THURSDAY NEWS DIGEST 9/22: Is McGregor injured or not? Did Alvarez miss a contract deadline? Is UFC 205 in trouble? Is GSP an option? Is this all P.R.?

Conor McGregor (Photo credit Mark J. Rebilas © USA Today)

UFC 205 DRAMA FUELED, NOT SETTLED, BY “UFC TONIGHT” ON FS1

There are lots of moving pieces in the puzzle that is the UFC 205 main event, and depending on whom you believe, Conor McGregor either is or isn’t available to fight on the show.

Yesterday Dana White tweeted that it would be Khabib Nurmagomedov, not Conor McGregor, who would be challenging Eddie Alvarez for his UFC Lightweight Championship. What he didn’t say is when and where the fight would take place. McGregor, meanwhile, was making himself available in his own way Tweeting “beg me.”

Things got a little more complicated last night when “UFC Tonight” on FS1 reported that McGregor is suffering from a leg injury and will be unable to fight at the UFC’s debut at Madison Square Garden on Nov. 12. Also reported on the show was that Alvarez missed a “contract deadline” and the fight with Nurmagomedov is now slated for UFC 206 in Toronto, seemingly leaving UFC 205 with a gaping hole at the top without Alvarez or McGregor.

Shortly after the broadcast, MMA Fighting’s Ariel Helwani reported that his sources tell him that McGregor is not injured and that he is “ready and willing” to fight Alvarez at UFC 205.

Whatever is happening, and whoever is telling the truth, a main event will almost assuredly be announced on Tuesday Sept. 27 when UFC holds a press conference at the Theater at Madison Square Garden. Until then, the games and the speculation will continue.

Hiscoe’s Analysis: I find it troubling to see UFC use their slot on FS1, a slot that is presented as a news show by a network that airs sports and sports news, as a negotiating tool rather than an outlet for true reporting. UFC clearly has FS1 in their pocket and the idea of an “arm’s length” reporting relationship is non-existent. The idea that Eddie Alvarez missed a contract window is silly since there was still six days until the press conference and a week until tickets went on sale. From all accounts from the fighters themselves, Alvarez and McGregor both want to fight each other at MSG so the onus is on UFC to make it happen since they don’t have a lot of other options if they want this show to be special.

GSP is still a wildcard in all of this and his negotiations may play into the company acting as if Alvarez-Nurmagomedov will be the main event for Toronto. The opportunity is there to put GSP on the New York show against McGregor or someone else, but the four month testing window would need to be waived, although that precedent has already been set, so that shouldn’t be an issue. There are a lot of moving pieces here, but once things fall into place for MSG on Tuesday, that should provide clarity for Toronto and an announcement for that show’s main event should be imminent. I expect things to fall as has been speculated all along with McGregor-Alvarez for UFC 205 and if GSP fights at all, it will be at UFC 206 in Toronto. Unfortunately, that leaves Khabib Nurmagomedov out in the cold, but he’s the lowest on the totem pole in all of this and is really just a pawn in this game being played.

THURSDAY NOTEBOOK ITEMS…

– Ariel Helwani is reporting that C.B. Dollaway is planning on taking legal action against Wyndham Hotel in Cleveland after he was injured in an elevator accident at the hotel after the morning weigh-ins for UFC 203 where he was scheduled to fight Francimar Barroso. Dollaway has recently begun rehab on a wedged disc in his neck and a compressed disc in his lower back.

Neil Seery announced that he plans to retire after his “UFC Fight Night: Belfast” fight with Ian McCall in November. Seery is 37 and has a 16-12 record heading into the fight.

Fight Announcement Roundup

-Previously reported fights between Donald Cerrone and Kelvin Gastelum, Frankie Edgar and Jeremy Stephens, Rashad Evans and Tim Kennedy, and Katlyn Chookagian and Liz Carmouche, were all made official last night for UFC 205 from New York City on Nov. 12. Rafael Natal vs. Tim Boetsch was also announced.

Derek Brunson, fresh off his knockout of Uriah Hall will fight Robert Whittaker, who also owns a win over Hall, at “UFC Fight Night: Melbourne” on Nov. 27 (Nov. 26 in North America).

Ross Pearson will fight James Krause in a lightweight fight at “UFC Fight Night: Belfast” on Nov. 19.

-Joey Beltran vs. Alessio Sakara will headline a Bellator event from Florence, Italy on Dec. 10.

THROWBACK THURSDAY

Familiarize yourself with Lina Lansberg before she’s fed to Cyborg this weekend.


(MMATorch’s Daily News Digest features the top story of the day with added analysis, plus smaller tidbits in the News Notes section. Mike Hiscoe has a background in film criticism and previously wrote for the DVD Town and Movie Metropolis websites. His passion for Mixed Martial Arts goes back to 2005, but it was in the promotion for UFC 60: Hughes vs. Gracie that he really got hooked.”This is my house, I build it,” is still among the all-time great UFC promos. You can follow Mike on social media under the tag @mikehiscoe. He now provides his experienced writing and perspective on live MMA events for MMATorch.)

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