With the UFC choosing against airing an event this weekend following UFC 257 — as well as the continued absence of Bellator MMA, large portions of this week’s headlines were grasped by the return of ONE Championship, and the settling dust of Dustin Poirier’s stunning knockout win over Conor McGregor.
Reacting to Poirier’s redemption against two-time foe, McGregor, Stockton favourite, Nate Diaz claimed he was training to “whoop” Poirier next — following a failed pairing against the Lafayette puncher back at UFC 230.
Poirier had distanced himself from a suggested title pairing against UFC 257 co-headliner, Michael Chandler, but noted his interest in a rubber-match with McGregor, as well as a possible reworked bout with Diaz.
Hoping to score a trilogy against Poirier, McGregor’s head coach, Straight Blast Gym leader, John Kavanagh spoke of his intentions to fix some “technical issues” in the Dubliner’s second-round knockout loss to Poirier — the first time he had been stopped with strikes in his professional career.
As for a rubber-match against Poirier, Kavanagh detailed that as soon as May, McGregor would like to return to the Octagon, this time in a vacant lightweight title matchup against the former — with the score between the two currently sitting at one apiece from two pairings.
With Israel Adesanya slated to headline UFC 259 in March in his light heavyweight debut as he moves from middleweight, his 185-pound division is set to determine a new title challenger in his absence. Former division kingpin, Robert Whittaker is slated to headline a UFC Fight Night event on April 17th. as he clashes with most recent title challenger, Paulo Costa.
Liverpool favourite, Darren Till is also set to make his Octagon return the week prior as he headlines another Fight Night billed card, standing opposite the surging Italian force, Marvin Vettori — hoping to prevent his second straight falter.
While Team McGregor has voiced their claim for a vacant title matchup with Poirier, consensus top-contender, Charles ‘Do Bronx’ Oliveira has explained how if the promotion makes the lightweight championship vacant given Khabib Nurmagomedov’s retirement, a title bout between himself and Poirier is the next fight to make. Off the back of two dominant wins over both Kevin Lee and longtime top-challenger, Tony Ferguson, it’s hard to disagree with the Sao Paulo grappler.
One who seems to be revelling in the knockout of McGregor is longtime rival and Dominance MMA stable member, former interim titleholder, Justin Gaethje. Noting his willingness to stand opposite any combination of one-time foe, Poirier, the above mentioned Chandler and Oliveira, and even McGregor next — the Arizona finisher explained how he “loved seeing a piece of sh*t get put down” when asked his thoughts on McGregor’s defeat.
Booked for the third time, bantamweight talents, Ricky Simon and Brian Kelleher have been pitted opposite each other at UFC 258 on February 13th. after a couple of positive COVID-19 test results prevented two prior outings.
Making his much-anticipated ONE Championship debut, Senegalese cult hero wrestling talent, Oumar Kane, better known as ‘Reug Reug’ made his walk at ONE: Unbreakable 2 — stopping veteran Muay Thai champion, Alain ‘The Panther’ Ngalani with late first-round ground strikes.
Set to finally meet at UFC 259 in a bantamweight title clash, incumbent best, Petr Yan continued his war of words with number-one contender and challenger, Aljamain ‘Funk Master’ Sterling over the week — taking to his official Twitter account, claiming he’d put the streaking finisher “to sleep” early, rather than issue him a prolonged beating.
With the promotion’s other only international outing coming in Brasilia, Brazil last March apart from a trio of trips to Abu Dhabi, UAE — tentative plans are in place for the UFC to make the journey to Singapore on April 24th. for a UFC 261 event, with current strawweight champion, Zhang Weili expected to headline in her second attempted title defence. While an opponent has yet to be nailed down for Weili, former champions, Rose Namajunas and Carla Esparza are the current frontrunners.
In a shift of schedule, originally slated to headline a UFC Fight Night event on February 27th. — an injury has forced the postponing of a light heavyweight tussle between two-time title challenger, Dominick Reyes and emerging contender, former RIZIN FF champion, Jiri Prochazka.
In its place, promoted from a co-main event slot on a March 13th. UFC Vegas card, a heavyweight matchup between bruisers, Jairzinho Rozenstruik and Ciryl Gane takes place, as the two enter the contest off the back of knockout wins over former champion, Junior dos Santos.
Making his first appearance since his release from the UFC, James ‘The Texecutioner’ Vick headlined an XMMA event in Florida, taking on Andre Fialho. Dropping his third consecutive knockout loss, the 33-year-old found himself on the end of a second-round barrage of uppercuts from Fialho, with the referee halting the action.