Spencer on a Cyborg vs. Nunes rematch: ‘I’m here to spoil that party’

Felicia Spencer says she’s not focusing on the chatter around Cris Cyborg’s contract situation, and is grateful to be fighting her. Watch UFC 240 here on ESPN+. (1:03)

The latest episode of Ariel Helwani’s MMA Show featured multiple former UFC champions, a rising prospect on the verge of a title shot and a famous television and movie star.

Here’s what you might have missed:

Cris Cyborg, at one point considered the greatest female fighter of all time, will compete for quite possibly the last time in UFC on Saturday when she faces Felicia Spencer in the co-main event of UFC 240 in Edmonton, Alberta. Cyborg is on the final bout of her contract and has spoken publicly about pursuing other promotions once she is a free agent. If she signs a new UFC deal, however, a possible rematch with bantamweight and featherweight champion Amanda Nunes could be on the horizon.

UFC 240 features dominant featherweight champion Max Holloway defending against veteran Frankie Edgar, who at 37 might be competing for a title for the final time. In the co-main event, Cris Cyborg aims to bounce back from just her second career defeat against the unbeaten Felicia Spencer.

UFC 240: Holloway vs. Edgar
• Saturday, Edmonton, Alberta
Early prelims: ESPN+, 6:30 p.m. ET
Prelims: ESPN, 8 p.m. ET
Main card: ESPN+ PPV, 10 p.m. ET

Order UFC 240 now

Spencer knows all about it. She told Ariel Helwani on Monday that fans have made it known they are looking ahead to the Nunes bout and have already chalked up this weekend’s fight as an easy Cyborg win.

“There have been a lot of people talking about her next fight, as if this fight wasn’t happening,” Spencer said. “So whatever plans are being made, I’m here to spoil that party.”

Spencer (7-0) is the former Invicta FC featherweight champion. She made her UFC debut in May and submitted Megan Anderson by rear-naked choke midway through the first round.

She said though her name may not be as known as Cyborg’s, she believes in her ability to remain undefeated after this weekend.

“I know my experience in the public eye on the grand stage hasn’t been shown a lot, but I’ve been training and doing martial arts my entire life,” Spencer said. “I’ve had the mat time. My cage time doesn’t match a lot of the other competitors in the UFC, but my mat time is there or beyond a lot of the roster. I feel very confident. I’m very excited for this coming Saturday to shock the world.”

Leon Edwards, who earned his eighth straight win on Saturday, isn’t looking for “random” fights anymore. He wants to fight for what means something to him. And to Edwards that leaves only two options: a chance against Kamaru Usman for the UFC’s welterweight belt or a meeting with Jorge Masvidal in a No. 1 contender bout. The latter appeals to him after Masvidal attacked him backstage at a UFC event in London in March.

“That’s the fight to make,” Edwards said. “That’s the fight the fans want to see. That’s the fight I want. Just make it for a No. 1 contender’s spot, and we’ll go from there.”

Leon Edwards says Jorge Masvidal “keeps making excuses” and is a “weasel” but wants to fight Masvidal in a title eliminator bout in the UFC welterweight division.

Longtime UFC strawweight champion Jonana Jedrzejczyk will face Michelle Waterson on Oct. 12, and a win is likely to get her back in the title picture. That could mean another matchup with current champion Jessica Andrade, who takes on Zhang Weili for the belt on Aug. 31.

Jedrzejczyk defeated Andrade at UFC 211 in May 2017 in a tough but unanimous decision win. She told Helwani she isn’t worried in the slightest about potentially fighting the Brazilian again (and didn’t hold back when addressing the rest of the strawweight division).

On Andrade: “I watched her [Instagram] stories of her training. She was never a striker, but watching her training? On this level? It’s not so good. She’s the champ. She should represent top, top, high level. But she does not. [Zhang] is very tough, so I cannot wait to see what happens at the end of August.

“I know her good side is her wrestling and takedowns, and striking was never her good side. But she can throw some good punches and good combinations. She’s very strong and always going forward, but I’m not impressed.”

On Claudia Gadelha: “I beat her twice, what does she want? I beat her twice, and I don’t think she remembers what happened in the second fight. There’s lots of bad blood between us, too, but she lost. I beat her badly. Of course [I have no interest in the fight]. I don’t need the fight. She needs me.”

On other strawweights calling her out: “They all need me. When I lost to Rose [Namajunas], look how many girls called me out. They all want to fight me because I’m a big name. But now I’m going to headline the show in San Francisco with Michelle Waterson because we both are worth it. We mean a lot to the UFC. I’m thankful to the UFC for giving me another chance.

“They want to fight me because I’m a big name. I can open the door for money and big business. That’s not my way to do that. You never heard me calling out someone — never ever.”

Steve-O, one of the stars of MTV’s “Jackass” series, is an avid MMA fan. But as he told Helwani on Monday, he’s not interested in just watching the fights. He wants to be part of them. Noting Justin Bieber’s interest in fighting Tom Cruise, Steve-O said he would be willing to fight Bieber himself.

“I really believe Justin Bieber can throw a mean punch, and I can take one,” he joked. “If it were to happen, I think Justin Bieber would absolutely mop the floor with me. But I believe there’s enough money to be made that it’s a beating I’d happily take.”

Steve-O tells Ariel Helwani about the time he jokingly asked Dana White for a fight inside the Octagon against Justin Bieber.

After picking up a split-decision victory over Andrei Arlovski at UFC 232, Walt Harris was pinged in January for a positive drug test by the California State Athletic Commission. The win was vacated, but Harris received only a four-month suspension. He worked with the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency to prove he took a tainted supplement, and on Monday Harris revealed more of the details of how he’s fighting the suspension retroactively.

“I took a supplement that was labeled improperly, and they found out that I did nothing wrong,” Harris told Helwani. “I didn’t fail any USADA tests, but something showed up for California and CSAC, so they kind of got together and decided that four months was the appropriate thing for me to suffer that suspension. And we did it, we took the suspension, but I’m taking legal action against the supplement company because they mislabeled their product and they did that knowingly.

“I just feel like it’s not about money for me,” Harris continued. “It’s about my reputation and my name. I worked extremely hard to get to where I’m at, and I’m still working, so I don’t want anything like that on my record or showing up in my past.

“It was hard, man, because I pride myself on doing things the right way and being a true martial artist. For something like that to come up, man, it tore me up. It hit me really hard, man. I’m going to go through all the legal channels to do what I need to do to get my name vindicated. … People that really know me know that I did nothing intentionally. [UFC vice president of athlete health and performance] Jeff Novitzky was there every step of the way, [and the UFC’s] Donna Marcolini, I want to thank them so much, [and] USADA, for helping me go through all the right channels — helping me make sure I had all of my stuff situated and guide me along in the process.”

“It tore me up. It hit really hard.”@thebigticket205 plans to take legal action against the supplement company whose contaminated product caused his positive test and subsequent suspension by USADA (via @arielhelwani) pic.twitter.com/Z4VMnsQe5m

– ESPN MMA (@espnmma) July 22, 2019

Marc Goddard is now known as one of the top referees in MMA. But a decade ago he was a former professional fighter who was coach and part owner of a gym in his hometown of Birmingham, England. And one day a teenager walked in, looking curious.

“He was just a young, quiet kid,” said Goddard, “who wanted to find out what MMA was all about.”

It didn’t take long for Goddard to understand what that kid, named Leon Edwards, was all about.

“I could tell,” Goddard said during Monday’s appearance on Ariel Helwani’s MMA Show. “He was what I would classify as the new breed. He didn’t have a martial arts background. He wasn’t coming from boxing, wrestling, jiu-jitsu. He was just a young, hungry, athletic kid, and he just kind of soaked it all up from there.”

Today, coming off his eighth straight victory on Saturday, Edwards (18-3) is in the conversation for a shot at the UFC welterweight title. If he gets there, the third man in the cage will most definitely not be Goddard.

“Even though I haven’t been in the same gym as Leon for a number of years — I stopped coaching him before he even turned professional — you know what it’s like as a ref,” Goddard said. “Can you imagine me reffing one of Leon’s fights, something happens and then someone says, ‘Marc was on the same mat as Leon 10 years ago’? I don’t need that in my life. From an integrity point of view, from a professional point of view, any kind of tie that we have with a fighter, no matter how faint or how remote, we have to make that well known from the get-go. It saves any form of hassle all around.”

Michael Bisping‘s wife, Rebecca, was seven months pregnant with their first child when family life got a jolt. Bisping was sent to prison as a result of a bar fight.

“I was never a criminal but I was always quick to get into a fight,” the retired former UFC middleweight champion said Monday on Ariel Helwani’s MMA Show. “Go figure. I became a professional fighter.”

This “low point for me and her” was something the Bispings hid away for nearly 20 years. He mentioned his prison stay in his speech earlier this month during his induction into the UFC Hall of Fame. He devoted a chapter to it in his new book, “Quitters Never Win” (Ebury Press). But as he was coming up in MMA, he purposely did not make this part of his story.

“I didn’t want for that to be the stigma. I didn’t want to be ‘another tough guy, another criminal coming into cage fighting,’ because you automatically assume the wrong things,” he said. “So I never spoke of that.”

In a way, Bisping’s past is what pushed him toward MMA. After leaving school at 16, he had hopes of becoming a pro boxer, and as someone raised in a military family, he envisioned a way to make that happen.

“Get on the Army boxing team, then come out and turn professional,” he said. “A British boxer by the name of Nigel Benn did the same thing.”

But the military rejected Bisping because of his criminal record.

He almost lost his UFC career for the same reason. After winning Season 3 of “The Ultimate Fighter,” Bisping was denied a visa to fight in the United States. He won an appeal, however, and the rest is MMA history.

Although Bisping says he “chose to forget” his time in prison and “put it behind me,” he does not merely pretend his past didn’t happen. He took away a lesson he will never forget.

“The judge that sent me down did me a favor,” Bisping said. “I realized that you can’t go through your life behaving like this. So I made some changes. I changed my friends. I changed my drinking habits. Became a better person.”