Fightful Fix is your one-stop-shop for all of today's biggest combat sports stories — from Khabib Nurmagomedov being named Star of the Year by the BBC and more.
Khabib Nurmagomedov named BBC World Sports Star of 2020
The BBC has given Nurmagomedov one of their most prestigious and longest-running sports awards, the World Sports Star of the Year. 2020 was a year that saw Nurmagomedov return from the traumatic loss of his father Abdulmanap, defeat Justin Gaethje to defend his UFC lightweight title, only to retire after the fight. If indeed Nurmagomedov never sets foot in the cage again.
The World Sports Star of the Year is an award the BBC has been giving out since 1960. Last year it was awarded to Ethiopian marathoner Eliud Kipchoge and has been given to such prestigious stars as Muhammed Ali, and Martina Navratilova in the past. Nurmagomedov is the first MMA fighter to win the award, and only the third combat sports athlete to win after Ali who won the award three times, and Evander Holyfield who won the award in 1996.
UFC Vegas 17 Odds
Take a look at odds for UFC Vegas 17 courtesy of Bet Online.
Geoff Neal (-120 ) vs. Stephen Thompson (Even)
Greg Hardy (-120) vs. Marcin Tybura (Even)
Rob Font (+130) vs. Marlon Moraes (-150)
Marlon Vera (+125) vs. Jose Aldo (-145)
Khaos Williams (Even) vs. Michael Pereira (-120)
Deron Winn (+140) vs. Antonio Arroyo (-160)
Pannie Kianzad (+135) vs. Sijara Eubanks (-155)
Jamie Pickett (+275) vs. Tafon Nchuwki (-325)
Alex Morono (+200) vs. Anthony Pettis (-240)
Cody Durden (+135) vs. Jimmy Flick (-155)
Gillian Robertson (-120) vs. Talia Santos (Even)
Karl Roberson (-260) vs. Dalcha Lungiambula (+220)
Junior Dos Santos won't accept loss to Cyril Gane, due to allegedly illegal elbows
"The way things happened in the end of the fight gets me reflecting a lot, I can’t quite accept it. Not just the way it was, but mainly because of people in the business have said about that. Not that I couldn’t get knocked out, none of that." Dos Santos ranted "Quite the opposite, I’ve always accepted my defeats with humbleness. If someone is better than me, there’s nothing I can do, especially in this division, where the hand lands and the person goes down. But the situation there, the way it was, and everybody thinking that’s ok… By everybody I mean so-called MMA specialists considering it a legal strike. To me, that’s very frustrating."
After having much, much, much more to say about the foul, Dos Santos also commented on speculation that he could be cut from the UFC following his most recent loss.
"Our contract with the UFC can end whenever they want. I think they have the intention to let many fighters go now. I don’t know how it will go. I think that’s on them." Dos Santos lamented. "I don’t know exactly how it will go right now. Let’s see what the next step will be. Like I said, I love doing what I do, I’ve always done my best inside the organization and I’ll continue doing as long as I can."
When asked if he would continue fighting if he was released by the UFC, Dos Santos said he had no intention of retiring, nor was he even considering it.
"I love fighting, like I said, and it’s hard… I have no intentions to retire now, especially because I’m 36 and, like I said, I’m performing at the highest level in training," Dos Santos said. "But I can’t reflect that in the octagon, so it’s a complicated situation. I prefer to not even discuss [retirement] because I don’t want to rush myself. I’m not thinking about it."
Early UFC veteran Paul Varelans in the ICU with COVID-19
"The Polar Bear" Paul Varelans, the 6'8" 300 lbs monster of early UFC fame is battling COVID-19, and is currently on a ventilator in a medically induced coma at an Atlanta area hospital.
His friend Shane Viens posted on Facebook the following.
"COVID has taken a couple people in my life so far. It’s been difficult to face to say the least.
Now it’s after one of my best friends, my brother, big Paul Varelans. This can not stand. You may know he is very sick, but what you don’t know is that as of Tuesday he is in a medically induced coma at the ICU in Emory Midtown in Atlanta Georgia. He isn’t breathing on his own. They have the big man on a ventilator. I’m beside myself with worry. I don’t want, I NEED you to support our guy any way you can. Fairbanks, Alaska your hometown boy is hurting in a fight that he can not quit. MMA family, he needs you now more than ever. Our brother has been taken down, let’s find some way to show him we care. Pray, write, support… do whatever you can please. I can not lose him to this. We can not lose him. Love you forever and a day Paulie. You can do this."
The early UFC veteran fought during the NHB era of the sport and engaged in memorable fights with the likes of Igor Vovchanchyn, Tank Abbott, and Kimo Leopoldo.
Miesha Tate interested in grappling match with Cris Cyborg
Former UFC champion Miesha Tate gave her thoughts on a potential return to competition, while speaking with James Lynch, in a grappling contest vs. current Bellator featherweight champion Cris "Cyborg" Justino.
“I have six (fights left on my UFC contract),” Tate said (h/t MMA Fighting). “So if I wanted to fight, which I’m not, I wouldn’t be able to fight anywhere else. So you wouldn’t see me pop up and fight for ONE Championship or anybody else because obviously, I can’t legally do that. I would like to grapple, and you know, Cyborg did call me out to a grappling match. That piques my interest.”
She also commented on the confusing contractual status involved in putting a contest like that together, but she hopes that it merely being a grappling match would get around those circumstances.
“It would be amazing,” Tate said. “I think if we want to make it happen we definitely have to figure out the legalities of it, because my fight contract is owned by the UFC, right? She fights for Bellator, and I work (for) and represent ONE Championship.”
Tate retired from MMA after a loss to Raquel Pennington at UFC 205 in 2016, and in retirement Tate has become an executive for ONE Championship based in Singapore.
Greg Hardy targets transition to boxing
When sitting down for pre-fight interviews before his UFC Vegas 17 fight against Marcin Tybura, UFC heavyweight Greg Hardy offered his thoughts on a potential boxing career.
“After I get done shutting this down, handling my MMA business, I want to venture into the boxing realm,” Hardy told reporters (h/t MMA Junkie). “I’m trying to holler at Dana (White). Hopefully we can get some fights in the Zuffa Boxing world, Top Rank, Al Haymon" Hardy crowed confidently "somebody come holler at this dude because I definitely want to go over there and knock out ‘The Gypsy King,’ make light work of that English cat Joshua, or whatever it is, ‘Cry-baby Bomber.’ We’ll knock all those guys out, man. Of course you know I’m going to work for it. It’s an aspiration I think will come true real fast, and I can’t wait for it.”
While Hardy faces a stiff test in Poland's Tybura on Saturday night, he also spoke about his ambitions of climbing the division.
“I see a lot of hard fights, I see a lot of big-name opponents, and I look forward to working,” Hardy said. “The sky’s the limit, and it’s a beautiful time to fight… It never means anything to me until I win the gold. I’m hungry. I started from the bottom on purpose so I can climb back up.”
The controversial Hardy last fought in October when he knocked out Maurice Greene to move to 7-2 (1).
Jose Aldo feels no pressure going into fight with Marlon Vera
In a pre-fight scrum former UFC featherweight champion Jose Aldo gave his thoughts going into his UFC Vegas 17 bout vs Marlon "Cheeto" Vera
“I feel now like it’s the restart of my career,” Aldo commented (h/t MMA Junkie). “I feel like it’s the first fight of my career. Aldo said "I’m not feeling any pressure because I always fight with great fighters. I just keep training hard and get ready for my next opponent. I’m not feeling any pressure.”
Aldo also was faced with common questions about his fighting future but insisted he wasn't looking past Vera and his upcoming fight on Saturday.
“I will always keep my career step by step,” Aldo said. “Right now I just think about Marlon Vera, but after Marlon Vera I can think about the future.”
Aldo, the future hall of famer, is coming off a knockout loss for the vacant bantamweight title to Petr Yan back in October and has yet to win since dropping to bantamweight in late 2019.
Michel Pereira wonders if Anthony Pettis is scared of him, Pettis dismisses
UFC welterweight, and walking highlight film Michel Pereira claims that Anthony Pettis is ducking him.
In comments made at the virtual media day, Pereira claims that Pettis used an injury as an excuse to avoid fighting him, and given they both fight Saturdya is wondering the truth.
“I’m upset with Anthony Pettis because he said he was hurt, he had a back injury, and wouldn’t fight me, and I understood that, he’s hurt and can’t fight, OK, but now he’s fighting on the same card on the 19th,” Pereira told MMA Fighting. “So why isn’t he fighting me? Is he scared? Or is it because I’m not ranked? Why? I almost didn’t get a fight in December because he was stalling for a month to say yes or no. He said no, and now he’s also fighting on the 19th.”
“I think it’s fear, right? It can only be fear. I don’t know,” Pereira continued. “He can’t fight me but will fight someone else? I think it’s fear. … I know many fighters in my division are afraid of me, but time will come for me to fight them all. With my humbleness, focus, discipline and charisma, I’ll reach the top and get my moment.”
Pettis was asked to comment about Pereira's claims at the same virtual media day, and he confirmed he had been offered the fight, but offered a rational explanation to the situation.
“When they offered me a fight on the 19th, I was looking at the 12th, the last fight card,” Pettis told the publication. “If I’m gonna fight, I’d rather be on the last card fight of year, get an extra week. This was probably three weeks ago. I think they offered him to my agent for the 12th and I’m like, ‘I’d rather have the extra week.’ During that one week of negotiations when [Leon] Edwards got his COVID test results and pulled out because of COVID, that opened up a spot on the 19th card and I hit up Dana [White] myself [and said], ‘Dana, let me get on that card.’"
Pettis also firmly rejected any idea that he was afraid of fighting someone like Pereira, and offered his extensive record as evidence.
“Maybe he should look at who I fought and then he can tell me if I’m afraid to fight a guy like him,” Pettis said. “A guy like him, especially since he comes from a striking background, maybe our paths will cross. But it wasn’t in God’s plan right now for us to fight. I don’t really gotta speak on that; I feel like he has to talk the talk to get a fight with me. These guys want to fight me, these guys want to get in the octagon with me.”
The 10 year anniversary of the "Showtime Kick" seems a perfect time to match up two of the most creative men in MMA. Both men fight this Saturday, Pettis vs Alex Morono, and Pereira vs. Khaos Williams, so depending on both outcomes we could see that fight get put together in the future.
Khaos Williams thinks he will turn Michel Pereira into a wrestler
Turning our attention to Michel Pereira's opponent Saturday night, Khaos Williams believes after feeling his power, Pereira will look to take the fight to the ground.
In an interview with Just Scrap Radio, the rising UFC welterweight shared his predictions for the fight.
“I feel like once he feels my power and once I touch that chin he will shoot. His coaches will tell him, too. That won’t worry me. You can have a plan A, B, C but it’s not going to work,” Williams said. “I see me touching his chin, dropping him, either knocking him out or getting the TKO. Maybe we go the distance and I will outstrike him. I will not be outworked.”
Williams has burst onto the scene in 2020 with two knockout wins that have lasted a combined 57 seconds, including a spectacular knockout of Abdul-Razak Alhassan just last month.
Anthony Johnson offers outlook for Bellator career
Anthony "Rumble" Johnson offered his thoughts on how he sees the newest chapter of his career going now that he has signed with Bellator.
On the subject of his weight, and what division he would be competing in, Johnson didn't rule out competing at heavyweight, but stated his preference for the 205 lb division.
“Because I ain’t fat no more,” Johnson told MMA Junkie. “It’s plain and simple. When I was talking about coming back, I was like 280 or something like that. I’m 230 or maybe a little bit less, give or take. If they want some, I’ll piece somebody up (at heavyweight) if they want it. But why would I want to go up against somebody who’s got 20, 30, 40 pounds on me? You know what I mean? If I’m going to fight you, it’s going to be an even playing field. But if I have to go up and beat Goliath, I’ll do that.”
The interview eventually turned to the topic of potential opponents, and Johnson says recent singee Yoel Romero's name has been the most frequent he's been hearing from fans. While Rumble sees that fight in his future, he is in no rush to get it made.
“I do believe eventually it will happen,” Johnson said. “… I think it’ll be maybe (my) second, maybe (my) third fight. … I was surprised when I saw what he said. The whole 90 percent thing threw me for a spin because I was like, ‘Nobody said nothing to me. I’ve seen your name more on my Instagram than on a contract.’ You know what I’m saying?”
“I don’t know what he’s been told. I don’t know what he’s trying to do," he expressed. "I understand promoting and hype, but I don’t know about that 90 percent thing. Honestly, I haven’t been presented anything. It is what it is. Both of us are high-caliber fighters. All I can say is I respect him, and I wish him the best in the organization. We’re going to have a lot of fun here. Let’s make the best of this whole situation we’re in.”
Johnson, long revered as one of the sport's biggest punchers, announced his return last month after retiring in 2017 in the wake of his losing his second UFC light heavyweight title opportunity against Daniel Cormier.
Elias Theodorou announces return to fighting, debut as a promoter
Former UFC middleweight Elias Theodorou announced he will debut as a co-promoter in the spring of 2021, in a creative partnership with media company ImagineBC.
"Elias is pleased to announce his new partnership with ImagineBC, which will stream the event exclusively on their digital platform: "I collaborated with ImagineBC to bring this unique event to life because we share a vision of a more equitable future for all athletes, creators, and personalities. It's important to me to provide a safe, accessible and inclusive platform for my audience, and ImagineBC is the best possible partner to support this vision." says Theodorou. "Imagine BC's platform is levelling the playing field for advocates like me. The ability to securely age-gate my content for a 19+ audience allows me to work within the current Canadian marketing regulations in a compliant way, while still being able to provide authentic content to my loyal fans."
While it is unclear exactly what the details of this event will be, it appears the focus will be centered around Theodorou's continued advocacy for medicinal marijuana use in connection with him being granted a therapeutic use exemption (TUE) for marijuana earlier this year.
Rise: Fighting The Stigma 03/2021— The Mane Event (@EliasTheodorou) December 17, 2020
Beyond excited to share I will be validating my Therapeutic Use Exemption for cannabis in competition as both fighter & co-promoter. This historic 19+ event will be streamed exclusively on @imaginebcapp #CannabisAthlete pic.twitter.com/aUIk0P0TLf
Lawsuit filed against Gronkowski, Mayweather and others over 'fraudulent' teeth-whitening lights
A teeth whitening company that was endorsed by Floyd Mayweather, and Rob Gronkowski is being accused of conducting a “widespread fraudulent scheme to deceive consumers,” according to a lawsuit filed in New York on Wednesday.
Long Island native Barton Kraus filed a $5 million lawsuit against Snow Teeth Whitening, its founder, and celebrity endorsers Mayweather and Gronkowski. In the suit, Kraus alleges the company used fraudulent tactics to promote their product, including claiming it could protect you from COVID-19.
The tooth whitening product was endorsed multiple times by Mayweather, and Gronkowski, including an advertisement that was filmed featuring Gronkowski.