Dana White remains defiant in his hopes of convincing Khabib Nurmagomedov to continue fighting in the UFC and more new — this is your Fightful fix roundup for Saturday.
Dana White reveals he remains hopeful of convincing Khabib Nurmagomedov to return
Dana White is refusing to take Khabib Nurmagomedov out of the lightweight division's future and is hopeful that he will return. White has been defiant since Nurmagomedov retired following his win over Justin Gaethje and has revealed that he wants the top contenders to compete against each other to determine who should be the new king of the 155lb division.
“The one that deserves to be the champion is the one that comes out on top in this tournament,” White revealed to complex magazine when asked about Poirier. “I mean, if you look at—Khabib beat Conor, Khabib destroyed Dustin, Khabib is the man. He’s the champ, he’s the guy. If you look at the guys that deserve to be there? It’s whoever’s gonna win out of the top 5. You got Poirier, Gaethje, Oliveira, Chandler, and you still have Tony Ferguson and Conor in the mix too.”
Dana White says that the lightweight division will not have a formal tournament, but he would like to see those ranked 1 through 9 face each other in some capacity to see who the top fighter in the division is.— Aaron Bronsteter (@aaronbronsteter) February 12, 2021
When asked directly if the UFC has moved on from "The Eagle" and if they're looking to crown a new champion, White remained adamant that Nurmagomedov is still the champion.
“No, we have not,” White told the outlet (h/t BloodyElbow). “Khabib is the champion. Khabib’s coming to Vegas. He and I are going to go to dinner and talk and see what’s next.”
UFC targeting Las Vegas or Florida show with fans
Dana White has revealed that the UFC is targeting a show in either Florida or Las Vegas with fans in attendance. White was speaking to the media before UFC 258 and revealed that although he is happy with The UFC Apex and Fight Island hosting fights, they are trying to get fans back in. This is a drastic change of stance for the president as he had previously claimed that he would remain at the Apex until full capacity could be reached.
White says the UFC have been looking into holding an event in Florida or Las Vegas with fans in attendance, but if they are unable to, they are happy with how things are going at the UFC Apex and in Abu Dhabi— Aaron Bronsteter (@aaronbronsteter) February 12, 2021
Gina Carano hits back and announces new movie project with Ben Shapiro’s Daily Wire
The Daily Wire is helping make one of my dreams — to develop and produce my own film — come true. I cried out and my prayer was answered. I am sending out a direct message of hope to everyone living in fear of cancellation by the totalitarian mob. I have only just begun using my voice which is now freer than ever before, and I hope it inspires others to do the same. They can’t cancel us if we don’t let them.”
Dana White reveals TUF 29 will be coached by welterweights, Kamaru Usman interested
Dana White has confirmed that the coaches of the upcoming TUF 29 reality show will be welterweights. The Ultimate Fighter franchise returns in 2021 after a three-year absence on ESPN. White hasn't revealed who the two coaches would be but has confirmed the rumor that they will be from the welterweight division.
“It’s coming. It’s coming this summer. We start filming this summer,” White said to complex in an interview (h/t BJPenn.com). “Let’s just say we’re working on two guys who will be fun if we can pull it off… welterweight division.”
Kamaru Usman may be the welterweight champion but given what he has achieved since appearing on the show himself, he would relish the chance to be a coach on it.
“Absolutely,” Usman answered in a UFC 258 media scrum (h/t CDN MMM News). “I mean, the stage is kind of set for me to do that, and I think there’s no time better than now to be able to do that. I’ve proven myself as a champion. Some of the greatest seasons of The Ultimate Fighter are when those proven champions are able to step in there against a foe and go out there, and deliver, and help some of the newer generations and newer fighters crack into the UFC. So absolutely. I think the stage is kind of set for me.”
Kamaru Usman promises "whole different monster" at UFC 258
Welterweight champion Kamaru Usman will defend his belt against former teammate Gilbert Burns. The pair have been going back and forth by claiming who got the best of each other in sparring sessions but "The Nigerian Nightmare" is well aware that both fighters have evolved since Usman moved camps to Colorado.
“When I’m inside the cage, it’s a whole different monster,” says the 33-year-old (h/t SCMP). “I’ve got new tricks and I’ve got new wrinkle and I’m sure he does as well.”
Alexander Volkanovski excited for "different challenge" in Brian Ortega
Alexander Volkanovski is relishing the chance to face off with Brian Ortega but believes his "pace" is where he sees the fight being won. Volkanovski has faced former champion Max Holloway in his last two fights, and the Aussie is well aware of the threats Ortega poses to his reign.
“I’m putting on a pace that no one can deal with, and we know he’s got a great chin and he’s tough and he’s a goer, and even when he’s hurt, even when he’s tired, he’s still swinging. So there’s going to be a lot of opportunities there. There’s going to be a lot of opportunities to get the finish. I know he’s tough and he’s shown fitness. But again, I’m going to put a whole other pace," Volkanovski predicted to MMA Junkie. "I’m in good nick and the stuff I’m doing in the gym right now, no one’s going to be able to keep up, and I think I’m getting him mid-rounds. That’s truly what I believe, and that’s what I’m seeing. I’m just going to go out there and do my thing, and I’m expecting a mid-rounds finish.”
Bellator announces new UK TV deal
Bellator has announced a new deal for their UK fans with BBC Sport. The promotion has already announced a permanent move to Showtime and has now announced a landmark deal with the British broadcaster as it is the first time the BBC has signed a multi-event broadcast deal with an MMA organization and will see all of Bellator’s events shown, for free, through the BBC’s iPlayer streaming platform throughout 2021. The deal is a result of the success of the BBC’s test broadcast of Bellator’s Paris event in October 2020.
“To have every event on the biggest network in the U.K. is a great opportunity for Bellator,” Bellator president Scott Coker stated. “We look forward to working with the BBC to bring our exciting roster of talent and our extensive events schedule to an ever-growing audience.”
One man UK fight fans can look forward to seeing is AJ McKee. McKee is undefeated as a pro with a record of 17-0 and he believes he would rather face Emmanuel Sanchez for the featherweight title than reigning champion Patricio "Pitbull" Freire. Sanchez and Freire will rematch in the semi-finals of the tournament and McKee knows who his preferred opponent will be.
“Honestly, preference wise, I would prefer to face Sanchez and then go take the 155 belt from Patríco, but we’ll see. Once they get it on, it will be a great fight, and I’m looking to put on a great show with either one of them" McKee said to the media ahead of the featherweight Grand-Prix (h/t Cageside Press). "I feel that just puts the icing on the cake in the 145-pound division alongside just to fuel the fire from previous altercations and just the badgering mouth that has been ran between him and I. It’s time to put an end to that, so I wouldn’t mind whooping his ass and then moving up to 155 pounds and taking the belt from Patricio at 155. But regardless, I’m looking to eat the cake.”
Mike Tyson and Evander Holyfield could make a potential $100 million if they have a trilogy fight. That's according to Holyfield himself, who also admitted that the fight should take place in 2021. Holyfield was speaking on the 'Last Stand Podcast.'
“I think It’ll be a lot of money and a lot of millions. I think 100 million. The fight would be big because so many people want the fight. We’re the top two guys people want to see. There’s no reason to do it with anybody else other than Tyson. The only thing that I hear people talking about is they want Tyson and myself. And you know, this is what the world wants to see. But you’re not in that situation, so you have to want to do it. So, I guess we have to come together and do it.”
Dana White shares backstage bonuses insight
Dana White has revealed his logic if he writes any checks for fighters backstage who don't get the announced bonuses for the fight of the night or performance of the night. Each announced bonus gets $50,000 after the event and the winners are announced to the media. But White said that the general practice is that for “everybody who delivered on the card, I write a check” that ranges from $4,000 to $25,000 each, “depending on what I thought of their fight.”
“I’ll give you an example,” White said to The New York Post. “There will be a night where some crazy s–t happens throughout the whole card, and then we have to pick what we thought [were] the $50,000 [bonus recipients], but somebody else was right in the running. They could have got it too. And it depends, I’ll write them anywhere from $10,000 to $25,000.”
Tyron Woodley rips Israel Adesanya for following Jon Jones' footsteps by moving up division
Tyron Woodley has taken aim at Israel Adesanya and questioned his move to light-heavyweight so soon after Jon Jones vacated the title. Adesanya will face off with Jan Blachowicz at UFC 259. And former welterweight champion Woodley has criticized Adesanya for the timing of his move, especially after teasing a fight with Jones for most of 2020.
“I thought he had some business to do in the middleweight division and he was going to wait, and the second Jon Jones moved up to heavyweight, he moved up to 205,” Woodley said in an interview with Helen Yee (h/t MMA Junkie). “I couldn’t even think past the fact that he completely said he was not going to go up to 205 and face Jon Jones. If you’re the best – if somebody asked me to go up and fight (Michael) Bisping, I’m doing it. If you want to say you’re the best, now you’re going to go up to fight Jan? You wouldn’t do it to fight Jon? That makes no sense. The payday is way different, and when someone talks and says they’re this and that, and then they get the opportunity to go against the greatest of all time and you wanted to wait two years? I don’t get it.”
Kelvin Gastelum believes he's fighting for his job at UFC 258
Kelvin Gastelum believes his fight against Ian Heinisch is do-or-die for his UFC run. The promotion has been purging its roster in recent months and plans to cut nearly 60 fighters. For Gastelum, who is on a three-fight losing streak, he believes if he loses on Saturday he could be among those 60 fighters released from the UFC.
“This fight to me is probably the most important fight in my life. I’ve had a few setbacks these past few fights and so I feel like I’m in a position where I’m probably fighting for my job. This is do-or-die, this is kill or be killed and that is where I feel like I specialize in,” Gastelum said (h/t BJPenn.com). “I feel like a lot of people might be counting me out, they are saying I’m on my way out but honestly I just feel like I’m starting. I’m 29-years-old, I’ve been fighting the best in the world since I was 21 and I have been forged in the fire… I have seen Ian break people with his conditioning. He keeps a very high pace but I’m ready for all of it, I’m ready for everything Ian brings to the table. I want to prove how many more levels above him I’m. I want to make a statement to the world that I’m here, I am here to stay and I’m better than ever and this will be a bad night for Ian.”