Kevin Iole

  • Why Ronda Rousey needs 'Cyborg'

    Kevin Iole at Yahoo Sports 5 hrs ago

    No matter how good Ronda Rousey looks on Saturday in dismantling unbeaten challenger Bethe Correia at UFC 190 in Rio de Janeiro – and yes, the women's bantamweight champion will unquestionably dismantle her Brazilian rival – it's not going to be enough to silence her most ardent critics.

    This is a case where Rousey is helpless.

    Unless she faces, and defeats, Cristiane "Cyborg" Justino, there will always be an asterisk next to Rousey's record.

    Rousey is so far ahead of the rest of the field, it's become something of a joke. The debate before her fights has become how quickly she'll end it, not whether she'll win.

    Justino is the only fighter who can reasonably expect to have a chance against Rousey.

    And so, as Rousey steamrolls her way through the division and into the MMA history books, the specter of Justino will always loom over her.

    The greatest superstars need rivals to push them, to help them show their greatness. Nicklaus had Palmer. Johnson had Bird. And Ali had Frazier.

    However, there is no one in the women's bantamweight remotely close to Rousey's equal.

    White said he believes it would do record-setting pay-per-view numbers.

  • Ronda Rousey returns to where her growing legend began

    Kevin Iole at Yahoo Sports 1 day ago

    UFC president Dana White says Rousey would "rag doll" Floyd Mayweather Jr., the world's best boxer. UFC interim featherweight champion Conor McGregor says Rousey would need all of a second to dump him on his head.

    The legend grows seemingly by the minute, but it perhaps began in the very spot where she'll defend her championship Saturday against outspoken, and unbeaten, challenger Bethe Correia in the main event of UFC 190.

    Rousey was 20 when she competed in the 2007 Judo World Championships in Rio de Janeiro. She'd only recently moved up to the 70-kilogram (154-pound) division, where in the semifinals she was set to meet Edith Bosch.

    Bosch is 6 feet tall, and at the time of the match with Rousey had won a silver medal in the 2004 Olympics in Athens and followed that with a gold at the 2005 World Championships in Cairo.

    Bosch threw Rousey early in the bout using a judo technique known as a waki-gatame, which is illegal. And sure enough, Rousey dislocated her left elbow upon landing.


  • After five years away from fighting, Justin Wren set for return

    Kevin Iole at Cagewriter 1 day ago

    Heavyweight Justin Wren has ended a five-year absence from mixed martial arts and will return to competition on Aug. 28 when he takes on Josh Burns at Bellator 141 in Temecula, Calif.

    Wren, a cast member on Season 10 of the UFC's "The Ultimate Fighter," is perhaps best known for his work with the Mbuti Pygmies in the Congo. Many of them were enslaved and lived in squalor, with few benefits of the modern world. 

    Wren has written a book on his experience with the Pygmies, "Fight for the Forgotten: How a Mixed Martial Artist Stopped Fighting for Himself and Started Fighting for Others." The book, co-authored by veteran MMA journalist Loretta Hunt, will be released on Sept. 15.

    He will be fighting for the first time since July 17, 2010, when he submitted Josh Robertson in Biloxi, Miss.

    He is eager to get back in the cage, particularly since it's for such a good cause.


  • Despite critics and fading skills, Paulie Malignaggi isn't ready to give up boxing

    Kevin Iole at Yahoo Sports 2 days ago

    Paulie Malignaggi has never been much of a puncher, not even on his best day. He won world titles in two weight classes largely on the strength of his legs and an uncanny ability to box.

    He’d move, make an opponent miss and then fire a quick combination before darting away again.

    At his best, he was all but impossible to hit cleanly.

    He’s 35 now, loser of two of his last three, and admits the legs aren’t exactly what they once were. He’s coming off a one-sided beatdown at the hands of Shawn Porter that left many wondering whether he should make broadcasting a full-time gig.

    On Saturday, he’ll face unbeaten Danny Garcia in a 12-round welterweight bout at the Barclays Center in the New York borough of Brooklyn in a bout broadcast on ESPN. And though few others are believers any longer, Malignaggi insists he’s far from through.

    It sounds familiar.

    Malignaggi was bulldozed by Porter in what had been shaping up as a fascinating bout on Showtime on April 19, 2014. Porter simply overpowered Malignaggi physically, began catching him with hard, flush shots, and stopped him in the fourth round.

    It was the opposite of what Malignaggi had expected.

  • Stefan Struve overcomes heart issue to keep fighting

    Kevin Iole at Yahoo Sports 2 days ago

    It was a loss, and a bad one, and it put Stefan Struve on the edge. Back-to-back knockout losses aren’t a way of making it to the top in the UFC’s heavyweight division.

    Much was in play after Struve was stopped by Alistair Overeem at 4:13 of the first round on Dec. 13 in Phoenix. Most notably, Struve had to worry about his job security.

    But Struve was surprisingly calm after the defeat and, in a very significant way, regarded the bout as a win.

    Just competing in the bout was a massive win for the 7-foot Struve, known primarily to this point for being the tallest fighter in UFC history.

    Struve aspires for much more than that, however. He believes deep within his soul that he’s going to one day win the UFC heavyweight title. It’s a long journey from back-to-back losses to the world championship, but every long journey starts with one step.

    And for Struve, that step was actually being able to compete in the fight.

    A few months after his loss to Mark Hunt in 2013, Struve was diagnosed with a leaking aortic valve in his heart. He was born with a bicuspid aortic valve, which appears in less than 2 percent of the population but is far more common in males than in females.

    More UFC coverage:

  • World Series of Fighting taps digital media executive as its new CEO

    Kevin Iole at Cagewriter 3 days ago

    The World Series of Fighting on Wednesday will name 50-year-old digital media executive Carlos Silva as its new chief executive officer.

    Silva has an extensive background in digital media and sports television and said he hopes to use all available platforms to make the World Series a bigger player in the MMA space.

    It already has a television deal with NBC and NBC Sports Network, but is generally regarded as the No. 3 promotion in the U.S. behind the UFC and Bellator.

    Silva isn't necessarily looking to take down either of the two MMA giants, though matchmaker Ali Abdel-Aziz insists he's going to seek out the best talent on the market. Abdel-Aziz told Yahoo Sports he plans to make a competitive offer to free agent heavyweight Fedor Emelianenko, who recently announced his intention to come out of retirement.

    Silva's goal is to overhaul the World Series' website that will not only have comprehensive information about it, its fighters and events, but also about all of MMA.

    Live sports events are the lifeblood of TV networks, Silva said, and the WSOF wants to support that with a rich website that will become a destination for fans.

  • The woe of Danny Garcia: How an undefeated boxer can get no respect

    Kevin Iole at Yahoo Sports 3 days ago

    The world loves a winner and Danny Garcia is, without question, a winner.

    He’s 30-0 with 17 knockouts and, at 27, is entering the prime of his career.

    Garcia, though, has taken a disproportionate amount of abuse on social media for a guy with his résumé. Nine of his past 10 opponents were or had been world champions.

    Paulie Malignaggi, his opponent on Saturday in the main event of a Premier Boxing Champions series card on ESPN, will make that 10 of 11.

    Garcia, though, can’t find much love among the fan base these days. He’s been ripped for being on the winning side of close decisions in fights with Mauricio Herrera and Lamont Peterson, for not fighting Floyd Mayweather Jr. and for taking on the unheralded Rod Salka.

    Garcia is puzzled by it, but he’s as low key as his father and trainer, Angel, is outspoken.

    “In the sport of boxing, you’re going to have your critics no matter what you do, so you might as well ignore them and focus on training hard and fighting to win,” Garcia said. “I think I’ve proven what I can do. I go out and fight hard and win. And I do win.

    But how much input Garcia had into that match is debatable.

  • Although unlikely, what would a loss by Ronda Rousey mean?

    Kevin Iole at Yahoo Sports 3 days ago

    It’s laughable that some still point to a lack of competition as a reason for her success.

    And besides, if she were facing inferior opposition, she’s doing what she should do: Winning in dominant fashion and not allowing the opponent a sliver of a chance.

    This is how insanely dominant Rousey has become: If Bethe Correia survives the first minute of their bout for the women’s bantamweight title Saturday in the main event of UFC 190 in Rio de Janeiro, there will be disappointment. If Correia lasts the first round, there will be surprise.

    And if Correia somehow, some way finds a way to defeat Rousey and win the title, it would be an utter shock.

    An unbeaten and seemingly invincible Mike Tyson lost as a 42-1 favorite to James “Buster” Douglas in a 1990 heavyweight championship boxing match. Bookmakers didn’t learn, and in 1996, Tyson lost as a 25-1 favorite to Evander Holyfield.

    After being burned by those odds, bookmakers took heed. No longer do they ever make a fighter such a massive favorite.

    Tyson bounced back from his loss to Douglas to become bigger than ever.


  • Bethe Correia certainly talking like she can beat Ronda Rousey

    Kevin Iole at Yahoo Sports 4 days ago

    Bethe Correia is one of the most unlikely UFC title challengers ever, a one-time accountant who four years ago had never competed in any sort of athletic endeavor.

    She began to work out because she felt she’d gotten heavy not long after getting married.

    Just three years after she began to train in mixed martial arts, she’s reached the pinnacle of her sport. She’ll meet women’s bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey, whom Sports Illustrated dubbed the world’s most dominant athlete, for the women’s bantamweight title in the main event of UFC 190 in Rio de Janeiro.

    Even as the moment of truth arrives, Correia remains coolly confident. She has stuck to her belief that she’s going to win, despite overwhelming odds against her, and believes she’ll expose Rousey as little more than an over-hyped media creation.

    “Everybody has holes in their game, and Ronda does, too,” Correia says. “You might not know it because the media doesn’t talk about it. But she has holes in her game, too.”

    Perhaps she does, as Rousey is only human.

    Or tell that to Alexis Davis, a jiu-jitsu black belt who in just 16 seconds was thrown by Rousey, caught in a headlock and then pummeled until the referee jumped in to save her.

  • Sergey Kovalev brutalizes another foe; who's left that'd actually fight him?

    Kevin Iole at Yahoo Sports 5 days ago

    LAS VEGAS – Sergey Kovalev accomplished what he set out to do. The unified light heavyweight champion totally outclassed and finished Nadjib Mohammedi in the third round Saturday at the Mandalay Bay Events Center to retain the WBA, WBO and IBF belts.

    Mohammedi had no business in the ring with a powerful and talented fighter like Kovalev, and it showed. He did next to nothing and went down on the first hand punch Kovalev landed.

    Kovalev knocked Mohammedi down with three consecutive right hands in the second, then stopped him in the third after a right hand-left hook combination.

    Mohammedi went down, clearly in pain as if his nose were broken, as referee Kenny Bayless tolled the count.

    The end came at 2:38 of the third, in what was a very predictable outcome.

    These are the kinds of bouts boxing can do without, but at least Kovalev didn’t let this go on a long time.

    “When you have to fight that guy, you have to go out and close the show,” Kovalev promoter Kathy Duva said. “That’s what people love about Sergey Kovalev: He closes the show. A lot of guys, when they’re in that spot, you watch them waltz around the ring. But Sergey did what he had to do.”

    “I couldn’t see,” Mohammedi said.