Kevin Iole

  • Legend of 'Scarface': How Jose Aldo's latest withdrawal could impact his legacy

    Kevin Iole at Yahoo Sports 6 hrs ago

    This fight, as we've said repeatedly, was all about Conor McGregor because, well, it had to be about McGregor.

    The UFC simply couldn't risk putting all its chips in on the man who just well may be the greatest fighter in the world.

    Jose Aldo has seven UFC fights and, as of late Tuesday, five UFC withdrawals.

    The Brazilian is a brilliant talent who at 28 is only now entering his prime. He's fast, has perhaps the sport's finest takedown defense, is a powerful and accurate striker and is as good as it gets on the ground.

    He's the featherweight champion, and unbeaten in nearly 10 years, for a reason. He's reached Fedor Emelianenko levels of dominance. As of Tuesday, Aldo's gone nine years, seven months and three days since the sole loss of his career, a submission to Luciano Azevedo on Nov. 26, 2005, in Manaus, Brazil.

    Emelianenko, the great Russian heavyweight, went nine years, six months and two days between losses.

    The pain was too great, and he couldn't compete.

    In this case, though, he's right.

  • Rib injury KOs champ Jose Aldo, McGregor-Mendes tops UFC 189

    Kevin Iole at Cagewriter 11 hrs ago

    One of the most hotly anticipated fights in mixed martial arts history was scrapped on Tuesday when Jose Aldo said his rib injury was too painful and would prevent him from defending his featherweight title against Conor McGregor on July 11 at the MGM Grand in the main event of UFC 189.

    UFC president Dana White made the announcement during an appearance with McGregor on Tuesday on SportsCenter. Chad Mendes, who lost a tough match to Aldo for the belt last year in Brazil, will now meet McGregor for the interim title.

    It's the fifth time in his UFC career that Aldo has pulled out of a bout with injury, but far and away the most devastating. Previously, injuries prevented Aldo from participating in UFC 125, UFC 149, UFC 153 and UFC 176.

    This one, though, is the toughest one for all concerned to take. The bout pitted the long-time champion, one of the great fighters in the sport's history, against a fast-rising star who in just two years has skyrocketed to stardom.

  • UFC’s sponsorship deal with Reebok about more than a new look

    Kevin Iole at Yahoo Sports 15 hrs ago

    At the end of a news conference in New York on Tuesday to unveil the uniforms UFC fighters will wear beginning July 11, Corrina Werkle, the general manager of Reebok's training business unit, wrapped it up by giving a summary.

    The kits are all about flexibility, strength, customization and fit, she said. They will transform the UFC, she noted, and elevate the sport of mixed martial arts forever.

    Ignoring, for a moment, Werkle's overreaching, self-serving statements, the truth of it is that it is all about money – television money, to be exact.

    That's not necessarily a bad thing, but it is the truth. This deal was done, quite simply, to provide a better look for television so that the product is more appealing to TV networks when the UFC's current deal with Fox expires in 2018.

    The best-case scenario for the UFC would be for Fox to bid for its rights against a competing network, such as ESPN.

    Nobody can argue the wisdom of that move, and the long-range consequences it could have for the athletes. In making the decision to eliminate all logos but Reebok's from fighter gear during UFC events, however, it dramatically impacts the fighters.

  • UFC 189 will determine just how big of a star Conor McGregor has become

    Kevin Iole at Yahoo Sports 1 day ago

    McGregor will fight champion Jose Aldo for the featherweight title in the main event of UFC 189 on July 11 at the MGM Grand in small part because of his five consecutive wins without a loss in the promotion. It's largely, however, because of his brilliance as a marketer that he's gotten the title fight.

    One can fairly say that the outspoken Irishman has literally talked his way to the top, though that would ignore his athletic accomplishments.

    He won the Cage Warriors title at both featherweight and lightweight, earning him his 2013 promotion to the UFC. That feat alone proves he can fight to some degree.

    And with each succeeding win in the UFC – against Marcus Brimage, Max Holloway, Diego Brandao, Dustin Poirier and Dennis Siver – he's answered a few more questions about his ability at the highest level.

    In his five fights, he's won Knockout of the Night once and Performance of the Night three times. In his only UFC bout in which he didn't receive a fight-night bonus, he severely injured his knee in the first round of his bout with Holloway and still went on to win a clear decision.

    That puts the burden on McGregor to sell, and in some ways sets him up to fail.

  • Yoel Romero eyeing what his brother already has

    Kevin Iole at Yahoo Sports 4 days ago

    Yoel Romero is one of the great amateur wrestlers of this, or any, generation. He beat the legendary Cael Sanderson three times and is, arguably, the top wrestler ever to transition to mixed martial arts.

    He suffered his first MMA loss in 2011, in just his fifth fight, when he got too ambitious and was beaten by the vastly more experienced Rafael "Fejaio" Cavalcante at Strikeforce 36.

    Cavalcante is a quality striker and his hands were simply too much for Romero, as he stopped him in the second round.

    Romero's brother, Yoan Pablo Hernandez, is a world cruiserweight boxing champion with a 29-1 record. But though it would seem to make sense that Romero would have sought out his brother for help with his striking, Yoel didn't and never really thought of it.

    It was, though, not because of a family feud but more out of respect.

    "My brother hits waaaaay too hard for me to be sparring with," said Romero, who on Saturday in Hollywood, Fla., will meet ex-light heavyweight champion Lyoto Machida in the main event of a UFC card.

    But Romero said he doesn't try to rely on his wrestling in his MMA career.

  • Ex-UFC fighter Chris Spang pursues his passion as a boxer

    Kevin Iole at Boxing 5 days ago

    LAS VEGAS -- There aren’t a lot of professional boxers from Sweden, and a large reason why is likely that the sport was illegal in the country from 1970 through 2007.

    Chris Spang, a Swede, managed to find a way to fight despite the ban, though he could never fully indulge his passion for the sport until now. He even did a long stint as a gymnast because there were so few boxers around.

    Spang, who was 19 and in the midst of his amateur mixed martial arts career when the law prohibiting boxing in Sweden was repealed in 2007, always felt he’d been miscast in MMA.

    He did it because it was a way toward making a living, but he was never fully able to take advantage of his skills.

    Spang didn't need to fight. He's a model of some note, has a degree in economics and spent some time managing a nightclub. He's got plenty of substance to go with those athletic genes.

    He went 5-3 in MMA and made it to the UFC, where he lost his only fight in 2013. He worked hard on his wrestling and had a solid takedown defense, but he was really a boxer attempting to make a go of it in MMA.

    “I was born to do this,” Spang said of BKB.

    He said he loves to fight for the same reason he enjoys modeling.

  • Chad Mendes happy to serve as an understudy for Jose Aldo

    Kevin Iole at Cagewriter 5 days ago

    LAS VEGAS -- Here's all you need to know about Chad Mendes: When UFC president Dana White called to gauge his interest in facing Conor McGregor if featherweight champion Jose Aldo is unable to compete on July 11, Mendes said yes before he knew whether he'd be paid.

    And on Thursday, a day after the UFC announced that Aldo is planning to put his belt on the line against McGregor but bringing in Mendes as a precaution in case the pain from a bruised rib becomes too unbearable for Aldo to fight, Mendes still didn't know if he'd be paid.

    "Honestly, I don't know," he told Yahoo Sports when asked if he'd be paid even if he's not needed to fight. "I guess we're still talking. I don't really know. But they offered me the chance to be the stand-by fighter for UFC and, paid or not, I was all over it. I was 100 percent going to do it."

    "He's got talent, but when you put aside the mouth and the marketing skills, he's not the kind of guy I see as a champion."

  • MMA denied: New York legislature once again acts like loons

    Kevin Iole at Yahoo Sports 5 days ago

    A few days ago, New York legislators were able to, in their infinite wisdom, push a bill through the assembly and state senate to authorize Gov. Andrew Cuomo to declare July 29 as "Chicken Wing Day."

    They weren't, however, able to bring to a vote a bill that would legalize mixed martial arts in the state.

    And so, for another year, New York will remain the only state in the country in which MMA is illegal and not regulated by the state athletic commission.

    It's laughable, and clearly corrupt. There is no logical rationale to ban MMA or to impose conditions that would make it difficult to promote events in the state.

    Those who say it's too brutal or too violent simply don't understand the sport. In 23 years, the UFC has experienced zero deaths. Football can't say the same. Neither can boxing. Personally, I've covered seven boxing deaths in my reporting career, and boxing is a sanctioned sport in New York.

    All it shows is the seamy underbelly of state politics.

    Adding in Republican votes, the Journal News reported the bill would pass easily.

    It's lunacy, but there is no real political pressure being placed on the members to make something happen.

  • Timothy Bradley makes significant changes after questionable draw

    Kevin Iole at Yahoo Sports 5 days ago

    Timothy Bradley remains an elite physical specimen and, at 31, is in his boxing prime. Still, Bradley made substantial changes to his training techniques while preparing for his HBO-televised fight against Jessie Vargas on Saturday for the vacant WBO welterweight title at the StubHub Center in Carson, Calif.

    Bradley and trainer Joel Diaz used sledgehammers and medicine balls, and swam a lot more than normal. Bradley abandoned the vegan diet he's followed for years and is eating chicken, fish and, once a week, steak.

    It's a matter of perspective, though, whether change is a good thing. He suffered the first defeat of his brilliant career by decision last year to Manny Pacquiao. And many observers felt he was robbed of a win in his fight with Diego Chaves, which the judges ruled a split draw.

    The cold, hard truth of it, though, is that draw, however unfair, left Bradley 0-1-1 in the past 20 months.

    "Vargas is puppy chow to me," Bradley said. "He's dog food. I can't let this go to the judges."

    Though he got the distasteful draw in his December bout with Chaves, most observers felt he won and Chaves is a vastly underrated opponent.

  • Jose Aldo still fighting (for now), but UFC 189 is about Conor McGregor anyways

    Kevin Iole at Yahoo Sports 6 days ago

    LAS VEGAS – Conor McGregor is going to fight for the featherweight title on July 11 one way or another.

    The UFC announced late Wednesday that champion Jose Aldo has a bruised, not broken, rib, and plans to defend his belt as scheduled in the main event of UFC 189 at the MGM Grand.

    Aldo was injured Tuesday in a sparring session in Brazil with Nova Uniao teammate Alcides Nunes. There was concern his rib was broken, but the UFC issued a statement in which it said several doctors concurred that it was only bruised.

    As a result, Aldo will resume training and intends to face McGregor next month at the MGM. UFC executives weren’t taking any chances, though, that Aldo would pull out late and McGregor would be forced off the card.

    Aldo has already pulled out of UFC 125, UFC 149, UFC 153 and UFC 176 with injuries, so management this time took an extraordinary precautionary step.

    In the event that the pain from the bruised rib is too much and Aldo can’t compete, the UFC announced that No. 1 contender Chad Mendes would face McGregor for the interim belt.

    The overflow crowd roared its approval in what was a spine-tingling moment for even the most casual of fans.