Here’s your latest round-up of all the going’s on in the world of MMA:
- It’s fair to say the most controversial moment of the weekend was the actions of Raquel Pennington’s corner in between rounds of her failed title challenge against Amanda Nunes at UFC 224. Pennington told her corner after round four “I’m done, I want to be done”, yet she was still sent out for the fifth round, where she was ultimately stopped by the UFC bantamweight champion. Now Pennington is adamant they made the right call, telling The MMA Hour she is “actually proud of my coaches”, whilst her head coach Jason Kutz has also stood by his decision, which has split opinion throughout the sport. The debate will continue to rumble on.
- UFC 227 is currently due to be headlined by the rematch between bitter rivals, UFC bantamweight champion TJ Dillashaw and Cody Garbrandt in a rematch from last year. However, those plans could soon change. UFC President Dana White has confirmed that he is working on matching up Georges St Pierre and Nate Diaz in a lightweight battle, as well as adding a light-heavyweight fight between Alexander Gustafsson and Luke Rockhold. White added those plans were: “In my perfect world, if everything goes perfect and nothing ever goes perfect in this world”. It would represent a big drop in weight for GSP, who has held titles at welterweight and middleweight, whilst Diaz will be in his regular division, although he hasn’t fought since his loss to Conor McGregor in 2016. Fingers crossed that the UFC can pull this off.
- A major source of interest this year has been what will happen to the broadcasting rights for the UFC, as the TV deal with Fox runs out. Well the first destination has been confirmed as 15 events on the new streaming service ESPN+, which has already began broadcasting top level boxing, notably Vasyl Lomachenko and Jorge Linares’ clash last Saturday. The new deal will begin in January 2019 and each card will have 12 fights, whilst ESPN+ will also show new, original content, as well as Dana White’s Contender Series. The deal will run for five years and will be worth around $150 million annually.
- Oscar De La Hoya has now set his sights on the MMA world and will create Golden Boy MMA. His first signing looks like it will be none other than MMA legend, Chuck Liddell, who at 48 has been retired since UFC 115 back in 2010. This could well be a counter-act as UFC President Dana White is looking to break into boxing, with the creation of Zuffa Boxing, who are rumoured to be actively pursuing four weight world champion Mikey Garcia as their first signing. White has bemoaned Liddell’s potential return to the cage, whereas Liddell has since confirmed he will certainly be coming out of retirement, although not which umbrella he will be competing under. He is targeting Tito Ortiz, a man he has beaten twice before, as his first opponent back, possibly in November, as well as calling out Jon Jones.
- Bellator 199 took place last weekend and Ryan Bader, the light-heavyweight champion, was in no mood to hang about as he stopped “King Mo” Lawal in just 15 seconds to secure his place in the Heavyweight Grand Prix semi finals. Subsequently after suffering the quick defeat, Lawal has confirmed he will now compete at middleweight, whilst highly rated prospect Aaron Pico is hoping he can win world titles in MMA, but also in boxing. Pico, is a former sparring partner of Miguel Cotto and also a Golden Gloves champion back in 2009. Other entertaining moments on the card included Paul “Semtex” Daley booing his own fight and the rumours of 50 Cent launching an MMA career building at an alarming rate.
- After an excellent debut last season last year, Dana White’s Tuesday Night Contender Series will return, starting on June 12th on UFC Fight Pass. Confirmed fighters include Antonina Shevchenko, the sister of Valentina, who is the top contender for the UFC women’s flyweight title, former NFL star Greg Hardy, who will face fellow ex-NFLer Austen Lane, who is 4-0 in his MMA career. Hardy was banished from the NFL after he was charged with cocaine possession and also involved in a domestic violence case. The most famous name belongs to Nick Newell, who is 14-1, the only loss coming against Justin Gaethje. Newell was born with the lower part of his left arm missing.
- Fights confirmed this week include two featherweight battles on July 14th in Boise, Idaho where Chad Mendes returns from his drug ban to take on Myles Jury, whilst the popular Darren Elkins will face Alexander Volkanovski. The biggest news however belongs to the confirmation that Eddie Alvarez and Dustin Poirier will meet in a long awaited rematch in Calgary on July 28th. The first meeting ended in controversial fashion when Alvarez hit a downed Poirier with illegal knees in the second round back at UFC 211 last May in Dallas.