The Friday Five: August 3rd, 2018

 

1.  McGregor Looking At Vegas Return, Possibly Against Khabib.

Conor McGregor’s return to the UFC may not be official, but the former two division champion may have a city in mind for his return.

“We’ll see what happens,” McGregor told TMZ cameras on Tuesday. “I’d love to fight in the Garden again. But I believe this one is Las Vegas.”

If it is a Vegas return, the soonest McGregor could fight would be UFC 229 on October 6th, but the most likely option would be UFC 232 on December 29th, both events at the T-Mobile Arena.

McGregor would not answer who is opponent would be for his return to the Octagon, but many assume it’ll be his current rival and UFC lightweight champion, Khabib Nurmagomedov.

The rivalry would turn into a deep and personal issue the week of UFC 223, where the Irish star would fly out nearly a dozen associates to confront Nurmagomedov, following a perceived slight from the current champion to McGregor’s training partner Artem Lobov.

McGregor would end up invading the UFC 223 media day, and then attack a bus he believed to contain Khabib, going as far as throwing a dolly at the bus, shattering a window. McGregor would be in a protracted legal battle that would yield him five days of community service, one to three days of anger management evaluation and will be required to pay restitution for the damage he caused on the bus.

McGregor said he was “pushing for” coming back before the end of 2018 and that a deal was “very close.”

“It’s not official, but we’re close,” McGregor said.

 

2. Tyson Fury and Anthony Joshua Near Deal For Fight In Fall

It seems that a WBC championship showdown between Deontay Wilder and Tyson Fury is all but the formality of a press conference away from being real.

Talking with ESPN this week, Fury claimed it only took “two days” for an agreement for a December showdown in Las Vegas to come to be.

“Me and Deontay have been back and forth for years,” Fury revealed to Behind the Gloves. “I think he’s great for boxing. He’s a great world champion and he’s the most dangerous heavyweight out there baring none.”

“Las Vegas is the destination, so I’ve been told. December is the month, 2018 is the year.”

Fury returns to the ring on August 18th against Francesco Pianeta, in his second tune up fight since returning from a three year hiatus from the sport.

Fury claimed that dealing with Deontay Wilder’s team was not difficult, and lays blame for a Wilder-Anthony Joshua matchup not materializing on Joshua and his promoter Eddie Hearn.

“It’s been very, very easy [to make the fight]. We basically did this deal in two days, it’s been the most straightforward, not complicated, deal that I have ever done. I’ve found his full team and him gentlemen to deal with, straightforward and very, very easy.

 

3. Nate Diaz Returning At UFC 230.

After two years away from the Octagon, Nate Diaz will return in the co-main event of UFC 230 at Madison Square Garden.

Diaz, who has not fought since his majority decision loss to Conor McGregor in 2016, will square off with Dustin Poirier in the event’s co- main event on November 3rd.

The fight, first reported by the Los Angeles Times, will be announced officially at Friday’s press conference in Los Angeles.

Diaz, who made $2 million against McGregor in his last fight, has been on the sidelines looking for a major fight and a major payday from the UFC, and gets a top opponent in Poirier. Poirier walks into MSG with a TKO victory over Eddie Alvarez, in their rematch of a controversial no-contest at UFC 211 in 2017.

 

4. Lucas Matthysse Retires

Credit: Kelly Owen

Less than a month after being stopped by a returning Manny Pacquiao, Lucas Matthysse has decided to announce his retirement from boxing.

The 35 year old Argentinian would be sent to the canvas three times in the first defens of his WBA “regular” welterweight title, and would be stopped in the seventh round of his showdown with Pacquiao in Kuala Lumpur.

“Thanks to boxing for changing my life,” Matthysse said in a post on Instagram.

“I remember the Argentine national boxing team, where it was very hard but good. I remember in my life all of the kids that I met and the tremendous boxers who represented Argentina with good and bad results but it was a great experience in my life that I will always remember.

“I came to Trelew at 21 years old. Me and my family, we decided to go back to Junin where I spent 11 years of my career with the great trainer Cuty Barrera and today, at 35 years old, I am once again back in Trelew.

“I am proud that I maintained my career for 10 years at the world level, where I fought with the best in boxing and I fulfilled my dream of being a world champion.

“Thanks to all those who followed me in my career, for all of their love, because that is the most beautiful thing in this sport of boxing, which is a nice environment. Today, I decide to hang up the gloves because another stage in my life is coming. And many thanks to all of the people that I met thanks in boxing.”

5. Sergey Kovalev Looks To Unify The Light Heavyweight Division

Photo Credit: HBO Boxing

Fellow light heavyweight Dmitry Bivol, who is also fighting in Atlantic City on August 4th, is willing to test Sergy Kovalev’s statement of being “ready for anybody.” Bivol has been calling Kovalev out for a title opportunity and Kovalev is open to the challenge, and thinks “we will fight each other, maybe next year.”

Looking past Bivol, Kovalev has been formulating a plan in his head about becoming undisputed champion.  Kovalev lamented that “we don’t have the opportunity to make a Super Series” like the one done at cruiserweight won by Oleksandr Usyk.

“(Usyk) motivated me. We don’t have a tournament series in this division, but in my head I have a schedule of my tournament, my championship. I am driven to in this (undisputed) championship.”

“It’s already started unofficially, between us. Because everybody wants to make unification fights I hope. Everyone who is a champion in the light heavyweight division wants to get all the belts together. We want to see who is first between us.”

 

 

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