The Friday Five: April 5th, 2019

1. UFC Intervenes In Conor-Khabib Twitter War

It may be safe to say the bad blood between Conor McGregor and Khabib Nurmagomedov has reached a new personal level, and it has led to the UFC stepping in.

In a tweet from March 2 that has since been deleted, McGregor posted a photo of Nurmagomedov and his wife at their wedding, commenting “Your wife is a towel.” The current UFC lightweight champion’s wife was wearing a white veil covering her entire face, following with Nurmagomedov’s religion of Islam.

Nurmagomedov fired back harsh as well, calling McGregor a rapist while posting a photo of McGregor with a woman he’s alleged to have had an illegitimate child with. McGregor is under investigation for a possible sexual assault that occurred in his home country of Ireland back in January.

This all became too much for UFC President Dana White, and the MMA promotion had to interfere to cool things down.

“I am aware of the recent social media exchange between Khabib Nurmagomedov and Conor McGregor,” White said in a statement. “The ongoing situation has escalated to a level that is unacceptable. As such, we are taking the necessary steps to reach out to both athlete camps and this situation is being addressed by all parties internally.”

White did not explain any measures or punitive actions the UFC was taking against either man, and if this incident would affect their current suspensions. Both men are still suspended as a result of the aftermath from their UFC 229 post-fight brawl that occurred back in October; however, McGregor’s suspension is scheduled to end this month.

While it has not been used quite often against fighters in the past, the UFC can try to invoke its Code of Conduct against both men for “violent, threatening or harassing behavior” and/or “derogatory or offensive conduct, including without limitation insulting language, symbols or actions about a person’s ethnic background, heritage, color, race, national origin, age, religion, disability, gender or sexual orientation.”

In the aftermath of Wednesday, April 3, McGregor tweeted a message of trying to put everything behind and encouraging fight fans to come together as one. He also hinted his most recent retirement may not be for long.

Nurmagomedov, however, doesn’t appear to be one who will let things go just like that.

2. Cejudo-Moraes For Bantamweight Title Headlines UFC 238

The awaited clash between UFC Flyweight Champion Henry Cejudo and No. 1-ranked bantamweight contender Marlon Moraes will take place on June 8, as the UFC has confirmed that the fight will serve as the main event of UFC 238.

Cejudo and former bantamweight champion T.J. Dillashaw collided for Cejudo’s 125-pound title back in January at UFC Brooklyn, with Cejudo winning via a quick, yet controversial stoppage early in the first round. The plan was for the two to run it back, this time with Cejudo stepping up in weight to challenge for Dillashaw’s title.

However, things changed drastically when it was reported a few weeks ago that Dillashaw had failed a drug test and would be suspended until January 2020. Dillashaw vacated the UFC Bantamweight Title in response.

Cejudo will attempt to join a select club of UFC fighters to have held titles in the promotion in two different weight classes, and a club of even fewer to hold two UFC championships simultaneously. He will be the fourth or fifth depending on if featherweight champ Max Holloway is successful in his interim lightweight title fight next weekend at UFC 236.

3. Sonnen-Machida Set For Bellator Return To NYC

Bellator MMA will be returning to New York City on June 14 to host its second event at Madison Square Garden, sources tell ESPN’s Ariel Helwani.

The same sources tell Helwani that Chael Sonnen and Lyoto Machida, who had verbally agreed to compete in a light heavyweight bout, will be booked for the card.

Sonnen is coming off a knockout loss to Fedor Emelianenko in the semifinals of the Bellator Heavyweight Grand Prix back in October. He is 2-2 since joining Bellator, also holding a loss to Tito Ortiz but with wins over Quinton Jackson and Wanderlei Silva (the latter taking place in the main event of Bellator NYC, Bellator’s first event from Madison Square Garden).

Machida enters this bout on a three-fight win streak. He made his Bellator MMA debut in his most recent bout back in December at Bellator 213, defeating former Bellator middleweight champion Rafael Carvalho.

4. Cormier-Lesnar In Works For August

ESPN’s Ariel Helwani recently appeared on SportsCenter to discuss the social media situation involving Conor McGregor and Khabib Nurmagomedov, but he was also asked about another athlete — Brock Lesnar.

Lesnar, still currently with the WWE as its Universal Champion, will defend the title against Seth Rollins at this Sunday’s WrestleMania 35 event at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey. As was the case in the 2015 and 2018 events, rumors have swirled that Lesnar will be dropping the championship and leaving the worldwide-leading wrestling promotion to return to the Octagon.

The UFC has been looking to book Cormier against Lesnar with the UFC title on the line, and, according to Helwani, that fight may finally take place this summer.

“The UFC wants him back. As of right now, he wants to be back,” Helwani said. “They’re giving him a heavyweight title fight if he comes back. Daniel Cormier, the heavyweight champion, wants to fight him. Right now the plan is for them to fight in August later on this summer for that heavyweight championship. So, it’s not signed just yet but that is currently the plan.”

5. Usyk-Takam Finalized For May 25

Former undisputed cruiserweight champion Oleksandr Usyk’s heavyweight debut has been announced.

Usyk will take on former world title challenger Carlos Takam on May 25 at the MGM National Harbor in Maryland. The fight will headline a Matchroom Boxing USA card that will be streamed on DAZN.

The 32-year-old Usyk won the World Boxing Super Series in 2018 when he defeated Murat Gassiev in the finals to become the undisputed champion. After that fight against Gassiev, Usyk, a former Olympic gold medalist, defended his titles with an eighth-round knockout victory over Tony Bellew. Usyk stated his intent on becoming a champion at the heavyweight division after his win against Bellew.

Takam once came in to replace the injured Kubrat Pulev to challenge for Anthony Joshua’s WBA and IBF heavyweight titles in 2017. The two boxers fought in Cardiff, Wales with Joshua retaining his titles with a 10th-round stoppage win. Since that fight, Takam lost a fight to Dereck Chisora and most recently defeated Senad Gashi last December.

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