Kevin Iole

  • U.S. Army vet using MMA to inspire impoverished Pakistani youth

    Kevin Iole at Yahoo Sports 1 day ago

    Bashir Ahmad's first gym was opened in Lahore, Pakistan, in a third-floor apartment that doubled as his home. A beaten heavy bag hung suspended from the ceiling. The floors were covered with blue mats, which also doubled as his bed.

    When he finally obtained a cage, it was stored on the roof, much to the consternation of some of the local population.

    Eventually, he moved from that tiny apartment and opened a full-fledged MMA gym that he calls "a hip place" in a well-to-do area of the city that attracts celebrities in the music and movie industries, among others.

    "It's great for me that I'm able to support myself off of that now from something that began as a passion," said Ahmad, a One Championship featherweight who on Feb. 20 will meet Jimmy Yabo at One's event in Jakarta, Indonesia.

    Ahmad is a well-spoken man with a Bachelor's degree in Global Affairs from George Mason University and a Master's in exercise science from California University of Pennsylvania.

    He served as a medic in the Army from 2002 through 2008 during the Iraq War.

    The gym is located in Charar Pind village, a densely populated enclave in the center of the city.

  • Combat sports leaders hope foresight with CTE research will help avoid NFL-type situation

    Kevin Iole at Yahoo Sports 2 days ago

    LAS VEGAS – Researchers have discovered chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) in the brains of more than 90 percent of NFL players they have examined, covering every position but kicker.

    The New York Times reported last week that newly elected Hall of Fame quarterback Ken Stabler had Stage 3 CTE, while another long-time NFL quarterback, Earl Morrall, had late Stage 4 CTE when he died at 79 in 2014.

    CTE can only be diagnosed by examining the brain after death.

    So far, no fighter has ever been diagnosed with CTE. And while a five-year-old study shows evidence suggesting that boxers may be more susceptible to brain damage from the same amount of fights than mixed martial arts fighters, the evidence showing that being kicked and punched in the head for a living can lead to long-term damage in the brain is undeniable.

    “We try to make the sport as safe as possible, but there’s a level of danger to it,” former UFC light heavyweight champion Forrest Griffin, now a company executive, said on Friday at a news conference to announce that the UFC had donated $1 million over five years to further fund the Professional Fighters Brain Health Study being led by Dr. Charles Bernick.

  • Stephen Thompson stakes claim to UFC welterweight title shot with dominating win

    Kevin Iole at Yahoo Sports 4 days ago

    LAS VEGAS – This was no fluke, no lucky punch. And it didn't take Ray Thompson long to believe that his son, Stephen, would take out former welterweight champion Johny Hendricks Saturday in the main event of a Fight Night card at the MGM Grand.

    Thompson began to flick his Kenpo karate kicks at Hendricks shortly after the bell rang to start the fight. Once he saw how Hendricks reacted, Ray Thompson relaxed because he was certain his son would soon have the most significant win of his career.

    "We like to set the tone, and 'Wonderboy' got him and set the tone right off the bat," Ray Thompson said. Asked how long it took him to feel comfortable that his son would win, he said, "Probably within the first 20 seconds of the fight, I knew 'Wonderboy' would be victorious simply because he had Johny confused."

    Hendricks is one of the elite fighters in the world. He arguably beat legendary ex-champion Georges St-Pierre in what stands as St-Pierre's last fight and he's got a long list of impressive victories.

    It never got close.

    "That set the sport back 10 years," an exasperated White said of Rosholt's performance.

  • Jon Jones to make return against Daniel Cormier at UFC 197 on April 23

    Kevin Iole at Yahoo Sports 4 days ago

    LAS VEGAS – Jon Jones is back, and it will be as if nothing changed.

    Jones, who was stripped of the UFC light heavyweight title on April 29, 2015, after being involved in a hit-and-run accident in Albuquerque, N.M., will challenge Daniel Cormier for his old belt when they meet for the title in the main event of UFC 197 on April 23 at the MGM Grand Garden.

    A flyweight title fight between champion Demetrious Johnson and No. 1 contender Henry Cejudo will be the co-main event.

    Jones defeated Cormier at UFC 182 at the MGM Grand on Jan. 3, 2015, dominating the ex-Olympian wrestling team captain with perhaps his best performance as a professional. Jones won by scores of 49-46 on all three judges’ cards and never allowed Cormier to pose a threat.

    But 2015 was a horrible year for Jones, who is widely regarded not only as the greatest active mixed martial arts fighter but also as the best of all-time.

    The UFC later fined Jones $25,000 for a code of conduct policy violation.

    He was reinstated by the UFC in September after reaching a plea deal in Albuqurque.

    In the interim, Cormier stepped in to replace Jones at UFC 187 on May 23 in a bout against Anthony Johnson that was for the vacant belt.

  • How a rare loss helped elevate Stephen Thompson's game

    Kevin Iole at Yahoo Sports 7 days ago

    He was 37-0 as an amateur kick boxer, 20-0 as a pro. He’s 11-1 in MMA, including 6-1 in the UFC.

    But for a guy who has known nothing but success in the ring or in the cage, Thompson’s greatest lesson came during his lone loss.

    He dropped a clear decision to Matt Brown at UFC 145 in 2012 in only his second UFC fight. Thompson, who fights former welterweight champion Johny Hendricks on Saturday at the MGM Grand in the main event of a UFC Fight Night card, took the Brown fight when the more prudent decision might have been to pass on it.

    Thompson had just made his promotional debut at UFC 143 on Feb. 4, 2012, knocking out Dan Stittgen with a kick to the head that won Knockout of the Night honors.

    Thompson lives in South Carolina and UFC 145 was going to be in Atlanta. He’d only been home from Las Vegas after his knockout of Stittgen for two days when he received the call asking him if he wanted to appear on the Atlanta show.

    That’s where Thompson had to pause. He’d only began his MMA career in 2010, and by UFC 145, Brown had seven years of pro fighting experience and 24 bouts under his belt. He’d already had 11 matches in the UFC.

  • Richie Giachetti, who trained Larry Holmes and Mike Tyson, dead at 76

    Kevin Iole at Boxing 8 days ago

    Trainer Richie Giachetti, who was known for leading Larry Holmes to the heavyweight title and a lengthy run atop the division, died Wednesday at 76.

    Giachetti, who also worked with Mike Tyson for several fights, including his notable 1997 rematch with Evander Holyfield in Las Vegas, also served as Holmes' manager.

    In a 1978 profile of Giachetti, the New York Times wrote, "Giachetti is a tough man. He's been shot and stabbed, he's been tailed by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Nobody fools with the manager and trainer of the man who calls himself the baddest heavyweight in the world. Some people believe Larry Holmes wouldn't stand a chance against Richie Giachetti in a barroom brawl."

    Giachetti partnered with Hall of Fame promoter J. Russell Peltz and actor Sylvester Stallone on a series of shows in the 1980s that were televised on ABC and on various cable networks. Peltz promoted the fights, mostly at the Sands in Atlantic City, N.J., and Giachetti was in charge of procuring the talent.

  • Johny Hendricks hoping 'major lifestyle change' will pay off in Octagon

    Kevin Iole at Yahoo Sports 8 days ago

    LAS VEGAS – Johny Hendricks talks like a different man. He eats differently. He sure looks different.

    The former UFC welterweight champion will face Stephen “Wonderboy” Thompson on Saturday at the MGM Grand Garden in the main event of a UFC Fight Night show on Fox Sports 1.

    It will be his first fight since a failed attempt to make weight for an important match at UFC 192 in October against Tyron Woodley. Hendricks had had some difficulty making the division’s 170-pound weight limit before, but the planned bout against Woodley was the first time he’d missed.

    It wasn’t a pleasant experience for him, mentally or physically. He’s a competitor, and he wanted to prove himself against Woodley, an old collegiate wrestling rival. He’d worked hard in camp and knew that a win over a talented and high-profile foe such as Woodley would be a big step toward regaining the title he’d lost via split decision to Robbie Lawler.

    “As an athlete, as a fighter, you push and you work and you sacrifice because that fight is the prize; it’s what everything is all about,” Hendricks said.

    He’d cut weight his entire life, but his body felt different this time.

  • Cain Velasquez has surgery, says he can train 100 percent in five weeks

    Kevin Iole at Cagewriter 8 days ago

    Former UFC heavyweight champion Cain Velaquez, who pulled out of a title fight with champion Fabricio Werdum that was scheduled for Saturday at the MGM Grand, reported on his Facebook page Wednesday that his back surgery went well and that he's already doing light training.

    Velasquez said he's been told he'll be able to train at 100 percent in about four to five weeks. If that's the case, given an eight-week training camp, that would put his return to competition somewhere in the late April, early May time frame.

    Velasquez announced on Jan. 24 that he would have to pull out of UFC 196, which was scheduled for Saturday at the MGM Grand Garden. The UFC immediately named Stipe Miocic to replace him, but the next day, Werdum pulled out, citing injuries as well.

    Velasquez posted the following statement to Facebook on Wednesday:

    "I wanted to update you all on how my injury has been progressing.


  • Flint native Andre Dirrell committed to helping solve city water crisis

    Kevin Iole at Boxing 9 days ago

    Andre Dirrell no longer lives in Flint, Mich., where he was born and raised, but the one-time Olympic bronze medalist and former super middleweight world champion still has many ties to his city.

    And the water crisis that has given many children irreversible lead poisoning as a result of drinking tainted city water, hit close to home. Dirrell still has many family members who live in Flint and have been impacted by the crisis.

    It's driven Dirrell to action. An aunt has already raised $50,000 and worked to try to find a solution. Now, he's lending his time, money and connections to the effort. Not only has Dirrell already donated time and money, he's set up a Go Fund Me page to raise money to buy potable water for those in the city who need it.

    Flint is the second poorest city in the country, according to a U.S. Census Bureau report from last year, leading only Youngstown, Ohio. More than 40 percent of the city's population lived in poverty in 2014, the report said.

  • Mickey Gall's master plan is paying off

    Kevin Iole at Yahoo Sports 9 days ago

    LAS VEGAS – Mickey Gall is living a charmed life as a professional fighter so far. He's only 24 years old and was the main event in his pro debut.

    And it just so happened that a very prominent visitor, UFC president Dana White, showed up cageside to watch Gall fight Ron Templeton in Philadelphia on Nov. 21.

    White had shown up at the Dead Serious MMA show as part of an episode of his new series, "Dana White: Lookin' for a Fight." The pilot episode led White to 19-year-old Sage Northcutt, who's already fought three times in UFC and exploded in popularity.

    Long before Gall walked out for the fight, he knew that White would be there. And he, like many others, had seen what happened to Northcutt.

    "I knew he was there, so how could I not do something?" Gall asked.

    White would have been hard to miss next to the cage, but it's what Gall did that landed him a UFC contract. Not only did he quickly submit Templeton, he rushed over to White and immediately called out ex-WWE champion CM Punk.

    Punk signed with the UFC in late 2014 and has been training at Roufusport in Milwaukee under the tutelage of Duke Roufus. He's expected to debut in either June or July.