Jorge Masvidal was delighted to get "very, very close" to the money he wanted to face UFC welterweight champion Kamaru Usman after stepping in to replace Gilbert Burns.

Burns was named as Usman's opponent for the first event at 'Fight Island' in the United Arab Emirates this weekend after negotiations between UFC and Masvidal broke down.

The 35-year-old had previously been critical of UFC in a public pay dispute that light-heavyweight champion Jon Jones said he would vacate his title over.

However, Burns was forced to pull out of UFC 251 after contracting coronavirus and the organisation turned to Masvidal.

While heading into the fight with just six days' notice is far from ideal for Masvidal, he was pleased it meant he got paid closer to what he felt he deserves.

"Friday night's when they called, Saturday the deal was in place," Masvidal told ESPN after agreeing his new UFC contract.

"We had to break them down. That's why some people don't seem too happy to see me, you can see it in their face. I'm gonna do my job always, I'm gonna provide for me and my family.

"I see on pay-per-view what I bring in, we know – me and my team – what I deserve, so when we got undercut and low-balled, 'Alright, cool, no problem.' Let's see what happens.

"I told several people, 'Watch, at the last moment they're probably gonna call me back and some craziness is going to happen.' I didn't get exactly what I wanted, but I got very, very close to it.

"I'm happy because I get to break this guy's face and get paid for it. But what I'm not gonna do, which I've done a long part of my career, is get underpaid.

"That's not gonna happen from here going forward. Moving forward after this fight they're gonna treat me accordingly or I'll just step in last minute, six days to go, and get paid then I guess."

Masvidal will need to cut around 20 pounds in order to make weight for the fight and revealed although he kept active after initial talks with UFC ended, he "wasn't training like if I had a fight camp".

Masvidal owns the BMF belt after the doctor stopped Nate Diaz continuing beyond round three last November due to a cut around the eye.

Diaz criticised the UFC for going with Burns and Masvidal would like to offer him – and Stephen 'Wonderboy' Thompson, who handed him his last defeat in November 2017 – a shot at the title if he wins.

"There's two guys that are on my radar and Nate is definitely one of them, because no matter what it's a good fight and me or the world didn't get the results we wanted," he said.

"I know Nate obviously wants to run it back. I'm telling you I want to run it back, so when I get this title there would nothing be better than to give him the opportunity he gave me to fight for the belt.

"Another dude who we're definitely gonna be scraping at some point is Thompson, not because of anything personal but I would just love to run it back.

"I could definitely do better than that night that we first met. That's definitely something that'll be happening."

Jorge Masvidal will get his first title shot against welterweight champion Kamaru Usman at UFC 251 on six days' notice as a late replacement for Gilbert Burns.

Masvidal, who claimed the one-off BMF title by defeating Nate Diaz last November, stepped in after Burns was forced to withdraw from the first main event at 'Fight Island' in Abu Dhabi due to contracting coronavirus.

The 35-year-old American reportedly passed his COVID-19 test in Las Vegas and will fly out the United Arab Emirates on Monday.

Masvidal has recently been critical of UFC for the amount it pays fighters and aired a number of grievances on social media after Burns was given the Usman fight.

However, with Burns having been deemed unfit to enter to Octagon, the organisation turned to Masvidal to keep its main event alive.

Masvidal has won his past three fights to improve to a 35-13 record in mixed martial arts.

Usman is 16-1 after defeating Tyron Woodley and Colby Covington in his two most recent bouts. His only defeat came in his second professional fight in May 2013.

Jorge Masvidal will get his first title shot against welterweight champion Kamaru Usman at UFC 251 on six days' notice as a late replacement for Gilbert Burns.

Masvidal, who claimed the one-off BMF title by defeating Nate Diaz last November, stepped in after Burns was forced to withdraw from the first main event at 'Fight Island' in Abu Dhabi due to contracting coronavirus.

The 35-year-old American reportedly passed his COVID-19 test in Las Vegas and will fly out the United Arab Emirates on Monday.

Masvidal has recently been critical of UFC for the amount it pays fighters and aired a number of grievances on social media after Burns was given the Usman fight.

However, with Burns having been deemed unfit to enter to Octagon, the organisation turned to Masvidal to keep its main event alive.

Masvidal has won his past three fights to improve to a 35-13 record in mixed martial arts.

Usman is 16-1 after defeating Tyron Woodley and Colby Covington in his two most recent bouts. His only defeat came in his second professional fight in May 2013.

Justin Gaethje can beat UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov if he follows a particular game plan, according to Dustin Poirier.

The undefeated Khabib is expected to return to the Octagon to face interim champion Gaethje in September, though an official announcement has not yet been made.

Poirier, the number two ranked lightweight in UFC after defeating Dan Hooker in a Fight of the Year contender in Las Vegas last weekend, knocked out Gaethje in April 2018 but was submitted by the Russian at UFC 242 last year.

Poirier explained how Gaethje can hand Khabib his first defeat in mixed martial arts.

"If Justin can keep his back off the fence, I believe he can out-scramble Khabib in the open," Poirier told TMZ Sports.

"He just has such a pedigree in collegiate wrestling and that open mat area is going to be where Justin shines in the wrestling.

"If Khabib can get him against the fence, I believe Justin will be in trouble, but we'll see if he can stick to the game plan.

"I would assume that's gonna be his game plan – to stay in the middle, make Khabib wrestle in the open and throw big punches."

Asked about his hopes of fighting for the lightweight belt in future, he added: "If I'm to get a title shot and Justin wins … it's more of a guaranteed lock for me to fight for the belt if Justin wins.

"I'm the last guy to beat him. I'm the only guy still in the organisation who beat him. So it would make a lot of sense. And, I know he wants that fight as well."

However, if a second fight with Khabib stood between him and the title, Poirier is confident he would be able to make the required adjustments to get the win.

"Every fight I watch of mine I can do things better. [I] always can do things better and execute the game plan better," he said.

Dustin Poirier was delighted to return to winning ways after overcoming Dan Hooker at UFC Fight Night in Las Vegas - and received a congratulatory message from the man who stopped him becoming lightweight champion.

Khabib Nurmagomedov defeated Poirer by submission at UFC 242 in September last year, the Russian retaining both the title at the 155-pound weight limit and his unbeaten record.

Khabib was watching on Saturday, with his former foe overcoming Hooker by unanimous decision after five gruelling rounds. Two of the judges scored it 48-47, with the other card reading 48-46.

"Congratulations Dustin Poirier great fight," Khabib tweeted, with Poirer replying: "Thank you champ".

A marked-up Poirer also tweeted a picture of himself lying on a gurney in an ambulance, as well posting on Instagram Stories to confirm he was heading to hospital for head scans.

Prior to departing the venue, the 31-year-old - who had a cut underneath a badly swollen right eye - told ESPN he is not sure when he will be back in the octagon again.

"Maybe I'll fight at the end of the year. Maybe I'll fight next year. I just want to go home to my daughter," Poirier said.

"Now that I'm a victor again, I want to get back to the drawing board. I want to keep getting better.

"I want to stay in love with this sport. I don't want to push myself so much to where I hate this. I've been doing this a long time and pushing myself to the limits every day - I just want to do it right."

UFC president Dana White hit out at Curtis Blaydes in the wake of his unanimous win over Alexander Volkov in Saturday's headline clash at UFC Apex in Las Vegas, insisting he made himself "look stupid" after not living up to his pre-fight trash talk and claims.

Blaydes claimed a 49-46, 48-47, 48-46 victory, but in the eyes of White the heavyweight bout did not meet expectations following the 'Razor's' confident talk before the fight.

In the build-up he suggested fans hoping for a thrilling battle should not bother tuning in because "I fully intend on ragdolling my opponent", while after his win Blaydes confirmed he will wait to see what occurs in the heavyweight title trilogy between Stipe Miocic and Daniel Cormier before deciding on his next fight.

But, even though Blaydes set a new record (14) for takedowns in a heavyweight final, White was less than impressed and suggested he would be unwise to wait around for Miocic or Cormier on the evidence of Saturday.

"With his performance tonight and his cardio, I wouldn't wait around if I was him," White said in the post-fight media conference. "I'd stay active and stay busy.

"I like Curtis Blaydes, but Curtis Blaydes has the wrong attitude as far as I'm concerned. I don't have anything against the kid at all, [but] when you talk s*** like he talked this week, you better come in and whoop somebody's a** when you talk s*** like that.

"When you talk the s*** that he did and perform like he did tonight? You look stupid.

"Yeah, he won. He talked a lot of s*** coming in this week. I don't think you talk the s*** he talked this week and come in and perform like that.

"Talking about rag-dolling people, and he's not getting paid, and yada yada, [saying that] he should be getting the title shot.

"He gassed out at the end of the third round, made it to the fifth and won the fight. Yes, he won."

The possibility of Amanda Nunes retiring from mixed martial arts "drives me nuts", said UFC president Dana White.

Nunes, 32, made history at UFC 250 this month, becoming the first fighter to defend belts in two different weight classes while holding both titles with her unanimous-decision triumph over Felicia Spencer.

The bantamweight and featherweight champion plans to take the rest of 2020 off to receive treatment on a persistent leg injury and spend time with her wife, who is due to give birth to their first child in September.

Having established herself as the dominant force in UFC and with a dearth of quality challenges available, Nunes said during an interview in Brazil she was considering hanging up her gloves.

White wants to bring the organisation's other featherweights up to her level and was not pleased to hear retirement was on her mind.

"I will kill her," White said with a chuckle on The Schmozone Podcast. "I literally just told [UFC matchmakers] Sean [Shelby] and Mick [Maynard] in the last meeting, 'Let's get this division built for her.'

"Let's build this division for her, and let's start figuring this out. And now she's talking about retiring?

"You know what's awesome about that when you think about it? Her retiring isn’t awesome; that actually drives me nuts.

"You know how I always say, 'If you're talking about retiring, you probably should.' Unless if you're where she's at.

"In this time when I've got guys crying about money, one of our female fighters, who could go on and keep doing this for a long time, is saying, 'Maybe I'll retire now.' She's got plenty of money, and she can do it."

UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov intends to make an announcement on his future soon.

Khabib saw a fight with Tony Ferguson scrapped for a fifth time in April, with travel restrictions stopping him from leaving Russia for UFC 249.

Justin Gaethje filled in for the Russian at the rescheduled event in May and pulled off a stunning victory against Ferguson to win the interim lightweight title.

UFC president Dana White previously expressed his desire for Gaethje and Khabib to meet in the Octagon in September and the undefeated MMA star said an update on his career is coming.

Alongside a photo with fellow Dagestani UFC fighters Zubaira Tukhugov and Abubakar Nurmagomedov, Khabib posted: "These two have been working all summer and will return at the beginning of autumn (September), we wish them luck.

"And about my own future, I will make an announcement soon."

Khabib's father, Abdulmanap Nurmagomedov, was hospitalised in May and underwent heart surgery due to complications from a previous illness and contracting COVID-19.

According to Khabib's manager, Ali Abdelaziz, Abdulmanap's condition has improved but remains serious.

Cynthia Calvillo dominated Jessica Eye to secure a unanimous-decision victory in Las Vegas on Saturday.

Calvillo controlled Eye for most of their flyweight fight and it was eventually scored 49-46, 49-46 and 48-47 in her favour.

Eye, the top-ranked flyweight contender, made a decent start before Calvillo (9-1-1) dominated from the second round.

"I feel great, especially for putting on a performance like that with a short amount of training," Calvillo told ESPN after her win.

"We're going through crazy times so it just feels amazing to be able to do this during this time."

Calvillo took Eye down numerous times, including inside a minute in the fourth round.

Urged to land a decisive blow, Eye (15-8) was unable to in the final round as Calvillo was awarded a deserved victory.

The UFC will host four events on 'Fight Island', which will be located in Abu Dhabi, president Dana White has confirmed.

Yas Island will be the venue for pay-per-view event UFC 251 on July 11, with 'Fight Night' events to follow on July 15, July 18 and July 25.

UFC's international fighters have been heavily impacted by restrictions on travel to the United States amid the coronavirus pandemic, but Fight Island will give them a stage with which to showcase themselves.

"We came up with the idea of having fights on 'Fight Island' because we needed a destination to hold international events during the global pandemic," White said.

"Abu Dhabi has been an amazing location to hold fights over the past ten years and it is the perfect place for these events.

"The infrastructure we are building will be such a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for the fighters that's never been done before – from the arena, the private training facility, and the Octagon on the island – it's going to be an experience that none of us will ever forget. I can't wait to deliver amazing fights from Yas Island."

UFC 251 will see a rematch between Alexander Volkanovski and Max Holloway for the featherweight title as the main event.

Kamaru Usman will face Gilbert Burns for the welterweight title and Petr Yan will take on Jose Aldo for the bantamweight title.

Henry Cejudo would only consider coming out of MMA retirement to face UFC featherweight champion Alexander Volkanovski.

After defeating Dominick Cruz at UFC 249 in May, Cejudo made the shock announcement that he was bringing an end to his time in the Octagon and vacating the bantamweight title.

The 33-year-old former flyweight champion, who also won wrestling gold at the 2008 Olympic Games, says he could only be enticed back by the prospect of becoming the first UFC fighter to win belts in three different divisions.

However, he has also been in talks over a switch to boxing and a fight with Ryan Garcia, who at 21 years old possesses a 20-0 record with 17 knockouts.

"I've done everything in MMA. I'm satisfied with my career," Cejudo told TMZ Sports.

"There would only be one fight that would really bring me back, that would really wake me up in the morning – other than Ryan Garcia – it would be Alexander Volkanovski.

"I want a third title because I want to be different. There's been a lot of champ-champs, but it's just to cement it and go into the history books as the greatest mixed martial artist of all time."

Cejudo is close friends with former heavyweight boxing champion Mike Tyson, who is training for a potential return to the ring in exhibition fights.

A third meeting with fellow retiree Evander Holyfield has been touted and Cejudo predicts Tyson's comeback – regardless of who it is against – will be a landmark event.

"Mike Tyson is in a beautiful, beautiful place. Uncle Mike is about as ready as you could ever imagined," he said.

"He's ripped, he's serious. The only thing I could say is that when Mike Tyson does make his comeback, it's going to be the biggest thing in sports."

On whether he would be up for fighting Tyson, Cejudo replied: "I love Uncle Mike, I could never lay a finger on Uncle Mike.

"He's been a huge mentor. He's a guy that guides a lot of people and I feel like I'm under his wing."

Conor McGregor is going to some lengths to double down on his claims he has retired from the fight game.

The former featherweight and lightweight champion made his announcement in the immediate aftermath of UFC 250.

There were some rather sceptical reactions given McGregor has now said he is calling it quits for a third time in four years.

Still, following his initial tweet, McGregor spoke to ESPN about how he has lost his love for the game and opened up about frustrations over being offered "stupid fights" by UFC.

And, on Sunday, McGregor posted a picture on Instagram of cake with an icing inscription that read "Happy Retirement Daddy x".

It remains to be seen if this really is the end for 'The Notorious' in UFC, especially given the fact he had planned on fighting three times in 2020.

The first of those ended a 14-month hiatus and resulted in an impressive first-round victory over Donald Cerrone in January.

But the coronavirus pandemic has put paid to even the best laid plans and the stacked lightweight division has been particularly impacted.

Champion Khabib Nurmagomedov was initially slated to face Tony Ferguson, only to have to pull out of the fight due to travel restrictions.

Ferguson instead went head to head with Justin Gaethje for the interim belt and suffered a brutal defeat that shook up the division.

With Gaethje expected to face Khabib to unify the belts later in the year, McGregor became frustrated by waiting around for an opponent.

Whether this is the end for McGregor or not, it really does look a tasty cake…

Jorge Masvidal and Dana White showed no signs of backing down over the dispute surrounding pay in UFC.

Popular welterweight Masvidal added his voice to that of Jon Jones over grievances towards UFC in regards to how much the company pays athletes.

The stand-off led to Jones saying he has vacated his light heavyweight belt and asking to be released from his contract, a request echoed by Masvidal.

Masvidal claimed UFC pays fighters just 18 per cent of its profits, but president White said the BMF belt-holder had only recently agreed to a new contract and as such has little wiggle room.

"Being the financial wizard he is, I'm assuming his numbers are correct," White said at the post-event news conference following UFC 250.

"Masvidal just signed a new eight-fight deal. He's got seven fights left in his deal. My people were working with him trying to get a deal done when he already has a deal.

"Jon Jones has seven fights left. He just signed a new deal less than a year ago. So guys, you can say whatever you want. I have a deal which is still a deal with both guys. 

"This isn't like one of those scenarios where they've got a three-year-old deal and they're like, 'Oh man that was three years ago. I'm in a much different place right now'. This was months ago."

Masvidal appeared on SportsCenter to explain how he is not requesting a salary raise but a greater revenue share.

"So I'm asking for a bigger revenue share of what we bring in, you know," Masvidal said. 

"I got a lot of questions and one of them is NBA, NHL, baseball, they make I think 40 percent of what the organisation brings in. Football I think is 47 percent. Mine is like 18 percent.

"So I have these questions, like why so much? Does putting the cage up cost so much? Is it the set-up? But what is it that is so much? And I want these questions answered. So I thought what better place to come than on here and ask these questions.

"None of us, no fighter ever has got a share of the gate, or the hotdog sales, or the pina coladas that they sell. We don't get any of that.

"We don't get a percentage of the gate, we don't get a percentage of the t-shirts and none of that sold. So what does it matter to us? Why do I have to do my job at a lesser rate? 

"Now, if they were giving us 50 per cent shares or 40 per cent, or any of that stuff, it'll be a different ball game. Yeah, we could come to different terms like how they do it in the NBA and other sports because of the things that are at hand.

"Most of us will be happy if it was 30 per cent coming back over, but it's not even that. It's less than 20 per cent, and I'm having these questions."

Conor McGregor explained his latest retirement announcement was because "the game does not excite" him and he is frustrated over being offered "stupid fights" by UFC.

The Irishman took to Twitter immediately after UFC 250 on Saturday to declare he has "decided to retire from fighting".

Understandably the post was met with some scepticism given this marks the third time in the space of four years McGregor – one of UFC's all-time biggest stars – has said he is calling it quits.

McGregor had spoken of plans to fight three times in 2020, which started with an emphatic win over Donald Cerrone in January, though the coronavirus pandemic threw a spanner in the works.

Things were further complicated in the lightweight division when Khabib Nurmagomedov's title defence against Tony Ferguson was cancelled, with Ferguson going on to lose a bout for the interim strap to Justin Gaethje.

McGregor, in an interview with ESPN's Ariel Helwani, said those factors had dampened his enthusiasm.

"The game just does not excite me, and that's that," McGregor said. "All this waiting around. There's nothing happening. 

"I'm going through opponent options, and there's nothing really there at the minute. There's nothing that's exciting me.

"They should have just kept the ball rolling. I mean, why are they pushing [Khabib Nurmagomedov versus Gaethje] back to September? You know what's going to happen in September, something else is going to happen in September, and that's not going to happen. 

"I laid out a plan and a method that was the right move, the right methods to go with. And they always want to balk at that and not make it happen or just drag it on. 

"Whatever I say, they want to go against it to show some kind of power. They should have just done the fight - me and Justin for the interim title - and just kept the ball rolling.

"I'm a bit bored of the game. I'm here watching the fight. I watched the last show - the [Tyron] Woodley-[Gilbert] Burns show - I watched the show tonight [UFC 250]. 

"I'm just not excited about the game. I don't know if it's no crowd. I don't know what it is. There's just no buzz for me."

It was reported the company wanted McGregor, UFC's first dual-weight champion, to fight again in July but, while money was not an issue, finding an opponent has been.

The legendary Anderson Silva challenged McGregor to a catchweight bout, which interested the 31-year-old but there is seemingly little clamour to book the showdown.

"I had my goals, my plans, the season. I had everything laid out," added McGregor. "Obviously the world has gone bleeding bonkers at the minute. 

"There's f*** all happening at the minute. They want to throw me up and down weights and offer me stupid fights. I don't really give a f***. I'm over it.

"There's nothing there for me. I'm trying to get excited. I'm trying my best. And when the Anderson one came along, I was like, 'Yeah, s***, that's a mad fight.'

"And then everyone said he's old and over the hill. I was, like, what? Fighting a former light heavyweight and the middleweight GOAT, and the actual GOAT in my eyes, that's not a rewardable fight? And you know, you're actually right. It wouldn't be rewarded. 

"I would go in there and put him away, and then what would happen? They'd say he's old and he's over the hill and he's past his prime and all.

"I don't know. It's just crazy. I was cutting to 155, and then because I asked for 155, they wanted to show power and stomp all over me. I don't know why they do this. But it was taken from me and then pushed back. 

"So then I'm thinking I don't want to be cutting if I'm fighting at 170. I have to be careful here. My body has to be correct to the weight. And then the 176 [Silva] talk. I'm just over it, man."

Conor McGregor says he has retired from the fight game but there is more than a sense of deja vu about the announcement.

The Irishman, who has a 22-4 MMA record, took to Twitter following UFC 250 to declare that he is stepping away from combat sports.

McGregor's comments have, understandably, been met with a degree of scepticism given this marks the third time in the space of four years the former UFC featherweight and lightweight champion has said he is calling it quits.

Below, we take a look at the context surrounding each of his retirement announcements.


April 2016: "I have decided to retire young. Thanks for the cheese."

It was over four years ago that McGregor, then aged 27, first hinted he was done with fighting when he tweeted: "I have decided to retire young. Thanks for the cheese."

On that occasion it took just two days for McGregor to clarify he had not actually retired but had fallen out with UFC bosses over promotional work.

"I am paid to fight. I am not yet paid to promote. I have become lost in the game of promotion and forgot about the art of fighting," he explained.

"There comes a time when you need to stop handing out flyers and get back to the damn shop."

McGregor was pulled from UFC 200 that year where he was slated for a rematch with Nick Diaz, with president Dana White saying:  "I respect Conor as a fighter and I like him as a person, but you can't decide not to show up to these things.

McGregor would eventually avenge his Diaz defeat at UFC 202.
 

March 2019: "I've decided to retire from the sport formally known as 'Mixed Martial Art.'"

After reneging on his first retirement, McGregor went on to become UFC's first dual-weight champion by defeating Eddie Alvarez to win the lightweight title.

A sign of his power to really transcend the fight game was his lucrative boxing bout with Floyd Mayweather in August 2017 but things became a little ugly when he returned to the Octagon to face Khabib Nurmagomedov in October 2018.

Bad blood in the build-up, which included McGregor attacking a bus carrying Khabib and other athletes, spilled over into fight night when, after Khabib scored a submission victory, the two camps were involved in an ugly post-bout fracas.

Five months later, McGregor said he was stepping away, writing on Twitter: "Hey guys quick announcement, I've decided to retire from the sport formally known as 'Mixed Martial Art' today.

"I wish all my old colleagues well going forward in competition. I now join my former partners on this venture, already in retirement. Proper Pina Coladas on me fellas!"

High-profile incidents away from the ring plagued McGregor and his decision came two weeks after he was charged for allegedly smashing and stealing a man's phone in Miami – charges that were later dropped dropped over inconsistencies in the victim's testimony.

In the meantime, McGregor launched his 'Proper Twelve' whiskey brand, leading White to say: "He's retiring from fighting, not from working. The whiskey will keep him busy and I'm sure he has other things he's working on."

But once again McGregor would reverse his decision…


June 2020: " Thank you all for the amazing memories! What a ride it's been!"

More issues away from MMA followed McGregor and in November last year he was fined €1,000 after pleading guilty to an assault of a man at a pub in Dublin.

But a refocused McGregor was booked to fight Donald 'Cowboy' Cerrone, a contest he wrapped up emphatically in the first round in January, and he spoke of his desire to fight three times in 2020.

The coronavirus pandemic has affected those plans, while the direction of a talent-heavy lightweight division remains unclear.

Yet, the timing of McGregor's latest retirement announcement is perhaps the most surprising yet.

After UFC 250, he wrote on Twitter: "Hey guys I've decided to retire from fighting.

"Thank you all for the amazing memories! What a ride it's been! Here is a picture of myself and my mother in Las Vegas post one of my World title wins!

"Pick the home of your dreams Mags I love you! Whatever you desire it's yours."

Responding to the latest proclamtion, White said: "We're in a pandemic, the world is a crazy place right now. 

"If these guys want to sit out and retire right now, or if anybody feels uncomfortable in any shape or form about what's going on, you don't have to fight – it's all good. 

"So if that's what's Conor's feeling right now, Jon Jones, Jorge Masvidal, I feel you."

The smart thing to do right now would be to watch this space…

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