Spinning Back Clique: Thoughts on Ngannou to PFL, UFC big fight bonanza, McGregor update, 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 Mike Bohn, Danny Segura and Brian “Goze” Garcia will join host “Gorgeous” George Garcia live at noon ET (9 a.m. PT) to discuss and debate:
Former UFC heavyweight champion Francis Ngannou officially ended his free agency after signing a landmark deal with the PFL that will pay him an undisclosed minimum purse, the freedom to pursue boxing, a leadership role as the head of PFL Africa, and more. There’s never been a fighter contract like this in the history of mixed martial arts. Is this a game-changing deal and just how much of game changer is it?
On the same day of the Ngannou signing, the UFC announced a bonanza of big fights that will take place this summer at UFC 291 and UFC 292. First at UFC 291 on July 29 in Salt Lake City, Dustin Poirier and Justin Gaethje will rematch for the “BMF” title in the night’s headliner; the man card also includes Alex Pereira’s light heavyweight debut vs. Jan Blachowicz in the co-headliner, Paulo Costa’s return vs. Ikram Aliskerov, Tony Ferguson vs. Bobby Green, and Michael Chiesa vs. Kevin Holland. Then at UFC 292 on Aug. 19 in Boston, two title fights will headline as bantamweight champion Aljamain Sterling takes on Sean O'Malley, and strawweight champ Zhang Weili meets Amanda Lemos. Which of these fights stands out most?
According to Conor McGregor and the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency, the former UFC champ-champ is expected to join the drug testing pool any day now (“immediately”), which would clear the way for his return before the end of the year to fight fellow “TUF 31” coach Michael Chandler. What should be the stakes for the matchup?
Another Sterling fight booking, another set of questions after the 135-pound champ cast some doubt about competing Aug. 19 at UFC 292, saying he agreed verbally but his “body has to agree.” In response, UFC president Dana White said Sterling “can’t get out of his own way” but assured he will fight, and O’Malley said he’ll fight whoever they put in front of him, which leads you to believe an interim title situation could arise if Sterling doesn’t make it. Does Sterling vs. O’Malley feel forced at this point compared to other champions who had more time between fights?
Jon Jones was very active on social media last week, not only throwing shade at Ngannou after his PFL deal was announced but also engaging in a back-and-forth with boxing heavyweight champion Tyson Fury and issuing a (silly) challenge of sorts. What do you make of Jones’ overall vibe from last week?
“Spinning Back Clique” is released each Monday LIVE on MMA Junkie’s YouTube channel. You can watch this week’s episode in the video above.