Drug bans mean Jon Jones and Anderson Silva cannot be considered on a par with Georges St-Pierre as the greatest UFC fighter of all time, according to Michael Bisping.

Canadian St-Pierre claimed titles at welterweight and middleweight, the latter by submitting then-champion Bisping in round three of his divisional debut at UFC 217.

The 38-year-old retired in February and ruled out a comeback in August but sits level with Jon Jones at the top of the list for most wins in title bouts (13) and is joint-third in terms of UFC victories (20).

Jones, the dominant force in the light heavyweight division since 2011, and former middleweight king Anderson Silva, who holds the record for the longest title reign in UFC history, are also considered to be among the greatest MMA fighters.

However, Bisping thinks the fact Jones and Silva tested positive for banned substances during their respective careers gives St-Pierre the upper hand in the 'GOAT' conversation.

Asked who the greatest of all time is by Omnisport at the launch of his book 'Quitters Never Win', Bisping replied: "The first person that sprung to my mind is Jon Jones, but he's had his problems with performance-enhancing drugs so there's definitely a stigma.

"Anderson Silva, same thing, he springs to mind but he had his problems with performance-enhancing drugs as well – any time there's an asterisk next to your name like that, it eliminates you from the conversation.

"Georges St-Pierre would have to be the one, I think. One hundred per cent. He did it clean, he never tested positive for anything, he's a tremendous ambassador for the sport.

"He's a gentleman inside and outside the octagon, he's a consummate professional, he's a great person and he's one hell of a fighter. I'd say the greatest of all time is Georges St-Pierre."

 

Quitters Never Win by Michael Bisping is out now, published by Ebury Press.

The eyes of the MMA world will be locked on Khabib Nurmagomedov when he makes an eagerly awaited return at UFC 242 in Abu Dhabi on Saturday.

It has been 11 months since Nurmagomedov last fought in Las Vegas, where his excellent victory over Conor McGregor was marred by an ugly post-fight melee.

But Nurmagomedov remains one of UFC's greatest attractions and the battle for supremacy in the lightweight division is on when he goes head-to-head with interim champion Dustin Poirier.

Ahead of the bout, we take a look at some of the key questions for what promises to be a blockbuster main event.


What happened at UFC 229?

Oh boy…where do you start with this one? The build-up to this was fight was, let's dilute this a little, ugly. Back in April 2018, McGregor was involved in an attack on a bus carrying Nurmagomedov and other fighters. McGregor would eventually be forced to undertake community service and an anger management programme over the incident. So, naturally the scene was set for a red-hot build-up that had many barbs that crossed the line. After Nurmagomedov submitted McGregor in the fourth round the bad blood spilled over, with the Russian launching himself over the cage to fight members of his rival's team, leading to a mass brawl. It was all rather unpleasant, unsavoury and unnecessary, and in truth not a great look for UFC.

What's Khabib been up to since?

The fallout from the ruckus landed McGregor and Nurmagomedov hefty fines and sizeable suspensions, with the latter having been banned for nine months. But it has been a busy year nonetheless. There has been parenting advice from Vladimir Putin, an airport opening with Turkey president Recep Tayyip Erdogan and a meeting with Vladimir Vasilyev, the head of the Republic of Dagestan. There was also time to call out boxing legend Floyd Mayweather Jr – who has also fought McGregor – and take in trips to watch AC Milan and Paris Saint-Germain.

Will he fight McGregor again?

In the world of combat sports you should definitely never say never. Nurmagomedov said this year that McGregor does not deserve a rematch and the Irishman's lack of activity in the octagon raises legitimate questions about whether we will see him in UFC again. But money talks and if the stars align and the finances are right then it is certainly not beyond the realms of possibility these great rivals will dance again.

What's Khabib's record like?

In a word: formidable. Nurmagomedov has had 27 fights and earned 27 victories. In a world of the finest margins it is a phenomenally dominant record.

What is his style?

Nurmagomedov is one of the best wrestlers in UFC and no one has been able to defend against his extraordinary grappling and takedown skills. But there are several more strings to his bow, as McGregor found out to his detriment when caught with an awesome overhead right in their bout. Trying to find a weakness in his game is tough.

Who is his opponent Poirier?

Hardcore fight fans will need no introduction to Brazilian jiu-jitsu expert Poirier. The American has notable victories over big hitters like Eddie Alvarez, Anthony Pettis, Justin Gaethje and Max Holloway on his resume – a second win against the latter seeing him named interim lightweight champion in April. 'The Diamond' collected aluminium cans and picked pecans prior to getting into the fight game, landing in MMA having first looked into the possibility of boxing. Poirier is a talented grappler and also has decent stand-up. He is sure to be a tricky customer.

What's been said in the build-up?

There has been no repeat of the ill-tempered baiting prior to the McGregor dust-up, but Nurmagomedov insists the respect he has for his opponent ends on fight night, saying: "Generally, I only have respect for him. That will stop as soon as I enter the octagon. That's where we'll have to fight. If you get into the octagon and you see your opponent, then that's it. You have to compete." Few are tipping Poirier for the upset, but the man himself is full of confidence: "I'm mentally ready for 25 minutes of bleeding and sweating and being uncomfortable. The fans can expect me to put Khabib in positions you haven't see him in. And to hurt him."

Who will win the fight?

At 30, Poirier is a seasoned campaigner and you do not compete for a decade in UFC unless you are highly talented. But Nurmagomedov is as fearsome a fighter as the MMA world has ever seen and will be chomping at the bit to make up for lost time.

Khabib Nurmagomedov will be in for a tough lightweight title defence at UFC 242 if Dustin Poirier can produce a repeat of his display against Max Holloway, says Michael Bisping.

Poirier claimed a unanimous-decision victory over Holloway to claim the interim lightweight title at UFC 236 and earn a shot at Khabib, who will make his return to the octagon following a suspension for his part in the brawl that followed his triumph over Conor McGregor in October 2018.

The formidable Nurmagomedov is undefeated in 27 mixed martial arts bouts but former UFC middleweight champion Bisping feels Poirier could pull off an upset in Abu Dhabi if he is able to keep the fight off the canvas.

"He'll fight the way he always fights – a very wrestling-heavy game plan," Bisping told Omnisport of his expectations for Khabib when promoting his book 'Quitters Never Win'.

"He's probably not going to try to stand with Dustin Poirier, that's not his thing, that's not what he does. He's going to try to take him down.

"Dustin looked tremendous against Max Holloway, I thought he looked the best ever. I actually thought Max would beat Dustin in that fight and Dustin went out there and looked tremendous, his boxing was incredible, conditioning, everything – it was a beautiful performance.

"If that match shows up to fight Khabib, Khabib's got problems. The problem is, can he stop the takedown?

"If he can't stop the takedown, Khabib's on a fast track to victory. I think that's where the fight is going to be won and lost. Can Khabib take him down and can he hold him down?"

Bisping does not expect Khabib to look for a rematch with McGregor, suggesting the Russian is keen to get away from the pantomime and controversy that overshadowed their previous clash.

"I don't think he wants to fight McGregor again, he's been there and done that," said Bisping.

"Khabib doesn't like the negative attention. Khabib's a great person, he's a devout Muslim, he's off building wells I think in Africa in his spare time and that, he's a great person.

"That whole controversy side of things he doesn't like, he doesn't revel in those moments. That's why at those pressers he just sat there and didn't say very much – McGregor did all the talking.

"I think he's happy to distance himself. But this is a huge fight. It's going to be huge for the brand, for the sport, and for Khabib and Dustin."

 

Quitters never Win by Michael Bisping is out now, published by Ebury Press.

Khabib Nurmagomedov is a "global icon" and his return to the Octagon can only be a good thing for UFC, according to Curtis Blaydes.

It has been 11 months since lightweight champion Nurmagomedov defeated fierce rival Conor McGregor with a fourth-round submission in Las Vegas on an ugly night for UFC.

The bad blood in the build-up spilled over into a post-bout brawl that landed fines and suspensions for Nurmagomedov and McGregor.

Nurmagomedov later apologised but suggested pre-fight comments from McGregor in which he "talked about my religion, talked about my country, talked about my father" were behind the unsavoury scenes.

This weekend, Nurmagomedov returns to the Octagon for a blockbuster bout with Dustin Poirier at UFC 242 in Adu Dhabi and fourth-ranked heavyweight Blaydes is excited for the 30-year-old's comeback.

"I think Khabib is a global icon, he's a star," Blaydes told Omnisport. 

"He brings in the Russian audience, the European audience. Just for me, in general, he's a great wrestler and shows you can be a star in this game being predominantly a wrestler."

In Khabib's absence, Poirier scored a unanimous decision victory over Max Holloway to become the interim lightweight champion.

Poirier has gone undefeated in six straight fights and the number-one ranked lightweight in UFC is sure to be a tough challenge for Khabib, who is unbeaten in 27 MMA outings.

But Blaydes is tipping Khabib to emerge victorious on his return.

"I would lean towards Khabib, but they're both great," he added. 

"Poirier put away Justin Gaethje, who's amazing in his own right. But, if I was a betting man, I'd put my money on Khabib."


UFC® 242: KHABIB vs. POIRIER coverage starts live on UFC FIGHT PASS, BT Sport 2 and BT Sport Box Office this Saturday at 3:00pm and continues exclusively live on BT Sport Box Office at 7:00pm.

Curtis Blaydes plans to make a statement and give the UFC a reason to provide him a shot at heavyweight champion Stipe Miocic when he mixes it with Shamil Abdurakhimov this weekend.

The 28-year-old, nicknamed 'Razor', was mightily impressive when scoring a unanimous decision victory over Justin Willis in March.

It was a timely reminder of the American's talent after he was knocked out in just 45 seconds by the fearsome Francis Ngannou last November, the second time he had lost to his heavyweight rival.

A third bout with Ngannou is an opportunity Blaydes, who has an MMA record of 11-2-0, would relish but for now he wants to enhance his claims for a title fight.

"I think every opportunity to get in the Octagon is an opportunity to make a statement. I'm going to use this opportunity to use my striking and my wrestling and put my MMA skills on display," he told Omnisport ahead of UFC 242 in Abu Dhabi.

"I would love that opportunity [to fight Miocic] but that's up to the UFC. It's up to me to give them a reason to give me an opportunity at the belt, that's what I'll do this weekend."

On the prospect of facing Ngannou again, he added: "Of course, he's beaten me twice so I want to get that back but not at the expense of a title fight. 

"If they offered me Ngannou or Stipe I'm obviously going to take Stipe."

Blaydes' immediate focus is on Abdurakhimov, who has put together an impressive three-win streak in UFC.

He recognises his wrestling skills will be important against the Russian, an opponent whose skills Blaydes has plenty of respect for.

"My wrestling is always going to be important, it sets up my striking, I'm always going to use my wrestling, it's very important," he added.

"Every big man is a threat, we all have the ability to knock one another out it just takes the right hit. I'm definitely respecting his power."

Blaydes coined a colourful nickname for Willis, playing on his opponent's 'Big Pretty' nickname after their fight earlier this year.

But Blaydes – fourth in the UFC heavyweight rankings – has no plans to show such creativity for Abdurakhimov, explaining: "I only did that to Justin Willis because he was being a d***, so that's what brought that out in me. 

"Shamil has been respectful, so I'll extend the same respect that's been shown to me."


UFC® 242: KHABIB vs. POIRIER coverage starts live on UFC FIGHT PASS, BT Sport 2 and BT Sport Box Office this Saturday at 3:00pm and continues exclusively live on BT Sport Box Office at 7:00pm.

Conor McGregor has admitted he was "in the wrong" after an apparently violent altercation with a man in a Dublin pub in April.

Footage emerged earlier in August that appeared to show the former UFC champion striking the man in the head.

McGregor has apologised, insisting he is aware he must "get his head screwed on" and concentrate on making a return to UFC.

"I was in the wrong. That man deserved to enjoy his time in the pub without having it to end the way it did," McGregor told ESPN.

"It was five months ago and I tried to make amends and I made amends back then. I owe that to the people that have supported me.

"I owe it to my mother, my father, my family. I owe it to the people that trained me in martial arts. That's not who I am.

"I have to realise that's not the attitude or the behavior of a leader, of a martial artist, of a champion.

"So, I must get my head screwed on and just get back in the game and fight for redemption, retribution, respect."

McGregor also declared he hopes to make his comeback to UFC before the end of 2019.

The 31-year-old has not fought since losing to Khabib Nurmagomedov in October.

Conor McGregor has admitted he was "in the wrong" for hitting a man during an altercation in a Dublin pub in April.

Footage emerged earlier in August, appearing to show the former UFC champion striking the victim in the face.

McGregor has apologised, insisting he is aware he must "get his head screwed on" and concentrate on making a return to UFC.

"I was in the wrong. That man deserved to enjoy his time in the pub without having it to end the way it did," McGregor told ESPN.

"It was five months ago and I tried to make amends and I made amends back then. I owe that to the people that have supported me.

"I owe it to my mother, my father, my family. I owe it to the people that trained me in martial arts. That's not who I am.

"I have to realise that's not the attitude or the behavior of a leader, of a martial artist, of a champion.

"So, I must get my head screwed on and just get back in the game and fight for redemption, retribution, respect."

McGregor also declared he hopes to make his comeback to UFC before the end of 2019.

The 31-year-old has not fought since losing to Khabib Nurmagomedov in October.

Conor McGregor has admitted he was "in the wrong" for hitting an elderly man during an altercation in a Dublin pub in April.

Footage has emerged appearing to show the former UFC champion striking the victim in the face, seemingly after the man had refused to drink the fighter's own brand of whiskey. 

McGregor has now apologised, insisting he is aware he must "get his head screwed on" and concentrate on making a return to UFC.

"I was in the wrong. That man deserved to enjoy his time in the pub without having it to end the way it did," McGregor told ESPN.

"It was five months ago and I tried to make amends and I made amends back then. I owe that to the people that have supported me.

"I owe it to my mother, my father, my family. I owe it to the people that trained me in martial arts. That's not who I am. 

"I have to realise that's not the attitude or the behavior of a leader, of a martial artist, of a champion.

"So, I must get my head screwed on and just get back in the game and fight for redemption, retribution, respect."

McGregor has also declared he hopes to make his comeback to UFC prior to the end of 2019.

The 31-year-old has not fought since losing to Khabib Nurmagomedov in October.

Conor McGregor is targeting a UFC comeback before the end of 2019 and is not concerned by who he fights.

Former featherweight and lightweight champion McGregor has not fought since losing to Khabib Nurmagomedov in October 2018.

In March, McGregor took to Twitter to claim he had retired from mixed martial arts, though he has subsequently changed his stance.

The 31-year-old, who has been embroiled in controversy out of the octagon in recent weeks, is now aiming to make a comeback by the close of the year.

"I want my world title back and I want that redemption," McGregor told ESPN.

"If you're asking me who, whoever, if Dustin [Poirier] goes in and does it, if Nate [Diaz], if it's Jorge [Masvidal].

"I don't know. I don't even know Jorge that well, I've seen the last two and I saw the Al Iaquinta bout, but I mean anyone.

"Tony Ferguson, Justin Gaethje, a [Max] Holloway rematch, Jose Aldo rematch. There's so many belts for me, so many. 

"In reality, it does not matter who. It's just about me getting back in. I would say we can get that done. 

"I'm already in shape. I have not lost my condition so I'm in shape. I just need to sharpen up the grappling and just see how the grip feels on the wrist and things like that. 

"But I can punch fully so I would say so. I would look for the end of the year."

McGregor also explained he had been due to return to UFC in July, only for a hand injury sustained in sparring to rule him out of contention.

"We scheduled a spar with another up-and-comer but the gloves are so small, the room for injury and damage is so high," he added.

"Originally I couldn't grapple until September but I saw my surgeon and he said I can grapple now so I'm going to go back into that.

"I haven't stopped kicking and I haven't stopped with my conditioning, so let's get it going now - I'm excited."

Conor McGregor said he will never retire from mixed-martial arts as the UFC star explained his absence from the octagon.

Former featherweight and lightweight champion McGregor has not fought in the UFC since announcing his retirement in a shock social media post in March.

The Irishman retired via Twitter following October's loss to rival Khabib Nurmagomedov at UFC 229.

However, McGregor – who boasts a 21-4 record in the UFC, with 18 knockouts – is eager to return to the sport.

"There is a lot that goes on behind the scenes. Sometimes I need distance…," McGregor – who was eyeing a return in July before a hand injury scuppered his plans – told ESPN when asked if he is retired.

"My foot was a balloon when I walked into that fight. I have footage backed up from that entire camp. I broke my foot three weeks out from the fight… I done so much for the company. Back-to-back-to-back, non-stop. I built this house. I certainly laid bricks and blocks down for this game.

"Retirement? I don't think I would ever retire from this game. Never in my life. I'll be fighting until the day I go out. There's no doubt about it. It's in me. I will take it with me to the grave."

McGregor: "I look forward to my triumphant return… we're all eager to get this back on track."

"I would say we could get that done," McGregor said when asked if he could return this year.

"If I have this opportunity before me, if I don't execute this and get this right, make this happen for the children of my children's children, all of my successes, all of everything I've achieved will be void, will be meaningless to me," McGregor continued. "I must get this right and I must not go down that path, the written path, the cliché of the fighter that has it all and ruins [it].

"I need to be aware of my past, of the past of other individuals, and learn from it and grow and that's what I'm doing."

Daniel Cormier insists he will not make a decision on his retirement based on emotion after the 40-year-old lost his heavyweight title to Stipe Miocic at UFC 241.

Cormier's rematch with Miocic was ended in the fourth round on Saturday, with the latter having landed a flurry of body punches.

Miocic (19-3) was fighting for the first time since losing his title to Cormier (22-2) at UFC 226 in July 2018.

Prior to the bout, Cormier's coach Javier Mendez had suggested the fighter should retire, rather than take on Jon Jones - who labelled Miocic "the greatest heavyweight of all time" - in a trilogy fight.

Asked about the possibility of calling it a day, Cormier conceded he must take serious consideration over his next move.

"You don't make decisions based on emotions. But this is a tough pill to swallow," he said.

"At 40 years old, and so many other opportunities [available], I need to speak to my wife and make an educated decision as to what we're going to do."

Cormier added when asked where the fight went wrong for him: "I think [Miocic] made great body shots. He hit me with a number of right hands and I didn't really feel anything, so maybe I took those for granted.

"He landed a great one and did a good job of following up. He's a fantastic champion, congratulations to him and his team."

UFC president Dana White, meanwhile, advised Cormier to take time over his decision.

"I don't know what the future is for Cormier," White said in the post-fight press conference.

"I told him, 'Don't think about whether you want to fight again, you don't want to fight again and any of that stuff. Just relax. Go home and spend some time with your family and we'll talk about all that s*** later'."

Elsewhere, welterweight star Nate Diaz (20-11) defeated Anthony Pettis (22-9) by unanimous decision in his first appearance since losing his rematch against Conor McGregor in 2016.

A trilogy fight against McGregor could now be on the cards and Diaz is open to reigniting his rivalry with the Irishman.

"I'm gonna fight the baddest dudes at the biggest shows, that's what I want to do," Diaz said. "If it's up to everyone who is involved, if they want it, they're going to call me."

Stipe Miocic reclaimed the heavyweight title with a fourth-round knockout of Daniel Cormier at UFC 241, while Nate Diaz enjoyed a winning return.

Saturday's rematch went in favour of Miocic, who used a flurry of punches late in the bout to trouble Cormier before the referee stopped the fight at four minutes, nine seconds.

Miocic (19-3) was fighting for the first time since losing his title to Cormier (22-2) at UFC 226 in July 2018, ending the latter's nine-fight undefeated streak – dating back to January 2015.

Cormier got off to a fast start at Honda Center in Anaheim, where he landed several hard punches before slamming Miocic into the canvas during the opening round.

Miocic was more aggressive in the second round, though champion Cormier continued to cause problems inside the octagon.

The pair exchanged blows in round three, though neither took a back step, despite Cormier stunning Miocic with a right hand in the closing minute.

Miocic shocked Cormier in the fourth and he went on the attack, prompting the referee to halt proceedings as the former became the fourth UFC heavyweight champion to lose his belt and regain it.

Elsewhere, welterweight star Diaz (20-11) defeated Anthony Pettis (22-9) by unanimous decision in the co-main event on Saturday in his first appearance since losing his rematch against Conor McGregor in 2016.

Meanwhile, Paulo Costa edged Yoel Romero in an epic middleweight clash that was decided by unanimous decision.

Volkan Oezdemir will be fuelled by the "anger" of his controversial defeat to Dominick Reyes when he faces Ilir Latifi at UFC Uruguay on Saturday.

Oezdemir was left fuming when Reyes was awarded a split decision in London almost five months ago.

Former Swiss light heavyweight title challenger Oezdemir has suffered three consecutive defeats after surging to the top of the division.

The 29-year-old plans to take his frustration out on Latifi at the Antel Arena in Montevideo in a fight that was postponed at the start of June after the Swede suffered a back injury.

Reflecting on his defeat to Reyes, Oezdemir told Omnisport: "It's something that has given me extra motivation, to go back to the win column.

"I need to prove to everybody that I am still here and that is a good thing for me, I am going to feed off that anger.

"Defeats show you what you need to work on. If you win and everything goes well, maybe you don't think there are things to improve on.  When you lose you want to speed up your improvement and I've worked on becoming a more complete fighter.

"My last defeat against Reyes made me realise I cannot rely on the judges. I might have taken the fight a little too cautiously as I knew I was winning. I got really upset when I heard the decision, I couldn't believe they saw the fight differently.

"It was a huge disappointment on the night, but I knew straight away I needed to look ahead to another fight and I was offered the Latifi fight that very same night in London, which gave me something to focus on."

Oezdemir feels Latifi's injury setback a couple of months ago could turn out to be a blessing.

He added: "It was a good thing as it gave me more time to get in even better shape and I feel in my body that I am. I knew I would have got the win but right now I'm sure I'm going to put on a better show.

"Before I was due to fight him the first time I worked on techniques and strategies. This time I could perfect that gameplan and make sure I have sharpened my tools."

MMA legend Georges St-Pierre has closed the door on a potential UFC return, saying that chapter of his life is over.

St-Pierre announced his retirement in February but later said he was open to the idea of a comeback.

It was reported Khabib Nurmagomedov had a clause to fight St-Pierre in his contract, a bout that would have interested the former welterweight and middleweight champion.

However, UFC president Dana White poured cold water on that idea last month, claiming the Canadian breaking a promise to defend the middleweight title after dethroning Michael Bisping at UFC 217 was behind his decision.

St-Pierre now says he has other priorities in his life that trump his desire to fight.

Speaking to TSN, he said: "It [fighting Khabib] was on my mind when I retired, I really wanted to do it. 

"But now, telling you the truth, the UFC were clear, they had other plans for Khabib. So, I turned a page. 

"I cannot wait for the fight to happen and twiddle my thumbs, I have other plans for my life. Being the best fighter in the world is not my number one priority anymore. 

"It used to be, now it's not. I have family, friends, I have a lot of more important things to do. I have other projects down the road."

St-Pierre added he will not change his mind even if the UFC altered its stance and offered a proposal to mix it with Khabib in the octagon.

"I'm always training, I'm always in good shape, I will always be," he said. "But competition, for me, it's a chapter of my life that is over."

A blockbuster cross-sport bout between Floyd Mayweather Jr and Khabib Nurmagomedov is unlikely to happen, according to Michael Bisping.

Mayweather - who defeated UFC superstar Conor McGregor in 10 rounds in 2017 - and Nurmagomedov have continually talked up the possibility of facing off, with the latter having beaten McGregor in the Irishman's most recent UFC appearance last October.

However, former UFC middleweight champion Bisping believes the mixed martial arts company is unlikely to want to set a precedent by allowing the lightweight title holder to fight the retired unbeaten five-weight world champion in the boxing ring.

Asked by Omnisport if he would have interest in a contest between the two, Bisping told Omnisport: "Not really but I would watch it for sure. I'd definitely tune in.

"Mayweather would win, we all know that, but it's always interesting to see somebody at the top of mixed martial arts taking on a boxer but I don't think that's gonna happen, I really don't.

"Mayweather talks about it, Khabib talks about it, I don't think the UFC will allow it because we're all under contract with the UFC.

"They broke the mould in doing that with McGregor, I think if they continue to do that and form a pattern then more and more fighters are going to want to do that and it starts creating legal problems with contracts and things like that."

Nurmagomedov this month completed a suspension handed down by the Nevada Athletic Commission after sparking ugly scenes in the wake of his win over McGregor by leaping out of the octagon and charging towards his opponent's cornerman Dillon Danis.

He will return in a lightweight unification bout with Dustin Poirier at UFC 242 on September 7.

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