featured Videos, News, UFC, Videos

LONDON – Will UFC lightweight champion Conor McGregor return to MMA after potentially making $100 million for his boxing superfight with Floyd Mayweather? That question seems to be on the minds of many.

It especially was late last month when UFC President Dana White caused a stir after telling MMAjunkie that McGregor (21-3 MMA, 9-1 UFC) wishes to defend his title in against Khabib Nurmagomedov (24-0 MMA, 8-0 UFC) in December.

In Russia.

McGregor’s coach, John Kavanagh, seemed to corroborate that story this week when he said McGregor “seems very, very motivated to go to Russia in December” but without specifically mentioning Nurmagomedov as an opponent.

On Friday, following the final press conference of the Mayweather vs. McGregor world tour in London, “The Notorious” sort of cleared the air on a potential bout with “The Eagle” in Russia.

“It’s certainly one of the things I would like to do,” McGregor told MMAjunkie backstage at SSE Arena Wembley. “Whether it’s next, I don’t know. I don’t even know how close the Russia thing is. Whether Khabib can pull his (expletive) together; he missed weight.”

If not Nurmagomedov, McGregor has no shortage of options, with Tony Ferguson (23-3 MMA, 13-1 UFC) and Edson Barboza (19-4 MMA, 13-4 UFC) also possible contenders.

“There’s a few of them in the mix,” McGregor said. “A few of them need to pull their (expletive) together, though, and get interest going and get me interested. Right now I don’t actually see anything.”

But then McGregor dropped this line that’s sure to perk up Nate Diaz.

“That Diaz trilogy is also on my mind,” he said.

If money is McGregor’s primary motivation upon his return to the UFC, then Diaz (19-11 MMA, 14-9 UFC) as his first title defense would seemingly make the most sense. The their two headliners last year were responsible for two of the top three best selling UFC pay-per-views of all time. The rematch at UFC 202, which McGregor won via majority decision, is No. 1 all time. Diaz choked out McGregor in their first encounter at UFC 196, which is No. 3 all time.

Diaz has declined fight offers from the UFC since the loss. He’s also been outspokenly against the Mayweather-McGregor fight, which McGregor doesn’t understand.

“He should really be thankful,” McGregor said. “Before he fought me he was (getting paid) 20,000 to show and 20,000 to win. His 19th fight in the UFC, and he was on 40 grand. Now he’s a multi-millionaire. So, I don’t know why he’s sitting there so bitter. Maybe them smacks he took in that rematch messed with his head a little bit. I hope not, but I think they did.”

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

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Source: MMA Junkie

Tony Ferguson believes '(expletive) lazy' Khabib Nurmagomedov is setting himself up to fail,AAAABvaL8JE~,ufBHq_I6FnxR-PQW_F3sm5QdUbP7D6E9&bctid=5506590479001
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UFC lightweight title contender Tony Ferguson applauds the idea of the UFC sending Khabib Nurmagomedov to the promotion’s Performance Institute. But if Nurmagomedov waits until his next fight camp to get there, Ferguson believes it will be for naught.

“I think wholeheartedly the Performance Institute is a good idea, but if he wants to wait until fall to do that, I think you’re preparing for failure,” Ferguson told MMAjunkie Radio. “You need to get your ass there now.

“Learn how to count some calories and actually give a (expletive) for your weight. I understand he doesn’t need money to fight – then retire. (Expletive) go away, man. You want to fight at 170, you want make a superfight, well we can handle that.”

Ferguson (23-3 MMA, 13-1 UFC) is waiting on his next booking after his pay-per-view co-headliner against Nurmagomedov (24-0 MMA, 8-0 UFC) at UFC 209 was canceled when a bad weight cut forced Nurmagomedov to withdraw.

A title fight with champ Conor McGregor is obviously Ferguson’s preference, but McGregor is tied up with a boxing match against Floyd Mayweather. Ferguson said the Irish champ made sure to avoid a confrontation when he crashed the first press conference Tuesday in Los Angeles.

Although his fight with Nurmagomedov has been canceled three times, Ferguson is still open to the idea of an interim title bout with the Dagestani fighter, even if he remains skeptical whether it will happen.

Ferguson called Nurmagomedov “(expletive) lazy” and said of his weight cut, “There is a right way to do it, and I think the old-school way that they’re doing it needs to be upgraded.”

That’s presumably where the Performance Institute comes in. This past weekend, UFC President Dana White said Nurmagomedov will get access to nutritionists and other sports therapists to ensure he’s able to safely make 155 pounds.


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Source: MMA Junkie

Did John Kavanagh double down on Conor McGregor wanting Khabib Nurmagomedov in Russia?,AAAABvaL8JE~,ufBHq_I6FnxR-PQW_F3sm5QdUbP7D6E9&bctid=5506632927001
Filed under: Featured, Featured Videos, News, UFC, Videos

GLASGOW – Conor McGregor’s coach said the UFC lightweight champion is “very motivated” to return to the octagon in December after his boxing match with Floyd Mayweather.

And if we’re picking up what John Kavanagh is putting down, it turns out Khabib Nurmagomedov (24-0 MMA, 8-0 UFC) is indeed McGregor’s No. 1 target.

“He seems very, very motivated to go to Russia in December,” Kavanagh told reporters during media day for UFC Fight Night 113, which takes place Sunday at SSE Hydro in Glasgow, Scotland. “I don’t know if he’s been watching Rocky IV or something like that.”

Since McGregor (21-3 MMA, 9-1 UFC) booked a blockbuster fight with boxing champ Floyd Mayweather (49-0 boxing) , a growing chorus of fighters and industry professionals have questioned whether the UFC champ will return to the octagon if “The Money Fight” cashes in as expected.

But UFC President Dana White told MMAjunkie that not only does McGregor plan to continue fighting in MMA, he wants to take on the opponent many in the MMA world believe to be his toughest possible challenge.

“He said, ‘I want Khabib in Russia,’” White said this past month in an exclusive interview. “Isn’t he (expletive) awesome? He’s awesome. Conor McGregor is a (expletive) unicorn. There’s nothing like him. He’s working on boxing Floyd Mayweather and then he’s talking about fighting Khabib in Russia right after.”

With that said, White has cautioned there’s no way to be sure of McGregor’s plans – the Irish champ is a pretty unpredictable guy. And White did say this past weekend that he wanted to see Nurmagomedov finally face off with top contender Tony Ferguson (23-3 MMA, 13-1 UFC). After Nurmagomedov got some education on proper weight-cutting at the
UFC Performance Institute, White said he wanted to give the matchup another shot.

Still, McGregor’s longtime coach and confidant is a pretty good source when it comes to McGregor’s plans. The pair wrapped the first phase of training for “The Money Fight” and will be back at it next week, trying to formulate the plan that will turn the combat sports world on its head.

Right now, McGregor is trying to get inside Mayweather’s head as the two embark on a four-city tour in support of the pay-per-view headliner at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.

Although most industry veterans say McGregor has no chance against Mayweather, boxing’s pound-for-pound great, Kavanagh said the transition from MMA to boxing is not as difficult as most make it out to be.

“(McGregor is) not trying to win Wimbledon – it’s not that different,” he said. “The understanding of range and how to move around, a lot of his fights have ended with that left hand. It’s not completely different.”

For more on “The Money Fight: Floyd Mayweather vs. Conor McGregor” and UFC Fight Night 113, check out the MMA Rumors section of the site.

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Source: MMA Junkie

Ferguson-Nurmagomedov top choice for White – but Ferguson-Gaethje also intriguing

Filed under: News, UFC

LAS VEGAS – The thrice-canceled bout between Khabib Nurmagomedov and Tony Ferguson may get a fourth attempt.

But if Nurmagomedov (24-0 MMA, 8-0 UFC) isn’t able to solve the issues that led him to withdraw from the third attempted booking, newly minted star Justin Gaethje (18-0 MMA, 1-0 UFC) could take his place.

UFC President Dana White said Gaethje’s callout of Ferguson (23-3 MMA, 13-1 UFC) – and Ferguson’s response – didn’t prompt him to immediately make the fight. He had other things in mind.

“I actually still want to see Khabib vs. Tony,” White said on Saturday. “It doesn’t have to happen first, but I’d kind of like to see it.

“I know that Khabib is set up to come to Las Vegas and go to the (UFC) Performance Institute and work with the nutritionists there and therapists. But if he’s not ready to fight, I’d go Gaethje and Tony.”

Gaethje made a sensational debut Friday at The Ultimate Fighter 25 Finale, bringing the house to its feet with a back-and-forth battle with Michael Johnson (17-12 MMA, 9-8 UFC) in the FS1-televised headliner. After getting rocked multiple times, he walked away with a second-round TKO to stay unbeaten.

Afterward, Gaethje welcomed any potential foe and estimated he had one or two fights before being ready to vie for a title. But he specifically targeted Ferguson as his ideal opponent for an interim title bout, even though he thought Ferguson wouldn’t accept.

One day later, he was proven wrong when Ferguson responded – with the caveat that the fight would have to be for an interim title.

As it turns out, Gaethje may have to wait for Ferguson. But in the meantime, White said, there are plenty of good options on the table in the lightweight division while current champ Conor McGregor is focused on his upcoming boxing mega-fight with Floyd Mayweather.

For complete coverage of The Ultimate Fighter 25 Finale, check out the UFC Events section of the site.

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Source: MMA Junkie