Sunday MMA Quick Hits: McGregor Reacts to Gaethje Win, Wonderboy Issues Statement

Stephen Thompson and Michel Pereira, UFC 291
Stephen Thompson and Michel Pereira, UFC 291 Press Conference Face Offs. Credit: Eddie Law/Cageside Press

AJ McKee reveals more info on why he was forced out of Saturday’s Bellator X RIZIN card, while Conor McGregor had plenty to say about Justin Gaethje’s UFC 291 win. Plus, Stephen Thompson issues a statement after turning down a catchweight fight with the overweight Michel Pereira. It’s your Sunday MMA Quick Hits for the final weekend of July 2023!

A.J. McKee’s staph infection is not pretty

A.J. McKee did not get to fight in Japan this weekend as planned, and for good reason. McKee, a former Bellator featherweight champ and one of its biggest stars, was supposed to feature in a lightweight grand prix quarterfinal against Patricky Pitbull. Instead, he had to sit this one out, the result of a nasty staph infection.

The images below are not fun.

Karyla Harrison admits her timing in MMA “pretty brutal” after missing out on Nunes fight

Kayla Harrison missed out on fighting Cris Cyborg, at least for now, as Cyborg opted to re-sign with Bellator MMA during a recent free agent period. Harrison also managed to lose to Larissa Pacheco last year, all but ending hope for a fight with Amanda Nunes.

That fight has zero chance of happening now that Nunes, the former UFC women’s bantamweight and featherweight champion, is retired. “The Lioness” called it a career following her win over Irene Aldana at UFC 289 in Vancouver. And Harrison now admits that her time in terms of MMA is… well not great. Worse than that, in fact.

“My timing in MMA is pretty brutal. Sometimes I’m like, ‘Did I really need a second gold medal? I should have just gone to MMA when I was 22.’ Then I could’ve just been this monster,” Harrison told ESPN recently. “If [Nunes]’s happy, she’s satisfied, she’s accomplished everything she’s wanted to accomplish, I’m sad for me and I’m happy for her. That’s it.”

Cutwoman goes down


Billy Brand finished Pedro Juarez by knockout at A1 Combat 12, but that’s not what the fight will be remembered for. Instead, that is more likely to be his knockdown of the cutwoman while celebrating after the fight.

The event, run by Uriah Faber, aired on UFC Fight Pass, and they had the highlight.

Stephen Thompson explains decision to turn down catchweight fight with Pereira

Stephen “Wondboy” Thompson has been here before, with an opponent coming in overweight and getting to get with a competitive advantage. And when it happened ahead of UFC 291, the welterweight veteran was having none of it.

It was Michel Pereira clocking in 3lbs heavy for the pair’s main card fight, and ultimately, Thompson chose not to move forward with a catchweight. He shed some light on that decision after the fact.

“Unfortunately my fight with Michel Pereira will no longer be going forward. First off, I’m sorry to all the fans who were looking forward to my fight. I’m gutted for my coaches, my family and all the people who helped me throughout camp to be ready and prepared to go to battle,” Thompson wrote on social media. “I made weight this morning as I have done every fight during my 11+ year UFC career. My opponent did not. This isn’t the first time I’ve had an opponent miss weight and given how that played out previously, myself and my team felt that it’s ultimately not smart for us to move forward with this fight.”

“At my age and given what I’ve accomplished in this sport, I’m not here to be a gatekeeper, I’m here to fight for and win a UFC Welterweight Title. This isn’t a video game and both of us are putting our health and our careers on the line. If I don’t finish my opponent, I risk losing a decision, even if it’s a split decision as what happened when I fought Darren Till and almost the same exact scenario played out back then. Fighters who miss weight face far too few consequences and are often allowed to fight with a significant competitive advantage. This appears to be happening more and more these days.”

Thompson is hoping that by rejecting the Pereira fight, he’ll prompt move athletes to buckle now and make weight.

“Hopefully the decision to not move forward with the fight will discourage others from missing weight in the future. I also hope to encourage fighters that face this situation to follow suit and not allow this to happen to them. I’m healthy and I will look to get back in the Octagon ASAP BUT on a level playing field as I continue to pursue my question of winning the UFC Welterweight title.”

Thompson was reportedly not paid his show money by the UFC despite making weight, per MMA Junkie’s Mike Bohn.

McGregor reacts to Gaethje’s BMF title win

“Justin, I’ll slap you around,” was Conor McGregor’s immediate response after Justin Gaethje captured the BMF title at UFC 291, care of a head kick KO perfectly landed on Dustin Poirier.

I’m the real bmf, he can fight for pennies if he wants but I want spirits, I call the shots, I’m in it to launch shots, fuck Chandler, you want it call for it,” McGregor said in a second post to his verified Twitter (or is it X now?) account.

McGregor, currently seen as a coach on The Ultimate Fighter 31, is supposed to face Michael Chandler at some point in late 2023 or early 2024, though no date has been announced for the fight. Plus, McGregor is not in the USADA testing pool by all accounts, though that does not limit his ability to fight should the UFC grant him an exemption from the six months testing window for returning fighters (McGregor pulled out of the USADA program while healing the leg he broke against Dustin Poirier in 2021).

In any case, “The Notorious” is notorious at keeping his name in the news cycle, so don’t assume he’s giving up on the Chandler match-up just yet. And Gaethje definitely has his eye on the UFC lightweight championship, which is a prize McGregor cannot offer.