If anyone knows what it takes to make it as a wrestler-turned-mixed martial artist, it's Cejudo. Henry won a gold medal in freestyle wrestling (just like Steveson) in 2008 ... and then became a 2 weight class champion in the UFC.
So, when TMZ Sports talked to Triple C, we asked how Gable would fare in the UFC.
"I do believe, like within the next couple of years, he could beat a guy like Jon Jones or even Francis Ngannou. He's like, he's the biggest threat because of his wrestling pace, which is extremely scary," Cejudo told us.
But, Henry made it clear, Gable couldn't just walk into an Octagon right now, without any training, and beat 2 of the biggest men on the planet.
"He's a real heavyweight. But, right now, if you were to put him in there right now, Jon Jones would hurt him. Francis Ngannou would hurt him," Cejudo says.
"And I've been there before when I first fought Demetrious Johnson. And I, you know, I had already had stand up and whatnot, and I got knocked out at 2 minutes and 36 seconds. So, you do have to respect the game."
FYI, Henry started his UFC career 4-0 ... before facing the champ, Mighty Mouse. Johnson beat Cejudo at UFC 197 in 2016 via TKO. Years later, in 2018, HC won a rematch against DJ -- becoming flyweight champion.
Of course, 21-year-old Steveson -- who just won a gold medal -- has options on top of options.
WWE is reportedly interested in the wrestling star (GS will be at Summer Slam this weekend). Gable also says he's been hit up by multiple NFL teams. And, then there's the UFC.
There's more ... we also talked to Cejudo about his fighting future -- and while taking shots at Alex Volkanovski and T.J. Dillashaw -- Henry gave us the latest on whether he'll ever fight again.
Jared Cannonier -- the #3 ranked UFC middleweight -- believes his next fight could be for the 185 lb. title against Israel Adesanya, that is IF he can secure a dominating win over Kelvin Gastelum Saturday night.
TMZ Sports talked to 37-year-old Cannonier ahead of his UFC Fight Night scrap with Gastelum ... and we asked him if he believed beating Kelvin could catapult him past Robert Whittaker and Paulo Costa in the rankings -- and set him up for a fight with Izzy.
"It definitely can, given the state of the division. You know, there’s only one clear-cut contender outside of Robert, you know, well there’s two. You know, me, Paulo, and then all the other up-and-coming guys," Jared says.
Cannonier continued ... "But, so you know, that top 3. Me, Paulo, and Robert. So, winning over Kelvin, I’m sure a dominant win over Kelvin, would definitely send that message, 'Hey give this guy a title shot.'"
JC is a beast in the Octagon ... with wins over the legendary Anderson Silva and Jack Hermansson.
We also talked to 29-year-old Gastelum -- the #9 ranked middleweight (Kelvin doesn't agree with his ranking) -- and he also believes a win over Cannonier would put him right back in title contention.
Of course, outside of Jan Blachowicz, Gastelum gave Adesanya his toughest fight back in April 2019 ... and that's a fight Kelvin would LOVE to run back.
One of the most INSANE cards ever created -- featuring signatures from eight sports legends including Conor McGregor and Floyd Mayweather -- has just hit the auction block, and it could sell for the price of a brand-new car!!
The piece is wild -- it's got autographs from McGregor, Mayweather, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Steph Curry, Errol Spence Jr., Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo and Chloe Kim on it ... and Leaf Trading Cards says it's the only one of its kind ever created.
TMZ Sports has learned bidding on the card at Goldin Auctions just began this week -- and we're told the expectation is for it to ultimately sell later this month for somewhere around $20,000!!
And, given the names on the piece -- and how Giannis' star has absolutely exploded this summer -- seems like a pretty great price to us.
As for how the card was obtained ... we're told someone actually pulled it in a box break -- which, yeah, talk about great luck.
The card was given an 8 grade by Beckett ... with a perfect 10 for its sharp corners.
Auction ends in 9 days ... happy bidding!
21-year-old Steveson was one of the breakout stars at the 2020 Olympics ... and has expressed interest in everything from the NFL, to WWE, to the UFC.
So, we asked the UFC prez if he had interest in Steveson ... and that's when White revealed he planned to link up with the gold medalist.
"[Gable] will be in town this weekend, and I think we're gonna hook up and talk."
FYI, Gable is a BEAST on the mats. He won the NCAA title this year at the University of Minnesota, as well as the championship at the Pan American Games. Gable hasn't lost a single match in 2 years.
But, just 'cause Dana's meeting Gable, doesn't mean a signing is guaranteed.
"Obviously there's a lot of work for him to do before he could make it to the UFC, but we'll see what happens."
If Steveson does ultimately sign a deal with the UFC ... fellow Olympic gold medalist turned UFC double champ Henry Cejudo recently told us he believes Gable -- with 2 or 3 years training -- could beat top heavyweights like Jon Jones and Francis Ngannou.
Either of those fights would be HUGE. But, first step is White and Steveson's Vegas meeting.
Stay tuned ...
Dana White says The Ultimate Fighter 29 finalist, Tresean Gore -- the man many expected to win the show AND a UFC contract -- is OUT of the finale fight after suffering a knee injury.
The UFC prez broke the news while talking to TMZ Sports ... announcing 27-year-old Gore was recently injured, forcing him out of the scrap.
"Bryan Battle versus Tresean Gore. Nobody knows this yet, TMZ is breaking it. Tresean Gore is injured. It looks like his meniscus," White says.
Gore, a 3-0 fighter out of Georgia, arrived at the show unbeaten ... and has been super impressive ever since.
In fact, many thought Tresean was going to win the finale fight vs. Battle on August 28 at UFC Vegas 35 ... and the UFC deal that comes along with winning the show.
"I think a lot of people figured that this kid could win it. You know, obviously a great fight with him and Bryan Battle. Gore is out, probably gonna be out for 6 months. Now, Bryan Battle will be facing Gilbert Urbina."
FYI, 25-year-old, 6-1 Urbina lost to Tresean in the semifinals ... via a 2nd-round knockout.
Bad news for Gore ... but there's a silver lining.
Dana says Tresean will "100%" get a shot on a future UFC card ... once his knee heals.
"Brutal for this poor kid, you know? But, what we’ll do is when Tresean Gore is healthy, does he fight Bryan Battle if Bryan wins the fighter? You know, I don’t know. We’ll see how this thing plays out. But, yeah, Gore is out."
Speaking of middleweights and TUF, we also talked to Dana about Kelvin Gastelum's fight with Jared Cannonier Saturday night at UFC Fight Night ... a matchup White predicts will be a "badass fight."
Kayla Harrison says she'll be the biggest free agent in MMA history in mere months ... and the current PFL star tells us she's looking for big fights and "life-changing money" wherever she signs next.
With only a few fights left on her Professional Fighters League deal, we talked to 31-year-old, undefeated (10-0) Harrison about her future in the sport.
"I worked hard my whole life to hopefully become one of the biggest free agents in the history of the sport," Harrison says.
"Obviously, if PFL comes to the table and, you know, has a good game plan, talks about life-changing money, or has a ton of new talent in the pool, then that’s something that, you know, we’re going to talk about."
"I’m not here to be second best," Kayla says, later continuing ... "And, right now I feel like those two females who are my weight, are ahead of me. So, you know, when the time is right, and hopefully the stars align and everything works out, I get to fight, you know, Cyborg preferably."
We also asked Kayla -- who'll presumably have every organization from PFL, Bellator, ONE and UFC recruiting her -- whether she thinks she'll be the most coveted free agent in the history of the sport.
"Thus far in the history of the sport, I think I will be. But, again, I have to go do my job, you know, I have to go out, I have to dominate, I have to put on a hell of a show and make it so that everyone wants to tune in and see what Kayla Harrison is up to on Thursday nights."
FYI, PFL fights typically go down on Thursdays.
In fact, Harrison has a big fight this week ... she's gotta beat 31-year-old Genah Fabian at PFL 8 on Thursday -- for a chance to continue in the $1 million tourney.
According to the lawsuit, obtained by TMZ, Cat claims she met with Halle back in July, 2019 to talk about a movie HB was directing, "Bruised," and says Halle told her she was perfect for the project.
Cat claims Halle told her to keep her schedule clear because film production was on the horizon, but she says the UFC came calling soon thereafter with a big fight offer.
Waiting for your permission to load the Instagram Media.
In the docs, Cat claims she talked to Halle about the fight offer and claims Halle advised she pass on the fight if she wanted to be in the film, citing liability concerns from the movie's insurer.
Cat claims she agonized over the decision -- the movie versus the big fight -- and says she ultimately turned down the fight. She says the UFC then released her from her contract.
According to the suit, Cat claims she looped Halle in on her decision not to fight and her subsequent release from the UFC, and says she was shocked and dismayed when Halle told her she could no longer be involved in the movie because she was no longer fighting in the UFC. She claims she was told the movie could only work with UFC fighters.
Cat -- who's currently a Bellator fighter -- claims Halle has cut off all communications from her. She's suing for damages, claiming she relied on Halle’s promise and ended up getting screwed.
We reached out to Halle's camp ... so far, no word back.
But, it isn't just talk ... TMZ Sports has learned there is a legit offer on the table for both guys to step in the ring and duke it out!!
Of course, the "That's How I Beat Shaq" crooner told us last week he'd be down to step in the ring again ... saying he'd rip the rapper apart.
33-year-old AC added he felt 31-year-old Soulja would never respond ... claiming he feels threatened by all his success and wouldn't want to be embarrassed with a big L.
But the "Pretty Boy Swag" MC wasted no time clapping back at Carter on social media ... and yeah, the dude went OFF.
Sources close to the situation tell us Celebrity Boxing has reached out to Soulja in hopes of making a deal happen ... but so far, he hasn't responded.
Both Carter and Soulja both seem confident in coming out on top if they were going to face off in a bout ... but there's really only one way to find out.
A gruesome leg injury will NOT end Conor McGregor's fighting career ... so says the UFC superstar himself, who announced Sunday he's gunning for a 2022 return to the Octagon.
"I'm improving rapidly!" McGregor said. "Working with the best team money can buy! I'll be back in no time, lock loaded!"
If his actions in L.A. since his surgery are any indication ... it ain't hard to see Conor making that goal an easy reality.
In fact, just a few days ago, he ensured TMZ Sports his recovery was going to be an epic one.
Conor also started a bit of a tiff with Kamaru Usman during his social media sesh with fans on Sunday night ... suggesting he'd "spark" the welterweight champ if he returned to the octagon at 170 pounds.
"I fight for the 170lb title I will spark him too," Conor wrote.
Usman, though, fired back Monday morning ... saying, "Spark who?? You must be talking about that pipe you’ve been smoking. Unlike you, if I'm gonna talk shit ill @ U. Now be quiet before I call Poirier or Khabib or Diaz to finish you again."
Between Usman, Dustin Poirier and everyone in between, it sure seems like Conor will have no shortage of potential opponents when he does make his return to the UFC.
Here's to hoping that's in 2022 like Conor wants.
46-year-old Ortiz broke down the beef when TMZ Sports talked to him at RVCA Training Centre in Costa Mesa, CA ... explaining how Silva demanded the fight go down at 195 pounds -- 10 pounds under the weight he last fought.
"He wants me down to 195. He's fought at 205 over 6 times in his career and he wants me down to 195. So, it shows that he's afraid of my power."
That's an issue 'cause it means Ortiz has to cut extra weight and deplete his body before the fight -- and frankly, that ticks Tito off.
"I lost respect for the guy man. He's one of the best in the world in mixed martial arts, but I have no respect to him."
Silva is coming off a big time win in the ring over former boxing champ Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. ... a fight that shocked many experts.
But, don't count on the impressive performance scaring Ortiz ... he's veryyyy confident he's gonna whoop Silva's ass.
"Am I the toughest fighter? I'm way tougher than him, 100%. Am I gonna make it vicious? Am I gonna make it just a blood fight? Yes. I hope he's ready for a dogfight. That's what it's gonna be. It's gonna be a dogfight."
"I ain't in here for an exhibition. I'm not here for pitter patter, you know, do a dance. I'm here to fight. I'm a fighter."
We also talked to Tito's boxing coach, Jason Parillo -- one of the best trainers in the sport -- who told us the key to beating Silva.
TMZ Sports talked to 29-year-old Luque -- fresh off his 1st round submission dub over top 5 fighter, Michael Chiesa -- and we asked, who's next!?!
But, #4 ranked Luque knows that's likely a long shot ... so he's got some names in mind in the event he doesn't fight for the strap.
"Leon Edwards could be a guy, you know, a rematch against him could be something that would interest me. Also, a super fight against a guy like Nate Diaz, which I've called out a couple of times. That also would be a fight that would interest me."
Vicente lost to Leon via unanimous decision back in 2017 ... but has been on a tear of late -- coming off wins over Chiesa (submission), Tyron Woodley (submission), Randy Brown (KO), Niko Price (TKO).
Of course, Diaz just fought Edwards himself -- losing via unanimous decision -- but not before almost KO'ing Leon in the last round of the June fight.
There's another option ... serve as the backup fighter in case of injury or illness for Usman vs. Covington -- a fight that doesn't yet have a date.
"I think that would be something interesting. Even if I'm not, you know, officially a backup, I do plan to stay ready. And, possibly, you know if something, I hope nothing happens, but if something happens, I can step in there and save the day."
Bottom line ... Vicente Luques' a problem in the welterweight division.
Khetag Pliev literally had his FINGER TWISTED & RIPPED from the rest of his body 135 days ago during an MMA fight ... and now the crazy tough fighter is stepping back into the cage.
Remember, 37-year-old Pliev's fight against Devin Goodale was ruled a no contest after it was discovered that the digit had been severed sometime during the bout. For minutes, no one could locate Pliev's left ring finger.
Thankfully, the mangled finger was discovered tucked away in his glove ... and Khetag -- who has a 5-1 record -- was taken to a hospital where the finger was reattached.
And, good news, he says the finger is in working order.
So, MMA career dunzo, right? Nope.
Pliev is fighting Nah-Shon Burrell Saturday night at Cage Fury Fighting Championship 99 ... and when we talked to the 37-year-old fighter, it's clear he isn't the least bit concerned about the injury.
In fact, he promised a 1st round knockout.
Just please ... PLEASE ... keep all your body parts intact.
11:04 AM PT -- 8/13 -- We just spoke with Williams about the encounter ... and, yeah, the fighter says the scene was as crazy as it looked on video!!!
Williams tells us the alleged thief was THIIISSSSSS close to getting away with his car ... but fortunately for the fighter, he says the guy just couldn't figure out how to work the parking brake.
As for cops, Williams tells us he never got them involved ... explaining he didn't believe there's anything further they could have done in the situation.
UFC fighter Jordan Williams whooped a dude's ass with violent knee strikes after he says the guy tried to steal his whip -- and the whole incident was caught on video.
The 30-year-old MMA star says it all went down on Wednesday ... when he claims a man tried to steal his ride right out of a convenience store parking lot.
Williams says the scene was captured on surveillance video ... claiming you can see in the footage a man got into his car while he was inside the store and then tried to drive off.
The video appears to show Williams confronting the guy before he got too far, though ... with the footage showing him ripping the man from the ride while kneeing him in the face.
In the clip, you see the man appears to run off while holding his head.
Williams says he could have made things even more violent ... writing on his social media page, "Wish I would of hit him with the trip after the clinch work when I tossed him out of the whip and finish off with some ground and pound."
"But," he added, "I'll settle with getting my car back."
Unclear if Williams went to the police over the incident, we're working on it.
Williams added in his social media post that the whole thing taught him he ALWAYS needs to lock his doors ... saying, "Needless to say my lesson was learned and I hope so was his."
Originally Published -- 8/12 2:03 PM PT
Ciryl Gane and Francis Ngannou -- interim champ vs. champ -- will unify the UFC's heavyweight title in the near future ... and when the 2 goliaths fight, "Bon Gamin" wants it to go down in France.
Both fighters have a strong connection to the country. 31-year-old Gane was born in La Roche-sur-Yon, France. 34-year-old Ngannou moved to the country as a 22-year-old ... traveling to Paris to start his MMA career.
So, when TMZ Sports talked to Gane -- fresh off his dominating victory over Derrick Lewis at UFC 265 -- we asked him if there's been talk of holding the event in Ciryl's home country.
"Yes, a lot of people talk about [the fight in France]. Yes this is possible, and I hope, hopefully, this is going to be in my country," Gane says.
"I think for the debut of the UFC, probably it will be a great fight for starting this, and it will be a big success for sure. We have a lot of fun and friends, and big potential."
There's a good reason there hasn't been a UFC fight in France ... the sport was illegal in the country until last year. But, now it's not ... and it's clear Gane thinks now is a perfect time to bring the promotion to the country.
Gane's clearly interested ... but the silver screen will have to wait 'cause all his focus is on beating Ngannou.
TMZ Sports talked to 34-year-old Ngannou on Friday ... ahead of tonight's interim heavyweight title fight between Lewis and Gane at UFC 265.
"It's just a contender fight. It's not an interim or whatever them guys are talking about. It's a contender fight. They're fighting for the #1 spot contender. It's not a title fight for me."
FYI, 36-year-old Lewis is the #2 ranked heavyweight ... and 31-year-old Gane #3.
So, not for an interim title in "The Predator's" mind ... but that doesn't mean Francis doesn't think it's a kickass matchup.
"I think it's a good fight. I like the fight. I like the styles. Opposite sides. It can be a fun fight."
Of course, "The Black Beast" has crazyyyy power (he's KO'd 20 MMA opponents) ...while Gane is an incredible athlete for a man his size, and has great fundamentals.
The winner will presumably face Ngannou sometime in the near future.
We asked Francis if he had a message for the rest of the division ... and he left us with this.
"The UFC undisputed heavyweight champion is here, and the belt is mine. It's home, that's all. I don't know what they're cooking out there, but the belt is home. It's sitting in my mom's kitchen right now. I own it cause I earned it. It's not something they gave me."
Conor McGregor ain't letting gnarly leg surgery keep him away from a good meal ... the UFC star hit an L.A. hotspot for dinner Thursday night, and vowed to TMZ Sports afterward, he's on his way to a big recovery!
The 33-year-old -- who broke his leg during his fight with Dustin Poirier on July 10 -- was in great spirits while crutching around Craig's in West Hollywood.
You can see in the footage, he was moving pretty well despite having major surgery less than a month ago ... getting around a mob of people and into a car without much assistance at all.
As for the recovery the process, McGregor said it's all "doing good, doing good."
"Three weeks, three days -- it's been good," said Conor, who was feeling so well he even signed some autographs for fans. "It's been good."
McGregor also promised to make an epic comeback from the brutal leg procedure ... telling us, "It's going to be some recovery. It's going to be some recovery!"
As we previously reported, McGregor went under the knife for nearly 4 hours last month and needed a rod, plate and screws to fix the damage he suffered during his fight with Poirier.
Recovery process is supposed to take about a year ... but seems clear Conor's ready to bet the under on that timeframe.