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Wednesday, February 20, 2019

MMA

Khabib Nurmagomedov willing to fight GSP despite retirement talk

Georges St-Pierre

Reports are swirling that Georges St-Pierre is planning to announce his retirement this week after he failed to work out a deal for a fight against Khabib Nurmagomedov, but Khabib says he is willing to help make the bout happen.

A French-language report from Benoit Beaudoin of RDS claims St-Pierre will announce his retirement in a press conference at the Bell Centre in Montreal on Thursday.

Shortly after that report surfaced, Khabib took to Instagram and said he wants to fight GSP in November. He also said he grew up watching St-Pierre and has “nothing but respect” for the former middleweight and welterweight champion.

Khabib said he is willing to fight at 155 or 160 pounds, and he also offered to let GSP set the location. However, things may not be as simple as the two agreeing to a fight, as UFC president Dana White said last year that GSP has to face a contender before he can earn a shot at Nurmagomedov.

GSP basically walked away from mixed martial arts in 2013, but he returned in 2017 to defeat Michael Bisping and win the UFC middleweight title. He hasn’t fought since and has vacated the belt due to a bout with ulcerative colitis. There was talk last year about matching St-Pierre with a different opponent, but he was not interested in that.

It’s unclear if Khabib’s willingness to fight GSP will be enough for him to put his retirement on hold, especially since White previously said St-Pierre can’t just jump over contenders to face Khabib.

Cain Velasquez hurts knee, loses in first fight since 2016

Cain Velasquez

Cain Velasquez’s return to the UFC was a disappointment on many levels.

Velasquez took on Francis Ngannou at UFC Phoenix on Sunday night and was knocked out in 26 seconds. He took a few punches, went in for a takedown, got hit with an uppercut, and then his knee gave out. He fell to the mat, took a few shots, and the fight was called.

“It just kind of buckled there with those shots,” Velasquez said of his knee. “I stayed just a little too close too early. That’s where he’s dangerous.”

Velasquez said in his postfight interview with ESPN’s Jon Ank that he felt super ready for the fight and he’s not sure when he’ll be back next. He also apologized to the fans for the way the fight went.

Velasquez, a former UFC heavyweight champion, hadn’t fought since beating Travis Browne in 2016. He had a back injury that kept him from being cleared. In 2014, he underwent surgery to repair a torn meniscus in his right knee.

The 36-year-old’s body does not seem to be cooperating.

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Report: Conor McGregor vs Donald Cerrone is a ‘done deal’

Conor McGregor

A fight between Conor McGregor and Donald Cerrone seemed to be in the works, and one report says it’s a “done deal.”

Joe Rogan said on his UFC Fight Companion podcast during UFC in Phoenix on Sunday night that the McGregor-Cerrone fight is happening.

McGregor seemed to hint that he was ready for such a fight when he responded to a callout from Cerrone following Cowboy’s win at UFC Brooklyn last month.

Previously, McGregor seemed to very carefully pick and choose his fights and only partake in premium matchups for top pay. Now he has a new six-fight contract to fulfill, which makes it more likely for him to take on fighters like Cerrone. Details about where and when such a fight would take place are not yet known.

Conor McGregor at Super Bowl with son in matching purple jackets

Conor McGregor

Conor McGregor was in attendance for Sunday’s Super Bowl in Atlanta between the New England Patriots and Los Angeles Rams, and he brought a special guest.

McGregor was at the big game with son Conor McGregor Jr. They were wearing matching purple jackets:

It’s hard to beat that swag. Just hope that McGregor doesn’t throw the football like he did at a Cowboys game, because that’s when he’ll start to lose respect.

Chris Pratt serves in Adel Altamimi’s corner for Bellator debut

Chris Pratt Adel Altamimi

When Adel Altamimi made his Bellator debut on Saturday night, a familiar face joined him in his corner.

Actor Chris Pratt walked Altamimi to the cage, watched from the fighter’s corner, and celebrated in the cage with him after his win.

What was the famous actor doing at the Bellator 214 fight card at the Forum in Inglewood, Calif., hanging with Altamimi? The two are unlikely friends.

Altamimi, who came to Los Angeles a decade ago from Iraq, helped train Pratt in MMA after the two met at Jay Glazer’s Unbreakable gym in West Hollywood. They formed a friendship and bond, with Altamimi saying Pratt is more like family to him than a friend.

“This is my brother here,” Altamimi said after asking Pratt to stand beside him for his postfight interview.

Pratt has even posted about Adel on his Instagram page:

Altamimi is now 8-5 after winning his fight over Brandon McMahan via first-round armbar submission.

Watch: Greg Hardy booed after disqualification in UFC debut

Greg Hardy

Greg Hardy was booed by the fans in Brooklyn after being disqualified from his fight during his UFC debut on Saturday night.

Hardy lost to Allen Crowder because he was disqualified for an illegal knee to his grounded opponent’s head during the second round of their fight.

The loss was Hardy’s first in MMA, as he had won all six of his previous fights (half pro and half amateur).

As he made his way through the crowd at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, Hardy was booed.

Between his dirty move in the cage and his past as an alleged woman abuser, the chilly fan response was no surprise. Hardy also being disqualified for not following the rules, showing restraint, and being too violent, seems fitting.

Conor McGregor accepts Cowboy Cerrone’s challenge

Conor McGregor

Cowboy Cerrone’s efforts to goad Conor McGregor into a fight have finally paid off.

After Cerrone beat Alexander Hernandez at UFC Brooklyn on Saturday night, he called out McGregor once again. Only this time McGregor responded.

Cerrone is a UFC veteran who has fought for the promotion since 2011. Durable, active and fearless, he is always ready for a challenge and has fought multiple times per year, helping him set UFC records for wins and finishes. The only issue is he lost three fights in a row 2017, somewhat dampening his luster.

Is he as much of a sell as some other big names? Maybe not, but as long as McGregor’s involved, a UFC card will always sell big numbers, and you know Cerrone would make the fight interesting.