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Muhammad Ali passes away at 74

Matthew Wells

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Born in Lousiville, Kentucky on January 17, 1942, was Cassius Marcellus Clay Jr.

The world would come to know him as Muhammad Ali, one of, if not the most, influential athletes and cultural icons to ever walk the planet.

After a 32-year battle with Parkinson’s disease, at 74 years of age, “The Greatest” passed away on June 3, 2016.

Muhammad Ali was much more than a legendary boxer. While his career inside the boxing ring provided some of the most memorable fights in the history of the sport, such as the “Thrilla in Manila,” it was his actions beyond the ropes that elevated him into a class of his own. Ali faced social injustices head on during the height of the civil rights movement and never shied away from conveying his feelings on political issues. Ali famously refused to enter the U.S. Army’s draft for the Vietnam War, resulting in being stripped of the Heavyweight Title, in addition to legal issues that kept him sidelined for three years during his athletic prime. “Hell no, I ain’t gonna go on the war in Vietnam I sing this song, I ain’t go no quarrel with them Viet Cong. Clean out my cell and take my tail to jail without bail. ‘Cause better to be in jail fed, than to be in Vietnam, dead,” Ali rhymed in response to questions about refusing to fight in the war. Ali used his boxing celebrity as a platform to speak out against social injustices.

Ali was very quick witted and had a way with words that was completely foreign to the sporting world. He brought a completely new style of fighting to the boxing game, as he verbally knocked out his opponents before even stepping foot inside the ring. He completely reinvented what it meant to “sell a fight” to fans by creating clever rhymes that predicted the outcome of his upcoming bouts. Before his fight with Sonny Liston in 1964, his poem delivered the night before the two would meet in the ring is legendary:

“Clay comes out to meet Liston and Liston starts to retreat,
If Liston goes back an inch farther he’ll end up in a ringside seat.
Clay swings with a left,
Clay swings with a right,
Just look at young Cassius carry the fight.
Liston keeps backing but there’s not enough room,
It’s a matter of time until Clay lowers the boom.
Then Clay lands with a right, what a beautiful swing,
And the punch raised the bear clear out of the ring.
Liston still rising and the ref wears a frown,
But he can’t start counting until Sonny comes down.
Now Liston disappears from view, the crowd is getting frantic
But our radar stations have picked him up somewhere over the Atlantic.
Who on Earth thought, when they came to the fight,
that they would witness the launching of a human satellite?
Hence the crowd did not dream, when they laid down their money,
That they would see a total eclipse of Sonny!”

If Ali wasn’t up for the long-form rhyme, he would unleash a quick-witted response that would prove to be equally effective. “Sonny Liston is great, but he’ll fall in eight,” Ali also quipped about Liston. While the timeframe was off by one round in this instance, as Ali finished the fight in the seventh round, there were many other times Ali’s predictions played out to the letter.

Ali’s approach to pre-fight antics has inspired generations of fighters to attempt what he was able to create so genuinely. The best example of this today in the world of mixed martial arts is the pre-fight material from Conor McGregor. The ability to sell a fight is something that few possess, and even a smaller number can pull it off while coming across as believable. Everyone has their favorite Ali quote and there is quite an extensive library of them to choose from.

Perhaps the most impressive aspect of Ali’s boxing game is that he didn’t let the talk stop once the gloves were laced up. Ali was very much a showman during his fights has he taunted his opponents at nearly every opportunity, much to the delight of the crowd, and the frustration of his opponents. The best example of this in MMA in recent years has been Anderson Silva, who is widely considered to be the best of all-time in the sport and has spoken about Muhammad Ali’s influence on his own career many times.

After hearing the news of his passing, UFC President Dana White spoke with ESPN on Friday evening about Ali’s influence: “I think Muhammad Ali changed the face of combat sports forever. A lot of guys didn’t have a lot of personality back in the day. He was charismatic. He was incredible. He was a guy who was known around the world, one of the most famous human beings to ever live. In my house today, there’s tons of artwork of Muhammad Ali. Anybody who has ever been involved in combat sports, I think is a huge fan of Ali.”

Many of today’s athletes draw inspiration from Ali, regardless of the sport they compete in. When it comes to training, the most grueling aspect of combat sports and mixed martial arts in particular, Ali delivered historic quotes that can be found on posters and painted on gym walls throughout the globe to provide that extra push to persevere. His inspirational quotes reverberate through the walls of the training room and extend out into all aspects of life.

“I hated every minute of training, but I said don’t quit. Suffer now and live the rest of your life as a champion.”

The legend of Muhammad Ali will live on for generations to come, inspiring people to strive for greatness while standing up for what they believe in.

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Gokhan Saki vs Khalil Rountree JR Added to UFC 219

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Kickboxing superstar Gokhan Saki will make his return to the octagon just three months after his UFC debut, as he faces Khalil Rountree at UFC 219.

Saki (1-1 ) made a big statement at UFC Japan in September, knocking out Henrique de Silva with a devastating, statement making left hook.

Rountree (6-2) is a TUF-23 alumni. His UFC run started unsuccessfully losing two in a row including his TUF 23 contract fight. However, Rountree is now on a two-fight winning streak after picking up consecutive first round knockout victories against Paul Craig and Daniel Jolly.

After making his MMA debut in 2004, Saki signed a multi-fight deal with the UFC in May and was succesful in his return to the cage. Saki’s first round KO of de Silva earned him a Performance of the Night bonus.

Neither Saki or Rountree are currently ranked in the UFC’s light heavyweight division, so a win at UFC 219 could most certainly push either of the two in the top fifteen at 205-pounds.

With the addition of Saki vs. Rountree, your current line-up for the UFC 219 card on December 30th is as follows:

Dominick Cruz vs. Jimmie Rivera – Bantamweight bout
Cynthia Calvillo vs. Carla Esparza – Women’s strawweight bout
Carlos Condit vs. Neil Magny – Welterweight bout
Louis Smolka vs. Matheus Nicolau – Flyweight bout
* Gokhan Saki vs. Khalil Rountree – Light heavyweight bout

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Holloway vs Edgar set to headline UFC 218

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UFC 218 is set to take place on Saturday, December 2nd, in Detroit, Michigan at the Little Caesars Arena and will be available on pay-per-view.

The event is now set to be headlined by Max Holloway’s first featherweight title defense since he won the belt at UFC 212 against the legendary Jose Aldo. In his first title defense, he will take in another MMA legend in New Jersey’s Frankie Edgar.

UFC 218 will mark Frankie Edgar’s third attempt at winning the featherweight crown, with his first two attempts coming against Jose Aldo at UFC 156 and UFC 200. Edgar will be looking to become a two-weight world champion, having previously been the UFC lightweight champion. He will once again attempt to join an elite group which includes Conor McGregor, B.J. Penn, and Randy Couture as the only fighters to have been champions in two weight divisions.

Edgar is a worthy contender but you have to feel that if Aldo had won at UFC 212 then Edgar may have waited a lot longer for his return to fight for a championship. But with a new champ and McGregor firmly out the picture, the featherweight division can thrive with some new match ups.

And what a matchup this is, as we get to see two incredible fighters with two different styles take each other on, in what could turn out to be one of the fights of the year.

The UFC 218 card is now shaping up nicely as the main event joins Francis Ngannou vs Alistair Overeem on the card. As well as several other bouts such as Alvarez vs Gaethje, Cejudo vs Pettis and Herrig vs Casey.

Will Holloway extend his unbeaten run to 12 fights or will Frankie ‘The Answer’ Edgar cement his legacy with his second UFC world title? The world will find out on December 2nd.

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BREAKING: Carlos Condit Returns to Face Neil Magny at UFC 219

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Carlos Condit is back. After almost two years away from the octagon, ‘The Natural Born Killer’ will fight Neil Magny at UFC 219 on December 30th.

Whilst Condit has been amid rumors of retirement ever since his first round submission loss to Demian Maia back in August of 2016, he will be returning to action after all.

Condit’s return was in question, but his recent action on Twitter sparked some noise, when he hinted at a possible return.

‘The Natural Born Killer’ is currently ranked 7th in the welterweight division, he will be facing Neil Magny on December 30th, 2017, which is on the weekend of New Year’s Eve.

This fight adds onto an already-stacked card that is UFC 219, which also includes the return of the former UFC bantamweight champion Dominick Cruz, a rising contender in the strawweight division in Cynthia Calvillo, and Condit’s addition to the card only makes it better.

Both Condit and Magny will be looking to get back on the winning track in this fight. This fight delivers some mix-up in the division, and with Thompson and Masvidal matched up already in the top 5, this fight will give both fighters a great opportunity to jump right back into the title fight. Magny’s last fight was against Rafael dos Anjos at UFC 215, where he lost in the first round via arm-triangle choke.

Now with the addition of Condit vs. Magny, here is the line-up so far for UFC 219.

  • Dominick Cruz vs. Jimmie Rivera – Bantamweight bout
  • Cynthia Calvillo vs. Carla Esparza – Women’s strawweight bout
  • Louis Smolka vs. Matheus Nicolau – Flyweight bout
  • Carlos Condit vs. Neil Magny – Welterweight bout
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