LAS VEGAS — If Kamaru Usman had followed his plan upon leaving the Olympic Training Center in 2012, the man known as “The Nigerian Nightmare” says he would be working as a marriage counselor.
Safe to say, Usman would probably assess his relationship with opponent Colby Covington as something more than irreconcilable differences.
The UFC welterweight champion looks to put an end to the brash, trash-talking challenger when they collide in the UFC 245 main event on Saturday at T-Mobile Arena.
Matthews outstruck the Hard Knocks 365 representative across three rounds, as he laid claim to a unanimous decision in the featured UFC 243 prelim on Saturday at Marvel Stadium in Melbourne, Australia. All three judges cageside just struck 30-27 scorecards for Matthews (15-4, 8-4 UFC), who recorded his fourth win in five appearances.
Neither man offered much in terms of meaningful offense, especially Akman (6-2, 0-2 UFC). Matthews turned up the heat in the latter half of the fight and sped past the Swede with occasional jabs to the head and body, overhand rights and an active kicking game. Akman never shifted gears and showed no sense of urgency, even as the match slipped away from him.
Located near ATT’s headquarters, Hard Knocks 365 is a relatively new gym that replaced the famous Blackzilians gym. Some of the Blackzilians have joined Hard Knocks 365, but the facility has made a new name for itself, too.
The head coach of Hard Knocks 365 is Henri Hooft. Although Hard Knocks is a UFC gym, the Dutch kickboxing coach specializes in training his fighters on striking. As a result, some of the best UFC strikers, including current welterweight champ Kamaru Usman, practice with Hooft at Hard Knocks 365.
At 41-years-old, ONE Heavyweight World Champion Brandon Vera is closer to the end of his professional career than the beginning. However, this weekend, the veteran athlete intends to show the world he is not about to hang up his gloves just yet when he attempts to capture Myanmar’s Aung La N Sang ONE Light Heavyweight World Championship.
The pair will face off in the main event of ONE: Century part II, which takes place inside Tokyo’s Ryōgoku Kokugikan. The bout between two of the promotion’s most popular athletes is expected to generate a viewing audience in the millions. Aung La, is perhaps Myanmar’s most well-known sporting figure, while American-born Filipino and Manila resident Vera also has a sizeable fanbase.
One of the hardest parts about being a UFC fighter involves the training. To maximize their workouts and techniques, a great UFC fighter needs a great gym so they can train with the best in the sport. Here are some of the most famous UFC gyms in the world.
American Kickboxing Academy, or AKA, is more than just a kickboxing academy; it’s the stomping grounds of four UFC champions. Cain Velasquez, former heavyweight champion; Daniel Cormier, former light heavyweight and heavyweight champion; Luke Rockhold, former middleweight champion; and Khabib Nurmagomedov, current lightweight champion, all trained at AKA.
At AKA, fighters train in every style of the sport. Nurmagomedov and Cormier specifically like to train and improve their wrestling skills at this gym. Of course, as its name implies, AKA also teaches kickboxing, and Rockhold is a great kickboxer as a result. AKA’s head coach, Javier Mendez, often corners the champions he’s trained while they fight in the UFC.
Sherdog.com confirmed the bookings with a promotion official on Monday. Dutch outlet Babrants Dagblad reported Van Roosmalen vs. Lencioni, while MMAjunkie.com initially brought word of Mix vs. Mazzotta. Bellator 232 takes place at Mohegan Sun in Uncasville, Conn., and is headlined by the welterweight grand prix final matchup between Rory MacDonald and Douglas Lima.
Van Roosmalen is a former featherweight and lightweight champion with Glory Kickboxing. He owns a 2-0 mark in professional MMA and has been training at Hard Knocks 365 in Florida. His pro kickboxing record is 51-17-3.
Anchored at Gracie Barra Portland, Lencioni halted a two-bout skid with a first-round submission of Adil Benjilany at Bellator 221 on May 11. He is 2-2 under the Bellator banner overall.
Mowry is 6-0 as a pr, including a 2-0 in Bellator. The 27-year-old trains at Hard Knocks 365 and is a towering 6-foot-8 heavyweight. Mowry owns submission victories against Ben Moa and Darion Abby in his two promotional appearances thus far. The former Titan FC competitor has finished four of his victories by submission and two by KO/TKO.
Saricam is also undefeated at 4-0 and will make his first walk to the Bellator cage against Mowry. The Turkish fighter last competed in February, when he defeated Jose Agustin Jimenez Garcia by TKO at an event in the Netherlands. He has finished all four of his fights inside the distance — three by KO/TKO and one via submission.
ONE Championship light heavyweight and middleweight champion Aung La N Sang is more than a two-belt titleholder. He is a national hero for his native Myanmar, and through his success, he has changed and saved lives, bringing the strife-ridden country together.
He never imagined that would happen to him, but it did, and he accepts the responsibility of being a role model. His demeanor, drive, work ethic and values make him a great representative of the ONE Championship mantra in and out of the ring.
Also a wildlife activist, his sights these days are set on his next fight.
A current two-division world champion and the 2018 Fighters Only World MMA Awards International Fighter of the Year, Aung La N Sang likely remains an unknown to all but the most hardcore of MMA fans.
That doesn’t bother him one bit.
“I respect everybody, and if people don’t respect me, it doesn’t bother me,” N Sang told MMA Junkie. “Obviously, the Western media is not going to cover ONE Championship as much. The fact that I’ve been fighting mostly in Asia doesn’t help, either. But skillwise, I know where I’m at. I’m in the room at Hard Knocks 365. I know what I’m capable of, and I train with Kamaru Usman and the best guys in the world, so it’s not a big deal for me.”
N Sang is the reigning middleweight and light heavyweight titleholder under the ONE Championship banner. A native of Myanmar, N Sang relocated to the U.S. to attend college, launching his professional MMA career shortly after. He registered early appearances with regional stalwarts such as Cage Fury Fighting Championships and Ring of Combat, even fighting once under the Bellator banner.
Saturday is a busy day in the MMA world. UFC 242 (2 p.m. ET, ESPN+) and its lightweight title headliner between Khabib Nurmagomedov and Dustin Poirier is getting the bulk of the attention. But Bellator has a compelling card Saturday night in San Jose, California, that won’t actually go head-to-head in terms of time slot with the big UFC pay-per-view event.
Bellator 226 (10 p.m. ET, DAZN) features a heavyweight title main event pitting champion Ryan Bader against veteran Cheick Kongo. Also on tap is the launch of the Bellator Featherweight World Grand Prix, with four of the eight first-round tournament fights happening on the card from SAP Center.
Here’s what to watch at Bellator 226: