UFC's Andrei Arlovski Shoots Down Retiring at 42 ... 'F*** No!'

Exclusive
BATTLE OF THE BEASTS
TMZSports.com

UFC star Andrei Arlovski -- the former heavyweight champion -- says he has NO PLANS to retire at age 42 ... and wants to keep bangin' away until he's 45!!!!

Arlovski made his UFC debut at UFC 28 back in 2000 -- 21 YEARS AGO -- and has been fighting consistently ever since.

He won the UFC heavyweight title in 2005 -- and has been in wars with superstars like Francis Ngannou, Stipe Miocic, Frank Mir, Stefan Struve, Alistair Overeem ... you get the picture.

But, Arlovski's coming off a 2nd round loss to 27-year-old Tom Aspinall -- his 10th loss in his last 16 fights -- begging the question ... is he considering hangin' up his gloves???

"Oh, f**k no," Arlovski told us while out shopping in Beverly Hills ... "If the UFC doesn't kick me out, [I'd like to fight] probably like 2, 3 more years. We'll see. Why not?"

In fact, Arlovski is still calling for tough opponents -- "Someone tough and young!"

By the way, since Andrei has fought both Stipe and Ngannou -- we asked for his prediction on who will win that massive heavyweight title fight at UFC 260 later this month.

Ya gotta hear who Andrei's rolling with and why ... it's great insight from a dude who knows what both men are capable of.

UFC Fighter Calls Opponent 'Woman Beater' During Match ... Opponent's Manager Says 'Reckless Slander'

UFC fighter Tim Elliott was multi-tasking Saturday night as he pounded away at his opponent, accusing him of beating his ex-girlfriend ... something the opponent's manager calls "reckless slander."

Elliott was dominating the flyweight fight to an empty arena, when Elliott appeared to say, "I heard you choked your girl in 2018. Are you a woman beater? She messaged me." The opponent, Jordan Espinosa, responded, "Did she? You don't know the whole story." Elliott shot back, "I know enough," to which Espinosa said, "You don't know s***."

Elliott won the fight by unanimous decision. When it was over, Espinosa's manager, Bryan Hamper, called the accusation, "Reckless slander."

After the fight, Elliott told reporters, "I didn't say that for anybody else to hear, because I don't know the whole story." He says he was messaged texts and photos between Espinosa and a woman and there were photos of the woman with choke marks around her neck. He added, "... it's not something I wanted the whole world to hear. That was supposed to be between him and I. I didn't know the mic was going to pick up on it."

UFC's Jan Blachowicz Fatherhood Makes Me More Dangerous Fighter ... 'Bigger Motivation'

Exclusive
READY FOR EVERYTHING
TMZSports.com

UFC light heavyweight champ Jan Blachowicz says he's got a secret weapon for beating Israel Adesanya on Saturday night -- his newborn son!

The Polish powerhouse's fiancee gave birth to their first child, JJ, back in December -- and Jan says it's changed his whole outlook on life and fighting.

Waiting for your permission to load the Instagram Media.

"Mentally, I'm stronger," 38-year-old Jan told TMZ Sports ... "Bigger motivation for everything right now. To hit harder, work harder."

"I do this for him right now."

As for his fight with Adesanya -- the undefeated middleweight champ -- Blachowicz knows it'll be the biggest challenge of his career but he's confident he'll end it in less than 2 rounds.

"I believe that I'm going to be the first one who beat him after this Saturday," Jan says.

"He gonna be 20 and 1, this what I believe and that's it. I know that he's really great fighter, amazing fighter, one of the best in the world but anyway I got my time right now, it's my division and I will stop him."

There's talk of a possible matchup with Jon Jones down the line -- but Jan says he's focused on Israel ... and will deal with Jones when the time comes.

"I don't know what Jon Jones right now what he do. He not my problem. If he not coming back to 205, I'll go to heavyweight and catch him there. No problem! He's not my problem now, my problem is Israel. I focus all about him. Nothing more in my head. Just Israel."

UFC's Aljamain Sterling I'll Beat Petr Yan in 2 Rounds ... Jamaican Pride, Baby!

Exclusive
DON'T MISS OUT
TMZSports.com

UFC star Aljamain Sterling is finally getting his title shot this weekend -- and he's predicting a 2nd round victory over the champ, Petr Yan.

But, it's bigger than just a belt for Sterling who tells TMZ Sports becoming the first Jamaican champion could be huge for the island nation.

31-year-old Sterling was born and raised in New York -- but both of his parents are from Jamaica and he feels a strong sense of American and Jamaican pride.

But, the fact is ... no UFC fighter of Jamaican descent has ever held a UFC belt and Sterling says he's looking to make history when he steps into the octagon against bantamweight champ Petr Yan on March 6 at UFC 259.

"I think he's the real deal," Sterling says ... "He's a tough guy, he did what he had to do with all the guys that they put in front of him so I gotta pay him respect for that but at the end of the day, this is my time! This my time to put on a show."

Sterling -- who's 19-3 and on a 5-fight win streak -- says he's confident his grappling game will simply be too much for Yan to handle ... culminating in a 2nd round TKO.

And, if Sterling's prediction comes true, Alja believes a Jamaican champion could inspire a whole new generation of MMA fighters.

"It would be a catalyst for the entire country to really get the sport picked up and get it rockin' and rollin'."

Sterling says he's working on plans to spread the sport to the masses in Jamaica -- with the goal of keeping the cost of entry down.

"There's so many talented people down there, too many talented athletes. They just need the opportunity."

Boxing Star Claressa Shields Honoring Kobe Bryant & Gianna ... with Custom Fight Trunks

Breaking News

When Claressa Shields hits the ring on Friday night -- she'll be rocking custom fight trunks paying tribute to Kobe Bryant and Gianna.

25-year-old Shields is taking on IBF super welterweight champion Marie-Eve Dicaire -- in a fight to unify the super welterweight division.

Claressa has established herself as the top fighter in women's boxing -- she's 10-0 as a pro ... with TWO gold medals in the Olympics.

She was clearly inspired by the greatness of Kobe and his daughter Gianna -- which is why she decided to put their names on her trunks.

Shields tells TMZ Sports she's laser-focused on her fight with Dicaire -- explaining, "I wanna knock her out but I also wanna have a great performance."

"She's gonna come out there and try to perform but I just know that I can get her out between rounds 5 and 7. It just depends which round that I'm really feeling it."

CHARGED UP
TMZSports.com

As we previously reported, Shields is also training to make the jump from boxing to MMA ... with her first MMA fight scheduled to take place in the summer.

Still no word on who Claressa's first MMA opponent will be -- but she doesn't care! Bring on ANYONE!

"My only job is just to prepare. I don't really care who they put me in there with I'm just gonna do my best."

Don't get it twisted ... Shields says she'll continue to box -- maybe the first true two-sport star in all of combat sports?

SUPPORTIN' EACH OTHER
TMZSports.com

"I fight my first MMA fight in the middle of June and I'll be having a boxing match in maybe December and maybe another MMA fight in August, September. I'm not even sure but I know for sure June I'll be back, I'll be in the cage for sure."

Hey, they call her the G.W.O.A.T. for a reason!!!

Dana White No Bad Blood with Overeem & Dos Santos ... 'Both Great Guys'

Exclusive
NO BAD BLOOD
TMZSports.com

"Nothing happened behind the scenes. They’re both great guys who have had incredible careers here."

That's Dana White telling TMZ Sports his decision to release Alistair Overeem and Junior dos Santos from the UFC wasn't personal, just business ... and everyone's still on good terms.

Junior dos Santos signed with the UFC in 2008. Overeem has been with UFC since 2011.

Both guys were cut from the UFC roster this week -- so when we spoke with Dana on Thursday ... we asked why.

"People get cut every week … I think those two are pretty self-explanatory. It's nothing negative, it's just part of the sport.

40-year-old Alistair is coming off a loss to Alexander Volkov -- he was 6 and 4 in his last 10 fights.

37-year-old JDS is on a 4-fight losing streak -- most recently suffering a TKO loss to Ciryl Gane in Dec. 2020.

"If you look up what they’ve done recently ... you look at their age ... you look at everything that's going on, it's pretty self-explanatory," White said.

White praised both guys as being super tough and consummate pros.

"Alistair Overeem never said no to a fight, never turned down a fight … would fight anybody."

"And, JDS is one of the nicest human beings in the sport, I have nothing but amazing things to say about both guys."

Bottom line -- "Age, it gets us all man."

There's more ...

Dana is FIRED UP for UFC 259 on Saturday -- especially the main event, middleweight champ Israel Adesanya vs. light heavyweight champ Jan Blachowicz.

Only Jan's belt is on the line on Saturday -- so, if Israel wins, he'll be the UFC's next Champ Champ!

DON'T MISS IT!
TMZSports.com

"Jan Blachowicz might not be very well known but I feel like this is his coming-out party," White says.

"If he can beat the undefeated midweight champion Israel Adesanya, everybody will know him and be talking about him on Sunday."

Another big fight is UFC superstar Amanda Nunes vs. Megan Anderson.

"The thing that makes this fight real fun is both of these women have knockout power. We'll see lots of fun female fights that are very technical, fast pace, etc -- these two women can knock other women unconscious and the fact that they have that kinda power, makes this fight very badass."

NO. LIES. DETECTED!

Roy Jones Jr. I'll 'Probably' Fight Again Gunning to Box Anderson Silva

Exclusive
MY NEXT OPPONENT
TMZSports.com

52-year-old Roy Jones Jr. says he's ready for ANOTHER boxing match after that war with Mike Tyson -- and he's eyeing a UFC legend.

Roy has his sights set on 45-year-old superstar Anderson Silva -- widely considered one of the greatest MMA athletes of all time.

So, why Silva ... and not a rematch with Iron Mike?

"I think [Mike Tyson is] gonna do a fight with Evander Holyfield," Jones said ... "what I'm thinking is I'll probably fight somebody else."

"Truthfully speaking ... my dream next fight will probably be Anderson Silva."

Roy says he's been trying to lock up a fight with Silva for years -- but the timing finally seems right.

"Anderson's available now, I'm available now. So, we've been wanting to box for the longest time. Why not me and Anderson go out there and put it on for the people?!"

Silva was an excellent striker in his heyday -- and as RJJ points out, Anderson had a stint as a pro boxer before he switched to MMA.

In other words, "He knows how to pro box."

Anderson racked up a 34 and 11 record in MMA -- with wins over guys like Dan Henderson, Forrest Griffin, Vitor Belfort, Rich Franklin and more.

Jones says there's no doubt he would DESTROY Silva if the two fought during Roy's prime years -- "but now that I'm older and I'm older than him ... it's something good to look at now because I think his chances are better now than they ever were before."

So .... who ya got?

UFC's Khamzat Chimaev Not Retiring from MMA After COVID Battle ... Dana White Says

Breaking News

UFC rising star Khamzat Chimaev is NOT moving on from MMA, despite a cryptic IG post suggesting otherwise, this according to Dana White.

26-year-old Khamzat -- one of the hottest rising stars in the sport (9-0 record) -- has been battling COVID since January 2021 ... and he's still suffering from symptoms.

In fact, Khamzat's manager said the fighter was even hospitalized due to some pretty serious symptoms at one point.

Fast-forward to Monday night ... when Khamzat went to Instagram and posted an apparent farewell note to his fans.

"I think I’m done," Khamzat said ... "Yes, I know that I didn’t take the belt, but this is not the most important victory in this life. It may upset you, but my heart and body tell me everything.

He also posted a photo of a blood-spattered bathroom sink with the caption, "The main thing is I do not know what this disease is but it is not easily outlived."

But, Dana White says he spoke with Khamzat -- who's currently in Las Vegas -- and he's not buying the retirement talk.

"When he got here, the doctors took care of him, and they put him on prednisone, which is a nasty f**king steroid,” White told MMA Junkie.

"So he’s on prednisone, and he’s supposed to be taking this thing and chilling, relaxing, and letting himself recover. He went in and f**king trained today, felt like s**t, and got super emotional and posted that."

“He’s not supposed to be training, but you know, this guy’s a savage. He wants to fight like every f**king weekend, and now he can’t even train, so he just got emotional and posted that, but he ain’t quitting.”

White told MMA Junkie he still expects Khamzat to fight in June -- as long as he follows his doctor's orders.

UFC's Paulo Costa Blames Boozy Hangover For Adesanya Loss ... 'Kind of Drunk'

Breaking News

UFC star Paulo Costa is blaming the a-a-a-a-a-alcohol for his loss to Israel a-a-a-a-a-Adesanya at UFC 253 ... saying his decision to crush a bottle of wine the night before cost him the fight.

"I was kind of drunk [when] I fought," Costa said in Portuguese (subtitled in English) on his YouTube channel ... "Maybe, on hangover."

29-year-old Costa was on a 13-fight win streak before his main event throwdown with Israel ... and was coming off an impressive victory over MMA legend Yoel Romero.

But, Izzy smashed Costa in just 2 rounds in an unexpectedly one-sided beatdown on September 27 ... leaving many fans asking the question, what the hell happened!?

Now, Costa is finally opening up about the loss -- claiming he simply boozed too hard the night before the fight.

"I had wine, too much wine, a bottle [of wine] to try to blackout," Costa said on his YouTube channel.

And, why would he want to get blackout drunk before the biggest fight of his life?

"I couldn’t sleep because of the [leg] cramps."

In other words, Costa claims he was using the wine for pain management so he could try to get some sleep that night.

"I had a glass and didn’t work. Two glasses, it didn’t work. Half bottle, didn’t work. I had it all."

Costa continued, "Keep in mind that the fight happens at 9 a.m., we have to wake up at 5 to get ready, stretch, wrap the hands. The UFC told us to wake up at 5 in the morning to go to the arena to fight. I hadn’t slept until 2:30."

We all know what happened next ... Israel pummeled Paulo so badly, the ref stopped the fight in the 2nd round.

Costa is set to return to the Octagon in April to fight Robert Whittaker.

Maybe stick to some sleepy time tea this time around instead??

UFC's Ciryl Gane I'll Fight Francis Ngannou Only Under This 1 Condition

Exclusive
ALL PART OF THE JOB
TMZSports.com

UFC rising star Ciryl Gane says there's only 1 way he'd fight his former training partner and friend Francis Ngannou ... if the UFC title was on the line!!

30-year-old Gane is a beast ... he's 6'5", 247 lbs., and has never lost a professional fight (he's 7-0).

The #7 ranked heavyweight fighter -- who beat Junior dos Santos in December -- is taking on #4 ranked, 32-year-old Jairzinho Rozenstruik at the main event of UFC Fight Night 186 Saturday night.

If Ciryl wins, he'll be in the mix for a title shot ... and the champ could very well be Ngannou.

The issue? Gane and Ngannou -- who's fighting Stipe Miocic for the title at UFC 260 next month -- used to train together at MMA Factory in Paris under coach Fernand Lopez.

So, we asked Gane if he'd ever fight Francis.

"I think it’s a little bit shame if we do it before the belt because we’re both from [French Cameroon]. For me, we were born in the same gym, with the same coach and this is something."

Ciryl added ... "But, if the UFC wants to do that, that better be for the belt."

We asked CG if it'd be hard to hurt someone he likes and respects.

"For me, It’s a sport," Gane said, continuing ... "I don’t need to get mad in my career to do something in the cage. Outside the cage I’m a good kid, I’m always like that, and when I’m in the cage I do my job. That's it, it’s a sport for me. So yeah, I think for me it would be possible."

TAKIN' THIS SERIOUSLY
TMZSports.com

Now, there's a 255 lb. man who hits like a truck and is hellbent on wrecking any plans for a future Gane-Ngannou fight.

We talked to Rozenstruik -- who himself wants to fight Ngannou and avenge a 2020 loss -- and he says it's time to derail the Ciryl Gane hype train and get himself closer to a title shot.

The men fight tonight ... and chances are, someone's going to sleep!!

Gilbert Burns Gunning For Colby Covington Fight ... Usman Rematch By Next Summer

Exclusive
FUTURE'S LOOKIN' BRIGHT
TMZSports.com

Gilbert Burns' title hopes were crushed by Kamaru Usman only days ago ... but the UFC star's already plotting his return to the Octagon -- and he wants Colby Covington!!

TMZ Sports talked to Burns following his 3rd round TKO loss to Usman at UFC 258 last weekend ... and the 34-year-old fighter made it clear he ain't looking for R&R after having his 6-fight UFC win streak snapped.

"[Covington's] the one that I want with all my heart. That's the fight that I asked right after he beat Demian Maia. That's the one that I want."

Still, Burns -- who says he suffered NO serious injuries in his fight -- knows he isn't the only one lookin' for an Usman rematch (Chaos wants one too) ... so GB's down to fight any of the top guys in the welterweight division.

"Sometimes we don't get what we want, but I'm open to any one of the top 6, top 7 guys," Burns tells us.

Gilbert says he doesn't care about Colby's trash-talking and antics outside the cage ... he just wants to get his hands on the #1 ranked contender.

"Just sign the contract. Let's fight. You can call me whatever you want. Let's fight sooner than later. I'm in my prime, you're in your prime, we both want the rematch. Let's see who wins first."

Burns says the ultimate goal is still a UFC goal ... and he wholeheartedly believes he will fight Usman again -- in the not too distant future -- and that he will win this time around.

"I do believe by next year, I'm gonna be fighting Kamaru again. Latest would July next year, but I'm facing Kamaru again very soon."

Kamaru Usman Put Me On 'Dancing with the Stars' ... I've Earned It!!!

Exclusive
SOMETHING TO CONSIDER
TMZSports.com

Kamaru Usman established himself as one of the greatest fighters ever ... and now the UFC superstar is looking to expand -- to the ballroom!!

Usman didn't just TKO Gilbert Burns over the weekend ... he made history. The Nigerian Nightmare broke GSP's record for consecutive welterweight wins in the UFC (Usman now holds the record with 13 straight).

So, when TMZ Sports talked to the champ, we asked if he'd be interested in "Dancing with the Stars" -- and Usman made it clear there could soon be a mirrorball trophy next to his UFC belts.

"I do my thing! I do my thing! That's the thing with me, I understand that practice makes perfect and I'm disciplined enough to be able to train at it," Kamaru tells us.

"So anything, if I need to work at it, do the moves, learn 'em, boom! I'm in there! I can get it down."

Usman wouldn't be the 1st UFC star to be on DWTS ... Chuck Liddell was on the show in 2009 (he was eliminated 5th). Paige VanZant was a contestant in 2016 ... and nearly won the show, finishing 2nd.

Primetime TV isn't new to Usman ... he previously told us he'd like to be the 1st Black 'Bachelor' (Matt James ended up landing the gig after 25 seasons).

But, with all the drama surrounding the 'Bachelor' franchise (see Chris Harrison), Kamaru's looking for less TV romance -- and more dance.

"It's a tough one now because with the controversy going on, now it kinda soils the name, ya know?"

Don't worry ... we also talked to Usman about his beefs with Jorge Masvidal and Colby Covington.

SHOW ME SOME RESPECT
TMZSports.com

And, don't get it twisted, just 'cause Usman's looking to make a splash in the pop culture universe, he's still laser-focused on smashing Gamebred and Chaos.

UFC's Julian Marquez Responds to Miley Cyrus ... 'I Won't Break Your Achy Heart!'

Exclusive
ADORE YOU
TMZSports.com

Whatever Miley wants, Miley gets ... even when her wish is to have a UFC fighter shave her initials into his chest!

This is Julian Marquez -- the UFC middleweight who won his fight on Saturday and then used his post-fight interview to ask Miley Cyrus to be his Valentine's Day date!

Miley responded on Twitter with a challenge -- "Shave an MC into your chest hair and I am YOURS. Happy VDay and Congrats my love!"

So, we contacted Julian to find out if he's REALLY gonna shave her initials into his chest ... and good news, HE'S DOWN!!

"Okay, I do plan to do it and I can't just open up just yet," Marquez tells TMZ Sports ... suggesting he's going to make a public spectacle out of it.

"I have to wait for one more thing but we have something big working for everyone. The fans will definitely be in charge of me getting the MC on my chest hair."

Marquez explained why shaving his chest hair is a big deal -- and a true sign that he's serious about wanting a shot with Miley!

"You have to understand this, man, a man's chest hair is sacred. It's like a lion's mane. You can't shave that! You can't shave it! If you shave a lion's mane, they freak out, it's the same thing!"

So, what happens if Miley agrees to go on a date with the 30-year-old fighter?

"We'll probably get ice cream and go to a picnic. Walk around the park, go walk around the ocean. Just because it's Miley Cyrus, she's human. Why would I go out there and go all crazy trying to spend an expensive amount of things and do all this stuff?! I'm not trying to impress her, I'm trying to get to know her!"

Message to Miley -- "I won't break your achy heart."

There's more ... we also spoke with Julian about the other big thing in his life, FIGHTING!

FEELS GOOD TO BE BACK
TMZSports.com

Marquez has been battling all sorts of injuries behind the scenes -- injuries that kept him out of the Octagon for 31 months!

But, he's back and his return was awesome -- a 3rd round submission victory over Maki Pitolo at UFC 258.

"Doctor told me at one point in time, he legitimately told me that I may have to look for a different career path. Before I had to get my second surgery, he ended up telling me that and it was the lowest of the low."

Welcome back! Now shave your damn chest already!

UFC's Kamaru Usman To Georges St-Pierre ... If You Want to Fight, I'm Down!!!

Exclusive
STAYING TRUE TO MYSELF
TMZSports.com

UFC welterweight champ Kamaru Usman says he's laser-focused on beating Gilbert Burns this weekend -- but after that, he'd LOVE a crack at Georges St-Pierre!

Usman is on a 16-fight win streak -- and he's tied with GSP for most consecutive wins in the UFC's welterweight division (12). The dude is on fire.

If Usman beats Burns at UFC 260 on Saturday, there's a strong argument he should be considered the greatest UFC welterweight of all time.

Of course, GSP retired in 2019 -- his last fight was 2017 -- but he's been training like a maniac in the snow and there have been rumors the 39-year-old is considering one last go in the Octagon.

SNOW PAIN, SNOW GAIN

Kamaru says if GSP wants a scrap, just say the word!

"If he wants to do it, you gotta come see me. If he doesn't want it, that's okay. More power to him!"

"I respect the retirement because he's done it all. He doesn't need to come back for no reason. If he wants to come back, he cuts the line, he beats everybody! He cuts the line from everybody! He gets the shot right away."

As for Burns, he's trying like hell to be the spoiler -- he also wants to be remembered as the greatest to ever do it.

ON MY WAY TO THE TOP
TMZSports.com

"I'm looking forward for this one so much because if I beat the guy that is in the conversation of being one of the greatest, they gotta put my name in the conversation," Burns tells TMZ Sports.

"I wanna take that status of the GOAT. I wanna make sure I'm the real king of the welterweight division. I cannot wait. I'm very excited."

Gina Carano Signs New Movie Deal with Ben Shapiro ... After 'Star Wars' Ousting

Breaking News

The force ain't with Gina Carano anymore ... but Ben Shapiro sure is!

The former 'Mandalorian' star -- who's on the outs with LucasFilm after sharing an offensive post about Jewish people on Instagram -- announced she's signed a new movie deal with Shapiro's conservative media outlet, "The Daily Wire."

"The Daily Wire is helping make one of my dreams -- to develop and produce my own film -- come true," Carano told Deadine.com.

"I cried out and my prayer was answered. I am sending out a direct message of hope to everyone living in fear of cancellation by the totalitarian mob. I have only just begun using my voice which is now freer than ever before, and I hope it inspires others to do the same."

She adds, "They can’t cancel us if we don’t let them."

Carano -- one of the first female stars in MMA -- had a booming career as an actress after leaving the cage ... booking roles in flicks like "Deadpool" and "Fast & Furious 6."

She's most famously known for playing former Rebel shock trooper Cara Dune in the Disney+ series "The Mandalorian" -- but lost the role when her bosses at LucasFilm caught wind of a post comparing her perceived mistreatment of conservatives in the U.S. to the millions of Jews who were slaughtered in the Holocaust.

Shapiro -- who is Jewish -- says his company "could not be more excited to be working with Gina Carano, an incredible talent dumped by Disney and Lucasfilm for offending the authoritarian Hollywood Left."

"We’re eager to bring Gina’s talent to Americans who love her, and we’re just as eager to show Hollywood that if they want to keep cancelling those who think differently, they’ll just be helping us build the Xwing to take down their Death Star."

As for the project, no details have been released ... but The Daily Wire says Gina's movie will be released exclusively to its members in an effort to grow the site's entertainment wing.

Jon Jones Will Fight Winner of Stipe vs. Ngannou ... Dana White Says

Exclusive

Good news fight fans ... Jon Jones will face the winner of Stipe Miocic vs. Francis Ngannou, so says Dana White.

The UFC honcho says Jon has made it clear that's the fight he wants -- it'll be his first fight after leaving the light heavyweight division to join the heavyweight ranks.

Stipe and Francis are set to do battle at UFC 260 in March -- and Dana tells TMZ Sports he's hoping to book the winner to fight Jones by the end of the year ... maybe even as soon as the summer.

LOTS TO BE EXCITED ABOUT
TMZSports.com

33-year-old Jones is considered by many (including Dana) to be the greatest UFC fighter of all time -- dominating the UFC's LHW division since 2008.

There's more ... we also asked Dana about rumors Georges St-Pierre is training for a UFC comeback ... but White shut that down real fast.

"No, he's definitely not training for a UFC fight. The guy's an athlete and he loves to train, he loves to workout. I'm sure he's just staying in shape."

What about Khabib?

"Yeah, he's in Vegas. We're gonna go to dinner soon and talk. We'll get together for the last time -- well for the last time maybe as a UFC fighter or not as a UFC fighter."

So, is there a chance he takes one last fight?

"I think there's still a chance, yes."

As for Nate Diaz ... he recently told ESPN's Ariel Helwani he'd like to fight Dustin Poirier or Charles Oliveira in 2021. Will he get his wish?

"I honestly don't know. We gotta see how this whole thing plays out. You got Dustin Poirier, Justin Gaethje, Oliveira, Chandler, Ferguson and Conor and at #7, Rafael dos Anjos who's a bad boy too. So, we'll see how this whole thing plays out."

Dana confirms the UFC has been in touch with Diaz and he confirms "he is interested in fighting."

Yep, we also asked about Conor McGregor's future ... and Dana says a rematch with Dustin Poirier around May "makes sense" at the moment.

"We'll see if we can put that together with those two but if not, there's a million other fights we can make."

2021 ... big year!!!

Old news is old news!
Be First!

Get TMZ breaking news sent right to your browser!