UFC Fight Night — Billy Quarantillo wins a wild one; Augusto Sakai squeaks by

Billy Quarantillo and Spike Carlyle weren’t the biggest names on Saturday’s UFC Fight Night event in Las Vegas — but they sure ended up stealing the show.

Quarantillo (14-2) and Carlyle (9-2) engaged in a wild, three-round affair on Saturday, inside the UFC’s Apex facility in Las Vegas. It was the UFC’s first event back at its home base in Las Vegas since the state of Nevada suspended combat sports indefinitely in March due to the coronavirus pandemic.

In the end, it was Quarantillo who got the nod, as all three judges scored the 150-pound catchweight bout 29-28 in his favor. Carlyle appeared surprised by the scores but did not immediately contest them.

“I never want to leave it in the hands of the judges,” Quarantillo said. “That’s the first decision I’ve gotten in years. He’s a tough kid. I didn’t think his wrestling would be that good. That was a wild fight. I got busted up, he got busted up. You bet your ass, my next fight, I’m going for the kill.”

The fight got off to a mad start from the opening bell as Carlyle sprinted across the Octagon and launched a flying kick at Quarantillo’s face. Carlyle hurt him moments later with standing elbows from the clinch, and followed that with huge shots on the ground.

The first round ended as wildly as it began, as Carlyle inexplicably stood up with about 10 seconds left and started walking back to his corner. Quarantillo chased him down and landed a hard left hook before the round ended. Carlyle appeared to be hurt, but stuck his tongue out toward Quarantillo.

The second frame was the closest of the three. Carlyle won the majority of the wrestling exchanges, but he also began to fatigue and ate a hard knee to his midsection midway through. The third round was all Quarantillo, as Carlyle showed heart but was clearly gassed.

Carlyle falls to 1-1 in the UFC.

Quarantillo, of Tampa, improves to 2-0.

— Brett Okamoto

Watch this fight on ESPN+.

Welterweight: Gilbert Burns (19-3, 12-3 UFC) def. Tyron Woodley (19-5-1, 9-4-1 UFC) by unanimous decision

The UFC has a newly minted welterweight contender.

Gilbert Burns defeated former champion Tyron Woodley via unanimous decision (50-45, 50-44, 50-44) in a complete performance Saturday night in the main event of UFC Las Vegas. Burns nearly finished Woodley in the opening minutes and never let his foot off the gas pedal, winning every single round.

Read the entire story.

Heavyweight: Augusto Sakai (15-1-1, 5-0 UFC) def. Blagoy Ivanov (18-4, 2-3 UFC) by split decision

Two of the three judges at cageside scored the fight for Sakai. But the official who really determined the outcome was referee Jason Herzog.

There were two minutes to go in a rugged standup battle between two tired fighters. Sakai appeared to be the fresher of the two, and he was controlling Round 3 to that point. But then Ivanov, a 2008 world combat sambo champion (he defeated Fedor Emelianenko in that tournament), got hold of the Brazilian along the cage, started to throw him to the canvas … and Sakai grabbed the cage to prevent the takedown.

The fight turned at that moment. Two minutes underneath a rugged grappler like Ivanov could have spelled trouble for an exhausted Sakai. But what might have been did not come to be. As the fighters separated, still on their feet, Herzog paused the action briefly to warn Sakai. He did not deduct a point.

Sakai ended up winning a bizarre split decision, with two judges scoring the bout 29-28 for him and the other seeing it 30-27 for Ivanov. Had the clear foul been penalized as such, the bout would have been a draw.

All fight long, you could hear Ivanov’s punches land to the head and body. You could hear the leg and body kicks from Sakai. But as much as anything, the quiet building put the two heavyweights’ heavy breathing at center stage. It was a grueling fight with a controversial outcome.

For Sakai, it was his sixth straight win. Ivanov lost his second in a row.

“This is what I’ve been waiting for, to be ranked top 10 and now I’m ready to move forward,” Sakai said. “It was extremely hard training during this pandemic but I made the adjustments. I’m very dedicated and my willpower is second to none, I knew I could get the job done.

“I absolutely do not think it was a split decision. I clearly won two rounds and I think it was a mistake by the judges.”

— Jeff Wagenheim

Lightweight: Roosevelt Roberts (10-1, 5-1 UFC) def. Brok Weaver (15-5, 2-1 UFC) by second-round rear-naked choke

One of the UFC’s best lightweight prospects is back on a winning streak. Roberts finished Weaver with a rear-naked choke submission at 3:26 of the second round after dominating the fight in every aspect.

Afterward, Roberts called out Matt Frevola.

Roberts landed several hard right hands in the first round that snapped Weaver’s head back. He also almost snatched a standing guillotine choke, but Weaver escaped.

There would be no escape in the second round. Roberts was able to get Weaver down, slide into mount and then get Weaver’s back. Roberts nearly had two rear-naked chokes prior to the one that led to the tap.

It was a comprehensive performance. Roberts, 26, has won two in a row and four of five in the UFC. The Miami native who trains out of California has eight finishes in 10 pro wins.

Weaver, a 28-year-old Alabama native, had a four-fight winning streak snapped. Weaver missed weight by 1½ pounds Friday.

“I’m the real deal, everybody, all you 155ers out there, I’m ready and I’m about it,” Roberts said. “Whoever wants it, sign that contract, send it over and you know my signature is going to be on there.

“It feels good, this whole COVID-19 thing, I really didn’t know when I was going to fight. [UFC president Dana White] made it happen, so it feels good to come back here and get a finish finally and keep the win streak going. I don’t post a lot of social media, I don’t talk a lot, but just know that when it’s time for me to fight, I’m going to show up and I’m going to fight and bring everything that I got.”

— Marc Raimondi

Watch this fight on ESPN+.

Strawweight: Mackenzie Dern (8-1, 3-1 UFC) defeats Hannah Cifers (10-4, 2-3 UFC) by first-round submission

Dern made it look easy — once the fight hit the canvas. But that didn’t happen until halfway through Round 1, and prior to that she had her hands full with her tough-as-nails opponent.

Cifers was aggressive from the start and appeared to be the stronger fighter in early clinches. During one tie-up against the cage, she controlled Dern’s head and landed a knee to the face.

But Dern was happy to keep the fight at close range, and eventually she turned a clinch at center cage into a hip throw takedown. Even then, though, Cifers managed to reverse position and get on top. But that was still not a good place to be.

Dern, a two-time jiu-jitsu world champion, immediately attacked the left leg, secured a tight kneebar and elicited the quick tapout at 2:36 of the round. The kneebar finish was the 17th in UFC history, the first by a female fighter. The previous two such finishes both came on Sept. 8, 2018, by Aljamain Sterling and Zabit Magomedsharipov — also on a card headlined by Tyron Woodley.

For Dern, the win was a bounce-back from her first career defeat. That loss came on Oct. 12, just four months after the birth of her first child. Dern, 27, fights out of Los Angeles.

Cifers, also 27, is from North Carolina. She lost her second in a row.

Wagenheim

Watch this fight on EPSN+.

Women’s flyweight: Katlyn Chookagian (14-3, 7-3 UFC) def. Antonina Shevchenko (8-2, 3-2 UFC) by unanimous decision

Chookagian might not have been able to take Valentina Shevchenko’s UFC championship, but she sure managed to demolish the champ’s older sister.

Chookagian, 31, thoroughly dominated Antonina Shevchenko over the course of their three-round flyweight bout on Saturday, collecting unanimous judges’ scores of 30-25. It was Chookagian’s first appearance since she came up short in a UFC title bid against Valentina in February.

The story of the fight was Chookagian’s wrestling, which was surprising, considering she had not converted a single takedown in her UFC career going into Saturday’s contest. That streak came to a decisive end, as Chookagian took Shevchenko down in all three rounds and had her way on the floor.

“I’ve never doubted my jiu-jitsu, I’ve trained under John Danaher, I’m a brown belt,” Chookagian said. “I just haven’t been able to show it because the wrestling hasn’t been there.”

Chookagian’s grappling edge was apparent from the opening minute, as she caught a body kick attempt by Shevchenko and turned it into a takedown. She threatened to end the fight with a rear-naked choke several times, but Shevchenko did just enough to survive. Chookagian becomes just the 10th fighter in UFC history to not earn a finish in each of her first 10 fights in the Octagon.

— Okamoto

Watch this fight on ESPN+

Welterweight: Daniel Rodriguez (12-1, 2-0 UFC) def. Gabe Green (9-3, 0-1 UFC) by unanimous decision

Rodriguez landed a left hand. Green continued to push forward. Rodriguez landed a one-two combination. Green kept up the pressure. Rinse, repeat.

Rodriguez gutted out a unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27) in a victory over Green that was much closer than the scorecards indicated. Rodriguez constantly found a home for his big left hand, which left Green’s face bloody. But not once did Green slow down. He was the aggressor throughout, especially late in the bout.

Rodriguez’s best sequence came in the second round when he landed three straight left hands, all clean. He often worked off his jab. Green ate a ton of shots, but still kept the pace high. In the third, he caught Rodriguez with a looping left and a big right. The third was Green’s best round, but Rodriguez still pulled off the win.

“That dude is tough,” Rodriguez said. “He kept coming.”

Rodriguez, 33, has now won eight straight, including his first two fights in the UFC. The Los Angeles-area native trains out of 10th Planet under Eddie Bravo and the BMF Ranch with Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone. Green, a 27-year-old California native, was making his UFC debut. He had his six-fight winning streak snapped.

“This whole time, throughout this whole COVID thing, I stood getting ready, stood working out,” Rodriguez said. “I went to the BMF Ranch because it has everything I need out there. I always stay ready all year around so no matter the opponent I’m always ready.

“For the rest of the year hopefully I can finish out my contract, I got two more fights on my contract, win those, re-sign and just keep fighting. That’s what I do, that’s what I live for. I’m 33 years-old, my main goal is to get as many fights in before the show is over, you know.”

— Raimondi

Watch this fight on ESPN+

Light heavyweight: Jamahal Hill (8-0, 2-0 UFC) defeats Klidson Abreu (15-5, 1-3 UFC) by first-round TKO

Hill entered the night as the only unbeaten fighter in this 11-bout event. He quickly extended his perfect record, needing just 1:51 to earn his second UFC victory and the eighth win of his career overall.

Hill, a 29-year-old out of Grand Rapids, Michigan, lived up to his “Sweet Dreams” nickname by ending Abreu with a slick combination. The southpaw landed a right hook to stun the Brazilian, then dropped him with a knee to the body for his fourth career KO/TKO and third first-round finish.

Abreu was never in the fight. Hill dropped him within the first minute with a straight left followed by a right hook. And from there it was all Hill, who landed crisp punches every time Abreu tried to advance, then ended it with the precise combo.

It was Abreu’s third loss in his past four fights.

“I think I made a statement, I know I’m not somebody to be taken lightly,” Hill said. “A lot of people like to play with my name, but keep on sleeping on me and I’ll let the doctor wake you up.

“I feel like I had an advantage everywhere, I trained everywhere. I’m just getting started, people don’t understand, I’m just getting started. When they really see everything I can do, they’ll get the picture. Just getting sharper, keep steadily improving. I work hard every day, my guys they push me and they work hard to give me everything they have and that just keep propelling me forward.”

— Wagenheim

Watch this fight on ESPN+.

Men’s flyweight: Brandon Royval (11-4, 1-0 UFC) defeats Tim Elliott (16-11-1, 5-9 UFC) by second-round arm triangle

Royval scored an upset submission win over former title challenger Elliott, securing the tap via arm-triangle choke at 3:18 of the second round.

Royval, who fights out of Denver, survived a wickedly high pace set by Elliott, and eventually beat him in the very place Elliott seemed determined to take the fight: the ground. Elliott repeatedly shot into Royval’s hips on the feet, searching for a takedown. He had success doing so throughout, but appeared to gas out from the effort.

The 27-year-old Royval saw his chance for a finish in the second frame, after calmly escaping a loose guillotine attempt by Elliott. He transitioned into full mount and then immediately to the choke on Elliott’s left side. Elliott tapped almost immediately, resulting in the 10th finish of Royval’s career.

“He gassed out, I didn’t look good at all,” said Royval, who admitted he was disappointed in the amount of takedowns he surrendered. “Bad performance.”

Despite the newcomer’s self-criticism, it was a very strong way to begin his UFC career.

Elliott has lost three straight fights, tied for the longest losing streak of his MMA career.

“I want to be able to quit my job first and foremost,” Royval said. “I think I’ve been saying it over and over again, but I want to make this my life. I want to be in the gym. I’m in the gym full-time, but I’m there full-time with like three hours of sleep and I’m working these jobs just so that I can make it and pay my mortgage and all this stuff.

“I want to make MMA my full-time life. I’ve put a lot of work in, I’ve been training since I was 16 years old. I just want to get out of this sport what I put in, I put in a lot of stuff, I put in a lot of love, and I just want to get that out of it. You want to see an exciting fight? Watch me stand up, watch me get comfortable in there. That was actually really cool being out there and feeling the canvas. I’ve never been in the Octagon before, so that was cool.”

— Okamoto

Watch this fight on ESPN+.

Men’s bantamweight: Casey Kenney (14-2-1, 4-2 UFC) defeats Louis Smolka (16-7, 7-7 UFC) by first-round guillotine

It didn’t look a high-percentage submission attempt. Kenney was on top, nowhere near a dominant mount. But he went for a guillotine choke anyway — and Smolka tapped.

Kenney picked up perhaps the biggest win of his career, a submission victory with a guillotine from half guard at 3:03 of the first round. The sequence started with Kenney wobbling Smolka with a right cross. Prior to the finish, it was a back-and-forth battle with both landing good punches.

Smolka was working the body, but Kenney got the job done with a big right hand and slick Brazilian jiu-jitsu.

The bout took place at featherweight, but both are regulars in the bantamweight division

“That’s how I fight,” Kenney told Daniel Cormier afterward. “I come and take your head off — neck, arm, something.”

Kenney, 29, has won three of four in the UFC and seven of his past eight overall. The Arizona resident is a former interim champion in LFA at both bantamweight and flyweight.

Smolka, a 28-year-old Hawaii native, has dropped two of his past three fights.

— Raimondi

Watch this fight on ESPN+.

Men’s featherweight: Chris Gutierrez (15-3-1, 3-1 UFC) defeats Vince Morales (9-5, 1-3 UFC) by second-round TKO

Gutierrez won his third straight fight with a bruising performance, finishing it at 4:27 of Round 2 by dropping Morales with a kick to his lead leg. His other lead leg.

Morales was in a southpaw stance by then, out of necessity. He started out orthodox, but Gutierrez wrecked his left leg with a succession of low kicks throughout the first round.

Morales, his mobility seriously limited, had to switch it up before the first five minutes were over, but that proved to not be a sustainable answer. One last kick to the right calf sent Morales to the canvas, and Jason Herzog mercifully jumped in, something the referee had appeared poised to do for the better part of the round.

That gave Gutierrez, a 29-year-old out of Colorado, the 11th finish by leg kicks in UFC history, according to the promotion. Unofficially, he landed 36 of 45 leg strikes, according to UFC Stats. Overall, Gutierrez’s striking advantage was 60-8.

“A couple fights back I became the first Guatemalan fighter to ever step foot in the Octagon, so just to be making history says a lot and I’m proud to be that person,” Gutierrez said. “I think the No. 1 thing is to be able to adapt and overcome.

“I want to win and be able to help my family.”

Morales has lost three of four in the UFC.

— Wagenheim

Watch this fight on ESPN+.

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UFC Fight Night Tyron Woodley vs. Gilbert Burns — Live results, analysis

The UFC returns to Las Vegas on Saturday night as the fight capital of the world reopens for combat sports with a welterweight main event between former champion Tyron Woodley (19-4-1) and rising challenger Gilbert Burns (18-3).

As well as everything went for the UFC in Jacksonville — 32 total bouts and only one athlete, middleweight Jacare Souza, testing positive for the coronavirus — Las Vegas was always where the UFC hoped to settle in long-term. The company is based in Las Vegas, and the Nevada State Athletic Commission is among the best in the world.

Las Vegas — and, potentially, Fight Island — will be the UFC’s home for the foreseeable future, and this unique chapter of MMA history will begin at the Apex facility on the UFC’s campus.

Woodley hasn’t fought since losing his title to Kamaru Usman via unanimous decision on March 2, 2019. Part of that storyline was Woodley allowing himself to be distracted by things such as releasing a rap album shortly after that fight. But Woodley said he’s been as focused as he’s ever been leading up this bout.

Burns has won five straight and is looking to propel himself into the title conversation.

One thing to look out for is how the smaller 25-foot Octagon — it’s usually 30 feet — will impact the action.

The card will also feature strawweight prospect Mackenzie Dern (7-1) opposite Hannah Cifers (10-4) and former flyweight title challenger Katlyn Chookagian (13-3) against Antonina Shevchenko (8-1), among others.

Brett Okamoto, Marc Raimondi and Jeff Wagenheim offer their analysis and insight for every fight on the card.

Fight in progess

Men’s featherweight: Chris Gutierrez (14-3-1, 2-1 UFC, -115) vs. Vince Morales (9-4, 1-2 UFC, -105)

Still to come

Welterweight: Tyron Woodley (19-4-1, 9-3-1 UFC, -180) vs. Gilbert Burns (18-3, 11-3 UFC, +160)

Heavyweight: Blagoy Ivanov (18-3, 2-2 UFC, -105) vs. Augusto Sakai (14-1-1, 4-0 UFC, -115)

Catchweight (150 pounds): Billy Quarantillo (13-2, 2-0 UFC, -130) vs. Spike Carlyle (9-1, 1-0 UFC, +110)

Lightweight: Brok Weaver (15-4, 2-0 UFC, +260) vs. Roosevelt Roberts (9-1, 4-1 UFC, -320)

Strawweight: Mackenzie Dern (7-1, 2-1 UFC, -440) vs. Hannah Cifers (10-4, 2-2 UFC, +350)

Women’s flyweight: Katlyn Chookagian (13-3, 6-3 UFC, +115) vs. Antonina Shevchenko (8-1, 3-1 UFC, -135)

Welterweight: Daniel Rodriguez (11-1, 2-0 UFC, -380) vs. Gabe Green (9-2, 0-0 UFC, +310)

Light heavyweight: Jamahal Hill (7-0, 2-0 UFC, -120) vs. Klidson Abreu (15-4, 1-2 UFC, +100)

Men’s flyweight: Tim Elliott (16-10-1, 5-8 UFC, -155) vs. Brandon Royval (10-4, 0-0 UFC, +135)

Men’s bantamweight: Louis Smolka (16-6, 7-6 UFC, +230) vs. Casey Kenney (13-2-1, 3-2 UFC, -270)

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Martin Rogan toppled Audley Harrison and fought Tyson Fury during remarkable success story

Martin Rogan tells Sky Sports about proving his worth in Prizefighter, sparring a teenage Tyson Fury, and beating Britain’s Olympic hero.

Armchair fans tend to watch Olympic champions receiving their gold medals on TV with a mix of reverence and awe. Not Belfast’s Rogan. Having never boxed and aged 29, Rogan took in Audley Harrison’s achievement and made what sounded a ridiculous proclamation.

“I was starting to say something and my brother just looked at me and said ‘don’t say it.’ But I said ‘no, wasn’t he [Audley] great. But I believe if I start boxing and I get through the amateurs and if, I turned pro, I’d beat him.'”

Rogan’s brother broke down laughing. But eight years later ‘Rogie’ made good on that prediction, prevailing on points against Harrison in London.

“To fight an Olympic gold medallist in his own land. There I was, the underdog, 37, not boxed for long, the big underdog. I think he tells lies about his height. He says he’s six feet five inches, but he seems taller, like six-seven.”

So, an ageing novice beats a bigger, taller, pedigreed opponent. How does that happen?

“What I did show against Audley was guts, determination and fight. I was catching him and he couldn’t get away. Ian John-Lewis was the referee, a great, nice man and if he’d have given Audley warnings for holding earlier, it would have been over earlier.

“For me to beat him, when I didn’t make it to the 2004 Olympics was great. That fight was my Olympics.”

Rogan’s confidence shouldn’t be confused with disregard for Harrison, who revived interest in Britain’s heavyweight scene.

“Audley shouldn’t be disrespected. He brought the sport back into the limelight.”

https://youtube.com/watch?v=6ENS1njoe2A%3Ffeature%3Doembed

People who’d tracked the early chapters of the Martin Rogan story perhaps wouldn’t have been surprised by the win over Harrison. Three years into taking up amateur boxing, he’d won the Ulster Championship and the Irish Senior title, and even tried to reach the Athens Olympics.

“I went to the qualifiers in 2004. But I ended up against Mariusz Wach, who went on to fight Wladimir Klitschko for his world titles, and unfortunately I got beat,” Rogan recalled.

Given his aptitude and enthusiasm for boxing, you can’t help but wonder, why did he wait so long to try it?

“My mother wasn’t very keen on that (boxing). I’d grown up in west Belfast, with a lot of conflict. She wanted me to be involved in team sport. I played hurling and Gaelic football, which is really physical. I knew I had the ability to go into a contact sport like boxing.”

Indeed, it wasn’t the visceral lure of hand-to-hand combat that drew Rogan in, but boxing’s inherent individualism.

“I was 29 and a half. We lost a hurling semi-final at Cushendun, and everyone was blaming everyone else. That’s the thing in team sport. I thought, ‘I want something for myself. If I win, I win. If I lose, I lose, it’s up to me.’

Three and a half years on from that resolution, after his Olympic dream died at the hands of the Polish giant Wach, Rogan became a professional boxer at the age of 33.

“I was approached by trainer John Breen about going pro, and I said, ‘you know what? I’m going to go for it.”

Not that Rogan gave up his day jobs, just adjusted them to aid his conditioning.

“I was driving a lorry and delivering those big water bottles for the coolers. I’d be running upstairs in buildings with a bottle under each arm to get my fitness up.”

Rogan teamed up with Breen in August 2004 and made his debut that October, stopping Lee Mountford at Ulster Hall.

“The crowd were ecstatic! ‘Who is this guy? Never boxed before!?’ They called me wrecking-ball Rogan,” he says laughing.

Rogan made slow progress from there, moving to 7-0 after three years as a pro. But then he got wind of a new tournament called ‘Prizefighter’ which ignited his career.

“John said, ‘are you sure? These guys in this have been boxing a long time.’ I said, ‘John, if I go into Prizefighter, there’s only one outcome. I’ll win. You train me and I’ll promise, I’ll do it.”

He kept his word. A month before his 37th birthday, in April 2008 he beat Alex Ibbs, David Ferguson and David Dolan to take the title.

Things began to accelerate. Rogan beat Harrison and then arguably hit the high point of his career in February 2009, stopping Matt Skelton to win the Commonwealth title.

“People were telling me, ‘don’t take it Rogie, he’s a bull.’ He’d lost to Ruslan Chagaev for a world title on points. But I said, ‘calm down. It’s not you in there. I’ll beat him. It’ll be a tough fight, but I’ll beat him.”

Tough it was. A gruelling back-and-forth fight unfolded, with Rogan prevailing in the 11th round.

“It was an honour to share the ring with him. Absolutely fantastic. They called him the ‘Bedford Bear’ and in the second round he came over and roared at me, I just yelled straight back at him, ‘raahhhh.’ I think that was the turning point. He realised ‘this man does not fear me, he’s two stone smaller than me but he doesn’t fear me one bit.”

Rogan’s rise through the ranks in his late 30s was even more remarkable given he rarely sparred.

“Sparring wasn’t really for me. I just wanted to unleash, but you’d get told off for that, and I’d just get hit moving around, so I tended to work on things on the bag and watch videos.”

He did recall one memorable session though, when he was asked to spar a 17-year-old called Tyson Fury.

“I looked round and he came in having to duck to get under the door. I couldn’t get over the size of him. We did a couple of rounds. Afterwards, we were sat on the apron ring and I said to him, ‘you should stick to this and no doubt you could become a world champion.”

Fury fulfilled that prophecy, despatching Rogan en route. In April 2012, a month shy of Rogan’s 41st birthday, the pair met at The Odyssey Arena in Belfast for the Irish title. Despite applying early pressure, Rogan lost to a fifth-round body shot, although maintains he should have been allowed to battle on.

Fury chose to fight Rogan in a southpaw stance, showcasing the skills that have since bedazzled the world’s best. But Rogan is adamant that Fury’s power is arguably his greatest and most underused asset.

“When Tyson Fury jabs you, you stay hit for at least 30 seconds. I think Tyson would stop Anthony Joshua in six rounds, if he leans into his punches. If Tyson Fury would take some advice from an old man like me, the amount of power he has is frightening.”

Rogan’s remarkable career as one of the sport’s underdogs is an inspiration to any would-be boxers, but the 49-year-old also hopes that his achievements transcended any divides in his home city.

“I grew up on the green, white and orange side of the Peace Wall. People on the other side would be red, white and blue. But it comes down to personality. If you’re nice to me, I’ll be nice to you.

“When people go to boxing, they just support the boxer.”

Six years have passed since Rogan last boxed, a loss to Michael Sprott in another three-round tournament in New Zealand. His career record reads 16-6, spread over 10 improbable years.

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WBC chief Sulaiman reveals he is 'excited' about Mike Tyson's comeback

‘I am supporting it 100%’: WBC president Mauricio Sulaiman reveals he is ‘very excited’ about Mike Tyson’s mooted boxing comeback… but insists the 54-year-old’s return will be handled with ‘absolute care’

  • Mike Tyson, 54, is rumoured to be planning a boxing comeback this year 
  • The former world heavyweight champion has been in training during lockdown
  • WBC president Mauricio Sulaiman has backed ‘icon’ Tyson to return to the sport
  • Yet Sulaiman did make the point that his return needs to carry ‘no additional risk’
  • Here’s how to help people impacted by Covid-19

WBC president Mauricio Sulaiman has backed Mike Tyson’s comeback to boxing, but emphasised that his return would be handled with ‘absolute care’ from a medical standpoint. 

The 54-year-old has been training during the coronavirus lockdown, sparking speculation about an exhibition return, with a trilogy fight against Evander Holyfield mooted by both camps. 

This week, Tyson made an appearance at an TNT Pro Wrestling event but it is his return to the boxing ring which has left fans, and the WBC president, excited.  

WBC president Mauricio Sulaiman is excited about the prospect of Mike Tyson’s comeback

The 54-year-old has been sharing videos of his intense workouts during the current lockdown

‘I am very excited, very happy,’ Sulaiman told Boxing Social

‘He has brought great positive attention to the sport. Why? Because Mike Tyson is a hero and an icon.

‘He fell in very difficult times, as many has done, and now it’s boxing that is bringing him back.’

However, though keen for the former undisputed heavyweight champion of the world to return, Sulaiman insisted that Tyson’s return would be handled with care, given his 15-year absence from the sport.  

The 54-year-old has been out of action for 15 years, having retired from boxing in 2005

‘Of course, it will be with the absolute care of the medicals, of the testing, the complete protocol to make sure whoever is in the ring is in top shape and has no additional risk. 

‘I am supporting it 100% and if someone wants to say he wants to fight for the title, I will say he will and the WBC will be there!’

UFC president Dana White insists his old friend Tyson is planning a boxing comeback as rumoured, saying his team have ‘something big’ lined up.  




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WBC would allow Mike Tyson to fight for heavyweight title against Tyson Fury

Mike Tyson’s comeback has received the full support of World Boxing Council president Mauricio Sulaiman, even backing the 53-year-old to take part in a heavyweight title fight.

Iron Mike announced his intention to return to boxing earlier this month, uploading a series of images and clips showing his age-defying physique and ferocious power, and he intends to fight some huge names in exhibition bouts for charity.

Even reigning WBC heavyweight champ Tyson Fury recently revealed he had received an offer to fight his namesake and Sulaiman says he would not oppose a title fight for the veteran American if he comes through his exhibition matches unscathed.

Speaking to Boxing Social, the WBC president explained: ‘Mike is Mike Tyson and I played around a few days ago, they kept asking, “Are you going to rank him?”

‘To rank Mike Tyson he would have to have a license, he would have to fight, he would have to have a real fight to do a process, and I said, “Well if Mike Tyson was the youngest ever to capture the world title, maybe he’ll be the oldest” and that made a few people smile.

‘Mike Tyson is Mike Tyson, he’s got a history, punching power like few in the whole world. I believe his intentions are to be praised, to do something with his body. You see the pictures, how he blew up and now you see him right now, you see he’s shining on his face. I love that, and that’s boxing.

‘So if he comes and does exhibitions and charity to give money to those who need it, absolute full support. Then if that leads to something, we will see. He will have to have a license, so many things need to happen before we entertain the idea of him fighting for the world title.

‘He’s 53 years old and it is just a matter of understanding the need of expectation that boxing media and boxing fans have. So I am having a lot of fun with it, I am supporting it 100%, and if someone wants to say he is going to fight for the title, I would say, “He will!” and the WBC will be there.’

He continued: ‘It has brought great, positive attention to the sport. Why? Because Mike Tyson is a hero, an icon.

‘He fell into very difficult times, as many have done, and now it’s boxing that is bringing him back in fitness, he’s feeling great, he’s feeling mentally enthusiastic. And to do what he’s planning to do, an exhibition match to create funds for charity, there’s nothing more positive than that.

‘Since day one we of course supported, and will support, anything that has to do with Mike Tyson’s activity in that regard. So I’m very excited and to see exhibitions is fun.

‘And of course it will be with the absolute care of the medicals and the testing and the complete protocol to make sure whoever is in the ring is in top shape and has no additional risks. With headgear, 18oz gloves, so very entertaining, very fun.’

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Tony Bellew explains if he came close to fighting UFC champion Michael Bisping

Tony Bellew has revealed that talks to face UFC champion Michael Bisping came to nothing partly because his potential opponent preferred to meet in the boxing ring.

British pair Bellew and Bisping each finally became world champions of their respective sports late in their careers and their paths nearly crossed.

Bellew told Sky Sports: “I met with guys from IMG who own the UFC, buying it from the Fertitta brothers. I saw them in Las Vegas, spoke a couple of words with them, and it was quite apparent that it would never happen.

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“I wasn’t going to get what I wanted to take the risk that I would have to take.

“Michael wanted to do it in the boxing ring. I said: ‘There’s just no point at all because that would be a massacre!’

“I’m a huge fan of Bisping. If he gets me in the cage? If I clip him before he gets me on the floor? He’s a legend, the greatest mixed martial artist that has ever come out of the UK.

“He’s brilliant, so charismatic. He paved the way for UFC fighters from the UK. He opened the doors and showed them the way.

“We have another amazing fighter in Darren Till from Liverpool who is hot on his tail but there is a fair way to go. Darren is only a baby in the MMA world.

“There are so many exciting guys in the UFC, the fights are always fantastic. There is only one [governing body] in control. One man, Dana White, is in control. It makes it easy to make big fights happen.”


Dillian Whyte and UFC heavyweight Francis Ngannou have exchanged challenges in the past week but Bellew insists they would have to agree to an MMA fight to make it competitive.

“Ngannou stands zero chance in a boxing ring,” Bellew said. “It is a completely different sport with a completely different set of rules and totally different technique. Boxing is so different to MMA and Ngannou doesn’t stand a hope in boxing.

“In a cage? I make it 60-40 in Ngannou’s favour because he has experience with small gloves.

“Dillian is massively improved, he’s not 18-years-old swinging for the lights. He is established and ready to be world champion. The most improved heavyweight. He massively deserves his shot. He is someone I enjoy watching – like an old-school fighter he’d fight anyone, anywhere.

“But you’re on a hiding to nothing [in MMA] if you fight someone who is pretty good on the floor.

“I give Dillian every chance in a cage. It is easy pickings for him in a boxing match, a one-sided beating. In a cage Ngannou is the favourite but I give Whyte the greatest chance of any boxer going into a cage.

“It’s a great match-up because Ngannou isn’t a great wrestler, he doesn’t go to the ground much, he just has a fight with his fists.

“Dillian is on another level with his punches. If Ngannou thinks he hits hard, believe me, that if Dillian hits anyone with 4oz gloves they will go to sleep straight away.

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UFC fighter lashes out over rival’s ‘strip tease’

A war of words has erupted outside the Octagon after an MMA fighter’s TikTok contribution was a little too risque for her rival’s liking.

Macy Chiasson came out swinging after Valerie Loureda posted a video clip to her social media channels showing her mixing a few dance moves with some air punches.

Wearing leggings and a sports bra, Loureda was having a bit of fun in the gym but Chiasson wasn’t laughing.

Responding to the video on Twitter, Chiasson, who is 6-1 in her professional MMA career with a last-start win against Shanna Young at a UFC Fight Night in February, felt compelled to speak up.

“Lol I f***ing can’t anymore,” she wrote.

“Is this the message we want to continue to convey to not only our future leaders but to the disgusting already misogynistic dudes out here.

“Are we here to fight and be role models or are we here for male followers and strip teases.”

Chiasson’s criticism sparked a bitter back-and-forth between the pair on Twitter as Loureda hit back.

Loureda: “Girl by putting other women down you’re contradicting yourself. Who said I do anything for my male followers? I have been fighting since I was 2 years old and just like you have other interests like tattoos I like to dance. Lmao simple.”

Chiasson: “I’m all for women being strong and sexy but this really isn’t it. You’re in your mma gear at your gym. Gloves, mouth piece and shin guards on. You’re portraying the wrong message to people who watch this sport. You’re portraying that this is what women’s mma is about.”

Loureda: “Nah it shows you can be strong feminine and sexy and still be a bad b***h in a male dominated industry. #facts.”

Chiasson: “But … are you tho? Some of us actually care about the quality of women’s mma and women’s sports in general. You’re selling sex not mma.”

Loureda: “I’m selling sex because I was born with a different body than you and im Hispanic? LOL I fight in a cage just like you do, when I’m not in a cage I’m extremely feminine and I was born like that. Stop hating lol.”

Chiasson: “Yes. You fight in a cage but not like I do and don’t talk to me like I don’t know what femininity means.”

Loureda: “Girl do you and stop harassing other woman who embrace their ‘femininity’ period.”

Chiasson: “Based on what you’ve said. Your definition of embracing femininity is very narrow and that’s really sad. Again, you know nothing about my femininity. It’s really sad.”

In response to other Twitter users, Chiasson doubled down on her view Loureda was “selling sex rather than MMA” but denied she was “s**t-shaming” her.

“I’m almost positive men’s MMA didn’t grow spectators from ridiculous stuff like this,” Chiasson wrote.

“I just think there’s a fine line between using sex to make yourself legitimate on the MMA platform vs using sexy content in addition to being a legit fighter.”

Loureda has been out of action since her win over Larkyn Dasch last June at Bellator 222. She was scheduled to make her comeback at Bellator 238 in January, but missed out due to injury.

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Dana White reveals if Conor McGregor will face Kamaru Usman for welterweight title

Conor McGregor will not challenge Kamaru Usman for the welterweight title, UFC president Dana White has revealed. This past weekend, the promotion’s first simultaneous two-weight world champion was surprisingly offered the opportunity to vie for the 170lb crown.

Usman’s manager, Ali Abdelaziz, publicly offered McGregor the chance to become the UFC’s first three-weight world champion on Twitter after seeing No.1 contender Jorge Masvidal shift his attention to a trilogy fight with Nate Diaz.

Usman initially mocked the prospect of him sharing the cage with McGregor but quickly performed a U-turn, telling ESPN he’d be willing to give McGregor the opportunity to create history.

The prospect of a Usman vs McGregor match-up was put to White during an appearance on ESPN’s SportsCenter.

White, unsurprisingly, was quick to shoot down the bout, insisting Usman’s second title defence will either be against Masvidal, Colby Covington or Leon Edwards.

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“The next title fight for Usman is gonna be one of these guys: It’s gonna be Colby, Masvidal, Edwards.

“It’s gonna be one of those guys. It’s not gonna be Conor McGregor.”

Somewhat surprisingly, McGregor has not publicly responded to last weekend’s welterweight title fight offer.

And Usman, like some others, has interpreted his silence as a sign he’s not as keen on the fight as he made out earlier this year.

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“I’m gonna give him the opportunity, if Conor wants, let’s do it,” Usman told ESPN. “Conor’s quiet now. Who says no to a title shot?

“I’ve never seen this in history, who says no when the champ says come and get your title shot?”

“Unless you know you have no chance in hell of winning,” he said. “This might change the landscape of your fighting career ever.

“That’s the only chance I can see people saying ‘I’m going to pass on that title shot right there.'”

McGregor, 31, returned from a 15-month layoff in January in the main event of UFC 246 in Las Vegas, where he locked horns with Donald Cerrone in a welterweight match-up.

‘The Notorious’ decimated Cerrone in 40 seconds to claim his first victory in over three years and become the first fighter in UFC history to secure stoppage wins in the featherweight, lightweight and welterweight divisions.

McGregor has set his sights on two more fights this year, with a July return currently his preference for the second outing of his 2020 “season”.

Ireland’s first UFC champion has set his sights on a clash with Justin Gaethje, although the newly-crowned interim lightweight champion’s crosshairs are firmly fixed on a unification fight with undisputed titleholder Khabib Nurmagomedov.

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Tyson Fury’s trainer offers advice to Deontay Wilder for trilogy fight

Deontay Wilder must be more aggressive in his trilogy fight with Tyson Fury, according to the heavyweight world champion's own coach.

Fury stopped Wilder in the seventh round of their rematch in February having himself taken the fight to the American.

The rivals are due to meet again later this year with the fight pushed back until November or December due to the coronavirus crisis.

And Andy Lee, who joined Fury's team alongside head coach SugarHill Steward, has offered Wilder words of advice.

"He has to try and be more aggressive and improve his balance, which is not an easy thing to do," he told Boxing Scene.

"He was taken aback by Tyson’s pressure. When a big man is coming at you like that, it feels like you’re in quicksand.

"It’s something he needs to be working on now, even, when there is nothing happening [because of coronavirus]. I’ve watched the fight several times, and his balance did not look good to me.

"I know he’s had a lot of excuses, but maybe there was some issue. I think he definitely got his ear drum busted, which would affect your balance.

"I heard they are bringing Joe Goossen into his camp. That would be a good move. He’s a good, respected trainer."

Fury and Wilder had hoped to meet in Las Vegas again for their third meeting but it is now set to take place in China or Australia.

And Lee believes Fury will improve again for the third fight, as he did between the pair's first meeting in 2018 and their rematch.

"[Wilder and Fury] looked like two completely different fighters compared to how the first fight went," he added.

"Tyson has a jab that will damage. He’s made huge improvements. The thing is, he’s only going to continue to improve and get better and better."

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Mike Tyson sparks huge brawl with AEW legend Chris Jericho and makes challenge

Mike Tyson made a huge impact on All Elite Wrestling as tensions with Chris Jericho hit boiling point.

The Baddest Man On The Planet made his debut for the rising promotion over the weekend at the Double Or Nothing pay-per-view, but it’s his second appearance on last night’s episode of Dynamite which will get everyone talking.

Iron Mike and his crew – including including UFC stars Henry Cejudo and Rashad Evans, and MMA legend Vitor Belfort – made their way to the ring to face off with Chris Jericho’s Inner Circle at the end of last night’s show.

The former AEW Champion channel warned the boxing legend: ‘I’m gonna say this to you once Tyson – shut your mouth when I’m talking to you. Huh, you understand me?

‘I have been dreaming of this moment for 10 years. You turned on me. You looked me in the eye and said I could trust you. You turned on me, and you knocked on me out.’

https://youtube.com/watch?v=ogEdKuwxJd0%3Fversion%3D3%26rel%3D1%26fs%3D1%26autohide%3D2%26showsearch%3D0%26showinfo%3D1%26iv_load_policy%3D1%26wmode%3Dtransparent

Jericho was referring to the pair’s infamous clash in WWE a decade ago, and Tyson said the star deserved the beating.

The wrestler gave the boxer one chance to apologise for what he did, but it’s safe to say things didn’t go to plan.

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