Okay folks, we have a lot to digest here, so I am going to do the best I can to break this all down as simply as possible.
As most of you know, this past weekend, Conor McGregor found himself in the spotlight once again, and this time, for the wrong reasons. While attending his teammates fight at Bellator 187, McGregor jumped the cage after the round (and what most assumed the fight) was over, to congratulate his friend. The video below is a much better visual and explanation as to what happened, and you can form your own opinions.
Since this event, there have been rumors and speculations thrown around and talked about in every possible way, from McGregor being suspended, to being stripped of his title, or what seems to be the most truthful report, that he has been pulled from his potential UFC 219 main event at the end of this year, where he was likely to defend his belt (against who, we still do not know).
The UFC is desperate for a huge main event on this card, as the end of the year card’s a usually a huge draw and a huge deal for the UFC, and right now UFC 219 is stuck in no-man’s land. While the card certainly has some big names, and shouldn’t struggle to hit PPV marks, we all know Dana White and the UFC matchmakers would like to bolster the card.
Whether we believe that Conor McGregor was ever actually going to be on the card, or if the UFC is just using this situation to “punish” him for his actions is unclear and will probably be unclear forever.
So with all of this being said, we have had a huge new rumor being thrown around in the last 36 hours or so, and while some fans might not like it, I could care less about any of their opinions! The rumors are swirling that Tyron Woodley, who, other than Stipe Miocic, is the only UFC champ who would likely be able to fight come December, will be headlining the card. Against who you might ask? Well, none other than Nathan Donald Diaz.
Yes, you read that right. Not Nick Diaz, the career welterweight, who has for over a decade been one of the best 170-pounders in the world, but instead, his (not so little) little brother. While many fans have been holding out hope that Nick Diaz would make his UFC return this year, after having his marijuana suspension reduced, it doesn’t seem like we will see Nick in the octagon anytime soon, if ever.
Nate Diaz on the other hand has been clear that he is waiting for his trilogy with Conor McGregor, and that he will be paid handsomely for that fight, or he too may be done with the UFC. Well Nate, it looks like the UFC may not only be matching your hand, but raising you one as well.
Woodley is coming off of two successful title defenses, both of which were candidates for the worst fight ever, not only just this year. So what does the UFC do? They find someone who is not afraid of Tyron’s power, not afraid to brawl and push the pace, and a fan favorite fighter.
However you spin it, this fight is a win-win for everyone. Nate wins? Him and Conor McGregor have their trilogy, with both belts on the line, in the biggest fight in the history of combat sports. Sounds pretty good right?
Woodley wins, he proves he can beat whoever the UFC throws at him, gets more respect from the fans who have completely turned on him, and he has the opportunity to choose from a plethora of top welterweight contenders.
I say we do it. Screw it, right? Nate Diaz is a big lightweight, and would have no problem jumping up to 170 pounds and competing with the top 10. He likely would have had a career at 170 if it wasn’t for Nick Diaz being atop the division for their entire careers. Diaz would have no issues going to the ground with Woodley, as it would be interesting to see Diaz’s jujitsu vs. Woodley’s wrestling, and in the standup, while Tyron has the advantage, Nate fears no man, and would stalk him down the whole fight, which would at the bare minimum make Tyron Woodley engage his opponent for the first time in his last 2 fights.
I’m in. I don’t care if it makes no sense or if the UFC is turning into a sideshow. Let’s run this.
My good friend Brett Okamoto over at ESPN broke it down further for those who would like some more clarification on the situation.
What. A. Night.
Saturday was one of, if not the most wild and incredible nights in the UFC's history, with three title fights, and three new champions being crowned. This card lived up to it's expectations and then some, and I truthfully still haven't processed or come to grips with what went down, but maybe after writing this I will.
I was fortunate enough to watch the entire card, from the early prelims until the main event on the main card, and it was an amazing night of fights from top to bottom. There were a ton of finishes, bombs being thrown and some brutal KO's from the early fights. However, I won't get into all of them because it simply would take too much time, so I'll start with the main card.
As I predicted, Johnny Hendricks simply was no match for his young, up and coming opponent, Paulo Costa, and he was battered and bruised until he was TKO'ed in the second round. Hendricks in my opinion really needs to hang up the gloves, as his career and stock continues to plummet. Costa on the other hand should find himself in a position to jump into the top-15 of the rankings, and take on an opponent in those ranks as well. This kid has some serious potential.
Next up we had Wonderboy and Jorge Masvidal squaring off in a fight between two high caliber welterweight strikers, and it was definitely an entertaining one. However, Thompson was simply too much for Masvidal, landing strikes from anywhere and everywhere, and coasted to a unanimous decision victory. Wonderboy now finds himself right back in the title conversation, but it is definitely like that he will have to wait until the winner of Robbie Lawler and Rafael dos Anjos gets their title shot. Whether he decides to sit and wait, or fight someone like Colby Covington or Darren Till, both of which would be great fights, is unknown for now, but hopefully we can get Wonderboy back in there. Masvidal on the other hand has now lost two straight and needs a win in a big way, possibly over a lower top-10 welterweight.
Now we get to the first of three title fights, and possibly the most shocking event I have seen in quite some time in the UFC. Joanna Jedrzejczyk put her straw-weight title on the line against "Thug" Rose Namajunas, in what was supposed to be a lock for JJ to make yet another title defense. But Thug Rose proved to everyone that this is the fight business, and anything can happen, no one is safe.
Namajunas proved that her hands are as good as anyone's, landing several bombs clean and flush, and finally dropping the former pound-for-pound female fighter. JJ will absolutely get an immediate rematch, and there is no doubt that she can come back and regain her belt, but all the respect and credit to Thug Rose for going out and doing her thing, and at only 25 years old, she's got the whole game ahead for herself.
In our second title fight, we had the grudge match to end all grudge matches, Cody Garbrandt defending his bantamweight championship for the first time against his former teammate and bitter rival, TJ Dillashaw. I had Cody winning this one all the way, and if the first round had a few more seconds in it, he might have.
But as we all know, there's five rounds in a title fight, and Dillashaw came right back out in the second round and brought it to Garbrandt, and after landing a huge head kick, was able to finish Garbrandt on the ground in the second round. Dillashaw is dead-set on going down to 125 pounds and fighting Mighty Mouse, and I hope he does and I hope Mighty Mouse takes his head clean off.
And last but certainly not least, we had the return of arguably the greatest mixed martial artist ever, Georges St. Pierre, and boy did the fight deliver on the hype. In a fight where I personally did not think GSP had what it took to move up to 185 pounds after 3+ years away from the sport, I am happy to say I was proven wrong. GSP came out, brought it to Bisping, landed some big takedowns, and truthfully only took the majority of the damage he did take from Bisping's strikes from the ground. Although there were a few instances where GSP seemed to have some ring-rust, he still looked great, and was able to keep the pressure on Bisping and finally finished him in the third round with a flurry of strikes and a rear naked choked to cap it all off. Hat's off to one of the sport's greatest ever, and I can't wait to see if his middleweight run will be for real or not, because his next opponent Robert Whittaker, the Interim Middleweight champ, is an absolute force to be reckoned with.
The most prolific name in combat sports today, and the biggest draw in the history of MMA has finally broken his somewhat-silence since fighting Floyd Mayweather at the end of August, and has given some clarity on what his next move is.
First, before getting into the bigger of the announcements from "The Notorious", we will talk about who it seems will be his next opponent. While many have speculated there would be a trilogy fight between Nate Diaz and Conor McGregor, for the UFC Lightweight Belt, it seems the tides have shifted towards Tony Ferguson, the UFC's Interim Lightweight Champion.
Just a few weeks ago, following Ferguson's win over Kevin Lee, McGregor tweeted that picture, alluding to the fact that Ferguson would be his next opponent.
While even McGregor's coach, John Kavanagh, seemed to be pro-Diaz trilogy, saying Saint Paddy's at MSG would be ideal - but McGregor said this week that he would like to fight before the year ends, likely at UFC 219, December 30th in Las Vegas.
This is great news for fight fans, because it had long been rumored that McGregor wanted to fight in 2017 after the Mayweather fight, but there had been no indications of whether or not that was going to actually happen.
So with all that being said, and there clearly being some clarity and light at the end of the tunnel in this McGregor madness, there is still a big hurdle that needs to be cleared. Conor McGregor has stated that he will not return to the UFC unless he earns a co-promoter deal. McGregor feels that as the biggest star the UFC has ever seen, and a guaranteed huge money draw, it is understandable why he is asking for this.
“I was promoter on the Mayweather fight, and we’re in current negotiations,” McGregor told the crowd during a Q&A prior to the debut of his biopic “Notorious” in Dublin. “I ain’t stepping in that octagon again unless I’m part owner of the whole setup – I’m a promoter.”
“I still love fighting,” he said. “I love watching that (movie). I’m twitching watching all them shots being thrown. It’s just something I love to do. I don’t know what it is. I will fight again, no doubt, and I’ll fight multiple times. But when I do do it, I must eliminate all the outside stuff, because there’s so much business stuff, so much personal stuff, so much everything involved in an empire – running it, maintaining it, building it.
So clearly with that all being said, McGregor wants to fight - and he wants to fight sooner than later, but he won't do it unless he is compensated properly, and for once, a fighter may actually have a chance to win a battle with the UFC for leverage. We have seen many fighters go up against Dana White with these types of demands, and until now, no one has been successful.
But then again, no one has ever been Conor McGregor.
Here's to hoping we get to see this savage back in the Octagon in 2017.
Ladies and gentlemen, you're gonna wanna strap in for this one. UFC 217 at MSG this Saturday night will be incredible, with three title fights, a potential welterweight title eliminator fight, and a plethora of high powered fights.
The preliminary card for UFC 217 could be a main card on FS1, and would still draw a ton of views. With young stars like Mickey Gall, Randy Brown, James Vick, OSP, Corey Anderson, and so on, the 4 fights on the pre-lim card are absolutely worth tuning in to. I am most excited to see Mickey Gall get back out there, and hopefully showcase that he is not all hype, and that he is a legitimate future star in the UFC, and Randy Brown is a good opponent for him to do that against, with Brown himself looking for a big win after a tough decision loss in February.
Now for the main card, the first fight on the card is a huge matchup for one reason - if Johnny Hendricks loses on Saturday, I think it will be time for him to hang up his gloves for good. With Hendricks moving up in weight to 185 pounds, he is desperate for a win, and he's also lost 5 of his last 8 fights, following his absolute robbery in his title fight against GSP in 2013. Unfortunately do not think Hendricks will get the win, and I think up-and-comer Paulo Borrachinha will come away with the victory.
Prediction: Borrachinha via 2nd-round TKO
Now we get to the real fun. Stephen "Wonderboy" Thompson takes on Jorge Masvidal, in a welterweight fight that will be nothing less than a striking clinic. Both of these men love to stand and trade, and both have excellent stand-up game's, and it should definitely be a war. I think Masvidal has the advantage in the power and toughness advantage, but I think Wonderboy's length will be the difference maker, and if he keeps his distance, he will chip away at Masvidal and pick him apart.
Prediction: Wonderboy via unanimous decision
For the first of our three(!!!!!) title fights, we have the always amazing Joanna Jedrzejczyk defending her belt against Rose Namajunas, in what should also be a very fun fight. JJ is the greatest female straw-weight ever, and she doesn't let us it forget it either, as each fight she looks better and better and breaks more and more records. So far we have not seen anyone who can push the pace for 5 rounds with Joanna and come out victorious, let alone even win a round, and I think Saturday will be much of the same.
Prediction: JJ via unanimous decision
If there has ever been a rivalry in the UFC that was fueled by pure, genuine hatred, the Cody Garbrandt and TJ Dillashaw feud could be it. These two former teammates turned enemies, truly hate each other. This is going to be the greatest title fight in bantamweight history, and it is going to be a real life war. I think personally think TJ Dillashaw is a bum version of Dominick Cruz, and Cody embarrassed Cruz. I don't see this fight going the full 5 rounds, because I think there is just too much bad blood and hatred in that octagon Saturday night, and someone is getting laid out.
Prediction: Cody Garbrandt via 3rd-round TKO
And finally, the long awaited, long anticipated, return of GSP. Michael Bisping will be putting his belt on the line for the second time when he faces one of the greatest mixed martial artists ever, GSP, in his middleweight debut. GSP hasn't fought since November of 2013, and has never fought at 185 pounds, so this fight is a true mystery for us all. As the greatest welterweight ever, we were shocked when we heard that GSP would be returning but not at 170, at 185 pounds. I personally think this move will not fare well for GSP, and I think he will be overmatched, overpowered, and undersized for the middleweight division, and he's not even facing the best fighter in the division in Bisping. I think the return of GSP goes much like the return of Ronda Rousey, and the man who once owned the welterweight division will find himself in serious hot water.
Prediction: Bisping via unanimous decision
I am not exaggerating when I say that this card is going to be worth every penny. Three title fights, a long list of potential wars, and a New York crowd that will be out of their seats the entire time.