Posts Tagged ‘future’

LAS VEGAS – With four straight wins in the UFC’s middleweight division, Robert Whittaker has turned himself into a legit contender in the weight class.

But that’s not something he’s thinking about right now. In fact, he said, he’s looking years and years down the road, instead.

“I’m definitely developing still,” Whittaker told MMAjunkie on Thursday at a media day in support of Saturday’s UFC 197. “I’m not looking forward to the next fight or the fight after. I’m looking four or five years down the track when I’m in my prime and I have the experience and the time behind me. I’m really looking forward to the person I’m going to be, but I’m happy with the person I am now and I’m going to go out swinging.”

Saturday, Whittaker (15-4 MMA, 6-2 UFC) will do the swinging on the UFC 197 main card against Rafael Natal (21-6-1 MMA, 9-4-1 UFC). The event takes place at MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas with a main card on pay-per-view following prelims on FOX Sports 1 and UFC Fight Pass.

Natal has a four-fight winning streak of his own coming into the fight, including a stoppage of Kevin Casey in January in his most recent fight.

“He’s a rugged dude,” Whittaker said. “He’s got a skill set to beat fellas, and I’ve got to show him the respect he deserves – but I’m going in there headhunting.”

And while Whittaker said he’s content to fly under the radar of most fans, he also knows a win over Natal will bring him even more respect, which is what he craves.

“I’m perfectly under the radar. It’s excellent. But I’m barely leaving my hotel if I don’t have to. The respect thing (could change). I always fight to earn respect. That’s why I do this sport. But I’m going out there looking to put on a performance.”

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UFC president Dana White believes featherweight champion Conor McGregor isn’t retiring and will fight again for the organisation in the next year, and he said the decision to pull the Irishman from the UFC 200 card on July 9 was not based on money.

White added Frankie Edgar and Jose Aldo will fight for the featherweight title if McGregor doesn’t clarify his situation soon, and he left the door open for the Notorious to return to the UFC 200 card.

On Tuesday, McGregor shocked the world by sending out this tweet, apparently announcing his retirement:

While most fans dismissed it as a joke, it soon became clear McGregor wasn’t messing around. Several hours later, the UFC announced McGregor had been pulled from the UFC 200 card for failing to show up for a press conference, per Marc Raimondi of

White appeared on The Herd with Colin Cowherd on Wednesday to discuss the ongoing saga. When asked whether he thinks McGregor is actually retiring, the UFC president gave a clear answer:

Via Ariel Helwani of, he added money wasn’t a factor:

The organisation’s reasoning behind pulling McGregor from the UFC 200 card looks flimsy at best. The Notorious is arguably the organisation’s biggest and most marketable star, and unless something major happened, he needs to be on the card of the UFC’s biggest event in years.

Pulling him for missing a press conference in Las Vegas because he’s training in Iceland seems quite the overreaction, per Raimondi. But via MMA Latest, White highlighted this is something fighters are expected to do, and they usually deliver:

He added he had no choice:

Per Helwani, White said he’s “not mad” at McGregor, but unless he can “clear up his status soon,” he will lose his featherweight title, and the scheduled bout between Aldo and Edgar at UFC 200 will be for the vacant belt.

He also left the door open for McGregor to change his mind and still fight at the event:

Here’s a look at the full interview:

While this isn’t the first time a fighter has been pulled from a bout for failing to show up for a press event, the speed at which the UFC made the decision to drop McGregor months ahead of UFC 200 remains baffling.

Journalists like Charly Arnolt have suggested McGregor’s financial demands forced the UFC’s hands, but White vehemently denied that, via USA Today‘s Mike Bohn:

Others, like Brett Okamoto of ESPN, think the death of Joao Carvalho may have had an impact on McGregor’s decision.

Per MMA Connect TV (via, McGregor was present for the fight between him and Charlie Ward on April 9, and he even told reporters he thought the bout should have been stopped sooner, before he knew Carvalho was in such bad shape.

The Portuguese fighter was taken to a hospital after the bout, and he died two days later.

Whatever his reasons for not showing up may be, it seems all but certain McGregor won’t fight at UFC 200.

Mookie Alexander of couldn’t help but think back to the controversy that arose between the organisation and former light heavyweight champion Jon Jones when they had a falling out, but that isn’t likely to happen this time around:

McGregor is still just 27 years old, and the UFC has every reason to keep the door open for its cash cow to return.

We won’t know what’s truly going on behind the scenes or what the Notorious’ plans are until we hear from the man himself, but White clearly believes this is but a minor bump in McGregor’s UFC career and he’ll return to the Octagon soon.


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Former UFC light heavyweight champion Rashad Evans has had a career in MMA that is unmatched by many.

Evans, a former Ultimate Fighter winner, was left thinking about his future following a Saturday night knockout loss to Glover Teixeira in the main event of UFC on FOX 19.

“It’s hard to make a decision on what needs to change, fresh after an embarrassing and disappointing loss,” Evans said (thanks to for the quotes). “I sit here and I’m embarrassed; I’m disappointed. It’s sad. But you have to go on, because this is what it’s about.

“It’s easy to fight and to go through it when you’re always on top and doing everything well, but the hardest thing is working through the disappointment, working through doubt in yourself, and it’s not easy.

The 36-year-old “Suga” is now 19-5-1 after starting his career with wins in 17 of his first 19 pro bouts, including triumphs over Phil Davis, Tito Ortiz, Quinton “Rampage” Jackson and Forrest Griffin.

Three of Evans’ last four defeats have been via decision, while he bested Dan Henderson and Chael Sonnen in 2013.

“I’ve got to do something better and it’s embarrassing,” he said. “It’s sad, but welcome to being a fighter.”

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It seems like an eternity since Rashad Evans wasn’t only the UFC light heavyweight champion, but also an undefeated wrecking machine, laying waste to everyone in his path.

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Oh boy. It now seems that Frank Mir has become the latest Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) fighter to get popped for a U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) violation stemming back to his UFC Fight Night 85 bout with Mark Hunt.

The UFC released a statement Friday detailing the extent of the allegation and it went a little bit like this:

The UFC organization was notified today that the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) has informed Frank Mir of a potential Anti-Doping Policy violation stemming from an in-competition sample collected the day of his fight on March 20, 2016 in Brisbane, Australia.

USADA, the independent administrator of the UFC Anti-Doping Policy, will handle the results management and appropriate adjudication of this case involving Mir. It is important to note that, under the UFC Anti-Doping Policy, there is a full and fair legal process that is afforded to all athletes before any sanctions are imposed.

Additional information will be provided at the appropriate time as the process moves forward.

Obviously this is not good news for the 36-year-old veteran if he’s held to the standard two-year suspension that comes with a first offense. The fact that Mir lost to Hunt via first-round knockout and is currently experiencing a two-fight skid in a division that waits for no one adds insult to injury.

However, in Mir’s defense, the substance that spiked a positive test result has not be released as of yet. And considering UFC Middleweight Yoel Romero recently struck a deal with the USADA to lower his suspension to just six months, the Las Vegas native may have some hope.

But if Mir is in fact suspended for the full two years, it may officially end one of the greatest Heavyweight careers in mixed martial arts history.

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Before catchweight fights became all the rage, UFC women’s bantamweight champion Miesha Tate didn’t consider a bout with Cristiane Justino more than fantasy matchmaking.

But now, Tate could very easily see herself following the trend and bulking up to fight “Cyborg,” a fearsome Brazilian who’s set to make her octagon debut next month at UFC 198.

The way Tate sees it, either she slays a dragon or gets a lesson that pounds do matter.

“Being completely transparent, it’s a win-win situation,” Tate told MMAjunkie.

For now, Tate, who fulfilled a longtime dream by capturing the UFC belt at UFC 196, has other things to think about. After the promotion teased a trilogy fight with her longtime rival, now ex-champ Ronda Rousey, a meeting with Amanda Nunes is booked for UFC 200’s pay-per-view main card on July 9 at Las Vegas’ MGM Grand Garden Arena.

Tate (18-5 MMA, 5-2 UFC) is coming off a thrilling come-from-behind submission win over Holly Holm (10-1 MMA, 3-1 UFC), who knocked out Rousey (10-1 MMA, 6-1 UFC) this past November. Nunes (11-4 MMA, 4-1 UFC) is on a four-fight winning streak.

Cristiane "Cyborg" Justino

Cristiane “Cyborg” Justino

When Rousey formalizes her return, a title fight should be on the horizon. If Tate retains the belt, she would get the chance to avenge a pair of devastating losses to her, one in Strikeforce and the other in the UFC. But she also said taking on and defeating Justino (15-1 MMA, 0-0 UFC), the reigning Invicta FC featherweight champion who’s knocked out the bulk of her opposition, would also signify a great achievement.

“(Justino) is the most beastly woman and powerful and strong and just crushes girls, and I feel like, what do I have to lose? If I go out there and I can beat Cris, I feel like that says so much and it just adds to my legacy, and I would love to have that opportunity,” Tate said. “And you know what? If she beats me, then it is what it is. I went up in weight. But I’m willing to take on the toughest challenges.”

Justino debuts opposite UFC veteran Leslie Smith (8-6-1 MMA, 2-2 UFC) at a catchweight of 140 pounds, a number her camp often cites during a long push to book a superfight with Rousey during her reign. With the former champ now shelved, Justino is competing five pounds lighter than her natural featherweight class; she’s written off fights at 135 pounds, which she and UFC officials targeted when Rousey refused a catchweight bout.

Tate isn’t sure what the UFC has in store for Justino, but she would gladly take a fight at bantamweight or 140 pounds. She’s stepped up before when Rousey balked, and she will do so again if she gets the chance.

“For the longest time, I haven’t heard of (the UFC) doing catchweights, so it’s interesting to me that they’re doing that,” Tate said. “But I think that probably their ultimate goal is to (have Justino) come down to 135 and fight for the title.”

If that’s true, throw another name into the mix for the 135-pound women’s division.

For more on UFC 200, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.

Filed under: Featured, News, UFC

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Benson Henderson said the biggest issue in MMA is simply the youth of the sport as a whole.

MMA in its most modern definition has only been around for roughly 20 years in North America. The UFC’s first event in 1993 began to ingrain the sport into public consciousness, and it’s only grown from there.

The more than two decades since UFC 1, however, mark just a sliver of the time other major sports, and the leagues that represent them, have been in existence.

Because of that, Henderson knows it will take a long time to reach the level of recognition those other sports have obtained through many years of trial and error. However, Henderson said MMA athletes could be a little farther along and have failed to maximize potential opportunities, primarily from a financial perspective. That’s why he believes free agency is becoming such an important matter.

“We’re so young being professional athletes,” Henderson told MMAjunkie. “We don’t really have the same whole realizations some of these NBA guys, NFL players, MLB players, have when they’re in high school knowing they are going to the pros and will be in the big leagues. They have advisers come to them to talk about this and that. MMA fighters are so young as athletes, we don’t know the full ramifications of signing a deal for this much money. Then you’re being used by the organization and not fully compensated what you should be for as much as you are putting on the line. As much as you sacrifice, you should be able to live comfortably, live well.

“You don’t have to be a multi-millionaire like some of these guys in the NBA and the NFL – top-tier money – but you should be comfortable. A lot of UFC fighters are still living in apartments. They are professional athletes, some of the best fighters on the planet, and they live in apartments. What’s up with that?”

After a long career with the UFC in which he held the lightweight title and defended it three times, Henderson made the decision to fight out his contract and test the free-agent waters.

At previous moments in MMA history, there were no viable alternatives who could acquire Henderson’s services, which would likely corner him into whatever offer the UFC deemed appropriate. The rise of Bellator over the past few years, though, especially since former Strikeforce boss Scott Coker took over as company president nearly two years ago, has created a healthy second option for athletes.

Bellator pursued Henderson (23-5 MMA, 0-0 BMMA) hard and ultimately signed him to a multi-fight contact, the first fight of which takes place April 22 when “Smooth” challenges welterweight champ Andrey Koreshkov (18-1 MMA, 9-1 BMMA) for the title at Bellator 153 at Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Conn. The main card airs on Spike following prelims on MMAjunkie.

Henderson said Bellator’s offer was one he couldn’t refuse. There was no guarantee that would be the case, but he said it was important to put himself in a position to find out. He would encourage fellow fighters to do the same because the inherent culture of the sport, paired with the absence of a union or players association, means the only people who can truly look out for the sport’s competitors are themselves.

“We’re not too smart as professional athletes,” Henderson said. “If we were smarter, we would already have a some sort of players association or some model like that to look after us. When you’re in such a young sport, everyone is after what they can get instead of looking for the betterment of what we can all do together. We’re all in this together, but when this guy offers you $5 and then someone says, ‘Oh, I’ll do it for $2,’ it can be hard. Everyone is trying to get what they can get, which is understandable. That’s the American dream and how we live. But if we were smarter, we would already have some sort of association involved.”

Henderson said it’s not his goal to be a leader for free agency in MMA or a flag barer for fighters to make an exodus from one organization to another. The 32-year-old former UFC and WEC champion simply wants to play catch-up to the normal happenings of other major sports.

Since Henderson joined the Bellator roster, other notables such as Matt Mitrione and Wanderlei Silva have signed on, as well, with more potentially set to come in the future. UFC welterweight Rory MacDonald has said wants to test free agency after his next fight in June, and whether he remains with the UFC or goes elsewhere, Henderson said it’s crucial that athletes at least field offers and find out which promotion values them most.

“I am aware of the magnitude of being the first big-time free agent coming off a win-streak, not coming off a loss, a former champion, a former belt holder, this and that,” Henderson said. “I am aware of the magnitude of it and how big it is. It was a decision that was not based on being a trailblazer. It was a decision that was based on what’s best for me and my family, what’s best for the long-term – being hopefully able to pay for my grandkids’ college. That’s was what I was thinking about with my decision.”

Although the year is only about four months old, free agency is turning out to be arguably the most important story in MMA in 2016. Where is this all going, though? Henderson said he would love to give a clear answer, but it’s difficult to determine due to the rapidly evolving nature of the sport.

“It’s pretty difficult to say (what the future holds) because MMA is such a young sport and there’s a lot of weird things that happen,” Henderson said. “There’s so many precedents that haven’t been set and new this, new that. We just got into New York for goodness sake. The New York. Finally we’ve got into that. It shows how much MMA still has to grow.”

For more on Bellator 153, check out the MMA Rumors section of the site.

Filed under: Bellator, News

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Julianna Pena is now eligible to return to the Octagon after the promotion concluded its third-party investigation into assault allegations against the UFC bantamweight.

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Cris Cyborg Expects Big UFC Fights in Her Future: Ronda Rousey, Holly Holm, Miesha Tate
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While Anderson Silva will be making a rare appearance outside the main event at UFC 198, he still stole the show during a pre-fight press conference on Wednesday.

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