Khabib and Dana White to meet one final time after UFC 257 in Las Vegas

This weekend, Dana White and UFC lightweight champion, Khabib Nurmagomedov (29-0), had their much anticipated meeting. The world was expecting a final resolution after the meeting. White teased that an announcement would be made at UFC Fight Island 7.

Well, White did announce the results of that conversation yesterday. However, in the end, nothing new came of it. According to White, Khabib is going to sit back and watch UFC 257 and see if any of the four top lightweights competing entices him to come back.

Khabib has apparently told White that he doesn’t want to tie up the division. He apparently has been very impressed with Charles Oliveira (30-8, 1 NC) as of late, but he’s still not 100% sure he will come back. He’s looking for something that excites him to make him come back.

While that’s certainly not a yes, the more important thing is that it’s not a no. With Khabib telling White that he’ll sit back and wait, you can tell that the UFC lightweight champion is still interested in competing. Otherwise, he wouldn’t think twice about UFC 257 next weekend.

UFC’s plan with Khabib

Dana White told the media at the UFC Fight Island 7 post-fight press conference that Khabib is leaving Fight Island after the Wednesday card. However, he’s not flying home to Russia, but instead, he’s flying to Las Vegas.

After the UFC’s current stint on Fight Island wraps up, White will be returning to Las Vegas as well. White said that the current plan is for him and Khabib to meet up for dinner after he returns home from Fight Island.

Apparently, that is the meeting where the final decision will be made. After next weekend, Khabib will decide whether there are any challenges left for him in the UFC that interest him. If so, he’ll come back to defend the title. If not, he will vacate the title for the division to move on.

It’s not a secret, but the desire for the UFC is to have Khabib defend his title in a rematch against Conor McGregor (22-4). McGregor of course headlines UFC 257 against Dustin Poirier (26-6, 1 NC). Should McGregor win, that will be the fight the UFC pushes for. It’ll be interesting to see if Khabib is interested.

Dana White announces Stipe Miocic – Francis Ngannou 2 will headline UFC 260

MMA, Stipe Miocic

Yesterday it was reported that the UFC was looking to book two big title fights for their second PPV in March. This morning, the news broke that the promotion had finalized the co-main event with Alexander Volkanovski taking on Brian Ortega. 

At the UFC Fight Island 7 post-fight press conference, White announced that they had finalized the main event. White said that Stipe Miocic (20-3) will be defending his heavyweight title in a rematch against Francis Ngannou (15-3) on March 27th.

UFC 260 now has their two title fights officially booked and the main event is one that fans have been waiting for. The heavyweight division has been halted over the last few years with the trilogy between Miocic and Daniel Cormier.

Miocic has fought Cormier in all three of his last three fights. Their trilogy concluded at UFC 252 when Miocic was able to win by unanimous decision. Outside of the first fight where Miocic was knocked out by DC, Miocic hasn’t lost since 2014.

Miocic first fought Francis Ngannou back at UFC 220 in January of 2018. Ngannou was riding a ton of momentum and I think he bought into his own hype. Miocic humbled the challenger and dominated him over five rounds.

UFC champion as the underdog?

That loss did a number on Francis Ngannou. He was being built up as this untouchable force in the UFC and Stipe Miocic just completely controlled him. The fight shook him so bad that in his next fight against Derrick Lewis, he hardly threw any strikes.

As a result, he lost his second straight fight. However, after that loss, Ngannou rededicated himself to the sport and he hasn’t looked back. The Predator will go into the rematch on a four-fight winning streak.

However, it’s not just the fact that he’s won four in a row. It’s the fact that none of those fights have gone more than 71 seconds. He last fought at UFC 249 where he knocked out the previously unbeaten, Jairzinho Rozenstruik, in just 20 seconds.

It’s a weird thing because I think Ngannou will actually be the favorite at UFC 260 despite losing to Miocic the first time around. I think Ngannou is the best he’s ever been and Stipe’s going to need his best effort on March 27th to retain his title.

Khabib Nurmagomedov will come back if someone does something special at UFC 257

Back in October after UFC 254, lightweight champion, Khabib Nurmagomedov (29-0) laid down his gloves and retired. It had been an incredibly tough 2020 for Khabib in which he lost his father to a battle with COVID-19. 

Khabib had promised his mother before the Justin Gaethje fight that he would retire after UFC 254. However, Dana White has been holding out hope that Khabib Nurmagomedov would change his mind and come back for one more fight. 

The original plan for Khabib was to try and retire from the UFC at 30-0. That was his father’s plan, but Khabib admitted that he didn’t want to go on without his father in his corner. Abdulmanap Nurmagomedov was the lead trainer for his son Khabib.

There is no questioning that Khabib Nurmagomedov is the best lightweight in the world. He’s an absolute animal who just appears to be getting better every time we see him. From a fighting perspective, it would be a shame to never see Khabib in the UFC again.

That is where Dana White has been coming from in wanting him to fight. Well, yesterday White and Khabib had their much anticipated meeting about Khabib’s future. After the first fight on the main card at UFC Fight Island 7, White announced Khabib’s decision.

The decision’s impact on the UFC lightweight division

White told Jon Anik that Khabib is going to wait until after UFC 257 to make a final decision. Khabib is not ready to close the door on his fighting future, however, he’s not ready to commit to a comeback just yet.

White said that Khabib will be watching next Saturday and if he feels that someone does something special, he’ll think about coming back to defend his UFC title. However, if nothing excites him, he won’t hold up the division and he will give up the title.

The Conor McGregor (22-4) rematch is what the UFC wants to do. However, McGregor has to get by Dustin Poirier first. For now, the decision really didn’t give us anything new. We know that Khabib is not fully committed to retirement, but at the same time, he’s not committed to coming back yet.

Is the UFC targeting Nate Diaz – Justin Gaethje?

Earlier this week, Dana White said that the UFC was working on the lightweight return of Nate Diaz (20-12). Diaz is one of the biggest stars in the sport and a return to lightweight would signal that he plans to be more active.

White wouldn’t give any significant clues on who his opponent would be. However, he did shut down the rumor of a potential fight with Tony Ferguson (25-5). That’s a fight that UFC fans really liked, but it’s not the fight the promotion is moving towards.

One intriguing things is that White said if Diaz wins, it’ll put him in a great position at lightweight. With that, you have to imagine that whoever he fights will be a top ranked UFC lightweight.

I started thinking through all of the guys in the top ten and I listed out some options in this article. However, while on Fight Island, White was interviewed by Farrah Hannoun and she threw out an option that made the boss smile. That option was Justin Gaethje (22-3)

Will the UFC book Diaz – Gaethje?

When Hannoun gave a guess of Diaz – Gaethje, White just smiled and said, “I don’t know, we’ll see.” Of course, that’s a classic response from the UFC president. If this is the direction the promotion goes, it would be a change from the original plan.

Recently, White said that the UFC was trying to make Justin Gaethje – Charles Oliveira. Charles Oliveira (30-8, 1 NC) is on an incredible streak and many believe that he could be the most dangerous contender in the lightweight division.

However, Oliveira’s manager came out and said that they didn’t want the Gaethje fight. With Oliveira seemingly not interested in fighting The Highlight, it is very possible that the UFC switches gears to make the Diaz fight which would be a huge winner with fans.

Today, Dana White is going to announce the future of Khabib Nurmagomedov (29-0). White said in a video that he would announce Khabib’s future and what it means for the rest of the lightweight division. We should expect some clarity at 155 within the next week.

UFC currently working on Nate Diaz’s return to lightweight

One of the most popular fighters in the UFC appears to be heading back to his natural weight class. Dana White revealed this morning to The Mac Life that the promotion is working on the return of Nate Diaz (20-12).

White said that the UFC was working on a Nate Diaz fight as we speak. He also said that the fight would take place at lightweight which is the natural weight class for Nate Diaz. Diaz hasn’t fought at 155 since 2015 when he defeated Michael Johnson.

When Diaz fought Conor McGregor and Anthony Pettis, those fights were at welterweight despite all being natural lightweights. White also said that the fight would get Diaz right back into the title picture should he win in his return to lightweight.

We didn’t see Nate Diaz in a UFC octagon in 2020. Late in the year, the promotion looked to be moving towards booking the rematch between him and Jorge Masvidal. However, the UFC has decided to shift gears towards Masvidal – Colby Covington.

That left Nate Diaz without a dance partner. There really didn’t appear to be a clear matchup for Diaz at welterweight or lightweight. However, using White’s clues about his return to 155, let’s try to figure it out.

The UFC’s plan for Diaz

A fight that makes total sense for all parties involved is Nate Diaz – Tony Ferguson (25-5). That would be the biggest fight in my opinion that the UFC could make, however, Dana White said that the fight for Diaz is not Ferguson.

It’s hard to imagine that the promotion would book him against either Justin Gaethje (22-3) or Charles Oliveira (30-8, 1 NC). The plan currently is for those two to fight assuming the promotion can get the fight done.

The next available contender would be Rafael Dos Anjos (30-13). This fight would actually be a rematch from several years ago when RDA completely dominated Nate Diaz over the course of three rounds.

I find it pretty hard to believe that this would be the potential fight that White is hyping up. At this point, the most logical option appears to be Paul Felder (17-6). Considering the spot in the top ten, that would be the only opponent I can think of for Diaz.

White said that the win for Diaz would get him right back in the mix. Felder makes the most sense unless the UFC believes that the RDA rematch is the fight to make. Time will tell what will happen with Nate Diaz.

UFC rebooks headliner between Khamzat Chimaev and Leon Edwards

Today is one of the first days the UFC is back on Fight Island and they kicked it off with a bang. Dana White confirmed with MMA Junkie this morning that the promotion has rebooked Khamzat Chimaev (9-0) – Leon Edwards (18-3).

This will be the third time that the UFC is attempting to book this fight. The two will now headline the March 13th Fight Night. March is starting to look like it’s going to be a massive month for the UFC.

As mentioned, this is the third time that this fight is booked. Originally, this fight was supposed to take place in December. However, Edwards tested positive for COVID and the fight was scrapped.

Then the UFC rebooked the fight for the January 20th card. Chimaev also came down with COVID and he was not able to make the date. So, the promotion scrapped the fight for a second time.

There was brief discussions about keeping Edwards on next week’s card, however, the UFC really wanted to keep the two paired. As a result, they started working on new potential dates and landed on March 13th.

UFC Title Eliminator

A few months ago, I would have bet my house that the UFC title eliminator at welterweight would have been Colby Covington (16-2) – Jorge Masvidal (35-14). The promotion is still working on that fight, however, it hasn’t been booked.

The next welterweight title fight takes place at UFC 258 in February. Given the timeline of this new Chimaev – Edwards headliner, I believe that the winner will likely be the next in line for the welterweight championship.

Chimaev has taken the UFC by storm since his debut in July on Fight Island. Three incredibly dominant performances have turned him into a superstar. If he’s able to defeat Edwards, his stock is going to be astronomically high.

However, that’s not going to be an easy task. While not the sexiest name in the division, Edwards has won an incredible eight-straight at welterweight. Should he derail the hype train of Chimaev, there’s no denying him of a title shot. I’m pumped for this one.

Diego Sanchez announces he will retire following next UFC fight

The final competing member of the original season of the UFC‘s Ultimate Fighter is about to call it a career. The season one winner, Diego Sanchez (30-13), announced on Twitter yesterday that his next fight will be his last in the octagon.

Sanchez has been competing in the UFC for almost sixteen years now. His official debut came back in 2005 when he defeated Kenny Florian to win the UFC‘s first six-figure contract that they handed out for the Ultimate Fighter.

Sanchez fought in the middleweight division during that tournament. His career inside the octagon has seen him compete in four different divisions. Most notably the lightweight division where he had his best run.

After starting taking off in the UFC‘s welterweight division, Sanchez decided to drop to 155 pounds. Sanchez looked like a monster when he moved down to lightweight in 2008. He had two standout wins over Joe Stevenson and Clay Guida.

The Guida fight has actually been inducted into the UFC Hall of Fame. Following those two impressive wins, Sanchez got his lone shot at UFC gold against BJ Penn. Sanchez was completely dominated by Penn and decided to move back to welterweight after the loss.

Sanchez’s Incredible UFC Run

Since 2010, it’s really been a journey all over the map for Diego Sanchez inside the UFC. He’s competed at welterweight, lightweight, and even a one-fight stint at featherweight in the last decade.

The Nightmare has competed 19 times since 2010 and has gone 9-10 in those 19 fights. However, it’s worth noting that he won one of those fights by DQ in a fight that he was completely getting dominated in.

After all of the wars that he’s been in, the 39 year old Sanchez is ready to hang it up. Sanchez took to Twitter yesterday saying, “It’s time to heal not hurt! One more Nightmare to give!” He then stated it’s up to the UFC on who he will face.

There’s no telling on what the promotion will do for Sanchez’s final fight. There’s no secret that Dana White has a soft spot for the TUF one guys. He’s been very vocal about his love for Diego Sanchez over the last 15 years.

I’m honestly not sure what the UFC should do with Sanchez’s last fight. If he’s willing to cut to lightweight, it could be fun to see him in there with Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone (36-15-1, 2 NC). Winnable or not, Sanchez needs to go out with an entertaining opponent. He deserves that.

Charles Oliveira wants a UFC title shot next, not Justin Gaethje

A UFC lightweight who saw his stock soar in 2020 was “Do Bronx” Charles Oliveira (30-8, 1 NC). Oliveira has flown under the radar in the premium division in the promotion despite the winning streak he’s on.

Heading into 2020, Oliveira was riding a six-fight winning streak. Not only that, but he had finished all six opponents in those UFC contests. He started out 2020 by taking on Kevin Lee (18-6) back in March.

This event was actually the UFC‘s last event before they shut down due to the pandemic. Oliveira impressed again as he was able to score a third round submission victory over Kevin Lee. His seventh straight stoppage win in the lightweight division.

Then, Oliveira got the biggest fight of his career. A co-main event slot against El Cucuy, Tony Ferguson (25-5) at UFC 256. Ferguson was looking to bounce back after he had lost to Justin Gaethje (22-3) back in May.

Oliveira completely dominated the former UFC interim lightweight champion. Had Ferguson not been so tough, Oliveira would have scored another first round stoppage. He locked in a deep armbar that had me tapping from my chair at home.

Instead, Ferguson gutted it out and fought through it. However, Oliveira still dominated every second of the fight to make it eight straight. Last week, Dana White said that the UFC was looking to book Oliveira against Gaethje. Well, Oliveira is not a fan of that.

Do Bronx isn’t down with the UFC’s plan

Oliveira’s manager told MMA Fighting, “With all due respect, Khabib ran over (Gaethje). That must count, and a lot. I believe Charles’ next fight has to be for the belt against the winner of Poirier and McGregor, not Justin Gaethje.”

It was also revealed that Oliveira’s next fight will be the final fight in his UFC contract. However, Oliveira’s manager made it clear that Do Bronx isn’t going anywhere and that they are working towards a new deal with the promotion.

I completely understand where Oliveira is coming from. He’s won eight fights in a row and seven have been stoppages in the toughest division in the sport. However, that still might not matter at the end of the day.

Conor McGregor (22-4) and Dustin Poirier (26-6, 1 NC) are fighting at UFC 257. The winner of that fight will be fighting for the lightweight title no matter what in their next fight. Should McGregor win, the UFC is going to push for the rematch with Khabib Nurmagomedov (29-0).

Khabib is retired, but Dana White is going to try and convince him to fight one more time in the UFC this week. However, even if Khabib stays retired and McGregor wins, Oliveira will likely need to get one more win to get a UFC title shot.

While he’s certainly deserving, the promotion is also going to look at what’s the biggest fight they can make. McGregor – Oliveira doesn’t sell the way McGregor – Gaethje would. That said, I think Oliveira is going to have to settle for the UFC giving him Justin Gaethje.

If Do Bronx runs through Justin Gaethje, there’s no denying him. It’s a very tough position to be in, however, I don’t think he’s going to have another choice.

UFC: Can Dana White convince Khabib to fight one more time?

Dana White will finally get his chance to meet with the UFC‘s lightweight champion this week. White will meet with Khabib Nurmagomedov (29-0) this week on Fight Island where the two will talk about Khabib’s future.

We last saw Khabib back at UFC 254 when he demolished Justin Gaethje to retain his lightweight title. Following the fight, Khabib collapsed in the octagon and sobbed reflecting on the challenging year he’s had.

Nurmagomedov lost his father earlier in the year who was his lead trainer and his best friend. Khabib announced after the fight was over that he wouldn’t be fighting anymore without his father.

The UFC lightweight champion said he promised his mother that he would retire. With that, Khabib Nurmagomedov laid down his gloves and said he was walking away at a perfect 29-0.

However, Dana White isn’t ready to see Khabib walk away. White knows that Khabib’s father always wanted him to go out at 30-0. With that, the UFC President wants Khabib to fight one more time before hanging it up.

White had an interview yesterday with ESPN’s Brett Okamoto where he talked about it. He said, “I have no idea (how the meeting will go), but I think he should fight again. I’m going to press him as hard as I can for one more.”

Will the UFC lightweight champion return?

In my opinion, it’s going to be very tough for White to convince Khabib to return. Nurmagomedov has been very vocal that he doesn’t have any desire to fight Conor McGregor (22-4) or Dustin Poirier (26-6, 1 NC) for the second time.

Those two men headline UFC 257 and the winner is being looked at as the number one contender. White said in the interview that the biggest possible fight they could do is the Khabib – McGregor rematch should Conor win.

However, getting the lightweight champion to back out of retirement and accept that fight won’t be easy. I’ll say this, if anyone can convince someone of this, it would be Dana White.

In all my years following the sport, I’ve really only seen White come up short once when he’s this determined. That was of course the Fedor Emelianenko deal which of course was really dead in the water before it started.

This week will tell us a lot and I’m in the same camp White is in. I would love for the UFC to be able to put on the rematch between McGregor and Khabib should Conor win. I’m very curious to see the reports out of Fight Island this week.

UFC will allow a limited number of fans on upcoming trip to Fight Island

The UFC will have live fans in the stands for their first cards of 2021. After shutting out fans since March due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the promotion will open their doors to a limited number of fans on Fight Island.

The UFC has an upcoming three-card run on Fight Island which concludes with UFC 257 headlined by Conor McGregor (22-4). MMA Junkie was the first to report the news that fans are officially back for the promotion.

The UFC had been hosting their events at the Flash Forum on Fight Island. However, with the addition of fans, the promotion will be hosting their next three events at the Etihad Arena in Abu Dhabi.

At this point, there is no word on how many fans will be allowed in attendance. This news does break away from the initial statements from Dana White. White previously said he wouldn’t host events with partial crowds. 

White has been very firm that it would be all or nothing for the UFC. Either they would sell out an event or there would be no fans at all. However, he did say that he was hoping to have an International Fight Week with fans for the upcoming Fight Island Trip.

The UFC welcomes back fans

As of now, there is no information on if the promotion will try to host International Fight Week for the UFC’s first week back. It appears they are just opening up their doors to allow a limited number of fans to enjoy the live action.

I do find this all a little convenient when it comes to Conor McGregor. One of the biggest gripes with the promotion’s handling of Conor McGregor last year had to do with live gates.

The UFC held McGregor out waiting for fans to be able to return. However, McGregor just wanted to compete and his frustration led to his brief retirement. As the biggest star in the sport, McGregor pulls in a hefty live gate whenever he fights and the UFC didn’t want to lose that revenue.

Obviously this decision isn’t completely tied to McGregor seeing as they are not selling the arena out. I just find it a little convenient that he will headline the first PPV that will have fans in the stands. It’s very fitting for the promotion.

On a more important note, this is a great thing for the UFC. It’s a very positive step in the right direction to have at least some sort of fan interaction for fights. While the fighters have delivered over the last year, you do miss the energy that a live crowd brings.

While it’s on a very small scale, it will be nice to hear fans in the crowd again for this run on Fight Island. I wouldn’t be shocked if the UFC’s first full capacity event in 2021 also comes at Fight Island.