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Double-fisted UFC 197 in works, to feature McGregor vs. Dos Anjos and Holm vs. Tate

Double-fisted UFC 197 in works, to feature McGregor vs. Dos Anjos and Holm vs. Tate
Conor McGregor celebrates after a first-round knockout victory over Jose Aldo in their featherweight title fight during UFC 194 last month in Las Vegas. (Steve Marcus / Getty Images)

Despite insistance from the Ultimate Fighting Championship bosses that the deals aren't signed, UFC 197 in Las Vegas on March 5 is expected to be a double title-fight card of Conor McGregor vs. Rafael Dos Anjos and Holly Holm vs. Miesha Tate.

UFC President Dana White and Chairman Lorenzo Fertitta both told The Times in text messages late Thursday that the contracts were not signed, so, "We have nothing to announce," Fertitta wrote.

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But Bleacher Report and others have reported that agreements are in place for the card, which will either be at MGM Grand or Mandalay Bay.

McGregor, after his 13-second knockout that ended former featherweight champion Jose Aldo's 10-year unbeaten streak on Dec. 12, will seek to become the first UFC fighter in history to simultaneously hold two belts.

Lightweight champion Dos Anjos is an Orange County-trained Brazilian who defended his belt successfully Dec. 19 with a first-round knockout of Donald Cerrone.

White told The Times earlier this week that after women's bantamweight champion Holm signed a new multifight, multimillion-dollar contract extension that he had changed his mind and was now open to the idea of her fighting before a planned July 9 rematch at UFC 200 against Ronda Rousey at the new Las Vegas arena, T-Mobile Arena.

Former boxing world champion Holm, before the contract extension, had only one more fight remaining on her original four-fight deal with UFC.

Tate (17-5), the No. 2-ranked bantamweight, believed she was in line to fight Rousey before Holm (10-0) was named the opponent and shocked Rousey with a knockout on a second-round head kick in November in Australia.

Holm's manager, Lenny Fresquez, said last month that he and Holm, 34, preferred an interim bout before the Rousey rematch to stay sharp. Holm, said Fresquez, wanted the best possible opponent, naming Tate.

Tate told The Times last month that she was up to the Holm challenge after defeating another striker, Jessica Eye, in her most recent bout.

"I really respect [Holm's] manager's opinion, and I have the most respect for Holly and her camp to want to stay hungry even though she's at the top of the food chain," Tate said. "That's important for a champion. I believe I will get my title shot eventually.

"Putting [Holm] on ice could be a little bit detrimental. She's used to staying active. I'd like to be active, too. I would love the fight, so nothing but positivity from me toward her camp."

Rousey, meanwhile, is scheduled to host NBC's "Saturday Night Live" on Jan. 23, and she'll appear in Sports Illustrated's annual swimsuit issue wearing only white-tiger body paint next month.

The card's March 5 placement in Las Vegas, after a UFC card originally set for that date in Brazil was scrapped, will alter plans for an anticipated welterweight boxing showdown between unbeaten Keith Thurman and Shawn Porter.

An official close to the negotiations for Thurman-Porter told The Times earlier this week that the popular McGregor's presence on a pay-per-view fight card on March 5 would force a move to March 12, quite a statement about the popularity of mixed martial arts.

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