Spinning Back Clique LIVE: Sean O’Malley’s big moment, UFC 299 vs. UFC 300, Ngannou-Joshua stakes and more

Check out this week’s “Spinning Back Clique,” MMA Junkie’s weekly live show that takes a spin through the biggest topics in mixed martial arts.

This week’s panel of Farah Hannoun, Simon Samano and Brian “Goze” Garcia will join host “Gorgeous” George Garcia live at noon ET (9 a.m. PT) to discuss and debate:

  • A huge moment in Sean O'Malley’s career is on deck this week: his first attempt at a defense of his bantamweight title, and he’ll do it against the only man to beat him – Marlon Vera. Considering O’Malley handpicked Vera for his first title defense, and he’s talked up a big game heading into UFC 299, is Saturday a must-win situation for the brash superstar? What would a loss do to his star power?

  • UFC 300 next month is the one that rightfully is getting the lion’s share of headlines – and it’s positively loaded. But holy smokes, let’s just be honest: UFC 299 on Saturday in Miami is plenty stacked, too – to the point there’s a legitimate argument to be made that it might be a better card than the big round number coming up a few weeks after it. Right? Right? We’ll break down the fights in Miami that could steal the show – and ponder if UFC 299 could steal UFC 300’s thunder when all is said and done.

  • Former interim lightweight champion Justin Gaethje, the reigning “BMF” belt holder, meets former featherweight champ Max Holloway in what should be an all-timer at UFC 300. But UFC Hall of Famer Khabib Nurmagomedov said Gaethje-Holloway makes no sense because it leaves Islam Makhachev in limbo. And former dual-champion Henry Cejudo thinks Holloway should be pulled from UFC 300 to book him vs. Ilia Topuria in Spain. They’ve got us thinking: Did the UFC mess up by booking Gaethje vs. Holloway for a title that is merely a gimmick, given the potential impact on the two divisions?

  • By the end of the week, we should have a really good idea just how serious Francis Ngannou’s boxing pursuits are going to become. The former UFC heavyweight champion, now signed to the PFL for MMA, boxes Anthony Joshua on Friday in Saudi Arabia. If he wins, on the heels of his knockdown and close loss to Tyson Fury in his pro boxing debut, there is talk he could wind up with a heavyweight boxing title shot. So how much pressure is on him in the Middle East?

  • At UFC Fight Night 238 this past Saturday, a pair of fighters had opportunities to really stake their claims for title shots. Muhammad Mokaev outworked Alex Perez at flyweight and said afterward his performance suffered because he was sick the day of the fight. And Umar Nurmagomedov was dominant against short-notice newcomer Bekzat Almakhan at bantamweight – but got knocked down in the first round. Did merely winning do enough for them, or should they have won impressively to stand out? We’ll break down what’s likely next in each of their divisions.

Story originally appeared on MMA Junkie