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Dana White blocked boxing bout with Oscar De La Hoya, says UFC legend Georges St-Pierre

UFC legend and former two-division world champion Georges St-Pierre has revealed that UFC president Dana White has stopped him from boxing Oscar De La Hoya as the boxing legend looks to make his return to the ring.

De La Hoya announced last month that he would make a comeback in a fight set for July 3 on upstart boxing promotion Triller Fight Club, an offshoot of social media company Triller.

De La Hoya’s announcement sparked widespread speculation over the possible identity of his comeback opponent.

Former UFC lightweight champion Eddie Alvarez claimed he had been contacted about potentially welcoming “The Golden Boy” back to the ring.

But it has since emerged that the fight Triller were hoping to book was a bout between boxing legend De La Hoya and mixed martial arts legend St-Pierre, who is set to be inducted into the UFC Hall of Fame this year.

However, those plans were nixed by the UFC president who, according to St-Pierre, would not give his blessing for the former UFC star to take the fight.

Georges St-Pierre and Dana White

Blocked bout: Georges St-Pierre claims UFC president Dana White blocked his bout with De La Hoya (Image: GETTY)

“I understand that Dana didn’t want me to fight,” St-Pierre told Cinema Blend earlier this week.

“However, it would have been fun, because my career as a professional fighter, to become the best in the world in mixed martial arts, is done. 

“I’m turning 40 years old tomorrow; I’m going to be 40 years old. It’s a young man’s game. 

“However, to rather fight a boxing match under the rules that Triller put on against the legendary Oscar De La Hoya? For me, it would have been a dream come true, because he is my second favorite boxer of all time, behind ‘Sugar’ Ray Leonard.

“Plus, a lot of the money made would have been given to charity. 

“So it would have been for a good cause, just to show that we don’t take ourselves too seriously.

“And it would have been serious competition because you say, ‘I play basketball, I play hockey.’, 

“But you don’t ‘play’ fighting. It would have been fun.”

“I don’t have the audacity to pretend that I’m better boxer that Oscar De La Hoya was because, when he was in his prime, he’s one of the best that’s ever done it and I come from a different sport,” St-Pierre said. 

“But, take it now because of where we are in our lives.

“I think it would have been a good matchup between him and I because he’s older than me. 

“Yeah, of course he has a lot more experience than me in boxing. But I’m younger, I’m a little bit bigger. 

“So I think it would’ve made it a pretty even matchup. It could have been fun.”

Oscar De La Hoya and Snoop Dogg

Ring return: Oscar De La Hoya announced he will return to boxing on July 3 (Image: GETTY)

UFC president White revealed in the UFC 262 post-fight press conference last weekend that Triller CEO Ryan Kavanaugh had been blowing up his phone trying to make arrangements.

But White told reporters that he wasn’t interest in taking his call, or responding to his messages.

“Who gives a s***? Does anybody give a s***? I don’t give a s*** what they think,” he said.

“You think I care what Triller thinks?

“I don’t even take their calls. This idiot calls me every day. Texts me every day. ‘Please answer my call. Please talk to me. Why won’t you talk to me?’ 

“Because I don’t give a f*** about you. Do your thing. Leave me alone. Go do whatever it is that you’re doing. Knock yourself out. I could care less. I have no interest in talking to any of those idiots.

“You guys know they’re a f****** joke. But you keep asking me about them, when you know they’re a joke. You know this is bulls***. You know they’re all full of s***.”

But Kavanaugh has remained committed to trying to make the fight happen, and took to social media to respond to White’s comments.

“If we are a ‘joke’ and you don’t give a s***, then approve GSP to fight,” Kavanaugh posted to Instagram. 

“We will donate $ 250,000 to a charity of your choice if you approve the fight, as the deal is ready to close pending ONLY your approval.”

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This post originally appeared on Daily Express :: Sport Feed

UFC Cutelaba grabs rival Jacoby by neck

The UFC light heavyweight showdown between Ion Cutelaba and Dustin Jacoby will come with some added aggravation after the pair clashed at the faceoff in front of promotion chief Dana White.

Moldovan ‘Hulk’ Cutelaba stomped onto stage after weighing in on Friday at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas, shaking hands with White before staring down Jacoby – who was standing with fists clenched.

Unprovoked, Cutelaba grabbed his rival by the neck, pulling him towards him and exclaiming “you’re my bonus” before the pair were forcefully separated by security staff.

The scene played out in front of a startled White, who just last week criticized UFC match-maker Sean Shelby for failing to step in and stop the faceoff confrontation which forced Drakkar Klose out of his fight with Jeremy Stephens, after the American shoved his opponent, causing concussion and a cervical sprain.

“Come on,” White was heard saying after Cutelaba’s antics on Friday. “I was just ragging on Sean before I walked in here.”

A furious Jacoby screamed at Cutelaba “there’s no f*cking way he beats me tomorrow” as the pair were led away from each other.

Fans, fellow fighters and pundits criticized the scenes as getting out of hand.

“There’s selling a fight, and then there’s a line you just don’t cross…,” wrote women’s featherweight Megan Anderson.

“This is insanity. Especially after what happened to Klose. Commissions need to stop this nonsense. Look at how he grabs his neck,” complained ESPN pundit Ariel Helwani.

Others pointed the finger at White for not being quick enough to step in – particularly after he had chided Shelby for the same failure last week.

Cutelaba, 27, heads into Saturday’s contest at the UFC Apex on a run of successive defeats, having lost back-to-back contests with Russia’s Magomed Ankalaev last year.

He stands at 4-5 overall in the UFC after making his debut with the promotion in 2016.

Cutelaba is well known for his faceoff antics, previously painting himself green in a nod to his ‘Hulk’ moniker and also going viral for screaming into the face of Khalil Rountree before their fight in September of 2019 – which ended up being the last time Cutelaba tasted victory inside the octagon.

Jacoby, 33, is on a four-fight winning streak and boasts a 14-5 record overall, including two stints in the UFC.

He will arguably have added motivation to make Cutelaba pay the price in the octagon on Saturday night following the Moldovan’s weigh-in theatrics.

Also on rt.com ‘First fighter to win by TKO at the weigh-in’: UFC’s Klose ruled out of fight after ‘spraining neck’ in pre-fight push (VIDEO)

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This post originally appeared on RT Sport News

‘Pay your fighters’: Jake Paul takes aim over UFC pay packets as feud with promotion president Dana White escalates

Author: RT
This post originally appeared on RT Sport News

YouTuber-turned-boxer Jake Paul has upped the ante in his feud with UFC president Dana White, saying that he earned more in his one round fight with Ben Askren than the vast majority of UFC fighters.

Paul’s fledgling boxing career continued earlier this month when he earned a quick KO against MMA veteran Askren but the social media star’s developing rivalry with UFC boss White looks set to escalate further after Paul attended Saturday’s UFC 261 card in Jacksonville, Florida.

Paul, who had a confrontation with ex-UFC champ Daniel Cormier at the event, was issued with some measured praise from White in his post-fight press conference for his ability to generate buzz and create paydays for himself – but White was quick to list the differences between the type of fights Paul seeks and his own brand of fight promotion.

I don’t even know what to think about the [Ben] Askren thing. The whole thing is f*cking mind-boggling to me, but good for him. Grab that money while you can, kid,” White said.

Also on rt.com ‘I’ll slap him’: Ex-champ Cormier in furious exchange with Jake Paul at UFC 261 as Dana White condemns ‘circus’ (VIDEO)

White, however, admitted that he wasn’t on board with reports that the Triller-backed bout between Paul and Askren was a lucrative one amid reports that it sold more than one million pay-per-views.

I don’t believe anything [Triller] say,” White said. “That’s a f*cking circus. None of that is real.

“Do you think any of that sh*t that’s going on over there is real? C’mon, man. I built a real business here, a real sport.”

Paul’s declared purse of $ 640,000 will likely swell considerably when his share of PPV sales are added, and the 24-year-old was quick to point out on social media that his pay for one fight was higher than the total most UFC fighters collect.

In my third fight, I made more money in total pay than any fighter in UFC history,” Paul wrote in a long social media post directed at White.

“Maybe it’s time to pay your fighters their fair share? No wonder they all want to get into boxing. Dana, you say you make the fights the fans want to see, so hurry up and make [Jon] Jones vs. [Francis] Ngannou. Pay them their fair share. $ 10 million purse for each guy plus pay-per-view.

Why are UFC fighters so underpaid versus boxers? Why did I make more in my third fight than all but two (Khabib [Nurmagomedov] and Conor [McGregor]) UFC fighters have in history? I know why.”

Paul’s criticism of White and the UFC’s pay structure comes at a time when Jones, the former longtime light heavyweight champion, is seeking a mammoth payday to take on Ngannou in what would be Jones’ heavyweight debut, with White apparently unwilling to entertain Jones’ demands – which he hinted was in the $ 30 million range.

Several other fighters have stated their dissatisfaction with UFC pay and have moved to other organizations, such as Bellator and ONE Championship, in pursuit of loftier purses.

But as Paul has proved, there are other avenues in which fighters can earn a quick buck – and, in his case at least, you don’t even have to be a high-level boxer.

Also on rt.com UFC legend Jones fires back at Dana White over claims of ‘$ 30 million purse demands’ for Ngannou superfight

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‘I’ll slap him’: Ex-champ Cormier in furious exchange with Jake Paul at UFC 261 as Dana White condemns ‘circus’ (VIDEO)

Author: RT
This post originally appeared on RT Sport News

Dana White, Daniel Cormier and the capacity crowd in attendance at Saturday’s UFC 261 weren’t shy in letting Jake Paul how they feel about the controversial YouTuber-turned-boxer on a night of high drama in Florida.

Paul’s fledgling combat sports career continued this month when he knocked out former UFC fighter Ben Askren in a fight which Triller say generated a bountiful pay-per-view audience, but it was clear that the 23-year-old hasn’t quite found himself in the good graces of the UFC fraternity. 

Chants of “F*ck Jake Paul” could be heard break out during the featured prelim fight between Randy Brown and Alex Oliveira, with commentator Joe Rogan noting the tepid reaction – before co-commentator Cormier announcing on the broadcast that he had just had a confrontation with Paul, and that the two had been exchanging social media messages in the days after Paul’s first-round knockout of Askren.

I just saw Jake Paul and I pointed at him and said don’t play with me,” said Cormier. “‘Cause I’ll smack him in the face. He’s right there. I’ll slap [him]. I don’t play those games, Joe.”

Speaking in the post-fight press conference, UFC boss White broke one of his own cardinal rules when he was asked about Paul – a fighter not under contract to him – and said that while he respects Paul’s ability to generate box office money, he says his combat career is little more than a “freak show“.

This kid’s done a good job of putting himself in a place to make some money,” White admitted.

Good for him, he’s got you guys talking about him all the time, asking questions about him, got Daniel Cormier running after him, so he’s doing something right.

He knocked out an NBA guy who was 40 years old and 30lbs less than him and I don’t even know what do think about the Askren thing.

The whole thing is f*cking mind boggling to me, but good for him, grab that money while you can kid.”

Paul claimed in the aftermath of his fight with Askren that the event had generated a massive 1.5 million pay-per-view buys, leading to a bonanza of $ 75 million for the Triller-promoted fight.

White, though, is sceptical of those numbers.

Nah, I don’t know if the numbers are there,” he said when asked about Paul’s promotional pull.

Do you even know what would happen to this guy? He ain’t fighting in the UFC. You’re getting me talking about this f*cking guy again!

You’re getting hand-picked opponents and God knows what else is going on with that whole f*cking thing.

Also on rt.com Kamaru Usman OBLITERATES Jorge Masvidal with massive KO in welterweight title clash at UFC 261 (VIDEO)

There is a market for that. That’s not what I do. People wanna see that, this kid’s gonna make a couple bucks before this ride’s over, and it’s just not what I do.

And the numbers that you’re hearing that they did are full of sh*t, they’re full of sh*t. They didn’t pull those kind of numbers at all, not even f*cking close.

I don’t believe anything they say, that’s a f*cking circus. I built a real business here, a real sport. That’s a freak show.

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‘Khabib talks to Dana White about EFC every time they meet’: Eagle FC boss Zavurov says Khabib investing in Russian MMA’s future

Shamil Zavurov, president of Eagle Fighting Championship, says that the fight league’s backer, Khabib Nurmagomedov, is paving a path for a new generation of Russian fighters to make their mark at the top level of global MMA.

For all the countless hours spilling blood, sweat and tears in the training room, all that some fighters need to make their mark is a big break.

For Khabib, that came in early 2012 when the then 16-0 fighter took his first steps in the UFC’s cage in a journey which would eventually lead to a world title and the status of the world’s top pound-for-pound fighter. 

The undefeated (and recently retired) Khabib stepped out of the limelight last year after defending his UFC lightweight championship against the gritty American Justin Gaethje, and has worked since then to switch the focus to the next generation of Russian fighters following in his footsteps, with his cousins Usman and Umar, as well as the highly thought of Islam Makhachev battling their way to the top of the list. 

But according to Eagle Fighting Championship president Shamil Zavurov, Khabib’s investment into Russian MMA doesn’t end there.

They discuss it every time they meet,” Zavurov said to the media, including RT Sport, after a recent Eagle FC event. “I believe that at every meeting Khabib will try to get some of our top fighters signed to the UFC.

We have an oral agreement with our fighters that if they prove themselves in our league we will push to get them signed to the UFC. Nobody will hold them in EFC.

Eagle FC’s would-be status as a feeder league to the UFC is a similar arrangement to that of Irish MMA promotion Cage Warriors, who consistently provide a steady stream of European talent to the major leagues – with two of the most prominent, Conor McGregor and Michael Bisping, winning world titles and becoming legitimate sports star along the way.
Also on rt.com ‘I joked I wasn’t in pain. At that moment, he broke my leg’: Russian MMA star details injury as he fights on with fractured limb
Chief among the UFC’s potential imports is Mehdi Dakaev, the fighter who made headlines at this week’s EFC event for breaking his opponent’s leg with a scything low-kick. The EFC lightweight champ, who is 13-2 in MMA, is thought to be making ever-louder ‘blips’ on the radars of both the UFC and Bellator, another major promotion who have made significant inroads into securing up and coming Russian talent. 

But even amid all of Khabib’s achievements, there is one man who stands alone as the most prominent figure in the history of Russian mixed martial arts: Abdulmanap Nurmagomedov.

The fighting patriarch of the Nurmagomedov clan, who passed away last summer after experiencing complications following a Covid-19 diagnosis, is responsible for guiding the careers of a swath of fighters to emerge from Russia – Zavurov included – and the Eagle FC president says that the promotion will honor the fallen Nurmagomedov with a tribute event later this year.

We’re going to have one event in September and it’ll be the Abdulmanap memorial event,” he said. “We haven’t talked about co-hosting it with anyone because we’re capable of hosting a high-level event ourselves.

“So there aren’t any discussions about that at the moment, but we’ll see. If our organization and Fight Nights are both interested, why not? We hosted a great event last year and we can do it again.

Nothing is set in stone yet but we’re preparing for that event.

As for who might compete on the card, Zavurov hopes that at least one Nurmagomedov will be available to fight – and pointed to recent Bellator signing Usman Nurmagomedov as one name he is courting.

He fought last year,” Zavurov explained. “If everything goes well, why not let him do it again? Usman will be there, I will be there – we both carry Abdulmanap’s legacy and we’ll try to partake in this event.”
Also on rt.com ‘I felt pressure’: Khabib Nurmagomedov’s cousin Usman admits having UFC royalty in corner ramped up Bellator debut victory (VIDEO)
But one fighter who is confirmed for the event is Zavurov himself, with the 39-6-1 fighter set for his final career bout on a card i tribute to his mentor.

Yes, I’ll be fighting,” he said. “It will be my last fight. I want to have my final fight at that event as a final goodbye to Abdulmanap, the man who raised me and made me who I am today.”

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The devil’s in the details: Dana White boasts UFC 261 is SOLD OUT – but fans in the US are warned attendance could result in DEATH

Dana White has gleefully announced that next month’s UFC 261 will be the first event they have hosted in front of a sold out crowd in more than a year – but fans are being warned that they risk DEATH by attending the show.

Throughout much of the Covid-19 pandemic, White had proclaimed that he would be the first major sporting figure to hold events in a full arena, jumping at the opportunity to hold a showpiece in Jacksonville, Florida amid the state’s relaxation of Coronavirus restrictions. 

The fight card – which will be topped by the welterweight world title bout between Kamaru Usman and Jorge Masvidal – also features two other world title fights and is expected to be one of the promotion’s bumper events for this calendar year.

Given the significant risks of mass public gatherings, the UFC’s legal team has prepared some unique ‘small print’ at the point of sale to ensure that fight fans are aware of the potential risks of attending – while also safeguarding the fight league from any potential legal action which may follow.

Thank you, UFC fans,” White announced on Twitter. “Sold out in minutes. One of the fastest sellouts in UFC history. Arena record for highest gross. 15,000 attendance. I will see you in Jacksonville.”

Hidden in the ticket-buying process, though, was a lengthy list of potential risks to attendees for which the UFC are keen to say that they accept no liability whatsoever.

They include an emphasis that travel to and from the arena and attendance could lead to the exposure and contraction of the virus, and that it could result in “severe and permanent damage to the health” of buyers and others, listed under an ‘Assumption of Risk’ category in the event’s terms and conditions.

That damage is not limited to death, fever, weight loss, irreversible pulmonary, respiratory and/or neurological system damage, loss of taste or smell, mental or emotional distress, temporary or permanent disability, loss of income, loss of employment, loss of financial or other opportunities and medical expenses.”

The minutiae also exempt the UFC from responsibility around issues such as self-quarantine, insurance, expenses and loss of earnings.

Reaction to the announcement has been varied, with some fans questioning the safety of holding next month’s event in front of a capacity crowd while the US continues to ramp up its vaccination drive. 

Are you really a fight fan if you don’t risk bringing a highly infectious virus back to your community?” wrote one fan online, while another hit out at White for potentially subjecting fans to the type of risk he has spent much of the past year trying to minimalize for his fighters.

Florida, though, has been noted for its vigor in peeling back the layers of restrictions which have affected the state for much of the past year – with throngs of youngsters making headlines during the past week for repeated instances of anti-social behavior during Spring Break. 
Also on rt.com ‘We are BACK!’: UFC 261 to take place with FULL CROWD in Florida as Usman vs Masvidal to headline
That said, holding a fight card in front of a sold-out crowd will be one of the first signs of a true return to normalcy after a 12-month period in which the global sporting landscape was hugely disrupted.

White and the UFC will be hoping that the event goes off without a hitch, and that the UFC’s team of crack lawyers won’t be forced to rely on the legal jargon to neuter lawsuits from anyone who falls ill after attending the show.

In addition to the Usman vs. Masvidal championship fight, Zhang Weili defends her women’s strawweight title against Rose Namajunas while Valentina Shevchenko does the same for her flyweight strap against Jessica Andrade.
Also on rt.com UFC boss White says Dustin Poirier has been ‘smart’ to turn down world title bout in favor of trilogy fight with Conor McGregor

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UFC supremo Dana White admits defeat in bid

Five months after Khabib Nurmagomedov announced he was stepping away from the octagon, Dana White has finally recognized his UFC retirement in an emotional shared announcement – with a May clash set to decide the new champion.

UFC president White has admitted defeat after his latest meeting with former lightweight king Nurmagomedov, accepting the Russian’s shock retirement which he first declared after putting away Justin Gaethje at UFC 254 in October.

Nurmagomedov emotionally revealed in the octagon that he would be stepping away in order to honor a promise he had made to his mother, although he went out in fitting style with a stunning second-round triangle choke submission against the dangerous Gaethje.

Having lost his father, Abdulmanap, to complications arising from Covid-19 last summer, Nurmagomedov opted not to continue without his life-long coach by his side, ending a 29-0 career that saw him talked of as the greatest mixed martial artist of all time .

Still, this hadn’t deterred White from attempting to lure the American Kickboxing Academy star into one last dance, with everything from a superfight with Georges St-Pierre to a scrap with current welterweight ruler Kamaru Usman entertained.

Some five months later, however, with the lightweight division held up in the meantime, White has given up on his quest, taking to social media late on Thursday night to face facts alongside a photo of the pair together.

“29-0 it is,” accepted White. “He is 100 percent officially retired. It was incredible to watch you work. Thank you for everything and enjoy whatever is next, my friend.”

An hour later, Khabib shared the same snap on Instagram with his own message to his former boss and those responsible for his rise to the top.

“It was a good dinner with some great people. [Dana], thank you so much, brother, and the entire UFC team for the opportunity to prove myself. You guys have changed many lives forever because of this sport.

“Dana – I’ll never forget your attitude towards me, my father did not forget and my sons will remember you. Today there was a real conversation between real men.

“Thank you to all my team, sparring partners and all the fans. I hope you will accept my decision and understand me.”

In a fawning appraisal, Nurmagomedov’s manager, Ali Abdelaziz, lauded his fighter’s career and called White “the godfather of MMA” and “big brother”.

“This is the best I have seen between Khabib and Dana,” he said of the meeting. “I have never seen a relationship like this between a fighter and promoter.

“They never argued, they never fought and never complained about each other. Nothing but pure class between the both of them.

“I am a little sad that my brother is leaving the sport, but the Eagle will always sore in the sky. The greatest fighter on the planet.”

Wasting no time, White then revealed to ESPN’s Brett Okamoto that Michael Chandler and Charles Oliveira will face off for the now-vacant lightweight strap on at UFC 262 on May 15.

“Let’s go!” demanded the Brazilian on Twitter, while his Nashville native foe delivered his trademark exclamation of “see you at the top!”

Having previously trying and failing to convince Khabib to come out of retirement, former Bellator MMA champion Chandler has also talked down Oliveira’s prospects of dominating their weight class.

“The only question I would pose about Charles Oliveira is he’s not a large 155’er,” he told MMA Fighting.

“He’s not a very powerful guy. He’s not a very physically strong guy or overly athletically gifted guy.

“I like Charles Oliveira’s style in the fact that he trots forward, his striking has gotten better, he’s extremely slick with his jiu-jitsu.”

Still, riding an eight-fight winning streak that included Tony Ferguson’s scalp last time out, the São Paulo scrapper will fancy his chances.

Also on rt.com ‘They want a guy to beat him’: UFC legend St-Pierre says Dana White wants Khabib comeback in order to END his undefeated streak

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Snoop Dogg challenges UFC boss Dana White to $2 MILLION

Snoop Dogg challenges UFC boss Dana White to $2 MILLION

Rapper Snoop Dogg has told UFC boss Dana White to put his money where his mouth is and enter into a wager with him on the winner of the boxing bout between YouTuber Jake Paul and former MMA star Ben Askren.

White said recently on Mike Tyson’s Hotboxin’ podcast that he was willing to bet a cool $ 1 million that former UFC contender Askren would beat Paul when they step into the ring on April 17 at the Mercedes-Benz Arena in Atlanta, in a bout organized under the Triller Fight Club banner.

Askren, 36, is a former ONE Championship and Bellator welterweight champion who fought three times in the UFC before retiring in 2019.

Paul, 24, shot to fame as a YouTuber but has since carved a niche as a wannabe boxer, winning his two professional bouts to date – the last of which saw an explosive KO of former NBA player Nate Robinson on the Mike Tyson versus Roy Jones Jr undercard in November.

Snoop Dogg was part of the commentary team that night, and has backed Paul to have his hand raised against White’s man Askren.

Indeed, the veteran rapper is so confident he has told the UFC boss to double his $ 1 million wager.

“Hey Dana White, I see you got faith in your boy, right?!” Snoop Dogg said in a video shared by TMZ.

“You say you got a million?! You’re the CEO of UFC. You got more than a million. Put up TWO. Put up $ 2 million and we’ll match it.

“C’mon Dana, what you waiting on?! Your money is good.

“Yeah, I got Jake. Fight night. That’s my guy. That’s my dog in the fight. $ 2 million. Holla at me, Dana White.”

Also on rt.com Dogg fight: Rap star Snoop Dogg to launch new boxing promotion ‘The Fight Club’

Paul himself has already challenged White to a similar deal, although the UFC chief is yet to respond.

White has previously dismissed Paul’s fighting credentials and those of his brother Logan, who holds similar boxing ambitions to his sibling.

“It’s all a big gimmick… If people are dumb enough to spend their money watching that sh*t, I don’t know what to tell you. Good luck to them,” White said.

The UFC chief has even threatened to unleash two-weight women’s champion Amanda Nunes on Jake Paul, claiming she would “put him in a coma.”

Also on rt.com Amanda Nunes ‘would put Jake Paul IN A COMA’ says Dana White, as UFC boss warns YouTuber ‘he’s lucky there’s a pandemic’

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‘The Wolf is doing good’: Chimaev teases UFC return – but Dana White frets about how comeback from Covid ‘will play out’

UFC sensation Khamzat Chimaev is training his sights on welterweight rival Neil Magny, with the Russian-born star’s manager offering positive signs on his comeback despite the recent noises from UFC boss Dana White.

Chimaev continues to recover from the lingering after-effects of the Covid infection which put paid to his biggest moment in the UFC spotlight, which should have come this weekend at UFC Fight Night 187 against Leon Edwards in Las Vegas. 

Instead, that fight fell through for a third time in February as the Chechen-born Chimaev was flown to the US by the UFC for specialist treatment for the continuing ill-health he suffered from the virus. 
Also on rt.com Covid-hit UFC star Khamzat Chimaev ‘flying to US for treatment for lingering effects of virus, manager hopes he can fight by June’
Recent weeks have seen confusion over what the future has in store for the undefeated 26-year-old, after he rocked social media with a disillusioned message at the start of March saying that he was retiring, seemingly unable to shake the ravages of the virus and the effects it has caused to his ability to train.

That decision then appeared to be abruptly reversed after an intervention from Chechen leader and MMA fanatic Ramzan Kadyrov. 
Also on rt.com Back from the brink? Chechen head Kadyrov says he’s persuaded Chimaev to reignite UFC title dream for ‘millions of fans in Russia’
UFC boss Dana White, meanwhile, has suggested that Chimaev was simply emotional at not being able to train the way he wanted, and was incapable of following doctors’ orders to rest and recuperate in order to fully restore himself before getting back in the gym. 

Ahead of this weekend’s action in Las Vegas – where Chicago’s Belal Muhammad has stepped in for Chimaev to face Edwards – White reiterated his concerns over Chimaev rushing his return to training. 

“The problem is, the reason that everybody loves him is because the guy is an absolute savage. He wants to fight every weekend. He believes he’ll win the world title right now,” White told BT Sport. 

“But the problem with a guy like that is you can’t calm him down. He should be resting right now. He shouldn’t be training at all. He should be resting and recovering, but he won’t do it.

“At the end of the day, he’s a grown man, and we can’t control what he does on a daily basis. I don’t know how this is going to play out. We’ll see.”

But that somewhat cautious assessment stands in contrast to the picture presented by Chimaev himself and his manager, Ali Abdelaziz. 

Sharing an image on Instagram Stories of a video call with Chimaev, the Dominance MMA founder captioned the post “The Wolf is doing good,” referring to Chimaev by his fighting nickname of ‘Borz’, which translates as ‘wolf’ from his native Chechen. 

The Swedish-based Chimaev has also signaled his appetite to return, posting an image of himself to his 1.7 million followers and tagging American 170lbs rival Neil Magny along with a ‘sush’ emoji. 

Chimaev and Magny have previously jousted online, with the former vowing that he would give the 33-year-old Illinois native a “Chechen slap” if they cross paths inside the octagon or outside of it. 

Chimaev’s coronavirus woes halted the momentum which saw him explode onto the UFC scene with three wins in the space of just 66 days last year. 

His contest with Edwards – the number three-ranked fighter at 170lbs – was set to hand him an early chance to assert himself among the welterweight elite, with the likes of UFC boss White tipping Chimaev for big things in 2021. 
Also on rt.com Is Khamzat Chimaev retiring? Here’s what we know after Dana White dismisses ‘super-emotional’ undefeated star’s retirement post
As it stands, and assuming his recovery goes to plan, the 9-0 Chimaev is targeting a return in June, if not before. 

Magny, meanwhile, was last in action in January when he lost a unanimous decision verdict against Michael Chiesa on Fight Island in Abu Dhabi. 

Magny currently stands at number nine on the UFC’s welterweight rungs, and has won five of his last seven outings inside the octagon.  

Responding to Chimaev’s latest callout, Magny told the rising welterweight star: “Make sure you clear that with daddy first.”

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‘How about September?’ Dana White reveals Khabib’s response after latest efforts to coax UFC champ back to octagon

UFC president Dana White isn’t giving up in his attempts to persuade Khabib Nurmagomedov to reverse his decision to retire from mixed martial arts, telling the media in Las Vegas about his meeting with the Russian at UFC 259.

White has been vocal in his desire to have reigning UFC lightweight champion Nurmagomedov return to the cage to pursue what would be an unparalleled 30-0 record, five months after a tearful Nurmagomedov announced his decision to step away from the sport following a decisive win against Justin Gaethje.
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The UFC boss has held several summits with Nurmagomedov designed to outline a path to the Russian’s return but despite not appearing close to a breakthrough, White certainly isn’t give up just yet.

Nurmagomedov was in attendance in Las Vegas to see his friend and training partner Islam Makhachev defeat American Drew Dober by third-round submission on Saturday – but once the business at hand was taken care of, White told the media in the post-fight press conference of his latest attempt to harangue Khabib back to the UFC.

We did [talk]. I said, ‘Hey, how about September?'” White admitted to the media afterwards, which was met by howls of laughter from the media in attendance. 

He laughed like you did. He just laughed. That’s all he did. We’re going to go to dinner.”

White is expected to meet with Nurmagomedov again on Sunday, where he will again outline the his plan for a Khabib comeback fight. However, word which has filtered from Nurmagomedov’s camp suggests that the 32-year-old fighter isn’t exactly contemplating a return, saying recently that he has had enough of devoting his life to sport. 

Speaking earlier in the week, White waxed lyrical of the state of the lightweight division once lorded over by Khabib and said that there was a range of enticing fights for the Russian should he opt to return.

I think a lot of these fights have to play out in that division. From [number nine] all the way up to number one, they’re incredible fights,” White said.

You can mix or match them any way you want and they’re really good fights. Let some of these play out to see who will fight next for the title. I think if Khabib is interested, he’ll take the fight.

You don’t see Khabib saying, ‘Leave me alone. Stop asking me’. So there’s still a chance. That’s the way I look at it.”
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But the longer that White’s protracted pursuit of Khabib continues, the less likely it is to see success. In what has amounted to a very high-profile staring contest between two of the most powerful figures in mixed martial arts, Khabib doesn’t look like he will be the first to blink – but that isn’t going to stop Dana White from trying. 

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