And the battle between Dana White and Conor McGregor wages on. On the UFC St. Louis post-fight show, White discussed McGregor’s return timetable and what that means for the UFC lightweight championship. On the show, White said, “Conor has said he’s thinking about coming back in September.” “If he comes back in September, that’s almost two years – that can’t happen. It’s not fair to everybody else. Love Conor, respect Conor, love everything that he’s done for this company, everybody knows that, I say it all the time. The belt would have to move on.“You do Khabib vs. Tony, we’re working on that fight now. If and when Conor comes back, he would get the first crack at the title.”
McGregor won the lightweight championship in November of 2016 and hasn’t fought in the UFC since. Khabib Nurmagomedov vs. Tony Ferguson has been a fight that the UFC has booked on three different occasions. All three times it didn’t happened due to injuries and failed weight cuts.
Heydorn’s Analysis: I still believe this is all positioning by Dana White. It seems to me that he needs Conor McGregor as champion and wants to do everything in his power to not strip him of a championship again. That said, White is right. McGregor holding that title and being coy about his future hurts the value of the belt and the other fighters in the lightweight division. Needless to say, Dana is in a tough spot. The best case scenario in this is that McGregor agrees to fight in August and the winner of Khabib/Tony is the man that faces him.
MONDAY NEWS NOTEBOOK
–Paige VanZant confirms broken arm after UFC St. Louis. At UFC St. Louis, Paige VanZant took on Jessica Rose-Clark in her flyweight division debut. In the first round of her eventual unanimous decision loss, it appeared as if VanZant broke her arm. In a Twitter post, VanZant confirmed that news and shared a picture of the break.
Heydorn’s Analysis: Even before the break in round one, VanZant didn’t look good and didn’t appear to have a shot at winning the fight. I commend her on finishing the fight as it must have been extremely painful to do so. That said, VanZant needs to start winning. She is a popular UFC fighter because the UFC wants her to be, but she needs to back the push up with wins. Right now her record stands at 7-4 and she’s lost three of four fights. This injury may be a blessing in disguise as she’ll be able to recharge the battery and figure out what to do next.
–Jeremy Stephens and Doo Ho Choi win fight of the night bonuses. After their fight at UFC St. Louis on Sunday, both Jeremy Stephens and Doo Ho Choi won $50,000 fight of the night bonuses. Stephens won the fight with a second round TKO. Other performance bonuses went to Darren Elkins and Polo Reyes.
–Vitor Belfort requests UFC St. Louis pay. Vitor Belfort was slated to fight Uriah Hall at UFC St. Louis but due to a scary weight cut, Hall was unable to fight. Belfort has requested that he still be paid his full purse. The UFC has not obliged thus far. On the post-fight show, Dana White said, “This thing went down, we worked quickly and we got Vitor a fight.” “He could have fought tonight, he chose not to. We got him a fight in Boston. He chose not to fight in Boston. He chose not to fight then. I don’t know who the opponents were, but they told him we got him two fights.” This was to be Belfort’s last fight before retiring.
Heydorn’s Analysis: I understand where White is coming from, but I also see Belfort’s point of view as well. Belfort being on the card helped sell this event. The fact that it was his retirement bout certainly made a difference in interest. Even though he didn’t fight, he should be compensated for that. On the flip side, Belfort had options and could have fought. Fighters falling out of fights for various reasons is part of the business. Everyone needs to be flexible in that regard. Belfort wasn’t here and it may end up hurting him.
–Trace Adkins to perform at Bellator 192. Bellator announced today that Trace Adkins will perform the national anthem at Bellator 192 this Saturday.
–Jeremy Stephens calls out Brian Ortega after win at UFC St. Louis. After defeating Doo Ho Choi at UFC St. Louis on Sunday, Jeremy Stephens had some words for Brian Ortega who was cageside for the bout. In his post-fight interview, Stephens said regarding Ortega, “After I said, ‘Hey, let’s go, you know you’re in front of me.” “And he says he would like to sit and wait for a title, which is real typical, guys like to sit and wait on their ass, be lazy… Guys like to just sit there and get money fights and sit around. Like, let’s fight bro, I’m healthy, I could fight him right now.”
Heydorn’s Analysis: Brian Ortega is coming off the biggest win of his career in defeating Cub Swanson. The smart business move is to wait it out and see what happens with the title. Ortega’s star is and may never be hotter than it is today. For that reason, Ortega is making the right move here. That said, Ortega vs. Stephens is an interesting fight to be sure, but it makes no sense for Ortega to risk it all to make it happen. Nice try Jeremy.