Tensions high between Cyborg and Nunes ahead of their UFC 232 clash ... Kelleher withdraws from fight with Jackson due to illness ... Fans not loving Eubanks
NEW YORK — In the hierarchy of historical MMA beefs, the simmering badblood
Amanda between Nunes Cris Cyborg
and doesn’t rank especially high.
Dana UFC president White
probably doesn’t need to worry about stepping between the two to prevent punches from being thrown, and neither champion is likely to jump out of the cage after their fight at UFC 232 on Dec. 29 and start swinging on the other’s teammates.
But make no mistake, there is genuine heat between the two, and that came across clearly this week when they sat on stage together at a press conference to promote UFC 232. “I (accepted) to fight her
Holly Holm when I fought (last December) and then she asked for nine months for training,” Cyborg said when she was asked to explain the source of their mutual animosity. “I think when you call someone out, (you) have to be ready. They shouldn’t have to have nine months to be ready.”
To be clear, this is not a fight that should require any bad-blood for fans to be interested.
Cyborg is the women’s featherweight champion and the most dominant fighter in women’s MMA history.
Nunes, meanwhile, is the women’s bantamweight queen and has been as terrifying in the octagon as anyone over the past couple of years.
Currently, they’re the consensus two top pound-forpound fighters in women’s MMA, and you’d have to go back a long, long time to find a fight that matched up the best two pound-for-pound fighters in either the men’s or women’s weight classes.
Neither fighter has proven to be a huge draw for the UFC, though, which partially explains why they’re superfight for Cyborg’s featherweight title will be the co-main event at UFC 232,
Jon Jones’ setting up fight
Alexander Gustafsson with for the light-heavyweight championship.
A little bad blood will probably draw a few extra eyeballs, even if the root of their quote-unquote rivalry is largely based in Nunes’ respect for Cyborg’s abilities, which undercuts the tension just a little bit.
“I gave (the UFC my timeline), I have to be ready for her,” Nunes said. “She’s strong and she’s powerful, I have to be ready. I gave her my time and my day and now we’re going to fight. That’s right, I asked for nine months because I’m going to be ready.”
Saturday’s fight card took a lot of hits over the past couple weeks, and then took one final knock in the final hours right before it kicked off.
Twenty-four hours after Brian Kelleher
missed weight for his bout with Montel Jackson,
the American fighter withdrew from the fight due to illness.
While the fight was scheduled from the prelims and wasn’t exactly a blockbuster that was going to bring in a tonne of eyeballs — it was the opposite of that, really — it was another reminder of how injuries took their toll on UFC 230.
The card was initially supposed to be co-headlined by a thrilling matchup between Nate Diaz Dustin Poirier.
Diaz is basically a national treasure in the MMA world, and Poirier’s had as good a year as anyone in MMA in 2018, but an injury forced him to withdraw. The card also featured a
Chris rematch between Weidman Luke Rockhold,
who fought for the middleweight title in 2015 and put on a genuinely thrilling fight.
The Kelleher-Jackson fight wasn’t on the level of either of those, obviously, but it sure added to the feeling that UFC 230 was a little cursed from the start.
Sijara Eubanks didn’t endear herself to fans on Friday when she missed weight for the second time in less that a year.
Set to square off against Roxanne Modafferi
on Saturday night, Eubanks couldn’t make the 125pound limit for their flyweight fight, and as anyone who has been around the fight game for a while knows, that’s not something that goes down well with fans.
After a tough month that saw Eubanks get a title shot ripped from her hands by the UFC for purely promotional reasons, her teammate Katlyn Chookagian
admitted that it was disappointing to see the fans vilify Eubanks.
“It is unfortunate, I think there’s so much pressure for us as fighters,” Chookagian said. “It’s an individual sport, and to deal with that, it’s almost always coming from people who have never come close to experiencing what we do.”
hasn’t won a fight since 2016, but the UFC absolutely should not cut him. On Saturday,
Matt Frevola Vannata and fought to a majority draw in one of the most fun fights of the year, and while Vannata has now gone four fights without a win. He’s fun every time he steps into the octagon, though, and that should keep him employed … Between the craziness of Khabib Nurmagomedov’s
Conor McGregor fight with and the weirdness of the
Daniel Cormier UFC booking Derrick Lewis
to fight in Saturday night’s headliner, it’s been a weird month in the world of MMA. At least among the media who gathered in New York this week, there was a sense that everyone’s looking forward to getting back a little bit of normalcy.
Things get bloody during the featherweight bout between Sheymon Moraes (left) and Julio Arce at UFC 230 last night at Madison Square Garden in New York. Moraes won the match.