Iraqi Amir Albazi claims debut win as Deiveson Figueiredo wins UFC Fight Night 2’s only title belt

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Deiveson Figueiredo claims only belt of UFC Fight Night 2. (Supplied)
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Amir Albazi celebrates UFC debut win with Iraqi flag. (Supplied)
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Iraq's Amir Albazi on his way to win over the Candian Malcolm Gordon. (Supplied)
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Jack Hermansson after beating Kelvin Gastelum. (Supplied)
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Updated 19 July 2020

Iraqi Amir Albazi claims debut win as Deiveson Figueiredo wins UFC Fight Night 2’s only title belt

  • Event was the third of four taking place on Abu Dhabi’s Yas Island this month

Iraqi mixed martial arts (MMA) fighter Amir Albazi completed a dream introduction to UFC with a win over Canadian Malcolm Gordon at UFC Fight Night 2 on Sunday morning, the third of four MMA events taking place on Yas Island this month, which also saw Brazil’s Deiveson Figueiredo claim the day’s only title win.

Albazi had received his call up on July 8, after Aleksander Doskalchuk was forced to withdraw from the bout at Yas Forum.

“It went picture perfect, exactly as I planned,” the 26-year-old said. “I lay in my bed and visualized all the time exactly how it went, no different. I think it’s the first triangle (choke) of 2020.”

Baghdad-born Albazi, who now lives in London, revealed how he coped with a whirlwind 10 days that saw him make his UFC debut at bantamweight.

“I got the call on Wednesday morning, literally on my way to training,” he said. “I just finished the session, went back home and packed, and went to the airport straight away. But I didn’t know we had a 48-hour quarantine in London and another 48-hour quarantine in Abu Dhabi. It was different to what I expected but I’m ready to fight any day. Call me tomorrow, wake me up, I’m ready to fight.” In the co-main event of the night, and the only title match-up, Figueiredo defeated the American Joseph Benavidez for the vacant flyweight crown with a comfortable first round stoppage and immediately set his sights on a fight with former champion Henry Cejudo.

“The fight was the fight of the night. I said I was going to break Benavidez and that’s exactly what I did,” Figueiredo said. “I gave him his first submission on his record and the fight itself was a great show, I gave everyone a show. He didn’t surprise me at all tonight, I actually thought he was a little bit slower than in the last fight. I didn’t tell anyone about this, but I’m much quicker now and I have much more ability with counter striking.

I’m available for whoever the UFC wants to put in front of me, anyone at my level, but you have to be at my level because I’m a knockout artist, I’m going to knock you out," he added. "I’m going
home tomorrow and we’re going to start celebrating with all Brazilians on the flight back and as soon as I land in Brazil everyone is going to be taking pictures and congratulating me, so it’s going to be a great party.”

In the other headline fight, Swedish-Norwegian middleweight Jack Hermansson beat Kelvin Gastelum of the US via another first round stoppage.

“First round finish, what more can you wish for?” Hermansson said. “Obviously it was a mistake for him. I’m very dangerous on the ground. I think that he is comfortable with his top game, but people know how much I have from the ground because I’m not so much on my back in my fights, almost never, so people don’t know how dangerous of a game I have from there. Now they have a clue, they don’t know everything.” Hermansson revealed he was determined to win a UFC championship belt.

“That’s my goal, that’s why I do this, I want a title shot,” he said. “It went perfect, first round finish, that’s what I want. I’m always satisfied if I get the finish. I didn’t think too much, I just did as I do in practice. I tried to stay aggressive and work for the submissions. We knew, we prepared for him posting up in the tripod position.”

In what was later named Fight of the Night, Rafael Fiziev of Kyrgyzstan defeated Englishman Marc Diakiese via unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28, 29-28) in their lightweight bout, afterwards saying: “I’m happy with the win, I’m happy for my second win in the UFC. Just happy, you know? Thank you for my opponent, for this perfect fight. I have a plan to break his heart, break his body and show perfect technique.”

Earlier, flyweight Ariane Lipski had stopped fellow Brazilian Luana Carolina in round 1, after Askar Askarov of Russia had overcome Brazilian Alexandre Pantoja via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28) in their own flyweight clash.

“I was very confident, we studied her game, so we knew we would have to pressure her,” Lipski, awarded the performance of the night alongside Figueiredo, said. “If it got to the ground, she would try to put me in the guard because she has a good guard. I was very confident on the ground and I was training very hard the leg lock and the foot lock too. I feel very, very happy. I was very, very confident for the fight. I went to the Octagon and just enjoyed it and did my best.”

On the undercard, Roman Dolidze defeated Khadis Ibragimov via a first round TKO; Grant Dawson overcame Nad Narimani by unanimous decision (30-26, 30-27, 29-27); and Joel Alvarez beat Joseph Duffy with a first round submission.

A unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28) had seen Brett Johns defeat Montel Jackson halfway through the card.

The night had kicked off with Serghei Spivac’s majority decision (28-28, 29-27, 29-27) win over Carlos Felipe, and was followed by Arman Tsarukyan’s win over Davi Ramos via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28), and Albazi’s stoppage of Gordon.

UFC Fight Night 3 will take place on July 26.


Davis, Lakers beat Nuggets to take 3-1 lead in West finals

Updated 25 September 2020

Davis, Lakers beat Nuggets to take 3-1 lead in West finals

  • Game 5 is Saturday, when the Lakers can reach the NBA Finals for the first time in a decade

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Florida: The Los Angeles Lakers are a victory away from returning to the NBA Finals — and only another comeback from 3-1 down by the Denver Nuggets can stop them.
Anthony Davis scored 34 points, LeBron James had 26 and the Lakers beat the Nuggets 114-108 on Thursday night in Game 4 of the Western Conference finals.
Davis got the Lakers off to a fast start with his scoring and James helped them finish it with his defense, forcing Jamal Murray into some late misses after the guard had kept the Nuggets in it with an array of high-difficulty baskets.
James added nine rebounds and eight assists, and the Lakers had 12 offensive rebounds for a whopping 25-6 advantage in second-chance points.
Game 5 is Saturday, when the Lakers can reach the NBA Finals for the first time in a decade.
The Nuggets will be facing elimination for the seventh time in the bubble. They were down 3-1 against Utah in the first round and climbed out of the same hole against the Los Angeles Clippers in the West semifinals.
But they couldn’t come back in this game, getting within one point in the opening minute of the fourth quarter but constantly turned back from there by a key stop or rebound by the Lakers.
The Lakers have 16 championships, one behind Boston for the most in NBA history, but they haven’t played for one since winning their most recent title in 2010.
The Lakers started Dwight Howard at center and he had 12 points and 11 rebounds, helping put Nikola Jokic into foul trouble.
Murray had 32 points and eight assists, but Jokic finished with just 16 points and seven rebounds.
Davis scored 27 points in Game 3 but the 6-foot-10 forward acknowledged that his two-rebound performance was “unacceptable.” He came out much more aggressively Thursday after the Lakers played from behind much of the last game.
With an array of short jumpers, Davis made his first six shots before anyone else on the Lakers made a basket. Then Howard scored on consecutive follow shots before James followed with his first two field goals.
Murray kept the Lakers from getting too far away with a 7-for-8 start. He followed his acrobatic layup around James with 2 1/2 minutes remaining in the half with a pair of free throws that cut it to four, before the Lakers took a 60-55 edge to the locker room.
The Nuggets shot 59% in the first half but the Lakers had an 18-2 advantage in second-chance points.
The Lakers seemed to be taking control when Rajon Rondo and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope combined for a flurry that pushed the lead to 11 with under 4 minutes remaining in the third, but Michael Porter Jr. hit two 3-pointers late in the period that cut it to 87-84 going to the fourth.
TIP-INS
Lakers: Howard hadn’t started in any of his 10 postseason appearances and didn’t play much at all in the last round, when the Lakers went small to match up against the Houston Rockets. He made two starts in the regular season. ... Caldwell-Pope scored 13 points and Rondo had 11.
Nuggets: Jerami Grant scored 17 points and Porter had 13.
THOUGHTS FOR TAYLOR
James had the words “We want justice” written next to Breonna Taylor’s name on his sneaker. Lakers coach Frank Vogel said the news a day earlier that a Kentucky grand jury brought no charges against Louisville police for the Black woman’s shooting death hit the players hard.
“It’s heartbreaking, and you know, there’s really no silver lining to it. It’s a reminder of, it’s not just — it’s hard for Breonna Taylor, her family, and everybody that was invested in this,” Vogel said.
“But it’s just a reminder of all the other acquittals when unarmed black men are being killed, and it’s just something that’s hit us hard. Just a reminder that, you know, how important it is for all of us to vote and to be educated on all the potential police reform bills that are out there, and just play our part and do everything we can to help affect change.”
MILLSAP’S VOTING LOCATION
The Nuggets announced a partnership between forward Paul Millsap and DeKalb County to make the CORE4 training facility in Chamblee, Georgia as a general election voting center. Millsap, wearing “Vote” on his jersey during the restart, is the founder of the facility that will be open for early voting from Oct. 12-30.