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George St-Pierre To Fight Michael Bisping For UFC Middleweight Championship

UFC great George St-Pierre (GSP) is coming out of retirement to fight Michael Bisping at UFC 209.  St-Pierre has been retired from the UFC since November of 2013 and in his first fight back gets a title shot in the middleweight division.  George St-Pierre has fought nearly all of his fights at the welterweight limit of 170 pounds.  This will be St-Pierre’s first UFC fight at the middleweight limit of 185 pounds.  Michael Bisping is coming off his first successful title defense in the UFC with a unanimous decision win over Dan Henderson at UFC 204.  Bisping accepted this fight largely based on the pay that would come with it.

According to Chad Dundas at Bleacher Report:

Well, what he gets in his return to the Octagon after a three-year absence is a potentially winnable championship fight, a nice payday and a chance at the history books.

If St-Pierre is able to return to action at nearly 36 years old and win another UFC title in a weight class above his natural division, there will simply be no argument against anointing him the greatest MMA fighter of all time.

Even though George St-Pierre is from Canada, which has been a growing hotbed of MMA fans, the fight will most likely take place in Las Vegas, Nevada at the T-Mobile Arena during the beginning of July.

Ringside Analysis:

The matchup for George St-Pierre’s return has been polarizing.  Some argue that the addition of GSP back into the UFC at the  middleweight division is happening mostly because of the short-term payoff that will come from it.  The middleweight division is currently one of the most exciting in the UFC and it is unusual for a fighter who is coming out of a three year retirement would get an immediate title shot.  St-Pierre allegedly requested that he fight Bisping in his first fight back and that may have been one of the tipping points that brought GSP back to the company.

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Boxing / MMA / UFC

Mayweather Says Fight With Conor McGregor Is “Getting Very, Very Close”

Former professional boxer Floyd Mayweather Jr. and current UFC lightweight champion Conor McGregor have had ongoing discussions about a potential fight and rumors have started that the fight is almost agreed upon.  Mayweather told ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith that the fight was getting “very, very close” to happening but then posted the above Instagram post this afternoon.

According to ESPN’s Brett Okamoto:

Sources confirmed to ESPN that McGregor arrived in Las Vegas on Monday evening. Mayweather lives and trains in Las Vegas.

Nevada State Athletic Commission chairman Anthony Marnell confirmed to ESPN that the commission has been made aware of active negotiations between the two camps, but said the fight still faces several challenges.

Conor McGregor flew to Las Vegas and posted this Instagram photo shortly after.  Floyd Mayweather lives and trains in Las Vegas.  McGregor is currently trying to make amends with the Nevada State Athletic Commission after a press conference that ended with McGregor throwing energy drinks into an audience, targeting Nate Diaz.  Conor McGregor has been granted a boxing license in the state of California but needs a license to fight in Nevada to fight Floyd McGregor.

UFC President Dana White said that an agreement between McGregor and Mayweather is not close to happening and would have to go through him first.

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UFC

Dana White Says Rounda Rousey is “Probably Done” With Fighting

Dana White went on the show UFC Unfiltered and said that after recent conversations with Rousey that he believes she is done with fighting.

From the interview:

“In the conversation I had with her, if I had to say right here right now — and again, I don’t like saying right here right now because it’s up to her — but I wouldn’t say she fights again.  I think she’s probably done. She’s going to ride off into the sunset and start living life outside of fighting.”

“She’s going to ride off into the sunset and start living her life outside of fighting.”

“She’s so competitive that her career and record meant everything to her,” he said. “And then once she lost, she started to say to herself, ‘What the (expletive) am I doing? This is my whole life. This is it? I want to experience and start doing other things.’ And I think that’s what she started to do, and she’s got a lot of money. She’s never going to need money again.”

Ronda Rousey lost to Amanda Nunes by knockout in the first minute of her comeback at UFC 207.  Rousey spent a year away from the sport after her first loss in UFC history to Holly Holm at UFC 193.  The fight against Nunes was the fifth PPV program that earned over 1 million buys.

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Entertainment Business / MMA / UFC

Golden Boy Boxing Partners With ESPN

Golden Boy Boxing and ESPN have partnered together to create “Golden Boy Boxing on ESPN.”  The program will begin in March.

According to ESPN:

The series, sponsored by Tecate, will air on ESPN2 and will be simulcast in Spanish on ESPN Deportes as well as streamed on ESPN3. A few of the 2-hour cards, which will generally take place twice per month, will not be available on ESPN2, however, because of scheduling conflicts.

The deal includes 18 cards in 2017 (which will air either on Thursdays, Fridays or Saturdays) and 24 more in 2018. ESPN has an option for a third year of the series.

ESPN Exectuvie VP of Programming and Scheduling Burke Magnus said:

“We are excited to announce this new agreement with Golden Boy Promotions, one of the world’s top promoters… ESPN and ESPN Deportes look forward to featuring a new series of exciting world-class matches, along with a deep and wide variety of studio and digital content, in this multi-year, exclusive, live fight package.”

Golden Boy Boxing owner Oscar De La Hoy cited ESPN’s reach as a big selling point in entering into the partnership.  The promotional company will rely on sponsors to pay the fees for air time instead of relying on licensing fees from ESPN.

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Entertainment Business / MMA / UFC

Amanda Nunes Interview on Live with Kelly

After going on Good Day LA Amanda Nunes continued her media run with an appearance on Live With Kelly, which is becoming a regular stop for the UFC women’s bantamweight champion.  Holly Holm visited the set with Michael Strahan and Kelly Ripa after her win over Ronda Rousey in 2015.

On the show Nunes demonstrates how to perform a rear-naked choke on Christian Slater who was co-hosting with Kelly Ripa.  She is able to slowly go through the motions that can establish to some viewers that there is a process to finishing MMA fights and that there is a lot of technique and smarts that goes into winning.

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MMA / UFC

Amanda Nunes Appears on Good Day LA

After her win over Ronda Rousey, Amanda Nunes made an appearance during daytime TV on FOX 11 in Los Angeles.  The hosts asked good questions to get Amanda Nunes to get her thoughts on what she saw in the Rousey fight and her reactions to Rousey’s strategy.  At the end of the interview Nunes discusses her plans to fight for the 145-pound women’s title.

Making daytime TV appearances was a huge part of making Ronda Rousey a star and pushing women’s MMA into the spotlight.  Unfortunately, she does have to answer whether she would fight a man and give her opinion on a Mayweather-McGregor matchup.

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MMA / Sports Law / UFC

Mark Hunt Files Civil Lawsuit Against UFC, Dana White, and Brock Lesnar Over UFC 200

Mark Hunt has filed a civil lawsuit against the UFC, Dana White, Brock Lesnar, alleging racketeering, fraud, breach of contract, negligence, and others.  Mark Hunt lost by decision to Brock Lesnar in the co-main event at UFC 200.  After the fight it was revealed that Lesnar had failed two drug tests from samples taken before UFC 200.  The lawsuit was filed in Nevada District Court.

UFC athletes need to be eligible to be tested by USADA four months before their first fight.  Lesnar was given an exception by the UFC to the USADA testing process so that he could participate in UFC 200.  Brock Lesnar had failed drug tests while he was at the UFC before becoming a professional wrestler full-time.  The Nevada State Athletic Commission fined Lesnar $250,000 from his $2.5 million purse.  Lesnar was also suspended for a year.  Hunt believes that the punishment for doping should be much more arguing that the punishments are currently too low to deter people from doping.

Hunt placed a photo of Lesnar punching Hunt in the complaint.

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MMA / UFC

New Simplified Official MMA Judging Criteria For 2017 Released

Official MMA Judging Criteria 2017 by Luke Thomas on Scribd

The Association of Boxing Commissions and Combat Sports has created a simplified version of scoring criteria for MMA.  There are now only three criteria score rounds: effective striking and grappling, effective aggressiveness, and fighting area control.  If both fighters are equal in the first criteria, then the second is a tiebreaker, and if the first and second criteria are a tie, then the third criteria will be used.

Fans will likely see more 10-8 rounds as well.  Rounds scored 10-9 are for rounds won by a close margin and no longer an automatic score.  More emphasis is given on scoring rounds 10-8, for situations such as when fighters are just trying to make it out of the round or if one fighter is clearly superior to the other.  From the new rules a judge must consider 10-8 and must “always” give a 10-8 score when a fighter dominates action in a round or striked or grappled against their opponents in a way that diminished their opponents abilities.

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MMA / Ratings / UFC

UFC 207 Reported To Total Over 1 Million PPV Buys

Dave Meltzer of MMA Fighting reports that the UFC 207: Ronda Rousey v. Amanda Nunes, recorded over 1 million PPV buys.   The UFC recorded five PPV shows in 2016.  McGregor was the main event in three of the events that earned more than 1 million buys with UFC 200 being the fourth show that exceeded 1 million buys.  Rousey was notably missing from all the pre-fight media events and there was very little mention of Amanda Nunes in the commercials for UFC 207.  The UFC 207 co-main event saw Cody Garbrandt take on Dominick Cruz in an entertaining fight for the bantamweight title, which surely aided in the PPV buys.

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MMA / Ratings / UFC

UFC 206 Earns Estimated 150K Purchases

Max Holloway beat Anthony Pettis to win the UFC featherweight interim title at UFC 206.  Early PPV buy estimates show that there were 150,000 purchases.  The low PPV buys match the low viewership for the prelim fights on FS1.  The 771,1000 prelim viewers were the second-lowest this year.

From MMA Fighting:

The lowest number of the year for pay-per-view prelims on FS 1 was 678,000 viewers before UFC 204, the Michael Bisping vs. Dan Henderson headlined show. UFC 198, which was headlined by Stipe Miocic’s heavyweight title win over Fabricio Werdum, saw the prelims do 786,000 viewers, similar to Saturday’s show. That show ended up doing 217,000 buys on pay-per-view.

The viewership on Saturday was 32 percent below the 2016 average of pay-per-view prelims on FS 1 of 1,136,000 viewers.

The Holloway-Pettis main event replaced Daniel Cormier against Anthony Johnson for the UFC light heavyweight championship.

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