New home, new look
UFC unveiled a new title belt that all champions will be awarded beginning with tonight’s Henry Cejudo-TJ Dillashaw flyweight championship match. The belt appears to be a little smaller than the current one the promotion has been using for some time but has much more detail with nods to UFC’s history, and some personalization for current champions. For example, side plates of the belt will feature the date and location of a champion’s title defense as well as “red rubies” being placed on the belt each time a champion defends his or her title.
“This Saturday begins a new era for UFC, and it’s a perfect time to unveil our new UFC Legacy Championship Belt,” UFC President Dana White said in a press release. “The belt honors UFC’s past, while recognizing the amazing accomplishments of our current champions.”
The first eight countries to have a UFC champion are represented on the belt with depictions of their flags. Those countries include the United States, Belarus, Brazil, Canada, Ireland, The Netherlands, Poland, and the United Kingdom. Interestingly enough, the United Kingdom is the most recent entrant to this list meaning it took nearly 23 years for UFC to see champions from eight different countries when Michael Bisping became middleweight champion in 2016.
Reaction to the new belt has been mixed at best, but with a little time, fans and fighters will become accustomed to the new look and will likely appreciate the personalization aspects of it.
In response to the unveiling of the new championship belts, Conor McGregor put out a simple tweet of “I’m back.” With that statement out there, UFC president Dana White was enthusiastic about the likelihood of McGregor fighting in the near future.
“It’s one of the main things I love about Conor McGregor: The belt means a lot to him and being a world champion means everything to him,” White told ESPN on Instagram (transcribed by MMAJunkie).
While Khabib Nurmagomedov was recently quoted as saying that McGregor doesn’t “deserve” a lightweight championship rematch, White isn’t too worried about it because he thinks McGregor will fight whoever UFC offers him.
“He’ll fight anybody,” White said. “Obviously he would love the rematch with Khabib, but he’ll fight anybody.”
Meanwhile, boxer Paulie Malignaggi had some harsh words for the UFC president. Speaking to MMA Junkie Radio Friday night, Malignaggi shared his thoughts on how Dana White treats his athletes.
“He’s such a dirtbag,” Malignaggi said Friday night on MMAjunkie Radio. “I don’t know how nobody beat the (expletive) out of him yet, honestly. I think he’s been (expletive) people forever. I’m not going to put anybody on the spot or mention names, but I have not met a single person that fought for Dana White that’s had anything good to say about Dana White.”
Malignaggi famously sparred with Conor McGregor ahead of McGregor’s boxing match with Floyd Mayweather, and the relationship still soured. Even with that in mind, Malignaggi supports McGregor and his worth to UFC.
“I can’t really say I had a conversation with Conor Mcgregor about Dana White, but he’s the only guy I see chumming around with Dana White as a fighter,” Malignaggi said. “Which is ironic, because he got ass-raped more than anybody on that Mayweather fight by Dana…Half his money taken on the Mayweather fight by Dana White.”
Malignaggi also thinks that McGregor could be doing more to help the sport and his fellow fighters.
“(McGregor) could be the only guy that might make a change. Instead of applauding, chumming around with (White) raping everybody, I don’t know how any of these fighters even respect the guy.”
-Former UFC middleweight Eric Spicely spoke to MMA Fighting about his aspirations to work for WWE. “I would love to wrestle. I really hope the WWE calls me and they’re like, ‘We want you to come to NXT’ because that would be amazing. I’m just keeping my options open for whatever works out and comes to fruition.”
-Manny Vazquez has pulled out of his Bellator 215 fight with Eduardo Dantas on Feb. 15. Bellator is looking for a new opponent for Dantas.
-Diego Ferreira vs. Rustam Khabilov is set for UFC Prague on Feb. 23.