The latest episode of Ariel Helwani’s MMA Show featured a two-division champion talking about his possible next opponent, a Bellator fighter describing a lucrative offer to join the WWE and two top contenders making their case for a title shot.
Here’s what you might have missed:
Waterson says she’s next in line for UFC strawweight belt
Following UFC 238, Dana White was asked about the possibility of Michelle Waterson fighting next for the UFC’s strawweight belt. He scoffed at the question.
“Michelle Waterson? Definitely not Michelle Waterson,” the UFC president told reporters in Chicago.
On Monday’s Ariel Helwani’s MMA Show, “The Karate Hottie” responded to White and made her case for why she deserved a title shot next.
“In my opinion, the rankings are s—,” said Waterson, officially ranked No. 7 in the division. “It’s hard to be humble when you’ve fought for close to 13 years and you just take whatever fight is given to you, hoping to earn your way up the rankings. Then stuff like this happens where you win three fights in a row — my last fight was super dominant. I won all three rounds decisively and then I go down in ranking. It’s just really confusing to me. Frustrating.”
Jessica Andrade is the current strawweight champion, having defeated Rose Namajunas at UFC 237 in May. Waterson’s biggest competition is an immediate rematch for the belt, however Namajunas has stated publicly she wants to take some time off fighting.
The other option is rising star Tatiana Suarez (8-0). The elite wrestler fought Saturday at UFC 238 against Nina Ansaroff and won by decision. She did not look as dominant as expected, causing some, including Waterson, to question whether she is ready right now for Andrade.
“I think she’s good. But I don’t think she’s Khabib [Nurmagomedov],” Waterson said. “Her wrestling is really good, but this is MMA. The longer she’s in it, the more she’ll grow and get better. At this moment, she’s not ready for a championship fight.”
Cejudo interested in Edgar?
Henry Cejudo just earned the UFC’s bantamweight belt by defeating Marlon Moraes by third-round TKO in Chicago at UFC 238. Next for him? It could be Moraes’ teammate, former UFC champion Frankie Edgar.
Henry Cejudo tells Ariel Helwani that he’d be interested in a fight with Frankie Edgar if Edgar is able to beat Max Holloway for the featherweight title.
Sonnen: WWE offered millions to leave MMA
Chael Sonnen made some serious claims regarding an offer from WWE around the time of his fight against Anderson Silva at UFC 148. Sonnen claimed there was a $1 million offer on the table from an (unnamed) person at WWE to no-call, no-show the fight, as well as a $5 million offer to bring the belt to “Monday Night Raw” if he defeated Silva. In July 2012, WWE was riding fairly high with little to no competition in the wrestling world, and recognizing UFC as the closest thing to a rival for viewers doesn’t seem too far out of the box.
The world of wrestling has long had rumors of rival promoters making offers for wrestlers to no-show events, flip allegiances or even physically injure certain stars, but there are reasons why no one cashed in (for many of the same reasons Sonnen claims never to have considered the offers). With breach of contract concerns and the risk of getting blacklisted from the world of MMA, among other reasons, it’s not something that ever could have realistically happened.
Chael Sonnen shares that he received a $1 million offer from the WWE to not show for his fight against Anderson Silva, or $5 million to appear on Raw if he beat Silva.
Cyborg: Dana White ‘is trying to damage my brand’
Arguably the most dominant female fighter ever could be leaving the UFC in a matter of months. Cris Cyborg, appearing on Ariel Helwani’s MMA Show, told ESPN she wants to hear more about other promotions once her contract runs out on July 27. On that date she will fight Felicia Spencer for the featherweight belt in the co-main event of UFC 240 in Edmonton, Alberta.
Sterling breaks down how Cejudo defeated Moraes
Aljamain Sterling made a major statement at UFC 238 against Pedro Munhoz. With that win, his fourth in a row, he feels as though he is the clear No. 1 contender to new bantamweight champion Henry Cejudo. He watched Cejudo’s main event bout against Marlon Moraes from a hospital bed, nursing hand and leg injuries, and offered his perspective on Cejudo and Moraes’ performances in a fight that will likely have a huge impact on his future.
“It was a great fight, man. Marlon, man. Exactly what I said about Marlon,” Sterling said. “Super powerful dude, super explosive, but we don’t know how good he really is. It comes off as an insincere assessment from my end, because I fought him and I lost to him, but outside of that, he lost to [Raphael] Assuncao [in the] first fight, split decision in his debut. He beat John Dodson in a split decision. That was the only main glimpse we got to see of his skills and capabilities. Then he rattled off three spectacular knockout wins — one of them was a submission, but he rocked and hurt Assuncao before he choked him out. All of them in the first round.
“So when you have that, and you don’t really get to see the whole picture of what he brings to the table, it kind of leaves these open question marks,” Sterling said. “And that’s what I was always wondering: Does he actually have a gas tank to go into those championship rounds, to be like ‘this is definitely the guy’? Henry was able to push those buttons, got him out of the early rounds and he got the finish. I thought it was going to be a long night for Cejudo — his legs got chopped up real early in that fight. But Henry’s tough, man. He is world class for a reason — he came back, battled through adversity and he was able to get the finish.”
King Mo explains reason for retirement
Muhammed “King Mo” Lawal retired last week after a celebrated MMA career. “King Mo” claimed the Strikeforce light heavyweight title and had been fighting in Bellator since 2016. He described to Helwani why he decided it was time to hang up the gloves.
– ESPN MMA (@espnmma) June 10, 2019