UFC: Tony Ferguson – Dustin Poirier is the fight to make

Tony Ferguson, UFC

There is no division in the UFC that is as talent heavy at the top as the lightweight division. The top five guys in the division all rank within the top fifteen in the promotions pound-for-pound rankings.

Two of the guys at the very top are former interim UFC champions, Tony Ferguson (25-4) and Dustin Poirier (26-6, 1 NC).

Ferguson is coming off of a loss to Justin Gaethje for the interim title back at UFC 249 in May. Prior to that loss, Ferguson had a 12 fight winning streak that dated back to 2013.

Since the loss where Ferguson took a lot of damage, many were wondering what would be next for Ferguson. Ferguson laid out what he thinks the plan should be moving forward to ESPN.

Battle of two of the UFC’s best

I love what Ferguson is thinking, but realistically, I only see one of these being an option for his next UFC fight. I think the only fight that Conor McGregor will take next is a fight for the title.

With that being said, it leaves The Diamond. Poirier is coming off of an insane victory in a war with Dan Hooker back in June. Poirier is 6-1, 1 NC in his last eight fights. He holds a victory over current interim champion, Justin Gaethje.

These top UFC lightweights would make for a perfect matchup. If they were to fight, the winner would make a very clear number one contender for the winner of Khabib – Gaethje.

Of course, there are a few hurdles in the way of that. The hurdles being Conor McGregor and Georges St. Pierre. The UFC lightweight champion, Nurmagomedov, wants to supposedly retire 30-0 meaning he’d only fight two more times.

If Khabib defeats Gaethje, he said that he wants to fight GSP next year in his final fight. This is a fight the UFC is open to. The promotion will also likely try to push for a McGregor rematch given the magnitude of that fight.

Those hurdles will create a massive headache and problem for Ferguson and Poirier. These two men would be the most deserving of a shot at the title, but will likely be in limbo if Nurmagomedov wins in October.

Regardless, this is the fight that the UFC needs to put together. It makes sense from a rankings perspective, and I mean who wouldn’t want to see these two throw down?

UFC: Khabib Nurmagomedov – Justin Gaethje official for October 24th

UFC president Dana White announced some pretty big news today. It was announced and confirmed that Khabib Nurmagomedov (28-0) with defend his title against interim champion, Justin Gaethje (22-2), on October 24th.

White confirmed the news to CNN. There have been a lot of questions about the future for Khabib after his father passed away. Many wondered if he would even fight again. But the fight is on.

“It’s going to happen, I can tell you right here right now,” White said. “That fight’s going to happen. Khabib versus Gaethje on October 24.”

Two more UFC fights for Khabib

Recently, it was announced by his manager that Khabib only has a couple of fights left in his UFC career. The first being his title defense against Gaethje.

Nurmagomedov is one of the sports biggest stars. He’s 28-0 and he’s one of the highest paid fighters in the promotion. However, he’s always talked about walking away early from the sport.

Dana White was asked by ESPN what he’d want to do if Nurmagomedov were to only fight two times. He said he would for sure fight Gaethje, but there was an interesting option for his retirement fight.

Justin Gaethje presents the biggest challenge to Khabib from a stylistic standpoint. However, if Khabib can get passed Gaethje, fight fans might get a fight they’ve dreamed about.

Many have wanted to see Georges St. Pierre drop down to 155 to challenge Khabib for the UFC title. White has always dismissed that because GSP would only want to fight once. But, if Khabib is also going to be walking away, the fight could happen.

Exciting times for the UFC‘s lightweight division. Khabib – Gaethje is a matchup that’s so interesting and exciting to think about because there are so many unknowns. Khabib hasn’t fought anyone with as good of defensive wrestling as Gaethje. Should be a fun fight with big implications that will follow.

UFC: Khabib Nurmagomedov Could Have Pick Of Final Opponent

It appears that, according to his manager, Khabib Nurmagomedov is going to shoot for a record of 30-0 before retiring altogether. Manager Ali Abdelaziz told the news to UFC Arabia, but the final opponent for Nurmagomedov – assuming that he beats Justin Gaethje to advance to a record of 29-0 – is still an unknown.

The fight with Gaethje is set to unify the lightweight belt and determine the true champion, whether that’s the underdog Gaethje or the favorite, Khabib. However, it appears from the outside that the death of his father has impacted his motivation to defend the belt in the future even if he does unify it when the Gaethje fight finally happens.

Khabib will likely go for the 30-0 mark

Instead of aiming to defend the belt for as long as possible, Khabib’s plan is to take one more fight and achieve an undefeated 30-0 record before retirement. According to ESPN, that’s something that UFC boss Dana White is willing to accommodate.

On Monday, White told ESPN that he would support Nurmagomedov’s choice of a final opponent, including former welterweight and middleweight champion Georges St-Pierre.

White mentioned that one of the possible fights to make is the rematch against Conor McGregor, who pushed for the fight ever since the first match between the two happened. McGregor, however, is retired right now. At least allegedly.

Would a second fight with Khabib be enough to lure McGregor back into the sport? It’s possible, and many would say that it’s likely, but McGregor has a track record of not behaving how experts and fans expect.

We also don’t know yet if Khabib himself is after the rematch. Another fight mentioned by White is one between Khabib and Georges St-Pierre, who has been away from the sport for longer than McGregor has. However, St-Pierre was recently called out by Kamaru Usman, and responded by quickly denying talks about a return.

“I need to stay objective and smart about my decisions, and right now, to come back to fight for the welterweight title against Kamaru Usman and risk it all, there’s more cons than pros. It’s not worth it for me,” St-Pierre said on the matter.

White also said that he’s willing to do anything Khabib wants, when it comes to the matchmaking for his final fight.

Of course, all of this talk about a 30-0 record depends on Khabib winning one more fight against Justin Gaethje in September, and that’s no given. Especially with recent rough events in Khabib’s life, which have potentially played a role in his decision to retire early in the first place.

Once the title unification fight happens, things will truly get interesting for lightweight matchmaking.

UFC: What’s next for Dustin Poirier?

Dustin Poirier, UFC

There is no doubt that Dustin Poirier (26-6, 1 NC) is one of the best lightweights in the UFC. In fact, you could definitely say he’s one of the best fighters in the promotion.

The Diamond is 6-1 with 1 NC in his last eight fights defeating some of the best names in the sport. His lone loss coming to the UFC‘s undisputed lightweight king, Khabib Nurmagomedov.

Last month, Poirier defeated Dan Hooker at UFC on ESPN 12 in an instant classic. Poirier has had some time to heal and was interviewed by Jim Rome about his future this week.

“I’ve been fighting for a while, I have 40 fights, and I want these last four or five years to really mean something every time I get into the octagon… I really want to leave a legacy” Poirier told Rome.

When asked about what he wants next, Poirier said, “It needs to be a really big name or a title fight. I’ve been doing this for 10 years in the UFC, and I still love fighting, but I want these fights to mean more than just a fight.”

What should the UFC do?

Given how brutal the last fight was with Hooker, I would still give Poirier a little time before offering him a fight if I was the UFC. If he’s not going to get a title shot next, ESM’s Olivier Dumont suggests he start with Tony Ferguson (25-4).

Like Poirier, Ferguson is also a former UFC interim lightweight champion. Ferguson just suffered his first loss in May after going on a winning streak that spanned seven years.

A fight between the two men would determine a clear number one contender in the lightweight division. The fight would be a fight that fans would love to see.

Another matchup that the fans would love to see is the rematch with the sports most famous fighter, Conor McGregor (22-4).

McGregor is retired for now, but he’s likely going to fight for the title upon his return to the octagon. However, if the UFC persuades him to take another fight, Poirier makes perfect sense.

The two men fought at featherweight years ago, and McGregor stopped Poirier in the first round at UFC 178. The two men are much better now and a rematch would be fascinating to watch.

One outside the box idea that I like would be a fight with Nate Diaz (20-12). Yes, Diaz has said that he doesn’t want to cut to 155 anymore, but this fight was already scheduled once. The fight was originally scheduled for UFC 230.

If Poirier wants a big name, he’s not going to get much better than Diaz. Who knows when we will see Diaz again, but a fight with Poirier would be one I’d be excited for.

There are several avenues the UFC can go with Poirier. I think Ferguson is the most likely if you ask me, but it will be interesting to see how the promotion moves forward with The Diamond.

UFC: Justin Gaethje turns down Conor McGregor fight

Right now, the UFC‘s lightweight division is in a bit of a holding pattern. In September, lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov (28-0) was supposed to fight interim champion, Justin Gaethje (22-2).

However, after the recent passing of Nurmagomedov’s father, there have been question marks around the eagle’s future. As a result, the division has come to a halt.

With the uncertainty around his future, Khabib suggested that Gaethje fight Conor McGregor (22-4) while he figures his situation out. According to Gaethje’s manager, that was not an offer he was interested in.

“Khabib told me to tell Justin to go fight Conor. Justin said no,” Ali Abdelaziz said to TMZ Sports.

What’s next in the UFC’s lightweight division

A fight between McGregor and Gaethje for the interim UFC lightweight title would be massive. It’s a fight that has a ton of heat because the two men do not like each other.

Of course, McGregor has seemed to be enjoying retirement life as of now. Dana White and pretty much everyone in the world does not believe that McGregor is actually retired.

I’m a little surprised Gaethje was so quick to dismiss the opportunity to fight McGregor. However, at the same time it does make since if you’re Gaethje.

The interim UFC lightweight champion would have a tougher time dealing with McGregor due to the style. A McGregor-Gaethje matchup would happen completely on the feet.

If both men were at their peak, I don’t think many would favor Gaethje over McGregor in a stand up fight. Whereas Khabib will try to take Gaethje down over and over. If Gaethje could keep that fight standing, he’d have a massive advantage.

Despite the tougher matchup, I don’t think Gaethje is dodging McGregor. I think he just envisions becoming the undisputed UFC lightweight champion. A dangerous fight with McGregor could take that opportunity away in the blink of an eye.


UFC: Major title fights will be coming back to Fight Island

UFC, Dana White

The UFC will be leaving Fight Island to return to the United States this week after a very successful first run in Abu Dhabi.

In speaking with The National, White detailed some of the bigger fights that he has in mind for the UFC‘s return to Abu Dhabi.

“Khabib will be the next…we’re talking about Israel Adesanya vs. Paulo Costa, that fight is happening. Zhang Weili vs. Rose Namajunas is a possibility. All the massive, big fights with literally the champion vs. the No. 1 contender are all looking like Fight Island.”

UFC’s Fall Return

The UFC‘s fall return to Fight Island is going to be massive. I would expect that the first fight we will see booked is the middleweight title fight between Israel Adesanya (19-0) and Paulo Costa (13-0).

The two undefeated fighters have a ton of heat between the two of them. Over the weekend, the fight was prematurely announced for September. However, Dana White said the fight is not official.

Khabib Nurmagomedov (28-0) will be making his return at some point against Justin Gaethje (22-2). The two men will unify the UFC‘s lightweight championship on Fight Island.

Zhang and Namajunas is another massive fight that will happen on Fight Island. There could also be additional title fights that will still be announced in the months to come for Fight Island in the fall.

The UFC will likely have to make most of their big fights on Fight Island with the way that the pandemic is going. The United States is a fluid country with the virus. As a result, I think the UFC might be setting up shop on Fight Island for most of 2020.

UFC: Could Khamzat Chimaev fight again next weekend?

One of the more dominating victories that came out of the two fight nights this week from the UFC‘s Fight Island was the victory from Khamzat Chimaev (7-0).

The Swedish born fighter has drawn comparisons to UFC lightweight champion, Khabib Nurmagomedov, with his mauling style. One thing the promotion already loves about him is his hunger. Apparently, Chimaev envisions a quick turnaround.

“He asked me that night for another fight,” UFC president Dana White said this weekend. “I said why not? Yeah. All right. Let’s do it… So Mick (Maynard) is working on that now.

UFC’s Next Mauler

Chimaev’s debut was something to behold. John Phillips is a tough guy, but Chmaev ragdolled him like it was nothing. The striking numbers were one of the more lopsided in MMA history. Chimaev scored a 10-7 round in the first round of their fight.

The UFC will have their work cut out for them in finding Chimaev a fight on such short notice. I’m not sure who is on Fight Island already, but with only six days to go, the UFC will have to work quickly.

Chimaev strikes me as the kind of guy who really does not care who the UFC puts in front of him. Much like Nurmagomedov, Chimaev’s style is going to be extremely difficult for people to deal with.

His style is also one that could fight anyone at anytime and be very effective. I’m very excited to watch Chimaev fight next. We could be looking at the UFC‘s first Swedish born champion in Khamzat Chimaev.

UFC: Is Khamzat Chimaev the next Khabib?

Last night, the UFC hosted their second successful event on Fight Island. The card delivered from top to bottom with great action.

There were many standouts on the card, but there was one fighter who stood above the rest in my opinion. That fighter was Khamzat Chimaev (7-0) who smashed John Phillips (22-10, 1 NC) for two rounds before submitting him with a D’Arce choke.

The UFC’s Khabib 2.0?

As Chimaev walked out last night, the commentators said that people compare him to UFC lightweight champion, Khabib Nurmagomedov (28-0). Those are lofty comparisons for someone making their UFC debut.

However, it was apparent very early into the fight that the comparisons were warrented. Chimaev opened with a wild kick that transitioned beautifully to a takedown. Once on the ground, Chimaev unloaded shots on Phillips.

As Ariel Helwani tweeted, Chimaev landed 124 strikes in just over one round of action. I thought I was watching a bigger version of Nurmagomedov when I was watching Chimaev make his debut.

Chimaev has this ground aggressiveness about him where he wants to, “smash,” his opponents. It is very evident as to why the UFC wanted to pick him up.

From here, it’ll be interesting to see what the UFC does with Chimaev. Chimaev stated that he would like to fight at his normal weight class which is welterweight in his next fight. He even called out Donald Cerrone.

One thing is for sure, Chimaev is definitely a name to keep your eyes on. You can check out some of his highlights below.

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 lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov’s father Abdulmanap dies after battle with COVID-19

Abdulmanap Nurmagomedov, father of UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov, has died, according to multiple reports coming out of Russia Friday morning. Abdulmanap was 57 years old.

Back in April, Abdulmanap was admitted to the hospital due to complications with the COVID-19. Abdulmanap was taken to military hospital for observation and treatment. Abdulmanap was induced into a medical coma a couple of times while he battled.

While in the hospital, Abdulmanap also suffered a heart attack which led to a bypass surgery. Recently it was reported that the Abdulmanap was in stable but serious condition. Khabib Nurmagomedov was said to be training twice a day and was using this as more motivation for his UFC title defense later this year.

Friday morning, it was announced by Ramzan Kadyrov via his telegram channel that Abdulmanap had died after his long battle with COVID-19. The UFC is currently scheduled to have Khabib defend his title against Justin Gaethje in September, but you have to think this will be a very difficult camp for Khabib.

UFC 242 just became even more special

For the first time in his UFC career, Khabib had his father Abdulmanap in his corner last September when he fought Dustin Poirier at UFC 242. Abdulmanap had always been Khabib’s head trainer. UFC 242 was the first time he was actually able to travel for the fights because of visa issues in the US. Khabib put on an incredible performance that night. He mentioned how much it meant to him that his father was there to see him defend his UFC title.

Khabib has mentioned that he could not be where he’s at if it had not been for his father. He gives all the credit to his father for developing him into the UFC‘s undisputed lightweight king. This is a devastating time for the Nurmagomedov family and our thoughts and prayers are with them.