UFC release unseen footage from Khabib vs McGregor, Dustin Poirier arrives in Abu Dhabi, Scott Coker names Ryan Bader as world’s best heavyweight

3 Sep

The world of mixed martial arts is waited with bated breath for the return of one of the sport’s most dominant champions in history.

Khabib Nurmagomedov makes his long-awaited return from suspension to put his UFC lightweight title on the line against interim champion Dustin Poirier in Abu Dhabi.

The main fight card for the Emirates is stacked, but there are a host of other top stories from outside the octagon as well.

Here are the top stories from the world of MMA.

Dustin Poirier has the unenviable task of trying to stop Khabib Nurmagomedov from making it 28-0
Getty Images - Getty

UFC release unseen footage from UFC 229

Ahead of Khabib’s highly-anticipated return to the octagon, the UFC have released the full fight highlights from the Dagestani-native’s last fight against Conor McGregor.

The Lightweight champion defended his belt in emphatic style against the Notorious, forcing him to tap out in the fourth round via neck crank after 20 minutes of mauling.

However, what followed next was unsavoury – to say the least.

Nurmagomedov vaulted the cage and attacked McGregor’s Jiu-Jitsu coach Dillon Danis.

And the previously unseen footage shows Khabib land a flying hammerfist as well as trying to kick out at

Danis. The ‘Eagle’ was hit with a $500,000 fine and suspended for nine months.

(Scroll to 19:30 to see the newly released angles from the UFC)

Dustin Poirier arrives to celebrity welcome in Abu Dhabi

Although a heavy betting underdog heading into UFC 242, Duston Poirier is being made to feel like a king in Abu Dhabi.

The ‘Diamond’ was filmed arriving by the UFC as part of the Embedded series to a hero’s welcome.

Born into modest surroundings in Lafayette, Louisiana, Poirier can be seen being presented with a Rolls Royce and then shown around his luxury villa.

The former featherweight contender has enjoyed a scintillating run since moving up to the 155lbs division, stopping Justin Gaethje, Eddie Alavrez and then beating Max Holloway on points to claim the interim belt.

Ryan Bader agrees with Scott Coker he is the best heavyweight on the planet

Two-weight Bellator champion Ryan Bader concurs with Scott Coker’s assessment that he is the best heavyweight on the planet.

After Daniel Cormier was dethroned by Stipe Miocic at UFC 241, Coker declared Bader the best in the world.

The former UFC light-heavyweight contender has been unstoppable since moving up in weight at his new promotion and picked up victories against King Mo Lawal, Matt Mitrione and even Fedor Emelianenko.

And Bader agrees with the Bellator President.

“For me, I believe that [I am the best]. If you don’t believe that, then you shouldn’t be in this sport. I do believe I’m the best in the world,” Bader said when speaking to MMA Fighting. “I believe coming up to heavyweight, I can shine.

“That’s where I feel the best in terms of being agile, speed, cardio, all that kind of stuff plus I have the power. It was nice to get that recognition, too, so now I just have to go out there and continue to prove it.”

Although a cross-promotion fight with former rival Cormier was touted, the move never happened.

But Bader has no doubts as to how a fight against current heavyweight champ Miocic would end.

“I know Stipe, I trained with him a little bit. He’s a good guy but I feel I match up with him well. I feel I match up with all of those guys well,” Bader said.

“It’s not like these guys who just fought for the UFC heavyweight championship were huge guys cutting down from 290 [pounds] to 265 and they’re cardio machines or what not.

“They’re my weight. I feel great about any of those matchups.”

 

James Haskell joins Bellator to become heavyweight MMA fighter, swapping England rugby pitch for the cage

22 Aug

Former England rugby international James Haskell will try his hand at a new sport when he becomes a mixed martial artist.

The 34-year-old, who earned 77 caps for his country, has signed a deal to fight with MMA promotion Bellator.

Haskell has always been a big fan of MMA
Bellator MMA

 

He is expected to make his debut in the sport next year after retiring from rugby union in May.

Haskell is not a total stranger to MMA, having previously trained with British fighter Michael ‘Venom’ Page, while he has also done punditry work in the sport.

The Englishman was a keen MMA fan during his rugby career, revealing it helped him to ‘manipulate and move people on the rugby pitch’.

Haskell featured in the last two World Cups and won three Six Nations titles with England, including the Grand Slam in 2016.

Persistent ankle and toe problems hindered his most recent season with Northampton, and he decided to call time on his 17-year rugby career earlier this year.

Haskell made his England debut in 2007
Getty Images - Getty

A Bellator statement read: “Known as one of sports great characters, Haskell is sure to bring his livewire, quick-witted and at times no-nonsense personality to the sport of MMA – along with genuine, knockout power.

“Standing at 6ft 4in and weighing in during his rugby career at 260lbs, Haskell will compete in Bellator’s heavyweight division which features the likes of current champion Ryan Bader, challenger Cheik Kongo, MMA veteran Josh Barnett and Fedor Emelianenko.”

Bellator 221 highlights: Michael ‘Venom’ Page brutally knocked out cold as Douglas Lima advances to Welterweight tournament final

12 May

Michael ‘Venom’ Page suffered the first loss of his MMA career after being knocked out cold by Douglas Lima at Bellator 221.

The Englishman was the underdog heading into the contest in Illinois and his inexperience showed against the patient Brazilian.

Lima advances to the final of the Welterweight Grand Prix tournament where he will have the chance to claim his belt back against Rory McDonald.

Page takes a big right (L) and collapses to the canvas (R)
@Bellator

Page initially had staggered his opponent with a right hand over the top in the second round and his eagerness to get the finish showed.

Rocking back and forth in his traditional karate stance, ‘MVP’ looked desperate to get the finish.

However, Lima delivered a clinical front leg kick to sweep Page off his feet as he lunged in with a right hand over the top.

As the 32-year-old struggled back to his feet, Lima delivered a perfect right hand right on the chin to send his opponent backwards as he slumped unconscious.

The Englishman suffered the first loss of his MMA career
@Bellator

As two quick hammerfists reigned down on the defenceless page, the referee stepped in to end the contest.

“I made a mistake, I know I had Lima hurt [in the second round],” said Page after the defeat.

“I got reckless when he caught me with the leg kick, I got up and left myself open. I am fine, I move on and come back.”

Raymond Daniels lands spectacular spinning knockout punch at Bellator Birmingham

5 May

Raymond Daniels made a sensational return to MMA as he knocked out his opponent at Bellator Birmingham with a spinning punch.

The welterweight last fought in MMA in 2008 when he lost to Jeremiah Metcalf in a middleweight Strikeforce bout.

Raymond Daniels beat Wilker Barros at Bellator Birmingham
Bellator

Daniels is an experienced kickboxer and had won his last eight fights and boasts an impressive 35-3 record.

The Bellator Kickboxing welterweight champion showed his impressive skills against Wilker Barros.

View this post on Instagram

Best Finish Ever? #BellatorBirmingham @rd_goat

A post shared by Bellator MMA (@bellatormma) on

Barros was sent to the floor by a spinning back kick to the body before he got back to his feet.

Daniels then spun two times before delivering the knockout right hand to win the bout in the first round.

In his post-fight interview, he said: “I knew he was back against the cage. He had done a good job of trying to back away from my kicks. But because he was up against the cage, I knew he couldn’t back up anymore.

“When I threw the 720, I was going to actually throw the kick, but he pushed against the cage, and it gave him more space, so I decided not to kick and come down with the right hand. And that happened all in that split second, in my mind.”

WWE star Bobby Lashley reveals he will make MMA return ‘maybe after SummerSlam’ this year

12 Apr

Bobby Lashley returned to WWE after a 10-year absence the night after WrestleMania last year.

Since then, The Almighty has aligned himself with Lio Rush and had two reigns as Intercontinental champion.

Bobby Lashley losing it with his hype man Lio Rush

He is yet to get his wish to face Brock Lesnar and it’s unlikely he will now that the Beast Incarnate is slated to head back to UFC and challenge Daniel Cormier for the UFC heavyweight title.

In lieu of facing Lesnar, it seems Lashley is heading for a similar path.

In an interview with Sky Sports, Lashley revealed he intends to make an MMA comeback this year and he is still under contract with Bellator.

Bobby Lashley in Bellator

“I think I am still probably going to do a couple more before it’s all said and done,” Lashley said. “I am still under contract at Bellator also, and if I go back I will give them a call and possibly go after (Ryan) Bader. I don’t want to wait too long, time is ticking.”

“I feel great. My body is 100% so I think maybe this summer, maybe after SummerSlam.”

Bader is the light heavyweight and heavyweight champion. Bader exited UFC after eight years with the company in 2016 where he had a record of 14-5.

Boby Lashley as Intercontinental champion

Since moving to Bellator he is undefeated but so is Lashley and he is on an eight-fight win streak. Lashley’s 15-2 overall record and mainstream recognition through WWE is more than enough reason for Bellator to give the 42-year-old a title shot.

Former Geordie Shore star Aaron Chalmers signs lucrative MMA contract with Bellator

2 Nov

Ex-Geordie Shore star Aaron Chalmers has signed a lucrative MMA contract with Bellator.

The reality TV personality debuted under the BAMMA banner in May 2017, but made his Bellator debut this year and has now joined the promotion on a long-term agreement.

All four of Aaron Chalmers’ fights to date have been won inside one round

Chalmers is 4-0 in the early stages of his career, with four first-round finishes, but became embroiled in a contract dispute that stalled his progression.

At 31 he is no spring chicken and will be looking to gain momentum with this new deal, which MMA Junkie report to be a two-year, six-fight agreement.

“It’s a dream come true [to sign the deal],” Chalmers told Ultimate Boxxer.

“It was a long-winded process with BAMMA – it was haunting my career and I didn’t know why.

“We ended that in gentleman’s fashion though and luckily I can put that behind me now and move on.

“For me, it’s all about showing Bellator that I’m worth this big contract now.

“I’ve got to repay the faith they’ve shown in me and I will.

“We’re absolutely delighted to get this done and I can’t wait to get back out there again.”

UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov offered $2million Bellator deal by 50 Cent, responds on Instagram

13 Oct

Khabib Nurmagomedov has already received an offer from rival mixed martial arts company Bellator after threatening to quit the UFC.

The lightweight champion released a public statement on Thursday, declaring that he would leave the organisation if they sack his team-mate Zubaira Tukhugov.

Khabib is the undefeated, 27-0, UFC lightweight champion

Tukhugov attacked Conor McGregor after Khabib tapped out the Irishman in the fourth round of their bout and then proceeded to vault the Octagon and brutalise his corner men on Saturday.

Upon seeing this situation unfold, opportunistic rapper and Bellator (the second biggest MMA promotion after the UFC) supporter 50 Cent made a public offer to the Russian.

“I think it’s wrong what the UFC is doing to Khabib,” he posted on social media.

“They didn’t do the same thing to McGregor. I’ll pay $2million cash tonight if he will fight for me at Bellator.”

Khabib instantly replied, simply saying: “Just send me location.”

The 30-year-old has also hinted at a potential offer for a wrestling switch with the WWE, by stating that he would “smash” Brock Lesnar.

Nurmagomedov certainly appears to be enjoying himself at present as he carries out a victory tour around his home country and continues to drop jokey teasers about his future.