Adesanya inflicts first career defeat on Costa as UFC Fight Island returns to Abu Dhabi 

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Undefeated Israel Adesanya (right) inflicted a career loss on Pailo Costa at UFC 253 in Abu Dhabi. (Supplied)
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Ketlen Vieira of Brazil (right) beat Sijara Eubanks of the US via a unanimous decision. (Supplied)
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Jan Blachowicz land a punch on Dominik Reyes at UFC 253. (Supplied)
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Jake Matthews (left) of Australia defeated UFC legend Diego Sanchez of the US. (Supplied)
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Hakeem Dawodu on his way to victory over Zubaira Tukhugov. (Supplied)
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Updated 27 September 2020

Adesanya inflicts first career defeat on Costa as UFC Fight Island returns to Abu Dhabi 

  • UFC 253 kicked off a five-event series on Yas Island that includes three Fight Nights and concludes with UFC 254

DUBAI: Fight Island 2 kicked off in Abu Dhabi in the early hours of Sunday with undefeated New Zealander Israel Adesanya inflicting a first career loss on Paulo Costa of Brazil to claim the middleweight belt in the headlining clash of UFC 253.

The five event series — UFC 253, three Fight Nights and UFC 254 — comes just two months after Fight Island originally took place on Yas Island between July 12 and 26, included UFC 251 and three Fight Nights, and was the first international sporting event to take place following the outbreak of the coronavirus.

Fight Island 2 will conclude with UFC 254’s highly anticipated meeting between unbeaten lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov and Justin Gaethje on October 24. 

In the build-up to the main event, Adesanya and Costa had been embroiled in a war of words that had led to, albeit in a benign manner, a shouting match at the W Hotel on Yas Island, where the fighters are staying, and then to a far more bitter confrontation following their weigh-in at Yas Forum. And it was Adesanya who would come out victorious in the octagon via a TKO after 3.59 of round 2. 

“I know this game, I don’t just play this on EA Sports, I play this for real, so when I do this, I know what I’m talking about,” the winner said. “I still have to watch it again, little bit sloppy, but I’m a dog and I do what I do.”

“I still don’t like him. I don’t know him personally, I don’t wish he dies or anything, he’s alive, I let him be alive,” Adesanya said of the opponent who had just suffered his first career defeat. “This is the game we play, this is violence and I told you guys that it was going to be violent . . . and it’s going to end fast and that’s what I did. I’m fresh, I can go next weekend, I can go anytime. I want to spend time with my family because it’s been a crazy year, so I want to go spend time with my people.”

Before leaving, Adesanya, whose career record stands at 20 wins, set his sights on his next target.

“(Jared) Cannonier, I want Cannonier next.”

In the co-main event, Jan Blachowicz of Poland stopped the American Dominik Reyes in the second round of their Light Heavyweight title clash, and could barely hide his delight afterwards.

“I still don’t believe it, but it’s here. It’s not a dream, right? It happened,” he said. “I have the legendary Polish power, I proved it one more time, amazing.”
 Blachowicz, now with a record of 27-8-0, said that he never stopped believing in himself despite those untimely defeats on his journey to the top of the division.

“Here I am, the champion,” he said. “Like I said before, even a pandemic can’t stop me right now. I feel really great in the fight. I saw that my left kick to his body, that he slowed down a little bit. I saw almost everything he did. In the second round when I broke his nose, I knew that the finish will be soon. This is something that we prepared in our gym with coaches. On paper, we knew everything, and now in real life also. We do a great job in the gym, I am the champion.”
 Prior to that, the American Brandon “Raw Dawg” Royval was able to stop Kai Kara-France, another unbeaten New Zealander, after only 48 seconds of the round 2 in their flyweight clash.

“I’m happy it worked out, that round had its ups and downs, which sucked a little bit, but we were pulling it off,” he said. “At the end of the first round, I know I got dropped twice, but I thought I won it. I thought, I’m winning this round for sure.”

In a women’s Bantamweight bout, Ketlen Vieira of Brazil beat Sijara Eubanks of the US via a unanimous decision. 

“The fight was a lot harder than I thought,” she said. “I didn’t train for Sijara, obviously my opponent got changed a couple of weeks before. It was a very tough fight, she doesn’t get rocked by anything. It’s really important for me, it proves that I am here for a reason, I didn’t just fall in here. I’m ready to fight anyone. I prove that I can do it and that I have a lot to evolve and I can fight the best in the world.”

The top card had kicked off with Canadian Featherweight Hakeem Dawodu, who is of Jamaican origin, overcoming Zubaira Tukhugov of Russia via a split decision.

“I’m my own worst critic, I wanted a finish, I promised a finish,” he said. “I finished his teammate years ago with a body shot, I really wanted to put him away with a body shot. I think he was smart, I think I threw something that made him feel funny and that’s why he started running. Me and my coach, we are going to go back to the dressing room and we’re going to work on catching these guys. I’m going to summon my inner Jamaican, my Usain Bolt, and I’m going to run these guys down and prevent them from running from me.”

Dawodu said he was “not thrilled” with the fight and that he will be working on how to finish off fighters who refuse to engage with him.
“I just need to stop these guys from running from me,” he said. “So maybe I gotta sit back and work on my counter striking because they just run and it’s frustrating because I’m a KO fighter if you look at my record, I just haven’t been able to catch as many people as I have lately, but I put the full blame on myself, I’m going to go back to my gym and I’m going to work on catching these guys and prevent them from running.”

In the prelims, Welterweight Jake Matthews beat UFC legend Diego Sanchez with a unanimous decision in an emotional meeting.

“That last bit of ground and pound, I was this close to apologizing to him,” Matthews said. “I’ve watched him since I was 11 years old. Between him and BJ Penn, they’re two of my all-time favorites. I didn’t let it get to my head before the fight, but now it’s going to sink in and it’s crazy being able to beat a guy like that.”

Also in the earlier action, Brad Riddell beat Alex da Silva via another unanimous decision in their lightweight bout; Ludovit Klein knocked out Shane Young in the first round; William Knight scored a unanimous victory over Aleksa Camur in their heavyweight clash; Juan Espino defeated Jeff Hughes via submission at 3:48 of round 1 of another heavyweight bout; and heavyweight Danilo Ibragimov had kicked off the night  by beating Khadis Ibragimov via a unanimous decision.

Fight Island 2 will now move onto three UFC Fight Nights, on Oct. 4, 11 and 18 before wrapping with UFC 254 on Oct. 24.

Argentina football legend Maradona dies of heart attack

Updated 10 min 20 sec ago

Argentina football legend Maradona dies of heart attack

  • Maradona, 60, had recently battled health issues and underwent emergency surgery for a subdural haematoma several weeks ago
  • Argentina President Alberto Fernandez has announced three days of national mourning

BUENOS AIRES: Argentina football legend Diego Maradona died of a heart attack on Wednesday, his lawyer said.
Maradona, 60, had recently battled health issues and underwent emergency surgery for a subdural haematoma several weeks ago.

President Alberto Fernandez immediately announced three days of national mourning in the South American country.
Shortly before the announcement that shocked a nation, Argentine media reported Maradona had suffered a serious health setback on Wednesday and was being treated by doctors at his home north of Buenos Aires.
“There are four ambulances at the door of the residence. They have summoned family members to come. It is serious,” the TyC Sports channel reported.

Diego Maradona was football’s archetypal troubled genius, a world-beating player whose life and career scaled the most dazzling heights but also plumbed the darkest depths. Maradona, who died Wednesday at the age of 60, became a global icon after leading Argentina to the 1986 World Cup but he was not a squeaky clean idol like Pele, and made little attempt to hide his fiery personality and many vices. “I am black or white, I’ll never be grey in my life,” he once said. Maradona was short, powerful and quick. He was also a ferocious and astute competitor who refused to be intimidated even though many opponents tried. Above all, he was sublimely and imaginatively skilful. “No ball ever had a better experience than when it was at his left foot,” said his Argentina teammate Jorge Valdano. However, while Maradona is remembered for his masterly composure on the ball, he was also famous for his frequent lack of control both on the field and off. He struggled with addiction, notably to cocaine, and with his weight. Diego Armando Maradona was born on October 30, 1960, in Lanus, just outside Buenos Aires, and grew up in one of the poorest areas of the Argentine capital. He made his debut for Argentinos Juniors just before his 16th birthday and his debut for Argentina at age 16 in February, 1977. His career is defined by the World Cup, the four he played in and the one he missed. “I have two dreams,” Maradona told Argentine television at the age of 17. “My first dream is to play in the World Cup. And the second dream is to win it.” Manager Cesar Luis Menotti omitted “El Pibe de Oro” (the golden kid) from his squad in 1978. Argentina, the hosts, went on to win the competition for the first time. The following year, under Menotti, Maradona led Argentina to victory in the under-20 World Cup in Japan, winning the Golden Ball for the tournament’s best player. His senior World Cup debut in 1982 in Spain went badly. Maradona was treated brutally by defenders and ended his tournament with a red card for retaliation as Argentina, already eliminated, lost to Brazil. He atoned four years later, propelling his country to victory in Mexico and making the tournament his own. In the final, Maradona set up the 86th-minute winner against West Germany. He scored twice in the semifinal against Belgium, beating four defenders for the second. But the match that defined his tournament, and possibly his international career, was the 2-1 quarter-final win over England, in which he scored two goals that will be remembered forever — for very different reasons. In the 51st minute, as Peter Shilton reached to catch the ball, Maradona, some seven inches shorter, jumped alongside him and with a deftness that fooled the eye, flicked the ball through the England goalkeeper’s arms and into the net. After the game, Maradona said he scored “a little with the head of Maradona and a little with the hand of God.” Four minutes later, Maradona picked up the ball in his own half, beat six England players, including Shilton, before squeezing home. FIFA later named it the “Goal of the Century.” In 1990 in Italy, almost immobile because of an injury to his much-kicked left ankle, Maradona steered a defensive and limited Argentine team back to the final even though they won just two games and scored only five goals. In a dire final, it took Andreas Brehme’s 85th-minute penalty for West Germany to this time get the better of Maradona. Four years later in the United States, Maradona seemed restored to health. He scored against Greece and celebrated by racing to scream into a TV camera, a disturbing mixture of joy, relief and rage. But he ended his last World Cup like his first, prematurely. After Argentina beat Nigeria in their second group game, Maradona failed a test for ephedrine and was thrown out of the tournament. A similar pattern of wild highs and lows marked Maradona’s club career. Maradona moved to the club he supported, Boca Juniors, in 1981 and won his sole Argentine league title the following season. He left for Barcelona for a world record fee in 1982. He won the Copa Del Rey in his first season but the club only finished fourth in the league. He missed much of the following campaign after Athletic Bilbao’s Andoni Goikoetxea broke his ankle, and when Barca lost to Bilbao in that year’s cup final, Maradona started a spectacular mass brawl, flooring four opponents. Facing a ban in Spain, Maradona moved to Napoli, becoming the first player to break the world transfer record twice. His dazzling play transformed a club from a poor, much-mocked city and led them to their only two Serie A titles. In a whirlwind seven years he fathered an illegitimate child, made friends with the local mafia and enemies of the tax collectors. He also fell deep into cocaine addiction. His tempestuous time in Italy effectively ended in April 1991 when he tested positive for cocaine and was banned for 15 months. He wound down his playing career with one season at Sevilla, one at Newell’s Old Boys and two at his beloved Boca. Over the next two and a half decades he had six short and unsuccessful stints managing clubs in Argentina, the United Arab Emirates and Mexico, and also two fiery years as Argentina coach from 2008-10. Even though Argentina suffered a record 6-1 defeat by humble Bolivia in qualifying, and Maradona was banned for two months at the end of 2009 for an obscene tirade at journalists, he still led the team to the World Cup in South Africa where they won their group before being thrashed 4-0 by Germany in the quarter-finals. All the while, Maradona’s off-field problems continued. He went into drug rehab on several occasions. When he quit cocaine, he binged instead on drink, cigars and food and ended up in hospital in 2007. He was a strident supporter of Cuban leader Fidel Castro, whose image he had tattooed on his shoulder, and Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez. In 2000, FIFA ran an online Player of the Century poll. Maradona gained 54 percent of the vote, Pele was second with 18 percent. FIFA declared them joint winners. Maradona married his long-time girlfriend Claudia Villafane in 1984. They had two daughters, Dalma and Gianinna, and divorced in 2004. He also had a son, Diego Junior, born in Naples in 1986, although he only acknowledged paternity in 2004.