UFC: Jorge Masvidal wants rematch with Usman more than anything

Arguably the UFC‘s biggest star has only one fight in mind whenever he makes his return to the octagon. Jorge “Gamebred” Masvidal appeared on Ariel Helwani’s MMA Show to give his thoughts.

Would the UFC run it back?

There is no question that Masvidal is the sport’s biggest star right now. Because of him, UFC 251 generated a whopping 1.3 million PPV buys.

Masvidal did come up short against UFC welterweight champion, Kamaru Usman (17-1), after taking the fight on six days notice. Masvidal looked really good early, but Usman’s pressure and wrestling gave him the victory.

Masvidal told Helwani that he believes he has the recipe to beat Usman. Many, including myself, thought the UFC would try to book Masvidal with Conor McGregor if Gamebred won the fight on Saturday.

A fight between those two would probably be the biggest fight of all time from a PPV perspective. Masvidal’s stock didn’t go down at all from the loss, in fact, it might have gone up.

As you can see in the video above, Masvidal was asked about a shot at McGregor. Gamebred has no interest in anyone but Kamaru Usman at this point.

You can hardly blame the man for wanting another shot at the title. Now, I think the UFC is going to stick to their guns by giving Gilbert Burns the next shot at the title. I personally think the UFC should book Masvidal with Colby Covington (15-2).

The fight makes perfect sense for both men. Both have a ton of heat between the two of them, and both are coming off of losses against the champion. A win for either puts them first in line for another shot.

The UFC could also look at booking Masvidal with Leon Edwards (18-3). That fight could sell well as they have history that involves a three piece and a soda. You can catch Masvidal’s full interview with Helwani below.

UFC 251 hits 1.3 million PPV Buys

If anyone wants to doubt the drawing power of the Jorge “Gamebred” Masvidal, you need to sit down. UFC 251 did extremely well on PPV and the numbers were released today that told us just how well it did.

One of the best in UFC history

Dana White said that the card was trending higher than a Conor McGregor fight. He wasn’t lying as there have only been three events in the company’s history to have drawn more PPV buys.

  1. Khabib vs McGregor – 2.4 Million PPV
  2. Diaz vs McGregor 2 – 1.6 Million PPV
  3. McGregor vs Diaz – 1.317 Million PPV

Kamaru Usman – Jorge Masvidal did the same amount of PPV buys as UFC 205 which was headlined by Conor McGregor. That night the UFC put three title fights on for their first show ever in New York.

Jorge Masvidal is a needle mover at the highest level. Yes, he’s not quite on the Conor McGregor level, but he’s right there. In fact, UFC 251 did better on PPV than UFC 246 did which featured the return of the notorious one.

You had to think that the UFC was hoping that Masvidal would have pulled out the victory on Saturday. A McGregor-Masvidal fight would have been the biggest fight in UFC history. There is always the possibility of that in the future, but for now, the fight is a dream.

Dana White and company hit it out of the park on Saturday and they owe a lot to Jorge Masvidal. No disrespect to Gilbert Burns, but UFC 251 does not do nearly as good without Gamebred on the card.

Dana White on UFC 251: “This is trending higher than a Conor McGregor fight”

UFC, Dana White

There is no question that UFC 251 is the most anticipated fight card of 2020. That’s including the Conor McGregor headlined UFC 246 card. At the pre-fight media scrum, UFC President Dana White was asked about the way things are looking for UFC 251.

“This thing is trending higher than a Conor McGregor fight. The only thing that is compatible is Conor and Khabib. Here’s an interesting stat, on our UFC store, we’ve sold more merchandise already than we did in all of 2019,” White told the media in Abu Dhabi.

UFC 251 is going to do very well on PPV

There is no question that the UFC 251 card saw a big bump when Gilbert Burns was replaced by Jorge Masvidal. Gamebred has become a massive star over the last year and a half, and it’s showing. Burns-Kamaru Usman was going to be a good fight, but nothing like Masvidal-Usman.

Combine that with the fact that the UFC has stacked the card with two additional title fights and you have the recipe for a massive PPV number. When asked about the achievement of Fight Island, White reiterated how proud he was of the event.

“Obviously it hasn’t happened yet. But going into it, this is one of the most successful events we have ever done. If you look at the numbers and what’s going on. Now it’s just got to deliver tomorrow,” White said.

Exciting Times for Dana White

White was also asked about the new UFC-Venum deal that was announced this morning and how that whole thing came together.

“It’s about timing. This is what Venum does. You have monsters trying to pull out of sports deals right now, but this is what Venum does. They have invested in this,” White said of the new deal.

A lot of excitement is going on in the UFC right now. They announced a new apparel deal today and they have their biggest show of the year scheduled for tomorrow. On top of that, EA Sports will be releasing the first trailer for UFC 4 tomorrow morning. Exciting times if you’re a fan of the UFC.

UFC: Dana White on Conor McGregor: “He’s got a few fights left”

Conor McGregor, UFC

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you have heard that the UFC‘s biggest star, Conor McGregor (22-4), retired just over a month ago. Most, if not all, people believe that this will be another short-term retirement for the former two division champion. UFC President Dana White appeared on The Herd with Colin Cowherd where he was simply asked if McGregor will fight again.

“What’s going on with Conor McGregor is what goes on with all professional fighters when they become extremely wealthy…he gets to pick and choose what he wants to do. He’s got a few fights left, I wouldn’t be surprised if he came out and wanted to fight somebody next year after all these fights play out,” White told Cowherd.

Does the UFC need Conor McGregor?

Let’s be clear about something, the UFC has never needed Conor McGregor. Yes, McGregor is the biggest star the sports history by a long shot. However, the UFC was successful before McGregor, and they will be successful after McGregor is officially retired.

On the other hand, the UFC really wants McGregor to fight a few more times. He generates more money than the next two biggest draws combined. He transcends the standard MMA fan and his reach stretches around the globe. That’s how big of a star the Irishman is in the UFC.

Conor McGregor hasn’t stopped training since he announced that he was retired. He’s constantly staying sharp in the gym. If you see Jorge Masvidal win this weekend at UFC 251, I wouldn’t be shocked if you see McGregor make a play to fight Masvidal for the welterweight title. Imagine McGregor coming back to become the first fighter in UFC history to hold a belt in three weight classes.

I think in the next couple of months you’re going to see momentum towards another Conor McGregor fight. There is no way that he’s done fighting. I think there are a couple of more things he wants to accomplish before he hangs it up for good.

ESM’s Men’s UFC Pound-for-Pound rankings ahead of Saturday Night

One of the things that never seems to make sense to the world is the UFC rankings. If you go over to the UFC’s official rankings page, the pound for pound rankings make you scratch your head. At ESM, we have decided to throw our hat into the ring to create our own rankings that we will keep updated following every major UFC/MMA event.

Men’s Pound-For-Pound Rankings

  1. Jon Jones (26-1, 1 NC)
  2. Khabib Nurmagomedov (28-0)
  3. Israel Adesanya (19-0)
  4. Kamaru Usman (16-1)
  5. Stipe Miocic (19-3)
  6. Daniel Cormier (22-2, 1 NC)
  7. Alexander Volkanovski (21-1)
  8. Justin Gaethje (22-2)
  9. Conor McGregor (22-4)
  10. Francis Ngannou (15-3)

To me, Jon Jones is still the best to ever do it inside the octagon. In reality, the man is 28-0 just like Nurmagomedov but due to an elbow rule and a picogram, he’s got two blemishes on his record. Still when “Bones” is on his game, he’s the best in the world possessing elite skills in all aspects of MMA.

In comparison to the UFC‘s official rankings you’ll notice some differences. I personally left Dustin Poirier and Max Holloway outside of the top ten. Holloway is 1-2 in his last three fights which hurts his case. Poirier was a tough call, but I went with Gaethje and McGregor from that division. I think if Poirier were to rematch both men especially the new and improved Justin Gaethje, it could be a long night for him.

Francis Ngannou is the one who needs to be ranked higher in the UFC‘s rankings. The Predator is currently ranked 14th, but he belongs in the top ten. The most prolific knockout artist in UFC history is on a Mike Tyson like tear right now. His last four fights have gone a combined 2:42 against top heavyweight competition.

UFC 251’s Potential Impact

There are a couple of fights that will have an impact on the P4P UFC rankings this Saturday. The main event of the evening features Kamaru Usman and Jorge Masvidal (35-13). Masvidal has won three fights in a row, but if he’s able to defeat Usman, he will finally launch into the top ten pound for pound rankings. Usman will likely hold in the fourth spot with a win on Saturday night.

Alexander Volkanovski can jump in the rankings even more if he’s able to defeat Holloway for a second time. The Australian has won 18 fights in a row including all eight of his UFC fights. If he’s able to retain his title on Saturday night and do it impressively, you could make the argument that he belongs in the top five.

Holloway could get back into the top ten if he’s able to regain his title. 2019 was not a great year for the former champion losing two fights. However, the Blessed Era can make an emphatic return if he’s able to dethrone Vokanovski on Saturday night. Fight Island definitely has the potential to shake up our UFC men’s pound for pound rankings.

UFC: Gilbert Burns on if Masvidal wins at UFC 251: “It’s gonna be a circus”

We are just a few days away from the UFC‘s first card on Fight Island. There has been so much going on over the past few days that it’s felt like a UFC circus.

Top contender, Gilbert Burns (19-3), was removed from his UFC title fight after testing positive for COVID-19. Original number one contender, Jorge Masvidal (35-13), stepped up to replace Burns. Burns was interviewed by ESPN’s Brett Okamoto where he was asked about all of the events over the past week.

“I heard Masvidal jumped in, and to be honest, I’m happy with that… That’s the fight that everyone wanted.” Burns said to Okamoto. Burns was asked about his feelings on the fight and future opportunities to which he responded, “If Masvidal wins, things are going to get crazy in the division. It’s gonna be a circus…” Burns said with a smile.

UFC’s welterweight picture & Gilbert Burns’ future

After watching the full interview, you cannot walk away not being a fan of Gilbert Burns. Most people would be completely devastated still after losing this opportunity. However, Burns continues to smile just wanting to get back into the cage.

Burns does have a good point about the UFC‘s welterweight division. If Masvidal is able to win on Saturday, the division is going to get turned on it’s head. Masvidal is not going to fight the next guy in-line, but instead, he’s going to look for the fight with the most dollar signs.

If Usman is able to retain his UFC welterweight title, Burns might get the next shot. However, there is always the possibility that the UFC runs the fight back with Masvidal giving Gambred a full training camp. If you’re a contender in the division like Burns, you should be pulling for Usman to win on Saturday. If Jorge Masvidal is able to claim the UFC title, you might see someone like Nate Diaz or Conor McGregor get the next shot at the welterweight title.

UFC: A Masvidal win at UFC 251 could mean a quick retirement for Conor McGregor

Conor McGregor, UFC

The UFC has been on fire when it comes to news over the past couple of days. Less than a week ago, Gilbert Burns was getting ready for his shot at the title while Jorge Masvidal was working out at home in Miami.

Three Day Fury

Friday night, Burns tested positive for COVID-19. By Saturday, talks had begun for Masvidal to replace Burns and by Sunday the fight was official. Now, Masvidal is fighting UFC welterweight champion, Kamaru Usman (16-1), on Fight Island. If Masvidal is able to win on Saturday, the biggest draw in the sport could be lured out of retirement.

Conor McGregor (22-4) shocked a lot of people when he made the announcement that he was retiring (again). McGregor returned back in January and promptly finished Donald Cerrone in under one minute. McGregor looked to be back, and said in his post-fight interview that anyone could get it next. One of the guys sitting in the front row that night was the BMF, Jorge Masvidal.

Masvidal vs McGregor is a UFC dream

There is no question that Conor McGregor is the biggest star in the history of the UFC. Right now, Jorge Masvidal’s star stock is shooting through the roof. If Masvidal is able to win on Saturday, the UFC could choose to make arguably the biggest title fight in the history of the sport. McGregor retired due to a lack of opponents and frustration with the UFC. In Masvidal, McGregor would find a very willing dance partner.

You would love for a fight between the two men to be held with fans, but even with none, you could be looking at the biggest UFC PPV of all time. The fight doesn’t have the personal heat the McGregor/Nurmagomedov did, but you could make the argument that Masvidal will be a bigger star than Khabib if he’s able to win Saturday. On top of that, McGregor would be aiming to become the first three division champion in the history of the sport.

Of course these are big ifs because there is a massive hurdle standing in the way of Jorge Masvidal. Usman is one of the very best fighters in the world, and he presents a very tough matchup for Gamebred. For now, fans can dream about the Masvidal/McGregor matchup, but the UFC welterweight divisions boogieman will be a major roadblock in the potential dream matchup.

UFC: John Kavanagh on Conor McGregor; “As for now, he’s retired”

Conor McGregor, UFC

It has almost been a month since the UFC‘s most popular fighter of all time, Conor McGregor, took to Twitter to announce that he had retired. This is not the first time or the second time that McGregor has done this. Counting this occurrence, McGregor has retired three times. Because of that, many (including myself) doubt the sincerity. McGregor’s coach, John Kavanagh, was recently asked about his star’s retirement.

“Is Conor retired?” Kavanagh said. “Yes, he is as far as I can tell. That’s what he said, isn’t it?” When pressed by another who asked him to convince McGregor to fight, Kavanagh followed with, “I can’t convince Conor to do sh*t.”

The reality is that Conor McGregor is going to do what Conor McGregor wants to do. Do I believe that he’s retired? Absolutely not. However, until he says he’s coming back, you have to assume he’s not. I think that’s what Kavanagh is doing at the moment. McGregor is the type of person who is filled with surprises, so no one should be surprised by anything from the UFC‘s first double champ.

Status of McGregor and the UFC

There are several big fights waiting for McGregor if he decides to continue fighting. He is likely the next guy in line to fight for the UFC lightweight championship following the title fight in September. He could also fight Nate Diaz or Jorge Masvidal. McGregor is frustrated right now because he wants to stay active, but the UFC is not giving him the chance.

The UFC does not want to lose out on a Conor McGregor gate which usually double anyone else’s. UFC President, Dana White, came out and said that it’s tough to lose out on a McGregor gate. Now, it’s not been made public why McGregor wasn’t given offers, but it’s easy to make the connection. The UFC does not want McGregor to fight without a crowd. McGregor wants to fight now, and because of the disconnect, he’s “retired”.

UFC: What’s next for Nate Diaz?

There might not be a bigger anomaly in MMA than the UFC‘s Nate Diaz (20-12). Diaz has blossomed into a superstar over the last couple of years after his two fights with Conor McGregor. Diaz marches to the beat of his own drum, and he’s uncensored at all times. He’s even been awarded the chance to slap UFC President, Dana White. The last time we saw Diaz, his fight with Jorge Masivdal was getting called off due to a cut. Since then, we haven’t heard much. So what is next for the 35-year-old from Stockton?

UFC’s next steps with Diaz

Diaz is on the shortlist for the biggest stars in the sport. However, he’s notoriously difficult to make a deal with from the UFC‘s side of things. Diaz knows what he’s worth, and he’s not afraid to just walk away from the table if he’s not paid. Most of the time, they find some middle ground, but if it favors anyone over the last couple of years, it favors Diaz.

Diaz has said that he would prefer to stay at 170 pounds if he does fight again. He said that he wasn’t interested in cutting the extra weight to lightweight. However, there is one fight on this shortlist of matchups I have that would have him return to lightweight, and I think it’s one fans would love to see.

Tony Ferguson

This one is a little outside the box, but how much fun would this be? This is a matchup that many in the media have floated around for the last couple of years. Both are two of the most entertaining fighters in the business with endless cardio. Ferguson (25-4) is coming off of a UFC interim title loss to Justin Gaethje, and he needs another opponent when he’s ready. Some have suggested Dustin Poirier, but I’m thinking of someone with a little more star power.

This fight would such a fun fight to promote. Two extremely interesting personalities, and two guys who are not opposed to going to war with the other. Again, Diaz has said he doesn’t want to cut back down to lightweight which makes this one less likely, but I think Ferguson is the type of opponent that he would do it for.

Jorge Masvidal

It’s no secret that there’s a contract dispute with Jorge Masvidal and the UFC. Masvidal (35-13) was supposed to fight for the title, but contract negotiations have nixed that. Masvidal beat Diaz last November for the BMF title, but fans were robbed of a definitive ending when a doctor called the fight off due to a cut over Diaz’s eye. Prior to the fight being called off, Diaz had some of his better moments in the fight.

A fight with Diaz would pay Masvidal what he wants. A fight with Masvidal would also get Diaz motivated to get back into the cage. If the UFC wants to make a big-time fight later in the fall, I think they could run back the BMF title fight. Hopefully a rogue doctor at ringside wouldn’t call this one off before the fans could get the ending that they deserve.

Conor McGregor

If you want a fight that makes 100% sense on all sides, look no further than this one. Conor McGregor (22-4) and Diaz have fought twice with each fighter gaining a victory. Diaz shocked the world back at UFC 196 when he submitted McGregor in the second round. McGregor won the rematch by majority decision at UFC 202 later that year.

The two men are two of the biggest stars in the sport. They are 1-1 in their head-to-head matchups, and they need a conclusion to the rivalry. McGregor has “Retired” for now due to the lack of fights that were being offered to him. Let’s be clear, McGregor is not actually retired, but more frustrated with the current situation. Diaz is just waiting on the UFC to call him and offer him something worth fighting for.

An easy fix to everything would be pairing the two men up for the fall. Will it happen? I personally don’t think so. I think it’s more likely that Diaz and Masvidal fight again before McGregor and Diaz. The reasoning is that I think the UFC is likely going to give McGregor the winner of Khabib/Gaethje for the lightweight title near the end of the year. If Diaz still hasn’t fought by the time McGregor gets his shot, I think the trilogy fight likely becomes his next fight.

Imagine if McGregor wins the title back in late 2020. If he does it against Khabib, the UFC could either conclude that trilogy, or the UFC could give Diaz a title shot concluding the McGregor/Diaz trilogy. All of these are fun possibilities to think about. I’m not sure who Diaz is going to fight next, but I know for a fact it’s going to be someone with some name recognition.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S3moBU-ax_M

UFC: For Dan Hooker, Saturday night is his chance to prove he’s championship material

UFC on ESPN 12 is being headlined by a lightweight matchup with huge implications. The former interim champion, Dustin Poirier (25-6), is looking to get back to a title shot after losing to Khabib Nurmagomedov last September. In the other corner, you have Dan Hooker (20-8) who is looking to prove that he belongs with the absolute best in the world.

Early Struggles

Hooker will be making the walk for the fifteenth time in his UFC career on Saturday night. His fifteenth UFC fight comes almost six years to the day after his debut back in June of 2014. Hooker started his career in the UFC‘s featherweight division. Hooker was massive for the division, and he always seemed depleted due to the harsh weight cut. At 145 pounds, Hooker went just 3-3 in six fights. After the struggles, Hooker decided to make the move to lightweight, and that has turned his entire career around.

Journey to the top of the UFC’s Lightweight Division

Since Hooker made the jump to 155, he’s been one of the best guys in the division. Since that jump back in 2017, Hooker has gone 7-1 with five finishes. Hooker looks completely refreshed at lightweight. He had one bad performance against Edson Barboza, but outside of that, he’s looked incredible. The fight against Poirier on Saturday night is the biggest fight of Hooker’s career. Hooker has stated over and over again that he truly believes he’s one of the best in the world. Saturday night is his chance to prove it.

If he can go out and beat Dustin Poirier, he’s on the short list to face the winner of Khabib/Gaethje. If he doesn’t want to wait, maybe Dana White would be enticed to pair up Hooker and Conor McGregor. McGregor retired due to the lack of options from the UFC. Hooker would be just the kind of guy you would want to pair up against the Notorious one. A win on Saturday night changes everything for Dan Hooker. Check out “The Hangman’s” last performance against Paul Felder below.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sL0C24sEm1s