UFC 226 (Updated) Preview

Why, God?

Mainstream fight fans have no Conor McGregor.

Actual fight fans have no incentive to pay attention to CM Punk getting dominated for three rounds.

There finally was (and still is, but not as much) something to look forward to in this tumultuous world of Mixed Martial Arts.

From the exclusive Fight Pass prelims all the way up to the main event, UFC 226 was easily the best pay-per-view card the promotion put together in 2018.

That was, until featherweight champion Max Holloway had to pull out of his scheduled featherweight title defense against undefeated prodigy Brian Ortega due to “concussion-like symptoms.”

If everyone remembers correctly, Holloway agreed to fill in for Tony Ferguson three months ago for a lightweight title bout against Khabib Nurmagomedov at UFC 223.

Just like 223, Holloway made it past open workouts to pull out just a few days before fight day.

To the mainstream fight fan, it may appear that Holloway pulled out of his last two fights in fear of losing or to augment his title reign.

But that simply is not the case.

Holloway was responsible for cutting a massive amount of weight for a bout he was not healthy enough to participate in at UFC 223.

Fast forward three months, even with a solid grace period to cut weight, Holloway had to cut to 145 pounds, ten pounds lighter than the goal for UFC 223.

Now, our fearless featherweight champion is having issues with his health and UFC President Dana White claims he will need some significant time off.

Prayers go up for the UFC to figure out the healthiest weight cut path for fighters, and blessings go up for UFC featherweight champion “Blessed” Max Holloway.

Get well soon Max.

Let’s talk about people punching each other.

The prime time slot on the Fox Sports One preliminary card righteously sees Uriah “Prime Time” Hall (14-8) face off against “The Eraser” Paulo Costa (11-0).

Besides having the perfect ratio of intimidation and beauty, Costa also sports a perfect record of 11-0 and has finished every opponent that has faced him so far.

Hall has been on a 10 month layoff and lost three of his last four fights.

However, Hall did win his last fight by way of knockout in an impressive comeback against number 14 ranked middleweight Krzysztof Jotko.

A victory over the surging Costa would give him a two fight winning streak and a good argument for a fight with a top five middleweight contender.

Another potential opponent for the victor of this upcoming bout could be surging newcomer Israel Adesanya (14-0).

In his third fight with the UFC, Adesanya headlined his first card and handily defeated short-notice fill-in and #8 middleweight contender Brad Tavares (17-5).

To sweeten the tea, Adesanya also suggested his next fight should be the winner of Hall-Costa.

Either way the fight plays out, the fight world would be happy.

Do not miss this middleweight bout.

As we look to the main card, we see an intriguing welterweight matchup between “Platinum” Mike Perry (11-3) and Paul “The Irish Dragon” Felder (15-3).

Perry is currently riding a two fight losing streak both of which he lost decisively via decision. Perry’s ex-girlfriend Danielle Nickerson, who is a professional tennis player with zero professional fights under her belt, cornered him in both losses.

It will be interesting to see how Greg Jackson measures up as his cornerman, as Nickerson has given him one tough act to follow.

That was blatant sarcasm.

Perry’s opponent Felder, the number 14 ranked lightweight, is enjoying a three fight knockout streak as he approaches his welterweight debut.

It remains to be seen whether Felder will add another knockout to his already impressive streak. Yet, Perry would carry a similar incentive as all 11 of his victories have come by way of knockout.

Up next on the card, a heavyweight bout turned grudge match between Francis “The Predator” Ngannou (11-2) and “The Black Beast” Derrick Lewis (19-5).

These two have been jawing at each other as early as May 2017 when Lewis responded to Ngannou’s claim that Lewis is “too slow” in the octagon.

“F*ck that guy,” Lewis said on episode 383 of the MMA Hour.

A simple yet telling quote from “The Black Beast”.

Despite the jabs thrown from Lewis, “The Predator” still believes he holds every advantage over ”The Black Beast”, as reported by Jed Meshew.

Even if we removed the bad blood between the two, this bout would still make for an exceptional outcome.

But, after the scuffle they had at the weigh-ins Friday, it appears that all is not forgotten.

Before losing his title shot against Stipe Miocic by decision in January 2018, Ngannou finished every opponent in his last ten fights and remains the number one contender in the heavyweight division.

Lewis, on the other hand, won seven of his last eight with all but one of those seven victories coming via knockout.

The outcome of this bout could also set up a title eliminator or even a title shot in the best case scenario.

In the main event, the biggest superfight of the year takes place as the undisputed UFC heavyweight champion Stipe Miocic (18-2) defends his title for the fourth time against the undisputed UFC light heavyweight champion Daniel “DC” Cormier (20-1).

Miocic’s current win streak and subsequent title run boasts victories over heavyweight legends Alistair Overeem, Junior Dos Santos and Mark Hunt. Although all the opponents named are staples of the division, Cormier could very well be his toughest challenge to date.

“DC” is coming off a successful title defense after a knockout win over Volkan Oezdemir at UFC 220.

On that same card in Boston, Stipe Miocic successfully defended his heavyweight title against the aforementioned Ngannou.

This fight is going to be a spectacle.

Cormier will try to become the second fighter ever to hold two UFC titles concurrently (Conor McGregor, lightweight & featherweight).

Cormier’s key to victory this evening is wrestling.

Miocic is a pure boxer and the only time we’ve seen him resort to wrestling was the slow motion dance party that main evented UFC 220 against Ngannou.

But he’s not facing Ngannou on July 7.

Daniel Cormier is a decorated amateur wrestler who beautifully transported his amateur prowess to the octagon that the two will be standing in.

It is Miocic’s responsibility to defend the takedown and keep the fight on foot.

Miocic’s best bet to win is by knockout, and that is not an opinion-driven statement.

Five of Stone Cold Stipe’s last six wins have all come from knockout.

Four of those five knockouts came in the first round.

Stipe’s key to victory is simple, knock Cormier out as soon as possible.

It has been erased from history, but those who watched UFC 214 saw Daniel Cormier get knocked out.

It is possible, but then again, Cormier is undefeated at heavyweight.

It is evident the worth of the pay per view purchase has plummeted drastically after Holloway pulled out of the co-main event.

Regardless, this is the fight world we live in.

Enjoy UFC 226, and get well soon Max Holloway.

Update: We know where Conor McGregor is

We wanted to know where Conor McGregor was.

Well we found him.

On April 5, UFC 223 media day, Conor McGregor (21-3) and his Straight Blast Gym associates retaliated against the new undisputed (yet still heavily disputed) UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov (26-0) for him and his camp’s actions against McGregor’s SBG teammate Artem Lobov (14-14).

But their retaliative actions went far past martial arts.

McGregor was caught on camera throwing a hand dolly through the window of the bus carrying Nurmagomedov and his team.

McGregor’s teammate Cian Cowley (0-1) was also recorded throwing a steel chair through the windshield.

Although they were the targets, Nurmagomedov and his team were not the only ones affected if they were affected at all.

As a result of these actions, three fights on the UFC 223 card were pulled due to either injuries or discipline.

Michael Chiesa (14-3) was pulled from his lightweight with Anthony Pettis (20-7) due to a facial laceration caused by the glass window breaking from the dolly McGregor threw.

Ray Borg (11-3) was pulled from his flyweight bout with Brandon Moreno (14-4) due to an eye injury caused also caused by the glass shattering from the dolly.

Lobov was pulled from his fight with Alex Caceres (13-11) for his involvement in the chaos.

But at least he didn’t go to jail.

The same evening of the media day siege McGregor and Cowley turned themselves into the 78th precinct in Brooklyn, New York.

McGregor was formally charged with three misdemeanor counts of assault and one felony count of criminal mischief.

The mainstream media frenzy has simmered ever since and McGregor and his chum Cowley have court dates set for June 14.

But now everyone wants to know, what will the UFC do to McGregor?

The answer?

Absolutely nothing.

When Michelle Beadle asked about whether McGregor was cut from the UFC, company president Dana White had a funny response.

“This is bigger than ‘is Conor McGregor getting fired’,” White said. “It’s so bad, the guy had to turn himself in and he’s probably going to be a convicted felon when this is over.”

White managed to completely evade answering the question proposed because of course Conor McGregor is going to fight in the damn UFC again.

Mike Tyson boxed again, and he’s a convicted rapist.

I’m not trying to justify McGregor’s actions and I’m also not trying to compare the severity of his actions with the severity of someone else’s.

I’m just trying to be real.

McGregor is unarguably the biggest star in the history of the sport of Mixed Martial Arts.

You see all these massive media companies freaking out about this skirmish, but it’s a team of Irish MMA fighters and a team of Russian MMA fighters peaking their tension.

Obviously it’s not the best location to have this occur, but is that far fetched?

I don’t think so, and even if the New York State Athletic Commission floods him in fines, he’ll pay them.

Conor McGregor is untouchable, and even if he was touchable Dana White will find a way to get him back in the octagon.

Of course, we as fans, fighters and writers have to see how this situation plays out.

It’s impossible to ignore there are business decisions the UFC has to make about having McGregor fight. But they have to do all that after the brass makes their business decisions about McGregor fight-ing.

Fighters fight, Conor will be back soon.

Bring Back Brock

As WWE’s WrestleMania 34 nears, so does the end of universally renown draw and former WWE and UFC heavyweight champion Brock Lesnar’s (5-3) contract.

ESPN’s Greg Rosenstein first reported that there is a ‘very, very, very good’ chance of Brock Lesnar coming back to the UFC according to company president Dana White.

Brock’s return is desired by basically anyone that has a relatively high IQ because the current state of the heavyweight division is delayed and redundant. Not to mention most of the current top 10 heavyweights are seasoned veterans who are not nearly as active as top contenders in other weight classes.

But the return of one of the biggest draws in MMA history would certainly turn the heavyweight division and the fight game as a whole upside down.

For all the mainstreamers that will give guys like Skip Bayless the time of day when he’s discussing Mixed Martial Arts that think Lesnar is “washed up” or “old” or just not a draw anymore, listen up.

Brock Lesnar is arguably the most decorated figure in the history of combat sports.

Lesnar is a former NCAA Division I Heavyweight Champion in collegiate wrestling.

He is the youngest wrestler in the history of the company to win the WWE championship at just 25 years old.

He won the UFC Heavyweight Championship in his fourth MMA fight, and after all that he went back to the “fake stuff” after his loss to Alistair Overeem (43-16) in 2011 and won a couple more world championships in the WWE.

Then he came back to the UFC in 2016, and clomiphene in his system or not he dominated Mark Hunt (13-12) for their entire fight after five years away from the sport.

All heavyweight contenders are currently waiting for UFC light heavyweight champ Daniel Cormier to fight division king and the baddest man on the planet Stipe Miocic for his heavyweight strap in July 2018.

But the only thing that can hold over the fight fans until then is Brock Lesnar, and his contract is up soon.

#BringBrockBack2018

UFC 223 Preview

The results of the main event will coronate the new king of the lightweight division, therefore stripping the “Notorious” Conor McGregor of his third UFC championship reign.

As we say goodbye to old friends and say hello to new ones, it’s safe to say that UFC 223 looks pretty awesome.

Aside from the political implications that will unfold at 223 and further affect this wonderful thing we call the fight game, the quality of the card alone will draw more pay per view buys than your normal who cares championship fight with a negligible title eliminator PPV.

In the exclusive fight pass prelims we see an intriguing matchup between MMA Lab product “Bruce Leeroy” Alex Caceres (13-11) and SBG fighter/huge Conor McGregor guy Artem Lobov (13-14). Caceres is currently coming off a split decision loss to UFC newcomer Wang Guan, while Lobov is on a two fight skid after losses to MMA veteran Cub Swanson and Team Alpha Male young gun Andre “Touchy” Fili.

Looking toward the preliminary bouts that will be aired on Fox Sports one, former strawweight title challenger Karolina Kowalkiewicz (11-2) taking on “Lil’ Bulldog” Felice Herrig. Kowalkiewicz has lost two out of her last three fights while Herrig is currently riding a four fight win streak.

For the main card, we have a nice under-the-radar lightweight matchup between former lightweight champion and featherweight title challenger Anthony Pettis (20-7) and “Maverick”  Michael Chiesa (14-3). Both hope to get back on track as Chiesa is coming off a controversial submission loss to “Motown Phenom” Kevin Lee, while Pettis has lost five out of his last seven fights.

For the co-main event, we have none other than the reigning strawweight champion “Thug” Rose Namajunas (7-3) defending her title for the first time against the woman she won the belt from, Joanna Jerdrzejczyk (14-1).

This matchup has been highly anticipated due to the massive upset knockout that Namajunas issued Jerdrzejczyk at UFC 217 in New York City.

For one, I would be utterly shocked if this fight went to the cards. Namajunas came out in their last bout guns blazing and eventually achieved the knockout finish early in the fight. On the other hand, all of Jerdrzejczyk finishes have come by way of knockout of technical knockout.

If there were any fights on this card where you should not leave your seat in fear of missing a fight finish, it’s this one.

Last but most certainly not least we have the highly anticipated main event. Some analysts and experts have even said this is the greatest MMA matchup of all time. We have interim champion Tony Ferguson (23-3) coming off a submission win over Kevin Lee in their interim title match at UFC 216.

His opponent Khabib Nurmagomedov is on a 25 fight win streak.  

That’s right, he’s 25-0. This man has never lost a fight ever.

There’s nothing else I can say to make you watch this fight.

It’s your fault if you miss it, the winner most likely gets Conor, both fighters are sublime in the octagon.

This time it’s not the UFC’s responsibility to sell you the pay-per view. It’s your responsibility to buy it. Watch UFC 223, if not for the fight game, for your favorite sideline intel contributor.

Where is Conor McGregor?

In July of 2015, the Notorious Conor McGregor won his first UFC championship after just a two year-stint with the UFC. In December of that year, it took just 13 seconds to win his second UFC championship.

To start off a new year 2016, McGregor embarked on arguably one of the greatest UFC rivalries of all-time alongside renown ninja/badass Nate Diaz. Their second bout generated the most money of any pay per-view at UFC 202.

That same summer, talent agency WME-IMG purchased the UFC from Zuffa LLC. for $4 billion dollars just ahead of their first event in Madison Square Garden, UFC 205.

Who else would WME-IMG get to headline a momentous occasion like that but McGregor? Just three months removed from his dog fight with Diaz, McGregor agreed to a bout with Eddie Alvarez for the latter’s lightweight championship at MSG’s UFC 205.

At that UFC 205 press conference, ESPN’s Darren Rovell asked McGregor how much he was worth to the UFC. McGregor responded “$4.2 billion dollars. That’s what I’m worth to this company.”

The next night, he finished Eddie Alvarez to win his third UFC championship. His first championship in the UFC lightweight division, and his first fight in the promotion’s weight class.

But McGregor hasn’t stepped in the octagon since.

Not only that, but the UFC’s alternative cash cow Ronda Rousey recently signed a full-time deal with the WWE.

With all the stars absent, and two years since his last fight, every hardcore fan and mainstream bandwagoner wants to know, where is Conor McGregor?

McGregor boxing against on Floyd Mayweather in August 2017.

The lightweight title he won that night in New York City hasn’t been defended in two years. The interim champion, Tony Ferguson, has been on a war path ever since. He’s on a ten fight win streak, with his last victory being for the interim lightweight title.

It’s evident that the fight world does not want to wait for MMA’s biggest star ever, and neither does his employer.

UFC president Dana White confirmed to the LA times that he will strip McGregor of his title come Ferguson’s next fight against Khabib Nurmagomedov which is now for the world lightweight championship on April 7.

Time ticks and the world turns with or without Conor McGregor. But the fight world would love to see him freeze time yet again.

His enemies, his employer, and his fans all want to know, where is Conor McGregor?