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Friday, September 21, 2018

MMA

Conor McGregor signs new 8-fight deal with UFC

Conor McGregor

Conor McGregor and the UFC are back on good terms.

McGregor has signed a new 8-fight deal with the UFC, Dana White confirmed to ESPN. White told ESPN that making a deal with McGregor is easy because they understand his value.

“It’s not hard to do a deal with Conor McGregor because we know what he’s worth,” White told ESPN.

Those who watched McGregor’s UFC 229 press conference with Khabib Nurmagomedov on Thursday noticed an interesting prop that played a big role in the event. McGregor brought a bottle of his new whiskey, Proper Whiskey, and was drinking it throughout the event. He also said that the whiskey’s logo would be on the canvas as a sponsor during the fight.

According to ESPN, the inclusion of Proper Whiskey as an official sponsor for all of McGregor’s UFC fights is a term of the contract.

McGregor’s Twitter page has been a factory of promotion for the new product. He even tried to create some buzz by telling fans they could attend Thursday’s press conference if they brought a bottle of his whiskey (no fans actually attended the event).

The whiskey promotion aspect of the deal seems to be an important one for McGregor. He is the UFC’s biggest attraction, and he hadn’t fought for them in nearly two years, leading him to being stripped of his title due to inactivity. There were questions about whether the UFC could give McGregor the type of pay day he was seeking, with White openly questioning McGregor’s desire to continue fighting.

Promoting McGregor’s whiskey allows them to provide a second stream of revenue beyond his standard pay for fighting, which could make stepping back into the Octagon worth McGregor’s while.

Conor McGregor goes off on Khabib manager Ali Abdelaziz

Conor McGregor

Thursday’s UFC 229 press conference between Conor McGregor and Khabib Nurmagomedov got heated before the two fighters engaged in their faceoff photo opportunity.

After the two left the sit-down portion of the session where they answered questions from the media, they got up to prepare for the face-to-face standoff. That’s when McGregor began yelling at Khabib’s manager, Ali Abdelaziz. McGregor could be heard yelling profanities at Ali, while White also wanted Abdelaziz to leave.

McGregor called Abdelaziz a “mad terrorist snitch” and shouted “how’s Noah?” at him.

According to a report from RealFightStories, Abdelaziz is a former member of Muslims of the Americas (MOA), which has been listed as a terrorist organization by the U.S. State Department. After facing multiple charges from authorities, he turned into a government informant. The “Noah” reference has to do with Abdelaziz’s son, for whom Abdelaziz reportedly owed child support payments.

Abdelaziz also got personal with McGregor in June, accusing the fighter of running out of money.

Conor McGregor calls Khabib a ‘fake, lying rat’

Conor McGregor

Conor McGregor actually attended a UFC 229 press conference on Thursday in New York City to promote his fight with Khabib Nurmagomedov, and he brought his trash-talking ways.

McGregor had not done much to promote the fight — though it certainly has sold itself quite well without him — but he did get together with Khabib for the press conference, which was moderated by Dana White. McGregor was his usual, wild and entertaining self. He brought his new brand of whiskey he’s promoting and got White to drink with him.

He also got personal with Khabib, calling him a “fake lying rat” for his involvement with Ziyavudin Magomedov.

This will be McGregor’s first UFC fight in nearly two years. He last beat Eddie Alvarez at UFC 205 in Nov. 2016, and he will face Khabib on Oct. 6 at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. Khabib (26-0) may be McGregor’s best challenge yet. Adding to the excitement is the background between them, which includes McGregor’s bus attack before UFC 223.

Jon Jones cleared to return to UFC this year

Jon Jones

Jon Jones has been cleared for a return to the UFC this year.

USADA handed Jones a 15-month suspension for his second positive drug test. The suspension is retroactive, which allows Jones to return to fighting on Oct. 28.

An arbitrator apparently ruled that Jones did not intend to cheat when he failed a drug test last year.

Jones had been awaiting his fate from USADA following a positive drug test after his victory over Daniel Cormier — later overturned to a no contest — at UFC 214 in July 2017. Jones tested positive for the anabolic steroid Turinabol, but he insisted afterwards that he did not take the prohibited substance intentionally.

The failed test for Jones was his second in as many fights. He also tested positive for two banned substances after his win over Ovince Saint Preux at UFC 197 in April 2016. Jones believed the positive drug test was triggered by Cialis. Though an arbitration panel did not feel Jones took the prohibited substances intentionally, he was still suspended a year.

Jones was facing up to a maximum of a four-year suspension from USADA for his second failed drug test. He has not fought for 14 months.

Earlier this year, Jones and Brock Lesnar expressed interest in fighting one another.

Tyron Woodley awarded black belt after beating Darren Till

UFC

Tyron Woodley’s win over Darren Till at UFC 228 on Saturday night had extra meaning for the welterweight champion.

Woodley submitted Till with a D’Arce choke in the second round of the UFC welterweight championship fight at American Airlines Center in Dallas. After his submission win, Woodley was awarded his Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt.

That is a major milestone accomplishment for Woodley. The Brazilian jiu-jitsu belt system does not operate on a linear base, and one can spend multiple years on a given belt level, while achieving others much quicker. Achieving black belt status can take a decade.

Jiu Jitsu Brotherhood discusses the BJJ belt system:

“It can take upwards of 10 years to achieve the dan (black belt) grade, and requires not only technical knowledge, but also verifiable ability in sparring. Competition experience is also often expected. And as there are only a few belts, you will spend a long time on each one. Also, your progress will not be linear. You might spend 1 year at one belt and 5 years at another. It’s both an extremely challenging and rewarding institution, and it’s no surprise that the community pounces on anyone who messes with it.”

Woodley (19-3-1) was already an accomplished wrestler. Now he has the jiu jitsu belt to match his status as an incredible fighter.

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Floyd Mayweather, Conor McGregor talking about rematch?

Floyd Mayweather Conor McGregor

There has still been plenty of talk about a potential rematch between Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Conor McGregor, and Floyd’s father clearly has no problem fueling the speculation.

In a recent interview with Helen Yee Sports, Floyd Mayweather Sr. said he has seen signs that point toward his son and McGregor squaring off again.

“I don’t know for sure but I’m just saying the way things are sounding to me,” Mayweather Sr. said, as transcribed by The Sun. “Sounds like he (my son) wants to fight again.”

Mayweather Sr. said he is confident McGregor wants to fight again to show people what he can do, which Floyd Sr. insists is “nothing.” He hinted that a second fight would also take place inside the boxing ring and that Mayweather Jr. would knock McGregor out of the sport for good.

“I’m just saying I think they are going to fight the same way [boxing rules],” Mayweather Sr. added. “I think that Conor McGregor want to get that win back that he had, which is never coming back to him anyway.

“It’s being talked about and it sounds like there is a lot of interest in it right now.”

Floyd Sr. and Jr. are both very good promoters, so it makes sense that they would want to keep the hype alive. Many people thought a rematch between Mayweather and McGregor would take place in an MMA setting, but that seems highly unlikely. Whatever the case, the way the two fighters have continued to throw shade at each other indicates they want their beef to continue.

Dana White predicts over 2 million PPV buys for McGregor-Khabib

Dana White

Dana White is confident that UFC 229 headlined by Conor McGregor vs. Khabib Nurmagomedov will be big business for the promotion.

White believes the card will do over 2 million in pay-per-view buys and could approach 3 million.

“I am confident it will do 2 million on pay-per-view,” White has said, according to Yahoo Sports’ Kevin Iole.

The demand for tickets for the event has been extremely high, which is an indicator of the public interest in the event.

The projection by White is bold but not ridiculous. McGregor has been a part of four of the top-five highest-selling pay-per-view fights in UFC history, though he’s topped out at 1.65 million. Asking for him to push it to 2 is a lot.

But a few things have happened since McGregor’s last UFC fight. He fought Floyd Mayweather Jr. in boxing, which likely increased his profile. And he also started the infamous bus attack incident in a beef with Khabib, his UFC 229 opponent. Will that be enough to push the buys past 2 million? It would be a UFC record if it happens.

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