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Dana White

Dana White: ‘Cyborg Turned Down Two 145 Pound Title Fights’

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Fans of Invicta FC featherweight champion Cristiane “Cyborg” Justino have long been calling for the UFC to build a 145 pound division around her. That push intensified recently when Cyborg insisted that she would leave the company if they did not open a women’s featherweight division.

According to UFC President Dana White, those comments should not be taken at face value. Speaking with Matt Serra and Jim Norton on the latest episode of the UFC Unfiltered podcast, White made it clear that the promotion have already offered Cyborg fights at 145 pounds and she has turned them down.

“Well what’s crazy about that is this. I offered Cris Cyborg a title fight at 145 pounds a month ago. She had eight weeks to get ready for it, she said she couldn’t make the weight. She said she couldn’t make 145 pounds.

“So then I offered her another 145 pound title fight for Brooklyn. She turned it down. She’s turned down two 145 pound title fights. One because she said she couldn’t make 145 pounds in eight weeks. And Joe Silva’s like, ‘if she can’t make 145 pounds in 8 weeks, 145 isn’t the right weight class for her either’.”

White’s insistence that the company have been trying to make a 145 pound title to appease Cyborg will come as a surprise to many, not least the fans who have petitioned for the belt to be introduced for months now.

The opponents suggested only make the news even more intriguing, with a former UFC bantamweight champion right in the mix.

“First we offered her the fight against Holly Holm, and then we offered the fight against Germaine (de Randamie).” said White, when quizzed as to who Cyborg was offered.

“We offered her a 145 pound title shot, she had eight weeks to get ready for it and she said that’s not enough time to make the weight. ‘I can’t make the weight in eight weeks’.

As for why the fights were turned down, White’s guess is as good as anyone else’s at this point. The UFC’s longstanding President was quick to point out that not only were both opponents chomping at the bit to take the fight with Cyborg, but that this was the culmination of a long drawn out process of trying to find a place for the Invicta champion on UFC programming.

“This whole thing about making weight. First of all, obviously when we did the deal with Cyborg we sat down with her and said ‘listen, ya know, if you can make it down to 135 pounds maybe we can hire a dietician and help you get there and get you in the mix, get a couple of fights with these girls and then fight Ronda for the title’.

“She was all in, I mean that’s why she signed the deal. Then she was having a hard time doing it so she cut down to 140. Then this whole thing about I can’t make 140 lbs. Finally we just said ‘fuck it, alright then, we’ll make a 145 pound title for you so here you go’. She said ‘I can’t make 145 pounds in 8 weeks’. So then we offered her the fight in Brooklyn and she turned that one down too.

“Just for the record, Holly was so excited for that fight but her coach Mike Winkeljohn said that’s not the right fight for Holly. So Holly had to turn it down so we went with Germaine and Germaine wants the fight.”

The fight in Brooklyn that White was referring to would have been on February 11 at the UFC 208 pay-per-view. At this time the event is without a scheduled main event, a spot that a perceived superfight between Cyborg and Holly Holm would have slotted into nicely.

Cyborg had previously stated that she would not be ready to fight until February, and was clear via her Twitter profile that this is a weight-cutting issue. However, given White’s comments regarding these fights being turned down, Cyborg’s next move, and relationship with the UFC, remain uncertain.

Following White’s comments Cyborg has issued a statement via MMA Fighting, explaining her reasons for turning down the fight. Cyborg also made it clear that she will not be working with nutritionist George Lockhart in future.

In my last weight cut I almost died. I was in the bathtub cutting weight, and I thought, ‘I will die in this bathtub.’ It was the worst weight cut in my life. My nutritionist George Lockhart, who, by the way, is a UFC employee, didn’t do an effective job with this birth control pill he indicated saying that would help me. But thank God, in a war, I made weight, cutting 24 pounds in a week. My body was retaining a lot of water. The last time I spoke with George Lockhart was in the locker room before my fight. He disappeared after the fight. I’m not working with him anymore.

For the first time I didn’t warm up in the locker room like I do for every fight because I was too weak. I was just praying for God and went for the fight, and, once again, God gave me the victory. After all this, I went back to my hometown on Sunday and I felt sick on Sunday. My mother gave me tea and I fell asleep.

The next day, like I always do after my fights, I did blood tests to see if everything was okay after a terrible weight cut. And for the first time, the nurses couldn’t take my blood, it was so thick it wouldn’t come out, so we couldn’t do tests. I was in treatment for 10 days with Dr. Ulisseia. I was in observation because I was feeling sick all the time.

You can see that I give no interviews after the fight. I told UFC Brazil PR Lilian (Caparroz) that I wanted to cancel all my interviews and couldn’t travel. After all that, at home, I decided I would not fight at this weight anymore, that I would only fight at my division. And only with 12 weeks’ notice. For my last fight, they told me eight weeks before.

I got a call from the UFC offering me another catchweight fight, and I said I would not fight at this weight anymore. I needed a break to get my health back to normal because my body was weak, I was anemic.

After that, they invited me to fight again, but this time at my weight and for the belt, but with 10 weeks’ notice. Knowing that I was recovering, like I said, I told them I can fight anyone in February, but I need to take care of my body, and no mention of the fact that I’m dealing with severe depression and can’t have another brutal weight cut like before. This decision is more important than the belt or the division, I’m thinking about my health.

I thank my fans. We did it! I’ll soon be fighting in my division, where I’m the world champion. You and God are loyal. I’ll be ready to fight in February.

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Conor McGregor

Dana White gives an update on the lightweight title picture

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When it comes to the lightweight division there is always a lot of talk with very little clarification. But now it seems Dana White has had enough of waiting for champion Conor McGregor and plans to move on in his absence.

“The Notorious” Conor McGregor won the UFC lightweight title back in November 2016 at UFC 205 where he became the first fighter to hold two belts simultaneously, however, he has not competed in MMA since.

Speaking on Sunday night’s after UFC Fight Night St. Louis UFC President Dana White said “Conor has said he is thinking about coming back in September if he comes back in September that’s almost two years, that can’t happen. It’s not fair to everybody else. Love Conor, respect Conor, love everything he’s done for this company, everybody knows that I say it all the time. The belt would have to move on.”

White also spoke about the two men that would fight for the lightweight belt saying “You do Khabib versus Tony, we’re working on that fight now and if and when Conor comes back he would get the first crack at the title.”

Then when presenter Karyn Bryant pushed for clarification and asked: “So you’re saying that Conor could possibly be stripped of his title?” Dana responded without hesitation “absolutely”.

The news will excite UFC fans across the globe who have been clamoring for the Ferguson vs Khabib matchup which they have been denied on three separate occasions. No date was confirmed for the potential matchup but rumors have been circulating that the UFC is targeting UFC 223 in April.

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Dana White

Dana White gives update on Conor McGregor and the lightweight division

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The top end of the UFC’s lightweight division is thriving. Dustin Poirer defeated former division champion Anthony Pettis, in dominant fashion. Tony Ferguson won the lightweight division’s interim title by carving Kevin Lee from his back. Safe to say, no everyday person would ever want to see Khabib Nurmagomedov down a damp and dark alley. Don’t forget, the gutsy performance of Eddie Alvarez stealing Justin Gaethje’s undefeated record away.  The division is thriving like gas attempting to escape a shaken champagne bottle.

On Friday, UFC President, Dana White, spoke to Kevin Iole of Yahoo! Sports, about a number of topics. One, which came up fairly quickly; Conor McGregor and his stranglehold on the lightweight belt. The pair began talking about recent performances inside the octagon when the illustrious name of, Khabib Nurmagomedov, came up. White claimed, “Conor always finds a way to win. When he hits you, you go…”. Then speaking of the potential bout between Nurmagomedov and McGregor, “I love that matchup but, Tony Ferguson is the interim champion. Conor and I haven’t really figured out when he’s coming back and what’s going on…”. He continued, “I don’t think Conor wants to fight until August, but if he waits until August or September, that’s around two years since the belt has been defended and that can’t happen”.

Iole followed up by asking, due to circumstances, does McGregor owe it to the sport to defend his title? The UFC president agreed, “And to the other fighters. Not only to the sport but, to the other fighters. This is a game of time… when you’re a professional athlete, time is your enemy and we can’t let this thing go on forever and not give other guys the opportunity. Tony Ferguson has been around for a long time and has earned his dues, Khabib has earned his dues… Conor has done very well, he’s made a lot of money, and if he decides that he doesn’t want to fight again for another however long that’s up to him… but, the belt has to move on… we gotta figure some stuff out here in the next couple months”.

It only makes sense that the UFC wants progression in the one-hundred and fifty-five lb. division. Even without their massive revenue generator, the division must move on. Athletes like Nurmagomedov may be relatively unknown outside the MMA community in the United States but, his official Instagram page holds 3.2 million followers.  While Tony Ferguson may not hold online notoriety, he does have an exciting style. A style that could win a good many of fans, the more exposure he receives.

For White, one of these two men must fight for the division’s championship title. When asked about what is next, he stated, “As long as Conor is willing to fight by March, we could do Khabib versus Tony and then the winner fights Conor… or Conor doesn’t wanna fight and wants to sit out till next fall. Then we would have to make Khabib vs. Tony for the title”.

Time can be the only truth serum in this particular situation. The UFC brass has spoken of forcing McGregor to vacate his lightweight title for some time. Yet, nothing has happened. On the other hand, it would be more than surprising to see the division’s belt sit on the shelf for another year. Considering it all, including the status of contenders and depth of the division, the bottleneck created by one man never ceases to amaze.

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Conor McGregor

Conor McGregor reacts to Khabib Nurmagomedov’s win at UFC 219

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On Saturday night the world watched as Khabib Nurmagomedov dismantled the striking expert Edson Barboza at UFC 219. The reactions were filled with praise for the undefeated Russian fighter. Media members and fans alike were calling Nurmagomedov one of the best lightweights in the world, but there is one man the world was waiting to hear from, UFC lightweight champion Conor McGregor. McGregor was silent following the fight between Nurmagomedov and Barboza, that is until Monday morning when he took to Twitter to state his opinion about the Number one contender.

“Truly truly truly get on your fucking knees and beg me,” McGregor wrote on Twitter.  “Otherwise, I don’t give a bollox.  My whiskey is out this year and that’s Diddy bread.” The whiskey that McGregor is referring to is his very own grand that he announced would be coming out following his loss to Floyd Mayweather this past August.

Rumors about McGregor’s return have ranged from him retiring from fighting to live a life of wealth with his family, to expect his return to the UFC this summer. No one really knows if McGregor will ever defend his UFC lightweight belt, but if he is to do so UFC President Dana White has said that it will be against interim champion Tony Ferguson.

Ferguson was also seeking a fight with Nurmagomedov prior to winning the interim belt against Kevin Lee. It is entirely possible that we will see these two battle for the interim title in the octagon before we see the return of Conor McGregor. Of course, these days there are no guarantees in regards to title contention, McGregor and his camp have publically stated that they would like to face Nurmagomedov in his home country of Russia. 

 

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