Arguably the single biggest mixed martial arts bout in history has finally got a confirmed date. On October 6th, “Sin City” will play host to a lightweight grudge match between the so far un-rivalled champion, Khabib Nurmagomedov and the sports biggest household name: Conor McGregor.
Arguably the greatest featherweight in history returns to the Octagon this weekend at UFC Fight Night Calgary as Manaus favourite, José Aldo meets the heavy hitting rankings climber Jeremy Stephens in the co-main event.
A win for Aldo may instate him as the rightful contender for the 145lbs championship after Max Holloway and Brian Ortega throw down, while former lightweight challenger Stephens has reinvented himself a weight lower and is on the cusp of his premier UFC title tilt.
Former UFC lightweight and featherweight champion ‘The Notorious’ Conor McGregor appeared in a New York City court today for the third occasion.
This time, he was issued his sentencing and verdict for his part in the UFC 223 bus attack in the Barclays Centre.
The UFC Middleweight division appears to be on the cusp of a major shuffle come November, as UFC 230 will not only see a clash between Jacaré Souza and former WSOF phenom David Branch, but also, first reported by ESPN’s Brett Okamoto, a mouth watering rematch between former title holders Luke Rockhold and Chris Weidman, who will lock horns once more after their UFC 194 title tilt.
An intriguing welterweight clash opens up the Fox Sports 1 Prelims of UFC 226 this weekend.
Well rounded Curtis Millender faces the powerful California native Max ‘Pain’ Griffin, with both men looking to firmly establish themselves as potential contenders at 170lbs.
Reigning UFC lightweight king Khabib ‘The Eagle’ Nurmagomedov has further intensified rumours surrounding a possible meeting with Conor McGregor this morning. The undefeated Combat Sambo specialist promised to knock the Irishmoan out at their speculated October clash.
Conor McGregor is most certainly not out of the woods yet in terms of legal proceedings, but his hiatus from active mixed-martial arts competition may be coming to an end. According to MMA Team Dagestan, a lightweight title clash at UFC 229 between champ Khabib and former gold holder Conor McGregor is in the works.
The main event of UFC Liverpool promised a chess match of a striking contest between two of the most accomplished and dangerous talents in the hugely stacked welterweight division. It surely delivered on it’s tension filled five round promise (albeit short of clear cut offensive action.)
Ultimately, it was a lacklustre 25 minute clash, with an already under scrutiny Darren Till claiming a split decision win over Stephen Thompson following a botched weight cut on Saturday morning. Hometown hero Till, stepped onto the scales weighing a massive 174 pounds, until it was revealed his pregnant partner was in hospital suffering complications with her pregnancy. Adding to the growing list of weigh in headaches in 2018, Thompson and his team negotiated a deal that would see the main event go ahead, forcing Till to hand over 30% of his fight purse and upon midday of fight day, had to successfully weigh in no more than 188lbs.
So with new terms reached, the main event at the Echo Arena was back on.
An almost point fighting, hugely composed display from both men filled the 25 minute period, with ‘Wonderboy’ Thompson’s impeccable footwork and Karate blitz counter striking forcing the heavy handed Till to conserve his energy and carefully throw that clubbing left hand. A shot he landed expertly in the final round, dropping Thompson for a brief moment. A split decision was questionably awarded to Till, with Thompson doing enough to win 3 of the 5 rounds in my opinion.
So what’s next for Darren Till?
Rafael dos Anjos vs. Colby Covington loser: I certainly don’t believe Darren Till deserves a title tilt just yet, especially with his weight cut fiasco and the controversial nature surrounding his decision victory.
In just over two weeks time, a legitimate challenger for Tyron Woodley will be established in Chicago at UFC 225, as former lightweight trail blazer Rafael dos Anjos meets brash trash talker Colby Covington for the interim 170lbs championship. The perfect match up to test Till in my opinion, would see him challenge the loser of the RDA and Covington fight.
It had be said, “The Gorilla” is yet to be tasked with dealing with a supreme and superior wrestler, something dos Anjos and maybe more so, Amercian Top Team’s Colby Covington represents. I’m currently leaning towards dos Anjos to stop Colby, subsequently taking the interim crown.
So why not pit Till versus the loud mouth Oregan State All-American?..
Kamaru Usman: It remains to be seen if Till will leapfrog Stephen Thompson and claim the #1 spot at welterweight. This is particularly due to his failure to make the 170lbs limit, so if he moves a few considerable ranks, face him off against fellow up and coming talent Kamaru Usman.
With head honcho Dana White confirming that Till will in fact fight in Vegas in his next trip to the octagon, a PPV spot containing both future champions in my opinion, will further bolster their recognition in a heated welterweight division. Usman is a cerebral wrestler who crept past Demian Maia at UFC Chile recently, but his “safety first” approach replicates champion Tyron Woodley to a certain extent. This would afford Till another opportunity to be tested against a high level wrestler.
Robbie Lawler: If this dream matchup gets made and if Till emerged with the win, it almost represents a certain passing of a welterweight torch (even more so than RDA’s demolition of “Ruthless” Robbie). Dos Anjos mauled Lawler unquestionably, ensuring he is seen as a certified elite mixed-martial artist who has reinvigorated his career since his venture up a division.
Till is still a huge prospect but a stoppage win in particular over the blood and guts veteran that is Robbie Lawler represents arguably the biggest feather in his cap to date.
UFC President Dana White confirmed Saturday afternoon that he and star commodity Conor McGregor will meet at the Echo Arena this Sunday ahead of the promotion’s premier event on Merseyside.
During an interview with Caroline Pearce of BT Sport, White confirmed how he and Conor would sit down for the first time since the fiasco in Brooklyn ahead of UFC 223 in April. Dana refused to hint at a possible return date or a probable opponent for the Dubliner:
“This is the first time we’ve seen eachother since New York, so we’re just going to get in a room together and talk.”
Rumours suggested that the former featherweight and lightweight kingpin will make his first octagon appearance since November 2016. Possibilities include a September return, or possibly at UFC 232 in the curtain closer of 2018 against Russia’s Khabib Nurmagomedov for the 155lbs title. That being said, the rather large roadblock in that may halt those predictions is the New York City justice system, may prevent such a return.
McGregor will return to the Big Apple on June 14th after he was granted a $50,000 bail subsequently paid by Dillon Danis, ahead of a second hearing and verdict. The Crumlin striker was charged with three counts of assault and one count of criminal mischief after he threw a moving dolly through the window of a bus carrying blue corner fighters in the Barclays Centre car park. McGregor and his entoutage’s actions resulted in the removal of Michael Chiesa, Anthony Pettis, Ray Borg, Brandon Moreno, Artem Lobov and Alex Caceres from the Madison Square Garden card. McGregor and SBG teammate Cian Cowley were ultimately arrested and held overnight in a New York City precinct after his private jet was grounded at John F. Kennedy International Airport.
A wide array of lawsuits and criminal damage fines are on the horizon for the Straight Blast Gym product, but he also faces the possibility of a suspension from the UFC. A certainly more realistic result is a severe fine, revoking of his fight license and community service from the NYC judicial system.
Interestingly, independent state athletic commissions such as New York, California or Las Vegas have a history of following suit if a license is revoked or a suspension is issued, casting further doubt on a possible return date or venue.
Father of one McGregor, recently posted on his official Twitter page, a picture of him in a cellar, with a caption hinting at his return:
These comments sent the MMA community into a spiral of chatter regarding a potential come back, further solidified by Khabib Nurmagomedov’s agent Ali Abdelaziz’s Twitter post, hinting at a possible meeting with McGregor:
I believe it’s safe to say, some sort of fight negotiations will be thrashed out between Conor and Dana sometime within this meeting.
More to follow as it happens…