Report: BRAVE CF owner defends Zubaira Tukhugov and offers him a place on their roster after UFC 229 melee

A little under a week after the events of UFC 229, there has been a lot to take in. Conor McGregor’s loss, as well as all of the out-of-cage brawl, has become one of the biggest talking points of UFC history.

One particular event that has caused a real split of opinion is the decision by the UFC to pull Zubaira Tukhugov from his scheduled fight with McGregor’s teammate Artem Lobov after his actions in the skirmish after the UFC 229 main event.

If you have been living under a rock for the last week and require a recap, Tukhugov was one of the three guys that set upon McGregor inside the cage after his loss to Khabib Nurmagomedov.

Since all is said and done, the UFC made the decision to pull Tukhugov from his next fight and state that he will never compete under the UFC banner again. This has caused a split in opinion inside the MMA community, where some call for the UFC to reconsider and allow Tukhugov to stay on their roster.

One of these sympathisers is BRAVE CF owner Khaled Hamad Alkhalifa. In a recent Instagram post, Alkhalifa defends Tukhogov and offers him an open invitation to their roster.

Brave CF is currently the largest middle eastern promotion and is ever growing. This is surely a sufficient safety net for Tukhogov should the UFC stick to their guns and he is expelled from the promotion.

As a side note, Conor McGregor’s loyal teammate that was charged with McGregor for the New York bus incident, Cian Cowley is also on the Brave CF books. Should Tukhogov decide to make a change and head to the Bahrainian based promotion, this could be one hell of a fight to make, with both fighters having unquestionable loyalty to either side.

Since the UFC’s decision, Khabib Nurmagomedov has issued a statement advising that he will not fight in the UFC unless Tukhogov is reinstated. As of this moment, the UFC is yet to respond and both sides are locked in a stalemate.

– Brad Dalrymple

Follow me on Twitter @Brad_MMA

Report: Khabib goes public with UFC ultimatum – “fire Zubaira Tukhugov and lose me too”

Just when things appeared to be settling down after the explosive events of UFC 229, lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov has issued a strongly worded ultimatum to the promotion, threatening to walk away from the promotion if they choose to fire his friend and team mate, Zubaira Tukhugov.

Continue reading “Report: Khabib goes public with UFC ultimatum – “fire Zubaira Tukhugov and lose me too””

In-depth: UFC 229 – The fight and the fallout

On October 6th, Khabib Nurmagomedov exacted a one-sided beating of Conor McGregor over four rounds to make his premier defence of the lightweight championship, but unfortunately, it’s the Dagestani’s actions after Herb Dean peeled him off McGregor that will forever take away from his incredible performance. I will break down the fight specifics, and then detail the confirmed events after the final bell, and what implications and next steps will be on the cards.

The Fight

McGregor, in my opinion, looked almost too tentative to pull the trigger on Khabib. When he wasn’t on his butt at the fence, it was clear he was obviously wary of Nurmagomedov’s incredible wrestling pedigree. However, it was Conor who landed the first real shot of the bout, circling Khabib onto a left hand in the opening seconds. An early, low single dive from Khabib seen him lock onto Conor’s ankle to counteract any immediate danger. McGregor initially defended well, keeping his balance but Khabib eventually elevated his leg and scored his first takedown after scuttling to the fence. Conor was initially controlling the posture of Khabib to prevent his devastating ground and pound. Khabib spent the remainder of the round in Conor’s half guard, with the Dubliner unable to scramble as expected by many.

Conor looked a tad wild with his striking at the beginning of the second, and his usual creative movement was scarce. After a brief exchange between the two, Conor searched for that stiff uppercut implemented against Nate Diaz in their first meeting, but Khabib managed to evade the shot, forcing Conor to the mat for the second time courtesy of a high crotch single leg.

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Real trouble set in once again for Conor, as Khabib, now working from a stacked guard, began raining down heavy shots on his opponent forcing him to give up his guard momentarily. Herb Dean watched closely as Conor began to cover up with the finish in sight. Khabib then transitioned to half guard once more, looking to step over into side control where he ate an illegal knee from the Irishman. Pointing out the illegal shot to Dean, the renowned referee called for the action to continue.

The second round again went in Khabib’s favour based on activity, with Conor sneering after defending a single leg before the klaxon.

The third round approached with Khabib bizarrely electing to stand with Conor for the opening exchanges. Conor looked incredibly tentative to throw as Khabib kept inside the pocket where Conor stuffed a double leg attempt before landing an elbow and a knee to the body in the resulting clinch.

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Conor was once again forced to defend against the fence, doing so admirably and again found a home for a knee to the body. Khabib then ate an uppercut, showing a granite chin and calling Conor forward after landing a left hand of his own upstairs. Forced to the ground for a moment via an outside trip, Conor eventually got back to his feet and scored another illegal shot, this time landing to the back of Khabib’s head.

Khabib’s decision to stand with the counter striker, ultimately seen his thirty round’s of dominance snapped as McGregor took the third on all three scorecards.

Conor started the fourth (and soon to be fight-ending round) on the front foot, forcing Khabib onto a left hand from the Dubliner. Khabib was certainly affected by those stabbing teep kicks to the solar plexus by McGregor, finding his target early in the fourth, but another solid entry from the Sambo specialist resulted in yet another demoralizing takedown against McGregor.

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Unable to find a way under the neck, Khabib tightened a neck crank with McGregor tapping. Eventually releasing after some prying from Herb Dean, Khabib began talking to a seated McGregor…

The Fallout

After his back and forth with Conor, Khabib fired his mouthpiece towards the fence where McGregor’s corner was seated as he was insulted by McGregor’s BJJ partner, Dillon Danis. The Russian then scaled the Octagon and leaped toward the former Marcelo Garcia prodigy, with a scuffle breaking out among the pair.

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Rising back to his feet, McGregor attempted to follow suit and hopped onto the Octagon fence where he was restrained by security, before throwing a left hand at Abubakar Nurmagomedov. Conor then found himself at odds with two more members of the Nurmagomedov camp as an unknown assailant made an attempt to confront the Dubliner, but was met with a left hand.

During this exchange, UFC Featherweight Zubaira Tukhugov made his way over the fence and landed a couple of shots to the back of a defenceless McGregor, who was then eventually tackled by the second member of Team Khabib. Coach John Kavanagh managed to cause some separation.

Khabib’s fellow AKA members, Luke Rockhold and Daniel Cormier looked to defuse the delicate situation with Khabib, who was now demanding his UFC lightweight championship, something promotion president Dana White refused to avoid any further fracas within the hatred and alcohol-fuelled Vegas crowd. In the meantime, McGregor was escorted out of the Octagon and backstage, opting to miss the post-fight interview.

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Khabib eventually left the cage under high-security scrutiny, although without his title with Dana White expecting a raining of objects into the Octagon if the Dagestani was presented with the title, especially due to the large Irish contingency. Instead, Bruce Buffer announced the official decision as the crowd and trio of commentators tried to wrap their head’s around what they had just witnessed.

The Aftermatch and Opinion

As of Monday, Khabib’s cheque has been frozen by the Nevada State Athletic Commission, while Conor has been paid his fight purse in full. Three members from Nurmagomedov’s entourage have been arrested and subsequently released after McGregor elected against pressing charges.

However, the NSAC are currently reviewing footage of the incident inside the T-Mobile Arena with a strict punishment expected to be trashed down to Nurmagomedov, particularly after the commission governor was escorted from the building.

Going off my gut feeling, I believe the commission will issue Khabib with some sort of ban and financial sting. A VISA to enter the United States, the home of his occupation has been called into question, with many wondering if the Russian will have his current one revoked or will struggle to receive one in the future.

On the other hand, I fully expect Khabib to be stripped of his lightweight crown – disappointing considering his spur of the moment post-fight antics may have just cost him his well-deserved legacy and the accolade he strived since his Octagon bow.

The next legitimate contender emerged from the fold on Saturday night as well as the former interim king, Tony Ferguson sliced up Anthony Pettis to extend his win streak to eleven straight fights. With a spine-tingling and fight of the night winning performance that had the Vegas masses on their feet, it would be difficult to refuse “El Cucuy” a legitimate shot at the official strap. He will be no doubt held in high regard by the UFC brass after such a positive performance on the opposite side of the UFC 229 spectrum. Don’t be surprised if the UFC book Ferguson vs. McGregor for a vacant title if Khabib gets stripped, a dire straits of a matchup for Conor in my opinion.

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At this stage in his career, with two losses in his last four Octagon appearances, a trilogy bout with Nate Diaz regardless of the Stockton son’s outcome against Dustin Poirier at MSG in November, not only offers a considerable paycheck, a chance for Conor to ignite the fire that once was before the Mayweather meeting. But not to mention, it would offer also a safer route to UFC immortality.

On reflection, the UFC was undoubtedly dragged through the mud by the incident after the UFC 229 main event. On arguably their biggest stage yet, the promotion may have lost a chunk of hard-earned legitimacy on the world stage, and will feel a dent in the commodity for their lightweight stars should the commission follow through with the strictest punishments possible. In a year of struggle for star power, it will be interesting to see how the next few months play out.

How do you think this will end? Is there light at the end of the tunnel?..

Opinion: Is Tony Ferguson The Real Winner Following Last Night’s Antics?

Tony “El Cucuy” Ferguson showed the world again last night that he is one of the very best in the world and cemented himself as one of the greatest lightweights in the game after beating Anthony Pettis via TKO (corner stoppage). Ferguson’s dominant performance was made even more impressive as just six months prior he underwent major knee surgery which usually takes a minimum of 10 months to heal fully. As always, “El Cucuy” was very complimentary of his opposing lightweights when he said: ” Where you at McNugget’s you f*****g piece of s**t?” before more pleasantries were exchanged.

Following the main event where Khabib Nurmagomedov submitted Conor McGregor, Khabib proceeded to leap out of the cage and attack Dillon Danis (a teammate of McGregor’s) making his future inside the UFC unclear. It may be Ferguson who comes out of all this smelling of roses as he was the UFC interim lightweight champion before being stripped due to an injury forcing him out of the fight with the champion. But “El Cucuy” is unbeaten in 11 outing’s and consistently performs beyond expectations.

Ferguson is one of the more deserving fighters in the UFC for a title shot, but with everything so unclear at the moment at the top of the lightweight division, we will have to wait and see if the American gets the shot he desires.

So what are the possible outcomes for Ferguson?

1. Ferguson vs Nurmagomedov

The more logical outcome would be for the UFC to book Ferguson vs Nurmagomedov. However, if the Nevada State Athletic Commission were to ban the Russian the UFC may strip him leaving the prospect of this fight in jeopardy.

2. Ferguson vs McGregor

Should the UFC strip Nurmagomedov, they may book Ferguson vs McGregor for the vacant title. The two have a certain amount of hatred for each other so the fight would sell well and would make the best out of a bad situation.

3. Ferguson vs Diaz/Poirier winner

The ranked outside option would be if Nurmagomedov was stripped and Nate Diaz and Dustin Poirier move into the main event spot at UFC 230 and fight for the vacant belt. This is an option as some mud has been thrown at the UFC for booking the woman’s flyweight title fight at the main event, after promising something huge. Diaz vs Poirier for the belt would fit the bill, with Ferguson waiting patiently for the winner.

So the future of “El Cucuy” is unclear at this time, but I’m sure whatever is in store for the 34-year-old will be special, and Ferguson could well end up as the king at 155lbs!

Ryan Cambridge

Report: MMA Twitter reacts to last night’s UFC 229 main event chaos

UFC 229: Khabib Nurmagomedov vs Conor Mcgregor was marketed as the biggest fight the UFC had ever put together. While that may be true for at least the immediate future, the chaos which followed Khabib’s fourth round submission win will undoubtedly be considered to be one of the most controversial and most talked about moments in the promotions history.

As is always the case, fans, media and fighters alike were all quick to take to Twitter to share their thoughts on the chaos unfolding in Las Vegas.

Here are some of the highlights.

Continue reading “Report: MMA Twitter reacts to last night’s UFC 229 main event chaos”

Opinion: Ferguson vs. Pettis – What Will Go Down?

The stacked card what is UFC 229 not only features arguably the biggest main event in UFC history as Khabib Nurmagomedov and Conor McGregor finally throw leather, but another pair of stud title challengers at 155lbs will meet in the co-headliner. Grappling ace Tony “El Cucuy” Ferguson returns from his April knee injury against exciting striking specialist Anthony ‘Showtime’ Pettis.

Looking to add another notch to his incredible ten-fight win streak, longtime division mainstay, Ferguson secured an interim crown against the dangerous Kevin Lee in his most recent UFC outing. After slapping a triangle on Lee, Ferguson earned a unification clash for the vacant championship against Khabib at UFC 223. Unfortunately, this was not to come to fruition as Ferguson tore his LCL after tripping over a monitor cable whilst carrying out media obligations ahead of his Barclays Centre appearance.

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On the other hand, after enduring the toughest stint of his professional mixed-martial-arts career in recent years, one-time WEC and UFC Lightweight kingpin Anthony ‘Showtime’ Pettis recently returned to winning ways with an eye-catching triangle armbar victory over Michael Chiesa.

The Roufusport product has an immense, often overlooked Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu base, but in fights alongside Joe Lauzon, Danny Castillo and veteran ‘Cowboy’ Cerrone, the Milwaukee native used his sublime Taekwondo ability to dispatch the trio. Both Pettis brothers feature at UFC 229, with younger sibling, Sergio Pettis meeting Brazil’s Jussier Formiga in an important flyweight three-rounder.

Pettis

Despite Ferguson’s tendency to fight “long” and stick with a lengthy jab used in the Rafael dos Anjos fight, I believe “Showtime” may hold the trump card in any striking exchanges, particularly in the pocket. Pettis is arguably the more creative and dynamic between the pair with a wide array of kicking techniques in his arsenal.

One thing Ferguson will bring on Saturday night is his constant offensive pressure and long combinations. While both possess a resounding offensive grappling background, 10th Planet Jiu-Jitsu protege Ferguson holds a wicked guard.

Bravo

Another posing question in this one is the current condition of Ferguson’s knee. Returning for the first time since April, I’d imagine Pettis to target calf kicks, particularly on the inside to buckle Ferguson’s recently healed knee, united with the incorporation of oblique kicks which will hyperextend and eventually halt forward pressure from the Oxnard native.

I think Pettis manages to get the job done against Tony and continue his resurgence to a potential second title tilt.

Anthony Pettis via split decision.

Report: Sugar Sean O’Malley announces potential USADA violation – will no longer fight at UFC 229

“Sugar” Sean O’Malley (10-0-0) will no longer be fighting at UFC 229.

The undefeated rising star was set to face José Quiñónez in what had the potential to be his biggest fight yet but will miss out on the opportunity following being flagged by USADA for a potential anti-doping violation.

Continue reading “Report: Sugar Sean O’Malley announces potential USADA violation – will no longer fight at UFC 229”

News: Conor McGregor signs new six fight UFC deal

If you thought Conor McGregor was going to sail into the sunset following his UFC 229 fight with Khabib Nurmagomedov, you had better think again.

The mercurial Irish star has signed a new six fight deal with the UFC, including his new Proper Twelve whiskey brand as an in octagon sponser for every event he fights at.

Continue reading “News: Conor McGregor signs new six fight UFC deal”

Report: Colby on Conor’s media absence – “He’s a coked-up little leprechaun”

It feels like the only Conor-related news in the media lately, is Conor’s lack of media activity in the lead up to UFC 229. It has left many in the MMA world somewhat underwhelmed and speculative around the circumstances as to why McGregor has not been his usual brash and spotlighted self.

Conor McGregor has kept away from any media appearances (other than the occasional social media post) through the build-up of his upcoming title fight against Khabib Nurmagomedov at UFC 229 on October 6th in Las Vegas. Reports have come to light that the UFC is “frustrated” that one of their most reliable fight-hypers and prized possession is not hyping the already blockbuster fight enough.

One person thinking that he knows why there is a lull in McGregor’s media game is UFC welterweight Colby “Chaos” Covington. When speaking on an interview with BJPenn.com, Covington stated:

“I completely understand where he’s coming from. He’s over in Ireland, so to come from Ireland, to come do promotion in America, that’s a little tough. It takes out of your training schedule. You want to be training hard, and preparing for your style matchup. I get where he’s coming from. It gets a little tough when you’re cutting weight to travel all over the place when you want to focus on really getting yourself ready to peak for your fight.”

However, as expected, it was not all pleasantries and empathy from Covington.

“But the thing is, he’s gotten a little soft, over the years. He’s doing his little cocaine, and he’s partying a lot with his hookers. He’s getting a little soft. He’s a little, he’s a coked up little leprechaun who’s getting a little soft, so I completely understand why he doesn’t want to do promotion.”

The UFC did announce that there will be a pre-fight press conference for UFC 229, which will be held on September 20th at the Radio City Music Hall in New York City. However, the said media event will be closed off to the public, and only UFC president Dana White along with selected members of the media will be present.

– Brad Dalrymple

Follow me on Twitter @Brad_MMA

Report: Khabib vs. McGregor Press Conference Heading To NYC

UFC 229 will have host it’s premier media day press conference next Thursday in New York City ahead of it’s fast approaching October 6th date. Event headliners Khabib Nurmagomedov and Conor McGregor will meet face to face for the first time since their highly publicised fracas at the Barclays Centre last April.

ESPN reporter Brett Okamoto offered an update on what feels like a genuinely mismanaged promotional campaign as he confirmed the first official press event at Radio City Music Hall next Thursday evening. A McGregor media tour usually offers a merry-go-round of insults and memorable catchphrases, but also a masterclass of mental warfare in which the Dubliner often tends to beat his opponent before they meet in the Octagon.

Khabib and McGregor are sworn rivals dating back to their backstage clash at UFC 205. Dagestani Khabib, called out the SBG product after a dominant win over Michael Johnson, attempting to comprehend how McGregor was at the time warranted a title shot despite losing to Nate Diaz earlier in the year and making his lightweight debut that night. McGregor secured the Lightweight crown that same night in November, stopping Eddie Alvarez convincingly in the second round.

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A 2017 expedition into the boxing world against Floyd Mayweather extended McGregor’s hiatus from the cage, followed by the birth of his son, Conor Jr. October will mark his return to the sport after a two-year absence.

Expect a huge security presence at next Thursday’s media day presser. Both fighters are known to travel with hefty entourages which have been chomping at the bit to get into it with each other in the recent months. I would imagine the UFC will be pulling out all of the stops security-wise, as this is a precious and highly anticipated fight.