Fightful Fix is your one-stop-shop for all of today's biggest combat sports stories — from Michael Chandler hoping an impressive win at UFC 257 will entice Khabib Nurmagomedov's return, and more! — conveniently compiled in one place. Take a look below.
Michael Chandler hoping win over Hooker entices Khabib's return
Former Bellator lightweight champion Michael Chandler will make his UFC debut on January 23 at UFC 257 against fellow lightweight contender Dan Hooker. Speaking with MMAFighting's Damon Martin, Chandler talked about the matchup and his hopes to win in impressive enough fashion that it convinces Khabib Nurmagomedov to come out of retirement.
“I want to put a stamp on my introduction for who I am to the UFC fans by finishing Dan Hooker or dominating him,” Chandler said. “It really puts me in a position to where maybe I get the winner of Conor-Poirier or I get the next title shot against Khabib. I think if I go out there and showcase my wrestling skills, too. I mean there’s no doubt I want to go out there and knock Dan Hooker out, but I also want to show the world my wrestling skills. I want to put a stamp on good old fashioned American wrestling. Maybe I can entice Khabib to come back for the U.S. American wrestling versus Russian Sambo and see if he can get to 30-0 and beat me — if he can.”
Aleksandar Rakic hoping for title shot with win over Santos at UFC 259
Light heavyweight contender Aleksandar Rakic has a big opportunity in his next fight against Thiago Santos at UFC 259 on March 6. Rakic chatted with MMAJunkie's Farah Hannoun about the fight with Santos and how he wants a title shot with a victory.
“I’m gonna be prepared for war, and I know Thiago is also gonna be prepared for war,” Rakic said. “I want this title shot, and I want this belt so bad. I made a promise for one friend of mine who I lost a couple of days ago, and I promised his family that I’m gonna win against Thiago and I’m gonna get the title shot, and this motivates me a lot.”
I caught up with Aleksandar Rakic who faces Thiago Santos at #UFC259. We talked the matchup, his title aspirations, Blachowicz vs. Adesanya, and more.— Farah Hannoun (@Farah_Hannoun) December 31, 2020
Full interview for @MMAjunkie: https://t.co/5tGzIxACXk pic.twitter.com/3yGBFAUEkc
Rose Namajunas ready for title shot according to manager
Former UFC women's strawweight champion Rose Namajunas is ready for the next title shot against current champ Weili Zhang, according to her manager Brian Butler. He recently spoke with MMAJunkie Radio and said that Namajunas is ready to go for her next fight, despite claims otherwise from UFC President Dana White.
“We’re still in talks with the UFC about Rose, but I can tell you that Rose is ready,” Butler said. “Rose has been ready. She’s been ready, she’s been in camp. Rose is ready to fight, honestly, in the next – she can fight on a couple of weeks’ notice. She’s ready to go. So we have to see. It could be Rose, it could be Carla, it could be whoever. We’ll see.”
Rob Font staying ready for a potential title shot
UFC bantamweight contender Rob Font is coming off a first-round knockout win over Marlon Moraes back at UFC Vegas 17. His coach Tyson Chartier spoke with BJPenn.com about Font's recent win and how he's staying in shape to be the potential back-up of a fight between current bantamweight champion Petr Yan and Aljamain Sterling.
“We will see what happens but all we can control right now is to be ready for any of these fights to fall out. If we don’t get pro-actively booked we will get reactively booked,” Chartier explained. “With COVID, there is a chance Rob could fight for the belt in February if something happens to Aljamain. We are staying ready for that fight, we are also ready to jump in on Fight Island against Jimmie Rivera or Pedro Munhoz. 100 percent he could be fighting for the belt in 2021.”
De La Hoya: Garcia will be 10x bigger star than Canelo
Former Olympic gold medalist and founder of Golden Boy Promotions Oscar De La Hoya has high hopes for lightweight contender Ryan Garcia. Garcia defeated Luke Campbell on January 2 via a seventh-round knockout caused by a vicious body shot. After the performance, De La Hoya who is Garcia's promoter heaped praise on his client and how he feels Garcia could become the sport's biggest star.
UK's Boxing events in January canceled due to COVID-19
The Coronavirus pandemic continues to surge into 2021 and because of the rise in cases, the British Boxing Board of Control announced on January 4 that all boxing events in the country this month will be canceled. They released the following statement on the cancelations.
Following the increase in Covid-19 cases in the United Kingdom and the effects such increases has on the NHS and the work of the Board Medical Officers, it has been decided that no tournaments under the jurisdiction of the British Boxing Board of Control will take place in January 2021.
A further review by the Board’s Medical Panel and Stewards will take place later in January in relation to tournaments from February onwards.
United Kingdom Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced another lockdown for the country recently, which is expected to last until the middle of February. No word yet on when boxing events could resume in the country for the new year.
Navid Akfari's family arrested in Iran while cleaning the late wrestler's grave
A disturbing story has come out of Iran in recent months, involving Greco-Roman wrestling champion Navid Akfari's family. In a report done by The Jerusalem Post's Benjamin Weinthal, Iranian intelligence agents arrested Akfari's father Hossein and brother Hamid for cleaning up Navid's gravesite.
Akfari was executed on September 12, 2020, after he was tortured into giving a false confession for his alleged role in the killing of a security officer during the 2018 summer protests in Shiraz, Fars Province. BloodyElbow's Karim Zidan detailed the situation further in a recent report.
Afkari’s arrest and subsequent execution garnered worldwide condemnation from sports organizations, human rights entities, and even a handful of celebrities and notable figures. UFC President Dana White even called upon outgoing U.S. President Donald Trump to help save the Iranian wrestling champion.
“I would just like to say that I too, respectfully and humbly, ask the government officials in Iran to please not execute this man and spare his life,” the UFC president said in a video clip.
Trump later took to Twitter and called on the Iranian regime to “spare this young man’s life, and not execute him.”
Despite the international outcry and formal complaints regarding false evidence presented and the use of torture to extract confessions, Afkari’s death sentence was upheld by the Iranian Supreme Court. He was executed on Saturday, Sep. 12.
Leon Edwards claims UFC denied offer to face Chiesa or Magny
UFC welterweight contender had a rough 2020 and his 2021 got off to a tough start, after his fight with Khamzat Chimaev on January 20 was postponed. Edwards wanted to remain on the card to face either Michael Chiesa or Neil Magny who will now meet in the event's headlining bout. However, while responding to an Instagram post from ESPN's Ariel Helwani, Edwards said it was the promotion's choice to keep him off the card.
Demetrious Johnson on his next fight with ONE flyweight champion Adriano Moraes
Former UFC flyweight champion and perennial pound-for-pound great Demetrious Johnson chatted recently with MMAFighting's Damon Martin about a myriad of different topics. One of them being Johnson's next fight against ONE championship flyweight champion Adriano Moraes. The two will meet on February 24 in Kallang, Singapore and Johnson expects he'll have his work cut out for him dethroning the champ.
“He’s a great athlete,” Johnson said about Moraes. “He’s been a great champion. He had those back-to-back fights with Geje Eustaquio and those are great fights to learn from. At the end of the day, we’re going to match up our skills and see how we stack up against him.”
Johnson continued on about the stylistic problems he's dealt with in his career.
“If you look back at my career, I’ve always had a little trouble with these longer guys. You’re just dealing with way more mass in competition. When you’re fighting guys who are just naturally a little bit bigger, they’re going to be bigger, taller, longer, it’s just another challenge to get through.”
Dillon Danis believes he'd beat Khabib Nurmagomedov easily in a grappling match
Bellator fighter and jiu-jitsu ace Dillon Danis doesn't ever lack confidence and is never afraid to voice that confidence. In a recent interview with Kyle Forgeard of the YouTube crew NELKBOYS, Danis talked about his hatred for YouTuber Jake Paul and how he would also easily beat Khabib Nurmagomedov in a grappling match.
“In straight grappling? Ah, come on,” Danis said (h/t BJPenn.com). “Yeah [it’s easy work], come on. Everybody knows that, though. But it’s not my fight. It’s Conor’s fight.”
Gilbert Burns praises Conor McGregor's grappling skills
UFC welterweight #1 contender Gilbert Burns has nothing but respect for former UFC lightweight and featherweight champion Conor McGregor's grappling skills. Burns posted a video recently to his YouTube channel and gave his assessment of the Irishman's ground game.
“He’s good,” Burns said (h/t BJPenn.com). “People think he’s very bad, but he’s very good. People don’t remember he swept Nate Diaz in their first fight. I think he’s very underrated. People say, ‘all you have to do is take him down.’ First of all, when the guy controls the distance like Conor (McGregor), it’s not easy to take the guy down.”