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Brandon Moreno and Brandon Royval face off
Brandon Moreno and Brandon Royval face off | Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images

UFC 298 is in the books, but the MMA world keeps right on rocking as this weekend there are two major events taking place between UFC Mexico City and the long-awaited PFL vs. Bellator card. That’s 25 fights, countless big names, and massive stakes all around, so let’s neither dilly nor dally, and jump right into things.

As always, all odds are courtesy of our friends at DraftKings Sportsbook.

UFC 290: Volkanovski v Rodriguez Photo by Cooper Neill/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images

Straight Bets

Yair Rodriguez -155

Heading into UFC Mexico City, much has been made of Rodriguez and his beef with new featherweight champion Ilia Topuria. But before he can get there, Rodriguez first has to settle up with Brian Ortega. Fortunately, I think he has a good shot at that. Their first fight was supposed to be a banger until an unfortunate injury ended the evening early, but from that brief showing, Rodriguez looked good. Ortega was able to get the takedown eventually but it was not an easy task, and on the feet, Rodriguez remains the more dynamic striker of the two.

Ryan Bader -102

Bader is 40 years old and clearly well past his prime, but here’s the thing: Renan Ferreira is fun, but he’s still very limited. Bader has the power to finish this one the feet if necessary, but he has a much simpler path to victory by using his acclaimed wrestling skill. Ferreira is long and explosive, but Bader should be able to double-leg him all the same and grind out a win, or finish things with ground-and-pound.

Yoel Romero +105

I’m never going to quit Yoel. He’s 46 years old going on 26 and I genuinely believe him to be the most athletic person who has ever competed in MMA (and if he’s not No. 1, he’s on the short list). On the other side of things, Thiago Santos has simply never been the same since blowing out both his knees against Jon Jones. In all likelihood, this fight will be awful to watch as both men will spend long portions of it staring at one another, but Romero has more juice, more skills, and is more durable, so I love getting him as an underdog.

UFC 255: Moreno v Royval Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC

Prop Bets

Brandon Moreno vs. Brandon Royval Under 3.5 Rounds +114

If you’re unaware of the majesty that is Flyweight Unders, I encourage you to clink the link above and listen to Conner Burks and I discuss the greatest find in sports betting. After a rough 2023, Flyweight Unders are back and this weekend is our Super Bowl with FIVE flyweight fights set to take place on Saturday. For the ensuing bets here, just refer back to this.

Specifically for this fight, Moreno has quietly become one of the better finishers at flyweight, and Royval is one of MMA’s premier chaos merchants. The man simply does not know how to be boring, and coming off a failed title attempt where he prioritized safety to zero benefit, expect Royval to come out looking to fire, meaning it’s Get-Or-Get-Got time.

Jesus Santos Aguilar vs. Mateus Mendonça U2.5 -150

Aguilar has hit U2.5 in 8 of 11 career fights. Mendonça has his U2.5 in 7 of 12 career bouts.

Edgar Chairez vs. Daniel Lacerda U1.5 -195

Chairez has hit U1.5 in 9 of 15 career fights. We cannot confirm several of his regional bouts, but Lacerda is a Flyweight Under All-Star, hitting U1.5 in 9 of his previous 10 fights. Also, these two faced off in September and the fight was well on the way to ending in Round 1 before some tomfoolery took place.

Luis Rodriguez vs. Denys Bondar U2.5 +124

Rodriguez has his U2.5 in 12 of 17 career fights. Like Lacerda, Bondar has some unknown regional results, but six of his past seven have hit this Under.

Victor Altamirano vs. Felipe dos Santos U2.5 +185

This is the fight that calls everything into question. Altamirano hates Flyweight Unders more than any man not named Charles Johnson, but sometimes you’ve just got to do down swinging.

Bellator 299 Photo By David Fitzgerald/Sportsfile via Getty Images

Parlay of the Week

If there’s one thing I know beyond all doubt, it’s that a four-leg parlay can never fail, especially when it’s all Bellator favorites. What could possibly go wrong here?

Johnny Eblen -500

Eblen takes on Impa Kasanganay in the co-main event of PFL vs. Bellator, and despite the fact that Kasanganay is now dropping back down to 185, I doubt that will help him out too much. Kasanganay had a great run to win the PFL light heavyweight season in 2023, but Eblen is a different beast entirely and should have the run of play wherever this fight takes place.

Vadim Nemkov -520

Arguably the best light heavyweight in the world, Nemkov is hanging up his 205-pound gloves and moving to heavyweight, where he’ll take on former PFL champion Bruno Cappelozza. It’s always interesting to see how a fighter does in a new weight class, but light heavyweight to heavyweight is basically the same, except Nemkov will have an even larger speed advantage. Like with Eblen, this should be one-way traffic.

AJ McKee Jr. -305

McKee takes on Clay Collard in what should be one of the most fun fights of the weekend, but Collard is coming in without the necessary tools to get a win here. Collard might have the better pure boxing, but he’s not a huge finishing threat and McKee is far more dynamic.

Aaron Pico -455

The Prince That Was Promised, Pico finally appears to be rounding into form as a legitimate threat. The man has all the ability in the world and Henry Corrales is severely out-gunned in this one.

Parlay these four bets together for +141 odds.


Long Shot of the Week

Emmanuel Palacio +750

Who is Emmanuel Palacio? That’s a great question. I’ve never seen him fight and know almost nothing about him, other than the fact that he’s from Argentina and he’s 19 years old. Also, he’s fighting Biaggio Ali Walsh this Saturday in BAW’s professional debut, and BAW is a -1200 favorite.

You read that right, a man making his professional MMA debut is a -1200 favorite. And we’re not talking about a Bo Nickal or something. We’re talking about a guy who is probably going to win, but should not be this big of a betting favorite over any other fighter. Add in that Palacio is 19 and, like, who knows? Maybe the kid has juice? It’s enough for me to take a stab, regardless.

Wrap Up

The cold streak continues. 2024 has been a rough year thus far, but hopefully PFL and Bellator can get us back on track.

Until next week, enjoy the fights, good luck, and gamble responsibly!

All information in this article is provided to readers of MMA Fighting for entertainment, news, and amusement purposes only. It is the responsibility of the reader to learn and abide by online gambling laws in their region before placing any online sports betting wagers.

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Bellator 299
Photo By David Fitzgerald/Sportsfile via Getty Images

During the recent PFL vs. Bellator press conference to showcase the special champion versus champion matchups, Johnny Eblen corrected a reporter when he was quoted as saying that he was the best middleweight in the world.

Eblen paused and then emphatically stated that he’s never actually made that declaration.

In a sport filled with fighters more than willing to tell anyone who will listen that they are the best in world, Eblen explained why he’s not willing to make that statement despite reigning as the current Bellator middleweight champion.

“Because there’s days where I feel like I am [the best] and there’s days where I feel like I’m not,” Eblen told MMA Fighting. “It doesn’t matter. Really, at the end of the day, it doesn’t matter. The people around me though, they truly believe I am and there’s days I truly believe I am. There’s days where I don’t. I feel like it’s life and that’s just what I’m going through right now.”

That kind of brutal honesty is refreshing, but make no mistake, Eblen has absolute confidence in himself matched up against anybody else in the world at 185 pounds.

He may not shout to the heavens that he’s the best middleweight in the sport, but Eblen knows he’s on that short list, and that’s all that really matters to him.

“The only thing I’ve ever stated is I feel like I’m one of the best, if not the best,” Eblen said. “I don’t know. I’m not certain about anything. I like my probabilities when I face everybody, matchup-wise, in the middleweight division. I like my probabilities, but forget that s***. I’m trying to become the GOAT. I’m trying to become one of the best to ever do it, so who gives a f*** if I’m the best in the world at middleweight.”

There will come a day when Eblen thinks about his impact in the sport, but that’s not something taking up space in his brain as he enters the prime of his career.

“I’ll circle back to it when my career is over,” Eblen said. “I’ll sit down and say, ‘I was the best.’ I’ll look back at it. I don’t want to sit here and try to make things bigger than they really are. I’m just here to f****** fight motherf***** and collect a paycheck right now. That’s all that really matters to me.”

Eblen, who faces PFL light heavyweight champion Impa Kasanganay on Saturday, also knows the perception out there that if you’re not fighting in the UFC, you can’t be considered the best in any particular division.

No one argues that the UFC is the biggest promotion and the majority of the consensus top talent in the world resides there, but that doesn’t mean the UFC has the absolute best in every division. But that’s also part of the reason why Eblen isn’t going to waste time arguing about his standing in the weight class, because it really serves no purpose until he gets the chance to face the best middleweights across every promotion.

“That’s why it’s f****** hard for me to just state it,” Eblen said. “It doesn’t make sense. There’s no cross-promotional stuff, I’m stuck in a contract, those fights can’t happen. I like my probabilities. I think I can beat all these motherf******, but until I do, I can’t factually state that.

“That’s why I say I’m one of the best, if not the best, because I don’t know. I won’t know until I fight all these motherf******. Time will tell. Once I beat all these motherf******, then I can sit down and say, ‘You know what? I was the best in the f****** world,’ and really go through it.”

As much as he appreciates the people who already call him the best middleweight in MMA, Eblen promises he has bigger goals in the sport than just serving as the king at 185 pounds.

Ideally, Eblen wants to insert his name into the conversation among the best fighters across all weight classes, so until that happens, he’s not going to lose much sleep about where he sits at 185 pounds.

“F*** all this middleweight talk,” Eblen said. “I want to be pound-for-pound one of the best.”

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UFC Mexico City Results: Moreno vs. Royval 2

by Site Admin ~ February 24th, 2024

Brandon Moreno and Brandon Royval at UFC Mexico City
Brandon Moreno and Brandon Royval fight in the main event of UFC Mexico City. | Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images

MMA Fighting has UFC Mexico City results for the Moreno vs. Royval 2 fight card, live blogs of the top two fights, and more from Mexico City Arena in Mexico City.

In the main event, former UFC champion Brandon Moreno squares off against Brandon Royval in a rematch. Moreno knocked out Royval in the first round at UFC 255 on Nov. 21, 2020.

Yair Rodriguez and Brian Ortega clash in a featherweight rematch in the co-main event. Rodriguez defeated Ortega via first-round TKO due to Ortega’s shoulder injury at UFC on ABC 3 on July 16, 2022.

Check out UFC Mexico City results below.

Main Card (ESPN+ at 10 p.m. ET)

Brandon Moreno vs. Brandon Royval

Yair Rodriguez vs. Brian Ortega

Daniel Zellhuber vs. Francisco Prado

Raul Rosas Jr. vs. Ricky Turcios

Yazmin Jauregui vs. Sam Hughes

Manuel Torres vs. Chris Duncan

Preliminary Card (ESPN+ at 7 p.m. ET)

Cristian Quinonez vs. Raoni Barcelos

Jesus Aguilar vs. Mateus Mendonca

Edgar Chairez vs. Daniel Lacerda

Claudio Puelles vs. Fares Ziam

Ronaldo Rodriguez vs. Denys Bondar

Victor Altamirano vs. Felipe dos Santos

Muhammad Naimov vs. Erik Silva

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PFL vs. Bellator Results: Ferreira vs. Bader

by Site Admin ~ February 24th, 2024

Renan Ferreira vs. Ryan Bader at PFL vs. Bellator
Renan Ferreira and Ryan Bader will clash in the PFL vs. Bellator main event Saturday. | PFL

MMA Fighting has PFL vs. Bellator results for the Ferreira vs. Bader fight card, live blogs of the top two fights, and more from Freedom Arena in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, on Saturday.

In the main event, PFL heavyweight champion Renan Ferreira will clash with Bellator heavyweight champion Ryan Bader for the fight to be the first opponent to face former UFC heavyweight champion Francis Ngannou in the PFL.

PFL light heavyweight champion Impa Kasanganay will try to hand Bellator middleweight champion Johnny Eblen his first career loss in the co-main event.

Check out PFL vs. Bellator results below.

Main card (ESPN+ PPV at 3 p.m. ET)

Renan Ferreira vs. Ryan Bader

Impa Kasanganay vs. Johnny Eblen

Ray Cooper III vs. Jason Jackson

Bruno Cappelozza vs. Vadim Nemkov

Thiago Santos vs. Yoel Romero

Clay Collard vs. AJ McKee

Prelims (ESPN+ at 12 p.m. ET)

Henry Corrales vs. Aaron Pico

Biaggio Ali Walsh vs. Emmanuel Palacio

Claressa Shields vs. Kelsey DeSantis

Abdullah Al-Qahtani vs. Edukondala Rao

Vinicius Pereira vs. Malek Basahel

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Bellator 277 and 279 press conference
Photo by Hans Gutknecht/MediaNews Group/Los Angeles Daily News via Getty Images

A.J. McKee didn’t exactly have the year he wanted in 2023, so he’s ready for a fresh start to kick off 2024.

Originally slated to be one of the eight participants in the Bellator lightweight grand prix, McKee had to drop out due to an injury before the tournament even began. He eventually returned to action this past November, earning a hard-fought decision over Sidney Outlaw despite spending the majority of the bout on his back.

Now set to face Clay Collard at the PFL vs. Bellator card on Saturday, McKee anxiously awaits the chance to jump back into title contention, especially with the grand prix in limbo following Bellator’s sale late last year.

“I’m dedicating this fight to myself and getting that gold back around my waist,” McKee told MMA Fighting. “Whether it’s [145 pounds, 155 pounds,] whatever it may be, I’ve just got to take one fight at a time. I really can’t overlook anybody. Just focus on what’s at hand, and right now, Clay Collard is the man.

“I wasn’t happy with how my last fight went, spending 12 out of 15 minutes on my back, but when you’re dealt low cards in the game of poker, sometimes you’ve got to bluff, and I did what I did to come out victorious. I was happy to receive the win, and receiving an opponent like Clay Collard on a pay-per-view event, it’s great. I couldn’t have asked for a better opponent. I really haven’t been able to utilize my striking at 155 pounds. Looking at this event in Saudi Arabia, Clay Collard’s going to come forward, he’s going to put it all on the line, and I’m looking forward to doing the same thing.”

A win on Saturday would move McKee to 4-0 as a lightweight after spending the majority of his career competing at 145 pounds. His ultimate goal hasn’t changed — and that’s capturing Bellator gold at 155 pounds, which he thought would happen in the grand prix.

Meanwhile, reigning Bellator lightweight champion Usman Nurmagomedov remains sidelined until April due to a six-month suspension after he tested positive for a banned substance following a fight against Brent Primus this past October.

Nurmagomedov’s win over Primus was overturned to a no-contest by the California State Athletic Commission, but Bellator opted not to strip him of the lightweight title because his positive test came as a result of a prescribed medication.

It remains to be seen exactly what will be next for Nurmagomedov when he returns, but McKee definitely hopes he gets to welcome him back.

“It’s the fight that everyone wants to see,” McKee said. “There’s a lot of great fights on this card. Like I said, if I can’t be undefeated, no one can. I’m looking forward to taking that ‘0.’ I’m coming for Usman. He’s a great champ. I would love to test his skills. He’s got great wrestling, pretty decent striking, jiu-jitsu, and I think that’s just an entertaining fight wherever it may go. I think it’s the fight to make.”

As far as Nurmagomedov failing a drug test, McKee doesn’t care much about whatever substance was found in his body, legal or not. He’s not going to sacrifice his chance to win the Bellator lightweight title just because Nurmagomedov might be illegally enhanced.

“As far as Usman being suspended, I don’t really give a s*** what he’s taking or what he’s on,” McKee said. “I don’t care. Take whatever the hell you want. When we get in the cage, you’ve got a fight on your hands. OK, it’s prescribed, you didn’t list it, I don’t care. I don’t really care. You can get f****** steroids prescribed if you wanted. I really don’t care.

“At the end of the day, I lost the opportunity to claim a world title, and eight names to continue my hit list on [my way to] a world title. That’s what I was really intrigued about.”

If the lightweight title is unavailable after he faces Collard this weekend, McKee would entertain a return to featherweight as well if he could finally settle some unfinished business there.

The only blemish on McKee’s otherwise spotless résumé came in a decision loss to Patricio Pitbull in their 2022 rematch. McKee hoped for an immediate trilogy fight, but that didn’t happen, so he’s hoping an eventual bout with Pitbull is still on the table for the future.

“I’ve always been open to [returning to featherweight],” McKee said. “I think I’ve always been open and verbal about it. The fight has to make sense. At 22 or 23 fights in the 145-pound division, who else on the Bellator roster is there for me to fight besides Patricio Pitbull? That’s the fight everybody wants to see.

“It all matters to what happens. I can dream on what I want to do and I can say what I want to do, but I need to sit down and speak to PFL and see what they want to do and figure out a game plan.”

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UFC 290: Volkanovski v Rodriguez
Yair Rodriguez and Alexander Volkanovski | Photo by Steve Marcus/Getty Images

Yair Rodriguez knows exactly where he screwed up against Alexander Volkanovski.

Last July, Rodriguez faced Volkanovski in a featherweight title unification bout at UFC 290, falling to the long-reigning champion via third-round TKO. It was an unfortunate result for “El Pantera,” but one that he believes taught him a valuable lesson moving forward in his career.

“Listen to my corner a little more,” Rodriguez said on The MMA Hour when asked what he did wrong against Volkanovski. “I wasn’t really listening to my corner. I did everything OK before the fight. During the fight, I started making some adjustments and I started picking it up slowly. I think I was doing a pretty good job until I got that good punch. I think he hit me with the head once in the third round, and I didn’t really take much time to come back and fight. My corner was like, ‘OK, take some time. You’re not in a rush.’ I didn’t listen. I just went back and after that I got the right hand and I was almost out. I couldn’t really defend myself that well. But it is what it is. That’s the name of the sport.

“I just tried to come back faster. I didn’t want the fight to cool down. I felt like, ‘I can do this,’ and then I got punched right after that and I felt it. It was a really good punch too. After that punch I was almost out, so I couldn’t really do much.”

Rodriguez admitted that in the immediate aftermath, he was upset with the outcome. But upon reflection, “El Pantera” says he believes his story with Volkanovski is not over yet.

“I was sad. I didn’t want to go back and watch the fight,” Rodriguez said. “I was like, ‘OK, whatever. I lost the fight.’ But I went back and watched the fight and it wasn’t that bad. I think I can get him in the next one. I’m still in contention. I’m still at the front of the division. I think I’m going to have another opportunity to fight for the title again.”

Rodriguez remains the No. 2-ranked featherweight, according to UFC. He begins his climb back to title contention on Saturday with a five-round rematch against Brian Ortega in the co-main event of UFC Mexico. The two first met back in 2022 in the main event of UFC on ABC 3, with Rodriguez winning in the first round after Ortega suffered a shoulder injury. The of nature of the ending left some fans dissatisfied with the result, and now the two have a chance to correct that — and do so in Rodriguez’s home country.

“I like the fact that I’m fighting in Mexico City,” Rodriguez said. “It just kind of surprised me that they didn’t give me the main event but still gave me five rounds. But who cares? Whatever. I’m OK with whatever.

“I didn’t really have much options [for opponent]. They offered Brian Ortega and I said yes. I’m OK with that. Many people didn’t like the result of the last fight. But who cares? We’re fighting again and I guess now there will be no doubt.”

And when the cage door closes, Rodriguez believes that home field advantage will be enormous, and ultimately lead to the same outcome as the first go around.

“I don’t know if Brian has been preparing himself at high elevation, but I think he’s going to try and come quick at me,” Rodriguez said. “Try and take my back, take me down. He’s going to try and do something desperate like that and it’s going to lead to me winning the fight because of him getting desperate. He’s going to feel the elevation, he’s going to feel the pressure of the public, he’s going to feel my pressure because I am 100 percent not getting tired in that fight, and I think I’m going to get him in the second round.”

UFC Mexico takes place on Feb. 24 at Arena CDMX in Mexico City. It’s set to be headlined by a flyweight rematch between Brandon Moreno and Brandon Royval.

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Henry Cejudo, YouTube

Henry Cejudo has made his decision.

The Olympic champion and former two-division UFC titleholder announced Friday on his YouTube channel that he will not retire from MMA following his UFC 298 loss to Merab Dvalishvili, reversing course on pre-fight promises that the bout was all-or-nothing for him.

“I just cannot let it roll like this. I just cannot,” Cejudo said. “As much as it hurts. Again, guys, I take the L. But I cannot take the L knowing the way that I pretty much went out. I don’t mind the losing aspect of it. Maybe just the way that I did go — the being winded side, the not trying to knock this dude out because I was tired — I think that’s the stuff that really bothers me. So as of today, guys, I was getting ready to announce my [retirement] — a couple of days ago, I literally did a whole video on my retirement, thanking my family, thanking my friends, thanking everybody who has been there.

“But as time sets in and gives me a chance to talk to a lot of the legends — I called Daniel Cormier, I talked to Quinton ‘Rampage,’ I talked to a lot of guys who I respect who have been there before. And you know what, Henry? Look at your situation. You went out and you fought the No. 1 guy in the world [Aljamain Sterling], you lost a split decision. You went out and you pretty much fought the best guy in the world [Dvalishvili], because when this guy gets an opportunity to fight Sean O’Malley or ‘Chito’ Vera, it’s going to be easy work for him. Because I thought the same thing as Sean. I was like Sean, ‘This dude is f****** sloppy, this dude is X,Y, and Z.’ But it’s different when you actually get in there.

“It’s different when you have a pace, and a guy that doesn’t necessarily have that knockout power or that accuracy, but just has that go in him, and that’s what makes him dangerous. It’s not necessarily his wrestling. It’s his threshold, it’s the ability of him continuing to keep picking up the pace, and keeping it at that pace where he doesn’t drain his own wad. He got me. I take the L. But I cannot let it sit like this. I just cannot, man.”

Cejudo, 37, suffered a lopsided defeat at the hands of Dvalishvili this past Saturday at UFC 298. Cejudo was outworked and outlasted by Dvalishvili over the course of the grueling 15-minute affair. Worse, however, is that the Olympic wrestler yielded five takedowns to Dvalishvili and was controlled in spectacular fashion in the second half of the bout, with Dvalishvili even hoisting Cejudo above his head and sprinting across the cage in a scene reminiscent of Matt Hughes’ legendary rematch against Frank Trigg in 2005.

It was Cejudo’s most convincing loss since the first-round knockout he suffered at the hands of then-champ Demetrious Johnson in 2016, and “Triple C” has done plenty of soul-searching in the days since, reflecting on his decision to come back from retirement after three years away from MMA. Cejudo initially retired in May 2020 after defeating Dominick Cruz to become one of just two fighters to defend UFC belts in two different weight classes.

“I would’ve probably been best if I would’ve never came back to the sport, because I did retire and I did retire on top,” Cejudo acknowledged. “Why did I retire in the first place? I’ve accomplished everything. There was no motivator. You want to leave as a fighter on top for the rest of your life. If I could have it the way Khabib [Nurmagomedov] had it, it’d be great. But I will say this, there’s always going to be ‘what ifs’ with guys that never went out there and actually went for it. And what I could say in my position is, the show goes on.

“Was Dana White right that [I] did leave three years behind? Three of [my] prime years? Yeah, I’ll give it to him. Recognizing it now, the way that I did feel Saturday, the way that [the situation] already kind of played out, you start to kind of psychologically just like, ‘Damn, are these dudes right? I couldn’t have it any other way?’ One, if I could change everything, I probably would never come back — but now that I’m back, now I’ve got to s*** where I sleep. And for that reason, man, I just cannot go out like that.

“So I’m here today, ladies and gentlemen, taking my word back as a man, confronting you guys, you the people, you my fans, you my family, you my friends, you the haters, that I just cannot go out like this. And guys, to say the least, it is far from over with the Triple C.”

Watch Cejudo’s complete announcement below.

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UFC 294: Usman v Chimaev
Khamzat Chimaev | Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images

Khamzat Chimaev is inching closer to his next UFC appearance.

It hasn’t been long since Chimaev’s most recent fight, a win over Kamaru Usman at UFC 294 this past October, but given Chimaev’s sporadic availability over the years, it’s understandable that fans are getting antsy over when they’ll get to see Chimaev fight again. The two-division title contender recently shot down the possibility of fighting at UFC 300 in April.

In an interview ahead of this Saturday’s Fight Club Rush 19 event in Stockholm, Sweden, Chimaev spoke about a potential return date, citing mid-2024 as a possibility.

“In the summer, I think — in the summer we’ll be back,” Chimaev said. “I want to fight in Saudi Arabia, but I don’t think anyone wants to fight me there. So we’ll see what’s going to happen. Just waiting for something, and they want me to fight [at UFC] 300, but I said it’s too short a time for [170 pounds], I need more time.”

Chimaev’s UFC 294 fight took place at 185 pounds against former UFC welterweight champ Usman, who accepted the bout on just 10 days’ notice as a replacement for Paulo Costa. After three hard-fought rounds, Chimaev came out on top via unanimous decision.

That victory seemingly positioned Chimaev to challenge for the middleweight title, but rumors later emerged that he was in talks to fight welterweight champion Leon Edwards in the UFC 300 main event. However, Chimaev’s observation of Ramadan prevented him from taking that fight on that date.

“It wasn’t 100 percent sure, but we had talked, my manager said, ‘Maybe, maybe,’” Chimaev said of the Edwards matchup. “My brother said to me, ‘Not in Ramadan,’ so after Ramadan we take some time in camp and then we fight anyone.”

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Silva vs. Irvin - UFC Fight Night - Main Event
Photo by Jon Kopaloff/FilmMagic

When Dana White, Lorenzo Fertitta and Frank Fertitta bought the UFC for $ 2 million, there was a lot of work to be done to revamp a failing product and that included the production for future broadcasts.

After the sale closed in 2001, White took over as UFC president and it was his job to resurrect the promotion, which required him to basically rebuild everything from the ground up. His first order of business was shutting down the old offices in New York before relocating the UFC to Las Vegas and that meant White had to rummage through everything left behind by the previous owners.

It turns out that trip to close down the UFC offices actually led to White hiring Joe Rogan to join the broadcast team as the lead color commentator.

“I jumped on a plane and flew out to New York and started cleaning out the old offices,” White explained on the Games with Names podcast. “I was emptying all these boxes and sending s*** to Vegas that I thought I needed to keep from the office. They had a VCR because they had f****** tapes for days. I must have watched 250, 300 tapes just to make sure it wasn’t anything [we needed]. So I popped in this tape and there was this talk show, The Keenan Ivory Wayans Show, the oldest Wayans brother had his own talk show and they had Joe Rogan on there.

“I knew Joe Rogan from Fear Factor because I would watch on TV. Joe Rogan was talking about how bad ass UFC fighters were and what they would really do to these karate guys that were in movies and s*** like that. I was like this guy knows what he’s talking about. He’s smart, he’s funny, he’s articulate. Before we bought the company, he worked for a little while for the UFC. He was a backstage interviewer but I didn’t even know that when I saw the video tape of him.”

Once White saw the tape with Rogan passionately discussing MMA fighters, he decided that was somebody who could potentially join the broadcast team for the new and improved UFC.

“I reached out to Rogan,” White explained. “At that time I think it was on the internet, I reached out to him and we started talking and I asked if he would like to work for us and be a commentator.”

It’s been well documented that the first few years the UFC was under new ownership that the organization was losing money hand over fist. The Fertitta brothers continued to sink more and more cash into the promotion but the UFC was struggling to stay afloat.

It wasn’t until 2005 when The Ultimate Fighter debuted that the UFC finally started to turn things around but in between everybody had to lend a helping hand to survive — and that included Rogan.

“So if you look at where the UFC was at that time, we were losing money like crazy,” White said. “We bought it for $ 2 million, which sounds like a great story now, we ended up being almost $ 40 million in the hole before we turned it around.

“But Joe Rogan did the first 12 or 13 shows for free. He said ‘f*** yeah, I’ll come there and do it and sit in the best seats in the house’ and everything else.”

Rogan has remained a staple on UFC broadcasts ever since and he’s still the lead color commentator on every major pay-per-view broadcast that takes place in the United States.

“Joe and I have been super close friends for a very long time,” White said. “I would do anything for Joe Rogan.”

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Patricio Freire
Patricio Freire | Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

Patricio Pitbull won’t be fighting at Saturday’s PFL vs. Bellator pay-per-view event in Saudi Arabia after losing another opponent in Gabriel Braga, multiple people with knowledge of the situation told MMA Fighting following a report by MMAjunkie.

PFL announced Braga was “unable to compete.”

Pitbull, the Bellator featherweight champion, was originally slated to meet Jesus Pinedo, who won the 145-pound season in PFL in 2023, however Braga stepped in as a short-notice replacement after Pinedo withdrew. Braga lost to Pinedo in the 2023 finals.

It’s still unclear what led to the withdrawal.

Braga initially agreed to face Aaron Pico on the undercard before moving to the match with Pitbull on the pay-per-view portion. It was going to be his first MMA fight since the murder of his father and head coach Diego Braga in January.

Pitbull was looking to rebound from back-to-back defeats to Sergio Pettis and future RIZIN titleholder Chihiro Suzuki, the former of which was a shot at the Bellator bantamweight title and the latter of which a short-notice lightweight contest in Japan. It’s still unclear if the Brazilian will enter the 2024 PFL season or continue to defend his title in Bellator.

PFL has yet to announce which bout will be moved to the main card. Renan Ferreira and Ryan Bader, the heavyweight champs of PFL and Bellator, collide in the main event.

Mike Heck contributed to this report

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