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Paul Felder wants to climb the lightweight ladder as quickly as possible, and he believes that bouts with either Dustin Poirier or Justin Gaethje would give him an opportunity to do so.
Coming off his split decision win over Edson Barboza at UFC 242, Felder discussed the various options he currently has in the division.
“Me and Al [Iaquinta] still have unfinished business, I love that guy, he’s awesome, but if he beats Dan Hooker, I think that’s a great matchup,” said Felder on the latest episode of MMA Fighting’s Eurobash podcast.
“Obviously, I want to fight Justin Gaethje some day, and I feel like he’s really deserving of a big fight moving forward. I’m not fighting (Donald) ‘Cowboy’ (Cerrone), so it’s very limited in terms of who is ahead of me, so we’ll see what happens from here. I don’t know, we’ll see. I’m curious to see what happens to be honest with you.”
With many 155ers throwing their name in the hat to become Conor McGregor’s next assignment, “The Irish Dragon” admits he would like the fight but stressed that he won’t beg for it.
“Fight [Conor McGregor]? I wouldn’t mind it,” Felder said. “I like making money – plus he’s up there. He’s got numbers next to his name that I want to take. If you wanna talk about that fight, you know it’s going to be goddam striking battle with me, and Conor is obviously not going to be trying to take me down either. But I’m also not one of those people that’s going to play his game and beg for something like that if I know that I’m not the guy that’s going to get it. I’m not going to go crazy trying to get it, but I would absolutely love to throw down with him.”
Felder outlined why Gaethje and Poirier are top of his list of potential future opponents.
“I would say Justin Gaethje or Dustin Poirier [are my ideal next opponents] – Dustin because he just fought for the belt,” Felder said. “If I can jump the line and skip ahead like that – I mean, sh*t. And he’s a great striker, a great boxer. That lends itself to the kind of fights that I’m used to being in and one that the fans want. Whatever happens, we’re probably getting a bonus. It would be one of those fights that goes back and forth. [It would come down to] who’s tougher and who can take the bigger shots, and those are the fights that turn me on.
“Justin is just a savage, man. Like I said, I don’t call this guy out because I have anything against him. You just saw what he did to one of my friends, ‘Cowboy.’ I would love to get in there and test myself, because I do feel that the guy is going to be fighting for a world title some day. These are the guys you have to beat. You have to beat the toughest guys out there, because if I can’t beat these guys, I’ll have no chance against Khabib – he’s able to out-wrestle everybody.”
Former two-division champion Daniel Cormier wants to end his career on a high note by winning a trilogy against Stipe Miocic. And he hopes to do it at UFC 245.
One month after Miocic defeated Cormier for the UFC heavyweight belt, “DC” confirmed he’s pushing for a rematch with the champ on Dec. 14. And it will be his last fight.
“I’m going to fight this guy again, and my intention is to fight him in the right way,” Cormier said on Ariel Helwani’s MMA Show. “Hopefully that’s enough to get my hand raised.
“But I’ll go fight him again, (and) win or lose, I’m not fighting again. This will be the only time I ever step foot in the Octagon again.”
Questions surrounded Cormier’s future after his loss of the belt, which came after a strong early effort was met by a brilliant Miocic comeback at UFC 241.
Cormier said he would consult with his family before deciding whether or not to continue his career. He’s previously declared he’d retire before he turned 40; he celebrated that milestone in March.
UFC president Dana White confirmed last week a pending trilogy between Cormier and Miocic; the UFC executive said the champ is healing from the title-winning fight—the second time he’s held UFC gold—and will return after that.
UFC 245 takes place at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, a venue where Cormier has had great fortune. In July 2018, he knocked out Miocic there to become the second two-division champ in the sport’s history.
Another trilogy with longtime rival and current light heavyweight champ Jon Jones also beckons for Cormier. But the former Olympic wrestler’s priority is to correct his immediate setback.
“A true heavyweight rivalry will carry a sport, and I think right now we have that with Stipe and I,” he said. “I intend to go back and get the job done and fight the way I train to fight.”
Cormier attributed his loss to lapse in his game plan—a flaw he immediately pointed out after the fight in not listening to his cornermen—and said he’d been dealing with the grave illness of his father up to the week of the fight. His father recently passed away after a battle with cancer.
The former champ-champ took nothing away from Miocic, but said he could have done better.
“That was just great work by him,” Cormier said. “It goes to the fighting mindset and the ability of Stipe Miocic. He went hard body shot. And the one that hurt me, instead of chasing that again, he went up top.”
In a rematch, Cormier said, “I’m not saying I can just go grab Stipe Miocic and throw him down at will, but I can do a lot of things better than I did on August 17.”
Rumors have been swirling for some time that Ortega and Jung were on a collision course, but the fight was never made official.
Now the pair of former featherweight title contenders will clash at the upcoming card from South Korea as Ortega looks to bounce back from his last loss while Jung attempts to build on a win in his last outing.
After an undefeated run through the first 15 fights of his career, Ortega tasted defeat for the first time when he fell to reigning featherweight champion Max Holloway in his last outing in Dec. 2018. Ortega hasn’t competed since then so by the time he sets foot back in the Octagon in December it will have been just over a year since he last fought.
As for “The Korean Zombie”, he picked up a huge win over Renato Moicano in his last fight after he blanked the Brazilian with a stunning 58-second knockout back in June. Jung has now gone 2-1 in his past three fights with his only loss coming by way of a last-second elbow strike knockout courtesy of Yair Rodriguez in 2018.
Ortega vs. Jung will headline the UFC’s upcoming return to South Korea with more fights expected to be announced in the coming weeks.
Before Jeremy Stephens gets another crack at Yair Rodriguez – or whomever is the next – he needs an ophthalmologist to give the go-ahead.
Stephens suffered a corneal abrasion, or a superficial scratch on the surface of the eye, and faces a six-month layoff without doctor clearance, according to medical suspensions issued after the veteran UFC featherweight was ruled out of his UFC Mexico headliner.
The suspensions were released by the Association of Boxing Commissions’ official record-keeper, mixedmartialarts.com. The UFC oversaw the event this past Saturday at Mexico City; the promotion serves as the de-facto athletic commission in places where MMA isn’t regulated.
Stephens appeared with a heavily bandaged eye shortly after his fight with Rodriguez was ruled a no-contest. During an appearance Monday on “The Ariel Helwani Show,” the bandage was gone, and his eye appeared to be undamaged.
Stephens said he would get a doctor’s clearance to pave the way for an immediate rematch with Rodriguez, which he hopes will take place in the coming months.
Rodriguez inadvertently raked Stephens’ eyes just 15 seconds into the ESPN+ fight. Stephens suffered eye spasms, according to referee Herb Dean, and was unable to open his eye when cageside doctors checked on him. After five minutes, Dean called off the bout.
Rodriguez expressed sympathy for Stephens in the wake of the unfortunate stoppage, though he noted he’d been able to fight through a closed eye in a previous bout against Frankie Edgar.
The goodwill between the fighters didn’t last when the Stephens and Rodriguez exchanged words at the fighter hotel and nearly came to blows, Stephens told MMA Fighting.
In other notable suspensions, the badly bent elbow suffered by ex-strawweight champ Carla Esparza in a hard-fought in over Alexa Grasso will need doctor’s clearance.
Here is the full list of medical suspensions from UFC Mexico:
Jeremy Stephens: suspended 180 days or until cleared by ophthalmologist for corneal abrasion.
Yair Rodriguez: suspended mandatory seven days.