Conor McGregor teases return to USADA pool (maybe), Josh Barnett and Demetrious Johnson turn up on AEW WrestleDream PPV, and more in your Sunday MMA Quick Hits for October 8, 2023! Let’s go!
Former ONE heavyweight champion Arjan Bhullar announces birth of son
Indo-Canadian ex-ONE Championship heavyweight title holder Arjan Bhullar, also of UFC fame, may have lost his title earlier this year, but he still has reason to celebrate. Bhullar took to social media this past week to announce the birth of his son, Heera Singh Bhullar.
Congrats! Can’t wait to see the kid’s takedown skills!
— Arjan Singh Bhullar (@TheOneASB) October 2, 2023
Former UFC heavyweight champ Josh Barnett makes AEW debut at WrestleDream
Ex-UFC heavyweight champion and Strikeforce/Bellator fighter Josh Barnett has long worked as a pro wrestler, seamlessly transitioning before real life fighting and scripted fisticuffs perhaps better than any fighter of his era.
At last Sunday’s WrestleDream, Barnett made his AEW debut, turning up in the world’s #2 pro wrestling promotion (second only to WWE) to take on Claudio Castagnoli. Barnett cut a rather respectful promo after losing the match against Claudio (formerly WWE’s Cesaro), and followed that up on social media.
Claudio was all I hoped to find in the ring and even more so; arguably more than even he knows lies still within him. Fights like these are something that will get me grab my boots and travel to any corner of the globe. I live for it.
— 𝕿𝖍𝖊 𝖂𝖆𝖗𝖒𝖆𝖘𝖙𝖊𝖗 (@JoshLBarnett) October 2, 2023
Mighty Mouse to AEW?
Speaking of AEW WrestleDream, the pro wrestling PPV was held in Seattle, and local star Demetrious “Mighty Mouse” Johnson was in attendance. Considered by many one of the greatest fighters of all time, the UFC and ONE Championship flyweight champ later teased a move to pro wrestling on X, which is apparently what Elon Musk is stubbornly sticking with (but we all know it’s Twitter).
— Demetrious Johnson (@MightyMouse) October 2, 2023
Not sure there’s much of a flyweight division for pro wrestlers, but AEW has been very successful promoting smaller bodies, most notably Darby Allin, one of the company’s biggest homegrown stars.
In other “Mighty Mouse” news, his future with ONE Championship and MMA as a whole remains up in the air. No fight has been announced, but Johnson hasn’t announced his retirement, either. He had hinted at hanging up the gloves ahead of his rematch with Adriano Martins, but left the door open for a return.
Conor McGregor back in the USADA pool?
Conor McGregor and USADA have been going through a bit of a behind-the-scenes battle, along with the UFC, in recent months.
USADA has been vocal about the returning Irish star, who withdrew from its testing pool while rehabbing a broken leg, undergoing the required six months of drug testing before returning to competition. The UFC (and UFC alone, USADA officials previously told Cageside Press) can waive that requirement, and throughout the past year, McGregor appeared to be banking on that, claiming he would only need a couple of clean drug tests to fight again.
Who was going to win out, USADA or the UFC’s biggest star? Looks like it might be USADA.
This past week, McGregor posted a message to Instagram directed at would-be opponent Michael Chandler that included the line “Submitted my stuff to Novitzky.” That would be Jeff Novitzky, the UFC’s Senior VP of Athlete Health and Performance. On the UFC’s end, he’s in charge of the UFC’s Anti-Doping Program, which is run by USADA. Most have taken McGregor’s message to mean he’s back in the USADA pool.
If that’s the case, six months of testing would put the Irish star in line for when UFC 300 is expected to take place.