Kavanagh says McGregor has to be on the UFC’s New York card

While questions over whether Conor McGregor will fight at UFC 200 still rumble on, his longer term status with the promotion is also unclear.

McGregor tweeted on Sunday that he was back in the July event, with UFC boss Dana White denying that was the case the following day, but it was White’s comments during a press conference on Friday which raised bigger questions.

White confirmed McGregor was out of UFC 200 and was likely to face the winner of an interim featherweight title bout between Jose Aldo and Frankie Edgar at a later date.

The UFC boss said that fight was likely to take place before the promotion’s mega-event at Madison Square Garden in November, news which didn’t go down well with McGregor’s coach, John Kavanagh.

“That was hard to hear – I really think that’s going too far,” he said.

“McGregor was bold, but it wasn’t anything that bad. If we get the slap on the wrist for 200, we definitely can’t be put on the naughty list for New York.”

With a large Irish contingent in the city, the New York event is an important one for McGregor.

His refusal to travel to Las Vegas to promote his fight against Nate Diaz didn’t go down well with White who seems intent on ensuring the Irishman is punished.

Kavanagh accepts that reinstating his fighter into UFC 200 is unlikely, but says leaving him out of the MSG blockbuster would be foolish.

“As an Irish guy in New York, the first card in Madison Square Garden, I think Conor would show up anyway and fight someone in a changing room if White doesn’t put him on the card,” Kavanagh added. “We have to be put on the New York card.”

With the fallout from the McGregor row set to continue for some time yet, one fighter who doesn’t agree with his stance on promoting events is Miesha Tate.

The women’s bantamweight champion is set to defend her title against Amanda Nunes at UFC 200 and believes McGregor should have fulfilled his obligations.

“I understand that he has an obsession with beating Nate right now and he wants to stay focused and stay the course at all costs,” said Tate.

“I get it. But at the end of the day it says in your contract when you sign that you have to do reasonable promotion.

“This is reasonable promotion – I have never had the UFC ask me to do unreasonable promotion.

“They’re very accommodating – whatever they can do to make your life easier, they’re really accommodating. They try to make this as easy as possible.”

“It’s not unreasonable to ask to come in here for a day and give some promotion – this does huge things for the fight.

“We actually ended up having to pick up the pieces of Conor not being there – we had to film more.”

“It is what it is, but I think that Conor should be here definitely.”

Jones v Cormier 2 confirmed for UFC 200; McGregor definitely off

Jon Jones will fight Daniel Cormier – assuming both fighters recover from respective injuries – in a light heavyweight title unification bout in Las Vegas on July 9 at UFC 200.

Jones v Cormier 2 replaces Connor McGregor v Nate Diaz as the headline fight for UFC 200 after McGregor was removed from the UFC 200 card for no-showing a contractually mandatory promotional appearance earlier this month.

His opponent at UFC 200, Diaz, also backed out of the event saying that he would be going on vacation if he wouldn’t be up against McGregor.

The McGregor saga has overshadowed UFC’s promotional activity for the marquee July event, with McGregor recently tweeting that he would be back for UFC 200 before UFC President Dana White had to issue a clear rebuttal saying that McGregor would not be on the card.

This leaves Jones v Cormier as the headline bout – the fight was originally scheduled for UFC 197 as Jones’ comeback fight but was postponed after Cormier withdrew three weeks prior to the event due to injury.

Cormier is still recovering from his injury and hopes to be fit in time to fight in July. Jones, who won convincingly against Ovince Saint Preux last Saturday, injured his foot during the fight but is also expected to recover in time.

Jones and Cormier have history – they were booked to meet in UFC 178 for Jones’ light heavyweight title and brawled during a press conference promoting the fight. Jones withdrew from the fight due to a leg injury but they ultimately met at UFC 182 in early 2015, Jones winning via unanimous decision.

However, Jones was stripped of his title a few months later after a hit-and-run incident, with the title vacated. Cormier then defeated Anthony Johnson for the vacant belt at UFC 187, and later successfully defended it against Alexander Gustafsson at UFC 192 in Houston.

Jones had eight successful title defenses before being stripped of the title, and both men will feel they are the deserving champions, with Cormier confident that he can beat Jones the second time around.

UFC 200 will also feature the women’s bantamweight title fight between Miesha Tate and Amanda Nunes and the interim featherweight title fight between Jose Aldo and Frankie Edgar. McGregor is expected to face the winner of the Aldo-Edgar fight the next time he steps into the Octagon.

White watches Paige VanZant wow audience on dance show as McGregor row rumbles on

UFC President Dana White put Conor McGregor to the back of his mind as he watched another of his fighters wow the audience on Monday night’s ‘Dancing with the Stars’ TV show in the US.

Paige VanZant and partner Mark Ballas produced a stunning performance as they danced to the funky Austin Powers theme song, scoring 28 out of a possible 30 points.

Despite receiving a 10 from one judge the duo found themselves in danger of elimination, but that fate befell ex-NFL quarterback Doug Flutie and his partner, Karina Smirnoff.

The UFC strawweight is proving popular with the audience and fans of the show, with a victory not beyond the realms of possibility.

White certainly seemed to enjoy VanZant’s performance as he watched alongside former UFC star Chael Sonnen.

The UFC boss has had a difficult few days as the row over McGregor’s participation at UFC 200 rumbles on.

White told the Los Angeles Times on Monday there was no deal in place for the Irishman to fight at the event, despite McGregor claiming otherwise on Twitter.

White said: “We haven’t talked to Conor or his manager since the press conference (Friday). I don’t know why he would tweet that.”

McGregor was scheduled for a rematch against Nate Diaz at UFC 200, but a disagreement over promoting the event caused McGregor to ‘retire’.

He subsequently retracted his statement and his coach, John Kavanagh, remains hopeful a resolution can be found and says his fighter is still training for the event.

“I’m 51 percent optimistic and 49 percent pessimistic, if you want to know my feelings on it,” John Kavanagh told Ariel Helwani on Monday’s edition of The MMA Hour.

“At some stage you’ve gotta see that maybe it’s pointless to upset so many fans that want to see this fight and ignore the kind of numbers that are gonna be brought in.

“The way the world is now, you don’t have to be physically at places to be involved in things.

“I don’t know what this obsession is with Vegas. UFC is a global sport, not a Vegas sport. I don’t see why everything has to be done there.”

“It seems to be swinging the right way and we’re aiming and we’re training for 200. We’re hoping for good news.”

Video: UFC releases promo for McGregor v Diaz rematch at UFC 200

With confirmation that Conor McGregor will take on Nate Diaz again at UFC 200, a mouth-watering promo video has been released to whet the appetites.

The all-action Irishman was surprisingly beaten by the Californian at UFC 197 last month, but the pair are set to resume their animosity in a much-anticipated clash in Las Vegas.

McGregor is well known for being outspoken and as the video above shows, Diaz is no shrinking violet either.

The war of words is set to start as this pair prepare to re-contest the 170-pound bout and headline an event that the world’s eyes will firmly be on.

‘Cyborg’ debut in UFC sparks Rousey talk

Cristiane ‘Cyborg’ Justino will take a step closer to a dream match-up with Ronda Rousey when she makes her eagerly anticipated UFC debut in May.

The current Invicta FC featherweight champion and former Strikeforce world titleholder will fight Leslie Smith at UFC 198 in her hometown of Curitiba, Brazil, but she is already eyeing a clash with the promotion’s biggest female star.

“I’m super excited about finally fighting in the UFC and making my debut in front of my hometown,” Justino said.

“I am very thankful to the UFC for finally giving me the chance to show the world why I am the baddest woman on the planet.”

Rousey’s refusal to consider stepping out of her 135-pound weight class during her reign as bantamweight champion had been a major stumbling block to her fighting Justino.

UFC boss Dana White had previously supported that decision, but with Justino’s contest against Smith set to take place as a 140-pound catchweight bout, it sets up the possibility of a fight against Rousey further down the line.

Rousey’s conqueror at UFC 193, Holly Holm, and new bantamweight champion Miesha Tate have both confirmed they would be happy to take on Justino.

“I am open to that fight,” Tate told fans at a recent Q & A session in Brisbane, Australia. “Maybe doing it at a catchweight at 140.”

“You know, I have nothing but respect for ‘Cyborg’ – she freaking eats girls for breakfast. She’s amazing – I would love to step in there with someone of her caliber.”

Justino’s switch to the UFC comes hot on the heels of rival promotion Bellator’s recent announcement that they will introduce a 145-pound women’s class.

Having quickly finished all five of her opponents in Invicta FC, Justino was running out of future options meaning the time was right for White to bring ‘Cyborg’ on board.

Whether she would be able to cut her weight sufficiently to fight in the 135-pound division is open to debate and the Brazilian has refused to confirm whether that is an option.

Despite this, Justino has a blockbuster showdown with Rousey firmly in her sights in a fight that would be a massive draw for the UFC.

“I would love to fight Ronda,” she said. “But the question is – does Ronda want to fight me?”

With Rousey set to make her comeback to the UFC at the end of 2016 it may be next year before the fight could happen, but Justino’s addition to the ranks is a major boost to promotion.

Headbutts allowed: Introducing Lethwei – the world’s most brutal combat sport

This brutal sport is thought to be over 1000 years old, but it is only recently that Myanmar’s national form of kickboxing, Lethwei, has gained an international audience.

South East Asia is renowned for Muay Thai, but Myanmar’s equivalent is seen as more confronting and violent.

Fighters do not wear gloves and instead have their hands wrapped, while head-butts and other jarring blows are permitted in this unforgiving contest.

Each round last three minutes, with the aim to knock your opponent out. If both combatants are still standing after round five, the bout is adjudged as a draw.

Ancient carvings on the temples of Bagan suggest that this combat sport has been taking place for over a millennium, while it is commonplace for boys as young as 10 years old to participate in Lethwei.

Myanmar’s recent political past had the nation under a veil, but its new form of quasi-democracy has opened the country to a world of tourism.

Lethwei’s popularity has grown with foreign fighters as a result, with battle-hardened men from Japan, the United States, the Philippines, New Zealand, Australia, Mexico and Costa Rica taking to the ring in recent years.

The current open-weight champion is the homegrown Tun Tun Min, who has proven himself as an unrelenting force – even when faced with fighters from overseas.

The Myanmar fighter recently took on American Cyrus ‘Black Dynamite’ Washington in a championship bout in Yangon, taking just 71 seconds to knock his opponent out with a thunderous blow.

It was the third time Tun Tun Min had faced the Thailand-based Washington, with the Myanmarese claiming his second victory.

He confirms the growing international appeal of Lethwei by recalling recent competitors he has faced.

“I fought nine fights in this year and no opponents were from Myanmar – all are from other countries,” Tun Tun Min stated at the end of 2015.

Saw Gaw Mu Doe is Tun Tun Min’s next opponent, with the pair to meet at the Theinphyu Indoor Stadium in Yangon later this month.

Washington has expressed on his Instagram page that he is now considering stepping away from Lethwei after defeat.

However, with the sheer brutality of the sport and mass tourism on the rise, the influx of foreigners eager to prove themselves in Myanmar shows no sign of slowing up.

Videos:

This one starts a bit slowly but the second half of it has a lot of brutal action and the quality is good:

This is also relatively good quality:

Here are other options with some hard-hitting coverage:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yz0MTp9ggEY

This is one of children (!)

Ronda Rousey v Holly Holm: UFC 193 Preview (Video)

Ronda Rousey fever has gripped Australia as she stepped up preparations for her latest defence of the women’s world bantamweight title at UFC 193 against Holly Holm.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qMp7ioti3n8

Screaming fans greeted Rousey at Federation Square, Melbourne, for open workouts ahead of her clash with Holly Holm in the main event at Etihad Stadium.

Rousey went through an intense workout – grappling, hitting mitts and some gymnastics, during what is officially supposed to be a rest week for her.

“This is one of my easy days,” said Rousey. “I don’t go up there just for show. I’m really training when I’m up there. I’m not just going up there doing as little as possible for the fans.

“That’s why I’m better than all of these girls. Whatever Holly thinks working hard means, I work 10 times harder than that.”

Holm also wowed the fans, showing no sign of nerves before the biggest mixed martial arts fight of her career.

The challenger looked to have more fun than anyone else during the session, going through some obligatory shadow boxing before dancing on stage, and was smiling throughout her session.

The former professional boxer said embracing this part of the job is something she picked up before her UFC debut in Los Angeles in February.

“This is for the fans, not me,” she said. “I mean, it’s for me in the sense that you get that energy and it’s amazing.

“But I went in there and just shadow boxed and jumped rope, and fans were calling out moves and I was able to do it. If they’re going to come out here and watch an open workout, I want to be involved with them.”

Rousey said she cried looking at judo mats recently, thinking about how much love she has for the years of work that brought her an Olympic medal and subsequent fame and fortune in the UFC.

“That’s why I’m going to win,” she said. “You think Holly Holm ever looks at a boxing ring and cries because she loved it so much? No.”

There is a strategic element to the open workout sessions, with fighters analysing their opponents to see if they can find any clues that will help them during the fight.

Rousey confessed to using this to her advantage: “Whenever I do these, I throw out a couple decoys,” she said. “Things I’m not really planning on doing, but I show it anyway.

“It’s up to my opponent and their interpretation, but they could watch every one of my training sessions and they could have known me since I was five and I’m still going to beat them. It doesn’t matter.”