Advertisements


Miocic retains heavyweight crown with decision over Cormier

LAS VEGAS (AP) — Stipe Miocic defeated Daniel Cormier by unanimous decision in a five-round bout Saturday night to win the rubber match in a fantastic trilogy between the fighters and retain his heavyweight championship at UFC 252. Miocic (20-3) swept the scorecards 49-46, 49-46 and 48-47 to stake his claim as perhaps the greatest heavyweight in UFC history. “I'm happy to cement my legacy,” Miocic said. Miocic tagged Cormier with a vicious poke to his left eye late in the third round that sent the challenger staggering to his corner. Cormier's eye was about swollen shut, but he gamely fought on the final two rounds in the main event of UFC 252 at the UFC APEX complex in Las Vegas “I can't see anything out of my left eye,” Cormier said. “It's black.” Miocic said he apologized to Cormier for the poke. “I totally poked him in the eye, my bad," Miocic said. Cormier was taken to the hospital after the bout. There was no immediate word about his condition. The 41-year-old Cormier (22-3, 1 NC) is a former two-division champion and has already cemented his status as one of the greatest pound-for-pound fighters in UFC history. The amiable Cormier, who has found his niche as a successful broadcaster, had vowed to retire after Saturday and end a career in which 10 of his last 11 fights were fought with a championship on the line. Cormier said he stood by his decision to retire. He won the first fight between the two but dropped two straight to Miocic. “I’m not interested in fighting for anything but titles and I don’t imagine there’s going to be a title in the future,” Cormier said. “That will be it for me. I’ve had a long run, it’s been great, I just fought my last fight for a heavyweight championship and it was a pretty good fight.” UFC President Dana White had said Francis Ngannou was next in line for a heavyweight title shot. “Great performance to both guys. ... Congrats to Stipe on the performance. See you soon,” Ngannou tweeted. Jon Jones, the reigning UFC light heavyweight champion, tried to stir the pot on social media by teasing a challenge to Miocic. “Heavyweight world championships I will be seeing you real soon. Victorious,” Jones tweeted. Miocic nearly got the finish at the end of the second round and had Cormier in trouble until time ran out. “One hundred percent I would have finished him,” Miocic said. Cormier knocked out Miocic at UFC 226 in the first round in their 2018 bout to win the heavyweight belt. Miocic defeated Cormier last August in the rematch at UFC 241. The winner of this bout could make an argument as the greatest heavyweight champion in UFC history. Miocic has plenty left in the tank to keep cementing his legacy as the best big man UFC has seen inside the cage. “Great heavyweight fight!! #UFC252 #TeamStipe,” Lakers star LeBron James tweeted. Cormier finished with a 1-2 mark against Miocic and a losing mark against Jones. Cormier lost both fights to Jones, though the second one was overturned when Jones failed a doping test. The result was changed to a no contest. Miocic, who continues to work shifts for the Valley View (Ohio) Fire Department, has won eight of his last night fights. “I don't get any special treatment,” Miocic said. “I'm just one of the dudes.” The only thing missing was the crowd. UFC hasn't missed a beat during the pandemic and continued to run some of its most successful shows over the last few years. But no doubt a packed and crazed crowd would have added another dimension to the epic trilogy. White said UFC will return to Fight Island in Abu Dhabi’s Yas Island. “I don't see fans happening any time soon,” White said. “I'm not even thinking about it.”.....»»

Category: sportsSource: abscbn abscbnAug 16th, 2020

Miocic beats Cormier to retain UFC Heavyweight crown

Stipe Miocic made the better adjustments to beat Daniel Cormier by unanimous decision and retain his UFC Heavyweight crown at UFC 252 held at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas, Nevada Sunday morning......»»

Category: sportsSource:  thestandardRelated NewsAug 16th, 2020

UFC champ Miocic welcomes octagon s return, has concerns

By TOM WITHERS AP Sports Writer CLEVELAND (AP) — Heavyweight champion Stipe Miocic welcomes UFC's plans to reopen the octagon. The fighter — and firefighter — does have some concerns, though. After scrapping an idea to hold fights on tribal land in California and cancelling or postponing several events since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, UFC will return to competition May 9 in Jacksonville, Florida. UFC President Dana White recently announced UFC 249 will be held without fans at VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena. Two additional fight cards are scheduled for May 13 and May 16 at the venue. Miocic said his only reservation about the sport's reopening is related to health reasons. “As long as everyone is safe, I hope it works out,” said Miocic, who has continued to work as a firefighter and paramedic during the outbreak. "And not just the fighters, I worry about everyone’s safety. It takes one person to (infect) three people, and how fast it can spread, it’s crazy.” Miocic recaptured his title belt in August by pummeling Daniel Cormier at UFC 241. On Thursday, the affable 37-year-old said his recovery following surgery to repair a torn retina continues to go well — “I have some spots, but definitely I can see" — and that he misses his training routine while awaiting a return to normalcy. Until then, Miocic has been working shifts for the Valley View (Ohio) Fire Department. Personal safety is always a priority in his “other” job, and Miocic said he and his co-workers have remained vigilant during these unprecedented times. “I have a job to do, and when I go to the station I make sure I stay clean,” he said on the phone from his home in North Royalton, Ohio, “We’re smart. We’re clean. We’re masked. We wear goggles, gloves and gowns when he have to. It’s our routine, so I’m not really worried about that.” Miocic has teamed with Modelo beer to raise funds for personal protection equipment for first responders during the pandemic. On May 5, the brewer has pledged to donate $1 (up to $500,000) for any social media post using the hashtag #CincUp. Miocic also has been working out, but not like he normally would while training for a fight. A third matchup with Cormier, who knocked him out in the first round in 2018, appears likely but isn’t official. He joked that most of his cardio work these days comes from chasing his young daughter around the house. Already proven to be adept with his hands, Miocic has filled idle time with home projects. He’s surprised himself with a knack for wallpapering. Removal, that is. “I’m good at bringing things down,” he joked. A die-hard Cleveland sports fan, Miocic was pleased with the Browns’ selections in last week’s NFL draft. “I thought we did really well actually,” said Miocic, who trained last year with Browns star defensive end Myles Garrett. “We were smart. I think we got a few of the pieces that we need. I think we’re doing the right things.”.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 1st, 2020

2019 Monthly Memorable Sports Moments (Part 2)

The year 2019 was a rollercoaster ride for Filipino athletes and Pinoy sports fans. We saw the highs and the lows, basked in the glory of triumph and felt the agony of defeat. We witnessed history unfold and experienced the best and the worst of Philippine sports. Here’s a look back at the sports news that made the headlines that made the end of the decade a memorable one.   JULY Eight-division champion Manny Pacquiao defeated Keith Thurman via decision to claim the WBA (Super) Welterweight World Championship belt. Abraham ‘Bambol’ Tolentino won as Philippine Olympic Committee president in a special election after the resignation of Ricky Vargas.   AUGUST John Riel Casimero knocked out Mexican Cesar Ramirez in the tenth round to retain the Interim WBO Bantamweight World Championship belt. San Miguel Beer captured the 2019 PBA Commissioner’s Cup championship. F2 Logistics won the 2019 PSL All-Filipino Conference title.   SEPTEMBER Pole vaulter Ernest John Obiena earned a ticket to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics after clearing 5.81 meters in the Salto Con L'asta meet in Piazza Chiari, Italy. Gilas ended the horror trip to China with a 0-5 record in the 2019 FIBA World Cup. Japanese-Filipino sumo wrestler Hisashi Mitakeumi captured his second top-division title after defeating Takakeisho in a playoff to win the Autumn Grand Sumo Tournament. Pedro Taduran needed only four rounds to dispatch Samuel Salva to become the new IBF Minimumweight World Champion. Kiefer Ravena saw action in the PBA after an 18-month ban.   OCTOBER Caloy Yulo won a historic gold medal in the 49th FIG Artistic Gymnastics Championships in Stuttgart, Germany and also earned a spot in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. Nesthy Petecio won the gold medal in women’s featherweight of the 2019 AIBA Women's World Boxing Championship in Ulan-Ude, Russia. Brandon Vera fell short against Aung La N Sang in their ONE light heavyweight bout in Tokyo while Kevin Belingon was submitted by Bibiano Fernandes in their bantamweight title clash. Adamson University won the PVL Collegiate Conference title. F2 Logistics ruled the PSL Invitational Conference.   NOVEMBER Ateneo de Manila University won its third straight title in UAAP Season 82 men’s basketball via tournament sweep while National University completed a six-peat with its 96th straight win in women's basketball. Letran dethroned San Beda University in the NCAA Season 95 men’s basketball tournament. Creamline retained its PVL Season 3 Open Conference crown. Reigning IBF Super Flyweight World Champion Jerwin "Pretty Boy" Ancajas' scheduled world title defense against Mexico's Jonathan Javier Rodriguez was cancelled because the challenger’s visa issues.  Nonito Donaire Jr. lost to Japanese KO artist Naoya Inoue via unanimous decision in the finals of the World Boxing Super Series Bantamweight Tournament. Joshua Pacio retained the ONE Strawweight World Championship with a masterful submission win over fellow Filipino Rene Catalan. The Philippines began its fourth hosting of the Southeast Asian Games. Businessman, sports patron and University of the East head coach Bong Tan passed away after collapsing during a basketball game. He was 53.   DECEMBER Pinoy boxer Johnriel Casimero knocked South African Zolani Tete out in the third round to capture the WBO Bantamweight World Championship. Reigning IBF Super Flyweight World Champion Jerwin “Pretty Boy” Ancajas retained his belt after needing just six rounds to dispose of Chilean challenger Miguel Gonzales. Team Philippines won the overall championship in the SEA Games after copping 149 gold medals. Barangay Ginebra and Meralco forged a Finals encounter in the 2019 PBA Governors’ Cup.    .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsDec 30th, 2019

Manny Pacquiao’s return to glory highlights Boxing in 2019

Apart from basketball and football, arguably no other sport dominates the global headlines quite like ‘The Sweet Science’. Such was the case once again in 2019, as the sport provided some pretty big stories, including a couple of returns to glory, some continued dominance, and even a pretty epic upset. Here are some of boxing’s biggest hits in 2019:   Manny’s Back! Well, okay, maybe it wouldn’t be right to say that he’s in his prime, but Manny Pacquiao definitely showed that in 2019, he can still hang with the best. The 41-year old eight-division world champion showed just that at the start of the year when he dominated Adrien Broner in Las Vegas to defend his WBA (Regular) Welterweight World Championship. Then, just six months later, Pacquiao did even better by dethroning the previously-undefeated Keith Thurman for the WBA (Super) Welterweight World Championship. With Pacquiao’s recent resurgence, so to speak, more and more possible big money bouts are being discussed, but the whispers that continue to be prevalent are those of a rematch with Floyd Mayweather Jr. While ‘Money’ remains retired, he’s done more than enough to continuously fan the flames of a potential rematch, and 2020 could finally be the year that it becomes a reality. As always, we’ll just have to wait and see.   Donnie Nietes vacates WBO title From one Filipino boxing great, we jump to another, as Donnie Nietes made headlines early in the year, and then was pretty much never heard from for the rest of 2019. After defeating Kazuto Ioka to become the WBO Super Flyweight World Champion in the very final day of 2018, Nietes was once again a world champion and seemed to be in for another dominant year as one of the division’s top dogs. In a surprise move however, Nietes decided to vacate the title in March, without even defending it, citing his desire for bouts against big-name opponents in the division. With Nietes vacating the title, it set up a title bout against then-mandatory challenger Aston Palicte and Kazuto Ioka, with Ioka ultimately winning and taking the WBO title. As for Nietes, the longest-reining Filipino boxing, who last fought on December 31, 2018, he will go more than a year without competing for the first time in his storied career. Hopefully, 2020 features the long-awaited return of “Ahas”.   The dominance continues for Lomachenko, Crawford, Canelo, and Ancajas Some won titles, others vacated, and others just remained on top. This was the case for the likes of Vasily Lomachenko, Terrence Crawford, Canelo Alvarez, and our very own Jerwin Ancajas. 2019 was a relatively quiet year for Loma, who only had two bouts to his name. The Ukrainian boxing machine KOd Anthony Crolla in April to retain the WBA super and WBO World Lightweight World Championships. In August, Lomachencko defeated Luke Campbell via Unanimous Decision to retain his titles and win the vacant WBC World Lightweight Championship. “Bud” Crawford also had himself a two-fight year in 2019. In April, Crawford faced Amir Khan in a highly-anticipated bout, and ended up scoring a sixth-round TKO to retain his WBO World Welterweight crown. In mid-December, Crawford scored another TKO win to defend his title, this time against Egidijus Kavaliauskas Canelo Alvarez meanwhile, became a four-division world champion in 2019 after going up to light heavyweight and dispatching Sergey Kovalev in 11 rounds to capture the WBO title. This was after he opened the year with an impressive 12-round win over Daniel Jacobs to retain the WBC, WBA super and IBF Middleweight World Championships. Our very own IBF Super Flyweight World Champion Jerwin “Pretty Boy” Ancajas also had a good year, defeating Ryuichi Funai and Miguel Gonzales en route to eight successful world title defenses.   Andy Ruiz Jr. shocks the world In recent years, boxing’s heavyweight division belonged to the likes of Tyson Fury, Deontay Wilder, and Anthony Joshua. That all changed when Joshua saw himself fall victim to the biggest boxing upset of the year. Following a failed drug test from his initial challenger Jared Miller, Joshua was matched up with Mexican heavyweight Andy Ruiz Jr, who many didn’t take seriously due to his less than impressive physique. Ruiz quickly silenced the naysayers by using his speed and power to drop Joshua four times, twice in what would be the final seventh round, to shock the world and capture the WBA, IBF, WBO, and IBO Heavyweight World Championships. Ruiz also became the first Mexican heavyweight world champion in boxing history. In the rematch however, Joshua bounced right back and dominated Ruiz across 12 rounds to reclaim the titles. Part 3 could be something to watch out for this 2020.   Nonito Doniare Jr. and Naoya Inoue put on a war Many expected it to be a quick affair, but the World Boxing Super Series Bantamweight Finale between Nonito Donaire Jr. and Naoya Inoue ended up becoming a 12-round classic, worth of Fight of the Year honors. Donaire Jr. and Inoue both earned their spots in the tournament finale, but judging from their prior performances, it looked like ‘The Monster’ Inoue was set to make quick work of an aging, presumed-to-be-past-his-prime Donaire Jr. “The Filipino Flash” instead gave Inoue the fight of his life, putting the pressure on the Japanese star like no one else before has been able to do. Unfortunately for Donaire, the younger Inoue simply had more in the tank left, as he was able to grind out a Unanimous Decision win, but it was clearly the hardest win he had ever had. For Donaire’s part, his impressive performance in the loss earned him a mandatory challenger spot against WBC Bantamweight World Champion Nordine Oubaali in 2020.   Amatuer stars Eumir Marcial and Nesthy Petecio shine on the world stage and in the SEA Games It wasn’t just the Pinoy pros that had their time in the spotlight, as a pair of amateur pugs also made headlines in 2019. Filipino middleweight Eumir Felix Marcial finished with silver in the 2019 AIBA World Boxing Championships in Russia and then finished the year with a dominant run in the 2019 SEA Games, stopping both his opponents en route to a gold medal. Nesthy Petecio meanwhile, became a world champion after capturing gold in the 2019 AIBA Women’s Boxing World Championships, also in Russia. Petecio’s win earned her a spot as the torchbearer in the 2019 SEA Games, lighting the cauldron alongside Pinoy boxing legend Manny Pacquiao. Petecio also captured gold in the SEA Games tournaments.   Quadro Alas becomes a three-division champion For a while, it looked like Johnriel “Quadro Alas” Casimero was done. After an uninspired loss to Jonas Sultan in a super flyweight title eliminator, Casimero steadily got back on track and picked up win after win until he was suddenly a titleholder again, winning the WBO Interim Bantamweight World Championship in April. After a successful defense of the interim belt, Casimero became the mandatory challenger to reigning WBO World Champion Zolani Tete. Tete was coming into that fight as the heavy favorite, riding a 12-fight winning streak which included three successful title defenses. Casimero halted the Tete hype train with a third-round TKO win to once again become a world champion, his third in as many weight divisions. With the win, Casimero now sets his sights on a possible super-fight against Naoya Inoue in 2020......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsDec 27th, 2019

New Stars and New Eras: A look back at MMA in 2019

2019 was once again a pretty eventful year in terms of mixed martial arts, especially on the local front. In 2019, we saw Pinoy stars rise and fall, and some have managed to rise again before the decade’s end. Before we look forward to 2020, let’s take a look back at some of the biggest storylines in the world of Filipino, Asian and international mixed martial arts.   Team Lakay’s Troubles 2019 kicked off with not one, not two, but five world champions from the famed Filipino MMA stable Team Lakay. Pinoy MMA icon Eduard Folayang was on his second run as the ONE Lightweight World Champion, Kevin Belingon was enjoying his status as the ONE Bantamweight World Champion, Geje Eustaquio reigned over the flyweight division as the ONE Flyweight World Champion, and rising star Joshua Pacio, the ONE Strawweight World Champion, was the team’s youngest titleholder. Outside ONE, Stephen Loman continued on his reign as the BRAVE CF Bantamweight World Champion. And then, the dominoes began to fall. Pacio was the first to drop his title, losing a close split decision to Japan’s Yosuke Saruta. Eustaquio followed suit, dropping a controversial decision to rival Adriano Moraes, and then Folayang and Belingon would also lose their titles in heartbreaking fashion at ONE: A New Era in Japan. It was, to say the least, a rough start to the year for the Benguet-based team, but they would manage to bounce back before the year was done, with Folayang and Eustaquio both claiming wins to end the year.   The Rise of "The Passion" 23-year old prodigy Joshua “The Passion” Pacio was the youngest member of Team Lakay to hold a title heading into 2019, and heading into 2020, he remains the lone member of  Team Lakay to hold a ONE world title. After losing to Yosuke Saruta in January, Pacio was granted an immediate rematch and made good on the second opportunity by blasting Saruta with a head kick to score the KO and reclaim the ONE Strawweight World Championship. Pacio would then take on the clear-cut number one contender in fellow Pinoy Rene “D’ Challenger” Catalan, and make quick work of him as well, scoring a second-round submission win to retain the title. Even before the end of the year, Pacio already has his next assignment, as he’s set to face former champion Alex Silva at ONE: Fire and Fury in Manila on January 31st. A win for Pacio cements his status as one of, if not, the best ONE strawweight ever. While Team Lakay’s 2019 was, for the most part, a struggle, Pacio was no doubt the Team’s brightest spot.   A New Era 2019 proved to be another milestone year for Asia-based martial arts promotion ONE Championship, as they were able to penetrate new markets in terms of live shows as well as broadcast deals. ONE began the year with a new partnership with Turner Broadcasting, which gave North American fans access to ONE’s brand of martial arts through B/R Live and TNT. In terms of live events, ONE was able to finally plant their flag in one of the biggest markets for MMA in the world, Japan. In March, ONE put on their first ever show in Japan, ONE: A New Era in Tokyo, which featured some of the promotion’s biggest names including  Demetrious Johnson, Eddie Alvarez, Shinya Aoki, Angela Lee, Aung La N Sang, Eduard Folayang, and many more. To celebrate their historic 100th event, ONE returned to Tokyo for ONE: Century, their biggest card ever, featuring seven world title bouts and the promotion’s biggest stars, and then some.   In 2020, ONE plans to break through to even more new markets, possible including a show in the United States.   The ‘Return’ of Jon Jones While Jon Jones officially reclaimed his spot at the top of the UFC’s light heavyweight division in December of 2018, it was in 2019 that he returned to his dominant ways. After stopping Alexander Gustafsson in 2018 to reclaim the UFC Light Heavyweight crown, Jones handily defeated tough challengers in Anthony Smith and Thiago “Maretta” Santos to retain the titles. While the Smith and Santos bouts were lackluster in the eyes of many, it showed that even on his bad days, Jon Jones is better than most people on their best days.   “Rush” Retires Again While it was something that was expected, 37-year old Georges St-Pierre officially retired from MMA, again, in February. The former long-time welterweight king and pound-for-pound great made a triumphant return to the UFC in 2017, dethroning Michael Bisping to become the new UFC Middleweight Champion. GSP would never get to defend the title, as he would relinquish it not long after due to concerns with ulcerative colitis. While GSP has remained inactive since, the whispers of a super-fight with reigning UFC Lightweight Champion Khabib Nurmagomedov remain present, and 2020 could possibly see that coming to fruition.   Grand Prix Greatness In 2019, ONE Championship introduced a new and exciting attraction, the ONE Lightweight and Flyweight World Grand Prix tournaments.  Eight of the best fighters from each division would battle it out in a tournament-style competition, and the winner would become the ONE World Grand Prix Champion and earn a title shot against the division's respective titleholder.  Making their debuts in the lightweight and flyweight tournaments were former UFC champs Eddie Alvarez and Demetrious Johnson respectively, and as it played out the two would have very different outcomes.  Alvarez saw himself get upset in the quarterfinals by Russian knockout artist Timofey Nastyukhin. The former UFC lightweight king would get another chance in the tournament after defeating Eduard Folayang in a last-minute semifinal matchup, but another injury would keep him out of the finale at ONE: Century in Tokyo. Reigning ONE Lightweight World Champion Christian Lee ended up stepping in on short notice to defeat tournament favorite Saygid Guseyn Arslanalieve and become a double-champion.  Johnson, meanwhile, breezed through his quarterfinals and semifinals bouts to set up a finale showdown with Filipino star Danny Kingad. In the Finale, Kingad fought valiantly but ultimately fell to Johnson via Unanimous Decision, setting up a must-see matchup between DJ and reigning ONE Flyweight World Champion Adriano Moraes in 2020.    Baddest Motherf**ker Jorge Masdival has long been a staple in the UFC’s lightweight ranks for years, but it wasn’t until 2019 that “Gamebred” made headlines. After a hiatus in 2018, Masvidal returned with a bang in 2019, knocking out former title challenger Darren Till, and then followed that up with a 5-second flying knee knockout over former ONE Welterweight king Ben Askren. The popularity and momentum that Masvidal had garnered was enough to bring a certain Stockton star out of retirement and that set up one of the most talked-about UFC title bouts in 2019: Masvidal vs. Nate Diaz for the title of Baddest Motherf**ker. Masvidal lived up to the name and pieced Diaz up with strikes in the early rounds, before eventually opening up a cut that was just too big for the fight to go on. Much to the dismay of Masvidal, Diaz, and the crowd in New York, the fight was stopped. Still, it was nothing short of a testament to just how dangerous the new and improved version of Jorge Masvidal is. Expect him to challenge for a title in 2020.   MMA stars shine in 2019 SEA Games A number of Pinoy mixed martial artists showcased their skills in different battlegrounds during the recently-concluded 2019 Southeast Asian Games, which was held in the Philippines. from November 30 to December 11. Reigning URCC champion Mark “Mugen” Striegl took home gold in Combat Sambo, while former ONE title challenger Rene Catalan settled for Silver after an injury dashed his dreams of getting gold. Another URCC veteran in Ariel Lee Lampacan also took home SEA Games gold, this time in the Muay Thai competition. ONE Super Series veteran Ryan Jakiri took home silver. The SEA Games kickboxing event saw three MMA stars from Team Lakay take home gold medals, as Gina Iniong, Jerry Olsim, and Jean Claude Saclag all reigned over their respective divisions. Iniong, of course, is a ONE Women’s Atomweight contender, while Olsim is a veteran of Rich Franklin’s ONE Warrior Series. Saclag, meanwhile, is one of Team Lakay’s representatives in the Japan-based promotion Shooto.       .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsDec 24th, 2019

The Rock, Trump headline UFC card without a title fight

NEW YORK (AP) — The Rock and the president just might be the true headliners at Madison Square Garden in a rare UFC card without a championship fight. Well, at least not one confined to the standard weight classes. Nate Diaz and Jorge Masvidal are set to slug it out Saturday night in the main event of UFC 244 without much more than a made-for-PPV baddest man in MMA title at stake in a fight that has attracted the attention of two global figures. Arriving straight from Jabroni Drive, The Rock is set to take that $50,000 custom-made, one-fight-only Baddest Mother (Censored!) championship belt, shine it up real nice, and stick it straight around the waist between the winner of the Diaz vs. Masvidal slugfest. President Donald Trump will take a break from an impeachment inquiry to catch a seat as Diaz and Masvidal (-160) lock up to crown the undisputed champ of UFC 244's crudest named title. Most electrifying @ufc event of 2019. Im a lucky SOB to present the “Baddest MF” title to the winner of @GamebredFighter vs @NateDiaz209. Stacked card. Madison Square Garden erupts. #UFC244 #BMFTitle #DiazMasvidal TOMORROW NIGHT!! #ppv pic.twitter.com/i2GzisvZSJ — Dwayne Johnson (@TheRock) November 1, 2019 The BMF belt. pic.twitter.com/X4jX5ywFRX — Ariel Helwani (@arielhelwani) November 1, 2019 "That's the best fighter there is," Diaz said. "Pound for pound, GOAT type of (stuff)." Diaz fought just three months ago when he returned from a three-year hiatus to punish Anthony Pettis in a unanimous decision victory at UFC 241. Diaz (20-11) willed the championship into existence when he demanded UFC create the R-rated billing and called out Masvidal (34-11) for his next fight. UFC didn't wait long to grant Diaz's wish — President Dana White agreed to go along with the stipulation, with the caveat that the title is decided only once. Call it an extravagant publicity stunt, perhaps, for the winner of the 170-pound bout who gets bragging rights, the belt, and no title defenses. "Let me tell you something. 170, 185, 205, 155 (pounds) or BMF title, everybody wants the BMF title," Diaz said. "If you've got the option, what title would you fight for?" Kelvin Gastelum (-210) takes on Darren Till in a middleweight bout in the co-main event, and Stephen "Wonderboy" Thompson (-135) has a welterweight division fight with Vicente Luque in UFC's fourth card at the Garden. The biggest dose of star power might come in the seats. "Jumanji" star Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson will present the winner with of a championship belt that has that manufactured WWE feel. "Very befitting for the biggest fight of the entire year," Johnson said. "This fight is going to be electrifying." Trump is tight with White in a relationship that dates to UFC's infancy before its rise into national prominence. New Jersey was one of the first states that embraced UFC, and White credits cards at the Trump Taj Mahal for helping the company grow into a heavyweight in the sports world. White spoke at Trump's request at the Republican National Convention and the bombastic pair make time for dinners out when they can. Trump's reception from the New York crowd might be as fascinating as the result of the main event. Trump was loudly jeered while attending a World Series last Sunday in Washington. In New York, UFC fighters — about as politically uncouth as they come — have embraced Trump's made-for-TV schtick. Donald Jr. and Eric Trump attended a recent UFC card in New Jersey to support MAGA fan Colby Covington. "Real recognize real," Masvidal said. "No matter what your views are on Trump as a president, the guy's a (BMF), man. The money's that he's made, the obstacles that's he conquered, he's a (BMF) in his own way." Masvidal said he didn't want to "wade too far into politics" because the American fighter born to a Cuban father and Peruvian mother said "a lot of the Latin community might be upset at me." Masvidal had the New York crowd on his side at an open workout this week at MSG. Masvidal is coming off the fastest knockout in UFC history, needing all of five seconds to take out Ben Askren in July at UFC 239. He took the workout stage and put UFC officials on edge when he selected random fans to come up from the audience and spar (body shots, only). Broadcaster Megan Olivi consoled one young boy plucked from the crowd who was seemingly panicked he would have to fight. The kid just wanted to meet Masvidal, not lace 'em up. No worries, the 34-year-old Masvidal hopped down and walked the roped off area snapping selfies with fans screaming his name. He also had the crowd going nuts when he told them, "I'm going to answer some questions from you, not the media." Huh, hating on the media. Sounds familiar. Same with his dose of braggadocio. "I put an end to a lot of guys never been knocked down, never been stopped," Masvidal said. There was brief pause in the hype for the fight. Diaz, who split two tremendously entertaining matchups with Conor McGregor in 2016, has become one of UFC's most popular personalities without ever winning a championship. The weed-smoking anti-hero stunned fight fans last week when he tweeted he would drop out of the fight in the wake of adverse findings by the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) in a pre-fight drug test taken earlier this month. Diaz insisted he was as clean as a fighter put USADA on a foul-mouth blast and refused to fight until he was publicly cleared. Your all on steroids not me pic.twitter.com/ykrZmRIoPS — Nathan Diaz (@NateDiaz209) October 24, 2019 "I'm not staying quiet and figuring it out after the fight," Diaz tweeted in about the only sentence in a lengthy statement without multiple swear words. "That's cheating." It's that renegade spirit that helped skyrocket Diaz's popularity and why UFC's 500th show should come with a parental advisory stamp for any fan who wants to fork over their PPV cash......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsNov 2nd, 2019

Return of the Mac-killer: Nate Diaz ends hiatus at UFC 241

By Greg Beacham, Associated Press ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) — The mostly empty arena rumbled with outsized excitement when Nate Diaz stepped onto the stage. The fans erupted into cheers while Diaz lit a joint and took a big drag before doing a little shadowboxing for the cameras. Even before he said a word at his open workout four days before UFC 241, Diaz showed he can captivate an audience like no active fighter in the mixed martial arts world. Fighters can train for almost every skill in the game except charisma, and the Diaz brothers are laden with it. The younger Diaz (19-11) returns from a three-year hiatus on Saturday night, taking on Anthony Pettis in his first bout since his two showdowns with Conor McGregor in 2016. A heavyweight title rematch between Daniel Cormier and Stipe Miocic is the main event, but many fans at Honda Center and around the world will be watching mostly to see what Diaz does next. "I'm here as a businessman and a natural born killer," Diaz said. "I'm here to get the job done, and he's the guy to do it on, so there's no problem. It's all good with me. I'm just here to kill and stay alive for the weekend." Diaz and his older brother, Nick, receive a level of adulation in the MMA world that exceeds even their considerable accomplishments. It's difficult to explain the Diaz appeal to observers who don't have a full historical perspective on the pugnacious, thoughtful brothers' omnipresence in their sport's attitudes and images during the past 15 years, even when they weren't competing very often. Their swashbuckling attitude, angry disregard for authority, profane words of wisdom and athletic fighting styles all appeal tremendously to many people who support a young sport that's still seen as repellent counterculture by a big segment of mostly aging sports fans. Put it this way: A 22-year-old Nate Diaz once completed a submission finish with his legs while simultaneously thrusting two middle fingers in the air. You might love that or hate it, but you have an opinion. "That's the way I've been from Day One," Diaz said. "It's going to stay this way, too, until I'm 100 years old. I'm the Don of all this. If anybody is going to step in this room and say they're the (butt)-whipper, I beg to differ." Even Anthony Bourdain, the late traveler and gourmand, famously filmed a segment with Nick and Nate for his CNN show on Los Angeles, not because the Northern California natives knew much about LA and its cuisines — other than the best weed, probably — but simply because Bourdain, a jiu-jitsu practitioner and MMA fan, was fascinated by the brothers' outlaw ethos. Some of the brothers' behavior seems performative, but some of it isn't: Both Nick and Nate have essentially walked away from the UFC for long stretches of their prime, turning down countless millions in prize money because they refused to compromise what they considered to be their principles. Diaz split two tremendously entertaining matchups with McGregor and became one of the UFC's biggest stars in 2016, but he is 34 years old now, and Saturday's fight will be only his fifth since November 2013. Diaz said he felt mistreated by the UFC, although he struggles to explain how its persistent attempts to book one of its most popular fighters constitute disrespect. Diaz turned down matchups worth millions, including a probable shot at Georges St. Pierre, and he lost a chance to return last year when future champ Dustin Poirier was injured before their bout. Diaz also said he doesn't fight for money. He and his brother, Nick, who hasn't fought in nearly five years, are busy with Nick's thriving gym in their native Stockton, California. Nate said they've also got a successful CBD business, to absolutely nobody's surprise. "They've been trying to degrade me the whole time I've been out," Diaz said. "They're trying to put me low on the card against not very big names. They also tried to give me huge names, but those fell through. It don't matter. I believe I'm the main event in any event they've got. They'll do the best they can to keep me from that." Diaz's complaints are more likely a distilled version of that everyone-is-against-me mentality that drives so many athletes. But he was tempted back by a matchup with Pettis, who nurses a grudge against Diaz that apparently isn't mutual. Diaz dismissively refers to Pettis as "this Wheaties box" in reference to Pettis' former endorsement deal with the cereal, but has mostly ignored Pettis' pointed criticisms. Diaz won't say whether he plans to fight again, or whether he would like his first UFC title shot since 2012. He will stick to his own timetable and goals while nursing the same attitude that kept him on top of the UFC star pyramid even during three years away. "No one on the roster for the last three years even read the blueprints," Diaz said. "I'm right there. Why don't you go take it? And nobody did, and tomorrow, if some of these young guys say they're going to step up and take my position, I'm not with that.".....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 16th, 2019

30-1 odds on Ruiz against Joshua say it all

By Barry Wilner, Associated Press NEW YORK (AP) — The odds of 30-1 say it all. Andy Ruiz barely was on anyone's heavyweight radar when he was summoned as a replacement to fight champion Anthony Joshua. On Saturday, massive underdog Ruiz promises he could be the next Buster Douglas. "I've been an underdog all my life," Ruiz said Thursday in the final news conference before the fight that will be four-belt champion Joshua's Madison Square Garden debut and is close to attracting a sellout crowd. "The body shape I have and the way I look, maybe, but once I get into the ring ..." He will take a 32-1 mark with 21 knockouts into the ring, and that's nothing to scoff at. Except that his range of opponents hasn't been stellar, and in Ruiz's biggest bout thus far, he lost a very close decision to Joseph Parker for the WBO crown that Joshua now owns. He's also stepping in after fighting on April 20, when he stopped Alexander Dimitrenko. Jarrell Miller's failed drug tests sent the trash-talking New Yorker to the sidelines. Still, Douglas pulled off one of the great upsets in sports history when he knocked out Mike Tyson in 1990. When Douglas' name was mentioned to Ruiz, he smiled. "If he looks past me," Ruiz said of Joshua (22-0, 21 KOs), "I think he should be focused on this fight first." Joshua is. Sort of. He claimed the overview of the heavyweight division, particularly unifying all the titles, remains on his mind. But not ahead of his American debut Saturday night in the fight for the WBA, IBF, WBO and IBO belts that will be streamed on DAZN. "I've been practicing and am prepared for June 1," the champion from England said. "But I cannot not look at the bigger picture. I am not looking past him, but I know if I beat this guy what's out there for me." That would be WBC champion Deontay Wilder at some point, though Wilder has a rematch with Luis Ortiz on his plate. It also could be an all-British fight with Tyson Fury, who drew with Wilder last year and likely would mean a huge purse. Still, in heavyweight boxing, anyone who steps into the ring has a puncher's chance. Ruiz, whose father, a native of Mexico, got him into the gym when he was 6 and had his son in bouts a year later, knows how his life would change with a win. Boxing, in fact, changed his outlook on life. "Boxing kept me away from big trouble," he said, noting he hung around with the wrong crowd and saw friends wind up in jail or on drugs in Imperial, California. "Then I joined the Mexican Olympic team when I was 16, and started getting serious about boxing. "When my dad (first) took me to the gym, kids were beating my butt. I didn't want to go back. I end up keep doing it and a few months later I ended up beating them up." Ruiz laughs, then looks ahead, not back when envisioning the scene on Saturday night. "My hand raised" is what he sees. "I don't predict the knockout, the knockout comes when it comes. I'll stay focused and humble. Know why you're here." He's here as nothing more than an opponent in the eyes of many, including, obviously, the bookmakers. Joshua, who knows Ruiz from the amateur ranks, credits him as a "top professional," but soon after saying that is busy talking about potential fights with Fury and Wilder. "Some say he will be easy, some say he can cause problems," Joshua noted of Ruiz. "I am confident I can beat Ruiz." Should he do so, a megafight later in 2019 is quite possible. Should Ruiz stun Joshua — and the boxing world — a rematch would make sense. But a Ruiz win might not make any sense. Then again, neither did Douglas against Tyson......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 31st, 2019

ONE Championship: Bigdash retains title; Catalan, Subora victorious

ONE Championship returned to the Jakarta Convention Center for another evening of world-class mixed martial arts (MMA) action. ONE: QUEST FOR POWER set the tone for what will be an amazing 2017 for ONE Championship with a series of compelling bouts featuring the absolute best in local and international MMA talent. In the main event, ONE Middleweight World Champion Vitaly Bigdash retained his title, defeating top contender “The Burmese Python” Aung La N Sang by unanimous decision after five rounds. div>  /div> div>In the main event of the evening, ONE Middleweight World Champion Vitaly Bigdash of Rostov-on-Don, Russia impressed with a great show of strength in a dominant performance over “The Burmese Python” Aung La N Sang of Myanmar. Throughout the bout, Bigdash kept N Sang at bay with his sharp combinations, while on the mat he connected with multiple elbows. After five rounds of action, it was a clear win for Bigdash who met very little resistance in outlasting the durable N Sang to remain undefeated, retaining his ONE Middleweight World Championship. /div> div>  /div> div>In the co-main event of the evening, 27-year-old Martin “The Situ-Asian” Nguyen of Sydney, Australia authored one of the most spectacular finishes of the evening, stopping Japanese MMA veteran Kazunori Yokota with strikes to win by technical knockout just past the midway point of the first round. Yokota stalked Nguyen, looking to throw combinations but Nguyen timed Yokota with an overhand right that dropped him to the canvas. From there, Nguyen jumped on his foe and rained down punches from the top to earn the stoppage victory. /div> div>  /div> div>Lightweight contenders Vincent “MagniVincent” Latoel and Vaughn “The Spawn” Donayre put on an exciting show for fans in attendance, tagging each other with intense combinations for the majority of the three-round lightweight contest. On the mat, Donayre showcased his grappling skills, threatening with various submissions off his back. Latoel however was more consistent throughout and scored points with his takedowns and cage control. All three judges saw the bout in favor of Latoel to win by unanimous decision. /div> div>  /div> div>The highly-anticipated lightweight showdown between Georgi Stoyanov of Bulgaria and Saygid Guseyn Arslanaliev of Russia ended on an unfortunate note, as the bout resulted in a No Contest ruling. Although Arslanaliev swarmed Stoyanov from the beginning of the bout and completely outclassed the Bulgarian, an ill-advised technical ground kick landed for Arslanaliev and Stoyanov was unable to continue. /div> div>  /div> div>Dutch featherweight standout based in Jakarta, Anthony “The Archangel” Engelen, put on a masterful performance, stopping Malaysian fight veteran A.J. “Pyro” Lias Mansor in under two minutes in the first round of a scheduled three-round bout. Engelen pressed Mansor up against the cage fence with a combination before a beautiful right hand felled Mansor, earning Engelen one of the most spectacular knockouts of his career. /div> div>  /div> div>Fans were treated to an action-packed clash of colossal light heavyweights as Igor Subora of the Ukraine and Sherif Mohamed of Egypt pushed each other to the limit in a tremendous three-round show of determination from both fighters. Subora effectively used his reach advantage to keep the smaller, stockier Mohamed at bay with his boxing throughout the bout. In the third round, both fighters fought through sheer exhaustion to make it to the final bell as Subora did just enough to outlast Mohamed to earn the unanimous decision. /div> div>  /div> div>Local martial arts hero from Jakarta, “The Terminator” Sunoto, brought the crowd to its feet with a riveting performance to defeat Cambodia’s Chan Heng by technical knockout just a little under three minutes into the first round. Sunoto wasted no time in taking the fight directly to Heng, challenging the Khun Khmer practitioner to a striking showdown at the center of the ONE Championship cage. Sunoto however, proved too much for the Cambodian after he gained mount and unleashed the ground-and-pound. /div> div>  /div> div>Unbeaten Indonesian flyweight prospect Stefer Rahardian defeated Jakarta-based Liberian fighter Jerome S. Paye via unanimous decision in the second preliminary bout of the evening. Rahardian showcased tremendous cage-control for the majority of the fight, smothering Paye with a consistent attack that left the Liberian stifled throughout the contest. The 30-year-old Rahardian left very little openings for Paye who just couldn’t get his offense going. In the end, Rahardian had just enough in the tank to complete a comprehensive three-round performance, earning the nod on all three judges’ scorecards. /div> div>  /div> div>Strawweights Rene Catalan of the Philippines and Adrian Matheis of Indonesia kicked off ONE: QUEST FOR POWER with a spirited display of mixed martial arts action, on a bustling Saturday night in Jakarta. After a dominant first round from Catalan, one that saw the Filipino attempt various finishes, the end came swiftly in the second when Catalan was able to execute an armbar to earn the submission victory. /div> div>  /div> div> strong>COMPLETE RESULTS /strong> /div> div>  /div> div>MW Title: Vitaly Bigdash defeats Aung La N Sang by Unanimous Decision /div> div>  /div> div>Featherweight bout: Martin Nguyen defeats Kazunori Yokota by TKO (Strikes) at 3:36 minutes of round 1 /div> div>  /div> div>Lightweight bout: Vincent Latoel defeats Vaughn Donayre by Unanimous Decision /div> div>  /div> div>Lightweight bout: Georgi Stoyanov, Saygid Guseyn Arslanaliev (No Contest) /div> div>  /div> div>Featherweight bout: Anthony Engelen defeats AJ Lias Mansor by Knockout (KO) at 1:42 minutes of round 1 /div> div>  /div> div>Light Heavyweight bout: Igor Subora defeats Sherif Mohamed by Unanimous Decision /div> div>  /div> div>Bantamweight bout: Sunoto defeats Chan Heng by TKO (Strikes) at 2:30 minutes of round 1 /div> div>  /div> div>Flyweight bout: Stefer Rahardian defeats Jerome S. Paye by Unanimous Decision (UD) /div> div>  /div> div>Strawweight bout: Rene Catalan defeats Adrian Matheis by Submission (Armbar) at 2:08 minutes of round 2 /div>.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 15th, 2017

World Sports: Miocic retains UFC heavyweight title

CLEVELAND still has an Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) champion as heavyweight fighter Stipe "The Silencer" Miocic retained his gold with a devastating knockout victory over challenger Alistair "The Reem" Overeem in their headliner for "UFC 203" yest.....»»

Category: financeSource:  bworldonlineRelated NewsSep 11th, 2016

Miocic KOs Overeem to retain UFC heavyweight crown

MANILA, Philippines – Stipe Miocic survived an early knockdown and a deep guillotine choke by knocking out Allistair Overeem in the first round for his first.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  philstarRelated NewsSep 11th, 2016

Unesco retains unresolved classification of Ampatuan massacre after appeal by groups, individuals

CMFR file photo.HUMAN RIGHTS advocates hailed the decision of Judge Jocelyn Solis-Reyes, promulgated on 19 December 2019 which found the primary accused in the massacre in Ampatuan, Maguinda.....»»

Category: newsSource:  inquirerRelated NewsOct 29th, 2020

Magsayo retains WBC-ABC title with split decision over Mexican

Filipino fighter Mark Magsayo had a hard time against Mexican Rigoberto Hermosillo......»»

Category: sportsSource:  thestandardRelated NewsOct 5th, 2020

Adesanya retains UFC crown with Costa TKO

UFC middleweight champion Israel Adesanya battered challenger Paulo Costa from distance with leg kicks, then knocked him down with a left to the head and finished him off with ground-and-pound late in the second round to retain his crown at UFC 253 held yesterday, Sunday at the Flash Forum, Yas Island, Abu Dhabi......»»

Category: sportsSource:  thestandardRelated NewsSep 28th, 2020

Casimero retains crown

WBO bantamweight champion John Riel Casimero put his act on full display in his first US pay-per-view appearance and called out the big names in the 118-pound division to come forward after demolishing previously unbeaten Ghanaian challenger Duke Micah......»»

Category: sportsSource:  philstarRelated NewsSep 28th, 2020

Casimero retains WBO title, blasts Micah in 3 rounds

John Riel Casimero of the Philippines made a successful first defense of his WBO bantamweight crown on Sunday (Manila time), knocking out Ghana’s Duke Micah in the third round of their title fight in Connecticut. The 30-year-old from Leyte dominated Micah throughout with a series of punishing body blows, setting a frenetic pace from the […] The post Casimero retains WBO title, blasts Micah in 3 rounds appeared first on Cebu Daily News......»»

Category: newsSource:  inquirerRelated NewsSep 27th, 2020

Rakic subdues Smith at UFC Fight Night

Aleksandar Rakic continued his climb up the UFC ladder with a dominant unanimous decision victory at Light Heavyweight over Anthony Smith in the main event of UFC Fight Night at the UFC Apex, Las Vegas, Nevada on Sunday, August 30, 2020......»»

Category: sportsSource:  thestandardRelated NewsAug 30th, 2020

Bandana Bros. have fans in Baser Amer, Jiovani Jalalon

While the "Bandana Bros." are no more, that doesn't mean James Canlas and Evan Nelle are no more as well. Instead, with Canlas remaining in San Beda University and Nelle relocating to De La Salle University, both of them actually have a golden opportunity to prove their worth even more. The Filipino-Canadian swingman will now be the undisputed lead guard for the Red Lions as they seek to reclaim their crown. And thus far, he has already won the approval of a certain school legend who won a total of six championships in red and white. Asked in The Prospects Pod which NCAA guard has impressed him the most, Baser Amer answered, "Si James Canlas." Amer led San Beda's Jrs. team to two titles before becoming a key cog in the Srs. squad's four-peat. Meanwhile, Nelle will become the ready-made replacement at point for the Green Archers once Aljun Melecio graduates. And another NCAA great has no doubt that his talent would only translate to the UAAP. Asked the same question as his former fierce foe from college, Jiovani Jalalon answered, "Si Nelle. Sobrang galing nung batang yun." Jalalon starred for Arellano University and was the unanimous best point guard in his last year in college. His playmaking prowess may very well be similar for brand new La Salle's long-limbed court general. Even though Nelle will no longer be wearing red and white, Amer says he has no problem with the decision to transfer. "Para sa akin, desisyon ng bata yun e. Siyempre, pag nagdesisyon, sasabihin niya sa family niya and yung family niya, sinuportahan yung bata," he said. --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 15th, 2020

FIBA: Mighty Jimmy and the shot that introduced Gilas to the World

This story was originally published on Feb. 24, 2019 It’s Saturday night at Mall of Asia and the arena is absolutely rocking. Eternal basketball rivals in the Philippines and South Korea are delivering another classic. Gilas Pilipinas is down to the final minute of regulation against its longtime tormentor in the second of two semifinal games. The national team is up by two, 81-79. The Philippines is hosting the 2013 FIBA-Asia Championships where three tickets to the 2014 World Cup are at stake and the winner of this particular game gets one of those tickets. Given the rich history of both teams and what it would mean to the winner, this pivotal game has gone down the wire as everyone pretty much expected. Also knowing the history of both teams in international play, Gilas’ precarious two-point lead was not safe at all. A ghost was lurking in the background and a dreaded curse felt almost inevitable. Down to the final minute of the crucial grudge match between the Philippines and South Korea, guard Jimmy Alapag has the ball and a two-point lead. What he will do will help define not only his career but the legacy of the Gilas name as a national team.   WAKE-UP CALL Even before the Philippines-Korea game, Gilas Pilipinas already had to go through one emotional game early in its homestand for the Asian Championships. In a preliminary round showdown against Chinese Taipei, the Filipinos collapsed in the fourth quarter, allowing the Taiwanese to steal a morale-boosting 84-79 win. In 2013, the relationship between the two countries hit a rough patch over the death of one Taiwanese fisherman. In an updated May 17 report by CNN’s Jethro Mullen, “Taiwan has reacted angrily after one of its fishermen was killed by a Philippine coast guard vessel.” Taiwan had frozen applications from OFWs seeking jobs in its territory and the government of then President Ma Ying-jeou demanded an apology, among other things, from the Philippines. While the national basketball teams of both countries never really had any prior animosity with each other, tension was naturally present as both teams squared off in Group A action. Gilas Pilipinas and Chinese-Taipei both entered the showdown with identical 2-0 records and the winner would take control of solo Group A lead heading into round 2. Taking a good lead into the fourth quarter, the Philippines was outscored by 18 in the last 10 minutes and the national team took its worst home loss in quite some time. “At the time, it was a huge game for us. We understood what was happening in Taipei during that particular time. We really wanted to win for what our kababayans were going through at that time,” guard Jimmy Alapag said on that first home loss in the 2013 Asian Championships. “We didn’t get the job done, and it was tough especially to lose a game like that, it was a very emotional and it was a game that we knew we needed,” he added. The crushing loss meant that the Philippines had little room for error in round 2. While Gilas didn’t have any world beaters lined up in the second round, anything less than a perfect run would have meant an early clash with Asia’s established powerhouse teams in the knockout stages. On the other side of the bracket, defending champion China, Iran, and South Korea were battling for position and were expected to finish in the top-3. That means if Gilas Pilipinas failed to finish no. 1 in its group, the national team would have faced one of those teams in the quarterfinals. Gilas picked up a crucial win over Qatar in the 6th of August and the day after, the Philippines got some help from those same Qataris as they beat Taipei in a close decision. At the end of round 2, all teams finished with identical win-loss records but Gilas Pilipinas would take over first place after all tiebreaks were considered, barely edging out Taipei. The Philippines ended up avoiding defending champion China, Iran, and South Korea and instead got Kazakhstan in the quarterfinals. No. 2 Taipei drew China and the third-running Qataris were matched up with the South Koreans. “I think that was the moment we grew up and grew closer. I think that was the lowest of the lows, just because of the atmosphere and what was going on between both countries. It kind of felt that we let our end of the bargain down, you know what I mean? We’re on our home soil and we didn’t take care of business. I think that was one of those moments where we had to really check ourselves and find a way to make it right,” forward Gabe Norwood said of the Taipei loss. “But it turned out to be a blessing in disguise. In tournaments like FIBA-Asia it’s important that you have short-term memory whether it was a win or a loss. We needed to let go of that game and continue to stay the course, keep our focus in the tournament,” Alapag added. On August 7, four days after Gilas lost to Taipei, the rift between the Philippines and Taiwan would reach a resolution and the latter country lifted its freeze hiring and other sanctions on the former. The Philippines also did issue on official apology over the death of the Taiwanese fisherman a couple of months prior and the National Bureau of Investigation in Manila recommended the pressing of homicide charges to erring members of the Philippine Coast Guard.   DARK HISTORY If the word “rival” is to be defined as a, “person or group that tries to defeat or be more successful than another person or group” then sure, the Philippines and South Korea are rivals. Both countries are rivals in the Asian basketball scene and they have been going at it for a very long time. But if the word rival can also mean “equal” or “peer,” is the Philippines really a worthy basketball rival to South Korea? The Philippines’ history with South Korea in terms of basketball is dark. Very dark. Consider the most high-profile matches between the two countries and you’ll see that the Philippine national team is just not at the level of South Korea. Or at the very least, Koreans always seem to reach 120 percent of their potential when they play Filipinos and we barely bring out 80 percent of our abilities when matched up against our East Asian neighbors. The 1998 PBA Centennial team, arguably the greatest Philippine team ever assembled, was demolished by South Korea in the Asian Games. A national team set up for gold only settled for bronze. Speaking of a bronze medal game, the original Gilas Pilipinas team lost a podium finish to South Korea in the 2011 FIBA-Asia Championships. That team squandered a double-digit lead and collapsed late. Of course, who can forget the semifinals of the 2002 Asian Games in Busan when Olsen Racela had the chance to put the Philippines up four but missed two free throws. South Korea would win with a booming triple at the buzzer off a broken play and would later take down China to capture the gold medal. South Korea is the Philippines’ basketball nemesis for all intents and purposes. A worthy adversary that always seem to emerge victorious at our expense. Still, all that previous disappointment didn’t seem to bother Gilas Pilipinas six years ago. The team was not scared and instead, they were excited even. One factor to greatly consider was that fact that the game was in Manila. It makes all the difference to play at home. “We understood the bad history that we had with Korea. We haven’t been very successful with them in quite some time but we knew from Day 1 that if ever we got an opportunity to play them at home, then we have a great chance,” Alapag said. “Man, pre-game, it was just the focus. Everybody was up for the challenge, I don’t think anybody was really nervous, I think it was just the anxiety... we wanted to get out there and do it already,” Norwood added. Playing at home had its perks for sure, but it also had its drawbacks. For all the painful losses the Philippines suffered at the hands of South Korea, it would have been devastating if Gilas actually took a beating in Manila. Stakes were extra high in this particular chapter of this long, ongoing saga. “There was always pressure, it was something that we acknowledged early. Playing at home, it’s great having that support but at the same time, there is some added pressure because you wanna make sure that you make our home crowd proud of the team that they watch and ultimately, win games,” Alapag said, making sure to note that the national team knew of the disadvantages of playing at home even before the Korea game. “It was there but it was something that we acknowledged and we wanted to make sure that we took advantage of the opportunity playing at home,” he added.   ALL FILIPINO, ALL HEART Once it was go time, the Philippines-South Korea game went about pretty normal, as you would expect any game from these two national teams. But even before halftime, an injury to Gilas center Marcus Douthit changed the complexion of the semifinals showdown. All of a sudden, the Philippines was without its anchor, without its best player. Sure, there were players on the Gilas bench that can come in and replace Douthit’s size but there was simply no one on the Gilas bench that can come in and replace his talent, production, and just overall presence. June Mar Fajardo was in that Gilas bench but it 2013, the would-be five-time PBA Most Valuable Player was just not at that level yet. It would have been easy for Gilas Pilipinas to fold like cheap furniture and succumb to the overwhelming pressure of trying to overcome South Korea to reach a stage very few Filipinos have reached before. Gilas didn’t fold and instead, the Douthit injury rallied the team even further. “Alam mo sa totoo lang, puso na lang yun eh. Nung nawala si Marcus talaga, sabi ni coach kailangan doble kayod tayo. Dahil sobrang dehado tayo kumbaga, wala na tayong import, wala tayong malaki,” forward Marc Pingris said. With Douthit gone, Ping ate up all of his minutes and worked by committee with guys like Ranidel De Ocampo and Japeth Aguilar to fill in the gaps. “As a player naman, kami nagusap-usap kami na kahit anong mangyari, lalaban kami. Yung time na yun, talagang patay kung patay,” Ping added. Despite losing its best player to an untimely injury, Gilas Pilipinas’ confidence in winning never wavered. With their collective backs against the wall, the Philippine national team played even better. Unlike the later iterations of Gilas Pilipinas, the 2013 team, aptly called Gilas 2.0, had the luxury of having actual preparation before the FIBA-Asia Championships. The amount of work that came before the tournament and the Korea game, the bond built over countless hours of training, all of that helped the national team avoid a monumental meltdown in front of a rabid Manila crowd. “We were such a close-knit team in terms of our chemistry, in terms of the talent that we had, so we felt confident even when Marcus went down early in the game. If you looked at our huddle, you had 11 more very confident guys, not just in themselves but more importantly, in each other,” Alapag said. “That just boiled down to the chemistry that we had. I don’t think any of us panicked, we were all confident in each other. We’ve all been into that situation with our PBA teams, having the ball in our hands and making a play. Knowing that we had five weapons on the floor that could make the winning play, I think it made us very confident and we were able to sustain our composure,” the former Gilas captain added.   THE GHOST AND ITS CURSE Shin Dong Pa, Hur Jae, Lee Sang-min, Oh Se-Keun, TJ Moon, and Cho Sung-min are just some players from the South Korean national team that inflicted incredible damage to the Philippines over the course of decades. The dreaded Ghost of South Korea takes form in these players and its curse is to give Filipinos the most heart-crushing loss possible. In 2013, the Ghost was Kim Min-goo and his curse was to beat Gilas Pilipinas in Manila. Despite losing Marcus Douthit and trailing by three points at the break, the Philippines started to turn the tables in the second half. Gilas Pilipinas unleashed Jayson Castro and the Blur led a blazing offense in the third quarter, finding a way to take a 10-point lead over South Korea, the Philippines’ largest of the night. But as the dust settled and Gilas holding a 65-56 lead entering the final period, an ominous figure would make his presence felt. The Korean Ghost has arrived and his name was Kim Min-goo. His curse? Beat Gilas Pilipinas in Manila. Kim was 22 and a senior in college when he made the South Korean national basketball team as a backup shooter in 2013. In nine games in Manila, Kim would play well enough to make the tournament’s All-Star team, averaging 12.7 points, 4.1 rebounds, and 2.7 assists. He led Asian Championships with 25 three-point field goals, 10 came in the last two games and five came against Gilas Pilipinas. Kim drilled back-to-back triples to open the fourth quarter against the Philippines. Later, his fifth triple — a four-point play at that — pushed the Koreans to within a point, 72-73. South Korea would take over soon after as Lee Seung-jun dunked the basketball on a fastbreak. The Ghost has arrived and his curse is in effect. “Ako pumasok sa isip ko yun nung lumamang Korea, na putek ito na naman,” Pingris said. “Pero ang sabi ko, sayang yung opportunity, kaya naman eh. So sabi ni Jimmy samin, no matter what happens wag kami gi-give up. Pinaghirapan natin to at may goal tayo, this year aalis tayo,” he added, noting the team’s goal to get into Spain and compete with the world’s best national teams. Faced with the possibility of dealing with a devastating defeat, Gilas had enough mental fortitude to keep things going. Trust your system, trust your preparation, trust your crowd, trust your teammates, and more importantly, trust yourselves. “You’re never out of the game if you’re playing at home,” Norwood said as they stared a deficit late against their destined rivals. “I think that was our mindset, keep it close and just find a way,” he added. Jimmy Alapag found a way.   BORN READY Down 73-75, Jimmy Alapag was under heavy duress when he let go of a three-pointer from the left wing just in front of his bench. It was good to go. The Philippines was back on top by one as Alapag somehow managed to get his team to snap out of an initial shock following Korea’s strong fourth-quarter rally. The stage is now set for a wild finish and Jimmy will star in the final act of what has been an incredible show by Gilas and South Korea. “In situations like that, as an athlete and as a pro, that’s the situations that you dream about,” Alapag said.  “Those are shots that you practice when you were a kid. When the shot clock is winding down, to have an opportunity to knock down a shot. It’s a shot that I practiced thousands of times,” he added. After the Philippines and South Korea traded baskets for the lead, Alapag made perhaps the most underrated play in this crazy and emotional encounter between two basketball rivals. Tasked with inbounding the ball just near underneath his own basket, Alapag found his Talk ‘N Text teammate Ranidel De Ocampo for an open look at three. Swish. Gilas leads, 81-77, with 91 seconds to go. “Ranidel was my favorite target for a very, very long time in my career,” Alapag said on the play that most people probably don’t even remember. “Once I saw that he got open, I wanted to make sure that I gave him as great a pass as possible and Ranidel has been known for a long time to take care of the rest,” he added.   THE EXORCIST “Yeah, I was right under the basket,” Gabe Norwood says with a laugh when asked if he remembers the shot that changed the course of Gilas Pilipinas as a national team. Late in the fourth quarter of what was essentially a heavyweight bout, the Philippines just landed two strong haymakers but South Korea would refuse to go down without a fight, beating the count of 10 each time. Down to the final minute of a crucial grudge match with a World Cup berth on the line, Jimmy Alapag had his hands on the basketball as Gilas would go to its halfcourt set. Jimmy will never let go of said basketball. Up two, Jimmy did what Olsen wished he could 11 years prior. Up two against South Korea in a pivotal semifinal game, Alapag received a screen from Marc Pingris, which was enough to momentarily shake off Kim Tae-sul. With some room, Alapag drifted to his left and let a three-point shot fly. Boom. Gilas leads, 84-79, with 54 seconds to go. The shot would later be remembered as the one that ended the Korean Curse, the one that finally exorcised the Ghost. “The first thought that came to my mind was don’t miss,” Jimmy said of the clutch jumper. “That last one, Ping sets a good screen and I got a clean look. It’s a shot that myself, and Jayson [Castro], and Larry [Fonacier], and Gary [David], and Jeff [Chan], all of us, we practice that shot time and time again after practice. So you know, it was a shot that I was confident in but in that moment, all you’re thinking about was don’t miss,” he added. It’s one thing to be confident in yourself and to be confidednt in your preparation. It’s a different thing to actually perform under such pressure. As soon as Alapag managed to shoot his shot, Gabe Norwood did what any other good teammate would do and got in position to get the offensive rebound. You know, just in case. Gabe got the ball alright, but he got it after it swished through the rim. “When he put the shot up, I tried to crash for the rebound but I basically knew that it was going in,” he said. “I had probably the best view, I was right under the basket. I think caught it after it went through too,” Norwood added. Alapag checked out moments later as the Philippines went to its defensive lineup in order to stop another Korean comeback. South Korea turned to its most effective shooter in Kim and as he rose up to try and answer Alapag’s triple, Norwood met him at the apex for the game’s most dramatic stop. Gabe blocked Kim and Gilas would finish things off with a final Marc Pingris basket on the other end. A historic 86-79 win was complete. “I still get chills thinking about it, to look up and see grown men just breaking down. My wife was trying to hold my kids and she was holding back tears. It was just an awesome moment, the bond that we had on that team, the stuff that we did to get prepare, I think we poured it all out in that game,” Norwood said on the monumental victory. “I think it probably didn’t hit me until the final buzzer sounded. Not just for me but for the entire team, when that final buzzer sounded, it was such a special group of guys and the fact that we could share that moment with not just with each other but the entire country, it’s something I’ll remember for the rest of my life,” Alapag added, savoring the moment of a Philippine win over Korea 28 years in the making.   THE INTRODUCTION Gilas Pilipinas would lose to Iran the next day in the Finals of the 2013 FIBA-Asia Championships. The Philippines put up a fight but Hamed Haddadi would prove to be too powerful to stop. It would take another two years for Gilas to beat Iran but that didn’t really matter in the moment. The Philippines is headed to the World Championships for the first time in three decades. The Philippines has beaten South Korea and one singular shot has allowed the Gilas name to be known around the world. Jimmy wouldn’t say that though. At least not directly in that way. “For me, that shot was the biggest for my career. But really, it was our entire team. We’ve gone through so much and that was just one particular play that really culminated the entire game and all the contributions from other guys from Gabe’s defense, to Ping’s rebounding, to Japeth’s rim protecting, to Jayson and LA doing a lot of the legwork,” Alapag said. “Everybody had their part in contribution to the game. After the shot, after the buzzer sounded, it was just a very special moment for us as a team and for Philippine basketball to show that all of the sacrifices, all of the hard work, now it’s given an opportunity to re-introduce ourselves to the world,” he added. Jimmy wouldn’t say it, but his teammates would. That shot of his that beat South Korea in the 2013 FIBA-Asia Championships introduced the Gilas name to the world. It announced that the Philippines has finally arrived. Gilas’ breakthrough overtime win a year later in Spain against Senegal — a game Jimmy pretty much decided late as well — made it known that Filipinos are here to stay on the World stage. “I would say so, it got us to where we wanted to be in the World Cup. I think we shocked some people there as well. But just the work that went in, I think it showed the country that we can get back to where we want to be as long as you work together,” Norwood said. “Yung puso ni Jimmy, grabe naman. Makikita mo maliit pero gusto lang niya talaga manalo. Ang liit pero parang lion pag nagalit eh, nandoon yung tiwala namin sa kanya. Ano pa ba masasabi mo, Jimmy is Jimmy Alapag,” Pingris would add.   [NOTES: At the time of original publishing, Gilas Pilipinas was fighting to make a return trip to the FIBA World Cup, this time in China in 2019. To secure its slot, the the Philippine national team needed to beat Kazakhstan in Astana plus a loss from Japan, Jordan, and/or Lebanon. One of the teams that can help Gilas is South Korea... ironically. Jimmy Alapag retired from national team play in 2014 and retired playing for good in 2016. He has since made himself a champion basketball coach in the ABL. Marc Pingris suffered an ACL injury in 2018 and is in the process of returning for his PBA team in the current 2019 season. Gabe Norwood is still in Gilas. He’s still an effective two-way weapon. He can still dunk and will stop your best player too.]   [Updated Notes: The Philippines beat Kazakhstan to make the 2019 FIBA World Cup in China. Gilas got help from... South Korea. The Koreans beat Lebanon on the road, allowing Gilas to advance to the World Championships outright with a victory over Kazakhstan.]   — Follow this writer on Twitter, @paullintag8.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 10th, 2020

Arjan Bhullar promises to be tough test for ONE heavyweight king Brandon Vera

When Filipino-American ONE Heavyweight World Champion Brandon "The Truth" Vera finally makes his return to action, it will likely come against top heavyweight contender Arjan "Singh" Bhullar.  The Indian-Canadian heavyweight, who had an impressive run in the UFC before jumping over to Asia-based ONE Championship, was impressive in his promotional debut, dominating former title contender Mauro Cerrilli en route to a unanimous decision win.  The win over Cerrilli was enough to earn Bhullar a title shot, and now, he looks to do for India what Vera did for the Philippines.  “I respect Vera for what he has accomplished in this sport. For how long he has been fighting the best, for how he has represented ONE as a champion, for what he has done for the Philippines and the Filipino people, and for what he has done for himself and his family," said Bhullar. "I want to do all of that and more for myself, for India, for Indians worldwide, and for ONE."  “Vera is a great ambassador for the sport and has treated me with the utmost respect. The feelings are mutual, until we become competitors in the Circle," Bhullar continued. Vera, who has been ONE's heavyweight king since 2015, has yet to lose in the division, and has never gone past the first round against other heavyweights as well.  As far as experience goes, Vera - who also made a name for himself in the UFC - has the distinct advantage.  “His strengths are clear. He has a tremendous amount of experience and has seen all the different looks a fighter can see in the cage. He can fight out of both stances, going forward and backward. He is well-rounded everywhere, and has excellent Muay Thai. That has allowed him to finish every single heavyweight threat he has faced,” said Bhullar. In ONE, Vera holds wins over the likes of Igor Subora, Paul Cheng, Hideki Sekine, and Cerrilli. Bhullar, a former Canadian National Wrestling Team member, is by far the toughest test tha Vera will face in ONE's heavyweight ranks.  “But none of those guys were named Arjan Singh Bhullar, nor bring what I do to the Circle," Bhullar confidently stated.  Compared to Vera, who is widely regarded as one of the faces of ONE, Bhullar is a relative unknown. If he can dethrone Vera however, it's hard to not see the 34-year old become a household name, not just in India, but in the world as well.  “I'm younger. I'm hungrier to get what I haven't yet. I have been pursuing the opportunity to be a world champion since I was in diapers. I am a lifelong athlete who still lives and breathes competition to the fullest. I don't have any other distractions or priorities in my life,” said Bhullar. Bhullar's main motivation is to be able to bring pride to India, and he's highly confident that he can get the job done against ONE's most dominant heavyweight star. “I have an entire nation and people worldwide who are supporting my quest. I have the skills that have proved problematic for Vera in his losses in the past. I have the strongest mindset to get this job done, which will carry me through the most extreme conditions. I am a winner. I am one billion strong.”      .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 5th, 2020