Shavkat Rakhmonov: Colby Covington ‘crosses the limit’ with trash talk, but he’s ‘actually a very good fighter’

UFC welterweight contender Shavkat Rakhmonov respects Colby Covington as a fighter.

[autotag]Shavkat Rakhmonov[/autotag] respects [autotag]Colby Covington[/autotag] as a fighter.

Covington (17-3 MMA, 12-3 UFC) never minces his words when it comes to his opposition or any fighter on the roster, but the former UFC welterweight interim champion’s only two losses in the past six years have come to UFC welterweight champ and No. 1 pound-for-pound fighter Kamaru Usman.

Rakhmonov (16-0 MMA, 4-0 UFC) acknowledges Covington’s skills and thinks his brash nature causes him to be under-appreciated as a fighter.

“This guy does a lot of trash talking, and sometimes he crosses the limit with that,” Rakhmonov said in an interview with James Lynch. “But he’s actually a very good fighter, and a lot of people underestimate him. But he’s a very, very tough fighter, good spirit, and he showed that in the last two fights with Usman.”

Covington’s mouth got him in trouble in his past outing against Jorge Masvidal. Covington dominated his former best friend in a lopsided decision win at UFC 272 in March, but their rivalry didn’t end there.

[lawrence-related id=2557263]

Masvidal couldn’t let go of Covington’s pre-fight trash talk, causing him to allegedly attack Covington outside of a restaurant in Miami just weeks after their fight. Masvidal was arrested and faces a pair of charges, including one count of aggravated battery resulting in great bodily harm and one count of criminal mischief.

Rakhmonov, an undefeated rising welterweight, could find himself fighting the likes of Covington in the near future after breaking into the top 10 rankings with a submission win over Neil Magny this past Saturday at UFC on ESPN 38. “Nomad” has finished all his professional wins.

[mm-video type=video id=01g6m0fqw7ycdxd4my02 playlist_id=01eqvpne7c1q486dvv player_id=none image=https://images2.minutemediacdn.com/image/upload/video/thumbnail/mmplus/01g6m0fqw7ycdxd4my02/01g6m0fqw7ycdxd4my02-3c775b5e13cd2988e96a4b2c4efbd47c.jpg]

‘More fire’? Max Holloway has no idea what Khabib Nurmagomedov is talking about

Max Holloway isn’t sure why Khabib Nurmagomedov is doubting his desire to compete ahead of UFC 276.

[autotag]Max Holloway[/autotag] isn’t sure why [autotag]Khabib Nurmagomedov[/autotag] is doubting his desire to compete.

When giving his prediction for Holloway’s trilogy fight with featherweight champion [autotag]Alexander Volkanovski[/autotag] in Saturday’s UFC 276 co-main event, Nurmagomedov said he thinks Volkanovski has “more fire” than Holloway (23-6 MMA, 19-6 UFC) and picked him to retain.

Since losing to Volkanovski (24-1 MMA, 11-0 UFC) in back-to-back title fights, Holloway has rebounded with striking clinics against top contenders Calvin Kattar and Yair Rodriguez, so he’s surprised with Nurmagomedov’s opinion.

“Not at all, you know? I mean, he’s probably talking about Volkanovski having more fire because he has a cooking show or something,” Holloway told Yahoo! Sports. “Maybe the fire resemblance there, but other than that I don’t know, man. I don’t know. Khabib is Khabib. He’s gonna say what he’s gonna say, and I have no idea what he’s talking about, you know? I’m here, and I’m still doing it, so I can’t wait. There’s a lot of people saying stuff, and we get to figure out if everything is true, if I still have the fire come Saturday night.”

[lawrence-related id=2557577,2555529]

Holloway’s two decision losses to Volkanovski were tightly contested, with “Blessed” adamant that he won the rematch. He will get an opportunity to reclaim his belt at UFC 276 and is brimming with confidence ahead of their trilogy.

“I’m excited for the challenge,” Holloway said. “I can’t wait to go out there. Tune in Saturday, you guys do not want to miss this. It’s gonna be amazing, it’s gonna be great, and I feel good. I can’t put into words, but when you got a feeling about something, you got a feeling, and I’m ready to show it.”

UFC 276 takes place Saturday at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. The main card airs on pay-per-view following prelims on ABC/ESPN and early prelims on ESPN+.

[mm-video type=video id=01g6m0fz20jk9ne7dd2t playlist_id=01eqvpne7c1q486dvv player_id=none image=https://images2.minutemediacdn.com/image/upload/video/thumbnail/mmplus/01g6m0fz20jk9ne7dd2t/01g6m0fz20jk9ne7dd2t-1dad08b41c8e3c533e17dc273f5d15ec.jpg]

Josh Emmett: Alexander Volkanovski is the featherweight GOAT if he beats Max Holloway at UFC 276

Josh Emmett thinks Alexander Volkanovski could cement himself as the featherweight GOAT at UFC 276.

[autotag]Josh Emmett[/autotag] feels the featherweight GOAT conversation will be laid to rest depending on how things shake out on Saturday.

The UFC featherweight title contender thinks Volkanovski is on the verge of becoming the greatest of all time in the weight class. Volkanovski returns to the cage at UFC 276, where he attempts to defend his title once again against former champion Max Holloway.

This will be Volkanovski’s fourth title defense. He already beat Holloway twice in the past, and holds a win over the only other former champion of the division, Jose Aldo.

Emmett (18-2 MMA, 9-2 UFC) feels Volkanovski will cement his standing as the featherweight GOAT if he were to notch a third win over Holloway.

“Yeah, how can it not?,” Emmett told MMA Junkie. “He’s beat Aldo and Max Holloway has beat Aldo a few times, and then if Volkanovski beats Max three times – I mean, look at the guys he’s fought. He fought my teammate Chad Mendes, and he continues to get better and better. How can you argue against that, you know what I mean?”

Emmett believes Holloway is a game opponent and is capable of dethroning the champion. However, he does feel Volkanovski has the edge and expects him to retain his title on Saturday.

“It’s hard for me to go against the champion,” Emmett said. “It’s hard for me to pick against the champion that is also in a 20-plus fight winning streak, somebody that’s undefeated in the UFC and has beaten all these legends and all-time greats and continues to impress and get better and better.

“I can see it going either way, but I’m leaning towards the champion Volkanovski. I believe he got the job done twice, and I think he’s going to do so again.”

[lawrence-related id=2555660,2557416]

In regards to his own career, Emmett is coming off a win over fellow top contender Calvin Kattar in the main event of UFC on ESPN 37. He now finds himself on a five-fight winning streak and hungry to fight for the title.

“I do feel that fight was a title eliminator,” Emmett said when asked about his win over Kattar. “I know it was. That was a No. 1 contender spot. … I feel like regardless, I’m fighting the winner of that next fight on July 2. That’s the only fight to make. I’m the only one that hasn’t fought the top of the division, and I’ve been ready all of my career.”

[vertical-gallery id=2555036]

Conor McGregor, Jorge Masvidal bring mother’s love into latest exchange

Jorge Masvidal’s mother has now become a subject of discussion in the ongoing trash with Conor McGregor.

Micahel Chiesa probably wouldn’t approve of the latest social media exchange between Conor McGregor and Jorge Masvidal, because now, a mother has become a subject of the trash talk.

Typically, whenever the family is brought into the mix, things turn ugly quickly. However, this time, Masvidal’s mother being a topic of discussion has not resulted in things going south, but rather surprisingly respectful.

In a recent interview with MMA Fighting, Masvidal was asked if McGregor wants to fight, and the response triggered the latest exchange between the two fighters.

“No, Conor doesn’t want the fight,” Masvidal said. “If he did, he’d post something, he’d say something, he’d probably just insult my mom or some relative of mine, my nation, where I come from, something like that.”

McGregor replied to the video clip from the interview, stating that Masvidal’s mother would not be a target of his talk.

“Insult your mom?” McGregor wrote on Twitter. “What a loser you are, mate. Me and your mom get along.”

Over a hour after McGregor left his reply, Masvidal responded to the former UFC champ-champ in a witty and perhaps sarcastic tone, agreeing that his mother does indeed love McGregor.

“Yeah, my mom loves you, man,” Masvidal responded on Twitter. “She knows you are about to be the biggest paycheck for me and a relatively easy fight.”

McGregor has yet to compete since UFC 264, where he broke his leg in the trilogy fight against Dustin Poirier. Masvidal’s last fight was in March, a unanimous decision loss to Colby Covington.

Despite the ongoing trash talk between the two fighters, there is no indication the UFC is currently interested in booking the pair for a fight.

[pickup_prop id=”21636″]

Joaquin Buckley explains why unexpected performance bonus at UFC on ESPN 37 had a larger meaning

UFC middleweight Joaquin Buckley was surprised by his recent performance bonus, but it meant more to him than money.

The UFC typically hands out a select number of bonuses to the top performances after every card, but the recent rare deviation from the norm was a welcome surprise to middleweight [autotag]Joaquin Buckley[/autotag].

“New Mansa” entered UFC on ESPN 37 looking for his third straight victory, but standing in the way was a strong wrestler in Albert Duraev who also happened to be a former training partner. Buckley, who created one of the most spectacular knockouts in the history of the sport in 2020, always hunts for the extra $50,000 bonus in his fights. So far, he has cashed four of those extra checks.

However, the one he earned for his win against Duraev was unexpected because the TKO stoppage wasn’t a result of another flashy spinning kick, but rather the accumulation of damage and a doctor’s stoppage due to swelling of Duraev’s eye.

UFC president Dana White was in a generous mood that night in Austin, Texas, and decided to issue bonuses to every fighter who won by stoppage, including Buckley, whose stoppage was a bit anti-climatic. Buckley previously felt he wasn’t on the best of terms with the promotion based on things he did or said in the past, but thinks gesture showed him otherwise.

“I was extremely blessed,” Buckley told MMA Junkie. “I don’t really want to talk about it, but like everybody seen that I wasn’t being posted after my win. So, I feel like the things that I said in my past interviews, unfortunately, put me in a bad situation with the promotion. But now, I might be in a better light with them, because they can see that no matter who they put me up against, I’m always gonna be exciting and I’m always gonna come to bring the fight.

I just want to say I’m appreciative of Dana just looking at me and seeing that I’m the fighter that I say I am and rewarded me the performance bonus because he didn’t have to do that. He didn’t have to do that at all.”

[lawrence-related id=2557389,2555147,2539615]

It’s unclear exactly what actions Buckley may have done that gave him the idea that things with the UFC weren’t on the best of terms, and apparently, he’s not sure either. While he doesn’t regret anything he’s said or done behind the scenes, he now knows it’s for the best to be more aware of how he comes off.

“It’s not regrets, it’s just how you say things and what you do,” Buckley said. “It’s not what I said, but it’s how I said it that I think kinda rubbed whoever I rubbed wrong, you know what I’m saying? My thing is, I just have to realize my place and my position in this game, and I don’t mind doing that. I’m just trying to fight and make money, that’s it.”

With three wins in a row, including two bonus-winning stoppages of his opponents, the 28-year-old Buckley is preparing for whatever comes his way next. Whether it be a short notice call or a proper matchup with a full training camp, Buckley says he’ll be ready to put on another show.

UFC 276 ‘Embedded,’ No. 2: ‘The main event should have been the co-main’

The UFC returns for International Fight Week and a big pay-per-view. “Embedded” is back to document what’s happening behind the scenes.

The UFC is back in Las Vegas for its latest International Fight Week and a big pay-per-view, which means the “Embedded” fight-week video series is back to document what’s happening behind the scenes.

UFC 276 takes place Saturday at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. The main card airs on pay-per-view following prelims on ABC/ESPN and early prelims on ESPN+.

UFC 275 features a title-fight doubleheader. In the main event, middleweight champion [autotag]Israel Adesanya[/autotag] (22-1 MMA, 11-1 UFC) takes on challenger [autotag]Jared Cannonier[/autotag] (15-5 MMA, 8-5 UFC). In the co-feature, featherweight champ [autotag]Alexander Volkanovski[/autotag] (24-1 MMA, 11-0 UFC) meets former titleholder [autotag]Max Holloway[/autotag] (23-6 MMA, 19-6 UFC) in a trilogy rematch.

Additionally, [autotag]Pedro Munhoz[/autotag] (19-7 MMA, 9-7 UFC) takes on rising bantamweight standout [autotag]Sean O’Malley[/autotag] (15-1 MMA, 7-1 UFC) on the main card.

The second episode of “Embedded” follows the featured fighters while they get ready for fight week. Here is the UFC’s description of the episode from YouTube:

Max Holloway does a sit down at T-Mobile and a shakeout at the PI. Champs Alex Volkanovski and Israel Adesanya cheer on a teammate in the Octagon. The Kiwis push hard in the gym. UFC 276 is on Saturday, July 2.

Watch the episode in the video above check out the previous episodes below:

[listicle id=2553801]

Julianna Peña: Taila Santos beat Valentina Shevchenko with one eye at UFC 275

“She beat her with one eye, and she still lost. It was horrible.”

[autotag]Julianna Peña[/autotag] thinks [autotag]Taila Santos[/autotag] was robbed against [autotag]Valentina Shevchenko[/autotag].

Flyweight champion Shevchenko (23-3 MMA, 12-2 UFC) notched her seventh title defense when she edged out Santos (19-2 MMA, 4-2 UFC) at UFC 275 on in June. She had to battle through some early adversity to get the win.

Santos got Shevchenko down and took her back on a couple of occasions, but the champion was able to battle out of danger and rally to win the fight. However, UFC bantamweight champion Peña (11-4 MMA, 7-2 UFC) thinks the judges got it wrong.

“I had Taila winning,” Peña said in an interview with The Schmo. “She beat her with one eye, and she still lost. It was horrible.”

Shevchenko holds a win over Peña. She submitted “The Venezuelan Vixen” in the second round in a bantamweight bout in 2017. With Shevchenko pondering a move back up to 135 pounds, Peña hopes she gets the opportunity to avenge her loss.

“I know that me and Valentina also have some unfinished business that I would like to get that rematch and run it back, as well,” Peña said. “But I definitely thought that Taila did enough to win, and I was disappointed that she didn’t get the nod.”

[lawrence-related id=2555688,2553899,2553759]

After capturing the bantamweight title with a shocking upset submission finish at UFC 269, Peña is set to rematch Amanda Nunes in the UFC 277 main event July 30.

“This is going to be the biggest, toughest, strongest, fastest, scariest Amanda Nunes that we’ve ever seen, and I am absolutely ready for anything and everything,” Peña said.

[listicle id=2553427]

Dana White says Jon Jones ‘ready to go,’ expects him to fight Francis Ngannou or Stipe Miocic in UFC return

UFC president Dana White gives an update on Jon Jones’ career and return to the octagon.

[autotag]Jon Jones[/autotag]’ return to the UFC perhaps could be getting closer to come to fruition.

The former UFC light heavyweight champion is apparently ready to make his long-awaited comeback after a more than two-year absence, according to UFC president [autotag]Dana White[/autotag]. Speaking Monday on “The Jim Rome Show,” White said that Jones is just waiting on an opponent but that he’s good to fight once again.

“Jon Jones is ready to go,” White said. “We’re just waiting for an opponent. It’s either going to be Francis (Ngannou), depending on how long his knee is going to take to recover, or Stipe Miocic.”

Jones hasn’t fought since defending the light heavyweight title against Dominick Reyes at UFC 247 in February 2020. He vacated the belt that same year out of interest to move up to the heavyweight division and challenge for the title there. Through the process to move up a weight class, Jones has been vocal in the past about contractual issues with the UFC. However, that seems to be a thing of the past as he closes in on a return.

“It’s very interesting because I’m a huge believer in ring rust,” White said. “But for all the negative things you could say about Jon Jones and his personal life and things that have happened, he’s the best. He’s definitely the best of all time.”

[lawrence-related id=2557582]

Miocic, a former UFC heavyweight champion, has yet to be booked to fight. He last competed in March 2021 when he lost his belt by knockout to now champion Francis Ngannou.

On the other hand, Ngannou is close to becoming a free agent, and he’s also experienced contractual issues with the UFC. He’s currently recovering from a knee surgery and targets a return for late 2022 or early 2023. Ngannou fought out his contract earlier this year with a title defense against Ciryl Gane at UFC 270. He’s shown in interest in boxing British star Tyson Fury.

[mm-video type=playlist id=01eqvpne7c1q486dvv player_id=none image=https://mmajunkie.usatoday.com/wp-content/plugins/mm-video/images/playlist-icon.png]

Gina Carano on Ronda Rousey’s interest in potential fight: ‘It could happen’

Is Gina Carano vs. Ronda Rousey a fight you’d be interested in seeing?

[autotag]Gina Carano[/autotag] isn’t opposed to the idea of a potential superfight with UFC Hall of Famer [autotag]Ronda Rousey[/autotag].

Carano, a pioneer and early star of women’s MMA before becoming an actress, reacted to Rousey’s recent comment that she’d only come back from retirement to fight Carano (7-1). Speaking with FOX News, Carano said she’d entertain the possibility.

“You know what? Just never put it past me,” Carano said when asked if she’d consider fighting Rousey. “It could happen. It would be like, you know, six months from now, because I have a lot of stuff I need to do. But my fight really is with I really want to create, I want to direct, I want to produce, I want to give Ronda Rousey a job in one of my movies, so maybe there is something we can do there.”

The UFC did try to make a fight between Carano and Rousey years go. According to Carano, the UFC offered her $1 million to fight then-undefeated bantamweight champion Rousey but felt pressured when White told media she was being signed before having a chance to build a fight camp and team. Since Carano didn’t feel comfortable with White’s decision to go public, the fight never materialized.

[lawrence-related id=465774,265760]

Rousey (12-2) hasn’t competed in MMA since her title-fight loss to Amanda Nunes in December 2016. She has since become a mother and taken her talents to pro wrestling where she is the current WWE SmackDown women’s champion.

Meanwhile, Carano hasn’t fought since an August 2009 loss to Cris Cyborg for the inaugural Strikeforce women’s featherweight title in what was the first major MMA event headlined by a women’s bout. The TKO loss remains Carano’s only professional defeat.

After that, Carano turned to acting and has starred in such films as “Haywire” (2011), “Fast and Furious 6” (2013), “Deadpool” (2016), and her latest Daily Wire-produced film “Terror on the Prairie,” which was released earlier this month and also stars UFC veteran Donald Cerrone.

Carano had a starring role on the popular Disney+ series, “The Mandalorian,” but was fired in February 2021 after she likened Republicans to victims of the Holocaust.

[vertical-gallery id=465833]

[listicle id=2551746]

Marlon Vera expects ‘total destruction’ of Dominick Cruz at UFC San Diego

“I just see it as total destruction. “How? When? I don’t know what round, who cares, but he’s gonna be down and I’m gonna move forward.”

COSTA MESA, Calif. – [autotag]Marlon Vera[/autotag] is oozing confidence ahead of his big fight against [autotag]Dominick Cruz[/autotag].

Looking to enter title contention, Vera (21-7-1 MMA, 13-6 UFC) meets Cruz (24-3 MMA, 7-2 UFC) in the UFC Fight Night in San Diego headliner on Aug. 13.

Two-time UFC bantamweight champion Cruz proved he’s still in top form after back-to-back wins over Casey Kenney and Pedro Munhoz, but “Chito” expects to be too much for him on the night.

“I just see it as total destruction,” Vera told MMA Junkie. “How? When? I don’t know what round. Who cares. But he’s going to be down and I’m going to move forward.”

The bantamweight division’s all-time leader in finishes is fresh off a main event win against Rob Font in April and sees himself leapfrogging the other contenders if he can make an impressive statement against Cruz.

“Honestly, since they already booked all the top five and all are great fighters, I really feel whoever gets the best win is going to jump all of them,” Vera said. “Because all of them are high stakes. Dominick was a dominant champion, (Jose) Aldo is fighting Merab (Dvalishvili), Song Yadong is fighting (Cory) Sandhagen.

“So I just feel whoever puts on a better performance, and depending on who fought who in the past, is going to get it. I don’t give two f*cks about what happens in any of those fights. I’m just worried about taking the head off Dominick, kick his ass, finish him and then see what’s going on.”

[listicle id=2542481]

[vertical-gallery id=1871373]