Costa Rips Stephens, Masvidal Talks Diaz Fight and Ferguson Wants Khabib's Title

Christopher Simpson@@CJSimpsonBRFeatured ColumnistSeptember 23, 2019

MEXICO CITY, MEXICO - SEPTEMBER 21:  Jeremy Stephens stands in his corner after an accidental eye poke in his featherweight bout against Yair Rodriguez of Mexico during the UFC Fight Night event on September 21, 2019 in Mexico City, Mexico. (Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)
Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Getty Images

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Paulo Costa Slams 'Shameful' Jeremy Stephens After Fight Stopped for Eye Poke

UFC middleweight fighter Paulo Costa has ripped into Jeremy Stephens after an eye poke brought an end to Stephens' bout with Yair Rodriguez on Saturday after just 15 seconds.

Costa slammed Stephens on Twitter:

The bout was the headline event at Fight Night 159 in Mexico City, but it was ruled a no-contest early in the first round when Stephens was left unable to see out of his left eye.

ESPN's Ariel Helwani set the scene:

Per Bloody Elbow's Lewis Mckeever, it was the doctor's decision to end the fight on medical grounds after examining Stephens. The 33-year-old, 28-16 in MMA prior to the bout, confirmed he had suffered a "deep scratch" and a "deep bruise" of his eye.

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Angela Hill, who had beaten Ariane Carnelossi earlier in the night, came to Stephens' defence:

Per MMA Junkie, Stephens called for an immediate rematch between the pair, but Rodriguez expressed desire to "move on" from the incident.


Jorge Masvidal Says Fight with Nate Diaz Is 'Hardest' in UFC History

Jorge Masvidal will step into the Octagon in a highly anticipated clash with Nate Diaz at UFC 244 in November.

Per MMA Junkie's Simon Head and John Morgan, Masvidal said the matchup is "the hardest fight that exists in the whole history of the UFC."

The pair will be battling for a specially commissioned "BMF" belt, but as Masvidal noted, they've not resorted to trash-talking to promote the fight.

They recently appeared at a good-natured press conference, per ESPN's Marc Raimondi:

Gamebred said the prospect of facing Diaz is giving him extra motivation:

"I promise them just violence, totally, second to second. I'm not going to stop until my heart stops or they have ended the fight.

"That's my mentality for all my fights. In this fight, it's a bit more because my opponent has the same mentality as me.

"He wants to destroy me completely, and that gives me the extra motivation that sometimes you need, that I haven't had in years, to motivate me to wake up earlier, to go to bed earlier, to eat a little better when I'm not in Mexico, with more discipline."

Masvidal was speaking backstage at Fight Night 159, where he received a warm reception from the crowd:

The 34-year-old (34-13 in MMA) is riding the crest of a wave after he followed up a win over Darren Till—in what was his first fight in over a year—with a five-second knockout of Ben Askren in July.

Diaz (20-11) beat Anthony Pettis via unanimous decision in August after three years out of the sport.


Tony Ferguson Wants Khabib Nurmagomedov Fight: 'Make It Happen'

Tony Ferguson and Khabib Nurmagomedov have had a lot of near-misses over the years, but the American is hoping for a title shot at the Russian at the fifth time of asking.

The American called for the fight on Twitter (warning: contains profanity):

Showtime's Luke Thomas wants to see it happen:

The pair have been scheduled to face one another on four previous occasions, but injuries have scuppered the plans every time.

Per MMA Junkie's Matt Erickson, a rib injury to Nurmagomedov prevented them facing off in 2015, while the following year Ferguson had to pull out with fluid and blood in his lungs.

Nurmagomedov was hospitalised after his weight cut for their third scheduled fight in 2017, and last year, Ferguson tripped over a cable after an interview and tore a ligament in his knee.

The Eagle (28-0) now holds the lightweight championship, a belt Ferguson (25-3) briefly held on an interim basis before being stripped of it after his injury.

The former is unbeaten while the latter has not lost a fight since 2012, so he's the obvious contender for Nurmagomedov to defend his title against.

A clash between the pair is a long time in the making, and it would hold enormous appeal if on this occasion they can make it happen.