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  • Andre Pederneiras: Jose Aldo willing to fight UFC in court

    Jose Aldo doesn’t want to be in the UFC anymore, and his team is willing to go to court to fight out of his contract with the promotion.

    Aldo announced on Tuesday that he wants his contract with the promotion terminated after the UFC announced that UFC featherweight champion Conor McGregor would fight at 155 pounds against lightweight champion Eddie Alvarez, and wouldn’t have to vacate the 145-pound belt.

    Aldo, who won the interim featherweight title in July and hoped to face "The Notorious" next to unify the belts, criticized the promotion for letting McGregor make the calls, and went on to say he no longer wants to fight MMA.

    UFC president Dana White told Combate TV on Tuesday that he would call Aldo and his team to talk about his situation, and would not terminate his contact.

    Speaking with Brazilian outlet Combate on Wednesday, Aldo’s longtime coach and manager Andre Pederneiras revealed that they are willing to go to court to get Aldo’s wish fulfilled, and have already talked to a lawyer to take a look to his contract and see what can be done.

    "I think Dana and the new owners have to understand that there’s a completely unsatisfied employee who doesn’t want to continue," Pederneiras said. "If that was in Brazil and a guy said ‘boss, I want to leave,’ I’d say ‘Ok, I can’t hold you.’ The contract we have in the UFC, ‘boss, I want to leave,’ the answer is ‘no, you’ll be stuck with me, you might not do anything, but you can’t leave here.’ Is that something nice?

    "I think it creates dissatisfaction, and he will want to go to court. He would have to go to court to cut this contract. And the damage a dissatisfied person, someone like Aldo, talking sh*t to everyone about a lot of things, I think the company wouldn’t want a guy like this every day in the media talking trash. Since the guy doesn’t want to do it, let him leave! ‘I just want to leave, I don’t want to stay here anymore, I don’t want to fight here. I don’t want to be in anymore.’ We don’t want a war, we don’t want a fight, we don’t want to talk bad about anyone. We only want the right to say ‘I don’t want to be here anymore. It’s not about money, I don’t want to be here anymore.’"

    According to the report, Aldo still has six fights left in his contract with the UFC. "Scarface", who beat Frankie Edgar for the interim belt at the historic UFC 200 event in Las Vegas, was unhappy with the way he was treated by the promotion after losing to McGregor in December.

    "He was already pissed off with the situation of being left aside without an answer," Pederneiras said. "You can’t do that with someone like Aldo. You can do that to someone who just entered the UFC now, but not with a guy that went undefeated for 10 years, not with a guy that was the first and only champion until he lost the belt in a 13-second situation, and earned his rematch, was fooled and it didn’t happen. I think the company has its financial side – I have a company and will always think on the financial side – but I won’t lie to my employee. If there’s no way to do it, there’s no way to do it. I won’t tell everybody something, put in the news for everyone to see, and then be caught in a lie."

  • Fortunes changed for five at UFC Fight Night 95
    Cris Cyborg walked through Lina Lansberg in a longer, but just as one-sided contest, like all of her fights for the past several years. But the real story for Cyborg this past week seemed to be the week of the fight having to do with her making weight.

    In the past year, trying to head off any possible tragedies before they happen, the UFC has gotten more hands-on than ever before on the subject of weight management. They've adopted guidelines, moved the timing of the actual weigh-ins up so fighters have to spend less time at a dehydrated weight. This has allowed more time to rehydrate before fighting. It's hard to say that this has directly led to a higher quality of fighting, but logically it should and there have been some great shows since the changes were put in place.

    Everything about Cyborg's last week was contradictory to everything about extreme weight cutting that the company has tried to put in the past.

    And therein lies the Cyborg quandary.

    Cyborg burst on the U.S. scene more than eight years ago with a win over Shayna Baszler. Since then she's won 13 fights in a row, 14 if you include a 16-second knockout win that was overturned for a Stanazolol violation which also resulted in a one-year suspension.

    In late 2012, when the UFC made the call to introduce women, due to the marketing and fighting potential of Ronda Rousey, the hoped-for debut opponent was to be Cyborg. Of course that never happened. For years, that was the biggest women's fight possible. As Rousey got more popular, the potential of the fight became bigger, probably growing from maybe being able to do 500,000 buys at first, to triple that or more today.

    It's funny how things happen. Perhaps if Cyborg fought Rousey on that first women's main event, she'd have won, and there would be no Rousey phenomenon. Womens' fighting would have stayed most likely, but perhaps a lot of things, such as deepening the talent pool and adding the second division wouldn't have come nearly as fast.

    In 2013, when Cyborg was managed by Tito Ortiz, he put her on a scale for the world to see, trying to push for the Rousey fight at 145 pounds, something both the UFC and Rousey at the time were against.

    The scale showed Cyborg, while out of training for a specific fight, at 160 pounds of solid muscle. Three years later, that number is closer to 175 pounds. At 160, there was the idea that she could slowly cut her natural body weight down five to ten pounds, and be within shooting of the magic 135. That was the highest poundage UFC was booking women fighters. Today, the idea her slowly cutting down and making 135 is ludicrous. And really, so is the Rousey fight. The size discrepancy was always an issue, but the larger Cyborg got, the more it was an issue not likely to be rectified.
    Cyborg headlined in Brazil as the star of Saturday's show. She was pushed on the UFC broadcast as possibly the most dominating woman fighter in the world, and you may not even need the word woman in the description.

    When she got to the second round on Saturday in a fight she was dominating, it was only her second time being out of the first round since the summer of 2010. She's never lost a round since she arrived in the U.S. She was in a disadvantage position for brief seconds with Gina Carano, that she largely put herself in, and was quickly out of.
    But what do you do with her? Even cutting to 145 seems not advisable to someone who was reportedly 168 pounds ten days before this fight, let alone 140, even if she made the latter weight. The whole idea of 140 was for her to try fighting at that weight and eventually move to 135, where she would have plenty of name opponents.

    There is nobody the UFC can get worthy of her having to torture herself to 141 pounds. With all her success, it's now been more than seven years since she's been in a fight that really got the public's attention. If the UFC isn't going to add a 145-pound division, or even if it is, it looks like we may be destined for  Cyborg to go untouched in this sport for years, but never have fights anything past her wrecking people too small for her.

    But if nothing else, the concern for health of all involved should remove the 141 pound catch weight from her future fights. She's had nearly four years to try and hit 135. It's not happening. There is no reason to pretend it can. Nor should Rousey, Miesha Tate, Amanda Nunes or Holly Holm face someone who is 14 to 18 percent larger to prove something anymore than Georges St-Pierre should face Jon Jones.

    If the idea is to showcase, then find some women close to her weight as opposed to getting much smaller women to move up. She should fight at 145 to 150, or whatever the weight that would be that she can make in the same healthy manner UFC wishes to have its male competitors cut to.

    Let's look at how Fortunes Changed for the Stars of Saturday's Fight Night in Brasilia, Brazil:

    CRIS CYBORG - Saturday's show was marketed Cyborg in Brazil. The big question is the marketability of her as a headliner, as opposed to just somebody fighting underneath on a big show. Cyborg and Gina Carano set what was at the time the Showtime ratings record in 2009, for the first major woman's main event on a significant show in U.S. MMA history.

    But there is nobody there to face next, past sacrificial lambs, at least in this sport. Joanna Baars beat Cyborg in a kickboxing match a few years ago, but Baars is 1-3 in MMA and hasn't done this sport in years. Nobody else has given her a fight.

    What Saturday's card will show is whether people want to see a show built around Cyborg destroying people, or if people want something else in main events and her one-sided fights should be more of an attraction underneath.

    RENAN BARAO - The one-time seemingly unbeatable bantamweight with a 34-1 record has become a mere mortal in recent years, now as a featherweight with a 36-4 record. He got a decision win over Phillipe Nover that neither hurt him, nor did it help convince anyone that his loss to Jeremy Stephens was just growing pains of getting acclimated to a higher weight class.

    As far as what is next, he would make a great test for Doo Ho Choi (14-1), who has three straight first-round knockouts in UFC competition. It's more a test to see how real Choi is, but Barao still has a name. If Choi can win, he'd be set up for big fights. And if he can't beat Barao, he's not going to beat the top tier in the division at this point.

    ROY NELSON - Even though Nelson is 40, and has lost four of six, his knockout of Antonio "Bigfoot" Silva keeps him in the game at a time when another loss would have been relegated him to facing second-tier heavyweights.
    Nelson (22-13), has faced every top heavyweight in the company except Cain Velasquez, which makes no sense now, and Travis Browne (18-5-1), which is right now a viable fight. Other potential fights would include Andrei Arlovski (25-13), who Nelson lost to in 2008, and Ben Rothwell (36-10), who Nelson lost to a year earlier.

    FRANCISCO TRINALDO - Trinaldo (21-4) has snuck up on the lightweight division with seven straight wins, one of the longest active winning streaks in the UFC.

    A good next opponent would be Evan Dunham (18-6), who is coming off a win the week before over Rick Glenn, his fourth in a row. At 38, Trinaldo's time can't be wasted at this point, so he needs a strong opponent right now.

    JUSSIER FORMIGA - Formiga (19-4), is coming off a solid win over Dustin Ortiz on Saturday in what was mostly a grappling match. While ranked as the No. 3 contender, Formiga has a few things working against him. He's lost to both men ranked above him, Henry Cejudo and Joseph Benavidez. The UFC is now doing a tournament on The Ultimate Fighter to determine the next flyweight contender. After that, the Cejudo vs. Benavidez winner, even though Demetrious Johnson beat both quickly, would figure to get the next shot.

    Formiga is the highest ranked flyweight that Johnson hasn't beaten. He also has a win over Wilson Reis, who was recently slated to face Johnson until that fight fell through due to an injury. A rematch with Reis (21-6) may be his best bet for now.

  • Pedro Munhoz, Justin Scoggins set to fight at UFC Fight Night 100 in Sao Paulo

    A bantamweight clash between Pedro Munhoz and Justin Scoggins was officially added to UFC Fight Night 100 in Sao Paulo, Brazil, on Nov. 19, the promotion announced Wednesday.

    Munhoz (13-2) made quick work of Russel Doane in his last fight in July, tapping the former Tachi Palace Fights champion after two minutes of action. The Sao Paulo native now holds a 3-2 UFC record with three first-round victories.

    Scoggins (11-2) makes his bantamweight debut after scoring back-to-back decision victories over Ray Borg and Josh Sampo at 125 pounds. "Tank" went 4-2 as a flyweight under the UFC banner between 2013 and 2016.

    UFC Fight Night 100 takes place at the Ibirapuera gymnasium in Sao Paulo, Brazil, and features Alexander Gustafsson vs. Antonio Rogerio Nogueira in the main event.

    Alexander Gustafsson vs. Antonio Rogerio Nogueira
    Krzysztof Jotko vs. Thales Leites
    Manny Gamburyan vs. Johnny Eduardo
    Mike Graves vs. Sergio Moraes
    Claudia Gadelha vs. Cortney Casey
    Christian Colombo vs. Luis Henrique
    Yuta Sasaki vs. Matheus Nicolau
    Gadzhimurad Antigulov vs. Marcos Rogerio de Lima
    Pedro Munhoz vs. Justin Scoggins

  • With each definitive Conor McGregor event, the fallout gets bigger

    Last week, when the initial press release for UFC 205 was sent out, there was a good bit of harrumphing at its vagueness in regards to the attendees. "The stars of UFC 205" was the language of matchmaker sweat as the clock ticked, a self-imposed deadline to deliver some magical assembly for UFC’s historic first show at Madison Square Garden. As good as Stephen Thompson vs. Tyron Woodley was, it wasn’t Big Apple good. It wasn’t big enough to hold down Mecca. It wasn’t we will bring a UFC 100 type card to New York City good, the original Lorenzo Fertitta promise.

    Turns out the UFC had some shit up its sleeve. Not long afterwards it was announced that Joanna Jedrzejczyk would defend her strawweight title against Karolina Kowalkiewicz, and then, late Monday night, a mushroom cloud quietly bloomed on social media as the East Coast slept. Conor McGregor was made official to challenge Eddie Alvarez for the lightweight belt.

    That was the fight people were waiting for. More specifically, that was the fighter that people were waiting for. Conor McGregor. It was that big name alone that could match the bigness of the event. It was that name that had a semblance of the historic significance in the now. By Tuesday Long Island’s own Chris Weidman was added to face Yoel Romero, and Khabib Nurmagomedov was made official for a fight with Michael Johnson. All gravy. But the catalyst, the star of Broadway, was Mystic Mac. That was the missing ingredient.

    And of course, every time McGregor is booked into an event these days minor volcanic eruptions occur all over the globe. Nate Diaz, who has fought McGregor twice, immediately defaulted to a black and white understanding of the situation — that both the Irishman and Alvarez were scared to fight him. Nurmagomedov, who has been injured into relative dormancy for the last couple of years yet had pinky swears that he was next for Alvarez, recognized his shape in the mirror: He looked like a pawn. A Dagestan Pawn! And Jose Aldo, a northerly pound-for-pound name that for years incited nothing other than our reverence, just up and…I mean, it looks like he quit.

    "Conor himself said before that he wouldn’t give his belt away by any chance and nobody would take it away from him," Aldo told the Brazilian website Combate. "After all this, I see I can’t trust any word from president Dana White, and who’s in charge of the promotion now is Conor McGregor. Since I’m not here to be an employee of McGregor, today I ask to cancel my contract with the UFC. When they offered me a fight with Frankie Edgar, Dana said that the winner would challenge McGregor or win the linear title, that he would lose his belt if he didn’t return to the featherweight division after his rematch with Nate Diaz. After being fooled so many times, I don’t feel motivated to fight in the UFC anymore."

    See, this is the complicated place the UFC finds itself in with Conor McGregor in 2016. The one thing that couldn’t happen was a repeat of UFC 200, where McGregor was booked for just a moment in a rematch with Diaz, and then removed over a flex-off with the UFC over attending press conferences. The UFC couldn’t have the second of its "historic big events" in 2016 go without its biggest star, especially in New York where Irish pubs are on every city block. The only way McGregor wanted to fight at MSG was for the lightweight belt against Alvarez. He wanted to keep his featherweight belt while he did it. The dude is a titan in leverage, an Armani chauvinist, who has somehow manifest his worth beyond just about everyone’s ability to understand (or appreciate). And the UFC had to cave, because guess what — it’s easier to seethe behind the curtain than it is to put on a lesser show in front of it.

    There’s plenty of seething to go around.

    Now Aldo is (temporarily) gone, and Nurmagomedov is (pissed but) taking his second option, and Diaz is (still just) pissed. The only man who is pinching himself is Philly’s own Eddie Alvarez, who — like everybody else — wants nothing more than to wreck the privileged Irish tyrant who is stomping across divisions in caiman-skinned loafers. It was McGregor who criticized Alvarez for not sweetening his own deal for the fight, too, like the small picture (the fight) wasn’t going to cloud his managerial lordliness, even for his opponent.

    Still, every fighter at Tuesday’s press conference at MSG was concentrating telekinetic power into Alvarez’s fists, and perhaps secretly stewing that it wasn’t them. There was Donald Cerrone, a target of McGregor’s during last year’s Go Big conference, sitting in the darkness of his Stetson. Had he beat Rafael dos Anjos last December, he might have got his chance. There was Frankie Edgar, another portion of raw minced meat. Edgar orbited McGregor (and was promised a fight with him, just like Aldo), yet finds himself facing Jeremy Stephens in his homecoming fight.

    And even Stephens! — a non sequitur, non-New Yorker, nonentity in the coach class seat behind him — tried to seize a moment. When somebody asked Conor who of the "champions and grizzled vets" among the assembled would give him the hardest fight, Stephens saw his chance to pipe up.

    "Right here, right here," Stephens said, as McGregor thoughtfully stroked his beard. "The real hardest-hitting 145er, right here. This guy TKOs people. When I knock people out, they don’t f*cking move."

    "Who the f*ck is that guy?" McGregor said, as if sharing in a laugh with the crowd. "Who the f*ckisthat!" Stephens snuck in a "leprechaun" comment, and McGregor dismissed him so thoroughly it was like the scene in Spinal Tap, when the band rolls up the window in the limo as the driver tells a story. "After I take [Alvarez’s] belt," he resumed, "I look around and I don’t know what anyone else has for me right now. I might have to jump up and drag Floyd Mayweather out of bed."

    The New York crowd ate it up. Stephens was reduced to nothingness. The rest of the panel was just incidental. And Mayweather was dragged back in, because McGregor wasn’t talking about what anybody has for him fight wise. He was talking about what anybody has for him in the Brinks truck sense. That kind of thing is liberating to his fellow fighters, even as it pisses them off.

    And in the end, the UFC didn’t necessarily need to state that the press conference would feature "The stars of UFC 205." McGregor has done away with the plural altogether. "The star of UFC 205" would have served just as well, and — whether you’re enraged or enraptured — it’s hard to deny the truth. With McGregor, it’s now an event heading to Madison Square Garden, the costs be what they may.

  • Conor McGregor says UFC will have to ‘gather an army' to take one of his belts after UFC 205

    UFC president Dana White has vowed that Conor McGregor will abandon one of his two UFC titles if McGregor achieves his dream of becoming a two-weight world champion by defeating lightweight beltholder Eddie Alvarez on Nov. 12 at UFC 205. McGregor, however, appears to have other plans.

    "They're going to have to gather an army to try and take one of them (belts) off me, and that's out straight," McGregor said Tuesday at the raucous UFC 205 kickoff press conference in Madison Square Garden. "One's going to be there, one's going to be there, and I'm going to be picking and choosing who I want to destroy next. And that's it."

    McGregor, 28, is currently the UFC featherweight champion, a title he earned by defeating longtime featherweight standout Jose Aldo in Dec. 2015 via 13-second knockout at UFC 194. A curious thing has happening since that victory though, as McGregor has ventured outside of the division for a pair of blockbuster fights against Nate Diaz, and now for a champion versus champion duel against Alvarez, all in pursuit of being the UFC's first simultaneous two-weight champion.

    The goal is one that McGregor has spoken about since before he signed with the UFC. In his regional days, McGregor achieved that very feat in European promotion Cage Warriors, and his head coach at SBG Ireland, John Kavanagh, has stated numerous times that lightweight is McGregor's optimal weight class. So after contesting both fights of the Diaz rivalry at welterweight, McGregor indicated that he was pleased to be back at a division more suited to his lighter frame.

    "I'm very happy with the 155-pound weight limit," McGregor said. "I feel of all the divisions I've ran around and ran through, 155, I feel, will be the one where I take over the most. So, I look forward to that."

    While the announcement of McGregor-Alvarez excited many within the mixed martial arts community, the UFC's decision to allow McGregor to keep his featherweight belt for his third straight fight outside of the division was met by its fair share detractors. The loudest of those detractors is Aldo, the current interim featherweight champion who announced Tuesday that he wanted the UFC to terminate his contract.

    But as he has for months, McGregor dismissed Aldo when the proposition of a rematch with the legendary Brazilian was brought up at UFC 205's press conference. He then reiterated his intentions of holding two belts once the dust settled and Alvarez was in the rearview.

    "I'm going to wrap one (belt) on one shoulder, and I'm going to wrap the other on the other shoulder, and they're going to need a f*cking army to come take them belts off me," McGregor said.

    When asked about McGregor's claims, White declined to comment, only stating that "we'll figure that out when it happens."

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