Kevin Lee changes opinion, now believes Ferguson will struggle against Nurmagomedov

Kevin Lee has been critical of UFC lightweight champ Khabib Nurmagomedov in the past, but he appears to have changed his tune.

Last month, Nurmagomedov dismantled Dustin Poirier at UFC 242 in Abu Dhabi. Many fans believed Poirier had what it took to defeat the undisputed lightweight champion, however, his efforts were futile as he was submitted by champ during the third round. Nurmagomedov is now expected to fight Tony Ferguson.

After witnessing Nurmagomedov’s dominant performance against Poirier at UFC 242, Lee is no longer convinced that Ferguson can overthrow the lightweight king.

“I’ve got to be honest: If you asked me before the Poirier fight, I would have been like Tony is still like a 90 percent chance of winning,” Lee said in an interview with MMA Junkie. “After seeing what Khabib did to Poirier, I think it’s going to be very hard for Tony to beat him.”

Kevin Lee fought Tony Ferguson in 2017. Though Lee started strong, Ferguson ultimately won by third-round submission to earn the interim lightweight title.

Ferguson has been scheduled to fight Nurmagomedov on multiple occasions, but the fight has fallen through each time. Now it seems the stars are aligning and he will finally get his overdue title short.

Lee observed that if Ferguson loses, there are very few interesting opponents left or Nurmagomedov in the lightweight division. He is hopeful this could get him a crack at the title.

“After the Tony fight, there’s not many more competitors that people want to see fight him. That’s one of the big motivations for me to go down 155,” Lee said.

Lee’s last fight was a welterweight bout against Rafael Dos Anjos, who Nurmagomedov has already beaten. He lost this fight by submission. His fight prior to that was a decision loss to another Nurmagomedov victim in Al Iaquinta.

According to a report from MMA Junkie, Kevin Lee could soon have the chance to correct this skid, as he’s been linked to a UFC 244 fight with Gregor Gillespie. If he wins that fight, He’s confident that a title fight against Khabib Nurmagomedov could be in his future.

“I think that a lot of people want to see me get in there with Khabib, and I want to see it too.”

What do you think of these comments from Kevin Lee?

This article first appeared on BJPENN.COM on 10/1/2019. 

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Khabib Nurmagomedov is Perfect and Flawed

As dominant as he is in the cage, he is just as polarizing outside of it. Khabib Nurmagomedov criticized a play put on in Dagestan that featured a woman in lingerie seducing a man. He asked the Dagestani government to investigate the “filth.” The UFC champion also criticized a Dagestani rap duo and drew ire from the Russian rap community. He has a reportedly close relationship with Chechen warlord Ramzan Kadyrov, a staunch, violently anti-gay figure in world politics.

Khabib Nurmagomedov
Sports vs. Ethics

Nurmagomedov is not the only great athlete to have troubling actions and stances in his here and now. Floyd Mayweather, the most decorated boxer of his generation, was convicted of domestic abuse and money laundering. Manny Pacquiao is a famously anti-gay figure in Filipino politics. Tiger Woods had a string of infidelities and was arrested in 2017 for driving under the influence. Controversy is not new to the greatest in sports figures.

And controversy is especially not new to the people who associate with the sport of MMA. Women abusers, reformed or current drug addicts, felons, and neo-Nazis are all people who have had their time in the MMA news cycle, some just this year. Jon Jones, the current UFC light-heavyweight champion, was stripped of a title on three occasions after a felony hit-and-run, testing positive for cocaine, and testing positive for steroids. These things are not new to the sport of MMA.

So when Nurmagomedov is looking at becoming arguably the greatest fighter of all time, he’s also the perfect person to become the sports representative. He’s not picture-perfect, and his opinions are troublesome to say the least. His association with bad people is worrisome as well. But his ability to maul people in the cage is beyond compare, and his technical and savage mastery of fighting is so far perfect. Khabib Nurmagomedov represents MMA in the most complete way possible. He’s a person who associates with trouble, who draws an audience and respect to an arena, and can absolutely jack you up when fight night arrives.

Khabib Nurmagomedov might just be the best lightweight fighter of all time.

What does that actually mean though? The sport is just about 30 years old, give or take a year or two across seas in Japan. MMA barely resembles the circus show that people grew accustomed to in the early 90’s on video tapes from Blockbusters and Hollywood Videos. It’s corporate now, and the characters are bigger, more recognizable to more and more people.

Nurmagomedov isn’t that household name in the states. He’s no Conor McGregor or Ronda Rousey, nor is he as big as Chuck Liddell or Georges St-Pierre were a decade ago. He’s not a Brock Lesnar gargantuan. But across the seas in Dagestan, Russia, and most recently Abu Dhabi, the man is a legitimate star.

When he choked out the tough-as-nails Dustin Poirier (25-6, 1 NC) at UFC 242 to defend his lightweight crown, Nurmagomedov extended his sterling record to 28-0. If you wanted to translate that to other sports greatness, that’s the 2007 Patriots going 18-0 heading into the Super Bowl; that’s a perfect game against some of the best batters in the MLB; that’s Floyd Mayweather’s 50-0 and subsequent exhibition victories. Nurmagomedov is pushing into uncharted territory in terms of lightweight greatness, but also MMA greatness.

As far as lightweights go, he is unquestionably among the very best to ever scrap. He’s up there with BJ Penn, Eddie Alvarez, Takanori Gomi, Gilbert Melendez, all former champions and pound for pound great fighters in their heyday. But none of them started out this flawless with nearly 30 straight victories.

He’s also pushing into that greatest of all-time territory, filled with names like Canadian welterweight St. Pierre, Russian heavyweight Fedor Emelianenko, current UFC light-heavyweight champion Jones, and Brazilian legend Anderson Silva, to name a few. Nurmagomedov hasn’t just been defeating his opponents, he’s been dispatching them in increasingly dominant fashion. It’s not a matter of will he get to the top of that heap, but when.

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Dustin Poirier offers to fight Tony Ferguson at UFC 245 if Nurmagomedov ‘can’t make it’

Dustin Poirier is ready and willing to fight Tony Ferguson at UFC 245 if UFC lightweight champion Nurmagomedov “can’t make it” to the card.

“The Diamond” Poirier fought the undefeated lightweight champion Nurmagomedov earlier this month at UFC 242. Poirier did everything he could to challenge Nurmagomedov, but his efforts failed as “The Eagle” delivered yet another dominant performance and defended his championship.

As both fighters now deal with the aftermath of UFC 242, they are looking to the future for potential matchups. For Khabib Nurmagomedov, there is no better choice than Tony Ferguson. Nurmagomedov has been scheduled to fight Ferguson 4 times previously. For several reasons, these potential bouts were scrapped. However, all parties involved want to make it happen on the fifth attempt.

Likewise, Tony Ferguson is keen to make up for lost time and wants to add Nurmagomedov to his list of bloody conquests. Ferguson hasn’t lost since 2012 and last beat Donald Cerrone in June at UFC 238 via doctor stoppage. “El Cucuy” was critical of Nurmagomedov’s performance at UFC 242 and believes he has what it takes to deliver the Russian’s first loss. As the No 1. lightweight contender, Ferguson has called for a fight against the champion at UFC 245.

Prior to his UFC 242 setback, Dustin Poirier was on a fantastic streak. He beat Anthony Pettis, Justin Gaethje, Eddie Alvarez, and eventually Max Holloway who he fought for the interim lightweight belt. After losing to Nurmagomedov, “The Diamond” wants to vindicate himself and has his sights set on a potential Ferguson bout.

“If he can’t make it, I can,” Poirier wrote in response to Ferguson’s callout of Nurmagomedov.

UFC 245 will take place on December 14 at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada. The end of year showdown is currently headlined by the two-division champion Amanda Nunes and Germaine de Randamie, who will meet in a bantamweight title rematch. Hopefully, Poirier’s call out will incentives a speedy matchup for Ferguson.

It seems Dustin Poirier is ready to face the bloody wrath of Tony Ferguson, but do you think he has what it takes to come out on top? Let us know in the comments below.

This article first appeared on BJPENN.COM on 9/23/2019. 

The post Dustin Poirier offers to fight Tony Ferguson at UFC 245 if Nurmagomedov ‘can’t make it’ appeared first on | BJPenn.com.

PETA outraged by Khabib Nurmagomedov wrestling bears, calls on UFC to act

Whether you love People For the Ethical Treatment of Animals or hate them, you have to admit the group is really good at getting attention.

The Norfolk, Va.-based animal welfare organization manages to routinely trigger right-wing types, who troll the group with T-shirts and bumper stickers repurposing the PETA acronym as “People Eating Tasty Animals.” Their in-your-face tactics also frequently turn off left-leaning folk who otherwise might be inclined to lend support to their cause.

Regardless of where you stand on the group, one of PETA’s most effective weapons in its arsenal has been to call out high-profile people for actions that draw disapproval.

And PETA’s latest target, of all people, is UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov.

Video from 1997 of a young Nurmagomedov wrestling a bear showed up on YouTube in 2017.

Since then, the champ has grappled with the same bear, whom he now regards as his “old friend,” in 2014 and again in 2019.

And with Nurmagomedov back in the news once again following his UFC 242 victory over Dustin Poirier, PETA decided to pounce, calling on the UFC to distance itself from its champion until he stops the sambo with Smokey.

“PETA encourages the UFC to evaluate its relationship with Mr. Nurmagomedov until he shows a clear change in attitude and a commitment to showing animals the respect that they deserve,” PETA UK director Elisa Allen recently told Business Insider.

Perhaps Ms. Allen didn’t notice that a person of note in attendance at UFC 242 in Abu Dhabi was Chechen dictator Ramzan Kadyrov, a Nurmagomedov supporter who has been accused of rounding up gay men in his republic for torture. If the UFC isn’t going to act on that, we’re also going to guess the promotion won’t cut ties with one of its biggest draws because of a wrestling match with a bear that left the animal pretty much unharmed.

PETA will then have to move on to its next publicity stunt.

The Blue Corner is MMA Junkie’s blog space. We don’t take it overly serious, and neither should you. If you come complaining to us that something you read here is not hard-hitting news, expect to have the previous sentence repeated in ALL CAPS.

Khabib Nurmagomedov nets $100k for Dustin Poirier’s UFC 242 fight shirt

Khabib Nurmagomedov managed to get six figures for Dustin Poirier’s fight-worn shirt from their UFC 242 championship bout – all of which will go to charity.

In the aftermath of Nurmagomedov’s (28-0 MMA, 12-0 UFC) submission victory over Poirier (25-6 MMA, 17-5 UFC) to defend the lightweight title this month, the two competitors exchanged Reebok shirts inside the octagon in a heartwarming moment of sportsmanship.

Nurmagomedov said he planned to auction the shirt off, with all the proceeds going to Poirier’s charity, The Good Fight Foundation, in partnership with Justin Wren’s Fight For The Forgotten. With more than 17 million total social media followers, Nurmagomedov felt he could get a significant price, and he was right.

Poirier today told MMA Junkie that the shirt sold for $100,000, which will be of great benefit to the UFC 242 charity goal of building water wells to repair a ruined water supply at an orphanage and school in Uganda.

“It’s great because it’s going to help a lot of people,” Poirier told MMA Junkie. “I’m proud of that. I appreciate them helping out the charity. It’s been growing and I’m very grateful for that.”

Immediately following UFC 242, company president Dana White praised the philanthropy of Poirier and Nurmagomedov. He said he would match whatever sum of money Nurmagomedov raised for auctioning off the shirt.

In addition to Nurmagomedov’s six-figure contribution, The Good Fight Foundation had already surpassed its financial goal. Originally set for $25,000, there’s already more than $33,000 raised online through the website.

You can donate at TheGoodFightGroup.com, or go to FightForTheForgotten.com and donate straight to the cause.

After hard-earned draw at UFC 242, England’s Lerone Murphy says best yet to come

English featherweight Lerone Murphy may not have been the best-known name on the fight card at UFC 242 but, after turning in a promising debut performance, he believes he’s ready to swim in the shark-infested waters of the UFC’s 145-pound division.

The 28-year-old had won the featherweight title in U.K. regional promotion Full Contact Contender in May and had just returned home from his holiday when he got the call to face Zubaira Tukhugov at UFC 242. While he admitted he didn’t recognize the Russian star’s name at first, a quick Google search soon revealed the task ahead of him.

“I searched him and I knew who he was then, and I was like ‘Wow, this is a crazy opportunity for me to go out there and get my name out there and prove I’m at that level,’” he told MMA Junkie upon his return to British soil. “Obviously I knew it was going to be a hard fight. It’s a big step up in competition and it’s on one of the biggest stages. I was just scared that the stage would take away from the performance, but it kind of added to it. When I first came out and I heard the crowd screaming and stuff, it was amazing. It gave me more fire.”

Murphy (8-0-1 MMA, 0-0-1 UFC) revealed he went through a surreal experience as he made the walk from the dressing rooms to the octagon, where he was announced to the crowd by legendary octagon announcer Bruce Buffer. It felt strange to the Brit, but not because of the occasion. It felt strange because it felt like he’d already experienced it all before.

“We’re walking down the tunnel. It’s boiling hot because we had to go outside, but once we got back into the arena it was OK,” he said. “And I could see through the curtain the crowd and I was like, ‘Wow, yes. It’s time.’ And as soon as my music came on and I was walking out, I was smiling to myself thinking: ‘This is sick!’ I’m never normally like that. I’m normally focused, mind on the job. But I was enjoying myself, dancing to my music. It felt like I was meant to be there.

“I’ve been watching the UFC for years, so I’ve visualized that moment (being announced by Buffer) over and over again in my mind. Even playing the UFC video game, I created my own character. It’s all something I visualized, so it all felt normal in a weird way, like I’d been there before. It was crazy.”

Once the fight got underway, Murphy then had to adapt quickly to a much higher-level opponent than he’d faced in his previous eight career fights. Tukhugov (18-4-1 MMA, 3-1-1 UFC) had more than twice the number of fights to his name than the Brit, and Murphy admitted it took him a round to fully adapt to the situation he’d found himself in.

“It was crazy. He had a weird style, as well,” he said. “He’d be just sat there like he’s doing nothing, then he’d just explode out of nowhere. It took me a round to get used to, and that’s why I got caught.

“He was strong, he was good. I did expect him to be better on the feet, but his grappling was tremendous. He was putting his pressure on in the right places, he was hard to get off me, he was strong. You could tell he’d just drilled all that kind of stuff with Khabib’s team. He was very strong in that area.”

But after returning to his corner following a tough opening five minutes, he was met by his team of head coach Carl Prince and training partner and friend Kane Mousah, who calmed his nerves before sending him out to put his own stamp on the fight.

“Once I got that first round out of the way and I’d felt his strength and felt his speed, I knew I could do better,” he said. “I knew I’d made a few mistakes in the first round and I knew I could still win this fight. So going into the second all my confidence was back and I was ready to go.”

And after a much-improved round that saw Murphy hold his own against the Russian star, Mousah delivered an inspiring pep-talk to his friend ahead of the final round. If it had the intention of firing up Murphy to produce the best round of the fight, it certainly worked, as the Brit dominated large parts of the final frame to take the contest all the way to the judges’ scorecards.

“Going from the second to the third, I got the pump-up talk and that made me think, ‘Come on, let’s get this. Let’s do this!’ and I nearly did in the end,” he said. “I think I got taken down in the last minute, and that caused the draw.

“To be fully honest, because he was the home fighter and he did have a lot of ground control I thought that they were going to give it to him. Even though he wasn’t doing anything on the ground, I thought they might just give it to him because he’s the home fighter. But I got the split-draw in the end. When I watched it back, I think I definitely won the second and third rounds. I’m happy with a draw, though, and we’ll go again.”

Given the short-notice assignment, it would have been easy for Murphy to use the quick turnaround as a reason for not getting the win, but the modest Brit sees it differently, and instead put it down to “inexperience and a few stupid errors.”

But despite not quite capping a memorable debut with a win, the Manchester native is taking the positives away from his Abu Dhabi mission. He is now a UFC fighter, having signed a four-fight deal before his debut, and he just put in a more than creditable performance against a dangerous name in the UFC’s talent-stacked featherweight division.

Murphy says he’d happily take another fight before the end of the year, but he has his heart set on a fight on home soil, when the UFC makes its now-annual pilgrimage to The O2 in London each March. But, for now, he just wants to get back to work, splitting his time between All Powers Gym in Stockport, England and Alliance MMA in San Diego, where he trains alongside the likes of Dominick Cruz, Jeremy Stephens and fellow Brit Brendan Loughnane.

“I want to go back to America, do some more training and improve my skillset,” he said. “Then, if I get a fight in March, I’ll be 10 times better – I’ll be a different fighter. I always grow between camps. I believe that the experience from this fight, the three rounds I’ve got in the bag, will make me a better fighter automatically, as well.”

And as a man looking to make his name in arguably the most competitive weight class in the UFC, Murphy knows he will have to give it his all as he embarks on the toughest, most exciting, chapter in his athletic career.

“You can expect me to grow and grow, and hopefully in the next 12 months or so I’ll be aiming for the Top 10,” he said. “I just know now I have to be putting in the work. I always do anyway, but it needs to be more structured work and to be filling these gaps in, because the featherweight division is crazy talented. I’ve been watching all the fighters closely in that division, and there’s no easy fights. They’re all going to be at that kind of level, and better, so I need to be prepared.”