Kamaru Usman is hoping to be a crucial part of Francis Ngannou's title dreams, Ngannou's coach has talked about a potential fight with Jon Jones and much more — Fightful Fix roundup is your one-stop-shop for MMA news ahead of a big night at UFC 260.
Kamaru Usman hopes his championship pedigree can help Francis Ngannou
Kamaru Usman is hoping to help his fellow African Francis Ngannou become the third African-born UFC champion, potentially joining Usman and Israel Adesanya when he faces Stipe Miocic at UFC 260. Usman, who was in Ngannou’s corner when he scored a first-round knockout over Junior Dos Santos in July 2019, has taken part in several five-round fights and a few title fights in his reign so far. And "The Nigerian Nightmare" is hoping that his pedigree in that regard can help the Cameroonian achieve his dream.
“I think it’s just experience,” Usman told ESPN (h/t MMA Junkie). “Because me being in there, I’ve been in championship fights, and I think that’s one of the things that sets me apart from a lot of fighters is my mind as far as how I react to other fighters and how I think and how other fighters think, and I think he trusts that. But make no mistake, he has great coaches that have been coaching for a while so whatever he needs, I’m there to help.”
Coach: Francis Ngannou vs. Jon Jones could be the "biggest fight of all time,"
Francis Ngannou's coach Eric Nicksick has admitted that a fight with Jon Jones is one that their camp would relish. Jones has already been declared as the next No. 1 contender at heavyweight with plans to make his debut in the division later this year against the winner of the UFC 260 main event. And Nicksick has admitted that a fight between Jones and Ngannou could be "the biggest fight of all time."
“You start talking about the competitor in us and here’s Jon Jones, arguably the greatest pound-for-pound to ever do it,” Nicksick said to MMA Fighting. “So to be able to compete against a guy like Jon Jones in the heavyweight division. To be honest with you, that’s probably the biggest fight of all time if we’re able to make that fight happen.”
Dana White says Ronda Rousey Is "Not Coming Back Ever" after Miesha Tate's return
The saying is 'never say never' but when it comes to Ronda Rousey returning to the Octagon, Dana White has indeed said no chance. "Rowdy" hasn't been seen in the UFC since her first-round TKO loss to Amanda Nunes at UFC 207. But at the UFC 260 press-conference, White said that despite Miesha Tate returning to the UFC, Rousey will not be joining her. White was speaking to TMZ Sports and commented that he worries for Tate's nose upon her return. Tate got her nose fixed before she faced Nunes and White has revealed he warned her against this.
“I told her not to do this. Right before her last fight, she got her nose fixed because she had some damage to her nose. And she got her nose fixed, I told her, ‘Don’t do it, I’ll fix your nose when you’re done. When you’re done, I’ll fix your nose.’ She did it, and if you watch the Amanda Nunes fight, she gets hit by Amanda Nunes in the nose and she didn’t like it," White said (h/t BJPenn.com). "Her and I haven’t talked about this, but big mistake. Over the last five years, she’s obviously given her nose plenty of time to heal. She’s had some kids, built a family, got her nose straight, so I’m happy for her."
White was asked when he last spoke to Rousey and when he said that he spoke to her yesterday following recanting the TMZ Sports interview, he sensed what the next question was from the assembling media.
“Don’t even f*cking start, you guys,” White joked with the media (h/t MMA Fighting). “Yesterday about lots of different things, not this. Absolutely, positively not coming back, ever.”
Ben Askren: Colby Covington deserved Kamaru Usman rematch over Jorge Masvidal
Ben Askren has admitted he wasn't a fan of Jorge Masvidal getting a rematch over Colby Covington against Kamaru Usman. Masvidal will get his chance at Usman with a full camp this time at UFC 261 at Jacksonville, Florida's VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena, despite not getting a win since his loss. And Askren has admitted that although he isn't a fan of either "Gamebred" or "Chaos" that he would rather have seen Covington get his rematch based on how close his fight with Usman was.
“I didn’t like that booking actually. I said this also, and I got a lot of pushback, and I was really surprised. To me, or to the scorecards, that was a 50-43 fight. Jorge won no rounds, he won zero, and he lost 10-8 in two of them, and you had Colby vs. Usman, which was 2-2 going into the fifth round. Colby ended up getting knocked out, but it was really competitive. Colby has won a fight since then; Jorge has not," Askren said in an interview with MMA personality Helen Yee (h/t MMA Junkie). “Obviously there could be some stuff behind the scenes that I’m not seeing because that’s not my job that is preventing Colby from getting another shot. Nobody likes Colby. Like, no fans are like, ‘Oh sh*t, we want Colby to get the shot’ because nobody actually likes him. But even me, who doesn’t like him, thinks that probably would have made a lot more sense.”
Tyron Woodley explains why he was ‘hurt’ more by loss to Covington
Tyron Woodley has admitted that the loss to Colby Covington is one that has stung more than others in his recent slump. Woodley is 0-2 since losing the welterweight title to Kamaru Usman but his loss to Covington in his last outing has annoyed him more than others due to the gimmick that "Chaos" plays.
“He wasn’t really disrespecting me. He was doing an act. I know about the act. I even talked to him about it, I told him there’s a different way to do it and that he looked stupid and silly. But if that’s what he wants to do, go ahead and do it. He was like, ‘Man, I’m just trying to get money and I’m just trying to build this up. We can make money at the end,'" Woodley claimed during an interview with TSN's Aaron Bronsteter (h/t Bloody Elbow). "It hurt to lose to him just because he was willing to use an act to stir up some negative controversy with some things that were very sensitive, whether it was Brazilians, whether it was the political debate, whatever he was doing. It was all a game, and I think certainly you shouldn’t play with. And just for someone that I used to pay as a training partner that had never even thought about winning a second against me in any training format, ever in life.”
Islam Makhachev would love to fight Justin Gaethje
Islam Makhachev is eyeing up a fight with one of the top contenders in the UFC lightweight division. Makhachev was supposed to fight Rafael Dos Anjos, however, Dos Anjos had to withdraw due to a COVID-19 diagnosis. Since then he has been a bit cautious in accepting the fight and even told Makhachev that he will accept a fight only if he gets another opportunity to compete with Khabib Nurmagomedov afterwards, should he win. But Makhachev has a few names he would like to fight.
"I don’t know what’s going on with the UFC matchmaking but I think that’s what will end up happening. Most of the top-10 fighters are busy but I’m 90 percent sure they’ll give me a top-10 guy. We know that Felder doesn’t want to fight often. He has other things going on with the UFC and isn’t eager to fight anymore," Makhachev told RT Sport after a recent Eagle Fighting Championship fight card. "As far as Hooker, I saw that he recently came home. He was quarantined for a long time so I don’t think he’ll want to come back soon. He’ll probably want to rest after getting knocked out, so I think they’ll give me Dos Anjos."
If that doesn't come to pass though, Makhachev has a very intriguing alternative.
“Yes, it’s possible [that I fight Justin Gaethje. Justin and I know each other but it’s not like we’re friends," Makhachev said. "It’s possible. He’s free right now. Why not? I’d love to fight him."
Stipe Miocic is the greatest MMA heavyweight of all time, says Dana White
Stipe Miocic doesn't seem to get the respect and credit that he deserves. Miocic is the underdog for his title defence at UFC 260 vs. Francis Ngannou and despite all his accomplishments in the sport, Miocic is not talked about in the same way as some of the other stars of the UFC. In Dana White's eyes though, Miocic is the greatest heavyweight the sport has seen.
“He’s the greatest heavyweight champion of all-time. Not just in the UFC, but in the entire sport. He’s a great ambassador for the sport and the brand. Just such a good human being, such a regular guy and you couldn’t ask for more from any of your champions,” White said to 3News’ Jim Donovan.
Adrian Yanez hopes he can fight at UFC 262 to make his childhood dream come true
Adrian Yanez defeated Gustavo Lopez at UFC Vegas 22 by KO in the third round, building on his impressive KO in his UFC debut. After the win, Yanez knew he was going to call his shot of being on UFC 262 in Houston, Texas. Yanez promised his Dad he would fight at the Toyota Center on his way to MMA training as a kid and he believes he will fight on that card.
“I would really like to be on that May 15 card in Houston. I didn’t know Nate Maness was booked so I’d like to fight Davey Grant. He has two good KO’s and that would be a really good fight,” Yanez said to BJPenn.com. “To me, it is more just about fighting on the card. I grew up dreaming about fighting at the Toyota Center, every time my dad took me to train, we saw it on the Highway and I promised him I would fight there one day. It would be a dream come true to make that happen and fight in front of my hometown crowd.”
Thomas Almeida: Sean O’Malley "popular on YouTube" but still unproven in the UFC
Thomas Almeida is looking to cancel the "Sugar" show when he faces Sean O'Malley at UFC 260. O'Malley may have more than one million followers on social media. But Almeida isn't interested in that and believes that when it comes to just fighting, O'Malley is still an unproven entity. O’Malley broke through as a rising star with a first-round knockout over Alfred Khashakyan on Dana White’s Contender Series in 2017, winning four in a row under the UFC banner before getting finished by Marlon Vera in August.
For Almeida, O’Malley “is popular on YouTube, but still has to prove many things in the UFC,” he said in an interview with MMA Fighting. “He’s a good kid, a talented kid, but still has to do a lot more. I face him like any other regular opponent. He has his qualities, he’s a talented kid, but I’ll do my game in there. I’m going there to work, be aggressive and represent. I’m really happy with this opportunity.”
Almeida feels O’Malley’s fame is deserving, but thinks “Sugar” has to fight “tough opponents to be recognized in the UFC” and earn a different kind of notoriety.
“In my opinion, in order to be recognized and famous, he has to win and fight big names,” he said. “He’s talented, has a good reach for the division and knows how to use that. He kicks a lot, and we have to be careful with that. A kick is a kick, nobody likes to get kicked in the face [laughs]. Those are his strong points. In my opinion, he still has to show more.”
Robert Whittaker OK with Israel Adesanya wanting Darren Till
Robert Whittaker has no issues with waiting on a title chance as Israel Adesanya targets Darren Till. Whittaker has gone 2-0 since losing the middleweight title to Adesanya, including a win over Till. Adesanya and his camp seem hesitant to give Whittaker a chance at redemption due to his decisive Adesanya beat him and the Aussie is ok biding his time.
“Yeah, it is what it is,” Whittaker told Submission Radio (h/t BJPenn.com). “All the power’s in Adesanya’s hands at the moment. So, it is what it is. I just got to win the next fight, worry about it after. He did beat me, and he’s the champ. The power’s in his hands. I’m not gonna dwell on it too much. All I’m gonna do is just keep my head down, focus on that next fight and try to get that win, and just keep winning. That’s the goal. That’s what I’m doing. I’m not worrying about too much else.”
Omar Morales motivated for UFC 260 return: "The defeat did me well"
Omar Morales tasted defeat for the first time when he lost to Giga Chikadze in October. Despite experiencing the bitter taste of defeat for the first time, Morales is glad he did. The Venezuelan knew that day could come and said it’s been motivating him to reach his full potential.
“The defeat did me well. It gave me a push that I needed to train harder, be more focused, and to be in search for a higher level as an athlete. I was ready. It’s not like I’ve been training for two or three years. I started this at a very young age, and at some point I knew that I was going to suffer a defeat. I didn’t expect it at this moment, that’s true. But maybe it was a mistake from my part – debuting at 145 pounds, against a very tough opponent, and with a very long trip," Morales told MMA Junkie in Spanish. "I should’ve done it with a shorter trip and be able to see how my body felt at the new weight. Instead, I went against a top opponent – who I actually want to meet again under better conditions. That night, I didn’t feel good at all. I felt slow. He realized that and took advantage of it. Chikadze knew I was very slow, so he would stick and move, stick and move. I wasn’t able to find him all fight. I walked forward, I looked for the fight all night, but he was very smart and intelligent and took the win.”