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  • Rory MacDonald lost his last two UFC fights. (Getty)

    Former UFC welterweight title contender Rory MacDonald’s recent announcement that he signed with Bellator was arguably the biggest coup for the company. After a seven-year tenure with the UFC that saw the Canadian go 9-4 with victories over the likes of Demian Maia, B.J. Penn, Nate Diaz and current UFC welterweight champion Tyron Woodley, MacDonald decided that his time with the UFC was up and sought a new career path with Bellator.

    “They’re straight-up guys,” MacDonald said during an interview with “The MMA Hour” regarding his reasons for leaving MMA’s biggest promotion for Bellator. “They’re easy to talk to, they’re approachable, and they have their ears open. They don’t just have their plan and tell the fighters to just do what they want. They want to hear what the fighters want to do.”

    MacDonald’s decision came down to a number of things, which included accessibility to the higher-ups in Bellator and being interested in something that he believes is both “creative” and “new.”

    Although MacDonald didn’t give up details regarding his new contract, it was evident that he wasn’t happy with his compensation in the UFC. In his instant classic showdown with Robbie Lawler, MacDonald earned a disclosed salary of $59,000. The pay for the biggest fight of his life — which took a great deal out of both fighters — was clearly not enough and nudged MacDonald out the door. It also didn’t help that the Canadian was not a fan of the UFC’s deal with Reebok that cut out the fighters’ ability to earn extra income via sponsorship.

    The much-maligned deal opened MacDonald’s eyes that perhaps he should test the waters of free agency and that ultimately led him to Bellator.

    “I just think the UFC went about [the Reebok deal] the wrong way,” said MacDonald, who happens to be sponsored by Reebok. “They didn’t really think of the fighters, I don’t think, even though I think they’re trying to make it out like they were. There was no discussion. It was just, OK, this is happening and deal with it, kind of a thing. And that’s not very respectful.”

    MacDonald isn’t sure if his relationship with Reebok will be jeopardized now that he’s signed with Bellator. But he certainly hopes that the athletic apparel company sticks by his side.

    “I guess we’ll see,” he said. “I still think that they have a great opportunity because of all the things that I’m going to be doing outside of the cage with Bellator, a lot of shows and good promotion. I think they could reap the benefits of that as well, not just reaching the UFC’s market. That’s a discussion I need to have with them.”

    Before closing out the interview, MacDonald revealed another situation that recently cropped up during his UFC tenure that drew his ire. Without going into great detail, it apparently had to do with Robbie Lawler’s drug test results from their UFC 189 showdown.

    “I don’t play with any dirty drugs, any performance enhancers or something I don’t believe in morally,” MacDonald said. “Some test results came out four times higher than the limit for my fight with him. It could be [expletive]. That’s why we have to look into it. I don’t want to start pointing fingers or anything. Look at that team’s history. It makes me very suspicious but I can’t go out and start saying for sure without making my research that all this is true.”

    MacDonald’s allegation would be a bombshell of a revelation, but there hasn’t been any evidence to support it as of yet.

    But regardless, with everything factored in, it appears that MacDonald is comfortable with his decision to continue his MMA career in Bellator.

  • UFC president Dana White is optimistic about Ronda Rousey’s PPV drawing power (Getty)

    Conor McGregor may wear the crown as the UFC’s current pay-per-view king, but UFC president Dana White believes that the Irishman may simply be keeping the throne warm for a certain woman’s highly anticipated return to the Octagon.

    White appeared on “The Herd” and stated that Ronda Rousey’s return would topple all UFC pay-per-view records set by McGregor, including his UFC 196 fight with Nate Diaz that raked in 1.5 million PPV buys and what appears to be yet another a million-plus buys estimated for UFC 202, where McGregor defeated Diaz by majority decision.

    “I think that Ronda Rousey’s return will be the biggest pay-per-view we’ve ever done,” White said.

    Despite being a huge star with crossover appeal, Rousey had only eclipsed the one million pay-per-view buy mark once as a headliner during her UFC tenure. And that particular fight was her shocking knockout loss to Holly Holm last November at UFC 193. Up until that point, Rousey was deemed as unbeatable by many and became must-see television whenever she fought. With each fight, her legend grew and the gap appeared to grow wider between her and the rest of the women’s bantamweight division. According to SportsBook Review, Rousey’s veil of invincibility was a huge factor during her rise as she was a heavy favorite in each of her UFC fights. Heading into the fight with Holm, Rousey was a -1250.

    Her dominance in the Octagon led to roles in TV and film. But just as she appeared to peak as a mainstream superstar, she suffered the first loss of her MMA career against Holm and hasn’t been back in the Octagon since.

    There was initially hope that Rousey would return in time for the UFC’s first event in New York at UFC 205 on November 12. However, White stated under no uncertain terms that Rousey would not be available to compete. She has reportedly been healing from a number of minor surgeries in preparation for her return. It’s likely that Rousey will return early in 2017 and White is optimistic that she’ll shatter the PPV numbers set by McGregor, UFC 100 and UFC 200.

    “If you had told me 15 years ago that women would be fighting in the UFC – and if you told me that women would be as technically sound as the men and the fights would be loved by millions of people all over the world and it’d be the hottest thing going on in the UFC – I would have never believed it,” White said.

    White had promised that Rousey would be immediately thrust into a title fight upon her return. Since her loss, the UFC women’s bantamweight champion has belonged to three different women (Holm, Miesha Tate and the current champion, Amanda Nunes).

  • Jon Jones’ USADA suspension could be just for one year. (AP)

    What was expected to be possible two-year suspensions for Brock Lesnar and Jon Jones after failing drug tests last month will be shortened, according to MMA Fighting.

    Instead of facing 24 months away from the Octagon, both fighters could face as little as a public warning and as much as a year suspension. This comes due to a World Anti-Doping Agency code that lists hydroxy-clomiphene and letrozole – the substances that both Jones and Lesnar tested positive for – as “specified substances,” which are recognized as substances that can enter the body inadvertently. Because of this, there is more flexibility in levying a sanctioning decision.

    “There is a greater likelihood that these [specified] substances could be susceptible to a credible non-doping explanation,” WADA code states.

    Jones was pulled from the UFC 200 main event against Daniel Cormier three days before the fight after failing an out-of-competition test on June 16. Lesnar failed a pair of tests, an out-of-competition test on June 28 and an in-competition test on July 9, but the results from the out-of-competition test didn’t arrive in time to prevent him from competing against Mark Hunt. He would win that fight by unanimous decision after being away from the UFC for over four years.

    The United States Anti-Doping Agency has yet to announce what sanctions will be imposed on Lesnar and Jones. They could also face additional suspensions and fines by the Nevada Athletic Commission, who levied temporary suspensions of both fighters recently.

    It is important to note that USADA and the NAC can apply totally different punishments for both fighters, as neither organization has to follow whatever decision the other makes.

  • (Getty Images)

    Nate Diaz was seen casually vaping on the dais when speaking to the media following his Saturday night loss to Conor McGregor at UFC 202. Little did he know that it may get him into some hot water with USADA.

    “It’s CBD,” Diaz said. “It helps with the healing process and inflammation, stuff like that. So you want to get these for before and after the fights, training. It’ll make your life a better place.”

    CBD is cannabidiol oil. According to Leaf Science, it is one of more than 60 compounds found in cannabis that belong to a class of molecules called cannabinoids. It’s also illegal and classified as a Schedule I drug in the United States. More important, cannabinoids are banned in competition by the World Anti Doping Agency and USADA goes by WADA’s list of banned substances. Considering that Diaz was vaping CBD shortly after his loss to McGregor, it falls in the in-competition window, which is six hours before or after a fight.

    MMA Fighting confirmed with a USADA spokesperson that the organization is looking into the situation. If found in violation of USADA’s banned substance policy, Diaz could face a one-year suspension by the anti-doping agency. On the other hand, he could also receive a public warning if fitting under the circumstances.

    Diaz’s fight night drug test took place right before he appeared with the vape pen and his results have yet to come back.

    For his part, Diaz has never failed a drug test in his 12-year MMA career.

  • Will Ronda Rousey return in 2016? (Getty)

    If Ronda Rousey is going to return to the UFC in the future, it certainly won’t be at the fighting promotions highly anticipated debut in New York City.

    UFC president Dana White appeared on the “UFC Unfiltered” podcast to state that the former women’s bantamweight champion would not be fighting at UFC 205 on Nov. 12.

    “She’s definitely not fighting in New York,” White said. “I’m actually going to start building the New York card this week.”

    Rousey last fought at UFC 193, where she was knocked out in brutal fashion by Holly Holm and relinquished the UFC women’s bantamweight title last November. Since suffering her first MMA loss, Rousey hasn’t been heard from. But White has been adamant that she would make a return and hoped it would take place at the end of this year or early 2017.

    With the New York card being a historic moment in the UFC considering MMA had been banned in the state since 1997, many fighters have sought to compete. And with it being such a momentous occasion, it appeared to be the most opportune time for Rousey to return. However, it simply won’t come to pass.

    If Rousey is to return at the end of 2016, she would either appear at UFC 206 in Toronto on Dec. 10 or UFC 207 on Dec. 30 in Las Vegas.

  • Conor McGregor plays to the crowd during the UFC 196 weigh-in on March 4, 2016 in Las Vegas. (Getty Images)

    Now that Conor McGregor avenged his loss to Nate Diaz at 170 pounds, the UFC’s plan is for the Irishman to head back down to the featherweight division to defend the title he won in December against Jose Aldo. If he doesn’t plan to defend his title, UFC president Dana White has stated that McGregor would have to vacate it.

    However, after his UFC 202 victory, the current UFC featherweight champion wouldn’t commit to a fight with Aldo, whom he knocked out in 13 seconds to win the title at UFC 194 and instead teased that he would be looking for bigger fights. McGregor’s coach, John Kavanagh, has long been against McGregor cutting down to 145 pounds and suggested there’s a possibility that his fighter never fights at featherweight again.

    “I really don’t see the point in it,” Kavanagh said on “The MMA Hour.” “With all due respect to the [1]45 guys, especially after that fight with Nate, what are they going to do? What’s anyone going to do to him? I just think anyone he fights at that weight class, it’s almost like he’s cheating with the amount of power he has.”

    Since debuting in the UFC featherweight division, McGregor has scored knockouts against six out of seven 145-pounders he’s faced. The most devastating McGregor knockout came at the expense of Aldo, who currently holds the interim featherweight title after defeating Frankie Edgar at UFC 200.

    Considering what McGregor already did to Aldo, both he and his coach aren’t too excited for a rematch. However, if Edgar would have won, chances are McGregor would have accepted a new challenge.

    “Unfortunately those guys didn’t keep up their end of the bargain,” Kavanagh said, with “those guys” being a reference to Edgar. “They had to go out there and prove they deserved it, prove that they had improved and go out there and beat Aldo and they didn’t. The fight was even more one-sided than their first contest. I guess Aldo had learned from the last time.”

    In an ideal world, Kavanagh would have McGregor challenge for the lightweight title, currently held by Eddie Alvarez, and if McGregor were to win, he’d face Nate Diaz to cap off the trilogy.

    I think it would be nice for him to be the champion, get the belt at [1]55 and then defend it against Nate,” Kavanagh said. “I think that would be a pretty amazing fight. Maybe in Croke Park in Dublin. I’d push for that. How cool would that be?”

    But, as we all know, McGregor does whatever he wants, and Kavanagh wouldn’t completely rule out a return to 145 pounds, even if it is against his wishes.

    “He can make the weight, don’t get me wrong about that. And he might do it, just to spite me.”

  • Anthony Johnson made short work of Glover Teixeira. (Getty)

    LAS VEGAS — Anthony “Rumble” Johnson cemented himself as the No. 1 contender for Daniel Cormier’s UFC light heavyweight title with an emphatic 13-second knockout of Glover Teixeira at UFC 202 in Las Vegas on Saturday night.

    Teixeira was the latest in a long line of fighters to fall victim to the tremendous knockout power that Johnson possesses and left no doubt that he will get his rematch with Cormier, with or without Jon Jones around.

    “I’m not worried about it at all,” Johnson said after scoring his third consecutive knockout since losing by submission to Cormier for the light heavyweight title last May.

    After decimating Teixeira – who hasn’t been finished since his first professional fight back in 2002 – Johnson called out Cormier, who was present cageside. The two have a mutual respect for one another and have both been vocal about stepping into the cage again regardless of what happens with Jones.

    Jones was pulled from UFC 200 last month after being flagged by USADA, however, he’s been optimistic about his return. It is not yet known what type of punishment will be handed down.

    Regardless, Johnson has zero concerns that Jones will jump ahead of the line should his suspension end up being far shorter than expected.

    “Daniel is beyond it, I’m beyond it,” Johnson said. “He wants to fight me and I want to fight him. As far as Jon is concerned, he just has to sit back and wait. We’re not focused on it. Until he’s back, there’s nothing to worry about.”

    Johnson is eager to get a rematch with Cormier and mentioned it possibly taking place when the UFC heads to New York for the first time on Nov. 12. Aside from his loss to Cormier, Johnson is 6-1 with five knockouts since returning to the UFC as a light heavyweight in 2014. Cormier was close to being another knockout victim after “Rumble” clobbered him with a right hand in the opening minute. Cormier survived and eventually scored a third-round submission via rear naked choke.

    “I’m just looking forward to it again,” Johnson said. “This is something that I’ve wanted for a long time. This is my second chance at a title. I want to dominate.”

  • Win or lose, Conor McGregor is getting paid a record purse at UFC 202. (AP)

    Losing his last fight clearly didn’t affect Conor McGregor’s earning potential.

    The UFC featherweight champion will earn a record $3 million purse in his rematch against Nate Diaz at UFC 202 at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas despite losing when they first met back in March at UFC 196.

    The Nevada Athletic Commission disclosed McGregor’s record setting purse prior to the start of Saturday’s PPV.

    McGregor’s massive purse eclipses Brock Lesnar’s $2.5 million earned at UFC 200. Prior to that, McGregor was the first to take home a purse north of a million in his first fight against Diaz.

    McGregor will take home more than the $3 million once it is all said and done and has went as far to suggest that he would rake in $10 million.

    Chances are, he’s right.

  • Donald Cerrone is not sold on the Professional Fighters Association. (AP)

    The Professional Fighters Association pressed forward in hopes of forming a fighter’s union on Thursday evening with a press conference in Las Vegas, where baseball agent Jeff Borris held court about fighters’ needs for things such as a pension, health insurance, a grievance process and fighter input in an anti-doping policy.

    Borris, along with Lucas Middlebrook (best known as Nate Diaz’s attorney), is in Las Vegas hoping to get the ball rolling on establishing the union. In order to get started, the pair will need 30 percent of UFC fighters to sign an authorization card, which will allow a National Labor Relations Board election. After that, they would then need a majority of the UFC roster to vote “yes” for the PFA to collectively bargain with the UFC.

    There are fighters who are in favor of a union, but still on the fence trying to figure out what the direction of the PFA will be. One of those fighters happens to be one of the more outspoken when it comes to fighters being treated fairly: Donald Cerrone.

    “If it’s all about money, I don’t want to have anything to do with it,” Cerrone told Sherdog prior to his UFC 202 showdown with Rick Story. “If the fighters are going to get together, we’re going to talk about health care and dental. If we’re going to get together because we have problems with the uniform or sponsorship, then I’m [expletive] for it. If the union is going to get together and back us for all of the good, I’m all about it. But if we’re getting together because people are worried about money, then I don’t want any part of it.”

    Cerrone also said that he has yet to be approached by the PFA and admits he’s relatively in the dark about what the PFA’s plans are. However, he’s certainly interested in being on the front lines if the PFA’s values are in line with his own.

    Borris appears to be on the same page as Cerrone and outlined what he hopes to tackle in the near future. For one, he is looking to raise the minimum purse, which currently sits at $10,000 for a fight and an additional $10,000 if the fighter wins. From there, the union would look to secure fighters full medical coverage that extends beyond injuries sustained in the Octagon and would treat illnesses for themselves as well as spouses and children.

    Leslie Smith was the only contracted UFC fighter to attend Thursday’s press conference, and former UFC fighter and current Bellator heavyweight, Matt Mitrione, was also present. Borris said he extended invites to UFC president Dana White, new UFC owner Ari Emanuel of WMI-IMG and WME co-CEO Patrick Whitesell. They did not show up. He said he did not hear back from Whitesell and White, but spoke with Emanuel and the conversation didn’t exactly go over well.

    “He, in a tone only my wife speaks to me in, says, ‘Don’t ever call me again. I don’t want to speak to you. I don’t want to have anything to do with you,'” the former agent for Barry Bonds said. Borris also attempted to speak with fighters at the UFC 202 Ultimate Media Day, but was turned back by security. Although he didn’t speak with any of the fighters competing Saturday, he’s not deterred and figures that everything will eventually come full circle.

    “I’m finding out that I don’t need to educate the fighters,” Borris said. “The reason why I I don’t need to educate the fighters is because they’re already educated on the issues. When I talk to them, they know they need these things. They know they need these protections.”

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