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UFC news, rumors: Jon Jones, Sean O’Malley and more highlight the biggest MMA moments of May

May was a slow month for UFC as the promotion recovered from an all-time great UFC 300 card. The same wasn’t true outside of the cage. There was drama galore that kept the news cycle turning.

UFC champions Jon Jones and Sean O’Malley were some of the big names generating headlines in last month. The news wasn’t restricted to current champions, either. Bonafide legends Anderson Silva, Jose Aldo and Ronda Rousey captured the public’s attention over the last 30 days.

Take a look at some of the biggest MMA stories you might have missed in May 2024.

Jon Jones continues to get on Tom Aspinall’s nerves

Jones vs. Stipe Miocic will happen by hell or high water. UFC president Dana White is determined to make the outdated dream match a reality, possibly a full calendar year after their fight at UFC 295 fell through. Tom Aspinall filled in for an injured Miocic on that card but didn’t fight undisputed heavyweight champion Jones. Instead, Aspinall defeated Sergei Pavlovich to become the interim champ last November. Aspinall is forced to occupy his time elsewhere despite earning a title unifier while Jones and Miocic wrap their endless business. Aspinall and Jones have repeatedly sparred on social media over the situation. Jones further drew the interim champion’s ire by mulling over a fight with UFC light heavyweight champion Alex Pereira after Miocic.

“If Alex P became champion of the heavyweight division, would you guys consider him the GOAT?” Jones wrote on social media. “Being back in the gym has got me thinking differently. That fight after Stipe may be the next biggest move I could possibly make. This killer has already defeated so many champions, and is already considered a legend to millions around the world. The most massive fight the UFC could make. Give Alex a chance to avenge all those great Brazilian champions I’ve defeated.”

Sean O’Malley gets swatted

A day of relaxation became a high-stress situation for the UFC bantamweight champion. O’Malley was playing video games and streaming them to his fans when a police force swarmed his property. O’Malley appears to be the victim of swatting, a trend in which perpetrators make hoax emergency phone calls attempting to have a Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) team sent to someone’s house. The victims are often streamers broadcasting live online.

“I peek out my head out the window to see if maybe it’s something else, but then they’re on the intercom and I see a bunch of cops,” O’Malley said on the “Timbo Sugarshow” podcast with his coach Tim Welch. “They’re like, ‘Walk out with your hands up.’ So I f—in’ walk out, hands up. I was like, ‘I’m just going to listen. I could get shot.’ I was like, ‘OK, if I just listen to them, I’ll be all right.’ But you never know: Someone sneezes, pulls the trigger — I’ve got f—in’ shotguns pointed at me, AR-[15]s from like four different cops pointed at me. I was like, ‘I’m just going to listen and walk back.”

O’Malley said he was detained by officers who did not recognize him; however, additional reinforcements identified him as a UFC fighter.

“I was sitting in the back of that cop car in handcuffs and I was like, ‘Dude, that’s crazy: I had freedom five minutes ago. Now I have none. Zero,'” O’Malley said. “They said I killed my parents or something like that, and they thought there was an active shooter inside.”

Ronda Rousey goes scorched Earth

Rousey was once UFC’s top draw and among the most popular American athletes alive. These days her relationship with the MMA community is strained. Rousey went radio silent after consecutive knockout losses to Holly Holm and Amanda Nunes — her only two professional defeats — before transitioning to a fruitful professional wrestling career with WWE. Rousey is now opening up after retiring from both professions to promote her new book. During an interview with the “High Performance” podcast, Rousey blamed the media for her strained relationship with MMA fans.

“Ask the MMA media [why what I gave wasn’t enough] — they’re the ones saying it,” Rousey said. “That I was a fraud and I was hype and I was exposed and I was never anything and just lucky and all of these things, that I was ungracious or I was a loser or every other thing that I just assume at this point because I don’t take the time to read it.”

UFC legends regularly populate seats at pay-per-view events but Rousey is noticeably absent since retiring. The UFC Hall of Famer and former bantamweight champion fears she’d be booed if she attended a live UFC event.

“Everything that could be said that was negative was said, and I feel really vilified by MMA media at this point and not really welcome back, which is why I haven’t gone to a UFC fight since,” Rousey said. “I’m pretty sure if I walked into the arena, I’d be booed. That’s how it feels.”

Derrick Lewis goes nude

What’s crazier: Lewis’ knockouts or his post-fight antics. It’s a difficult question to answer. The UFC’s KO leader has become a fan favorite due to his unrivaled KO power and colorful personality. His stoppage win against Rodrigo Nascimento at UFC Fight Night on May 11 was impressive, but his post-fight antics drew more attention. Lewis celebrated the KO by removing his shorts and fanning Nascimento with them. He followed up by slipping down his underwear to moon the St. Louis crowd. The production truck even switched shots at one point to avoid the potential of showing viewers more than what’s suitable for television.

Jose Aldo returns, enters free agency

UFC Hall of Famer Aldo is in full control of his career. Aldo made a surprising comeback at UFC 301, ending his 18-month MMA retirement to fight bantamweight contender Jonathan Martinez. “The King of Rio” was victorious on home soil while fighting out his UFC contract. Aldo told CBS Sports he wouldn’t immediately re-sign with UFC as he explored options. The former featherweight champion was hesitant to sign with another MMA organization but expressed enthusiasm about boxing fights on the horizon. Whatever Aldo’s next step, it was comforting to see his hand raised in front of his countrymen in what could be his last UFC fight.

Silva vs. Sonnen in boxing

Aldo isn’t the only Brazilian UFC legend dabbling in boxing. Record-setting UFC middleweight champion Silva is scheduled for an exhibition boxing match against a familiar foe. Silva will box two-time UFC rival Sonnen in Silva’s hometown of Sao Paulo, Brazil on June 15. The fight is scheduled for five two-minute rounds. Interestingly, their first fight at UFC 117 will be inducted into the UFC Hall of Fame Fight Wing later that month during International Fight Week. Silva is largely favoured to beat Sonnen thanks to his activity and vast striking edge. Silva has competed in five pro boxing bouts, notably beating Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. and losing to Jake Paul. Sonnen’s background is primarily in grappling. Sonnen claimed on his “Good Guy/Bad Guy” ESPN show that Silva offered an MMA fight, but Sonnen opted for boxing in preparation for a subsequent boxing match with Jorge Masvidal.

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