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UFC officials confirmed to The Wall Street Journal on Thursday that 23 celebrities have invested in the world’s largest MMA promotion. Included are sports stars Tom Brady, Cam Newton, Maria Sharapova, and Serena and Venus Williams, actors Ben Affleck and Mark Wahlberg, musicians Adam Levine and LL Cool J, and talk show host Conan O’Brien.
O’Brien also announced the deal on Thursday’s new episode of “Conan” on TBA, jokingly adding that he would soon be competing in the octagon.
WME-IMG co-CEO Ari Emanuel said selecting the 23 for potential investment was simple.
“They would always ask for tickets,” Emanuel told The Wall Street Journal, adding, “I think it’s a mainstream sport now.”
According to The Wall Street Journal, “Further WME-IMG plans for the UFC include more programming on the UFC’s digital subscription service, which would provide more than just fights. The company also wants to see more UFC fighters cross over to other forms of entertainment.
Unless a big offer is thrown at his direction, longtime MMA heavyweight Gabriel Gonzaga is retired from mixed martial arts.
A former UFC heavyweight title contender, Gonzaga told MMA Fighting on Wednesday that his plans for the future don’t include competing in MMA anymore. "Napao" fought the last fight of his contract with the UFC in April, losing to Derrick Lewis in Zagreb, Croatia.
"I don’t plan on coming back," Gonzaga said. "I’m taking care of my new gym, Squared BJJ. If I get an offer, it has to be a great offer, or I’ll keep competing in jiu-jitsu against people my age. I’m probably retired already. I will only fight again if there’s a good offer, financially speaking, and I don’t think any promotion wants me."
"I don’t fight for less than 100 thousand dollars," he said. "I’m 37 years old and I won’t risk my health or waste my time training and suffering for this. I don’t need it anymore. God gave me a good opportunity in life, and I don’t need this anymore. That would be my number. For less than 100 thousand, I wouldn’t step into a ring anymore."
If this is it for his mixed martial arts career, Gonzaga leaves as a happy man.
"Thank God I had a good run in this sport," "Napao" said. "I wasn’t the best in the world or became the champion in a big organization, but I was always there. I was a top 10 for almost a decade, I have the second-fastest knockout in the division, I have more than 20 fights in the biggest promotion in the world, and I believe I’m tied with Frank Mir with most finishes in the division. I had a good run. It could have been better, but it could have been worse, too."
The TUF 24 Finale in December continues to build with the addition of a pair of middleweight fights to the lineup.
Jake Collier (10-3 MMA, 2-2 UFC) is set to meet Josh Stansbury (8-2 MMA, 1-0 UFC) on the card, and Elvis Mutapcic (15-4-1 MMA, 0-1-1 UFC) will take on Anthony Smith (25-12 MMA, 1-2 UFC). UFC officials recently announced the two bookings.
November’s UFC Fight Night 101 fight card has its latest fight for the “Land Down Under.”
Canada’s Jonathan Meunier (7-1 MmA, 0-1 UFC) will venture into enemy territory to take on Australia’s Richard Walsh (9-4 MMA, 2-3 UFC) in Melbourne. Promotion officials today announced the new booking following an initial report from The Daily Telegraph.
With its debut event at Madison Square Garden finalized, the UFC is now turning its attention to nearby Albany, N.Y.
Gian Villante vs. Patrick Cummins is in the works for the Dec. 9 card, which will mark the first UFC show in New York's capital city, MMA Fighting has learned. The promotion has yet to officially announce the light-heavyweight fight.
Jose Aldo wants to leave the UFC, and another Brazilian star supports his battle against the promotion.
Wanderlei Silva, who returns to action on Dec. 29 against Mirko Cro Cop at Rizin Fighting Federation, asked the current UFC interim featherweight champion to sign with the Japanese promotion.
Jose Aldo's grievances with the UFC have led him to spill a few stories. One of the more interesting statements he made was that Georges St-Pierre wanted 10 million dollars to fight Conor McGregor, and the UFC turned that down.
In a phone interview with Combate (via Forbes), Aldo had quite a story. According to the interim featherweight champion, former P4P king Georges St-Pierre asked for 10 million dollars to make his comeback against McGregor. Aldo also said that Dana White turned him down, instead choosing to book McGregor in a rematch against Nate Diaz at UFC 202 (translation via Reddit user trulyskeptical):
"I think that my life and the whole featherweight division needs to keep going, not being stalled while he (McGregor) does three fights in the lightweight division. Another one that he wanted to do, make a super fight with Georges St-Pierre, which didn't work out because Georges wanted 10 million dollars and Dana didn't want to pay it. So he still put him with Nate for the second time. So for me, Dana's word is worthless."
December’s latest installment of an “Ultimate Fighter” finale card has its latest booking, and it comes in the women’s strawweight division.
Hawaii’s Kailin Curran (4-3 MMA, 1-3 UFC) will return to action when she meets UFC newcomer Jamie Moyle (3-1 MMA, 0-0 UFC) at the TUF 24 Finale. UFC officials confirmed the booking to KHON-TV, Hawaii’s CW affiliate. The UFC has not yet made a formal announcement of the fight.
The UFC’s return to Northern Ireland in November has a new addition to the lineup, and a veteran heavyweight will make his promotional debut.
UFC officials today announced a UFC Fight Night 99 booking between Mark Godbeer (13-2 MMA, 0-0 UFC) and unbeaten Justin Ledet (7-0 MMA, 1-0 UFC).
Next week’s UFC return to England has suffered a late casualty to the main card’s lineup, and the promotion is seeking a short-notice replacement.
England’s own Arnold Allen (11-1 MMA, 2-0 UFC) is out of his main-card opener against Mirsad Bektic (10-0 MMA, 3-0 UFC) at UFC 204, a promotion official today told MMAjunkie. The UFC is on the hunt for someone to step in on about a week’s notice.
The UFC has announced a middleweight bout between Cezar Ferreira and Jack Hermansson for its upcoming event in Brazil on Nov. 19. UFC Fight Night 100 takes place at the Ibirapuera gymnasium in Sao Paulo. Combate first reported the match-up.
Former Bellator heavyweight champion Alexander Volkov is now in the UFC. And he has a debut date, too.
Volkov (26-6) will meet Timothy Johnson (10-2) on Nov. 19 at UFC Fight Night 99 in Belfast, Northern Ireland. MMAFighting.com confirmed an initial Thursday report by MMAJunkie.com.
The UFC's next edition in Toronto already has its first Canadian fighter on the card, as Combate reported that former strawweight title challenger Valerie Letourneau will return to take on promotional newcomer, Poliana Botelho.
Just days removed from the UFC’s announcement of a Conor McGregor vs. Eddie Alvarez lightweight title fight, ‘Mystic Mac’ posted a questionable photograph on his Instagram page.
In the photo, McGregor appears to be smoking a suspicious looking hand-rolled ‘cigarette’, with squinty eyes and an overall relaxed demeanor.
Somebody just got run over in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and believe it or not, the driver was not former Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) light heavyweight champion Jon Jones.
Instead, it appears to be ex-UFC welterweight Henry Martinez, who is accused of plowing through a bicyclist on I-25 and leaving the scene of an accident, in addition to driving on a revoked license, according to KRQE.com.
But he didn't get very far.
That's because a concerned citizen, who just so happened to be packing heat, was able to track down the inactive mixed martial arts (MMA) fighter and hold him at gunpoint until police arrived.
After losing out on a marquee matchup against Kelvin Gastelum, Jorge Masvidal will get another notable name in the UFC welterweight division later this year.
Masvidal (30-11 MMA, 7-4 UFC) will face Jake Ellenberger (31-11 MMA, 10-7 UFC) in the latest addition to December’s lineup for The Ultimate Fighter 24 Finale.
UFC officials today announced the bout following an initial report from the Las Vegas Review-Journal.
Jose Aldo doesn’t want to be in the UFC anymore, and his team is willing to go to court to fight out of his contract with the promotion.
"I think Dana and the new owners have to understand that there’s a completely unsatisfied employee who doesn’t want to continue," Pederneiras said. "If that was in Brazil and a guy said ‘boss, I want to leave,’ I’d say ‘Ok, I can’t hold you.’ The contract we have in the UFC, ‘boss, I want to leave,’ the answer is ‘no, you’ll be stuck with me, you might not do anything, but you can’t leave here.’ Is that something nice?
"I think it creates dissatisfaction, and he will want to go to court. He would have to go to court to cut this contract. And the damage a dissatisfied person, someone like Aldo, talking sh*t to everyone about a lot of things, I think the company wouldn’t want a guy like this every day in the media talking trash. Since the guy doesn’t want to do it, let him leave! ‘I just want to leave, I don’t want to stay here anymore, I don’t want to fight here. I don’t want to be in anymore.’ We don’t want a war, we don’t want a fight, we don’t want to talk bad about anyone. We only want the right to say ‘I don’t want to be here anymore. It’s not about money, I don’t want to be here anymore.’"
According to the report, Aldo still has six fights left in his contract with the UFC. "Scarface", who beat Frankie Edgar for the interim belt at the historic UFC 200 event in Las Vegas, was unhappy with the way he was treated by the promotion after losing to McGregor in December.
"He was already pissed off with the situation of being left aside without an answer," Pederneiras said. "You can’t do that with someone like Aldo. You can do that to someone who just entered the UFC now, but not with a guy that went undefeated for 10 years, not with a guy that was the first and only champion until he lost the belt in a 13-second situation, and earned his rematch, was fooled and it didn’t happen. I think the company has its financial side – I have a company and will always think on the financial side – but I won’t lie to my employee. If there’s no way to do it, there’s no way to do it. I won’t tell everybody something, put in the news for everyone to see, and then be caught in a lie."
UFC president Dana White has vowed that Conor McGregor will abandon one of his two UFC titles if McGregor achieves his dream of becoming a two-weight world champion by defeating lightweight beltholder Eddie Alvarez on Nov. 12 at UFC 205. McGregor, however, appears to have other plans.
"They're going to have to gather an army to try and take one of them (belts) off me, and that's out straight," McGregor said Tuesday at the raucous UFC 205 kickoff press conference in Madison Square Garden. "One's going to be there, one's going to be there, and I'm going to be picking and choosing who I want to destroy next. And that's it."
"I'm going to wrap one (belt) on one shoulder, and I'm going to wrap the other on the other shoulder, and they're going to need a f*cking army to come take them belts off me," McGregor said.
UFC champion Conor McGregor is never hesitant to discuss money. However, he put a price tag on his financial gains from a busy 2016 fight campaign.
When asked how UFC 205 specifically will improve the numbers in his bank account, McGregor didn’t answer directly. Instead, he skipped ahead to answer what his year-end total will apparently look like.
“I feel by the time 2016 closes out, I’ll be closing in on $40 million,” McGregor said at the UFC 205 news conference. “This is a $40 million year for me. A damn good year.”