In the third episode of UFC 257 Embedded, Dan Hooker and friends enjoy a tropical-themed shoot, Michael Chandler talks about what it means to make his UFC debut, Dustin Poirier gets some fresh air, Conor McGregor brings his kids around, and much more.
Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images
With a fight against Dustin Poirier happening in just a few days, Conor McGregor is attempting to keep his focus on UFC 257 but it’s nearly impossible for the former two-division champion to ignore the shadow of lightweight king Khabib Nurmagomedov looming over the event.
McGregor fell to Nurmagomedov by fourth-round rear naked choke in their previous meeting in 2018 and since that time “The Notorious” has only competed once in a lopsided win over Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone. Nurmagomedov went onto defend his title two more times before immediately calling it a career following a submission win over Justin Gaethje this past October.
The retirement announcement was a shock to everybody surrounding Nurmagomedov, who declared his intention to walk away from the sport after making a promise to his mother following the tragic death of his father earlier in 2020. Since that time, UFC President Dana White has continued to hint at Nurmagomedov’s eventual return, although a planned announcement regarding his decision to fight again or not ended without any actual clarification about his future.
White claimed Nurmagomedov told him that if something really impresses him out of several upcoming lightweight fights, he might consider a return to action. McGregor was quick to shoot that down as a fact, but acknowledged his own desire to run things back with the lightweight champion if the opportunity is afforded to him.
“I don’t really care,” McGregor said about Nurmagomedov during the UFC 257 pre-fight press conference. “He did not say that, Dana said that. Let’s just get through the fight. All these men are up here, there’s plenty of challenges. It’s a tough business. Things have gone on in his personal life, I don’t wish him any harm. Like I said, it was in 2018, a lot of time has passed.
“The world knows this fight is not over. The war is not over. The sport needs it to happen. The people need it to happen. I’m not going to chase it if he doesn’t want it. That’s it. I’ll keep my calm and move on. That’s what I’m doing. I’m back here at the 155-pound division. I’ll show the world what’s what over time and that’s it. It begins on Saturday night against Dustin Poirier.”
Earlier in the week when McGregor made his arrival at the host hotel, he was actually standing just a few feet away from Nurmagomedov, who was in Abu Dhabi to corner his cousin Umar Nurmagomedov at UFC Fight Island 8 on Wednesday.
Numerous reporters on the ground noticed how the rivals were in close proximity to each other, which probably wouldn’t give anybody pause in normal situations but McGregor and Nurmagomedov have engaged in a couple of outside the cage altercations that have only added to their disdain for each other.
For his part, McGregor wasn’t paying too much attention to Nurmagomedov’s whereabouts when he arrived on Fight Island. However, he can’t say for sure what might happen if they cross paths again.
“All of those events were 2018, it’s now 2021,” McGregor said. “What I will say is as long we fight again, there will be no issue. That’s it. If he continues to run, I’m not sure, we’ll see what happens.”
With so much indecision swirling around Nurmagomedov’s future, McGregor is advocating for the UFC to make a decision about the lightweight title still wrapped around the waist of the undefeated Russian.
If he’s coming back, McGregor is ready for the rematch. If not, the Irish superstar wants the division to move beyond Nurmagomedov, which means crowning a new lightweight champion.
“I would make the case if that man is continuing to dodge this and dodge the commitment of competing again, the title should be stripped and we should be engaging in a title fight,” McGregor said. “But I’m sure it will happen after this bout.
“I’m interested to hear what the excuse is or what will be said after the fight, but I predict a title strip.”
After the UFC 257 press conference, Dustin Poirier and Conor McGregor squared off for the first time for their main event showdown Saturday night. Check it out above.
Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC
On the 28th episode of On To the Next One, MMA Fighting’s Mike Heck and Alexander K. Lee put on their matchmaker hats following Wednesday’s UFC Fight Island 8 event in Abu Dhabi.
Future matchups were discussed for Michael Cheisa—who picked up his fourth straight win by defeating Neil Magny in the welterweight main event—Warlley Alves, Ike Villanueva, Viviane Araujo, Matt Schnell, Lerone Murphy, and more. In addition, they give their reactions to a slew of reader suggestions following the fight card.
The podcast can be found below, Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, iHeartRadio, and Stitcher.
Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC
Yesterday at UFC Fight Island 8, UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov’s cousin Umar Nurmagomedov made his long-awaited UFC debut and did so in style, submitting former M-1 Global bantamweight champion Sergey Morozov in the second round with a rear-naked choke. The performance was good enough to earn Umar a Performance of the Night bonus and now that Umar is officially in the UFC, Khabib would like for him to have a very active year.
“To be honest, I am very happy,” Khabib told RT Sport following Umar’s victory. “It really feels like a load off my shoulders. It’s a very important win for our team and our family. We will keep working. It would be nice to have one more fight in Las Vegas this March. If not, we will fight after Ramadan. We have plenty of time ahead of us. Umar is just 25. Two more fights this year would be perfect.”
Following his father’s passing due to COVID-19 last year, Khabib has taken over some of the coaching responsibilities for his fight team. After the bout, Umar was hard on his own performance saying it was not his best showing and though Khabib agrees that Umar could have done better, when asked about it, Khabib likened Umar’s performance to his own UFC debut.
“I don’t think it would be good to criticize him now,” Khabib said. “When he was fighting I recalled my own first round in the UFC back in 2012 when I could not find my rhythm, my range, feel the octagon. It takes time. He will grow with every single fight and I don’t want to rush. when you are just 25 you are definitely far from your full potential. When you are 28, 29, or 30, that’s the time we need to get him to reach his mental and physical peak. Now his physical condition may be at the maximum but mentally he is not there yet.
“Everything should come together at the very top of your potential just by the moment you will have the biggest fight of your career - your physique, your mentality, and your most important fight. That’s when you are set to make history. He is still very young now.”
Coincidentally, Umar’s debut fell on the nine-year anniversary of Khabib’s own UFC debut, a third-round rear-naked choke submission of Kamal Shalorus. In fact, Khabib’s debut was similar to Umar’s in that he was a much-hyped prospect finally arriving in the UFC with high expectations. Certainly those expectations are raised for Umar after all that Khabib has accomplished but Khabib is confident that as Umar gains more experience fighting in the UFC, he too will rise to the occasion.
“It’s very big, not only for us but for Umar,” Khabib concluded. “It’s good for him in terms of his emotional maturity. A very important experience to gain. Entering the octagon over and over again makes you a different animal, a different fighter. Today you could see how Umar rocked him and ran over him trying to finish the fight right away. He won’t make the same mistake in his tenth fight. He will be a sniper, not a machine gunner.”
Results. Michael Chiesa mauls Neil Magny on the ground to win UFC Fight Island 8 main event.
Call out. Michael Chiesa explains second Colby Covington callout: ‘Because he’s the toughest matchup for me’.
Retired. Khabib Nurmagomedov: Fighting not in my plans, don’t ‘push me to do things that will disappoint my mother’.
Boxing. Conor McGregor: Max Holloway is not the best boxer in the UFC ‘and I’ll prove that’ against Dustin Poirier.
Tantrum. Darren Till erupts at police officers in confrontation over wearing mask.
UFC Fight Island 8 Post Show.
UFC Fight Island 8 Post-Fight Press Conference.
Conor sits down with Megan Olivi.
Bellator really going heavy on Michael Chandler content this week.
Chandler on TMZ Sports.
On to the Next One. Matches to make following UFC Fight Island 8.
Heavy Hands. Discussing the biggest fights at UFC 257.
SOCIAL MEDIA BOUILLABAISSE
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A post shared by Neil Magny (@neil_magny170)
Competitive fight last night! Happy to come out the victor. After watching it a couple times, it was closer than I originally thought. Hat's off to my opponent. Tyson brought it. Grateful and honored. We want more! #DangerThings pic.twitter.com/auEoyX6zjs— Matt Schnell (@DANGER_Caged) January 21, 2021
Quick one from me. Lost a great fight to someone who had a better night & a better game plan. No excuses my end. Great fight from Mike.Will be back better than ever— Mason Jones (@MasonJones1995) January 20, 2021
Till now leaning into it.
NewProfilePic pic.twitter.com/x8StddaC2g— karen Till (@darrentill2) January 20, 2021
Good guy Max.
This changes nothing for @CalvinKattar . He's still a top contender. I'm still a fan. And he's still from Boston so he will be back even better. Looking forward to Kattar 2.0 t.co/SD7eYqrlrF— ... Max Holloway (@BlessedMMA) January 20, 2021
These are the Top 5 wrestlers in .@UFC Bantamweight division IMO:MerabMyselfRicky SimonUmar NurmagomedovCody Stamann#UFCFightIsland8— Aljamain Sterling (@funkmasterMMA) January 20, 2021
I mean, she’s not wrong . . .
Whack. Shoulda had a name ready.— Lauren Murphy (@LaurenMurphyMMA) January 20, 2021
Calvillo will get massacred t.co/pIijGqITxU— ... Lauren Murphy (@LaurenMurphyMMA) January 20, 2021
447 connected strikes in a fight might be nice and all, but I rather just knock people out, really. Even if I didn't, they can't take that many of my punches anyway ♂️ pic.twitter.com/pAEExpy8xA— Patricio Freire (@PatricioPitbull) January 20, 2021
The no-nonsense Keith Peterson.
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This is going to be good [ #UFC257 | #InAbuDhabi | @VisitAbuDhabi ] pic.twitter.com/YPe5i67RoA— UFC (@ufc) January 21, 2021
Phil Hawes (9-2) vs. Nassourdine Imavov (9-2); UFC Fight Night, Feb. 20.
Bea Malecki (4-0) vs. Norma Dumont (5-1); UFC Fight Night, Apr. 10.
Thanks for reading and see y’all tomorrow.
If you find something you’d like to see in the Morning Report, hit up @JedKMeshew on Twitter and let him know about it. Also follow MMAFighting on Instagram and like us on Facebook.
Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC
At the last UFC 257 media day for the week, Daniel Cormier and the coaches of Conor McGregor (John Kavanagh) and Dustin Poirier (Mike Brown) will answer questions from the media Thursday morning.
The UFC 257 media day video is expected to begin at 5 a.m. ET. The schedule is as follows:
5 a.m. ET - Mike Brown
5:15 a.m. ET - Daniel Cormier
5:30 a.m. ET - John Kavanagh
Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports
At the UFC 257 press conference, former UFC champion Conor McGregor, former UFC interim champion Dustin Poirier, Dan Hooker, Michael Chandler, along with UFC president Dana White, will answer questions from the media Thursday morning.
The UFC 257 press conference is expected to begin at 8 a.m. ET.
ABU DHABI — Lightweight Mike Davis speaks with reporters backstage at Etihad Arena following his unanimous decision win over Mason Jones at UFC Fight Island 8. “Beast Boy” explains why he wasn’t thrilled with his performance overall, being impressed with the toughness of Jones, reflects on an emotional 2020, what it felt like to return and get a victory, and more.
ABU DHABI — Flyweight Francisco Figueiredo speaks with reporters backstage at Etihad Arena following his unanimous decision win over Jerome Rivera at UFC Fight Island 8. He discussed why he wasn’t overly happy with his octagon debut, carrying the family name with his brother and flyweight champion Devieson Figueriedo, promising improvements for his next appearance, and more
Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images
A middleweight fight between Phil Hawes and Nassourdine Imavov that was originally scheduled for UFC fight Island 7 has now been rescheduled for the upcoming event on Feb. 20.
Multiple sources confirmed the rebooking to MMA Fighting on Wednesday following an initial report from TSN.
The fight was scrapped from the card on Fight Island due to Hawes having a non-COVID related medical issue but there was immediate hope that the matchup would just be moved to a later date.
Now, that date has been set with Hawes and Imavov expected to clash as part of the Feb. 20 show, where the middleweights join a lineup that includes Curtis Blaydes facing Derrick Lewis in the main event.
Hawes is currently riding a five-fight winning streak including a knockout in his UFC debut as well as a finish during an appearance on Dana White’s Contender Series. As for Imavov, he earned a unanimous decision against Jordan Williams in his first appearance in the UFC this past October.