Israel Adesanya’s bid to become ‘champ champ’ failed early morning Sunday in Las Vegas, United States, as Jan Blachowicz handed him his first career defeat by bouncing back from a slow start to win on points and retain the light heavyweight title at UFC 259
The 38-year-old Blachowicz (28-8) made his first title defence in impressive style by outworking Adesanya (20-1), the fearsome 185-pound champion moving up for a shot at history.
The Polish champion used his size advantage and veteran savvy, taking control of their fight with two huge takedowns and subsequent ground control in the fourth and fifth rounds, Reuters reported.
Blachowicz won 49-46 on two judges’ scorecards and 49-45 on the third.
He ended the fight in full mount while raining down punches on Adesanya, who had never lost in a mixed martial arts career that began in 2012.
The charismatic Nigerian-born New Zealander was gunning to become only the fifth ‘champ champ’ – the holder of a world title in more than one division – by adding Blachowicz’s light-heavyweight belt to his middleweight one.
But he fell short against the Pole and failed to join the elite group of Nunes, Conor McGregor, Daniel Cormier and Henry Cejudo.
Blachowicz, who hailed Adesanya’s technique, said, “If I had knocked him out it would have been better but he is a great fighter. I am very happy I handed him his first defeat,” Blachowicz said.
“He hit harder than I thought. He was a bit slower than I expected. He thought I was going to take him down earlier but I had to wait till he was tired.”
“Losses are part of life”, Adesanya said, adding, “This is just my first one in the MMA. If I was going to lose to anyone; what better guy to lose to than a guy like Jan?
He added, “I thought I was going to win. The fight didn’t go exactly the way it wanted to go. The size did play a factor but I could have done better. This is not a one-off. I’m definitely going to come back.
“I dared to be great and now I go back to the middleweight and rule it with an iron fist.”
Ronaldo speaks after nasty injury scare
Manchester United striker Cristiano Ronaldo has played down any fears that he could be a doubt for next weekend’s derby against Manchester City after suffering an injury to his face while on international duty with Portugal.
The five-time Ballon d’Or winner, who scored his first goal of the season in United’s 2-0 win over Sheriff Tiraspol in the Europa League just over a week ago, was left with blood streaming from his nose after clashing with goalkeeper Tomas Vaclik during Portugal’s 4-0 win over the Czech Republic in Prague on Saturday evening.
With just 13 minutes on the clock, Ronaldo, who later provided the assist for Diogo Jota to net Portugal’s fourth goal, collided with Vaclik, with the Czech Republic goalkeeper slamming into the United ace’s face with his arms. It was a purely accidental collision but it left Ronaldo requiring medical attention.
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Fortunately for him, Portugal and United, he was able to continue and completed the full duration of the match. And taking to social media in the aftermath of the 4-0 victory, the 37-year-old made no comment in relation to his injury, suggesting that he has suffered no lasting damage and is fine to feature in Portugal’s huge clash with Spain on Tuesday evening.
Taking to his Instagram page, Ronaldo wrote: “Great game, important team win! We stay focused on our goal. Thanks to the Portuguese audience for the fantastic support.”
Ronaldo, who also suffered a blow to his ankle during the contest, will be hoping to help fire Portugal to the finals of the Nations League when they face Spain in their final Group A2 clash on Tuesday. The 2016 European Championship winners will require just a point in Braga to seal top spot.
Spain, however, could leapfrog them and secure top spot with a win, meaning the contest has plenty riding on it. Meanwhile, the win over the Czechs was inspired by goals from United duo Diogo Dalot (2) and Bruno Fernandes.
Tyson Fury doubts Joshua readiness, gives Monday deadline
Tyson Fury has sent Anthony Joshua a deadline of Monday to sign a contract for their much anticipated all-British showdown or forget about facing him for the world heavyweight title.
There have been protracted talks between the two camps of World Boxing Council champion Fury and Joshua, a former holder of the other major heavyweight titles.
Only last week the deal, based upon a 60-40 split in Fury’s favour, was said to have been accepted by Joshua’s management team.
Veteran promoter Frank Warren said a contract had been sent to Joshua’s camp.
Eddie Hearn, the promoter of Joshua, added minor issues remained to be resolved ahead of a fight expected to take place before the end of this year.
Fury, however, is now convinced Joshua is trying to back out, prompting an expletive-filled social media post about his rival on Friday.
He said, “I was optimistic about three weeks ago but it shouldn’t be taking this long to sign a contract,” Fury said in a video posted on the Twitter feed of Queensberry Promotions.
“We’ll know by Monday anyway because if it’s not done by Monday then I’m moving on.”
“I’m not waiting around for some guy who’s lost three of his last five fights. He’s lucky that I’m giving him a world title shot.”
The 34-year-old added: “He is an invited guest at my party – my rules. So, if you want to play the game, come to the banquet and take your seat.”
Warren, however, remained optimistic the fight would go ahead, telling BT Sport: “There is a meeting taking place on Monday and I am hoping that is going to resolve what I feel is just a few outstanding issues, not for us, but it seems for them.
“Let’s hope they are good as their word and they don’t duck out of it.”
Fury made the offer for a ‘Battle of Britain’ bout with Joshua after it emerged Oleksandr Usyk, the WBO, IBF and WBA champion, had ruled out fighting again until early next year.
Joshua, 32, suffered his second straight loss to the Ukrainian in Saudi Arabia last month.
Fury announced he was retiring on his 34th birthday last month, having previously performed a number of U-turns over his future in the sport.
But in a video posted on social media earlier this month, he challenged Joshua to a showdown.
Pogba accused of paying witch doctor to ‘neutralise’ Mbappe
Paul Pogba’s brother, Mathias, has accused the midfielder of paying at least €4 million (£3.5m) to a witch doctor who “neutralised” Kylian Mbappe during Manchester United’s Champions League tie against Paris Saint-Germain in 2019.
Mathias Pogba is currently in custody in Paris, France as he is under investigation for his alleged role in the blackmail plot involving the former Manchester United midfielder.
Paul Pogba has accused a group of demanding €13 million (£11.2m) from him in “protection money”, essentially worth €1 million (£860,000) a year from the age of 16 when he first became a professional footballer.
Pogba, who returned to Juventus on a free transfer from United in the summer, handed over €100,000 (£85,000) to the group after being escorted at gunpoint to a flat in Roissy-en-Brie, in the eastern suburb of Paris in March.
Mathias Pogba, 32, has denied his part in the attempted blackmail but has been accused of “extortion in an organised gang” and “participation in a criminal association with a view to preparing a crime”.
On Friday, several pre-recorded video messages from Mathias Pogba surfaced online, one of which accused his brother of paying for a witch doctor to put a spell on Mbappe for United’s Champions League tie against PSG in 2019.
United lost the first leg 2-0 at Old Trafford and Pogba was sent off, but Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side staged a remarkable comeback in Paris as they secured a 3-1 win in the return leg to progress to the quarter-finals.
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“The turning point came with the World Cup in 2018, where Paul had more faith in the witch doctor than in God, entrusting the witch with a big task in order to help the French team win,” Mathias Pogba said in his video.
“The witch doctor would go on to tell Mam’s [an intermediary] that the job had already been done, and that was when Mam’s would start to be scared. After that, Paul continued with his witch doctor, notably in the Champions League to ensure that Manchester United would go through against PSG.
“At the request of Paul, the witch was told to neutralise Kylian Mbappe, who back then was on a rapid rise, far outstripping Paul’s fame.
“It was strange to see that during that match Kylian was a shadow of himself against a reserve side.
“The issue is that at the same time Paul was doing everything he could to get closer to Kylian, as we could see in the media, supposedly liking him and calling him his friend, he would often call him, we would see them arm-in-arm.
“It went so far that Kylian almost made it a condition for his PSG contract extension that the club would have to sign Paul, without knowing that behind his back Paul was engaging in witchcraft to sabotage his matches.
“That same witch doctor would go on to [say] that he had to stop the ongoing curse, at risk of destroying [Mbappe’s] career, keeping in mind that he was paid by the task, knowing that my brother, always close to his money, had not paid enough for a long-term job, and that the witch wanted to make him pay as much as possible.”
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