- Kevin Iole at Cagewriter18 hrs ago
The one thing that was guaranteed after a massive crowd turned out for Conor McGregor Saturday in Dublin, Ireland, following weeks of frequently over-the-top trash talking that everybody and his brother would want to fight him if he won.
McGregor stopped Diego Brandao in the first round and, predictably, heard a lot of fighters calling his name.
Dustin Poirier, though, is the one who will get the call. The UFC announced the bout Tuesday on its Twitter page. It will occur at UFC 178 in Las Vegas, where Jon Jones will defend his light heavyweight title in the main event against Alexander Gustafsson.
The Jones-Gustafsson bout is a rematch of one of the greatest in UFC history, and one that had a close and somewhat disputed ending.
- Kevin Iole at Yahoo Sports20 hrs ago
On the day in late March when Robbie Lawler signed an eight-fight extension to his contract, UFC president Dana White was pacing animatedly around his office.
Lawler was coming off a tough defeat to Johny Hendricks a few weeks earlier in a bout for the vacant UFC welterweight title. Though he'd lost that bout, Lawler had grabbed White's attention.
Getting Lawler's name on a long contract extension pleased White to no end. He kept ranting excitedly about all of the great potential fights that could come during the long contract.
In that regard, little had changed with the UFC welterweight contender. Expectations had always been high.
Somehow, though, this was different.
It wasn't as if White thought Lawler would be good. This time, he knew it. He'd seen it with his eyes. Lawler had harnessed his prodigious physical gifts and packaged them together with the help of the staff at the American Top Team in Florida, where he'd developed into one of the most fearsome 170-pounders in the world.
Lawler had turned professional as an 18-year-old with oodles of talent, and expectations to match. He was just 20 and not yet physically mature when he made his UFC debut.
- Kevin Iole at Yahoo Sports22 hrs ago
Years from now, I suspect, there will be those who will write about what a privilege it was to watch Gennady Golovkin, to cover this nearly perfect fighting machine as he tore through his career nearly unchallenged.
The WBA middleweight champion is 29-0 with 26 knockouts heading into perhaps the toughest match of his career Saturday on HBO against Daniel Geale at Madison Square Garden. As good as Golovkin is in the ring, the hype that surrounds him exceeds it.
He's got crushing puncher power, surprising agility, a keen understanding of timing, leverage and movement, and he seems to be one of those athletes who's never satisfied with just winning. He's the kind of guy who loves to make a statement and yearns to put on a show.
Those are the kinds of fighters who are typically celebrated far and wide in boxing, who appear in beer commercials, earn eight-figure paydays and sell enormous numbers of pay-per-view.
But Golovkin is 32 years old, struggles to communicate in English, hasn't faced much significant opposition and lacks that potential signature opponent who could make him a breakout star.
- Kevin Iole at Cagewriter3 days ago
The one commodity a fight promotion can never have enough of is stars.
After a devastating performance in stopping Diego Brandao at The O2 arena in Dublin on Saturday, it appears Conor McGregor could become the UFC's next big star.
The audacious featherweight sold out The O2 in just three minutes, and the fans who filled the building cheered from start to finish like giddy school kids. The atmosphere was one of the greatest ever at a UFC fight.
There should be little doubt now that McGregor is a star of the highest order in his native Ireland, the United Kingdom and throughout Western Europe.
He's already one of the best promoters in the UFC and should get better at that with more experience. There remains a question of whether he's as good of a fighter as he says he is – before the fight, he repeatedly said he'd win the featherweight title before the end of 2014, a feat that seems impossible at this stage – but he took a big step toward answering that by bludgeoning Brandao.
McGregor took his share of shots from Brandao in the opening moments of the bout, but he simply walked through them and they had no discernible impact.
- Kevin Iole at Boxing4 days ago
In any list of the greatest pure boxers in the world, Guillermo Rigondeaux's name should be at or near the top. An Olympic gold medalist in 2000 and 2004 for Cuba, Rigondeaux won nearly 500 amateur bouts while losing only about 12.
His success has continued into the professional ranks. On Saturday at the Cotai Arena in Macau, China, Rigondeaux knocked out a completely overmatched Sod Looknongyantoy in the first round of their bout, as Rigondeaux retained the WBO/WBA super bantamweight title.
It was Rigondeaux's last fight under his contract with Top Rank, and he's now a free agent, available to sign with any promoter.
The problem for Rigondeaux is that aside from a very small but very vocal cadre of hard-core fans, he has no fan base. It was an insult of epic proportions that executives of HBO2, a service that isn't even monitored in the Nielsen ratings, didn't want him on their air Saturday, choosing charismatic super middleweight contender Gilberto Ramirez instead.
- Kevin Iole at Cagewriter4 days ago
Donald Cerrone wanted Khabib Nurmagomedov, and he got him. At least for 20 minutes, he did.
UFC president Dana White told reporters in Dublin, Ireland, Friday that the company had reached a deal to pit the unbeaten Russian against the always exciting Cerrone, who stopped Jim Miller in the second round in Atlantic City, N.J., on Wednesday, against each other on the main card of UFC 178.
But 20 minutes after all parties agreed to the deal, White said, matchmaker Joe Silva got the terrible news: Nurmagomedov injured a knee and had to pull out of the fight.
That leaves Cerrone, who has been on a roll with four wins in succession. During that span, he has won a fight night bonus four times, getting Knockout of the Night, Submission of the Night and two Performance of the Night honors. He's earned $200,000, at $50,000 apiece, for those bonuses.
Cerrone is still likely to fight on UFC 178, but no opponent was announced.
White had no details of the extent of Nurmagomedov's injury. Trainer Javier Mendez of the American Kickboxing Academy did not know, either. He said the 20-0 Nurmagomedov normally spends the last month of camp with his team.
Dana White says Ronda Rousey will defend against Gina Carano in December ... if Carano inks UFC dealKevin Iole at Cagewriter4 days ago
Gina Carano will fight Ronda Rousey for the women's bantamweight title, likely at UFC 181 in Las Vegas on Dec. 6 at the Mandalay Bay Events Center, if Carano signs a new deal, UFC president Dana White told reporters in Dublin on Friday.
White and UFC CEO Lorenzo Fertitta have a face-to-face meeting scheduled Monday with Carano and her attorney in a bid to finalize a contract.
White told reporters Friday that the fight would be in December, but not on the UFC's annual New Year's Eve card. The Dec. 6 show at Mandalay Bay is the only pay-per-view the UFC has scheduled in December.
That raises three major questions:
• Does Carano deserve a championship match after five years on the sidelines?
• Can Carano make the bantamweight division's 135-pound weight limit?
• Would Carano stand a chance to be competitive with Rousey?
- Kevin Iole at Yahoo Sports5 days ago
The conversation ends almost as quickly as it started. Conor McGregor heard something that sounded preposterous to him and he couldn't let it slip past.
The UFC featherweight contender from Dublin is one of the most hyped fighters to come along in years, mostly of his own doing.
He's only 2-0 in the UFC and hasn't beaten anyone within the same area code of the top 10, but he's already talking about championships and drawing 80,000 spectators and becoming one of the sport's legends.
He simply can't fathom losing and doesn't take kindly to suggestions he might lose.
"People don't understand my confidence in myself," McGregor said. "They haven't seen me enough, I guess. But I believe in myself and what I'm capable of doing completely. I believe I'll be fighting for the title by the end of the year."
He's filled with confidence and, if he is to be believed, never lets self doubt creep in. Not even returning from a major knee surgery makes him concerned about his first bout in 11 months.
- Kevin Iole at Yahoo Sports5 days ago
LAS VEGAS – Life, at long last, is finally good for Roberto Garcia, a 34-year-old boxer with a dream. He's getting close to normal. He can finally close his eyes and not be enveloped in a nightmare.
"You know, I'm happy in my life," said Garcia, who will face Breidis Prescott on ESPN2's "Friday Night Fights" on July 25 in Chicago in a 10-round super lightweight bout. "Since I've been 10 years old, I've been trying to put back together what I've lost.
"My dream, all I ever wanted in life, was to have a happy home with a husband, a wife, the kids and a dog. That's what I've wanted to achieve. Since I've been 10 years old, I've wanted nothing more than that."
Garcia is a powerful man who has had a checkered past.
He drank. He took drugs. Anything he could do to wash away those horrific memories, he'd do.
As he's speaking about his dream, his voice quivers. It's hardly a shock.
Garcia came from a poor family in what he calls "a broken-down neighborhood" in Houston.
- Kevin Iole at Yahoo Sports6 days ago
Some of the biggest names in mixed martial arts were atop the card at UFC 93 in Dublin on Jan. 17, 2009.
Mark Coleman, now a UFC Hall of Famer, faced Mauricio "Shogun" Rua, who will one day make the Hall of Fame, in the co-main. Two other future Hall of Fame members, Dan Henderson and Rich Franklin, headlined the card.
But at the pre-fight news conference, a largely unknown fighter was garnering as much attention as the superstars sitting on either side of him.
The Irish media was infatuated with a Dubliner who was added to the card almost as an afterthought, simply to attract a bit of local attention. No one, though, could have expected what occurred.
Tom Egan, a 2-0 welterweight whose confidence and ability to talk attracted Irish media in droves, was the rare UFC undercard fighter who was garnering as much attention as the stars.