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UFC president Dana White planning speedy turnaround with two big title fights

UFC supremo targets big summer title fights for UFC’s male and female featherweight world champions

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Per Haljestam

It didn’t take long for the dust to settle after UFC 222 on Saturday night, as attention quickly turned to the next set of matchups for the night’s big winners.

UFC women’s featherweight champion Cris ‘Cyborg’ Justino claimed a predictably dominant win over UFC debutant and Invicta bantamweight champion Yana Kunitskaya, and promptly used her post-fight interview to call her next shot, a champion versus champion bout against current UFC women’s bantamweight champion Amanda Nunes.

“Now I wait for Amanda. Amanda called me out,” said Justino after the bout.

“I know Brazil against Brazil is sad, but she called me out, and when you call Cyborg out you have to handle that.”

UFC president Dana White agreed that the ‘Cyborg’ vs Nunes bout was the clear match to make, and indicated his desire to get it booked as early as possible.

Speaking at the post-fight press conference in Las Vegas, White said of Justino: “She’s a beast!

“The fight to make is her and Nunes. That’s the fight that needs to happen.

“Nunes wants the fight, she wants the fight, I want the fight, I’m sure the fans want to see it, too, so we’ll get that one going.”

White often says he’s not one to book matches in the immediate aftermath of live shows, but he abandoned that thought by throwing another potential title fight into the mix during the press conference.

Brian Ortega’s stunning knockout of longstanding featherweight contender – and former UFC lightweight champion – Frankie Edgar, was the standout performance of the night. And White said he wants to see ’T-City’ take on reigning UFC featherweight champion Max Holloway as soon as the Hawaiian world champion is 100% fit and ready to go.

Holloway sustained a leg injury in the lead-up to UFC 222, where he was originally scheduled to face Edgar in the main event. But his training injury forced him off the card, with Edgar accepting a fight with Ortega, which he ended up losing.

Holloway tweeted his admiration for Edgar’s decision to take the bout, despite the clear risks involved.

He also tweeted to say he’d be ready to return at UFC 226, the showpiece event of UFC’s International Fight Week festivities in Las Vegas on July 7.

That event will be headlined by a battle for the UFC heavyweight title, as light-heavyweight champion Daniel Cormier moves back up to heavyweight to challenge record-breaking heavyweight champ Stipe Miocic. If Holloway has his way, a second title matchup could soon join them.

It’s a matchup and a timeline that Ortega says he could work with, too. When asked about a possible matchup with Holloway at UFC 226, he answered in typically laid-back fashion, saying: “When’s the date? Yeah, sure.”

And while he wasn’t firm on a particular date White said he’d love to match up Holloway with new top contender Ortega in what would be one of the most eagerly-anticipated title fights of the summer.

“The fact we now have a title fight with him against Holloway, you know, Holloway looked incredible against Jose Aldo in his last fight and I’m excited about this,” said White.

“The guy is so incredible and well-rounded,” he said.

“You’d think when he goes in and fights Frankie Edgar you’d bet anything he’s going to sub him if he’s going to win. And then he goes and knocks him out in the first round. This kid is super talented (and) has incredible personality.”

And White said he’s ready to book the fight as soon as Holloway gets medically cleared by the doctors.

“I just saw him. He came on The Ultimate Fighter as one of the coaches and he looks good. He’s walking good,” White explained.

“We’ve got to see what his doctor says. When he’s cleared and he’s ready to fight, we’ll make that fight immediately.”

Freelance sports writer and MMA reporter with 19 years’ experience in the UK's national media covering major sporting events including the FIFA World Cup, UEFA European Championships, Olympic Games, UFC world title fights, The Grand National and The FA Cup Final.

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