Brian Ortega defeats The Korean Zombie at UFC Fight Night in Abu Dhabi after a two-year absence

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Brian Ortega, left, defeated his opponent Chan Sung Jung via a unanimous decision. (Getty Images/UFC)
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Brazilian Jessica Andrade lifts Katlyn Chookagian on her way a first-round TKO victory in their flyweight bout. (Getty Images/UFC)
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Australian Jim Crute, right, defeated Modestas Bukauskas of Lithuania with knockout after 2:01 of round 1. (Getty Images/UFC)
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James Krause of the US, right, won via a unanimous decision against Brazilian Claudio in their welterweight bout. (Getty Images/UFC)
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Guram Kutateladze, left, defeated Mateusz Gamrot in a lightweight bout. (Getty Images/UFC)
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Updated 18 October 2020

Brian Ortega defeats The Korean Zombie at UFC Fight Night in Abu Dhabi after a two-year absence

  • American fighter awarded a unanimous decision and now has an impressive record of 15-1-0

Brian Ortega produced one of the performances of his career to overcome Chan Sung Jung, “The Korean Zombie”, at UFC Fight Night 3 in Abu Dhabi to move step closer towards a shot at the Featherweight championship belt he craves so much.

The American, ranked 2 in the world and now with an impressive record of 15-1-0, defeated his 33-year-old opponent via a unanimous decision in one of the most anticipated bouts of Fight Island 2, the five-event series that kicked off on September 27 with UFC 253 and will wrap up next weekend with UFC 254.

Ortega had not fought since a fourth round TKO loss against Max Holloway at UFC 231 in December 2018, and had insisted a few days ago that there is no bad blood between him and The Korean Zombie, despite what has been portrayed in the media after a back and forth of trash talk eventually led to him slapping a friend of his opponent at a UFC event last March.

It led to a backlash among some fans, and many wrote his chances off on his return.

“I was counted out,” Ortega said after his win. “I understand, you leave the game for two years, you get counted out. I’m here to remind everyone. It felt great to have this happen again, having your hand raised at this level is important, it’s the number one thing.”

He admitted that sports fandom, especially in mixed martial arts, can be fickle sometimes.

“I’m a Laker fan, I’ve been a Laker since I was a kid, Dodger fan since I was a kid, win or lose, I’m with my team.” the 27-year-old said.

“MMA, I bet you I’ve got a bunch of Korean fans, because they just left Korean Zombie and now, they’re coming to me and then, if I lose, they go to the next person. We have short-term memory fans, I guess. For those of my fans who stayed with me, I love you guys and know that I truly appreciate you guys from the bottom of my heart. For those who switch up, pick someone, stay loyal, make us feel good about what we do.”

Ortega put down his win to a newly found discipline and a solid strategy devised by his team.

“This is the first time I actually stuck to a game plan. Usually I abort game plan my, but we never really had one to begin with, we’d kinda make a semi-one up, but this is the first time I’ve ever had a true game plan, had MMA coaches, not just this coach, that coach. I’ll do what I have to do, in this sport you have to take these chances.”

Just before Ortega’s win at the top of the bill, Brazilian Jessica Andrade defeated Katlyn Chookagian of the US via a first-round TKO in their flyweight bout.

“It’s really good to reach our goals, we train for fights, so many years, we’ve run after this for so long and it’s really good to get in there and get a win and represent my team and my coach so well,” Andrade said.

“I hit her with a punch on her stomach and she yelled out and turned around and for a second I thought that the fight could have been over, but she turned around so I said it’s not over and I went in again and kept hitting her and then the referee stopped it,” the 27-year-old added.  “It was really fun. I had a really good fight week. All happiness, very happy all over when. I used to fight at 135 and that’s how I used to feel, so it felt good. The girls are bigger, but I’m strong and I can go in there and compete with them.”

In a light heavyweight bout, the Australian Jim Crute defeated Modestas Bukauskas of Lithuania with knockout after 2:01 of round 1, and revealed afterwards that he made sure he repeated his opponent after his win.

“I went to walk away again, and I told myself I would never walk away again, I’m glad I learned from my last mistake,” he said. “I’ve done a lot of soul searching and I’ve realized that this world doesn’t revolve around me and there’s two parties in the Octagon. As much as it feels good for me to win, it feels bad for him to lose, so I just wanted to tell him that I’d see him in the top five one day.”

“I thought he was going to leave more openings to be taken down, but he didn’t and I’m sort of glad that he didn’t,” he said. “The biggest thing for me was to not rush and be confident in my abilities and not get too emotional in there like I’ve done in the past. I had a lot of help from a lot of close people, my two coaches over there, my old man, my mom, my strength and conditioning coach.”

Brazilian Claudio Silva lost to James Krause of the US via a unanimous decision in their welterweight bout, and the winner was delighted with his game plan on the night.

“Obviously, I solved the puzzle, so that’s nice,” Krause said. “I’ve got to go back and watch it, but I felt like the fight went just about how I thought it would. I felt like if I got hold of his body early, that would get him tired, and that up-down early in the first, I knew that would get him tired too. So, honestly the fight went about how I thought it would, I would have liked to come out with a finish, but given my circumstances with the 13, 14 days’ notice, I’ll take the win over the guy that’s never been beaten before.”

In the opening fight of the main card, the American featherweight Jonathan Martinez had beaten Thomas Almeida of Brazil.

I’m a big fan of Almeida, took this fight, my coaches believed in me, so I just went in there and had to get my job done, I’m happy,” the winner said. “It was pretty fun, on my Instagram in 2015, I put, ‘Almeida is going to be a world champion one day’, and I fought him, so it’s pretty good. I started seeing how he was throwing just hooks, straight hook, straight hook. I knew I was going to be a lot faster than him, and I’ve seen a couple of his fights, so I just started throwing my jab more and more. 

“I took this fight on eight days’ notice, so I feel good, really good,” Martinez added. “I just want people to know who I am. A lot of people don’t even know who I am, I am here to make statements and climb up the rankings. I just beat Almeida, so hopefully that clicks.

In the prelims, Guram Kutateladze defeated Mateusz Gamrot in a lightweight bout, and revealed afterwards that though he was dedicating the win to his coach, he remained unhappy with his performance. 

“When I’m in the cage, everything looks different, but when you look from the side, it looks different, so I have to look over the fight over again together with my team and work on some small details and make some adjustments,” he said.

“Maybe I got too excited about my UFC debut and I took it too much on my nerves, too much excitement and everything. 

“[It was] a very cool experience, amazing experience, amazing UFC personnel, Performance Institute crew and all this experience is amazing, I’m never going to forget it,” added Kutateladze.

“Thank you, UFC, and thank you for the opportunity that you gave me. I’m very happy and I really appreciate every minute of it. I’m going to call my parents, my sister, my beautiful girlfriend and our son and just talk to them and enjoy that’s it.”

Earlier, Gillian Robertson overcame Poliana Botelho in a women’s flyweight clash; middleweight Jun Yong Park defeated John Phillips via a unanimous decision; Fares Ziam got yet another unanimous call over Jamie Mullarkey in their lightweight bout; and Maxim Grishin beat Gadzhimurad Antigulov via TKO in round 2 of their light heavyweight fight.

The action at Yas Forum had kicked off with Said Nurmagomedov knocking out Mark Striegl after only 51 seconds of their bantamweight bout.

Fight Island 2 will now conclude next weekend, with unbeaten Russian lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov taking on the American Justin Gaethje in the main event.

Guardiola under pressure as City chase elusive crown

Updated 20 October 2020

Guardiola under pressure as City chase elusive crown

  • Despite all their domestic success in recent years, City have never gone beyond the semifinals of the Champions League

LONDON: Pep Guardiola starts his latest bid to lead Manchester City to Champions League glory with the shadows of past failures casting doubt on his ability to secure that elusive title.

City host Porto in their opening Champions League group match on Wednesday with Guardiola's failing in the tournament weighing heavily on both the Spanish boss and his club.

Despite all their domestic success in recent years, City have never gone beyond the semifinals of the Champions League and Guardiola has found the competition equally vexing for much of the last decade.

Since he won the Champions League as Barcelona boss for the second time in 2011, Guardiola has failed to return to the final of Europe's elite club competition.

That nine-year drought includes four years of frustration since he took charge at City in 2016.

In that time, Guardiola has seen City beaten by Monaco in the last 16 and Liverpool, Tottenham and Lyon in the quarterfinals.

He also lost in three semifinals during his time as Bayern Munich manager before moving to City.

Last season's shock 3-1 defeat against Lyon in Lisbon was especially galling as City were heavy favorites against the French side.

Guardiola deserved a large portion of the blame for that letdown after his tactical tinkering appeared to unsettle his players and did nothing to tilt the tie in City's favor.

Interpreted by Guardiola's critics as further proof that his Champions League success at Barcelona was due to the presence of the great Lionel Messi's presence, the only bright side of the Lyon loss was that it was not their farewell to Europe for a while.

For several months last season, it appeared City would not even be competing in the Champions League this term after UEFA gave them a two-year ban from European competitions for Financial Fairplay breaches.

City's legal dream team won that battle and the suspension was eventually thrown out on appeal.

Whether Guardiola can be as successful in Europe as City's Abu Dhabi-based owners were in the court room remains far from certain.

Adding to the unease around City ahead of their European campaign is the unresolved issue of Guardiola's future.

Guardiola is out of contract at the end of the season and has yet to agree on a new deal amid speculation that he may decide to leave the Etihad Stadium in 2021.

For now, Guardiola will focus on Porto's visit to Manchester rather than entertaining questions about his long-term plans.

The 49-year-old insists he has to earn a prolonged stay at City by improving on last season's disappointment, which saw them surrender the Premier League to Liverpool and win only the League Cup.

There have been some worrying signs already as Leicester thrashed City 5-2, while Saturday's 1-0 win against Arsenal was far from convincing.

Significantly, Guardiola was able to welcome back Sergio Aguero last weekend as City's record goalscorer made his first appearance for four months after knee surgery.

City have lacked a cutting edge in Aguero's absence and Guardiola's hopes of a serious Champions League challenge hinge on the Argentine striker staying fit.

"The important thing is that Sergio comes back in good physical condition, starts to get his rhythm, doesn't get more injuries and plays good," Guardiola said.

"We know what he means for us, we know how we appreciate him, but now he has to show like every one of us, me first, that we deserve to continue here and playing good and winning games."