"The stakes are huge," Gaethje tells TMZ Sports ... "This is life-changing for me. I go out there and get a dub?! This is life-changing."
And, for all of the critics who think he'll get smoked by the undefeated Dagestani, Justin offered up this message ...
"I am prepared and you can bet your bottom dollar I will not go out like no bitch!"
Justin and Khabib -- two friends who share the same manager, Ali Abdelaziz -- are scheduled to throw down for the UFC lightweight championship at UFC 254 on Oct. 24 on Fight Island in Abu Dhabi.
Wanna hear Justin's fight plan?
"I'm gonna go out there and I'm gonna try and break his face, I promise you."
We asked Justin what he believes will be the biggest challenge in the fight -- and his response was interesting.
"Right now, this man is gonna be very hard to beat. With the passing of his father -- for people like us that is a driving motivating factor. He's going to be 100% motivated but I do believe ... that I can beat him."
Justin says he knows he has to punish Khabib early and often -- explaining, "If he takes 8 clean shots I truly believe that he will understand that he doesn't want to take this damage."
Justin says the UFC is flying his parents out for the fight -- and when he wins the belt, they'll be the first people he seeks out to celebrate with.
"When I win, I'm gonna go find them and give them a huge hug because we f*cking did it!"
We also asked Gaethje about Conor McGregor -- and if he still wants to fight the Irishman after all of the back and forth over the years.
"When I get this belt, the target will be on my back and I will have no need to call anybody out," Gaethje says.
"Honestly it wouldn't matter who I fought after Khabib. This will cement my legacy and that's the only thing I'm here for."
Le'Veon Bell is a Chief.
The ex-NY Jets running back signed a 1-year deal with the defending Super Bowl champs, after being cut by Gang Green earlier this week.
You know the backstory ... the Jets suck. Bell was unhappy. The Jets decided to get him outta there before he became a bigger problem.
Bell was reportedly deciding between 3 teams -- the Chiefs, Miami Dolphins and Buffalo Bills ... and ultimately decided the best fit was in K.C.
The best part ... the Chiefs play the Jets in Week 8 -- so, that should be fun!
Bell tweeted about the move Thursday afternoon -- saying, "Kansas City, #ChiefsKingdom thank you for the opportunity. Let’s go!"
Bell should have an immediate impact on the Chiefs running game -- currently ranked 19th in the league with an average of 108 rushing yards per game.
The starting back is rookie sensation Clyde Edwards-Helaire -- who can ball -- but let's face it, he could probably use the help.
Question is ... can Bell reclaim his place as one of the top backs in the NFL? Or are his best days behind him?
We'll find out soon!
The UFC superstar (and reigning "BMF" titleholder) was waiting for POTUS at Miami International Airport on Thursday to personally greet Trump as he arrived for his NBC Town Hall event at the Perez Art Museum.
Masvidal was wearing a mask. Trump -- who recently tested positive for COVID-19 -- was not. But, Jorge didn't seem too concerned.
While at the airport, Trump told reporters, "Don't ever fight him!"
Trump and Masvidal have become close over the past few weeks -- with Jorge even campaigning for Donald at a recent "Fighters Against Socialism" rally.
Earlier this week, Trump tweeted at Masvidal, "Jorge, you’re really tough and really smart. My Great Honor to have your support!"
Masvidal -- whose father was born in Cuba -- responded, "My honor and duty to the country my father risked his life escaping to from the hands of communists. Said it before and I’ll say it again, you a bmf sir."
Earlier this week, Masvidal had a fast-food lunch with Donald Jr. -- and said they had a lot in common ... including "good hair."
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Will it be enough to defeat Biden? We'll see soon enough ...
Super sad news for ex-Arizona State football head coach Todd Graham ... his wife says 17 of his most prized championship rings were stolen in Arizona this week.
Penni Graham tells TMZ Sports ... she and the coach are in the process of moving to Hawaii from Scottsdale for his new head coaching gig -- and had given the rings to a close friend to help move the jewelry out to Honolulu.
But, Penni says someone broke into their friend's car Tuesday at around 1 PM a couple blocks from Arizona State's campus ... and stole everything.
Penni says the coach is heartbroken over the loss of the items ... and is pleading with the thieves to return them ASAP.
"So much went into earning those rings," Penni said, "especially his National Championship ring, as a coach in 1992. Seventeen rings from years of blood, sweat and tears. He is devastated."
Penni says they're working with the Tempe Police Department to try to get the rings back.
Todd had a ton of success as the Sun Devils' coach from 2012 through 2017 ... winning 10 games in 2013 and 2014 and earning 2 bowl victories.
He left the program after the 2017 season ... and just signed on in January to be the Univ. of Hawaii's new head man.
In his 13-year head coaching career, Graham has a 95-61 record.
Just one month after the K.C. Chiefs players received their Super Bowl rings ... one of them is already up for auction, TMZ Sports has learned.
The ring was made for Mike Weber -- who was on the K.C. practice squad during the 2019 season when Patrick Mahomes led the team to a win over the 49ers in SB LIV.
The players received their rings in a special ceremony at Arrowhead Stadium on Sept. 1.
But now, the 23-year-old's ring has made its way over to Goldin Auctions, where it's up for grabs and the starting bid was $35,000. The current bid is already at $55,000 with 17 days to go!
Goldin tells us the ring is attracting a ton of interest and could easily hit the 6-figure mark.
As for the piece itself, it's a 10 karat gold ring featuring the Chiefs logo made with 60 diamonds ... and 2 Lombardi Trophies made with marquee-cut diamonds.
It includes 16 rubies to signify 10 AFC West division titles and 6 playoff appearances under head coach Andy Reid.
The perimeter of the ring top has 122 diamonds which represents 100 NFL seasons and the 22 playoff appearances in Chiefs’ franchise history.
Weber's name is on the side of the ring next to his jersey number, 45 -- and his signature is etched on the inside band.
Goldin says the ring comes with a custom Josten's ring box and a letter of authenticity from Mike Weber.
Weber was a Dallas Cowboys 7th-round draft pick in 2019 ... and spent most of the season on the practice squad there -- but joined the Chiefs' practice squad in January after the Cowboys' year ended.
Weber had re-signed with the Chiefs after the Super Bowl victory ... but was cut in the offseason after K.C. selected Clyde Edwards-Helaire in the 1st round of the 2020 draft. He's currently trying to get back into the league.
Weber had been a monster star at Ohio State prior to his NFL days ... rushing for 2,772 yards and 24 TDs from 2016 to 2018.
As we previously reported, DR was booted from his role as HC just a few weeks ago after he failed to lead a stacked Clips team past the 2nd round of the NBA playoffs.
Now, Lue will take over ... and expectations are higher than ever.
The Clippers are set to return most of their stars -- including Leonard and Paul George -- in 2021 ... and could add even more firepower through trades and free agency this offseason.
43-year-old Lue has a career head coaching record of 128-83.
Here's a pretty solid reason to root for the 49ers -- kicker Robbie Gould has pledged to donate $500 to charity for each field goal he makes this season!
And, not just any charity, Gould says the money will go toward Cal's Angels ... which "has a mission of granting wishes, raising awareness, and funding research to help kids fighting cancer."
The organization was founded by the family of Cal Sutter, who was diagnosed with Acute Myelogenous Leukemia when he was only 12.
Cal passed away in 2006, but the foundation (started in 2007) has raised more than $13 MILLION ever since!
Gould (who played for the Chicago Bears for years) says he's excited to help out -- explaining, "In the past 13 years, they have granted over 2,000 wishes to kids fighting cancer in the Chicagoland area so all the money donated during September will go to their wish-granting program."
"These kids are faced with a challenge they shouldn't have - to live!"
"I am challenging you all to help me in supporting Cal's Angels. Join team GOULD and help me kick cancer with a one-time donation."
Gould already made 7 field goals this season -- here's hoping he can break his season record, 39 -- which he hit in 2017!!
Daryl Morey is leaving his position as general manager of the Houston Rockets ... roughly 1 year after he created an international incident with a pro-Hong Kong tweet.
48-year-old Morey was NOT fired, according to ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski -- but rather it was Daryl who approached Rockets' owner, Tilman Fertitta, and initiated the conversation to step down.
Morey has been the GM for the past 13 seasons -- and wanted to explore other professional options for himself while spending more time with his family ... according to Woj.
Morey was successful during his run with the team -- the Rockets have made the playoffs 8 years in the row, the longest streak among NBA teams.
But he's most well-known for the China incident -- on Oct. 4, 2019 he tweeted out support for Hong Kong, which REALLY pissed off China.
The tweet read, "Fight for Freedom. Stand with Hong Kong," with a pic of pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong in October.
Woj says Morey will stay in the job to help the team find a new head coach -- and he isn't against working with the team in some capacity somewhere down the line.
Dak Prescott clearly ain't letting his horrific injury get him down ... the Cowboys QB posted a smiling update Thursday -- vowing to come back stronger than ever.
"This little adversity is just going to be another chapter in the book," the Dallas superstar said. "And I'm excited to move forward and write it."
Prescott had surgery Sunday night to fix a dislocated and fractured ankle ... and is expected to need at least 4 months before he can get on the football field again.
But, the 27-year-old -- who was on his way to see his leg at the doctor's office for the first time since his operation -- said in his video update he's "in great spirits."
"And I'mma stay that way," Dak added.
Prescott also thanked all of his fans, teammates and fellow NFLers for all the support he's received over the past few days.
"I can't thank you enough for all of your love, your support, your prayers over the last few days," Dak said. "They've been more than overwhelming."
Prescott -- who's never missed a game since taking over the Cowboys QB reigns as a rookie in 2016 -- said he's now excited to see the field from a different perspective this year.
"I'm ready to get this journey of the comeback started," Dak said. "So, God bless you all."
Remember, The Match 2 back in May was a huge success -- with Tiger Woods and Peyton Manning taking on Phil and Tom Brady.
Since TB12 is a little busy these days with the NFL season, Barkley has offered to step in and take his spot.
The only issue ... Barkley is a TURRRRRRIBLE golfer!! Like, super bad!
But, this event will be more about the trash talk than a showcase of Chuck's skills on the links.
Tiger is also out for the event -- he'll be replaced by Steph Curry, who's actually REALLY good.
The Match 3 is set to go down on Friday, Nov. 27 -- and will hope to break the $20 MILLION raised for charity by the Match 2.
Of course, Tom Brady famously struggled most of the way during The Match 2 (even splitting his pants on live TV) ... only to redeem himself with an UNREAL SHOT on the 7th hole!
Can Chuck do better? Probably not ... but it'll be fun to watch!
Pro Football Hall of Famer Fred Dean -- a 2-time Super Bowl champ with the SF 49ers and a 4-time Pro Bowler -- has died after a lengthy battle with coronavirus.
He was 68 years old.
Dean's good friend and former teammate, Dwight Hicks, reportedly made the announcement on social media Thursday ... writing in a statement, "I'm sorry to say that he succumbed to complications of Covid-19."
"May peace be with his wife Pam and their families."
Dean -- 6'3", 230 lbs -- is considered one of the best defensive ends of all-time ... and was known as one of the coolest dudes to ever play the game as well.
"James Dean wasn’t cooler than Fred Dean," 49ers Hall of Famer Ronnie Lott famously said of his ex-teammate.
Sacks weren't logged as an official stat until late in Dean's career ... but in the 1983 season (the year after the NFL started keeping track), Dean recorded an epic 17.5 QB takedowns.
Arguably the greatest offensive lineman of all-time, Anthony Munoz, once called Dean "the strongest opponent I ever faced."
Hall of Fame president and CEO David Baker added in a statement Thursday, "[Dean] exemplified many of the values learned from this great game -- commitment, integrity, courage -- over the course of his life."
Dean was selected in the 2nd-round of the 1975 NFL Draft by the San Diego Chargers after a Hall of Fame career at Louisiana Tech. He was traded to the 49ers in 1981 and played there until he retired in 1985.
Jared Goff's girlfriend Christen Harper is trying to take her modeling career to the next level by auditioning for the S.I. Swimsuit Edition ... and yeah, HIRE HER!!
Harper has been a model/actress for a while -- but she's been on a mission to follow the Camille Kostek blueprint to success.
Of course, Gronk's girlfriend -- a former New England Patriots cheerleader -- got a massive career boost when S.I. selected her for the Swimsuit Edition back in 2018. Her career is on fire!
Enter Harper, who's been dating L.A. Rams QB Jared Goff for a while -- and it's clear she thinks she could be the next big S.I. breakout star.
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And, judging from her audition video, SHE'S RIGHT!
"I am SO excited to finally go after one of my wildest dreams," Harper said.
"[S.I. Swimsuit] has meant so much more than a magazine to me, it gave me the confidence to embrace who I am and ultimately chase my dreams."
Harper says multiple agencies told her she wouldn't be successful unless she could "just lose a few inches off my waist and that I wouldn’t be taken seriously outside of L.A. because of the size of my chest."
But "instead of shrinking myself down into an unrealistic standard for my own body, I chose to have faith that I was enough."
She ended with this message to the S.I., team -- "LET'S DO THIS!"
Goff and Harper sparked dating rumors as early as January '19 ... and went Best Buy official when TMZ Sports caught up with them at the electronics store a few months later.
The L.A. Lakers victory celebration has moved to Malibu -- with LeBron James and his teammates turning up at Nobu!
Seems it was a couple's dinner -- because everyone from Bron to Danny Green, Kyle Kuzma, Dwight Howard and more showed up to the restaurant Wednesday night with their significant others. The fashion game was strong!!!
Just because they're out of the bubble, doesn't mean they're blowing off COVID safety measures -- everyone masked up on the way into the sushi joint.
Earlier this week, Davis appeared on the 'Jimmy Kimmel' show and joked about how he wouldn't go back to Disney World for years after spending months in the bubble. He also mentioned how most of his teammates just relaxed in their own beds once they arrived home. Maybe he's just not ready to party yet!
Speaking of parties ... as we previously reported, the Lakers and L.A. City and County officials are working together to figure out a safe way to have a massive victory parade in L.A. -- but it won't happen until the pandemic is over, which could take a while.
In the meantime, hopefully the players enjoyed their expensive victory dinner at the hottest restaurant in town ... they earned it!!
Insane scene at a local NY hockey rink Wednesday ... a Zamboni caught fire while it was on the ice -- and the video is WILD!!!
It all went down at Bill Gray's Regional Iceplex in Brighton, NY ... when officials at the rink say a broken hose leaked flammable liquid onto the vehicle's motor.
You can see in the footage ... the resulting flames were MASSIVE -- burning the ride just inches from the driver!!!
People at the facility were shocked to see the scene play out ... with one person screaming on video, "How is he on there?!"
Fortunately, officials say they were able to put out the fire shortly after it began ... and no one was injured.
Kristin Cavallari's still very single ... despite that recent video of her getting flirty and kissing a comedian.
Sources close to the situation tell TMZ ... there's nothing serious going on between Kristin and Jeff Dye, and in fact -- we're told they've only hung out that one time they were seen in Chicago looking like a new couple.
Our sources say Kristin's just having fun right now and doesn't have -- nor is she looking for -- a boyfriend.
As for how Kristin and Jeff connected ... we're told he slid into her DMs a couple weeks ago, and they happened to be in Chi-town last week at the same time, so they met up.
As we've reported ... Kristin announced back in April she and Jay are getting divorced. Since then, things have gotten a little nasty ... with Kristin accusing him of "punishing" her financially, and Jay calling her expenses "frivolous."
Kristin insists there's no scandal involved with their divorce, though ... she says it just didn't work out.
So will it work out with Jeff? Probably too soon to tell, but if you're reading tea leaves ... we're told they haven't seen each other since the kiss.
TMZ Sports talked to the former Washington signal-caller about 27-year-old Prescott's future ... after the Cowboys quarterback suffered a compound fracture and dislocation of his right ankle during Sunday's game against the NY Giants.
"I felt so bad for [Prescott]. You hate to see anybody get hurt like that. Even though the team wasn't doing real well, Dak was having an incredible year, and I just pray that he's gonna come back."
All you need to know about the warrior Dak Prescott is... he has what is later diagnosed as a compound fracture of his ankle.— Mike Leslie (@MikeLeslieWFAA) October 12, 2020 @MikeLeslieWFAA
...and he slams his foot on the ground, trying to knock it back into place.
The man has absolutely zero quit in him. Full stop.pic.twitter.com/hLbJ5NXCKB
Of course, Theismann's leg was snapped (he had a compound fracture of his tibia and fibula) by Lawrence Taylor during a "Monday Night Football" game in 1985 ... ending Joe's career.
JT's injury happened 8 years before Dak was even born ... but Joe knows what Prescott is going through, and he wants to help.
"I'd love to reach out to Dak," Theismann tells us.
"Matter fact, I put feelers out to see if it's a possibility that I might be able to just have a conversation with him and tell him no matter what you go through mentally, you're gonna get through this and you're gonna be okay."
Most importantly, Joe says he believes Prescott -- who underwent successful surgery Sunday night in TX -- will return to the field and continue to be one of the best QB's in the world.
"I don't know what The Cowboys are gonna do regarding the economics of his situation, but to me, I really don't care. I really care about Dak being able to come back and be the football player that he wants to be, and I know he's gonna be terrific."
"I'm already sort of excited about his future going forward!"