Former UFC middleweight and welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre has expresses his interest in a fight with Khabib Nurmagomedov, James Krause skeptical as to why the UFC didn't book a fight for him with Joaquin Buckley, and more — Fightful Fix has you covered with all the news in the combat sports world.
Georges St-Pierre says a fight with Khabib Nurmagomedov "freaking excites me"
UFC legend Georges St-Pierre admitted in a new interview that a matchup against Khabib Nurmagomedov “freaking excites me.” Nurmagomedov will meet with UFC president Dana White this week in Abu Dhabi to discuss a potential return to the Octagon for Khabib.
It’s expected that White will try and convince him to return to the Octagon fight Conor McGregor in a rematch should he beats Dustin Poirier at UFC 257. However, Nurmagomedov has said in the past that his one dream fight in MMA is a super fight with the legend GSP.
Speaking to Tim and Sid, St-Pierre was asked about White’s meeting with Nurmagomedov and what he thinks about a potential matchup. White had told Sportsnet’s Stephen Brunt earlier in the day that he would consider making the fight with GSP if Nurmagomedov said that’s the only fight he wants.
“It freaking excites me, man. Khabib is bigger than me. He’s a better weight cutter than me, probably, and I’m older than he is, and that plays too,” GSP said. “We need to know the terrain. It’s one of the principles of the art of war. I need to know if I fight in a place that he knows the terrain and I don’t, it’s an advantage for him. Right now it’s an advantage for him. I don’t have the structure to train, and he does. So there needs to compromise on both sides to make the fight happen.”
By "terrain," St-Pierre is referring to the weight class which they would fight. GSP competed nearly his entire career at 170 pounds and later fought at 185 pounds, while Nurmagomedov has mostly fought at 155lbs. So if these two are going to fight, there needs to be some compromise on the weight. It sounds like both sides are interested in making this fight.
Would you be interested in a fight between GSP and Nurmagomedov?
Corey Anderson believes Bellator has a better light heavyweight division than the UFC
Corey Anderson thinks his weight class in Bellator is now better than the UFC’s.
The veteran light heavyweight said the latest two signings added to Bellator’s 205-pound division, paired with him joining the promotion back in August, have boosted the division over its competitors. Former UFC title challengers Yoel Romero and Anthony Johnson made the jump to Bellator late last year – two big names and respectable, world-class talents.
“I just feel right now Bellator has the upper hand,” Anderson said in an interview with MMA Fighting. “[Jon] Jones has left. They’ve got these hype trains. These young guys UFC has coming in, they’re trying to hype up, but I feel like their legitimacy aren’t like the vets that were there that are in Bellator now."
Anderson added, “These last two signings they made definitely made it a stronger case. At first, I was in the UFC, and I was No. 4 when I left. The only person I hadn’t fought was Jon Jones and Dominick Reyes. I had beat Jan Blachowicz once, and Anthony Smith was above me, but we see where Anthony Smith’s at now. He just got his first win in a while against an unranked guy."
Anderson also went on to say, “Then you’ve got me, Anthony ‘Rumble’ Johnson, Yoel Romero, two guys right there that fought for titles. Me, who was on the cusp of a title. Then you’ve got Nemkov, who just beat Ryan Bader. You’ve got ‘Rumble,’ who beat Ryan Bader. You’ve got Phil Davis. You’ve got all these names who have already fought at the top of the UFC.”
Anderson made his Bellator debut in November, stopping Melvin Manhoef in the second round at Bellator 251. Anderson has won five of his last six fights, with his lone loss coming to current UFC champion Jan Blachowicz.
Do you agree with Anderson that Bellator has a better light heavyweight division than the UFC?
James Krause not sure why fight with Joaquin Buckley wasn’t booked
While it seemed like everybody, including Dana White, was intrigued by a potential matchup between James Krause and Joaquin Buckley, the UFC ended up going in a different direction.
It all began when Buckley spoke with MMA Fighting following his KO of the Year finish of Impa Kasanganay when he called for a fight with Krause—who then responded to and accepted the callout following his victory over Claudio Silva at UFC Fight Island 6.
In the end, the UFC booked Buckley to face Alessio Di Chirico at UFC Fight Island 7 on Jan. 16. When the fight was confirmed, fans publicly chastised Krause, alleging he was ducking Buckley.
Krause was asked to give his take on why the fight wasn’t put together.
“I’m not really sure,” Krause said. “I don’t have the answer to that, to be honest with you. I’ve asked for it twice. I don’t know. I don’t want to keep talking about it, because I feel like this is a fight that’s not going to happen, so I don’t want to keep talking shit about something that’s not going to happen. There’s nothing that’s going to come from it."
Krause added, “I don’t think it’s on his end. I don’t think it’s that he doesn’t want to fight me. I’m not saying he’s ducking me, but to say that I’m ducking him is absurd. And I didn’t hear him say that, but anybody who knows me and has followed me in my career knows that that’s not true.”
The Missouri native has won seven of eight, with the lone defeat coming via a controversial split decision when he faced Trevin Giles up a weight class on a day’s notice at UFC 247. Krause was willing to face Buckley at 170 or 185. It was a popular piece of fantasy matchmaking amongst the MMA community, but the fact that the matchup wasn’t put together certainly isn’t stressing out the 36-fight veteran.
“I’ve asked for the fight,” Krause explained. “They didn’t want to make the fight. I can’t force them to do it. I don’t know the answer, but it doesn’t really matter to me. I haven’t lost a minute of sleep over it. My bills are paid regardless.”
At media day for UFC Fight Island 7, Buckley was asked if he still feels compelled to fight Krause somewhere down the road and his response was negative.
“No, not anymore,” Buckley said. “He missed his opportunity.”
So even though Krause is still very keen on the fight, Buckley doesn't seem interested anymore.
Jon Anik says UFC Fight Island stretch will be the "most challenging week" of his career
Jon Anik has covered plenty of shows throughout his career, but no stretch will be more hectic than the UFC’s upcoming run on Fight Island.
“It’s not ideal,” Anik told MMA Junkie and other reporters on Thursday. “I have a lot of respect for the NFL guys that do 17 straight weeks. A lot of our play-by-play guys have never even done a back-to-back. I think that’s just the nature of our beast. There’s so much that goes into the preparation and if you just want to play a numbers game – say 26 fighters times three, 75 fighters if you’re giving everybody an hour, that’s 75 hours. That’s two workweeks."
“I try to give every fighter an hour and in a back-to-back situation like this, with another show sandwiched in between, it’s impossible. So I’ll do the best I can to turn the page to Chiesa-Magny on Monday, but I gotta start my UFC 257 card on Tuesday. So I’ll be sort of double-dipping a little bit, and this will be the most challenging fight week that I have ever gone through. To have other things on my plate during a pay-per-view week is something that I’ve never experienced.”
Rafael dos Anjos willing to offer Nate Diaz a handicap in order to secure a rematch
Former UFC lightweight champ Rafael dos Anjos wants a rematch with Nate Diaz, and he’s willing to offer his rival a handicap to make the fight happen.
Dos Anjos met Diaz in the Octagon in 2014, picking up a decisive, unanimous decision win with a steady diet of chopping leg kicks. Not long after news surfaced that Diaz may soon return to the Octagon, dos Anjos took to Twitter where he expressed interest in fighting his rival again, adding that he’d refrain from throwing leg kicks this time around.
“I promise if I ever fight Diaz again I won’t kick his leg,” dos Anjos wrote on Twitter.
Rafael dos Anjos recently returned to the lightweight division after a lengthy stint at welterweight, picking up an impressive decision victory over Paul Felder, who stepped in to replace Islam Makhachev on just five days’ notice. That win propelled the Brazilian back into the lightweight rankings.
Nate Diaz, on the other hand, has not fought since November 2019 when he came up short in a welterweight fight with Jorge Masvidal. That being said, UFC President Dana White recently revealed that he’s working on another lightweight fight for the fan-favorite Diaz.
White said, “We’re working on a Nate Diaz fight right now (at) lightweight,” White said of Diaz. “It would put him in a really good position if he won the fight and the guy who he could potentially be fighting, I think it’s a great fight for him too.”
Would you be interested in seeing a rematch between the two UFC veterans?
With the title out of mind, Chan Sung Jung just wants two wins in 2021
“The Korean Zombie” Chan Sung Jung was on the cusp of a title shot heading into his highly anticipated clash with Brian Ortega. Now he’s back to square one.
Jung’s first and only crack at UFC gold came in 2014 when he took on Jose Aldo at UFC 163. Unfortunately for one of Korea’s finest, a dislocated shoulder spelled his demise in round four. After that, Jung did his service in the Korean army before returning to MMA in 2017.
Going 1-1 in his first two fights back, Jung would then rattle off back-to-back first-round knockouts of Renato “Moicano” Carneiro and former lightweight champion, Frankie Edgar. To round out 2020, “Zombie” competed in a fan’s dream matchup with the aforementioned Ortega. Ortega would go on to outstrike Jung to a unanimous decision victory.
“I want to fight in April,” Chan Sung Jung said in an interview with Connectivity via Spotvnews. “If I play against any opponent, I can fight in January, but it seems that UFC is trying to match the opponent. So I am waiting for [contact]."
“I’m not thinking about the champion [or getting a title shot] yet. I think first winning the upcoming fight will be the priority. I think I will play more than two games this year. First of all, the goal is to win both games.”
Regarding who could possibly be next for Chan Sung Jung, that remains to be determined. With the mention of Russia’s Zabit Magomedsharipov floating around, Jung believes that he historically does well against tall opponents. In that hypothetical matchup, Magomedsharipov would have the advantage in height as he’s 6-foot-1 to Jung’s 5-foot-7.
WBC interim lightweight champion Ryan Garcia says he plans to retire at 26, then compete in MMA
Ryan Garcia is one of the hottest up-and-comers in boxing. Following an extensive amateur career, Garcia turned professional in 2016 and signed with Oscar De La Hoya’s Golden Boy Promotions. After quickly amassing a perfect record of 20-0, earlier this month Garcia won the WBC interim lightweight title with a seventh-round TKO of Olympic gold medalist Luke Campbell. At only 22 years old, “King Ry” has one of the brightest futures in boxing. But it appears that the future is destined to be short-lived.
Speaking with Rich Eisen recently, Garcia said that he plans to retire from boxing in just four years.
“Yeah, I plan to. If I say it, I plan to do it,” Garcia said. “I plan at 26 to retire, I don’t know, officially. You’ve seen in the past, fighters have retired and come back. This is what I will say: I still plan to retire at 26, yet, yet if I am to return back to the ring, I will only battle people that people will say at that time “There’s no way Ryan will beat them.” That’s the only time I’m coming back and I will always give the glory to God after I win. That’s what I plan to do. All I box for is to give the glory to God, so once I win I say thank you, Lord Jesus Christ is coming, there it is. That’s my plan.”
Retiring young doesn’t happen all that often in combat sports, but what Garcia plans to do next is even rarer. When pressed on his decision, Garcia revealed that though he plans to step away from boxing at 26, there is likely a future for him in MMA after that.
“To answer your question, 26, I still plan to retire,” Garcia said. “But if I do return back in the ring, I will promise everybody that I will fight people that they say I won’t beat. Do you know what I’m willing to do? I really haven’t said this out loud but what I plan to do is, say at 26 I’m done retired and boxing is all good. Do you know what I’ll do? If they say, “Okay, you’ve beaten everybody in the ring, right?” But somebody goes, “This ain’t real fighting. Real fighting is legs, choking, submission, all that.” Guess what I’ll do? I’ll go prove to them that I’m the best fighter all around the world. I’m talking about hands, I’m talking about wrestling. I will go to MMA to prove a point that God is the greatest and I’ll beat whoever in MMA that they say I won’t beat. If it has to be Conor McGregor, I will. And I’m not saying this to get money. I don’t care about money. I’m saying this because that’s just how I feel.”
Garcia and former UFC flyweight and bantamweight champion Henry Cejudo have already been engaging in a back-and-forth so that fight might make a lot of sense. Of course, a lot can change in four years, but should Garcia actually transition to MMA, he would be among the most high-profile boxers to ever do so and he would have no shortage of possible opponents.
Amazon-owned and Las Vegas-based Zappos named UFC's official U.S. licensing partner
The UFC is getting into business with one of the world’s leading online retailers.
On Friday, the promotion announced a new multiyear partnership with Zappos, a Las Vegas-based company owned by Amazon that is known primarily for its shoe sales. Zappos will become the UFC’s exclusive wholesale manufacturer and distributor of UFC merchandise, according to a news release.
Officially licensed UFC merchandise will be available at Zappos.com starting Monday. Zappos will create UFC-branded fan merchandise and apparel, “including clothing, footwear, headwear, and other accessories” with exclusive rights in the United States.
“Our merchandise and apparel are primary touchpoints that help connect our fans with UFC’s brand,” senior vice president for UFC Global Consumer Products Tracey Bleczinski stated. “Zappos is a company of innovators, their customer service is without equal, and their reach is global. We couldn’t ask for a better brand to help us serve the more than 300 million UFC fans worldwide.”
Zappos’ parent company, Amazon, has for several years been the biggest retail giant in the U.S. Zappos is expected to also sell UFC apparel there, as well.
“Through our partnership with UFC, we’re excited to bring WOW to a whole new customer,” Zappos CEO Kedar Deshpande stated. “It’s a very natural relationship – we’re both Las Vegas-based organizations that share a passion for inclusivity which extends into the fitness world. UFC celebrates all its athletes equally, and we couldn’t be more humbled to welcome them into the Zappos family.”
The selection of UFC fan gear and apparel Zappos will offer is expected to include T-shirts, hoodies, pants, shorts, sandals, warmup jackets, leggings, and footwear, the release said.
Cody Garbrandt names the three opponents on his hit list
Former UFC bantamweight champion Cody Garbrandt named the three fighters on his hit list, including the man who took his belt, TJ. Dillashaw.
Garbrandt is set to make his return to the Octagon in the next couple of months after missing the last six months of action due to injuries, not to mention a rough case of COVID-19. We last saw “No Love” at UFC 250, where he knocked out Raphael Assuncao. That win earned him a title shot at 125 pounds, but he wasn’t able to make it to the fight, and the flyweight division looks very different now. That’s why Garbrandt has said that he plans on returning as a bantamweight in his comeback.
Speaking to TMZ Sports, Garbrandt said that he’s focused on getting back into the Octagon this spring, and when he does, he has three names on his hit list. The first name is Jose Aldo, the former UFC featherweight champion who Garbrandt recently called out for a fight. Next up is Deiveson Figuerido, the UFC flyweight champion. And last is Dillashaw, who knocked him out twice before testing positive for PEDs.
“My hist list is Jose Aldo. Deiveson Figueiredo, and TJ Dillashaw. But he’s gotta prove himself. He’s got to prove he can fight clean,” Garbrandt said.
“I don’t think TJ deserves to come right back in the mix. For a lot of reasons. You cheated the sport, you disrespected the sport. You have to respect this game. I didn’t respect this game and look at what happened to me. I got knocked the fuck out in three straight fights because I wasn’t disrespecting the game. You were doing something that’s the worst you can do. We aren’t hitting balls, we’re in here fighting people,” Garbrandt said.
“This dude is giving himself the unlimited advantage of cardio, which in a fight is the ultimate (advantage). Dude, if you don’t get tired, you don’t stray away from the gameplan. I’m not sitting here crying over spilled milk but eff that dude. He doesn’t get to come in here and call the shots.”
Who do you want Cody Garbrandt to fight next?
Jon Jones explains why he is “not worried about cardio” ahead of UFC heavyweight debut
UFC legend Jon Jones has explained why he isn’t particularly concerned about cardio playing a negative role when he moves up to heavyweight.
The former light heavyweight king has vacated his throne at 205 pounds, and now, he’ll be attempting to achieve something that very few other fighters have achieved, he will try and win a world title at two separate weight classes.
When asked about whether or not the extra weight will have an impact on his cardio, “Bones” had the following response.
“No I’m not worried about cardio,” Jones wrote. “I hold myself to a very high standard. A light heavyweight standard. Some of these guys may be stronger, but they can’t possibly push as hard as I can. I’ve been able to outwork literally every light heavyweight, I’ll do the same at heavy… It’s called heart”.
“I’ve been feeling so alive lately in my training,” Jones told Bleacher Report. “I’ve been feeling so motivated. So inspired. It’s just a great feeling. I know this motivation and this liveliness I’ve been feeling is going to translate into dominating victories.”
“I’ll be ready for either of them,” Jones added. “Both fights are extremely challenging. Stipe, he’s the greatest heavyweight of all time. He has all the stats and records to prove that. And then Francis is just a freak when it comes to his knockout power, and he’s improving constantly."
“Both fights are gigantic challenges, but that’s what I’m here for in this stage of my career: to go big and see what I’ve got.”
Who, stylistically do you think Jones matches up better with? Miocic or Ngannou?
Ponzinibbio relieved to be back after staph infection, "My doctor said I could never fight again"
Welterweight contender Santiago Ponzinibbio is glad to return to the Octagon after a two-year hiatus.
It has been over two years since the last time Santiago Ponzinibbio stepped into the Octagon, but the wait is finally over. After dealing with a serious case of staph infection, which forced him out of a bout against Robbie Lawler in October 2019, the Argentinian finally has a date and an opponent booked against Li Jingliang on January 16.
In an interview with Combate, Ponzinibbio explained just how grave his infection was. When explaining the whole healing process he went through in 2020, Ponzinibbio even though he would not be able to ever fight again. However, the treatment proved successful and now the 34-year-old wants to make up for the time he lost.
“In 2020 I worked really hard to become the athlete I used to be again,” Ponzinibbio said. “The infection left me with many side effects. At one point, my doctor said I could never fight again in my life. Then he said my knee could have been ruined forever because I was in so much pain. I had to deal with all of that mentally.”
Now paired up against fellow knockout artist Li Jingliang, Ponzinibbio only has one desire: to get into another brawl and feel the thrill of fighting again. Although Ponzinibbio was originally scheduled to take on Muslim Salikhov - who pulled out due to lingering COVID-19 health problems, he says the change did not bother him. In fact, the 34-year-old does not care about any of his upcoming opponents, as long as he gets a chance to knock them out.
“I want to throw down, it doesn’t matter who is it going to be against. Just put a body in front of me. Let’s make weight and brawl. The change was no problem, I just want to show my work. No matter the fighter, I’ll win. I’ll knock him out and show the world and I’m the next champion in my division. My gameplan is to punch him in the face, make him feel a lot of pain, until he cannot take it anymore. I hope God allows me to stay healthy and fight as many times as I can this year. I want to fight every two months and make up for the time I lost. All I want to do in 2021 is to fight.”
Currently on a seven-fight winning streak, Ponzinibbio scored wins over some notable names in the division during this run, namely Gunnar Nelson, Mike Perry and Neil Magny. The 34-year-old’s last loss happened in June 2015, when he got knocked out by Lorenz Larkin.
Max Holloway’s no-spar zone could change the way MMA fighters train
No matter how many people suffer from the adverse effects of weight cutting, regardless of how many scientific studies are published proving it hurts more than it helps, combat sports athletes are still going to deplete and dehydrate themselves before competing in the most physically demanding sport on earth.
No doubt the idea of not sparring in training camp will be met with equal resistance. In the case of former UFC featherweight champion Max Holloway, he doesn’t have much choice. “Blessed” had an episode in summer 2018 that called attention to his brain health and yes, he passed every test they gave him.
But he also went on to lose three of his next five fights.
Limiting head trauma to the actual fight could help prolong his career as an MMA fighter and save him from CTE-related effects later in life. Retired UFC fighters have started coming forward in recent years to share their stories of brain injuries.
Some can’t remember the names of their kids. Others are unable to walk in a straight line.
“I haven’t been sparring, I kind of took that out. I believe I had enough full contact sparring. We’ll move and stuff but it’s not like sparring,” Holloway told South China Morning Post. “Save the brain cells for old time’s sake. When you see the professional teams, the NFL teams, these guys don’t (wear) full pads and don’t go hitting already. They did enough of that. They go out there, they do the gameplan and they practice their skills. That’s what I’ve been doing. I’ve been practicing my skills a bunch and I can’t wait to show you guys.”
He won’t have to wait much longer.
Holloway returns to the Octagon for a five-round main event against Boston boxer Calvin Kattar. Their 145-pound headliner tops UFC Fight Island 7.
The Hawaiian is not the first UFC fighter to abandon sparring. Longtime UFC veteran Donald Cerrone recently jumped ship and former welterweight champion Robbie Lawler once took six years off from sparring to deal with vertigo. In addition, boxer Sergio Martinez told me back in 2011 that he never sparred before fights because they “took something out of him.”
Whether or not this becomes more prevalent in UFC may depend on the success of those fighters who adhere to it. Nobody is going to jump on a train to nowhere and if fighters who don’t spar also don’t win, it’s going to be hard to convince athletes to lay down their gloves in training.