UFC: Brian Ortega Pressures Korean Zombie To Sign Fight Contract

Brian Ortega, UFC

Two of the most intriguing featherweights in the UFC’s rankings right now are Brian Ortega and Chan Sung Jung, the latter of the two better known by his nickname ‘the Korean Zombie.’ Jung has a 3-1 record since making it back from his mandatory military service in South Korea, while Ortega looks like a future champion with his only loss coming at the hands of Max Holloway. Both fighters have been on a collision course towards one another for some time.

However, their fight hasn’t happened just yet. It was meant to take place during December of last year, but a knee injury forced Ortega out of the bout. Despite missing the first fight, though, Ortega intends to meet the Korean Zombie in the octagon eventually.

Back in March, Ortega managed to get into a clash with Jung’s friend Jay Park. This time, nothing as exciting as that has happened. However, Ortega has still made his voice heard by speaking on social media. He took to Instagram, calling out Jung for not signing the contract yet for a rescheduled fight.

Ironically, the feud between Ortega and Park was started by Park translating for Jung during an interview where Jung accused Ortega of avoiding a fight with him. Now, it looks like the tables are turned with Jung being accused of stalling with signing the contract and Ortega putting pressure on him to get the fight done.

Ortega and Jung are closely matched in the rankings right now with Ortega sitting at third in the division and Jung resting one spot below him at fourth. Only Max Holloway and Zabit Magomedsharipov are higher right now in the contender standings for featherweight.

The next fights of all four fighters will significantly impact how the battle for the belt turns out. Holloway is set to fight a rematch for the title on July 11th, Magomedsharipov is currently still undefeated in the UFC, and both Jung and Ortega are in position to win and make a case for a fight with a top contender. In these next fights, the top section of the division may very well change drastically, and either Ortega or Jung could end up in a number one contender fight.

MMA: Eddie Alvarez And Ben Askren Offer Career Advice Over Twitter

MMA isn’t the easiest sport to make it in career-wise, as many fighters have found out. Many find that the sport doesn’t pay as much as an outsider might imagine, and even at the highest level, there’s concerns about fighter pay and whether or not the UFC’s practices are fair.

Few know this struggle with forging a successful career better than fighters that have been around the sport for a long time and experienced it all, and that includes former UFC wrestler Ben Askren and current ONE lightweight Eddie Alvarez.

Both of those fighters have taken to Twitter to offer advice to other current fighters about things such as taxes and money management.

The line of conversation started with Ben Askren tweeting a warning to new fighters that, depending on their state and their income, they could end up losing as much as half of their earnings just from taxes. His sentiment was added to by SBG Ireland coach John Kavanagh, most known for training former champion Conor McGregor.

But current ONE Championship lightweight Eddie Alvarez, who formerly competed in the UFC’s lightweight division, also had something to add on to that. He provided a number of tips, not just on taxes but on keeping money in reserve and investing it.

Alvarez also revealed that his own investments are spread across multiple things rather than being placed in one specific thing that could lose value.

Many athletes are able to live off just their paychecks without having to worry too much about other things such as investments, but that’s not the case for most of the MMA fighters outside the top echelon of the UFC. And with the league struggling somewhat financially thanks to the loss of ticket sales at the gate in recent months, it doesn’t look like that situation will improve anytime in 2020.

With these circumstances, all fighters can do is continue to push for more attention to their cause and manage their own assets smartly.

UFC: Lauren Murphy Looking For Big Fight With Rising Flyweight

Lauren Murphy, UFC

The situation in the UFC women’s flyweight division is one of the more intriguing ones right now. One of the top-ranked names in the division, sitting at number two, is Cynthia Calvillo – and before now, she didn’t have a rank in the division at all. That’s because Calvillo is moving up from strawweight after having trouble making weight, and after picking up the win in the main event of UFC on ESPN 10, she’s been placed at the number two contender spot in the rankings.

Already, though, there are other fighters gunning for her position. That includes Lauren Murphy, who was victorious at UFC on ESPN 11 against Roxanne Modafferi. Murphy is at number seven in the rankings but like much of the division, fell when Calvillo was inserted at number two. That’s despite bouncing back from a 1-1 start in the division by winning her last three fights.

“I have the longest win streak in the flyweight division right now and all of my wins are over ranked opponents. Nobody else in the flyweight division can say that. I knocked out the No. 12 contender. I beat Andrea Lee, and she was ranked No. 7 and I was a 4-1 underdog in that fight,” Murphy pointed out after her victory. “I’m 4-1 in this division and my last three wins are over ranked opponents, my only loss is to someone that’s is now a bantamweight and she was undefeated at flyweight.”

As for who Murphy wants next? She’s not shying away from the challenge of taking on a top tier opponent.

“I definitely deserve a spot in the top five. I think I deserve a spot on the women’s pound-for-pound list and I want to fight Cynthia Calvillo next. She’s the girl to beat right now. She’s a really, really excellent fighter,” Murphy said.

Calvillo has a streak of her own going right now, however. She has a 9-1-1 record and her only loss is against Carla Esparza. She’s beaten well-known names, most recently Jessica Eye but also others such as Joanne Calderwood and Pearl Gonzalez.

She’s not an easy opponent by any means but that didn’t stop Murphy from speaking positively about her odds.

“She walked right into the division and she took the No. 2 spot and I think that’s a great matchup for me. I think I can beat her and I want to show everybody that I can,” Murphy continued.

She may have to wait her turn, however. With Calvillo coming in and unsettling the division right away, there’s a decent chance the rest of the top contenders will be gunning for her soon enough.

UFC: Curtis Blaydes Embraces The Heel Role After Decision Win

Curtis Blaydes, UFC

UFC heavyweight contender Curtis Blaydes picked up his fourth straight win at UFC on ESPN 11, but not everyone is a fan of the way that win came. Blaydes, despite having a large number of TKO victories, has been accused of a “boring” fighting style thanks to his wrestling based background and the way he uses it in the octagon, and didn’t improve his reputation during his fight against Volkov where his victory came from a unanimous decision after outlasting his opponent rather than an exciting finish.

According to Dana White, the performance was underwhelming, but the criticism doesn’t seem to have gotten under Blaydes’ skin. When speaking to reporters, he seemed to embrace his spot among the UFC’s heels.

“I know who I am now. I’m the heel. You don’t like what I do? I like to make you mad. I like to win. That’s probably the best part about this win, is I predicted this, and I did it. Twenty-five minutes. Didn’t look the best, but I’m OK with having a gritty win like that, and I know a lot of fans didn’t like it, and I’m OK with that. It makes me happy,” Blaydes said.

Blaydes is one of the next contenders in line for the title but it remains to be seen who his next opponent will be. After two earlier losses to the higher ranked Francis Ngannou, it doesn’t look like a third fight is coming soon between the two.

And current champion Stipe Miocic is already set to defend his title against Daniel Cormier in a third fight, with the location having been recently confirmed as the UFC APEX facility.

It leaves Blaydes in an awkward position, but ultimately, he acknowledged that the matter of his next opponent isn’t in his own hands.

“I fought Justin Willis, ranked below me. I fought Abdurakhimov, ranked below me. I fought Junior, ranked below me. I fought Volkov, ranked below me. Like what? No. I don’t know, man. This is probably not the best time to answer that questions so I’m going to leave that alone.”

Things aren’t easy for Blaydes as a title contender right now, but as long as he continues to win, the UFC won’t be able to ignore him as a title contender regardless of popularity or style. His winning, after all, has remained fairly consistent as of recent.

Curtis Blaydes Claims UFC Is Protecting Derrick Lewis With Alexander Volkov Matchup

Alexander Volkov, UFC

The UFC has a competitive top half of the rankings right now in the heavyweight division and the race to the top will definitely be impacted by the matchup between Curtis Blaydes and Alexander Volkov that’s set for June 20th.

Interestingly, however, Blaydes believes that being placed against the seventh ranked heavyweight and the winner of seven of the last eight fights is actually a move that sells him short to an extent. According to Blaydes, his skills are good enough to destroy currently fourth ranked Derrick Lewis, who Blaydes says that the UFC wants to protect.

“After I beat Junior, I knew it was going to be Volkov. I knew they weren’t going to give me Derrick Lewis. They don’t want him to lose, and they know if they gave him me, I would destroy him, so I knew he was off the table. I knew it had to be Volkov, so as soon as it was offered, I said yes,” Blaydes said to MMA Junkie.

While Volkov has had an impressive run of results since entering the UFC, Blaydes also has an impressive record of his own – only two career losses and one no-contest, with both of the losses coming at the hands of Francis Ngannou. There’s no shame, of course, in losing to Ngannou. The hard hitting heavyweight is currently the number two contender and has already fought for title title himself, losing to current champion Stipe Miocic.

While Blaydes believes he deserves a fight with Lewis, he also hasn’t dismissed his current opponent.

“I respect every opponent. I know he’s got skills. I know he’s efficient in striking, but I also know he’s not the best grappler in the world. I know he’s not the caliber grappler I am, and I believe I have the better conditioning,” he continued.

Blaydes may just get the fight he’s looking for with Lewis in the future, but that defends on a win against Volkov, who is a tough challenger in his own right. It won’t take long, though, for the final result to be determined – Blaydes and Volkov are set to fight on the 20th at the UFC APEX facility, as the headliners for UFC on ESPN 11.

UFC: Nunes Retirement Talk Causes Annoyed Response From Dana White

UFC, Dana White

The UFC has a number of current star fighters who might not return for future fights, including Conor McGregor and Jon Jones, but another name joining that list for different reasons could be Amanda Nunes… The same Amanda Nunes that’s currently the champion in both the women’s bantamweight and women’s featherweight divisions, meaning her retirement would put the UFC in a bad spot in multiple places.

After all, Nunes just defended her featherweight title at UFC 250 and is the largest draw on the women’s side of the sport right now, surpassing others such as Ronda Rousey and Cris Cyborg during her eleven fight winning streak. And the featherweight division which Nunes recently defended her crown in is less appealing without her in it, lacking the same star power in the rest of the rankings.

So it’s safe to say that when Dana White learned of Nunes’ talk about possibly retiring at this point, he wasn’t happy.

“I will kill her… I literally just told Sean [Shelby] and Mick [Maynard] in the last meeting, ‘Let’s get this division built for her. Let’s build this division for her, and let’s start figuring this out. And now she’s talking about retiring?” White said on the Schmozone Podcast.

There’s not a comparable talent on the featherweight roster to Nunes. Cris Cyborg was just about the only name favored over Nunes at 145 lbs, but she would end up knocked out within the first round against Nunes and is now in Bellator rather than the UFC. Felicia Spencer was able to survive five rounds without getting finished, but still lost her recent title challenge by unanimous decision.

That leaves a big question: who would replace Nunes as the face of both the women’s bantamweight and women’s featherweight divisions if she does go through with her possible ideas about retiring?

The answer isn’t clear to the fans and it doesn’t seem like it’s clear to Dana White, either.

“You know how I always say, ‘If you’re talking about retiring, you probably should.’ Unless you’re where she’s at. In this time, when I got guys crying about money, one of our female fighters, who could go on and keep doing this for a long time, is saying, ‘Maybe I retire now.’ She’s got plenty of money and she can do it,” White continued.

It hasn’t been a good few months for the UFC when it comes to the business side. The league is already suffering financially from lost ticket sales, and at the same time, it could lose talents such as McGregor, Jones, Jorge Masvidal, and now Nunes. The bantamweight belt is still vacant, and it looks like Henry Cejudo will remain retired.

The UFC has always had something of a star power problem, where the league doesn’t create as many marketable star athletes as others such as the NFL and NBA, but that problem could get a lot worse this year depending on how things go. And depending on what happens, this specific situation could cast doubt on the future of an entire division.

UFC: “Everybody Should Get Paid More,” Says Joe Rogan

Fighter pay has always been an issue on the forefront of the UFC world, but more recently that matter has been brought back up by some of the biggest stars seeking better paydays. Jon Jones has fought quite publicly with Dana White and has asked to be released by the UFC, while Jorge Masvidal has also told the league to let him go if he’s not worth it. He asked why he should have to fight for half as much as his previous outing because his opponent isn’t the same draw, a question that’s hard for the UFC to answer.

Conor McGregor walking away from the sport again, at least for now, can also be seen as frustration with the financial side of the sport. His brief jump to boxing was, after all, motivated at least in strong part because of the greater payday compared to MMA.

The situation surrounding how much fighters make will continue to be a talking point this year, especially as it’s affecting some of the most well known and mainstream talents in the sport, and it’s led to Joe Rogan giving his take on his podcast.

“I think everybody should get paid more. I think it’s a crazy way to make a living. I think you should get the most amount of money you can possibly get,” Rogan said. However, he did acknowledge that it’s a business and that the league doesn’t have unlimited money to spend on its fighters. “I don’t talk finances with them, but I know the WME people who own it are hurting, bad. They’re laying people off. Most businesses are hurting. All the entertainment business is (expletive).”

“You should get paid an incredibly generous amount of money to step into a cage fight for millions of people to see,” Rogan continued.

The matter of pay isn’t going to leave the conversation for a while, with the UFC still having ongoing disputes to clear up with Jones and Masvidal. Whether things will turn out in favor of the fighters or the company remains to be seen, but with the coronavirus pandemic preventing the UFC from collecting money at the gate from ticket sales at live events, it doesn’t seem like the company has the resources currently to deliver on an ideal outcome that would reward all of its fighters and please fans in the process.

UFC: Conor McGregor Called Out By Mayweather Over Retirement

Conor McGregor, Floyd Mayweather

UFC 250 is past, but some of the most notable news came after the event – Conor McGregor announced his intent to retire, again, and the MMA world has been left wondering if it’s legitimate or if it’s a negotiating tactic to set up better conditions for McGregor to get a fight that he wants.

McGregor claims to not be excited by the fight game anymore, and this time, his retirement appears to be from all combat sports – a departure from how things were when the UFC lightweight took a break from MMA to pursue a boxing match with Floyd Mayweather.

It’s McGregor’s former opponent Mayweather that recently weighed in on the supposed retirement, using it as a chance to question past statements from McGregor and question his choice while hinting at the possibility of a future challenge.

“Well, if you decide to come back, I will be waiting to punish you again,” Mayweather closed the Instagram comment with.

The two originally met in August 2017 in a fight that Mayweather won using a conservative strategy, tiring out his opponent over the course of a fight that went on longer than some expected. The end result was a TKO in the 10th round, but the closer than expected nature of the fight didn’t help to extinguish talks about a rematch. After all, in boxing, a rematch can be profitable for both sides involved more-so than in MMA.

But that won’t happen if McGregor’s retirement from combat sports is real – which isn’t a certainty, considering McGregor’s history of apparently walking away from MMA only to come back again before long. Will that happen again? It definitely could, but for now, it looks like we might not see another boxing match involving the always controversial former UFC champion.

UFC: Jon Jones Vacates Title Over Dispute With Dana White

The light heavyweight division has long been one of the deepest in the UFC, and right now, it looks like the division will be shaken up once again by the departure of champion Jon Jones. This wouldn’t be the first time Jones has been removed from his position as the champion – Jones has had to earn the title back in the past thanks to his troubles outside of the ring with legal problems and USADA – but it would be the first time that he’s vacated the belt willingly.

The reason? His ongoing dispute with Dana White over payment.

This wouldn’t be the first time that fighters have complained about their pay, but it looks like the spat between Jones and White is going to go further than others have. The other comparable situation, of course, is Conor McGregor’s jump to boxing. Jones is also interested in boxing, but it’s more uncertain at this point whether he’ll return to the UFC, while such a return didn’t seem like an impossibility when McGregor took his fight with Mayweather.

Jones revealed his intentions on Twitter, which is the place where the rest of his fight with White went down. He said that he has nothing to gain by fighting for the title and recommended a fight between Dominick Reyes and Jan Blachowicz for his title, which presumably, will be vacated due to Jones’ own request.

He touched on the inherent danger involved in fighting in the UFC, as part of his argument that fighting isn’t worth it unless the UFC gives him a superfight. Based on Dana White’s responses in a recent press conference, it doesn’t look likely that Jones will get what he’s looking for.

Jones will vacate his title with a record of 26-1 with one no contest, one of the best records that the UFC has seen. He defended his title from Reyes in a decision in February, and for most of his career, the only thing to hold him back from remaining champion indefinitely has been his own problems. While Jones is indeed a controversial fighter, a lot of fans would still like to see him around the sport – even if they hope that someone else defeats him for the light heavyweight crown.

Just how well will Jones do in boxing if he does vacate his title officially and jump to the other most popular combat sport? That’s an unknown, but interestingly, Jones has at least one offer from a fight, from former UFC light heavyweight Jimi Manuwa. At the very least, the fight would be something to see, with Jones’ debut in boxing likely drawing both a lot of viewers and a larger payday than the UFC offers.