See the highlights and recap from UFC 242: Khabib Nurmagomedov vs. Dustin Poirier. This was Nurmagomedov’s return to the octagon following a nine-month suspension following his fight with Conor McGregor.
Nurmagomedov entered the bout as the UFC lightweight champion, looking to unify his belt with that of Poirier, the interim titleholder. He didn’t skip a beat in his return, as he took out Poirier in the third round.
UFC 242 took place on Saturday, Sept. 7, at The Arena in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. The fight card was headlined by Khabib Nurmagomedov vs. Dustin Poirier in a UFC lightweight title unification bout.
Diaz’s UFC 241 performance was a testament to his resilience and durability. Diaz trains consistently, even when he is not fighting. Diaz and his brother, Nick are accomplished triathletes and frequently train together.
Many fans commented on this photo, and a large portion of those fans were calling for a fight between Diaz and UFC lightweight champ Khabib Nurmagomedov. It was a popular topic in the replies despite the fact that Nurmagomedov is facing interim champ Dustin Poirier at UFC 242 this weekend and Diaz has asked for a fight against streaking welterweight contender Jorge Masvidal.
While many fans are interested in a Nate Diaz vs. Jorge Masvidal fight, it’s unclear whether any headway has been made on the matchup yet. That being said, UFC President Dana White did seem interested in the matchup after UFC 242.
“I mean, who wouldn’t want to see that fight?” White told the media after the UFC 242 card had concluded. “I think everyone would want to see that fight. I don’t know, we’ll wait to see how everything plays out.”
More recently, White claimed that he had no updates on the negotiations for this fight.
“Why, did I say I was doing Diaz and Masvidal on Saturday (at the UFC 241 post-event news conference)?” White said (via MMA News). “Well … they asked me, and I said, ‘Who doesn’t want to see that fight?’”
“No, no progress [on negotiations so far],” White added.
With another action-packed month of MMA in the books, MMA Junkie looks at the best knockouts from August 2019: Here are the five nominees, listed in chronological order, and winner of MMA Junkie’s “Knockout of the Month” award for August.
At the end of the post, let us know if we got it right by voting for your choice.
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Nasrat Haqparast def. Joaquim Silva at UFC on ESPN 5
Nasrat Haqparast (11-2 MMA, 3-1 UFC) made a statement when he knocked out Joaquim Silva (11-2 MMA, 4-2 UFC) to push his winning streak to three fights and improve his standing a lightweight on the rise.
After getting his groove in the contest over the first round, Haqparast came out sharp in the second frame. The Afghan fighter quickly clobbered Silva with a series of fight-ending blows, much to the elation of UFC legend Georges St-Pierre, who was in his corner.
Khama Worthy def. Devonte Smith at UFC 241
Octagon newcomer Khama Worthy (15-6 MMA, 1-0 UFC) got his first crack at the octagon as a replacement on just four days’ notice. He was fighting friend Devonte Smith (10-2 MMA, 2-1 UFC) as the biggest betting underdog on the biggest card of the year so far, not it mattered not.
Worthy proved that – training camp or not – he is a dangerous man. He showed good sportsmanship toward his buddy Smith in the opening minutes of the fight, but when an opening arrived to connect with a punch, he was all over it. His power dropped and stopped Smith, completing Worthy’s fairytale UFC debut.
After putting together 12-straight wins, Rizin and Bellator bantamweight champ Kyoji Horiguchi (28-3) was sensationally finished by surging bantamweight contender Kai Asakura (13-1) in just over one minute in a non-title affair.
Asakura looked to walk down Horiguchi from the opening bell and, after a few feints, connected with a big right hand that sent Horiguchi staggering backward. Horiguchi tried to recover, but Asakura kept the pressure on and, after backing Horiguchi across the ring into the opposite corner, connected cleanly with another big right hand to drop the champion to the canvas and finish the fight.
After a last-minute change to the card resulted in a new co-main event, ex-Bellator heavyweight champion Vitaly Minakov (22-1 MMA, 6-1 BMMA) made Tim Johnson (12-6 MMA, 0-2 BMMA) pay for stepping up to fight him with a knockout victory.
Minakov finished Johnson with a vicious knockout at the 1:45 mark of the opening round, not long after landing a pair of hard slams. Minakov connected with a kick to the body, a straight right, then a brutal one-two combination that turned out Johnson’s lights – and had him on the canvas for several minutes afterward.
Weili Zhang def. Jessica Andrade at UFC on ESPN+ 15
Weili Zhang (20-1 MMA, 4-0 UFC) wasted no time on her way to UFC history and set off pandemonium among the fans in her home country with a scintillating 42-second TKO of Jessica Andrade (20-7 MMA, 11-5 UFC).
Zhang took out Andrade in a one-sided manner when a barrage of punches, kicks, elbows and knees rocked the Brazilian en route to winning the women’s strawweight title in front of her home fans in China. The win made her the first Chinese champion in UFC history.
Displays of sportsmanship are nice in MMA, but sometimes they’re annoying. Full-fledged hugs are a bit too much in the middle of a fistfight.
That said, you couldn’t blame Worthy and Smith for a smile and a high-five. After all, they’ve been friends and training partners before they’d stepped into the octagon against each other.
And yet, some of the folks at the Honda Center weren’t having it. They booed the display.
Critics shut up fast, though, when Worthy sent Smith to the canvas with a perfectly placed left hook seconds later. Worthy was so amped, he hopped out of the octagon and did a full lap around the apron.
Worthy, nicknamed “The Death Star,” had good reason to be excited. Just three weeks earlier, he’d been fighting his way through the regional MMA wilderness. Smith, he said afterward, had lifted him up by reposting a recent third-round KO victory.
As it turns out, that tape got him hired to fight his friend – on four days’ notice. The two didn’t appear thrilled about the idea but said they would put friendship aside and get to business.
Afterward, Worthy gave his younger friend mad props and said he would bounce back stronger.
“But I’m 33, and I need to get paid now,” Worthy said. “That was the first knockout of the night. Can I get $50,000?”
UFC 241 went down a couple of weeks ago in Anaheim, Calif., but the aftermath of the memorable event continues as six fighters — including Paulo Costa — have been recommended to move up a weight class by the California State Athletic Commission.
The notices from the CSAC come after the six fighters had weight gains of 15 percent or more between the official weigh-ins, and the UFC 241 fight night, according to the commission’s weight cutting regulations.
While it is a recommendation, not a direct order, from the CSAC, should Costa or the other five competitors want to remain in their desired weight classes, they will need to prove they can do so in a safe manner.
“If those fighters wish to fight below the weight class that CSAC moved them to, then they will have to enroll in a nutrition program and work with the (UFC Performance Institute or a similar place) to address their weight/weight gain,” says CSAC representative Patrisha Blackstock to MMA Junkie in an email. “Their nutrition program and findings from the PI will have to be sent to CSAC for review and approval before the fighters are moved down in weight class.”
In total, 13 fighters on the UFC 241 card gained more than 10 percent of their body weight between the weigh-ins and fight night. Costa and Davis both were under the 15 percent number, but their 14.9 and 14.7 percent weight gains, respectively, were rounded up.
Costa’s win over Romero puts him in a prime position to face the winner of the upcoming middleweight title unification bout between Robert Whittaker and Israel Adesanya at UFC 243.
Do you agree with the weight cutting regulations set forth by the CSAC? Should Paulo Costa move up a division?
This article first appeared on BJPENN.COM on 8/29/2019.
Paulo Costa won’t be able to fight at 185 pounds in future California fights unless he gets cleared by the state’s athletic commission.
The undefeated UFC middleweight contender is among six fighters from this month’s UFC 241 card who’ve been given notice by the California State Athletic Commission to move up a division, according to a public records request made by MMA Junkie on Wednesday.
As previously reported, 13 fighters on the Aug. 17 card gained more than 10 percent of their body weight in that window, which violates a series of regulations enacted to curb excessive weight cuts. Costa and Davis were rounded up from 14.9 and 14.7 percent, respectively.
All but one of the fighters made weight for their respective contests except Bermudez, who negotiated a catchweight fight against Casey Kenney at 140 pounds. But fighters who gain 15 percent automatically trigger a “notification letter” that states “they have been moved up a weight class in California,” per CSAC representative Patrisha Blackstock.
Costa and the other fighters can still compete in their chosen weight classes, Blackstock added. But they will need to prove they can fight safely.
“If those fighters wish to fight below the weight class that CSAC moved them to, then they will have to enroll in a nutrition program and work with the (UFC Performance Institute or a similar place) to address their weight/weight gain,” Blackstock wrote in an email. “Their nutrition program and findings from the PI will have to be sent to CSAC for review and approval before the fighters are moved down in weight class.”
Costa’s manager, Wallid Ismail, said it’s his understanding that the commission can’t mandate the weight class where a fighter competes. But he said Costa already planned to go to the UFC PI for over one month to utilize the facility’s resources.
“He loves the UFC PI,” Ismail said. “We’re not going because the commission asked him, but because the PI is wonderful. Fighters don’t go there because of free food. They go because it’s the best place.”
Earlier this month, the California commission suspended the bantamweight license of Aspen Ladd, ordering her to submit “extensive medical documentation” to allow her to fight at 135 pounds. The documentation would also remove an administrative note with the Association of Boxing Commissions that could prevent her from fighting in the division in other states.
CSAC executive director Andy Foster hopes to enact a rule that allows the commission to take more severe action against fighters who cut excessive weight, canceling fights where fighters gain more than 15 percent of their body weight between weigh-ins and fight day.
“I didn’t want to take as much damage but I knew it was a risk worth taking. When the UFC put me on the main card, I knew I was going to take a risk to get the reward,” Yusuff told BJPENN.com. “I am willing to test my power against anyone in the weight class. When the opportunity came with so many eyes on you, you need to do something to stand out. So, I was shooting for a first-round knockout and if I couldn’t get the finish I wanted to make it Fight of the Night.”
With the win, Yusuff improved to 10-1 as a pro and 3-0 inside the Octagon. For the Nigerian-born fighter, the hope is he can fight in front of his new home in Washington D.C. later this year. He wants to have the chance to fight in front of his friends and coaches and believes that it will happen. If it does, he hopes he is fighting someone with a number beside there name as well.
“I want to get on that D.C. card. I told them I want to be on it and if I’m not on it, someone dropped the ball,” Yusuff explained. “It makes perfect sense. But I think a ranked opponent makes sense. If it is not a ranked opponent at least give me a name.”
Something else Yusuff is looking forward to is a UFC event in Africa. After talking with the UFC, and seeing the rise of African-born fighters like Kamaru Usman, Israel Adesanya, and Francis Ngannou, he suspects the Octagon heads to the continent next year.
“If I had to say it would happen next year for sure. Right now, they are probably looking for a venue,” Sodiq Yusuff explained. “All of us are shining bright right now. I don’t see why it wouldn’t happen next year or in early 2021. It would have to be South Africa. It would mean the world. To be able to fight in Africa would be super cool.”
Right now, Sodiq Yusuff is just healing up from his fight and waiting for what is next. Who do you think he should fight next?
This article first appeared on BJPENN.COM on 8/27/2019.