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Gary Neville exposes United’s transfer decision on Donny Van De Beek

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Gary Neville has given the hint that Man United invested £40million for midfielder Donny Van de Beek, not because he was needed but because they feared Paul Pogba would leave and wanted to have him replaced before his exit.

Paul Pogba has been unsettled at Old Trafford for many years as he has been linked with moves away but be seems to be experiencing a revival in the last few matches, with some pointing to his improved form coming after the remarkable intervention from his agent Mina Raiola in December, who claimed his United career was ‘over’.

Neville, wondering why the Red Devils invested in the Dutch star, who has barely featured at Old Trafford, having started only two Premier League games and scored just once in the opening game of the season in September. The 23-year-old has not featured at all in the league since United’s 6-2 thrashing of Leeds on 20 December.

His words “It’s interesting, something’s happened – the (Donny) Van de Beek signing’s an interesting one – I still can’t get my head around it,’ Neville said on Sky Sports on Sunday ahead of the Liverpool v Manchester United game.

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“It’s almost as if that signing was sort of done in anticipation of one of the others leaving because Van de Beek has just sat on the bench for the last few months and he cost £40million.

“I think that Manchester United are preparing for someone leaving. Maybe Pogba could leave, so they’ve already got Van de Beek in to maybe assume that role.”

Van De Beek has hardly been seen with pundits and former Man United layer urging him to leave the club or be assured of regular playing time.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has defended critics of Van de Beek and his lack of game time, saying “There are so many examples of players needing a little bit of time, quality players, we have many examples ourselves and there are other clubs with examples and sometimes it takes time,’ Solskjaer said about the Dutchman.

“You don’t expect people who care for him to be quiet at times, especially when they want the best for them. I’ve spoken to him and made him aware of how much we rate him.”

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However, Gary Neville confessed that Paul Pogba has been returned to the team on merit given his current form after sitting on the bench for a couple of games earlier in the season.

‘I think now, the way Paul Pogba’s playing and the way Manchester United’s season is going, there’s no one going to come in in January and buy Paul Pogba; I don’t think Manchester United would let him go.’

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Manchester United Transfer News

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Manchester United Transfer news

Transfer news brings you information about transfer speculations across from Old Trafford. Today’s news covers the details about Marcus Rashford, Kylian Mbappe, Jarrad Branthwaite, and Jadon Sancho’s reluctance to return to Manchester United.

PSG prepares £75 million offer for Marcus Rashford

Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) isn’t wasting a second after the bombshell news of Kylian Mbappe’s imminent departure to Real Madrid. They’ve set their sights on Manchester United’s Marcus Rashford as his replacement and are ready to splash out £75 million to secure him. 

Despite United valuing Rashford closer to £100 million, PSG sees an opportunity, especially with Rashford’s recent struggles both on and off the field. 

His disciplinary issues and a dip in form this season have made him vulnerable to PSG’s advances. Despite Rashford’s past commitment to United, PSG believes they can sway him, offering not only a fresh start but also a chance to fill Mbappe’s shoes. 

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The move could also benefit United financially, providing them flexibility under the strict spending regulations. However, PSG faces competition from Napoli’s Victor Osimhen. 

Rashford’s potential departure marks a turning point for both clubs, with PSG eyeing a coup and United potentially gaining financial leverage.

Old Trafford plot Jarrad Branthwaite Transfer

Manchester United’s new co-owner, Sir Jim Ratcliffe, is eyeing Everton’s rising star, Jarrad Branthwaite, as a top priority for the upcoming summer transfer window. 

Manchester United Transfer news

At just 21 years old, Branthwaite has turned heads with his performances despite his limited appearances for Everton. United’s scouts and manager Erik ten Hag are impressed, seeing Branthwaite as a solution to their defensive woes, especially with Raphael Varane’s likely departure and uncertainty surrounding Harry Maguire. 

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Real Madrid is also keeping tabs on talented defenders. Although Everton values him at £75 million, United hopes to negotiate a lower price, considering his youth and potential. Everton’s financial troubles may force them to sell, making Branthwaite a viable target. 

Despite signing a long-term contract, Branthwaite’s inclusion in England’s senior squad highlights his growing reputation. United’s pursuit of Branthwaite adds excitement to the transfer season, promising fans a potential game-changer for the team’s future.

Jadon Sancho Reluctant to return to Old Trafford

Jadon Sancho’s return to Borussia Dortmund has sparked more than just nostalgia—it’s ignited a fiery determination to sever ties with Manchester United for good. Frozen out by manager Erik ten Hag at Old Trafford over a training ground tiff, Sancho found sanctuary back in Dortmund on loan. 

Now, with his sights set on a permanent move, he’s resolute in his decision to avoid a reunion with Ten Hag, whom he blames for his career’s rocky patch. The winger’s recent goal-scoring prowess for Dortmund is a testament to his potential, but his stint at United saw him fall short of expectations. 

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Manchester United Transfer news

Despite the financial hurdles, Sancho’s desire for a fresh start in Germany remains unwavering. With Dortmund’s coach, Edin Terzic, and sporting director, Sebastian Kehl, eager to retain his services, a cut-price deal with United could be on the cards.

For Sancho, it’s not just about finding a new team—it’s about reclaiming his confidence and reigniting the spark that made him one of Europe’s most promising talents.

Conclusion

Rashford is set to replace Kylian Mbappe as the French star is poised to move to Spain’s capital, Santiago Bernabeu, at the end of the season. Sir Jim Ratcliffe is prioritizing the signing of Everton youngster Jarrad Branthwaite.

Jadon Sancho is happy to be back at Borussia Dortmund and is unwilling to return to Old Trafford after a disastrous campaign.

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Should Rashford choose to leave United and follow the likes of Beckham and Harry Kane, Man United needs to find a replacement, and who would that be? 

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Manchester United Injury News

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Manchester United Player

Manchester United are having a terrible EPL campaign due to injury woes. Players like Lisandro Martinez, Tyrell Malacia, Luke Shaw, Harry Maguire, and Anthony Martial are injured. 

Here we bring you The Red Devil’s injury update as some key players are set to return ahead of schedule.

Rasmus Hojlund is set to return against Liverpool this weekend

Exciting news for Manchester United fans! Rasmus Hojlund, the 21-year-old sensation, is gearing up for a triumphant return just in time for their FA Cup showdown against Liverpool. Can you feel the anticipation building?

Hojlund’s incredible form lit up the pitch and gave hope to the fans. Scoring goals left, right, and centre before an unfortunate muscle strain sidelined him in February. But fear not because he’s been on the road to recovery, and it looks like he’ll be back just when United need him most.

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Denmark’s coach, Kasper Hjulmand, spilled the beans, confirming that Hojlund is set to feature in their upcoming matches against Switzerland and the Faroe Islands. And guess what? He’s been in touch with United, ensuring everything’s on track for Hojlund’s grand comeback against Liverpool.

But it’s not just about the FA Cup glory. United’s top-four hopes hang in the balance, and Hojlund’s return couldn’t come at a better time, especially after recent setbacks against Fulham and Manchester City.

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Harry Maguire is set to return ahead of the date.

Mason Mount Set to Return 

Mason Mount’s journey at Manchester United has been quite the rollercoaster ride.  It has highs, lows, and a fair share of setbacks. Fans have eagerly anticipated his magic on the pitch since he arrived from Chelsea last summer for a hefty price tag of £60 million. However, the midfielder’s been a tough road, especially with injuries throwing a wrench in his plans.

Mount’s time on the sidelines began in early November when a calf injury forced him to watch from the sidelines as his teammates battled on without him. Despite hopes for a quick return, his comeback has been delayed, leaving fans and coach Erik ten Hag anxiously waiting for news of his return.

During his absence, United has felt the absence of Mount’s spark and creativity in midfield. The team has faced its fair share of challenges, needing to maintain consistency and falling short in crucial moments. But with Mount back in training, fans have renewed hope that his return could be the catalyst for a turnaround in fortunes.

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It’s been a frustrating wait for Mount, who has had to endure months of rehabilitation and setbacks. But now, as he steps back onto the training pitch, there’s a sense of optimism in the air. With upcoming fixtures against tough opponents like Liverpool and Brentford, Mount’s return couldn’t come at a better time.

Aaron Wan-Bissaka Spot in Training Ahead of Liverpool Game

Manchester United’s Aaron Wan-Bissaka has made a welcome return to training after a two-month absence due to a leg injury, missing the past nine games. 

Manager Erik ten Hag hinted at his availability for the FA Cup clash against Liverpool. With Wan-Bissaka back, Victor Lindelof’s stint at left back may end, easing the strain caused by Luke Shaw’s injury.

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The return of fullbacks like Wan-Bissaka gives the coach more options, as Ten Hag expressed frustration over the absence of a left back. Despite injuries to Shaw, Lisandro Martinez, and Anthony Martial, Ten Hag expects Harry Maguire to recover for the Liverpool match.

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Conclusion 

Good tidings to the camp of Manchester United as they are set to have a fuller camp against Liverpool. Rasmus Hojlund may return sooner than initially announced, and Aaron Wan-Bissaka.

Mason Mount has returned to training after four months without action. Harry Maguire is expected to make a full comeback at the FA Cup Quarter-final.

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Everything You need to know about Colby Covington

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Colby Covington is an American MMA powerhouse nicknamed “Chaos,” creating ripples in the UFC’s welterweight division.

With a notable record of 17 wins and four losses, Covington’s victories include four knockouts, four submissions, and nine decisions, countered by one knockout loss, one submission loss, and two decision losses. 

Brace yourself for a deep dive into the captivating world of the former interim UFC Welterweight Champion and one of the best trash talkers in UfC history.

Early life

Born on February 22, 1988, in Clovis, California, Colby Covington’s family relocated to Oregon when he was eight.

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His father, a wrestler at the Oregon Institute of Technology and Southern Oregon University, likely played a significant role in inspiring Covington’s early interest in the sport. 

This familial connection to wrestling added depth to Covington’s journey, contributing to his success in collegiate wrestling and later in his professional MMA career.

UFC Career

He transitioned to a full-time mixed martial arts career after his family moved to Oregon, where he joined the American Top Team; he entered the UFC in 2014.

In his UFC debut at Fight Night 48, Colby Covington delivered a first-round TKO against Anying Wang in 2014. He continued his success with a submission victory over Wagner Silva at Fight Night 56. 

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He stepped in for Sean Spencer at UFC 187, and Covington secured a unanimous decision against Mike Pyle.

Despite a setback with a first-round submission loss to Warlley Alves at UFC 194, he bounced back with a third-round submission triumph against Jonathan Meunier at UFC Fight Night 89.

Colby Covington’s UFC journey is a tale of triumphs and challenges. Victories over Tyron Woodley.

Notable Career milestones 

  • UFC 225 – June 9, 2018: The Interim UFC Welterweight Championship was collected by defeating Rafael dos Anjos via unanimous decision.
  • UFC on ESPN 5 – August 3, 2019: Achieved a record for the most strikes thrown in a UFC bout while securing a unanimous decision against Robbie Lawler.
  • UFC Fight Night 178 – September 19, 2020: Dominated Tyron Woodley for four rounds, leading to a technical knockout victory.
  • UFC 272 – March 5, 2022: Engaged in a Fight of the Night against Jorge Masvidal, winning unanimously.
  • UFC 245 – December 14, 2019: Despite a broken jaw in the third round, Covington fought valiantly against Kamaru Usman, losing via fifth-round technical knockout.
  • UFC 268 – November 6, 2021: In a close bout, Covington faced a unanimous decision loss to Kamaru Usman in their rematch.
  • UFC 296 – December 16, 2023: Marking his return after nearly two years, Covington lost a unanimous decision to Leon Edwards for the UFC Welterweight Championship.

Career Achievement

  • Colby Covington holds the Interim UFC Welterweight Championship and has earned Fight of the Night twice.
  • Notable for his strategic wins, including the most significant strikes in a Welterweight bout (179), Covington boasts a professional record of 17 wins and four losses. 
  • His UFC records include the second-highest number of takedowns (69) in the division’s history and rank among the top in control time and total strikes landed in the Welterweight division.

Colby Covington

Outside the Octagon

Colby Covington is a vocal Republican and devout Christian who believes in prayer. He presented the Interim UFC Welterweight Championship to former President Donald Trump at the White House on August 2, 2018. 

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After defeating Tyron Woodley, Covington dedicated the win to first responders and the military while criticizing Black Lives Matter and LeBron James, in contrast to Woodley’s support for the movement. 

He is single and has a net worth of about  $4 million.

Conclusion

Colby Covington’s impactful journey in MMA, marked by victories, controversies, and a distinct persona, showcases his memorable presence in the sport. 

Beyond the octagon, his unwavering political stance and dedication to his faith contribute to a multifaceted identity.

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Covington’s ongoing narrative promises to keep fans engaged as he leaves an enduring imprint on professional fighting.

 

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Fighter Spotlight: Valentina Shevchenko

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Valentina Shevchenko is currently the best pound-for-pound female MMA Fighter and Female Flyweight after Zhang Wieli and Alexa Grasso, respectively.

From Bishkek’s streets to the UFC octagon’s bright lights, Valentina “Bullet” Shevchenko’s journey is a tale of raw determination and martial arts mastery.

Born on March 7, 1988, in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, Shevchenko’s initiation into combat sports began at age five under the watchful eye of her mother, Elena Shevchenko, a Muay Thai legend.

Valentina Shevchenko Early Childhood

Shevchenko’s striking prowess flourished under her mother’s rigorous tutelage, winning multiple Muay Thai championships, including the IFMA World Muay Thai Championships in 2009 and 2010. 

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The image of a young Valentina, tirelessly training in Muay Thai in her mother’s backyard, captures the essence of her early years and the foundation of her combat skills.

The Bullet MMA Journey

In 2013, Shevchenko entered the MMA arena, quickly establishing herself with a triumphant professional debut. Her seamless transition showcased her striking finesse and a newfound grappling dimension. 

The Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) took notice, and in 2015, Shevchenko made her UFC debut, leaving a trail of defeated opponents in her wake.

The defining moment came on December 8, 2017, when Shevchenko faced Joanna Jędrzejczyk in a five-round spectacle, clinching the UFC Women’s Flyweight Championship. 

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This victory began a reign of masterful title defenses against Jessica Eye, Katlyn Chookagian, and a historic rematch with Amanda Nunes.

UFC Career Highlights 

Valentina Shevchenko boasts an impressive mixed martial arts record of 23-4-1, with a well-rounded display of skills reflected in her eight knockout victories, seven submission wins, and seven decisions. 

As the reigning UFC Women’s Flyweight Champion, her journey from a debut fight at 15 to dominating the UFC stage is marked by notable achievements.

Her early career showcased victories with methods ranging from TKO to submissions like armbars. She made her UFC debut on December 19, 2015, at UFC 196, securing a unanimous decision win. 

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From there, a series of triumphs followed, including a head kick and punches TKO at UFC 231 and a retirement-induced TKO at UFC 238.

Valentina Shevchenko

A pivotal moment in Valentina’s career came on December 8, 2017, when she claimed the UFC Women’s Flyweight Championship unanimously at UFC 231 on Fox 25. 

Her most recent victory, a TKO via punches at UFC 275 on June 11, 2022, solidifies her status as a dominant force in the UFC’s Flyweight division. 

Valentina Shevchenko has an impressive record of 23-4-1.

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Fighting style

Her fighting style, a mesmerizing blend of Muay Thai precision and calculated counter-striking, showcased her technical brilliance and adaptability. 

Each defense of her title was a testament to her relentless pursuit of perfection and ability to conquer diverse fighting styles.

Life outside the Cage

Valentina Shevchenko’s multifaceted persona extends beyond the octagon. Fluent in Kyrgyz, Russian, Spanish, and English. 

Her net worth is estimated at around 5 million USD as of September 2023. This reflects her athletic success and lucrative endorsement deals with companies like GuardLab, Brownells, Dapper Scrappers, LUCHO Shoes, Girls with Guns Clothing, VEOSPORT, and Smith & Wesson Corp.

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Unsurprisingly, The Bullet is a gun enthusiast, as evidenced by her nickname, and deals with Brownells and Smith & Wesson Corp. She indulges this passion in pistol shooting competitions. 

Valentina Shevchenko with a riffle

The Bullet with a gun

Her diverse interests include collecting antique firearms, dancing, and playing guitar. Despite her high-profile career, Shevchenko maintains a private personal life and is currently not in any relationships. 

She also holds an undergraduate degree in film directing and the title of Honored Professor from the National Academy of Arts. 

She featured in EA Sports UFC games and showcased her acting prowess in Netflix’s “Bruised” alongside Halle Berry.

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Greatest Fights in UFC History

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Greatest fight in UFC history

The greatest fights in UFC history are full of memorable moments, outstanding performances, and a display of resilience and grit.

The UFC has seen its fair share of such unforgettable moments, with these fights standing out as some of the best in the promotion’s history. 

From epic comebacks to technical masterclasses, here’s a look at some of the greatest fights ever.

  • UFC Greatest Fights : UFC 62

Most people believe this bout put the UFC on the mainstream map. To put it more eloquently, the first encounter between Forrest Griffin and Stephan Bonnar was nothing short of a war. 

Both fighters left everything inside the Octagon in a display of heart, determination, and skill. The back-and-forth battle showcased the raw essence of MMA, with Griffin securing a close unanimous decision victory. 

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This fight is often credited with saving the UFC from potential collapse and is a cornerstone in the promotion’s history. According to Dana White, UFC 62 is responsible for the explosive popularity of the giant MMA promotion. 

Even after almost three decades later, it remains one of the greatest fights in UFC history.

  • Lawler vs. MacDonald II (UFC 189, 2015)

Robbie Lawler and Rory MacDonald engaged in a five-round, exciting, memorable fight. The fight displayed incredible heart and resilience from both fighters, with each round escalating the intensity. 

The tempo of the cage reached its climax in the fourth round when Lawler landed a series of crushing punches, which unfortunately smashed MacDonald’s nose. 

The clash was a perfect blend of technical prowess and sheer grit, earning it a place among the greatest fights in UFC history.

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  • UFC 117: Silva vs. Sonnen I

The clash between Anderson Silva and Chael Sonnen was a classic example of the striker vs. grappler dynamic. Anderson Silva is a Striker with unmatched skills, while Sonnen is one of the best grapplers in the division at the time.

Sonnen dominated the fight with his wrestling, controlling Silva for most of the bout. However, in the closing moments of the fifth round, Silva secured a triangle armbar, forcing Sonnen to tap out. 

Silva’s triumph and Sonnen’s performance put UFC 117 on the map of the greatest fights ever.

  • UFC 136: Edgar vs. Maynard III

Frankie Edgar and Gray Maynard‘s third meeting is one of the greatest fights in the promotion’s history. The trilogy reached its climax in UFC 136— a bout that had fans on the edge of their seats. Maynard, known for his powerful striking, had previously handed Edgar his only career loss. 

However, during the third encounter, both fighters showcased incredible courage and durability, with Edgar overcoming early adversity to secure a fourth-round knockout. 

  • UFC 139: Henderson vs. Shogun

Dan Henderson and Mauricio “Shogun” Rua delivered an instant classic in a five-round war that amazed everyone. The fight featured moments of action, with a fair share of moments of dominance.

However, Henderson ultimately secured a unanimous decision victory in one of the greatest fights in history. 

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However, both men earned the respect and admiration of fans, enthusiasts, and pundits for their incredible display of skill and determination.

  • UFC 248:  Joanna vs. Zhang Weili

The Zhang Weili vs. Joanna Jędrzejczyk fight at UFC 248 was a highly intense and competitive battle for the UFC Women’s Strawweight Championship. 

The fight featured many significant strikes, with both Zhang and Jędrzejczyk delivering and taking powerful blows. The bout went the full five rounds.

 Zhang Weili emerged victorious, retaining her title via a closely contested split decision.

Greatest fight in UFC history

Joanna sustained a giant hematoma on her head due to the impact of the punches. The fight is regarded as one of the greatest in UFC history.

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  • UFC 236: Adesanya vs. Gastelum

Israel Adesanya and Kelvin Gastelum engaged in a tough battle for the interim middleweight title. The fight featured high-level striking exchanges, with both fighters displaying incredible skill and resilience.

Israel Adesanya in one of the

Israel Adesanya in one of the greatest fight in UFC history.

Gastelum’s powerful shots surprised Adesanya, but the TUF winner fought back. The bloodied Adesanya is ready for anything as he declared, “I’m prepared to die” before the final round. 

Adesanya eventually secured the victory via unanimous decision. The win solidifies his status as one of the sport’s rising stars, and UFC 236 is one of the greatest fights in UFC history.

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The biggest upset in UFC History

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Upsets are caused when the order of events does not go as expected. Upsets occur in all sports,  including MMA. The UFC has witnessed a fair share of it.

Whether a win is by TKO, submission, or judges’ decision, it upsets the balance of rankings and reshapes the division when the underdog wins.

Today, we look at bouts that didn’t go as most people expected because the underdog took the reins.

6 Biggest Upsets in UFC History

1. Ronda Rousey vs. Holly Holm, UFC 193 

UFC 193 was one of the biggest upsets in UFC history. In November 2015, Ronda Rousey faced Holly Holm, and the unexpected unfolded.

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Rousey, an undefeated champion with a reputation for quick and dominant victories, faced Holm, a skilled striker. During the first round, Holm was unbelievably defensive. 

Holm landed a perfectly executed head kick in the second round to knock out her opponent. Her victory marked the end of Rousey’s victorious streak and her reign as the UFC Women’s Bantamweight Champion.

2. Anderson Silva vs. Chris Weidman at UFC 162

At UFC 162, the long-reigning middleweight champion, Anderson Silva, faced Chris Weidman.

Silva had successfully defended his title multiple times. However, in a stunning turn of events, Weidman, a skilled wrestler and underdog, executed a precise left hook that knocked Silva out in the second round. 

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Weidman’s victory ended Silva’s nearly seven-year undefeated streak in the UFC and marked one of the biggest upsets in MMA history.

3. Amanda Nunes vs. Julianna Peña, UFC 269

At UFC 269, Julianna Pena secured one of MMA’s biggest upsets, claiming the UFC bantamweight title with a second-round submission win over dominant champion Amanda Nunes

One of the biggest upset in UFC history

Despite a challenging first round, Pena rallied in the second, unleashing effective combinations that rocked Nunes. The climax came in round two, as Pena applied a rear-naked choke, forcing Amanda Nunes to tap out. 

The fight marked the end of Nunes’ five-year reign and handed her the first defeat since September 2014.

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4. Conor McGregor vs. Nate Diaz, UFC 196 

UFC 196 ushered in the fight between Conor MacGregor and Nate Diaz. On short notice, Conor, the reigning UFC featherweight champion, moved to welterweight to face Nate Diaz

One of the biggest upset in UFC history

Nate defeated Mcgregor in one of the biggest upset in UFC history

McGregor, known for his striking prowess, faced Diaz, a skilled and enduring fighter. Despite a strong start, McGregor became fatigued, and Diaz capitalized on that.

Diaz submitted McGregor via rear-naked choke in the second round. The defeat marked McGregor’s first UFC.

5. Jędrzejczyk vs. Rose Namajunas UFC 217 

Joanna Jędrzejczyk, a dominant and undefeated strawweight champion, faced Rose Namajunas in a title defense at UFC 217.

Jędrzejczyk was known for her striking prowess and confident demeanor, but Namajunas considered the underdog, stunned the MMA world. 

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In the first round, Namajunas landed a powerful left hook that knocked Jędrzejczyk down, eventually securing a TKO victory. The victory earned her the strawweight title.

 Jędrzejczyk was one of the best pound-for-pound fighters, which made her defeat to Namajunas a shock and one of the biggest upsets in the division.

6. Strickland vs Adesanya at UFC 293

Sean Strickland is the fifth-ranked middleweight with a 2-2 record in his last four bouts. He surprisingly earned a title shot against Israel Adesanya at UFC 293.

Many people doubt Strickland’s striking power and grappling abilities; to our surprise, Sean Strickland executed a flawless game plan. He won by decision.

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In one of the biggest upsets in UFC, Strickland secured victory at UFC 293 by winning every round except the second. Strickland claimed a unanimous decision (49-46), ending Adesanya’s dominance. 

Conclusion

Like Holm, every other victory described above was a big upset in the UFC. Each upset highlights the unpredictability of the sport and the importance of diverse skill sets in high-stakes competition.

Upsets accentuate the unpredictability of the sport and forever change the history of the combat sport.

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Usman Nurmagomedov Fails Drug Test

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On November 12, 2023, the California State Athletic Commission announced that Bellator lightweight champion Usman Nurmagomedov had failed a drug test.

As a result, he was removed from the Bellator Lightweight Grand Prix and suspended for six months by the California State Athletic Commission. He is also to pay a $50,000 fine and a no-contest ruling on his victory at Bellator 300

Nurmagomedov, facing fines, suspension, and Grand Prix removal, also agreed to a 12-month Voluntary Anti-Doping Agency (VADA) testing program.

He must undergo at least three full WADA drug screenings, with a risk of a four-year suspension for another positive test.

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Khabib’s cousin failed the drug test after his victory over Brent Primus at Bellator 300 last month. The specific substance that he tested positive for has not been released.

However, his manager, Ali Abdelaziz said that it was a prescription medication that Usman Nurmagomedov was unaware contained a prohibited substance.

The news of Nurmagomedov’s failed drug test is a significant blow to the fighter and Bellator.

Nurmagomedov is the favorite to win the Bellator Lightweight Grand Prix. His suspension leaves a hole in the tournament, as he was scheduled to face Patricky Pitbull in the final.

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Usman Nurmagomedov

Usman Nurmagomedov

Nurmagomedov’s failure is also a clarion call to the importance of drug testing in combat sports. Drug testing is essential to ensure that fighters are playing on a level field and to promote the sport’s integrity.

What Usman Nurmagomedov has to say

Usman Nurmagomedov released a statement about the recent developments;

The results of my test revealed a prohibited substance that entered my body through medications prescribed to me by a doctor,” Nurmagomedov’s statement read. “A few months before my fight, I was undergoing treatment, but unfortunately, I did not notify the athletic commission in advance.

“I would like to note that the California State Athletic Commission conducted its full investigation, where I provided all the necessary documents, doctor notes, and medical certificates, thanks to which the period of my disqualification was reduced to 6 months instead of longer suspensions accepted in such cases” (h/t MMA News).

What to expect at Bellator Lightweight Grand Prix

Nurmagomedov’s withdrawal from the Bellator Lightweight Grand Prix creates a void in the tournament. Initially set to face Patricky Pitbull in the final, the bout is yet to be determined. 

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Patricky Pitbull vs. Alexandr Shabliy is scheduled for Bellator 301, with the winner likely challenging Primus in the $1 million final. It remain unclear if the final will be contested for an interim title or if Nurmagomedov will be stripped. 

The 25-year-old Dagestani talent, cousin to Khabib, holds a 6-0 Bellator record, leaving the tournament’s replacement participant undetermined. The situation adds an element of suspense and uncertainty to the upcoming Bellator 301 event.

What’s next for Nurmagomedov?

After his suspension is lifted, Nurmagomedov must rebuild his reputation and momentum. He will have to start fighting a few lower-level opponents to prove he is still a top contender.

Nurmagomedov can ask for a rematch with Patricky Pitbull to make up for the fight they missed in the Bellator Lightweight Grand Prix final.

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This would be a big fight for both fighters and a chance for Nurmagomedov to prove that he is the best lightweight in Bellator.

Conclusion

Usman Nurmagomedov’s failed drug test is a significant blow to the fighter, his family, Bellator, and the sport of MMA. 

It will be interesting to see how Nurmagomedov rebounds from this setback. He is a young and talented fighter, with the potential to be one of the best in the world.

Although, he must work hard to regain the public’s trust and prove he is a clean fighter.

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UFC Fights Schedule: UFC 295, UFC 297, UFC 298 and UFC 299.

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Restoring Order in the Lightweight Division

UFC 295 will restore the long-lost order in the lightweight division. The bouts will occur on Sunday, Nov 12, at Madison Square Garden, New York, United States.

The bout will be the fifth light-heavyweight champion in three tumultuous years. It will also capture the division’s chaotic essence and herald the dawn of a new era. 

Era of stability

Once marked by stability and marquee rivalries, the light-heavyweight class witnessed frequent title changes in the early 2000s. Ortiz, Couture, Belfort, and Liddell transitioned to another division.

However, Jackson, Griffin, Evans, Machida, and Rua took turns as champions before Jon Jones’s dominant era.

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Jones’s departure left the title hanging, briefly held by Daniel Cormier before both moved to heavyweight. UFC 295 signifies another attempt to restore order.

What to expect at UFC 295

Headlining the event are Jiri Prochazka and Alex Pereira, vying for the elusive title

Jamahal Hill is a fleeting champion who surrendered the title due to a ruptured Achilles tendon and is eyeing a 2024 return.

Jiri Prochazka, the penultimate champion, returns after 17 months, boasting athleticism and raw talent. His aggressive style, clinching 11 consecutive victories, injects unpredictability into the division.

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As UFC 295 approaches, promising a new champion, the light-heavyweight landscape mirrors a tangled web of contenders and winners, epitomizing the division’s recent turbulence.

Strickland vs. Du Plessis tops UFC 297 fight cards.

UFC 297

Sean Strickland vs. Du Plessis

In a highly anticipated showdown, American Sean “Tarzan” Strickland will defend his middleweight title against South Africa’s Dricus “Stillknocks” du Plessis at UFC 297 in Toronto on January 20. 

This marks the UFC’s return to Toronto for the first time since 2018, adding extra excitement to the event.

Dana White, the UFC president, and Sean Strickland unveiled the much-anticipated January 2024 fight card featuring this clash of middleweight titans. White enthusiastically stated, “Busting into the new year with some fun fights.”

The upcoming Toronto card holds historical significance as the UFC last visited the city on December 8, 2018, at UFC 231

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The memorable event saw then-featherweight champion Max Holloway secure a nasty Technical Knockout victory in the fourth round over the No. 1 challenger, Brian Ortega, at Scotiabank Arena.

Strickland, boasting a record of 28-5-0, claimed the 185-pound title in September at UFC 293 in Sydney, Australia. This orchestrated one of the sport’s most significant upsets against Israel, “The Last Stylebender.”

With a record of 20-2-0, Du Plessis enters the contest on an impressive streak, winning his last eight fights, including all six in the UFC, with five of those victories ending in stoppages.

Currently ranked second among middleweight contenders, he follows closely behind Adesanya, the Nigerian-born, New Zealand-based fighter.

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The Strickland vs. Du Plessis clash promises to highlight the UFC’s return to Toronto, adding another chapter to the middleweight division’s compelling narrative.

The next UFC fights announced by White also include 

  • UFC featherweight champion Alexander Volkanovski of Australia vs. Ilia Topuria of Spain in February at UFC 298.
  • Bantamweight title holder Sean O’Malley against Ecuador’s Marlon Vera in March scheduled for UFC 299

Once again, Strickland couldn’t contain his discontent upon learning he would fight in January and Canada.

Taking to Instagram, he quipped, “Well, Canada, it’s  time to bring you all some freedom.”

Despite his lack of enthusiasm, he begrudgingly accepted the call to aid two women in their professional duties, cheekily adding, “And they call me sexist.”

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This announcement stems from the upcoming clash between Raquel “Rocky” Pennington and Mayra Bueno Silva for the vacant UFC women’s bantamweight title to grace the Toronto card. 

Strickland’s remarks come on the heels of previous controversy, where he faced backlash for sexist and misogynistic comments during a UFC 293 press conference.

In contrast, Du Plessis approaches the upcoming event on the heels of a flawless TKO victory over former middleweight champion Robert Whittaker in the UFC 290 title eliminator fight held earlier this year.

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