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UFC 268 – Preview: championship doubleheader in New York

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Set to be one of the biggest cards of the year, Madison Square Garden will play host to UFC 268 in the MMA leader’s return to the Big Apple.

The main event will see a rematch between dominant welterweight champion Kamaru Usman and rival contender Colby Covington. 115lb queen Rose Namajunas will look to defend her title against former titleholder Weili Zhang in the co-main event.

Let’s take a closer look at this card!

(c) Kamaru Usman (19-1) vs (#1) Colby Covington (15-2) – UFC welterweight championship bout

The 2019 instant classic between Kamaru Usman and Colby Covington will be ran back, once again for the 170lb strap.

Having picked up 3 further title defenses since finishing Covington at UFC 245, Kamaru Usman sits atop the pound-for-pound rankings – and for good reason. The champion’s KO power and striking ability has been discovered and honed by coach Trevor Wittman, adding to his nightmarish wrestling pedigree. Riding the longest win-streak in welterweight history, a second win over Covington will put ‘The Nigerian Nightmare‘ in all-time great discussions.

Despite his inactivity, Colby Covington remains one of the most talked-about personalities in the MMA world. This is not just for his brash and outlandish personality, mind you. The Oregon native uses exceptional cardio and wrestling to beat on his opponents, and has also began to use his striking more effectively in recent fights. ‘Chaos‘ is dead-set on getting revenge, so don’t underestimate him coming into UFC 268.

(c) Rose Namajunas (11-4) vs (#1) Zhang Weili – UFC strawweight championship bout

The strawweight title will be on the line once again when Rose Namajunas and Weili Zhang rematch in UFC 268’s co-main event.

Reclaiming her title with a stunning KO, it looks like champion Rose Namajunas is finally in prime form, mentally and physically. Her striking has continued to evolve over the course of her career, with a lethal submission game in her back pocket. ‘Thug Rose‘ was able to dispatch of her opponent inside of one round last time out, but can she do it again at UFC 268? She certainly thinks so, and it’s hard to doubt her.

Having lost her title at the hands of Namajunas in April, former champ Weili Zhang is determined to bring the gold back to China. Well-rounded is an understatement for Zhang – her striking pressure coupled with her quick submissions make her tricky everywhere. Now with decorated former champions in her corner, ‘Magnum‘ is prepared for everything the fight may throw at her.

(#2) Justin Gaethje (22-3) vs (#4) Michael Chandler (22-6) – lightweight bout

Oh boy, here we bloody go.

Sitting on the sidelines since his loss to Khabib Nurmagomedov, former interim champion Justin Gaethje was waiting for the right opponent to jump back in against. Now that he has found one, he has promised to bring back the violent, reckless style that made him a fan-favourite. With some of the most powerful kicks and punches at 155lbs, ‘The Highlight‘ could make short work of Chandler.

Although he came up short in his vacant championship fight against Charles Oliveira, former Bellator titleholder Michael Chandler has stayed relevant in the 155lb title discussion. Carrying power in both hands and a background in wrestling – not dissimilar from Gaethje – he’s more than capable of taking out any contender in his division. A win over Gaethje could place ‘Iron‘ Mike back in line to fight for the belt again.

(#13) Shane Burgos (13-3) vs Billy Quarantillo (16-3) – featherweight bout

Courtesy of MMAArtwork

Featherweight fan-favourites Shane Burgos and Billy Quarantillo will try to blow the roof off of MSG when they fight on the line card.

Consistently staying in the top 15 at 145lbs for 2 years now, Shane Burgos has the skills to take out any contender in his division. His fast hands and iron chin have led him to wins over the likes of Makwan Amirkhani, Charles Rosa and Cub Swanson. Getting back in the win column will put ‘Hurricane‘ Shane in a great position going into 2022.

Not cracking the top 15 yet, Billy Quarantillo has been on the edge of the ranked featherweight since 2020. The former professional boxer has displayed both his power and his wrestling in wins over Spike Carlyle, Kyle Nelson and Gabriel Benitez. If he get a win over a ranked opponent in Burgos, he could be a force to be reckoned with next year.

(#8) Frankie Edgar (23-9-1) vs (#13) Marlon Vera (19-7-1) – bantamweight bout

It’s a clash of top 15 bantamweight when Frankie Edgar and Marlon Vera face off on the main card.

A former champion now fighting two weight classes below where he held the belt, there is few fighters more universally loved than Frankie Edgar. The New Jersey native has been dazzling crowds with his combination of boxing and wrestling styles. Though seemingly in the twilight of his illustrious career, ‘The Answer‘ is a dangerous matchup for anyone at 135lbs.

On the cusp of contendership for almost 5 years now, it looks like Marlon ‘Chito‘ Vera has his chance to break into the top 10 at bantamweight. The Ecuadorian striker has continued to improve throughout his UFC tenure, with his last two victories coming against Sean O’Malley and Davey Grant. If ‘Chito‘ can come up large at MSG, we’ll see his name etched into a top contender spot at 135lbs soon.

Andreas Michailidis (13-4) vs Alex Pereira (3-1) – middleweight bout

Greek grappler Andreas Michailidis will look to give former GLORY Kickboxing champion Alex Pereira a rude welcome to the UFC in the featured prelim.

The man looking to spoil Pereira’s welcome party is Andreas Michailidis. The Greek fighter is a brown belt in BJJ with 7 knockouts in his 13 wins, which introduces a difficult stylistic test for his opponents. Should he pick up a win at UFC 268 on Saturday, expect to see Michailidis in more high-profile fights in future.

Already 3-0 in MMA, former GLORYmiddleweight and light-heavyweight champion Alex Pereira is one of the most talked-about prospects right now. As many know, he holds the distinction as the only man to have a KO win over UFC middleweight champ Israel Adesanya. The Brazilian Pereira has already shown that he is capable of taking people out in MMA, but can he cut it in the UFC?

Al Iaquinta (14-6-1) vs Bobby Green (27-12-1) – lightweight bout

Two savvy lightweight vets in Al Iaquinta and Bobby Green are set to close the prelims in a fun one expexted to be a barnburner.

Sidelined for over 2 years due to injuries and the ongoing pandemic, Long Island’s Al Iaquinta has been thoroughly missed by MMA fans. Hoping to break back into the top 5, the New Yorker brings heavy hands and a never-say-die attitude into the Octagon every time out. Expect ‘Ragin‘ Al to come back with a vengeance, looking for the finish.

Making a strong account of himself against top 15 contender Rafael Fiziev in his last outing, veteran Bobby Green still has the skills to pay the bills. The 35 year old has used unorthodox striking with improving grappling to take opponents out in the UFC since 2013. ‘King‘ Green consistently takes the hardest fights available, and for that, we applaud him. It’s not unfair to expect another great show from him at UFC 268.

(#11) Edmen Shahbazyan (11-2) vs Nassourdine Imavov (10-3) – middleweight bout

Top 15 contender Edmen Shahbazyan will look to get back to winning ways against the streaking Nassourdine Imavov.

Despite dropping his last two to Derek Brunson and Jack Hermansson, young Edmen Shahbazyan still has buckets of potential. At 23 years old, the striking specialist has plenty of time ahead of him to improve and keep collecting KO wins. If he finds himself on the winning side of a finish this weekend, expect to see him back in the top 10.

Another young prospect getting a lot of attention at 185lbs is Nassourdine Imavov. The Frenchman has an 80% finish rate in 10 wins, most recently picking up an upset KO over Ian Heinisch. The 26 year old has the chance to break into the top 15 with a win this weekend, so expect him to put his best foot forward.

Ian Garry (7-0) vs Jordan Williams (9-5) – welterweight bout

Ireland’s Ian Garry is looking to take the UFC by storm, but first, he has to fend off Contender Series alum Jordan Williams.

Joining the UFC as the reigning Cage Warriors champion, Ian Garry is the biggest prospect to come from Ireland in years. 5 finishes in his 7 wins have seen him put away the best that Cage Warriors’ welterweight had to offer. ‘The Future‘ is set to make waves at 170lbs, and he’s dead set to begin at UFC 268.

Punching his UFC ticket with a first round KO of Gregory Rodrigues, Californian Jordan Williams hasn’t yet found his footing in the Octagon. Having been a former middleweight, his best chance at winning his to use his size and pressure to smother his more green opponent. If he can turn back the much-hyped Garry, it will do wonders for the career of ‘Bomaye‘.

***

What do you make of the card? Who’ll walk away with championship gold? Let us know in the comments!

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Sumo: Kyushu Tournament Day 14 – Can Terunofuji seal the championship?

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The penultimate day of the Kyushu tournament gives Terunofuji the chance to take glory as the 13-0 wrestler takes on his nearest challenger Abi who is on 12-1.

Before we dive into day 14, lets see how the leaderboard has developed since the last article. Abi faced Takakeisho yesterday in a battle between two wrestlers with 11-1 records. The former won the battle to move on to 12-1 in his first top division appearance since his suspension. Takakeisho moved to 11-2 and only has an outside chance of being involved in a playoff. Ura, in fourth place and the only other man to hit double figures so far, has no chance of winning the tournament as he sits on 10-3. Here is the top of the table at the end of day 13;

Terunofuji (Y) 13-0

Abi (M15) 12-1

Takakeisho (O) 11-2

Ura (M7) 10-3

Day 14

Day 14 promises to be full of action and drama as the top two men, Terunofuji and Abi finally face each other. If Terunofuji wins it, then he will take the tournament victory with an uncatchable 14 wins. 9 fighters on 7 defeats will be looking to avoid a losing record and both Endo and Chiyoshoma were looking to secure their winning records. Let’s see what went down on the penultimate day of the last tournament of the year.

It was an intense matchup between Yokozuna Terunofuji and Abi. Abi used his pushing and thrusting technique to great effect to back Terunofuji against the rope, but the big Yokozuna held on and managed to fend off the attack, finishing Abi with an oshitaoshi. Terunofuji moves to 14-0 and HE IS THE KYUSHU TOURNAMENT CHAMPION. He wins his 6th title, can he go 15-0 for the first time? It’s hard to see any other result.

https://twitter.com/MasakiKudo59/status/1464518250708881410?s=20

Such is the nature of a league-style tournament like this, at day 14 there are quite a few dead-rubber matches. Lots of wrestlers have already confirmed winning or losing records and are fighting for pride alone. However, aside from the championship race, there was still a lot to play for on the dohyo.

There was a showdown between the two Ozeki ranked fighters, Shodai and Takakeisho. Until yesterday’s defeat to Abi, Takakeisho was in with a chance of the title win. The disappointment of defeat didn’t seem to affect him though, as he beat Ozeki Shodai with ease. Shodai is not fighting like an Ozeki of late but is continuing to achieve winning records to maintain his rank. Can Takakeisho make another run on the Yokozuna rank in 2022?

Chiyoshoma produced a nice uwatenage finish to achieve winning record against Yutakayama. Out of all the wrestlers on 7 defeats, only Okinoumi and Yutakama confirmed their losing records, with their defeats to Ishiura and Chiyoshoma. It means there are many fighters left on 7-7 records, and so there it lots to play for on the final day.

Takanosho, Hokutofuji and Mitakeumi all managed to achieve double figures as they each improved their records to 10-4. Ura, who had a 10-3 record going into day 14, was defeated by Meisei and is the fourth man on 10-4. Both Komosubis were defeated as Ichinojo went down to Hokutofuji and Kiribayama to the young star Hoshoryu.

Full Results

Winners in italics, record after day 14 shown

Keisei (M17e) 7-7 vs Chiyonokuni (M14w) 8-6 – Oshidashi

Kotonowaka (M11e) 6-8 vs Tochinoshin (M13w) 6-5-3 – Yorikiri

Akua (M16e) 8-6 vs Terutsuyoshi (M11w) 6-8 – Shitatenage

Chiyotairyu (M10e) 6-8 vs Shohozan (M17w) 3-11 – Tsukidashi

Aoiyama (M9e) 4-10 vs Chiyomaru (M15e) 7-7 – Hatakikomi

Sadanoumi (M16w) 8-6 vs Tobizaru (M8w) 7-7 – Hikiotoshi

Yutakayama (M13e) 6-8 vs Chiyoshoma (M7w) 8-6 – Uwatenage

Shimanoumi (M6e) 5-9 vs Kagayaki (M14e) 4-10 – Tsukidashi

Takarafuji (M4e) 5-9 vs Kotoeko (M8e) 3-11 – Oshidashi

Okinoumi (M3e) 6-8 vs Ishiura (M12e) 7-7 – Yorikiri

Onosho (M2e) 5-9 vs Myogiryu (M3w) 2-12 – Hatakikomi

Hidenoumi (M9w) 8-6 vs Takanosho (M2w) 10-4 – Yorikiri

Daieisho (M1e) 7-7 vs Takayasu (M5e) 5-9 – Tsukiotoshi

Endo (M4w) 7-7 vs Wakatakakage (M1w) 7-7 – Yorikiri

Ichinojo (Ke) 5-9 vs Hokutofuji (M12w) 10-4 – Tsukiotoshi

Hoshoryu (M5w) 6-8 vs Kiribayama (Kw) 5-9 – Yorikiri

Mitakeumi (Se) 10-4 vs Tamawashi (M6w) 9-5 – Hatakikomi

Ura (M7e) 10-4 vs Meisei (Sw) 6-8 – Oshidashi

Shodai (Oe) 9-5 vs Takakeisho (Ow) 12-2 – Tsukidashi

Terunofuji (Ye) 14-0 vs Abi (M15w) 12-2 – Oshitaoshi

Watch the matches from today here. Find the VMTV Sumo Guide here. Stay with us to find out what happens on day 15!

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ONE: NEXTGEN III Final Weight and Hydration Results

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ONE Championship™ (ONE) today released the ONE: NEXTGEN III Final Weight and Hydration Results. In todays event, former UFC athlete Jarred Brooks squares off against Lito Adiwang in a highly anticipated strawweight match-up which could see the victor earn a spot in the divisional rankings. A Bantamweight Muay Thai bout between Alaverdi Ramazanov and Pongsiri PK.Saenchai Muaythaigym will take place as the co-main event.

ONE: NEXTGEN III Final Weight and Hydration Results

Mixed Martial Arts – Strawweight (52.3 KG – 56.7 KG)
Lito Adiwang (56.70 KG, 1.0053) vs. Jarred Brooks (56.00 KG, 1.0027)

Muay Thai – Bantamweight (61.3 KG – 65.8 KG)
Alaverdi Ramazanov (65.55 KG, 1.0207) vs. Pongsiri PK.Saenchai Muaythaigym (65.80 KG, 1.0244)

Mixed Martial Arts – Strawweight (52.3 KG – 56.7 KG)
Alex Silva (56.70 KG, 1.0103) vs. Rene Catalan (56.60 KG, 1.0066)

Kickboxing – Flyweight (56.8 KG – 61.2 KG)
Panpayak Jitmuangnon (61.20 KG, 1.0160) vs. Daniel Puertas (61.20 KG, 1.0168)

Mixed Martial Arts – Lightweight (70.4 KG – 77.1 KG)
Pieter Buist (77.10 KG, 1.0222) vs. Ruslan Emilbek Uulu (76.40 KG, 1.0070)

Kickboxing – Bantamweight (61.3 KG – 65.8 KG)
Felipe Lobo (65.60 KG, 1.0156) vs. Rodlek PK.Saenchai Muaythaigym (65.80 KG, 1.0078)

Hydration values less than or equal to 1.0250 earn a passing mark, while values greater than or equal to 1.0251 earn a failing mark. Athletes who failed weight and hydration tests on Day 1 or Day 2 are given another chance to clear tests on the morning of the event.

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Sumo: Kyushu Day 11 of 15 – who will take glory?

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Kyushu Day 11, Fukuoka, Japan. The Kyushu tournament heads into day 11 of 15 and we are two-thirds through. Who is going to take the tournament victory?

The story so far

Yokozuna Terunofuji is the only undefeated wrestler left after Takakeisho was defeated by Meisei on day 10. Abi got back to winning ways and joins Takakeisho sitting on 9-1. Whatever happens, Abi is in for a huge surge up the ranks for the first 2022 tournament in January. It looks very likely that the winner of the tournament will come from one of these three rikishi, but Mitakeumi and Ura are among four wrestlers who have an outside chance currently holding 8-2 records. Here are the leaders going into day 11;

Terunofuji (Y) 10-0

Takakeisho (O) 9-1

Abi (M15) 9-1

Mitakeumi (S) 8-2

Tamawashi (M6) 8-2

Ura (M7) 8-2

Hokutofuji (M12) 8-2

All of the above wrestlers in the Maegashira rank have also confirmed a winning record for this tournament and can expect to move up the rankings for the next tournament. Myogiryu, Kotoeko and Shohozan already have 8 defeats and can no longer post a winning record. Shohozan will likely be demoted for the next tournament.

Day 11

Such are the records after day 10, no rikishi can achieve a guaranteed winning record as none of them currently sit on 7 wins. However, there are seven wrestlers including Komosubi Kiribayama and high-ranking Maegashira Daieisho and Wakatakakage are in danger of securing a losing record and moving down in the rankings for next tournament.

Terunofuji was put to the test by Ichinojo who managed to find some fighting spirit. After a long and hard battle, Terunofuji came through with the victory and extended his run to 11-0 to continue leading the tournament by 1.

Abi faced Ura in a highly-anticipated matchup between two of the most exciting rikishi in the sport. It was a quick affair in the end as Abi continued his fine form on his return to the top division. The M15 ranked fighter moves to 10-1, Ura moves to 8-3, his winning record already confirmed. Ozeki Takakeisho joins Abi on 10-1 after seeing off a spirited effort from Endo.

Kiribayama again managed to hold off the losing record with an impressive liftout victory against Myogiryu. Kiribayama remains on 7 defeats for another day, after going 0-6 from the start it would be an incredible feat to end up with a winning record.

Aoiyama continued his poor form, after winning the first 3 matches, he has now lost 8 in a row. Maegashira ranked Hokutofuji and Tamawashi both moved to 9-2 records alongside Sekiwake Mitakeumi.

An exciting battle between two of the smaller wrestlers saw hot prospect Hoshoryu overcome the flying monkey Tobizaru.

Elsewhere, there were wins for Ozeki Shodai over Sekiwake Meisei, and former tournament winner Daieisho against Onosho. To watch the matches from Kyushu Day 11, click here (all credit to NattoSumo and NHK). For a guide to Sumo and some of the words used, click here. See the full list of results from Day 11 below.

Full Results

Winners in italics, record shown after day 11

Chiyomaru (M15e) 5-6 vs Hokutofuji (M12w) 9-2 – Okuridashi

Ishiura (M12e) 5-6 vs Sadanoumi (M16w) 7-4 – Yoritaoshi

Kagayaki (M14e) 3-8 vs Terutsuyoshi (M11w) 5-6 – Oshidashi

Kotonowaka (M11e) 4-7 vs Akua (M16e) 6-5 – Yoritaoshi

Kaisei (M17e) 5-6 vs Hidenoumi (M9w) 6-5 – Yorikiri

Aoiyama (M9e) 3-8 vs Chiyonokuni (M14w) 6-5 – Tsukitaoshi

Kotoeko (M8e) 2-9 vs Shohozan (M17w) 3-8 – Yorikiri

Tochinoshin (M13w) 4-4-3 vs Chiyoshoma (M7w) 6-5 – Yorikiri

Ura (M7e) 8-3 vs Abi (M15w) 10-1 – Tsukitaoshi

Chiyotairyu (M10e) 5-6 vs Tamawashi (M6w) 9-2 – Tsukiotoshi

Shimanoumi (M6e) 5-6 vs Yutakayama (M13e) 4-7 – Oshidashi

Tobizaru (M8w) 5-6 vs Hoshoryu (M5w) 5-6 – Yorikiri

Takarafuji (M4e) 4-7 vs Takanosho (M2w) 7-4 – Yorikiri

Okinoumi (M3e) 4-7 vs Wakatakakage (M1w) 4-7 – Hikiotoshi

Daieisho (M1e) 4-7 vs Onosho (M2e) 4-7 – Hatakikomi

Myogiryu (M3w) 2-9 vs Kiribayama (Kw) 4-7 – Tsuridashi

Mitakeumi (Se) 9-2 vs Takayasu (M5e) 5-6 – Yorikiri

Endo (M4w) 5-6 vs Takakeisho (Ow) 10-1 – Oshidashi

Shodai (Oe) 7-4 vs Meisei (Sw) 5-6 – Yorikiri

Terunofuji (Ye) 11-0 vs Ichinojo (Ke) 4-7 – Yoritaoshi

Stick with VMTV to see how the rest of the tournament plays out!

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