UFC President Dana White gives an update on Khabib Nurmagomedov's future, Max Holloway looks ahead following a masterclass performance vs. Calvin Kattar, and much more — this is your UFC Fight Island 7 news roundup.
Dana White's surprise leaves more question than answers
UFC President Dana White promised to give an update on Khabib Nurmagomedov's future after a "yes or no" meeting with the UFC lightweight champion.
According to White, however, the answer was more of a maybe.
“He’s accomplished everything he set out to accomplish,” White said he was told by Nurmagomedov on ABC's broadcast of UFC Fight Island 7 (h/t MMA Fighting). “He thought that Oliveira looked really good in his fight against Tony Ferguson. Next Saturday, we have the McGregor-Poirier fight and Chandler and Hooker on there."
“His words to me were, ‘I’m gonna watch this fight.’ He said, ‘I would never tie up the division, hold the belt, keep the belt away from anybody else. These guys do something spectacular, show me something spectacular, and make me want to come back and fight.’ So I have a feeling that if somebody delivers, it could be on the co-main event or the main event and like I said he thought Oliveira looked good," White continued. "Two fights coming up, if these guys can do something special, Khabib will fight them.”
Max Holloway eyes Khabib Nurmagomedov fight
Max Holloway wants in on the Khabib Nurmagomedov sweepstakes.
Holloway's ears perked up after White's announcement at the start of UFC Fight Island 7's main card. Following his incredible one-sided bludgeoning of Calvin Kattar in Saturday's main event, Holloway threw his name into the hat.
“We’ll see what happens, even with Khabib, you know?” Holloway said (h/t MMA Junkie). “Khabib is saying that he wants something that’s super interesting. Maybe I pushed him over the edge a little bit. We had one of the best press conferences in the world, I think. We just didn’t have the fight. We could fill that in if he wanted to.”
“I’m here until next week. If something happens in this crazy, wild sport, don’t be surprised, man,” he continued. “Tune in next week to a huge pay-per-view. There’s a bunch of surprises happening.”
UFC President Dana White, however, prefers to see Holloway stay the course at featherweight. The UFC boss noted that Holloway looked "small" in his UFC interim lightweight title fight against Dustin Poirier, and that White does not plan on having Holloway serve as a back-up for a UFC 257 fight.
“I think he deserves to go home and take some time off,” White said at the UFC on ABC 1 post-fight news conference. “I respect it, but yeah, we’re good. We’re covered.”
Dana White says Max Holloway deserves next title shot
Some fans may groan at the idea of a third fight between Alex Volkanovski and Max Holloway 13 months after their first encounter, but Dana White says it is what Holloway deserves.
The UFC President asserted Holloway's claims to a world title shot following his record-setting win over Calvin Kattar at UFC Fight Island 7.
“I think we have to [give Holloway a third shot],” White told reporters at the post-fight press conference (h/t MMA Junkie). “I think we have to. I mean, when you’re the champion, you have the top five guys in the world gunning at you. When you’re the No. 1 contender in the world, you’ve got the top 10 guys in the world. Sometimes, No. 8 is more dangerous than No. 3."
“Tonight, he fought a bad dude that a lot of people thought was going to beat him. He went out and treated him like No. 6, so he did what he needed to do in spectacular fashion tonight. I think that he deserves to fight Volkanovski again," the UFC boss added. "The way that he looked, Volkanovski can’t even deny Max deserves another shot.”
Holloway welcomes a trilogy fight against Volkanovski; however, he expressed no interest in chasing after someone who he believes is ducking the "Blessed".
"Volkanovski said — this is his words, not mine — he said he wants a different fight. He don’t want a tougher fight, guys, let that sink in. He wants a different fight," Holloway said at the same presser (h/t MMA Fighting). "He didn’t say I want a tougher challenge. He knows who the toughest challenge is, he knows it’s me, so at the end of the day I’m not gonna force someone to fight me."
“I want legacy fights, I want big fights, I want fights like this, we’re on ABC,” he said of his intentions moving forward. “I want history. So belt, no belt, whatever it is, I want to fight… You guys think someone is the best fighter in the world, you guys tell me, let me know. I’ll sign on that dotted line.”
Dana White wanted Max Holloway vs. Calvin Kattar stopped in round 4
A debate raged online as to whether or not Max Holloway vs. Calvin Kattar should have gone the distance, and UFC President Dana White agrees with those who say it should have been stopped in round four.
Holloway nearly finished Kattar for what felt like the majority of round four. It was such a one-sided beating that some fans online were even suggesting a unicorn-like 10-7 round. It appeared in referee Herb Dean's eyes, perhaps, that Kattar would throw counters and connect with just enough frequency to allow the fight to continue.
“I thought the fight should have been stopped in the fourth round,” White said at the UFC Fight Island 7 post-fight press conference (h/t MMA Fighting). “I was freaking out a little bit. I said [to his coaches] he’s not going to stop and talk to anybody. We’re going to take him straight to the ambulance and send him to the hospital."
“Then I went over to him and I said, ‘You’re so tough, what an unbelievable performance’ and he said ‘That’s not what I want to be known for.’ He goes, ‘But I’m not going to back down to anybody’ and I said, we’re going to send you straight to the hospital right now. I don’t want you talking to anybody or doing anything.' He started laughing and thought that was funny," White added. "He’s in good spirits, his head is clear.”
White, however, was not prepared to throw blame at the referee.
“I’m not the ref,” White said. “Herb Dean tonight was the guy who makes that decision. I thought it should have been stopped in the fourth round. I hate to see a kid continue to take punishment like that. But he seems to be OK, and as long as he’s OK, that’s the ref’s job, not mine.”
“Our interaction made me feel better,” White said. “All’s good and everything I’m hearing is good so far. Those kinds of fights freak me out... He was completely coherent, clear, speaking perfectly. But we got him right in an ambulance and have him going to get checked out.”
Max Holloway: "I'll probably take your girlfriend"
Max Holloway was feeling himself at the UFC Fight Island 7 post-fight presser after bullying Calvin Kattar for 25 minutes.
Holloway (22-6) bit back at the narrative that Kattar, the older fighter, was the senior ready to put in work on the "freshman" Holloway.
.@BlessedMMA reacts to Calvin Kattar calling him a 'freshman':— MMAFighting.com (@MMAFighting) January 17, 2021
"Sometimes there's freshmans that come up and they take your girlfriend."
Watch full video: https://t.co/UPSfhWq4cr pic.twitter.com/7SpgGI1R7Q
“You guys were putting out the narrative that his boxing was better. He was putting out the narrative that he was the older and I was the freshman," Holloway said (h/t BJ Penn). "But like I said, sometimes there [are] freshmen that are true freshmen. And sometimes there are freshmen that come up and they take your girlfriend. I’m one of those ones that you don’t want to meet with me. I’ll probably take your girlfriend. I’m one of those freshmen."
Khabib Nurmagomedov called Justin Gaethje the "hardest hitter" he's faced
Khabib Nurmagomedov celebrated Justin Gaethje as the most powerful foe has ever faced, according to UFC President Dana White.
White peeled back the curtain on his meeting with "The Eagle", revealing the high praise Nurmagomedov had for his UFC 254 foe.
Dana White says Khabib Nurmagomedov told White that no one ever hit Khabib as hard as Justin Gaethje did #UFCFightIsland7— Fightful MMA (@FightfulMMA) January 16, 2021
Carlos Condit has options after fighting out UFC contract
Carlos Condit earned a gritty unanimous decision win at UFC Fight Island 7, and now the world is his oyster.
Condit spoke with media following his victory over fellow veteran Matt Brown on Saturday night. Condit was coy about his future after fighting out his UFC contract; however, both he and UFC President Dana White spoke positively about their working relationship.
“I love the UFC. I’ve had an incredible run. I’ve grown up under Zuffa, WEC, UFC, but we’ll see," Condit said (h/t MMA Junkie). "I have a few things [I’ve] got to get tended to. [I’ve] got to get a few things fixed up, and yeah – I don’t know. I think there’s a lot of variable with all that."
Condit was happy with how the fight played out, a combination of striking exchanges and exciting grappling encounters. "The Natural Born Killer" said he was in a flow-like state.
“I expected a little bit more exchange on the feet, and it became more of a grappling match – but it was still great,” he shared. “Hopefully it was exciting. Hopefully, people weren’t expecting some kind of a crazy war and then there’s a letdown because we’re just grappling and hugging each other, but who knows. I’m happy."
“Five losses in a row was tough – that was … it was rough,” Condit added. “I’m showing up on fight night. I feel like my preparation was always good, but you’ve got to bring it to the moment. You can be in good shape and look good on the pads and in sparring, but you’ve got to show up on fight night. You’ve got to be a game-day player, and usually, I have been my whole career most of the time.”
Li Jingliang sets sights on UFC gold after KOing Santiago Ponzinibbio
UFC Fight Island 7 was meant to be a glorious return to competition for Santiago Ponzinibbio, but Li Jingliang had different plans.
Ponzinibbio was returning from a 26-month layoff after suffering a near career-ending staph infection. "The Leech" cut the Argentianan's return short with a first-round finish.
“I’m not too concerned about the rankings,” Jingliang told reporters at Saturday's post-fight media conference (h/t MMA Junkie). “I really (think) the important thing is to let the fans and the viewers see that I’m an excellent fighter. I’m not only here as a participant. I’m here to go after the championship belt just like everyone else.”
“I feel great like every fighter,” Jingliang said. “Wins and losses are not important. It’s been part of the process. I’m very happy that I was able to win this fight and able to gain experience from it. … Of course, I gained a lot from the last time being a failure.”
Dana White confirms Stipe Miocic vs. Francis Ngannou II at UFC 260
Stipe Miocic vs. Francis Ngannou II is indeed in the works to headline UFC 260, according to UFC President Dana White.
News of the heavyweight title rematch had been swirling for approximately the last week. White confirmed the news on Saturday during the UFC Fight Island 7 post-fight press conference. The planned card boasts a UFC featherweight championship co-main event between Alex Volkanovski and Brian Ortega.
Miocic and Ngannou first fought at UFC 220 on January 20, 2018. The reigning UFC heavyweight champion successfully navigated around Ngannou's power punches and employed a takedown-heavy game to earned a decisive unanimous decision win over "The Predator".