UFC Finalizing Plans for Nate Diaz-Khamzat Chimaev Fight in September

Nate Diaz is thisclose to his next fight…

The UFC is finalizing a welterweight fight between the Mexican-American mixed martial artist and Khamzat Chimaev.

Nate DiazThe Diaz-Chimaev fight would headline UFC 279 on September 10, UFC Chief Business Officer Hunter Campbell tells ESPN.

Contracts haven’t been signed, but both fighters have verbally agreed to the matchup and date according to Campbell. UFC 279 will take place at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.

Zach Rosenfield, Diaz’s representative, confirmed the date and opponent of Diaz’s next fight.

“This is a fight Nate has been asking for since the middle of April,” Rosenfield told ESPN on Tuesday.

Diaz (20-13) has been vocal in 2022 about wishing to fight out his current UFC contract, which has one fight remaining. According to sources, Diaz’s camp and the UFC were involved in discussions around a new contract, however Diaz recently made it very clear he wished to fight out the deal.

One of the most popular fighters on the roster, Diaz hasn’t fought since a decision loss to current UFC welterweight title challenger Leon Edwards in June 2021.

Chimaev (11-0) is coming off a decision victory over Gilbert Burns at UFC 273 in April. It was the most competitive fight of Chiamev’s professional career, but it also came against a former UFC title challenger.

Chimaev, who was born in Chechnya and now fights out of Stockholm, is one of the fastest-rising title contenders in UFC history. He is 5-0 since signing with the promotion in 2020.

“I am going to handle Nate Diaz’s funeral with the UFC,” said Chimaev, in a statement he provided in Swedish to his representatives.

Jorge Masvidal Signs New Contract Extension with UFC

Jorge Masvidal is celebrating a big extension.…

The 37-year-old Cuban and Peruvian American mixed martial artist has signed a new contract with the UFC just days before one of the biggest fights of his career.

Jorge Masvidal

While terms of the deal weren’t disclosed, Masvidal’s co-agent, Malki Kawa of First Round Management, announced on social media that Masvidal penned an extension that would make him one of the top-five highest-paid fighters on the UFC roster.

Masvidal, who has been a pro fighter since 2003, fights his former best friend and roommate Colby Covington in a heated grudge match Saturday at UFC 272 at T-Mobile Arena. 

Kawa wrote on Instagram that Masvidal’s deal was signed after five months of negotiations with UFC chief business officer Hunter Campbell.

Masvidal has become one of the biggest stars in MMA after a late-career renaissance that was jump-started in 2019 with knockouts of Darren Till and Ben Askren and a TKO win over Nate Diaz. Masvidal’s five-second running knee KO of Askren was the fastest finish in UFC history.

“His contract pays him like a champion and then some,” Kawa, who represents Masvidal along with his brother Abe Kawa, told ESPN. “And the length of time will be that he will finish his career in the UFC.”

Masvidal (35-15) has dropped two straight, both in UFC welterweight title fights against Kamaru Usman, ESPN‘s top pound-for-pound fighter. A Miami native, he has been in the UFC for nine years. Masvidal fought all over the world before that and began his career doing backyard fighting in South Florida alongside the likes of the late Kimbo Slice.

At the UFC 272 news conference Thursday, Masvidal noted that he’ll be getting a portion of the pay-per-view revenue from the card, while Covington, his opponent, will not. Covington has said this fight, because of how personal it is, is not about the money.

“My kids’ kids are gonna be good for a long time,” Masvidal said of his new contract. “So you sell that pay-per-view, boy.”

Jorge Masvidal to Fight Colby Covington in Headlining Welterweight Bout in March

Jorge Masvidal is returning to the Octagon in March…

The 37-year-old Cuban and Peruvian American professional mixed martial artist will headline UFC 272, in a welterweight grudge match against Colby Covington, on March 5, UFC Chief Business Officer Hunter Campbell has announced.

Jorge MasvidalWhile contracts haven’t been signed yet for the 170-pound scrap, the bout is nearly finalized, per Campbell.

The UFC 272 pay-per-view will take place at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. The match will be a five-round, nontitle bout.

“He better f—ing show up,” Covington said in a text message to ESPN Tuesday.

The UFC originally targeted featherweight and bantamweight title fights for the event, however those bouts are no longer on the March 5 date. Part of that was due to an injury to featherweight challenger Max Holloway.

Masvidal (35-15) is one of the UFC’s most popular figures. He hasn’t fought since he suffered a knockout loss to Kamaru Usman in a welterweight championship fight at UFC 261 last April.

Masvidal’s past two fights have been against Usman. He also lost to the champ via unanimous decision in July 2020.

Covington (16-3) is also coming off a failed title bid against Usman in his last fight. The 33-year-old also has lost twice to Usman, both via decision. His most recent win came against Tyron Woodley in September.

Masvidal and Covington trained together at American Top Team in South Florida, and even lived together for a period of time. The two had a falling out in 2018, and Covington left ATT in 2020.

Both welterweights still fight out of the Miami area.

Charles Oliveira Defeats Dustin Poirier via Submission to Retain UFC Lightweight Title

Charles Oliveira won’t be underestimated anymore…

The 32-year-old Brazilian professional mixed martial artist weathered an early storm and then finished Dustin Poirier via submission (rear-naked choke) at 1 minute, 2 seconds of the third round Saturday night in the main event of UFC 269 at T-Mobile Arena.

Charles Oliveira

With the victory, Oliveira retained the UFC lightweight title.

“I’m the world champion,” Oliveira said in his postfight interview through an interpreter. “I’m the man. They talk. I do it.”

After back-to-back stoppage wins over Conor McGregor, many thought Poirier becoming UFC lightweight champion was a foregone conclusion.

Instead, Oliveira, the greatest submission artist in UFC history, cashed as a +115 underdog, according to Caesars Sportsbook.

He won the belt with a second-round TKO win over Michael Chandler at UFC 262 in May. That was Oliveira’s 28th UFC fight, the longest journey for any fighter to a UFC title in history. Yet, he remained unheralded with more popular names like Poirier near the top of the division. It’ll be hard to doubt “Do Bronx” any longer.

Coming in, ESPN had Poirier ranked No. 5 and Oliveira ranked No. 6 in the world on its pound-for-pound MMA list. At lightweight, ESPN had Poirier at No. 1 and Oliveira at No. 2.

On Saturday, Poirier rocked Oliveira several times in the first round, dropping him once with a wicked left hook. But Oliveira survived the barrage and gained momentum late in the round with a big left hook.

“They can hit me a lot,” Oliveira said. “I’m gonna walk forward.”

Oliveira took Poirier down early in the second round and remained in top position, landing hard elbows, for most of the round. In the third, Oliveira swooped into a clinch against the cage and immediately took Poirier’s back with Poirier standing up. Oliveira, who has one of the most dangerous back games in MMA, looked for the choke and found it despite Poirier trying to fight his hands.

“I don’t let opportunities get away,” Oliveira said in the postfight news conference. “I always say I have opportunistic jiu-jitsu. When I saw it, I couldn’t pass it up and I had to do it.”

Oliveira (32-8, 1 NC), 32, has won 10 in a row, tied for the second-longest active streak in the UFC behind Kamaru Usman‘s 15 straight. He took home the vacant title with the victory over Chandler following former champion Khabib Nurmagomedov‘s retirement and vacating of the title last year.

A native of Brazil, Oliveira has the most finishes (18) and most submission wins (15) in UFC history. He has a 20-8 (1 NC) record in the UFC going back to his debut in 2010 and is one of only nine fighters in history to win 20 UFC fights.

Poirier (28-7, 1 NC), a former UFC interim lightweight champ, beat McGregor twice this year, the latter a doctor’s stoppage TKO of McGregor at UFC 264 in July when McGregor broke his leg. Poirier, a Louisiana native fighting out of Florida, had won three straight coming in and had just one loss in his past 10 fights, to Nurmagomedov in a title fight at UFC 242 in September 2019. Poirier, 32, has the most KO/TKO victories in UFC lightweight history (8).

“I landed some good, clean shots on him,” Poirier said. “I thought I was gonna get him away in the first round. He’s a champ, man. The game plan was to take my time. I brawled again.”

Poirier said in the postfight news conference that he knows he can work his way back to another title fight, but he’s not sure if that’s what he wants to do yet.

UFC president Dana White said former interim champion Justin Gaethje “makes sense” as Oliveira’s next challenger. Gaethje beat Chandler last month at UFC 268.

Gaethje has made some disparaging remarks about Oliveira, questioning his heart. Oliveira brushed that off Saturday night.

“Look at what they’ve been saying about me,” Oliveira said. “They’re saying I can’t take hits — look at what I’ve been doing. They say I quit — look at what I’ve been doing. I’m just going to keep doing what I do.”

Oliveira also took aim at Nurmagomedov, the legendary former champ who said he was rooting for Poirier in this fight but tweeted his congratulations to Oliveira late Saturday.

Oliveira said this was his era of the lightweight division.

“History and legacy have a new name,” he said, “and that’s Charles Oliveira.”

Yordenis Ugas Notches Upset Win Over Manny Pacquiao to Retain WBA “Super” Welterweight Title

Yordenis Ugas has taken down a legend…

The 35-year-old Cuban professional boxer scored a unanimous decision over Manny Pacquiao on Saturday at T-Mobile Arena to retain his WBA “super” welterweight title, pulling off an upset victory that establishes Ugas as a major player in boxing’s best division.

Yordenis Ugas,

Ugas win came on a night that was supposed to be a celebration for Pacquiao, a culmination of all the great he has accomplished — a champion in eight divisions in four decades, a superstar the world over.

Instead, Ugas, who accepted the assignment on 11 days’ notice, walked away with a unanimous decision.

Yordenis Ugas,

All three judges scored the fight for Ugas: 116-112, 115-113 and 116-112. ESPN had it 116-112 for Ugas, who won as a +310 underdog, according to Caesars Sportsbook.

“I’m very excited, but most of all, I want to thank Manny Pacquiao for giving me this moment in this ring today,” said Ugas (27-4, 12 KOs). “Now the plan is to unify the title at welterweight. … Errol Spence is the next one on the list. … I am praying that he recuperates.”

Yordenis Ugas,

Pacquiao (62-8-2, 39 KOs) was slated to meet Spence, ESPN’s No. 4 pound-for-pound boxer, in a super fight. Those plans were canceled when it was discovered Spence suffered a detached retina in his left eye just 12 days before the fight.

Ugas, a bronze medalist for Cuba in the 2008 Beijing Games and ESPN’s No. 6 welterweight, was set to defend his title against Fabian Maidana in the co-feature and didn’t hesitate to step in to fight Pacquiao when the opportunity of a lifetime presented itself.

“We only had two weeks of training,” Ugas said, “but I listened to my corner, and it all worked out.”

Ugas’ strategy was simple yet brilliant: a double jab to the head followed by a right hand to the body. A high guard that picked off Pacquiao’s incoming shots before a crisp right looped around Pacquiao’s gloves and connected upstairs. Counterpunches that hit the target over and over, finally cutting Pacquiao over the left eye in Round 12.

Pacquiao also was cut under his right eye during the fight. His team told ESPN afterward that he needed five stitches to close one of the cuts and had three stitches glued onto the other. They didn’t specify which cut needed which fix.

On this night, under the brightest of lights, Ugas displayed the composure of a heart surgeon, patiently picking his spots with precise punches that constantly met their mark. He also imposed his superior size and strength on Pacquiao, who perhaps was fighting in his final bout.

This 42-year-old, flat-footed version of Pacquiao was not the same fighter who vaulted to the sport with dizzying speed and combinations thrown from seemingly every angle. Now, well past his best and with a potential presidential race to prepare for, this could be it for Pacquiao.

When Pacquiao was asked if this was his final fight, he said, “I don’t know. I need to relax and make a decision.”

“That’s boxing,” he said. “I had a hard time in the ring making adjustments. … My legs were tight. I’m sorry I lost tonight, but I did my best.”

Canelo Alvarez Open to Fighting Without a Live Audience for Next Bout

Canelo Alvarez is willing to fight with or without an audience…

While no opponent or date has been finalized, Golden Boy Promotions president Eric Gomez says the 29-year-old Mexican boxer doesn’t mind fighting without a live audience in his next post-COVID 19 outing.

Canelo Alvarez

Alvarez, who holds titles at 160 and 168 pounds, is one of the biggest draws in the sport. But regulations related to the coronaviruspandemicwill prevent events from having audiences as fights begin to resume.

“Yes, for the time being, Canelo is open to fighting in September with no fans,” Gomez said Wednesday on “The 3 Knockdown Rule” podcast. “We’re actually discussing all the details now. But he’s open to it.”

As for who Alvarez’s opponent will be and when a fight will take place, Gomez said nothing has been finalized. 

Alvarez was expected to face WBO super middleweight belt-holder Billy Joe Saunders on May 2 in Las Vegas, but that fight didn’t happen because of the pandemic.

For now, the economics of the business have been greatly altered. With no fans and no tickets sold, the numbers involved in overall revenue have shrunk. For a franchise fighter like Alvarez, who signed a ballyhooed, 10-fight, $365 million contract with DAZN in 2018, ticket sales are vital to the bottom line. 

For example, Alvarez’s rematch against Gennadiy Golovkin sold 16,732 tickets at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, netting more than $23.4 million.

The reality is there is currently less money available to everyone involved in the sport.

“It’s going to be tricky. There are certain fighters that are going to accept it. They understand it,” said Gomez, whose company hopes to resume operations on July 4. “There are other fighters that are going to reject it.”

Emanuel Navarrete Defeats Juan Miguel Elorde to Retain Junior Featherweight Belt

Emanuel Navarrete is celebrating Mexico’s Independence Day with a W…

The 24-year-old Mexican professional boxer, the junior featherweight world titlist, retained his belt for the second time in a month after stopping Juan Miguel Elorde in the fourth round on Saturday night at T-Mobile Arena.

Emanuel Navarrete

Fighting in the Top Rank Boxing on ESPN+co-feature, Navarrete took the fight on short notice for the opportunity to fight on Mexican Independence Dayweekend, and he took care of Elorde in fine fashion.

Navarrete (29-1, 25 KOs), who retained his 122-pound world title for the third time — each defense since May — had a slow first round, then unloaded repeatedly on Elorde, scoring a knockdown in the third round and eventually forcing the stoppage.

“I’m happy because I think I put on a great performance,” Navarrete said through a translator. “Fortunately, my opponent is OK, and I came out here to put on a show. I hope the fans enjoyed it on my very first Las Vegas show on Mexican Independence Day weekend. ‘Vaquero‘ Navarrete is here to stay.”

Navarrete was fighting less than a month after his last defense. On August 17, Navarrete headlined a Top Rankcard in Los Angeles and retained his title by third-round knockout of Francisco De Vaca. In the ring after the fight, Top Rank promoter Bob Arum, wanting to put a fight involving a Mexican world titleholder on Fury’s undercard on the Mexican holiday weekend, asked Navarrete if he wanted to come back a month later, and Navarrete gleefully accepted.

Elorde had a good first round, landing a series of sharp punches; but Navarrete came back strong in the second round, as he got his potent left hook going and never let up.

Navarrete stopped Elorde in his tracks with a clean right hand in the third round and continued to attack him. Moments later, Navarrete rocked Elorde with a thudding left hand to the face that might have broken Elorde’s nose. Navarrete was in total control by the end of the round when he drilled Elorde into the ropes with a left and a right that counted as a knockdown because the ropes held him up.

Referee Russell Moratook a long look at Elorde in the corner after the third round, but the fight was allowed to continue. However, Navarrete hurt his opponent early in the round with a tremendous right hand that buckled him, and Mora jumped in and waved it off at 26 seconds.

“The most important thing here was that it was a good performance for me,” Navarrete said. “I think the referee did the right thing. He’s going to go home to his family and everything is going to be OK. It was a good performance on my behalf, and he gave what he could. At the end of the day, I came away with the hard-fought victory.”

According to CompuBox, Navarrete landed 88 of 220 punches (40%), and Elorde landed just 28 of 101 (28%).Elorde (28-2, 15 KOs), 32, of the Philippines — who is the grandson of Filipino legend and International Boxing Hall of FameGabriel “Flash” Elorde, the longtime 1960s junior lightweight world champion — also happily accepted the fight on three weeks’ notice. He

Canelo Alvarez to Challenge Light Heavyweight World Titlist Sergey Kovalev in November

It’s a case of a little gain for the pain for Canelo Alvarez..

The 29-year-old Mexican professional boxer and middleweight world champion is set to climb two weight divisions to challenge light heavyweight world titlist Sergey Kovalev.

Canelo Alvarez

In a fight finalized on Friday, Alvarez and Kovalev will meet on November 2 (DAZN) at the MGM Grand Garden Arenain Las Vegas. 

Alvarez didn’t demand a catchweight in an attempt to drop Kovalev below the division limit of 175 pounds.

Golden Boy Promotionshad hoped to stage the fight at the larger T-Mobile Arena, but the NHL‘s Vegas Golden Knightshave a home game on November 2.

Kovalev is by far the biggest name in the light heavyweight division.

Alvarez, who pressed for the fight, will have the opportunity to win a world title in a fourth weight division after claiming belts at junior middleweight and middleweight and a secondary title at super middleweight.

If Alvarez wins, he would become only the fourth fighter in boxing history to win world titles at junior middleweight and light heavyweight. The other three — Sugar Ray LeonardThomas Hearnsand Mike McCallum— are in the International Boxing Hall of Fame.

“The second phase of my career is continuing just as we had planned, and that’s why we are continuing to make great fights to enter into the history books of boxing,” Alvarez said. “That’s also why I’ve decided to jump two weight classes against one of the most feared champions of recent years.

“Kovalev is a dangerous puncher, and he’s naturally the bigger man, but that’s the kind of challenges and risks that I like to face.”

Alvarez, boxing’s biggest star, has never fought at a weight heavier than 167¼ pounds, which is what he was for his third-round knockout win over Rocky Fieldingto win a secondary super middleweight belt in New York in December. Alvarez returned to the 160-pound middleweight division for his next fight in May, a unanimous decision to unify three belts against Daniel Jacobs.

The deal between Golden Boy, Alvarez’s promoter, and Main Events, which represents Kovalev, had been close for the past week. It got hung up, sources told ESPN, when Top Rank— which has rights to Kovalev stemming from a deal it made with Main Events to put his February rematch with Eleider “Storm” Alvarezon ESPN+— sought a low seven-figure fee to give up its involvement in the bout.

After days at a stalemate, Main Events agreed Wednesday to pay Top Rank what it was seeking. Once that contract was signed, Main Events signed the deal it had made with Golden Boy to finalize the November 2 fight. Part of the agreement gives DAZN rights to future Kovalev fights, at least one if he beats Alvarez — possibly a rematch — and two if he loses, before he would return to ESPN under his Top Rank agreement, according to a source.

Amanda Nunes Reportedly Agrees to Defend Her UFC Bantamweight Title Against Germaine de Randamie

Amanda Nunes is going on the defense…

The 31-year-old Brazilian mixed martial artistand two-weight UFC champion will defend her 135-pound title against Germaine de Randamie at UFC 245 on December 14, according to ESPN.

Amanda Nunes

Both sides have verbally agreed to the bantamweight championship, and the pay-per-view event will take place at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, sources told ESPN.

UFC officials have not confirmed the bout’s official placement on the card.

Nunes (18-4) is the current champion of the 135- and 145-pound weight classes. She’s coming off the fourth defense of her bantamweight title in July, a head kick knockout of Holly Holm at UFC 239.

Originally from Brazil, now fighting out of American Top Team in Coconut Creek, Florida, Nunes is ranked as the No. 1 pound-for-pound fighter in the world by ESPN.

De Randamie (9-3), of the Netherlands, is a former featherweight champion. She won the 145-pound belt in February 2017 by defeating Holm. However, she was stripped of the belt later that year when she refused to face No. 1 contender Cris “Cyborg” Justino over concerns of prior use of performance-enhancing drugs.

De Randamie has since elevated herself to the status of No. 1 contender at 135 pounds with wins over Raquel Pennington and Aspen Ladd.

Amanda Nunes Defeats Holly Holm by TKO to Retain UFC Women’s Bantamweight Title

Amanda Nunesis making the case to be considered the greatest women’s MMAfighter of all time…

The 31-year-old Brazilian mixed martial artist and Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) fighter defeated Holly Holm by TKO on Saturday to retain her women’s bantamweight title.

Amanda Nunes

Nunes landed a right head kick to Holm’s face and followed up with a hard right hand on the ground. The TKO finish came at 4 minutes, 10 seconds in the first round of the co-main event of UFC 239at T-Mobile Arena.

Nunes said she’d told her coach beforehand that she wanted to stop Holm with a head kick, because that is Holm’s signature technique. Holm had the only other head-kick knockout in a UFC women’s bantamweight title fight, against Ronda Rouseyin 2015.

Coming in, Nunes, also the featherweight champion, had beaten every other former UFC women’s bantamweight or featherweight champion outside of Holm, and now she has defeated Holm as well.

“I told my coaches I wanted to knock her out the same way she knocks people out,” Nunes said. “I did it tonight. She was the only former champion I didn’t beat yet. Now I beat her, and I’m very happy.”

Nunes (17-4) said that she next wanted to defend her featherweight belt to become the only UFC champion to defend two titles while holding them concurrently. 

The Brazilian fighter, who trains out of American Top Teamin Florida, has won nine bouts in a row. Nunes, 31, has four first-round finishes in title fights, tied for second with Matt Hughes. Rousey is first with five.

UFC president Dana Whitereiterated his stance that Nunes ranks among the greatest MMA fighters ever, putting her alongside the likes of Anderson SilvaGeorges St-Pierre and Jon Jones.

White said he was open to booking a rematch between Nunes and Cris Cyborg, who lasted only 51 seconds against Nunes in December.

“This woman is tough, man,” White said of Nunes. “She’s unbelievable. Pound for pound, one of the greatest of all time. But there will be somebody next.”

Holm (12-5) had won two of her past three fights. The former three-division world champion boxer has now lost in four UFC title fights. Holm is only 2-5 since her knockout of Rousey at UFC 193.