Tagged in: UFC

Khabib announces retirement after defeating Gaethje

Nurmagomedov submits Gaethje with triangle choke in round two despite competing with broken foot; Russian reveals shock retirement following the death of his father: “Today I want to say this is my last fight. No way am I coming here without my father”

Nurmagomedov extended his undefeated record to 29-0 with a second-round submission victory in Abu Dhabi – his third successful title defense, having previously beaten Conor McGregor and Dustin Poirier.

It was also the Russian’s first fight without his father and coach, Abdulmanap, who died from complications caused by coronavirus earlier this year, and one he went into with a broken foot.

In an emotional post-fight interview

Nurmagomedov stated: “Today I want to say this is my last fight. No way am I coming here without my father. When UFC called me about Justin I spoke with my mother for three days. “She didn’t want me to fight without father and I said this is my last fight – and I have given her my word.

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UFC president Dana White revealed after the fight that Nurmagomedov had competed with a broken foot and that by retiring with a 29-0 record he has to be considered as one of the greatest MMA fighters of all time.

Nurmagomedov first claimed the UFC lightweight title with a points decision victory over Al Iaquinta at UFC 223 in 2018 before defending the title versus McGregor in Las Vegas later that year at UFC 229.

McGregor took to social media on Saturday night to congratulate Nurmagomedov and confirmed he would continue in the sport, even without the prospect of a rematch with the Russian.

“Good performance @TeamKhabib,” McGregor wrote on Twitter. “I will carry on. Respect and condolences on your father again also. To you and family. Yours sincerely, The McGregors.”

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Conor McGregor willing to fight Dustin Poirier but says it has to be in 2020

Conor McGregor is closer to returning to the Octagon than he has been in months.

McGregor tweeted Thursday that he “accepted the UFC offer” to fight Dustin Poirier.

But while McGregor accepted the rematch versus Poirier, whom he beat at UFC 178 in 2014 via TKO, he insisted that “it must happen in 2020.”

UFC had offered the fight to McGregor two weeks ago for UFC 257 — the Jan. 23 pay-per-view event.

McGregor asked UFC to book the fight on either the Nov. 21 or Dec. 12 pay-per-view card. Sources said McGregor’s team is now awaiting a reply from UFC on its counteroffer. Both upcoming pay-per-view cards — UFC 255 and 256 — have openings at the moment.

Last week, Cody Garbrandt was forced to pull out of the UFC 255 main event versus flyweight champion Deiveson Figueiredo due to a torn biceps. As a result, he has been replaced by the lesser-known Alex Perez.

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As for UFC 256 on Dec. 12, ESPN reported earlier this week that it had lost its main event after welterweight champion Kamaru Usman asked for more time to train for Gilbert Burns.

UFC has attempted to book a Stipe Miocic-Francis Ngannou fight for the heavyweight title or a Jorge Masvidal-Colby Covington fight instead, but neither was locked in.

McGregor hasn’t fought since his 40-second TKO triumph over Donald Cerrone in January. Before that fight, he said he was hoping to fight three times in 2020. However, the coronavirus pandemic and failed negotiations with UFC have stalled his return, leading to a public feud of sorts with UFC president Dana White.

McGregor also tweeted that he will still donate $500,000 to Poirier’s Good Fight Foundation charity, as he promised to do when the pair tried to set up a charity sparring match last week.

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Adesanya still champ with TKO of Costa

Israel Adesanya once again proved his power in the middleweight division with a second-round TKO victory over Paulo Costa in the main event of UFC 253 on Saturday.

The champion was in the driver’s seat for the first round. Costa showed some patience in waiting to commit to an attack but Adesanya took advantage of that wait-and-see approach by peppering him with leg kicks. 

Costa was more interested in goading Adesanya into throwing more than actually throwing much himself. The second round featured a more aggressive Adesanya and that was all kinds of bad news for the Eraser.

The Last Stylebender opened up, continued to mercilessly attack the lead leg while also throwing head kicks. When he targeted the head with punches Costa quickly buckled and the champion added another successful title defense to his name. 

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It was as baffling a presentation for Paulo Costa as it was a great performance for Adesanya.

The champion was certainly dominant but Costa’s lack of activity and inability to mount any offense had analysts wondering what happened to the Borrachina that mowed over each of his opponents to this point. 

Adesanya has already made quick work of a loaded middleweight division. His list of victories includes Anderson Silva (albeit an older version of The Spider), Robert Whittaker and Yoel Romero. There are some highly ranked contenders out there, but only one has the champion’s eye right now.

“There’s one more I’m really interested in and that’s Jared Cannonier,” Adesanya stated, per Thomas Gerbasi of UFC.com. Cannonier has put together three consecutive wins by TKO and has a fight calendared with former champion Whittaker in October.

Adesanya will be watching that matchup very carefully, but at this point, it’s hard to find someone in the division he won’t be favored against.

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Anderson Silva says Uriah Hall could be final opponent

All signs point to Anderson Silva making his final walk to the octagon on Halloween.

Silva (34-10 MMA, 17-6 UFC) will face Uriah Hall in a the main event of UFC’s Oct. 31 fight card, which is expected to take place at Yas Island in Abu Dhabi.

It’ll have been 17 months since the former longtime UFC middleweight champion participated by the time he enters the octagon for what he projects could be his swan song from the sport. UFC president Dana White his expressed multiple times that “The Spider” will retire after this bout, win or lose.

Silva would not 100 percent commit, but at 45, he’s aware this could be the last one. “Maybe this is my last fight,” Silva told ESPN.

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“That’s why I’m training hard everyday and do my best in my training. My whole team came to help me and everybody stayed in quarantine to start training, and I’m very excited because I think this is my last performance inside the cage for my fans, and we’ll see.”

Although Silva says a fairytale ending would be for him to recollect the 185-pound title that he once defended 10 successive times, he knows that won’t be the case.

But in Hall (15-9 MMA, 8-7 UFC), he sees the perfect dancing partner that has him motivated to potentially cap off his storied career in special fashion.

“The good story is Anderson Silva fights again for the belt and win and done, but that’s in the script,” Silva said.

“You can’t do this in real life, and I’m excited to continue working, continue doing something special and this fight helped me to create something huge inside my mind, for my fans, for legacy. Especially because I have a story with the UFC. I have a great story inside the cage, in the UFC too.”

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Edgar defies critics, edges Munhoz by decision

Frankie Edgar is shopworn. He has been in too many wars, and he’s too old. Moving down to bantamweight 15 years into his career? A last-gasp move.

Those were some of the storylines coming into the UFC Fight Night main event Saturday night in Las Vegas. Like he has so many times before, Edgar hushed the doubters.

Edgar defeated Pedro Munhoz by split decision (48-47, 46-49, 48-47) in his bantamweight (135 pounds) debut. Edgar, 38, is the former UFC lightweight (155 pounds) champion and was a perennial featherweight (145) contender. Now he has knocked off a top-flight bantamweight.

“We also recognize the world class facilities at Grove and confirm that there are no plans to relocate,” he added. Edgar, who became the 11th fighter in modern UFC history to collect in three divisions, addressed his critics in his postfight interview.

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“I proved all them wrong,” said Edgar, who cashed as a +235 underdog, according to the Caesars Sportsbook. “I still got some fight in this tank, and we’re gonna make a run at [135].”

The card took place in front of no fans at the UFC Apex, a facility owned by the promotion across the street from its corporate campus. Coming in, ESPN had Munhoz ranked No. 7 among MMA bantamweights. Edgar is a surefire future UFC Hall of Famer.

Edgar vs. Munhoz was awarded Fight of the Night by the UFC, earning both men bonuses of $50,000. The two combined for the most significant strikes landed in UFC bantamweight history (301), with Munhoz landing 166 and Edgar landing 135.

The fight was extremely close and could have gone either way. Edgar showed from the outset that he was just as fast, sharp and quick at bantamweight as he was two weight classes above. But Munhoz carries big power and landed hard right hands in the first round.

Judges Derek Cleary and Eric Colon scored the fight for Edgar. Judge Sal D’Amato had it for Munhoz. Cleary gave Edgar the second, third and fifth rounds, while Colon gave him the first, second and fifth. D’Amato had Munhoz winning all but the second round.

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UFC Edgar vs Munhoz preview

Frankie Edgar believes his edge in high-level experience will make the difference on Saturday versus Pedro Munhoz in the main event of UFC Fight Night: Munhoz vs. Edgar. The future Hall of Famer gets an opportunity to prove it when he makes his bantamweight debut versus the division’s fifth-ranked contender.

Their fight headlines the marquee at the Apex facility in Las Vegas, with the main UFC Fight Night card slated for 8:30 p.m. ET. Edgar, the former lightweight champion, remains confident he has another title run left in him at UFC on ESPN.

However, the motivated Munhoz seeks a victory to bolster the pursuit of his first title. Munhoz is a -240 favorite (risk $240 to win $100), while Edgar is a +200 underdog in the latest Edgar vs. Munhoz odds from William Hill.

The 33-year-old Munhoz (18-4-1) has been considered a potential title-contender since his UFC debut in February 2014.

All four of his UFC losses have come against fighters who are still ranked, with three of them in the top 10. 

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The Brazil-born Californian had perhaps the biggest win of his career when he knocked out former titleholder and third-ranked Cody Garbrandt in March of last year. But he was outclassed three months later by the second-ranked Sterling, who now seems to be in line for a title fight versus new champion Petr Yan.

Edgar (23-8-1) is widely regarded as a UFC legend who has been involved in numerous memorable bouts. He won the lightweight championship in 2010 versus fellow icon B.J. Penn and made three successful defenses before dropping a pair of bouts against Benson Henderson, who is now in Bellator.

But the New Jersey native is just 1-3 in his last four appearances, with the lone victory coming against fading former contender Cub Swanson. He was stopped by Chan Sung Jung in the first round of their December bout and also suffered a first-round knockout loss in 2018 against Brian Ortega, who is ranked No. 2 at featherweight.

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Nevada extends suspensions of 4 UFC fighters

Four UFC fighters had temporary suspensions extended Wednesday by the Nevada State Athletic Commission (NSAC).

Jamahal Hill, Tim Elliott, Luis Pena and Marc-Andre Barriault failed in-competition drug tests in relation to their last fights in Nevada. Upon the results coming back, the four fighters were temporarily suspended.

On Wednesday, the commission extended those suspensions at its monthly meeting. The suspensions will be in effect until the athletes can have disciplinary hearings when the length of the suspensions and any other discipline — like fines — will be determined.

Hill, Elliott and Peña tested positive for cannabis. Barriault tested positive for the banned substance ostarine, a performance-enhancer in the family of selective androgen receptor modulators (SARMs). It is projected that the four fighters will have disciplinary hearings at the NSAC meeting next month.

The most recent NSAC suspensions for marijuana have been for nine months. Cannabis is prohibited in-competition by the NSAC over a threshold of 150 ng/ml.

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The commission can suspend a fighter for ostarine use anywhere between nine months and two years.

Barriault overpowered Oskar Piechota via second-round TKO at UFC Fight Night: Blaydes vs. Volkov on June 20. With his failed drug test, Barriault is facing that victory being overturned to a no contest.

Hill, an unbeaten light heavyweight prospect, defeated Klidson Abreu by first-round TKO at UFC Fight Night: Woodley vs. Burns on May 30. Peña fell to Khama Worthy by third-round submission at UFC Fight Night: Poirier vs. Hooker on June 27. All the bouts took place at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas.

The four UFC fighters could also face discipline from USADA, the UFC’s anti-doping partner.

Also Wednesday, the NSAC came to an adjudication agreement with PFL fighter Glaico Franca, suspending him for nine months and fining him $3,500 for failing a drug test for the anabolic steroid Stanozolol last October in relation to his PFL playoff fight with David Michaud.

Franca’s suspension already expired July 12. The adjudication agreement delay was due to Franca having issues having his dietary supplements tested in his native Brazil and the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

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Brunson stops Shahbazyan by third round TKO

The only way to the top of UFC’s middleweight division is through Derek Brunson. On Saturday, he slammed that door shut for a red-hot prospect.

Brunson stopped Edmen Shahbazyan via TKO 26 seconds into the third round in the main event of UFC Fight Night in Las Vegas.

The previously unbeaten Shahbazyan had all the hype coming in as the former training partner of UFC legend Ronda Rousey. But Brunson nearly finished him at the end of the second round and then did so early in the third.

The card took place with no fans at the UFC Apex, a facility owned by the promotion right across from its corporate campus. It was the first event in the United States after a month-long run in July on Yas Island in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, which was dubbed Fight Island.

Brunson said in his post-fight interview that he was disappointed he was a heavy underdog. He said he is 3-0 since going to train under coach Henri Hooft at Sanford MMA — and recalled advice Hooft gave him when he first got to the South Florida gym.

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Brunson was a +290 underdog coming in.

This was the largest upset in a UFC main event since Michael Bisping (+400) knocked out Luke Rockhold to collect the UFC middleweight title at UFC 199 in 2016, according to ESPN Stats & Information.

When the third round started, Brunson started his onslaught again. He came forward with a big left hand, took Shahbazyan down and landed more ground-and-pound. This time, Dean had a quick hook and called it off, awarding Brunson a TKO.

Brunson said his instant thoughts were going home to see his family after being apart for the past four weeks while training. He said he will start thinking about his next opponent with his coaches within a week.

Brunson (21-7) is considered one of the strongest outs in the middleweight division. The North Carolina native is on a three-fight winning streak. Brunson, 36, has lost only to current or former champions since 2016: Israel Adesanya, Robert Whittaker, Anderson Silva and Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza.

Brunson is now tied with three others for the third-most finishes in UFC middleweight history with eight. UFC president Dana White stated he was impressed with Brunson’s performance.

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Holm-Aldana UFC weekend main event called off

The organized main event for the Aug. 1 UFC Fight Night card between Holly Holm and Irene Aldana has been called off.

Aldana took to Instagram on Wednesday to announce that she had to withdraw after testing positive for the coronavirus.

According to ESPN’s Ariel Helwani, the main event will be Derek Brunson vs. Edmen Shahbazyan with Holm vs. Aldana no longer on the card.

Helwani added that the current plan is to rearrange Holm vs. Aldana for Oct. 5 as the main event.

The 32-year-old Aldana has won five of her past six fights and is among the fastest-rising stars in UFC’s female ranks. Holm was set to be arguably the biggest challenge of Aldana’s career despite her recent inconsistency.

Holm is best known for her shocking upset victory over Ronda Rousey in 2015, but she is just 3-5 since the win of her life. She has fallen to big names such as Miesha Tate, Cris Cyborg and Amanda Nunes, but she is coming off a win over Raquel Pennington at UFC 246 in January.

Aldana lost to Pennington last year, but she has bounced back with victories over Vanessa Melo and Ketlen Vieira.

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Overall, Aldana is 12-5 with six wins by way of knockout and three submission victories professionally, while the 38-year-old Holm is 13-5 with eight knockouts. Holm is ranked second in the UFC women’s bantamweight division, and Aldana is sixth.

Whenever the Holm vs. Aldana fight does take place, the winner could be in line for a title shot versus Nunes.

The middleweight bout between Brunson and Shahbazyan will be a classic case of a clash between a grizzled veteran and an up-and-coming youngster.

Brunson, 36, is 20-7 professionally and has faced some of the biggest names in the sport, including Anderson Silva, Israel Adesanya and Lyoto Machida. Meanwhile, the 22-year-old Shahbazyan is a perfect 11-0 with nine of those wins by knockout.

Shahbazyan hasn’t faced the big names Brunson has, but he is 5-0 under the UFC banner and viewed as one of the top prospects in the sport.

If Shahbazyan manages to defeat Brunson, it will be the biggest win of his career and should help him rise significantly from his No. 9 ranking in the middleweight division.

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UFC sets Adesanya-Costa for Sept. 19

UFC middleweight champion Israel Adesanya will face Paulo Costa at UFC 253, per Combate.

Ariel Helwani of ESPN confirmed the report and said that a location is to be determined for the fight, which is slated for Sept. 19.

Adesanya holds a perfect 19-0 record (8-0 UFC). Fourteen of his victories have come via knockout. His most recent fight occurred at UFC 248 in March versus Yoel Romero, which ended with a unanimous-decision win.

The fourth-ranked pound-for-pound fighter in UFC’s rankings will take on the No. 2 middleweight contender in Costa, who is also undefeated (13-0) and coming off a unanimous-decision victory over Romero.

Mike Bohn of MMA Junkie confirmed that both fighters’ camps have agreed to a fight.

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The UFC 253 card will include fights between Mackenzie Dern and Randa Markos, Hakeem Dawodu and Zubaira Tukhugov and Shamil Abdurakhimov vs. Ciryl Gane, per Bohn.

But the main event should have plenty of fireworks, and the lead-in might be epic. As Helwani noted, the two have exchanged a “war of words” since last year.

Of note, Costa’s manager, Wallid Ismail, told Cole Shelton of BJPenn.com that Adesanya had rejected fights versus Costa for UFC 251 and 252.

“UFC offered Adesanya to fight on July 11 and August 15 and Adesanya declined both times,” Ismail said. His coach claims Adesanya hasn’t gotten an offer which is not true. We have proof.”

The two fighters will be facing off in two months, however, as one of the more anticipated MMA matchups of the year is set to take place. The fight will mark just the second time in UFC history that two undefeated males fight for an undisputed title.

The first time was back in 2008 when champion Rashad Evans defended the light heavyweight title against Lyoto Machida at UFC 98.

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