Khabib Nurmagomedov faces a dangerous opponent this weekend, but the biggest challenge to his lightweight supremacy may already be in his rear-view mirror.
That’s how head coach Javier Mendez sees it, at least until he gets to see Nurmagomedov actually defend his title against Justin Gaethje this Saturday at UFC 254. Until then, any threat measurement is strictly theoretical and with that being the case, Mendez still considers Conor McGregor to have been Nurmagomedov’s toughest test yet.
“I thought when I looked at [Gaethje], I was thinking probably the second biggest threat [to Nurmagomedov] because I still to this day believe Conor was,” Mendez said at a media day in Abu Dhabi on Thursday. “And the reason why I believe Conor was is because of that precision striking. But Justin could easily prove me wrong and prove to be the toughest test we’ve ever had. We’ve yet to see that. But I know we’ve already seen Conor and that’s why I would say Conor.
“If you think about it, who’s won a round against Khabib? Conor. And whose given Khabib a tough time—The first round, he took Conor down, but how much damage did Khabib give him? No, Conor was very good there, so I have to give it to Conor for that. I haven’t seen Justin. Obviously, if I’ve seen Justin already and we fought him already and we are victorious like I’m hoping, then I can tell you 100 percent he was the toughest. Right now, I think in theory he’s number two.”
Nurmagomedov successfully defended his lightweight title against McGregor at UFC 229 in October 2018, an event that stands as the most successful pay-per-view in UFC history. Despite McGregor becoming the first UFC fighter to take a round from Nurmagomedov, it was “The Eagle” that triumphed via neck crank submission in round four.
Mendez admitted that up until recently he hadn’t focused too much on Gaethje’s exploits. It wasn’t until Gaethje’s one-sided win over Tony Ferguson this past May that Mendez really took notice.
“Long story short, I didn’t really pay attention to him until he dismantled Tony,” Mendez wrote. “Because now he was real, now he’s in front of us. So then I paid attention and I saw how great he actually is and what a challenge he is. That’s when I really paid attention.”
Pundits have pointed to Gaethje’s striking, inhuman endurance, and grappling defense as factors to consider when picking him for a potential upset. “The Highlight” has only lost twice in 24 pro bouts and 19 of his victories have come by way of knockout.
Gaethje himself has suggested that he needs to keep the fight standing and in the center of the octagon otherwise he’s “screwed,” but Mendez isn’t convinced that it will be that simple. Based on what he knows about Gaethje now, he doesn’t expect that anything Nurmagomedov does will break Gaethje’s will.
“Absolutely not,” Mendez said. “That guy ain’t quitting for nothing. That guy’s a true warrior. He ain’t quitting. You’ve got to kill him to stop that guy. Both of those guys. No, it goes in the middle, it goes on the cage, he’s fighting, he’s giving it all. You’ve seen what type of person he is. You’ve seen what kind of great warrior he is, you’ve seen the mentality he has. How can you not love him? You have to respect him. If you don’t love him, you have to respect him.
“Obviously, my job is I’m Khabib’s coach and I love him and I want him to win and we’re doing everything we can, but Justin is as incredible as they come in every department. Mental, physical, how he approaches the fight game, how he acts, he’s great everywhere.”
Dana White reacts to Mike Tyson vs. Roy Jones Jr.: ‘I hope they both made a zillion f*cking dollars’ – MMA Fighting
UFC President Dana White rarely holds back when he doesn’t like something, particularly when it comes to boxing. But on the exhibition fight between Mike Tyson and Roy Jones Jr., he didn’t really have a bad thing to say.
“You guys have been asking me questions leading up to this thing, and I didn’t want to say anything negative, because I love Tyson and he’s a good friend of mine,” White said after the boxing legends faced off Saturday for social media website Triller. “He’s 56 years old. Time is undefeated. Time takes us all down, and one of the things that I was worried for Mike is he has this incredible aura still, and 56 years old, fighting is a young man’s game. All that being said, he looked f*cking awesome tonight. I was blown away by how good he looked.”
Sitting octagon-side at UFC APEX, UFC President Dana White watched three screens during UFC Vegas 15: his fights, Tyson vs. Jones Jr., and college football.
“I was worried about Roy – Roy is 51 years old, but Roy has been way more active than Tyson has been, but Roy actually got more tired than Mike tonight, which was shocking,” White said. “I’m happy for them. I hope they both made a zillion f*cking dollars, and it exceeded my expectations.”
The eight-round boxing match was declared a draw by three former fighters turned judges that scored the bout for the sanctioning body WBC. Even though the decision didn’t count against either fighter because it was an exhibition, the internet erupted with criticism.
White might have been impressed by Tyson and Jones, but there was a clear winner.
“Tyson won that fight,” he said.
The former heavyweight boxing champ and feared legend didn’t complain about the result on Saturday night. In the leadup to the internet-streamed pay-per-view, Tyson said no matter what happened, he might continue on in the fight game, using his platform to serve charities that help as many people as possible.
Tyson doesn’t need White’s blessing, but the UFC boss isn’t upset about that, either.
“Listen, he’s a grown-ass man – he’s going to do what he wants anyway,” White said. “But good for him. It was actually a good fight, it was an entertaining fight to watch, and I thought he looked really good. I’m happy for him.”
As to whether that support would extend to Jones Jr., who said the bout with Tyson could open the door for a long-awaited showdown with former UFC middleweight champion Anderson Silva, White wasn’t as positive. As successful as Triller appeared to be in capturing the attention of fight fans around the world, completely drowning out the UFC’s offering on Saturday night, the UFC exec said he isn’t interested in competing with other promotions who attempt to capitalize on nostalgia.
“I don’t know,” he said of Silva vs. Jones Jr. “To my core, I”m a f*cking fight fan, and what I truly believe is the fight business is for young guys. It’s not for old guys. Listen, I get that there’s still some name value out there, and you can make some money. But when you’re a fight fan, I want to see the best in the world, the up-and-coming kids, I want to see these guys fight, and I want to know who the baddest mother f*cker in the world is in every division. As a fight fan, that’s who I am, and that kind of stuff doesn’t interest me.
“Anderson Silva had his day. Roy Jones Jr. had his day. Today is not their day. It’s just not. These guys that you saw fight are the future. This is what I’m interested in. I could sit here all f*cking night and watch kids that fought tonight fight. It’s just not really what I do. There’s other people out there that do that, plenty of people that do the old guy stuff. I don’t do the old guy stuff.”
Fuller makes history as first woman to appear in Power 5 football game – TSN
COLUMBIA, Mo. — Vanderbilt’s Sarah Fuller became the first woman to participate in a Power Five conference football game when she kicked off to start the second half against Missouri on Saturday.
Fuller kicked off the turf with a holder rather than using a tee, and she sent a low kick to the 35-yard line where it was pounced on by Missouri’s Mason Pack. Fuller didn’t get any opportunities in the first half as the Tigers opened a 21-0 lead over the Commodores.
Fuller, a senior goalkeeper on the Vanderbilt soccer team, joined the football team this week after helping the Commodores win the Southeastern Conference Tournament last weekend. COVID-19 protocols and restrictions left Vandy football coach Derek Mason with a limited number of specialists available against Missouri. Mason reached out to soccer coach Darren Ambrose for some help.
Fuller agreed to give football a try and practiced with the winless Commodores before making the trip to Missouri. She wore “Play Like A Girl” on the back of her helmet.
No woman had appeared in an SEC football game or for any Power Five team. Liz Heaston became the first woman to score with two extra points for Willamette in NAIA on Oct. 18, 1997.
Katie Hnida was the first woman to score at the Football Bowl Subdivision level with two extra points for New Mexico on Aug. 30, 2003.
April Goss was the second with an extra point for Kent State in 2015. Tonya Butler was the first woman to kick a field goal in an NCAA game for Division II West Alabama on Sept. 13, 2003.
“Let’s make history,” she wrote Friday on Twitter with a photo of herself wearing a football jersey with a soccer ball between her feet while holding a football in her hands.
Heavy blows, heavier breathing: Tyson, Jones Jr. exhibition ends in 8-round draw – CBC.ca
Mike Tyson showed glimpses of his destructive prime Saturday night during the 54-year-old boxing icon’s return to the ring for a lively exhibition bout with 51-year-old Roy Jones Jr.
Both fighters had impressive moments during a fight that was unofficially ruled a draw by the WBC judges at ringside. Tyson and Jones fought eight two-minute rounds, and both emerged smiling and apparently healthy from a highly unusual event at Staples Center.
“This is better than fighting for championships,” Tyson said of the heavyweight exhibition, which raised money for various charities. “We’re humanitarians now. We can do something good for the world. We’ve got to do this again.”
The former heavyweight champion of the world’s return to the ring after a 15-year absence attracted international attention, and Iron Mike did his best to show the form that made him a legend to a generation of boxing fans. Tyson tagged Jones with body shots and a handful of head punches during a bout that was required to be a fairly safe glorious sparring session by the California State Athletic Commission.
“The body shots definitely took a toll,” said Jones, the former four-division world champion widely considered the most skilled boxer of his generation. “It’s something to take the punches that Mike throws. I’m cool with a draw. Maybe we can do it again.”
Jones walked to the ring with gloves and trunks honouring Lakers legend Kobe Bryant, while Tyson wore his signature all-black trunks. After the traditional pre-fight pomp and an introduction by Michael Buffer, the 50-something champions both came out throwing punches that evoked echoes of their glorious primes.
They also tied up frequently on the inside, and their occasionally laboured breathing could be heard on the microphones in the empty arena.
Hip hop performances also featured in empty arena
Hip hop star Snoop Dogg’s witty television commentary was among the loudest noises inside Staples, and he had a handful of zingers. “This is like two of my uncles fighting at the barbecue,” he exclaimed.
Tyson and Jones were the headliners in the most improbable pay-per-view boxing event in years, engineered by social networking app Triller and featuring fights interspersed with hip hop performances in an empty arena.
The event was derided as an anti-sporting spectacle by some critics, yet both Tyson and Jones appeared to handle themselves capably and safely. Fans were clearly enamoured, with the show getting enormous traction on social media.
“I hit you with some good shots, and you took it,” Tyson said. “I respect that.”
In the co-main event, YouTube star Jake Paul knocked out former NBA player Nate Robinson, stopped in the second round of Robinson’s pro boxing debut. Paul, in his second pro fight, recorded three knockdowns against Robinson, the three-time NBA Slam Dunk contest champion, before an overhand right put Robinson flat on his face and apparently unconscious.
Two legends of the game 👏 <a href=”https://twitter.com/hashtag/TysonJones?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>#TysonJones</a> <a href=”https://t.co/4HnO61bzKe”>pic.twitter.com/4HnO61bzKe</a>
Tyson who posted a 50-6 career record with two no-contests, won his first heavyweight championship belt in 1986, and he was the undisputed world champion from 1987-90. He spent three years in prison after he was convicted of rape in 1992; upon his release, he regained pieces of the heavyweight crown in 1996.
Tyson retired from boxing in 2005, saying he longer had “the fighting guts or the heart” after he quit in a dismal loss to journeyman Peter McBride. Finally free of his sport’s relentless pressure, Tyson gradually straightened out his life, kicking a self-described drug addiction and eventually succeeding in acting, stage performance, charity work and even marijuana cultivation while settling into comfortable family life in Las Vegas with his third wife and their children.
The idea of a boxing comeback seemed preposterous, but Tyson started toward this unlikely fight when he started doing 15 daily minutes on a treadmill a few years ago at his wife’s urging in a bid to lose 100 pounds. The workouts soon became multi-hour affairs encompassing biking, running and finally punching as he regained a measure of his athletic prime through discipline and a vegan diet.
Tyson posted a video of himself hitting pads on social media early in the coronavirus pandemic, and the overwhelming public response led to several lucrative offers for a ring comeback. With the chance to make money for himself and for charity, Tyson eventually agreed — but he had to find an opponent.
Jones first entered the spotlight when he won a silver medal as a light middleweight in the 1988 Sumnmer Olympics in Seoul. He went on to hold the world middleweight, super middleweight, light heavyweight and heavyweight championships during a career that saw him start 49-1 before he ended up at 66-9.
Jones fought steadily into his late 40s, but thought he was done with the sport after winning his last bout in 2018. He couldn’t resist the chance to take on Tyson after the greats never met during their first professional careers because Tyson was a heavyweight and Jones mostly was a light heavyweight (178 pounds).
Tyson and Jones negotiated with the California commission over the limitations of their bout, eventually arriving at eight two-minute rounds of hard sparring with only ceremonial judging and no official winner. The WBC still stepped in to award a ceremonial “Frontline Battle Belt” to both fighters.
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