Kevin Iole

  • Bethe Correia certainly talking like she can beat Ronda Rousey

    Kevin Iole at Yahoo Sports 16 hrs 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 2 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.

  • Gennady Golovkin set for Oct. 17 PPV bout against David Lemieux

    Kevin Iole at Boxing 2 days ago

    The biggest fight of Gennady Golovkin's memorable career is set, a middleweight championship unification bout with David Lemieux on Oct. 17 at Madison Square Garden in New York.

    Golovkin, who is 33-0 with 30 knockouts, is facing his most formidable challenger in Lemieux, a slugger who won the vacant IBF title in June when he knocked Hassan N'Dam down four times en route to a unanimous decision.

    The bout will mark Golovkin's debut as a headliner on HBO Pay-Per-View. The IBF, WBA and interim WBC belts will be at stake. The WBC gave its champion, Miguel Cotto, an exception to face Canelo Alvarez instead of Golovkin, with the proviso that the winner defend against Golovkin. That bout is expected to be held in November.

    Promoter Oscar De La Hoya of Golden Boy said the Cotto-Alvarez fight is just about at the finish line, with it looking like it will be in November in Las Vegas.

    That, along with the Golovkin-Lemieux fight, sets the stage for a pair of major shows in the middleweight division in the fall.

    He's coming off wins over N'Dam and Gabriel Rosado in his last two outings.

  • Why MMA is bigger than ever – and still growing

    Kevin Iole at Yahoo Sports 3 days ago

    Imagine, for a second, the interest that would be generated if the UFC put on a show in December at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas, with Jose Aldo against Conor McGregor in the main event and Ronda Rousey against Miesha Tate in the co-main.

    “That would blow up the Internet,” UFC president Dana White said, chuckling.

    Now, this is all talk. Yes, Aldo and McGregor will fight for the featherweight title in a bout that will be as big as any the UFC has ever done. And yes, White said he plans to put the show in Cowboys Stadium, though there is no deal done or no date yet.

    Rousey still has to defend her women’s bantamweight title against Bethe Correia at UFC 190 on Aug. 1. And White said he’s still not sure where he plans to slot Rousey’s next fight. He’d only say that if Rousey is successful, her next defense would be against the winner of the Tate-Jessica Eye bout on Saturday at the United Center in Chicago.

    And it speaks to not only the UFC’s emergence but also of the sport’s health.

    And the same is true of MMA.

    More MMA coverage:

  • How T.J. Dillashaw solved the riddle of Renan Barao

    Kevin Iole at Yahoo Sports 4 days ago

    Dillashaw’s fifth-round stoppage victory not only earned him the title, but gave him the biggest title-fight upset in UFC history.

    It was a shock to many who had watched Barao’s magnificent career. He entered the fight unbeaten in more than nine years, on a 22-fight winning skein and a 33-fight unbeaten streak.

    Dillashaw was so good on that night, so vastly superior, that even longtime observers were stunned.

    It was a shock, though it shouldn’t have been.

    The same plan that Dillashaw used to beat Barao had been on display four months earlier in Duluth, Ga., in a fight with Mike Easton.

    Dillashaw, who will face Barao in a rematch for the bantamweight title on Saturday at the United Center in Chicago in the main event of a card televised nationally by Fox, had begun to study Barao in 2012 to help Team Alpha Male teammate Urijah Faber prepare for a fight with the Brazilian.

    At the same time, Dillashaw worked hard on his striking with then-Team Alpha Male striking coach Thonglor “Master Thong” Armatsena.

    When Duane Ludwig later was hired as Team Alpha Male’s head coach, he refined it more.

    Dillashaw defeated Joe Soto, who took the title shot on 24 hours’ notice, the next night.


  • Why Kovalev vs. Ward has to happen – and soon

    Kevin Iole at Yahoo Sports 5 days ago

    Somehow, though, only days before Sergey Kovalev is set to defend his IBF, WBA and WBO light heavyweight titles against Nadjib Mohammedi at the Mandalay Bay Events Center on HBO, ticket buyers aren’t paying much attention.

    The fight isn’t resonating with boxing fans. Good seats, as they say, are still (widely) available.

    Part of it has to do, no doubt, with the opponent. Mohammedi is one of those nameless, faceless mandatory challengers who hasn’t won any notable bouts and does nothing to drum up interest.

    Boxing fans are into Kovalev, as evidenced by his solid numbers on HBO. He’s fought six times on HBO since 2013, and his bout with Bernard Hopkins last year was the second-best performing bout on the network, with 1.328 million viewers.

    Four of the six bouts have exceeded 1 million viewers, including an astonishingly high 1.254 million for a preliminary bout with Ismayl Sillakh.

    Clearly, HBO’s viewers are interested in watching him.

    Sadly, though, fans won’t get Kovalev-Stevenson now or, more than likely, ever.

    That’s their business, though, and there is no reason fans should care about it.

    Duva said she’s talked to Roc Nation, which has expressed interest.

  • UFC cut man Stitch Duran deserved to keep his job

    Kevin Iole at Cagewriter 6 days ago

    The greatest thing about writing about fights and those involved in them for nearly three decades are the wonderful people you meet along the way.

    Men, for example, like Stitch Duran and Burt Watson. Duran and Watson are UFC workers who did jobs that are so anonymous and so dreary so well that they became minor celebrities.

    Duran is one of the finest cut men in boxing and mixed martial arts. People have been fighting each other for money for more than 100 years, and almost from the time they began, there was someone alongside to tend to them when, inevitably, they were cut.

    Until Duran came along, these cut men were virtually anonymous. A few had a bit of notoriety within the tightly knit fight community, but it was mostly because of how effective they were at their jobs.

    A cut man as a celebrity, though? It was a laughable notion. And then Jacob “Stitch” Duran came along and, sure enough, he became a celebrity.

    The guy wrote a book on his life that has played to rave reviews on Amazon. He’s hounded for photos in Germany, where he’s nearly as big of a star as the fighters he helps.

    “Who’s he?” the man asked his wife.

    He was the UFC’s cut man, until he spoke his mind and lost his job.

  • Why Miesha Tate isn't ready to think about a trilogy fight with Ronda Rousey

    Kevin Iole at Yahoo Sports 6 days ago

    Miesha Tate has options. The former Strikeforce women’s bantamweight champion can do just fine if she never finds herself locked alone in a cage with Ronda Rousey ever again.

    Tate is 0-for-2 against Rousey, who submitted her in the first round in a Strikeforce bout in 2012 and then repeated it at UFC 168 in 2013.

    Since then, the Rousey legend has grown enormously. She’s become the biggest star in the UFC and has won her last three fights, against Cat Zingano, Alexis Davis and Sara McMann, in a combined time of 96 seconds.

    In addition, she’s appeared in several movies, has written her autobiography, graced the cover of Maxim and been part of the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue.

    Tate is firmly in her rearview mirror.

    Except, that, well, perhaps she’s not.

    Tate has won three in a row herself since the last time she encountered Rousey, defeating McMann, Rin Nakai and Liz Carmouche. She’ll go for a fourth successive win on Saturday at the United Center in Chicago in the co-main event of a UFC card to be televised on Fox when she meets No. 5 Jessica Eye.

    The winner of the Tate-Eye fight will meet the winner of the Aug. 1 bout at UFC 190 between Rousey and No. 7 Bethe Correia.

  • B.J. Flores, 36, finally getting title fight after long and trying career

    Kevin Iole at Yahoo Sports 7 days ago

    LAS VEGAS – Life offered great possibilities for the 18-year-old B.J. Flores. He was a terrific athlete and had several scholarship offers to play college football.

    Following in his family tradition, he was an amateur boxer of some note. He was the reigning national Golden Gloves champion at 178 pounds as a promising professional career loomed.

    Flores, though, is a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, and wanted to serve a mission for his church.

    That meant two years away from the comforts of home, from family and friends, proselytizing in an unfamiliar land.

    Somebody, somewhere, though, must have suspected he was a boxer.

    "They could have called me to anywhere in the world," Flores told Yahoo Sports. "They could have sent me to Korea, to Mongolia, to Asia, to Australia. They could have literally sent me anywhere."

    Instead, he was sent to Culiacan, Mexico, a small village notable for its most famous resident.

    The fighters at Chavez's gym nicknamed Flores "El Peligroso," Spanish for "Dangerous." He soaked up the experience and was eager to go when he returned home.

    Without TV, he had nothing of consequence to offer Flores.

  • Meet the fighter who believes she may be ready for Rousey

    Kevin Iole at Yahoo Sports 7 days ago

    She speaks calmly and matter-of-factly, but no matter, the words Jessica Eye uses to describe herself are chilling.

    Eye is now one of the UFC’s top fighters, and a win Saturday over Miesha Tate at the United Center in Chicago in the co-main event of a card on Fox will get her a shot at the bantamweight championship.

    Eye is a light-hearted, easygoing person most of the time, but she changes when she’s about to compete.

    Something comes over her, and it is something that was borne of a horrible life experience.

    “I’m Jessica Eye on an everyday basis, and she’s a funny, loving, happy-go-lucky person,” she told Yahoo Sports. “But when I’m in the cage, I’m evil. I’m everything I hate. I’m everything I don’t want to be. I’m as evil as I can possibly be. I’m the villain in there. I possess that same thing that [UFC women’s bantamweight champion] Ronda [Rousey] has. Ronda does a great job of turning it on and off. That in my opinion is what identifies a true athlete, and when I step into the cage I’m no longer the same person.

    Eye said her father, Randy, frequently physically abused her as a child. It didn’t subside, even as she became an adult.