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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Check out the video above for more from Clifford.

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

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Brad Tavares is all praise for the UFC's 'game-changing' Performance Institute

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Currently riding a three-fight winning streak, Brad Tavares seems to have found his groove back after a rough patch that saw him lose three out of four octagon outings.

The positive results, Tavares (14-2 MMA, 6-2 UFC) believes, serve to show that, at 29, he’s still evolving and growing into his own as a fighter. But one thing that certainly isn’t hurting the middleweight’s momentum is the addition of a “game-changing” tool: the UFC’s recently-installed Performance Institute.

As a Las Vegas-based fighter, Tavares gets to reap the benefits of the facilities on a daily basis. Other fighters, like local Evan Dunham, have already sung the Institute’s praises. Whether it’s strength and conditioning, physical therapy or nutrition, Tavares says he’s been able to count on professionals who go the extra mile to make sure fighters are taken care of even when they’re off the clock.

“You get access to these high, high-level people,” Tavares told MMAjunkie Radio.

The entire staff, “top to bottom,” earned praise from Tavares. But he did seem to hold a special place in his heart for the chefs.

“Those guys are very, very good at what they do,” Tavares said. “They’ll have regular things there because they also have the UFC front office people that come through, but they also make health-conscious type of meals for fighters.

“That place is amazing. I don’t get to get there for breakfast much, but after my morning workouts, I go there for lunch. I’ll eat and, if I’m still hungry, I’ll go get seconds. And then I’ll take something to go for later.”

In fact, for Tavares, the Institute has basically become a part of his camp. And, given he’s only worked with them in preparation for his last two meetings (against Elias Theodorou and Thales Leites, both of which resulted in unanimous decision wins), he’s quite optimistic.

“My last camp, when I fought Elias, started a little later,” Tavares said. “So this camp was definitely better as far as coaches and staff there know me a little better. I know them a little better.

“We know what to work on and, kind of more so, what works. And that relationship will only continue to get better.”

It’s safe to assume that Tavares will be making use of the facilities for his next outing. Whom that will be against, however, is still a mystery. After UFC 216 brought about what was arguably Tavares’ biggest win yet, he’s ready for a big name.

A former, long-reigning UFC champion who just so happens to still be regarded as one of the greatest of all time? Well, if Anderson Silva gets past Kelvin Gastelum in their headlining encounter in Shanghai next month, that would do just fine.

“Depending on how that fight goes, I would love to fight somebody like Anderson,” Tavares said. “He has a name. He’s a legend. I think that would be an awesome opportunity for me. A win over him? That’d be huge.”

To hear from Tavares, check out the video above

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

MMAjunkie Radio broadcasts Monday-Friday at 1 p.m. ET (10 a.m. PT) live from Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino’s Race & Sports Book. The show is hosted by “Gorgeous” George Garcia and producer Brian “Goze” Garcia. For more information or to download past episodes, go to www.mmajunkie.com/radio.

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Eddie Alvarez talks 'TUF 26' gripe with Lauren Murphy – and lack of heat with Justin Gaethje

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Eddie Alvarez has no qualms with fellow “The Ultimate Fighter 26” coach Justin Gaethje, who he thinks is a “hell of a human being.” But that’s not to say his “TUF” stint has been beef-free.

Rather than fellow lightweight Gaethje (18-0 MMA, 1-0 UFC), whom he’s set to meet at UFC 218, Alvarez (28-5 MMA, 3-2 UFC) had some drama with “Team Alvarez” team member and UFC flyweight Lauren Murphy. That much was clear on episode No. 5, in which the coach was clearly peeved by Murphy’s decision to not show up for morning practice following a loss to Nicco Montano.

That did take place. But the real reasons for the riff, Alvarez later told MMAjunkie Radio, went far beyond that particular disagreement.

“The story that’s being told in the media is basically: I’m a bad guy because I wanted someone back in the gym immediately after their fight,” Alvarez said. “And that was barely my gripe with that girl, in particular. That was the smalls thing that I didn’t like that was done that she did. I would also have to agree with you guys, to give somebody time off.

“I did want everyone back in the gym just to keep – personally, I did. But that was barely my gripe. My real gripe with that girl was that at that the first day, almost, she conspired against (Sijara Eubanks). Immediately, she was like, ‘We don’t care if ‘Sarj’ is 150 pounds.’ We – she’s speaking for the whole team now. And we just created the team.

“She goes, ‘We don’t care if ‘Sarj’ is 150 pounds. You can put her out first. It’s her fault she’s not prepared.’ So I was like, ‘Wow.’ Coach Marlon (Moraes) came to me and said, ‘Lauren said she don’t care if we put out ‘Sarj.” And this is in the mist of me, Mark and Marlon trying to put together a solid roster and win this thing. So I’m like, ‘No, that ain’t going to happen.’ I understand maybe she feels threatened by ‘Sarj,’ but ‘Sarj’ is on our team.”

And that wasn’t the last time Alvarez was under the impression that Murphy was “conspiring” against her teammates. A few days later, when the bracket went up, he said the flyweight came “in a panic” looking for advice on how to prepare for fellow Team Alvarez member Barb Honchak.

“She starts, ‘Hey, can you help me with a takedown, to take Barb down?’” Alvarez said. “I’m like, ‘Lauren, slow down. You have to fight Team Gaethje first.’ She still hasn’t fought her first fight against Nicco, and she’s already conspired twice or three times against everyone from Team Alvarez.

“I understand it’s Team Lauren Murphy because only one girl can win this, but it’s got to be one step at a time. Let’s beat Team Gaethje. Let’s get to the semifinals. Even then it’s bad to conspire, but let’s conspire then. Let’s take one thing at a time. There was a lot of bad energy, bad vibes when I’m trying to create a team.”

As for the missing practice thing that seemed like such a big deal on TV?

“(Expletive), it was a good thing she missed practice,” Alvarez said. “Her attitude sucked. It was probably a good thing, at the end of the day. I could care less about the practice.”

Talking to MMAFighting.com, Murphy denied conspiring against her teammates, saying Alvarez assumed “I was being an (expletive), because he’s an (expletive), and that’s the way he thinks.” She also blogged about the missed-practice situation, throwing some shade in the process.

“Besides, I’m pretty sure Eddie didn’t go running to the gym the day after Conor McGregor knocked him out so he could help his teammates get ready for their fights,” Murphy wrote (via Twitter):

Although things got rocky with one of his team members, Alvarez had no issues with the man he’s supposed to fight on Dec. 2 at UFC 218. The former UFC and Bellator champion, who’s hopped around promotions throughout his career, had become familiar with ex-WSOF champ Gaethje a few years ago – when he was considering fighting for the organization (now referred at as PFL).

A few months ago, when Gaethje joined the UFC, Alvarez said they shared a friendly conversation. And while it’s common for tempers to flare between rival coaches after a few weeks of competition, Alvarez said the amicable relationship continued throughout taping.

“He’s always been a cool cat,” Alvarez said. “I wish I could bring up some beef for you guys and say I smacked him in the face or I shoved him. But there wasn’t much drama to be told on that level.

“He’s actually a hell of a human being. And he fights like a demon. So it was all good on that level.”

It doesn’t take getting to know Gaethje on a personal level to agree with the “fighting like a demon” bit. After tearing through his competition at his former WSOF home, the aggressive lightweight put on a wild scrap with Michael Johnson to kick off his UFC stint.

While Alvarez has also been known to engage on a few barnburners, he’s also shown he can show some restraint should the occasion call. So which one can we expect to square off against Gaethje?

Well, Alvarez has some encouraging news.

“What I’m trying to do is not let a couple of punches go by before that comes out,” Alvarez said. “I’m going to do a full round in the back, and I’ll be out hot. I’m going to come out of the tunnel hot. And we’re going to get right to it, right from the gate.

“More than jiu-jitsu, striking, boxing, whatever aspect of this game you want to talk about. More than anything, that’s the aspect I’ve been working on. If I can explain it, just not giving a (expletive). That’s what I’m working on.”

To hear from Alvarez, check out the video above.

And for more on UFC 218, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.

MMAjunkie Radio broadcasts Monday-Friday at 1 p.m. ET (10 a.m. PT) live from Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino’s Race & Sports Book. The show is hosted by “Gorgeous” George Garcia and producer Brian “Goze” Garcia. For more information or to download past episodes, go to www.mmajunkie.com/radio.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

MMAjunkie Radio broadcasts Monday-Friday at 1 p.m. ET (10 a.m. PT) live from Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino’s Race & Sports Book. The show is hosted by “Gorgeous” George Garcia and producer Brian “Goze” Garcia. For more information or to download past episodes, go to www.mmajunkie.com/radio.

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Ex-UFC champ Lyoto Machida talks pressure, support ahead of big return on home turf

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On the lead-up to this month’s UFC Fight Night 119, the main narrative has been around headliner Lyoto Machida and his long-awaited return to competition.

Machida (22-7 MMA, 14-7 UFC), who was issued an 18-month suspension by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency after admitting to taking a banned substance ahead of a scheduled UFC on FOX 19 bout, will end a more than two-year layoff when he meets fellow middleweight Derek Brunson (17-5 MMA, 8-3 UFC) on Oct. 28.

The last time the UFC’s former 205-pound champ and onetime middleweight title challenger was seen in action was in June 2015, when a knockout loss to Yoel Romero added to a two-fight skid.

Neither the time away nor the consecutive losses, however, seem to have diminished Machida’s prestige – at least not in Brazil. After all, not only does he get to come back as a headliner, he gets to do it in his native country, at Sao Paulo’s Ibirapuera Gymnasium.

When it comes to such a high-stakes comeback, does being at home make the situation easier – or does it only add more pressure?

“Both,” Machida told MMAjunkie Radio. “There is a lot of pressure, of course, because I’m going to fight in my country. But on the other hand, I have a lot of support. I can feel that through social media and through interviews that I’ve been doing.

“I can feel that I have a lot of support in Brazil. At the same time, a lot of pressure, but I have to handle that, just do my best and just keep my focus on what I have to do there.”

At 39, Machida has seen his share of action throughout a decade-long UFC run that started on an eight-fight winning streak – including a huge title win over Rashad Evans and a historic, closely contested defense over Mauricio Rua. He’s retired a legend in Randy Couture, tried his hand against Jon Jones and challenged for titles three times, in two separate weight divisions.

Amid his lengthy record, the karate-based Machida can point to quite a few wrestlers, as well. And, given the outcomes against the likes of Couture, Ryan Bader, Mark Munoz and Dan Henderson, it’s safe to say he’s not exactly unequipped to deal with the dangers they present.

That will certainly come in handy against the 33-year-old Brunson, who also comes from a wrestling background. But, considering the five first-round knockouts that Brunson carries on his octagon record, Machida is probably wise in not reducing his opponent to a “wrestler” label.

“He’s a complete fighter,” Machida said. “He’s well-rounded. He drops people with hands, too. Of course, his background is in wrestling. But, with the camp that I’ve been doing here, I believe that I can stop his takedowns.

“And my background is in karate, and (as a) standup fighter, so I believe I can stop Derek Brunson and bring this victory to my team and my country.”

That doesn’t mean Machida is sleeping on Brunson’s wrestling. But, other than his experience, the former UFC champion is confident in the work he put in to handle it, with the guidance of wrestling coach Eric Albarracin and even former opponent Munoz.

Other than the fight-specific preparation, which Machida says was mostly conducted at Rafael Cordeiro’s Kings MMA, he’s had quite some time to make tweaks in his game. Which is why “The Dragon” tries not to view his somewhat harsh suspension as entirely bad.

“I used this break to put some different tools, and I incorporated different techniques,” Machida said. “Improved a little bit more, evolved a little more my overall style, My karate and my standup fighting.”

Even for the experienced Machida, the return after such a long gap feels like a beginning of sorts.

“But I know as soon as I step in the octagon, I’ll realize that I already did this before,” Machida said.

For more on UFC Fight Night 119, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.

MMAjunkie Radio broadcasts Monday-Friday at 1 p.m. ET (10 a.m. PT) live from Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino’s Race & Sports Book. The show is hosted by “Gorgeous” George Garcia and producer Brian “Goze” Garcia. For more information or to download past episodes, go to www.mmajunkie.com/radio.

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Veteran UFC lightweight Michael Johnson wants top guys if he moves to featherweight

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UFC lightweight Michael Johnson doesn’t have time to waste if he moves down to featherweight.

“The guys need to be in the top 10,” Johnson on Wednesday told MMAjunkie Radio. “I’ve fought so many people at 155 (pounds) over and over again, it’s almost a waste of time. I can’t do it at 145.

“I’m 31. I’m not at a point where I want to fight everybody in the 145-pound division. I need to fight the top guys, get in there and get out, and get my title shot.”

So far, Johnson (17-12 MMA, 9-8 UFC) is still waiting for the UFC’s first offer. Although he went big with his first callout and targeted Jose Aldo (26-3 MMA, 8-2 UFC), the former featherweight champ appears headed for a rematch against onetime title challenger Ricardo Lamas (18-5 MMA, 9-3 UFC) at UFC 218 or 219.

Johnson would rather the promotion book him against a known commodity at 145 pounds than run back previous matchups.

“I think we’ve gotten to a time where everybody at the top of the 145-pound division has fought each other,” Johnson said. “Nobody wants to see those rematches down there. So a new face, a new look, some new excitement at 145 sounds perfect.”

Johnson, the No. 12 fighter in the USA TODAY Sports/MMAjunkie MMA lightweight rankings, shrugged off any suggestion of a tough transition to featherweight. He said he walked around at 163 pounds during his previous training camp and could easily shed the additional weight.

“I’m a professional,” he said. “The first thing we have to do as professionals is make weight. That’s part of the game. If you’re missing weight, you’re not clocking in. I hold myself very high in winning that first battle and making weight.”

Johnson’s next battle is reviving his UFC career. Although he’s faced mostly top competition, he is 1-4 in his past five outings. A new division offers to turn a new page in the octagon.

“I could fight this weekend if there were a fight card and I needed to, but December is a perfect timeline for me,” Johnson said. “Anywhere from next month to December, I’ll be ready.”

Now, Johnson just wants the promotion to take into consideration his experience when booking his next fight. And that means starting him toward the top of the heap.

After all, he’s been right there in a division that’s arguably tougher.

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

MMAjunkie Radio broadcasts Monday-Friday at 1 p.m. ET (10 a.m. PT) live from Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino’s Race & Sports Book. The show is hosted by “Gorgeous” George Garcia and producer Brian “Goze” Garcia. For more information or to download past episodes, go to www.mmajunkie.com/radio.

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Ex-UFC champ Johny Hendricks opens up on move to Jackson Wink MMA

After a loss to Tim Boetsch that left his recent UFC record at 2-4, Johny Hendricks decided he could no longer afford to walk the same path. He needed a change of scenery from his native Texas.

“I really didn’t want to leave my kids,” Hendricks on Wednesday told MMAjunkie Radio. “But it’s to a point to where, do I want to just compete, or do I want to win again?”

Once the top man at 170 pounds, the former champion Hendrick (18-7 MMA, 13-7 UFC) is running out of options as he tries to pull out of a long career slide. A fight against unbeaten Paulo Borrachinha (10-0 MMA, 2-0 UFC) at UFC 217 could be his last chance to correct course.

Hendricks, 34, seems to grasp the stakes. He made headlines earlier this month by traveling to Albuquerque, N.M., for a residency with the famed Jackson Wink MMA Academy, which has trained two of his former opponents.

“I know I can fight better,” Hendricks said. “I’ve proven it, but I’ve got to do it consistently now.”

In the buildup to the Nov. 4 fight, headlined by his two-time foe Georges St-Pierre at Madison Square Garden in New York, Henricks plans to split time between New Mexico and Texas, driving home on the weekends to see his family. It’s an uncomfortable move, but a necessary one. By making it, Hendricks said he primarily sought out something he lacked in previous camps: sparring partners.

“That’s my problem,” Hendricks said. “One camp might be really good, but the next one sucks, and the reason why is I can’t get any training partners.”

Earlier in his career, when his management was overseen by Team Takedown, Hendricks was able to tailor his work in the gym toward his opponents. He had sparring partners flown out to the team’s facility in Arlington, Texas.

Since the team’s collapse amid a fight with its management, Hendricks largely has been on his own. Although he’s continued to work with individual coaches, he’s struggled to rebuild a reliable infrastructure around his preparation.

When he thought about how to fix the problem, Jackson Wink immediately came to mind. He remembered facing fighters from the team and being impressed by the coaching that was coming from their corners. He figured if anything, coaches Greg Jackson and Mike Winkeljohn didn’t need a refresher on what he brought to the table.

Plus, the Southwestern facility is a one-stop shop for UFC fighters and coaches. It’s home to some of the brightest talent in the sport.

Through a mutual friend, Hendricks reached out to Winkeljohn, who cleared the request through the rest of the team before giving the green light.

Hendricks drove to Albuquerque and stayed with UFC welterweight Donald Cerrone, who owns the “BMF” training facility and ranch that has housed many Jackson Wink fighters.

Although Hendricks was uncertain at the response he’d receive from team members, he said he was eagerly welcomed. Then, everyone got to work.

Hendricks trained with established fighters such as Cerrone and said he also got good looks from up-and-comers looking to give him a tough time in the cage.

“I sparred 12 times in a week,” Hendricks said. “Sometimes, that’s what my whole camp is. By the end of the week, I’m starting to pick up things.”

Now, Hendricks is certain he made the right choice. He said even the support staff is on a different level for fighters as they prepare for bouts.

“They have people that can work on you there, so after practice, you have something that’s not feeling right, they do their job, and by the next day, it’s almost healed,” Hendricks said. “That’s going to further my career, as well. Just training smarter.”

Hendricks said Jackson has a plan for his training at the gym and when he returns home. But Hendricks already gets the sense that he’s turning a corner in the way he fights.

It took a blowout loss to Boetsch to get him there, but Hendricks is resolved to see through his resolution to train the way he needs to ensure victory.

“I just took a step back and said this is where I need to be,” Hendricks said. “If I want to do what I want to do, I have to make that sacrifice.”

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

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Source: MMA Junkie

UFC Hall of Famer Urijah Faber remains comfortably retired, 'no temptation' to fight just because

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If you watched the “SnoopCast” alternate stream during the first season of Dana White’s Contender Series, then you’ve seen just how much Urijah Faber is enjoying retirement.

Faber, who hung up his gloves following a win over Brad Pickett last December, clearly had a great time providing a fresh spin on MMA commentary alongside Snoop Dogg for the inaugural eight-fight first season of DWCS. And it was apparent that he’s comfortable with life outside the octagon.

But still, the 38-year-old Faber recently told MMAjunkie Radio he could be lured back into the octagon, though he made it clear a return wouldn’t be possible just for the sake of it.

“There’d be a few scenarios where I would jump in there but not just ready to jump in for anybody obviously,” Faber said. “I mean, I absolutely am in tact with my mind and body, and I feel better than ever, having rested over half a year now under my belt. I’m staying busy, man. I’ve got a lot going on. I love a good fight, and I love a good story. As far as just wanting to jump in for the heck of it, there’s no temptation there.”

And why would there be? It’s not like Faber (34-10 MMA, 10-6 UFC) has anything to prove.

Although he never won a UFC title, he was inducted into the UFC Hall of Fame on the strength of his pre-UFC resume, which includes holding dual featherweight and bantamweight titles for WEC and King of the Cage, respectively.

Also keeping Faber satisfied is the number of projects that have kept him busy, not the least of which was filming alongside Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson for next year’s “Rampage” movie.

In short, don’t expect Faber back inside the octagon anytime soon – if ever again.

To hear more from Faber, 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

Cub Swanson: Brian Ortega 'ain't making a name off of me' at UFC Fight Night 123

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Brian Ortega is close to reaching critical mass as a UFC featherweight. After all, he’s booked against veteran Cub Swanson for his next bout at UFC Fight Night 123.

Ortega (12-0 MMA, 4-0 UFC), the No. 7 fighter in the USA TODAY Sports/MMAjunkie MMA featherweight rankings, has carved out an impressive niche in his octagon career, submitting four consecutive opponents in the third round. He’s earned a test.

The No. 6 Swanson (25-7 MMA, 10-3 UFC), a grizzled veteran who’s come within a step of a title shot, is just that type of opponent. The UFC will either mint a new star or certify an existing one.

Overall, the fight offers more upside for the 26-year-old Ortega, who’s got plenty of time to reset in the event of a setback. Swanson, 33, doesn’t have that luxury.

When the pair meet in the FS1-televised headliner of UFC Fight Night 123 on Dec. 9 at Save Mart Center in Fresno, Calif., it will be the final fight on Swanson’s contract.

Calling his choice to test free agency “a power move,” Swanson is making a bet he’ll increase his leverage with the promotion by beating the red-hot Ortega, getting a salary increase through a new contract with the UFC or one with another promotion.

It’s a bet many fighters have taken over the past two years, to mixed results. Swanson figures now is the right time to make his move. He just welcomed his first child and wants to set himself up so he doesn’t need to take physical punishment to make a living.

He chooses to reframe the high stakes as a chance to show off his skills.

“It actually feels good,” Swanson said. “It feels like less pressure. Some people may take more pressure being the favorite, but man, I feel like I’ve worked so hard to be here, and I don’t see somebody coming and taking it from me.

“So whenever a guy that’s the new thing, they’re like, ‘Oh, this is the guy you’re fighting?’ I’m like, ‘He ain’t making a name off of me.’ I’m going to show him why I’m in the spot I’m in, and why I’ve been here so long. I keep getting better. Bring it on.”

Although Swanson believes he’s already a rightful contender for the title, he’s no longer dwelling on opportunities not offered. Ortega is the one in front of him that must be overcome.

“I don’t know exactly how he’s going to come into the fight,” Swanson said. “I know he likes to bang, but I’m sure he’ll try to use his jiu-jitsu, as well. I just see that he’s stylistically a great matchup for me.

“Every fight, I’m chasing the perfect performance and feel like I’m getting closer and closer, and that’s what makes me keep fighting. I feel like this could be it. This could be your perfect performance.”

For more on UFC Fight Night 123, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.

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UFC champ Daniel Cormier apologizes to Anthony Johnson: 'The reality is, I was wrong'

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It’s not exactly rare for a fighter to have some words with past or future opponents. Apologies, though, don’t come around that often.

So there’s something refreshing about UFC light-heavyweight champ Daniel Cormier’s willingness to admit he was wrong, during a recent MMAjunkie Radio appearance, in the way he went about former title challenger Anthony Johnson.

Cormier (19-1-1 MMA, 8-1-1 UFC) and Johnson (22-6 MMA, 13-6 UFC) met twice in the octagon, at UFC 187 and UFC 210. Other than the fact both fights ended in rear-naked-choke submission wins by Cormier, they had in common somewhat respectful lead-ups. Things, however, turned sour recently – when Cormier took issue (via “Talk and Talker”) with Johnson’s possible return from retirement and buddy-buddy attitude with former 205-pound champ Jon Jones prior to the UFC 214 encounter between Cormier and Jones.

Johnson, who announced he was hanging up his gloves immediately after their UFC 210 encounter, didn’t take too kindly to being called “(expletive) soft” on Cormier’s podcast. So he responded to the “crybaby” champ on Facebook:

To which Cormier fired back. (via Twitter)

After speaking to other people, though, Cormier realized he was off base. While there’s a side of him that’s measured on his words and approach, Cormier said, there’s also the ultra competitive side, which comes out swinging when he feels disrespected in any way.

That, the champ explained, is what we got in this whole Johnson ordeal. But that doesn’t make it right.

“After Rumble put that post up, I tweeted him,” Cormier told MMAjunkie Radio. “But then I texted him. Because I was mad. Like, ‘I’m mad. I want to fight.’ The reality is, I texted him, and I said some things that weren’t very cool. But then I was talking to somebody that means a lot to me and they said, ‘Why are you so mad? You started it. You said stuff. And you’re mad at him.’

“So the reality is, I was wrong. I should not have called him soft. But I thought that I didn’t like the action, but why do I expect so much out of him? Why do I expect him to not be able to be respectful and still compete at the highest level of the sport?

“So I walk it back a little bit. I was wrong. I shouldn’t have said anything about him being soft. Everybody does not have to view competition like I do. And I think that’s why – if he wants to be friends with (Jones) and be nice and cordial, then fine. What does that matter to me?”

In his post, Johnson joked about the lack of logic in Cormier’s thinking that he could have given Jones any advice on how to beat him; after all, Cormier did beat Johnson twice. And Cormier, now, agrees.

Mostly, though, Cormier said he was peeved by seeing his two two-time opponents hugging and being playful with each other – simply because that’s something that he wouldn’t do due to his competitive nature. But he, with a hand from his wife, also realizes that not everyone has to go about things the same way he does.

“I was wrong,” Cormier said. “It took me talking to Ali Abdelaziz (Johnson’s manager) of all people. Ali was like, ‘You guys are like – what the hell?’ He was right. But I talked to somebody last night. And my wife, she goes, ‘I get it. You’re a man. You’re from Louisiana. You don’t like to be disrespected. So when you feel a challenge, you go at it head-on.’

“But she goes, ‘You were wrong. You didn’t have to say that about him in the first place. What was the point? You won both fights.’ But, again, it’s just me looking at competition a certain way. And I guess just expecting people to do it too. And it really doesn’t have to be that way.”

Cormier’s issue with Johnson, however, wasn’t only with the Jones situation – but rather with the former challenger’s quite unexpected announcement that he would be leaving MMA to pursue other endeavors after the loss to Cormier. Which, again, the champ now sees is not his place to judge.

“I think the bigger issue for me was just not even the thing with Jones; it was like, ‘Man, I wish you would have just thought about it a little more before he made that decision,’” Cormier said. “Look, I said it before: I hope he comes back. Because he should be fighting. He’s that good. But it was just so quick.

“It just seemed like he should have taken a little more time in regards to making that decision, but who am I to pick when he retires? I’ve just got a different way of viewing stuff, man. I guess that’s why I am who I am.”

While Johnson has yet to formally announce anything on that end, his manager recently told “The MMA Hour” that a comeback was being discussed – this time, at heavyweight. Cormier, on his end, thinks a “Rumble” comeback is imminent. And he wants to make amends.

“I do believe he’ll fight again,” Cormier said. “So I’ve got to talk to ‘Rumble.’ I need to talk to ‘Rumble’ and try to either apologize or make it right in some way, shape or form.”

It’s unclear whether Cormier has since reached out directly to Johnson. But, in the meantime, the champ used the MMAjunkie Radio stage to get his message out there.

“The reality is, I was wrong,” Cormier said. “Not everybody should view competition like I do. So to Anthony Johnson, I apologize. I should not have said that. I should not have said that. I should not have said that. And because I said it, I have to truly expect him to respond. And he did.

“And because he responded, I should not try to fight him in the streets of Las Vegas. I’ve got to be better than that.”

To hear from Cormier, check out the video above.

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

MMAjunkie Radio broadcasts Monday-Friday at 1 p.m. ET (10 a.m. PT) live from Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino’s Race & Sports Book. The show is hosted by “Gorgeous” George Garcia and producer Brian “Goze” Garcia. For more information or to download past episodes, go to www.mmajunkie.com/radio.

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