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They had their bout of trash talk before the fight, but Kamaru Usman and Tyron Woodley were nothing but respectful towards one another after the conclusion of their title fight at UFC 235, which saw ‘Nigerian Nightmare’ dominate ‘T-Wood’ in the co-main event to win the welterweight title.
Usman was very emotional after the fight, and the newly-crowned welterweight champion shared an intimate moment with Woodley’s mom backstage.
The 31-year-old started crying when he hugged Mrs. Woodley and, although no words were exchanged, Usman appeared to be apologizing for winning the fight.
Woodley’s mom, real name Deborah Woodley, reassured Usman that it was his time to shine on Saturday.
The two most notable entries to the UFC’s rankings both happen to be in the welterweight division and in the build-up to UFC 235, both men shared a heated rivalry. After his outstanding performance on Saturday, Kamaru Usman has entered the UFC’s pound-for-pound rankings at #9, in between Conor McGregor and Stipe Miocic. Given the sheer dominance of his performance against Woodley, it does not seem unlikely that the Hard Knocks 365 fighter will advance up these rankings further with other victories over the likes of Colby Covington, who he is likely to face next, and other welterweights such as Darren Till and the streaking Santiago Ponzinibbio.
Another man who he is likely to face down the line is Ben Askren, his fight-week rival who, following his UFC debut, has entered the UFC’s welterweight rankings at #6 behind Rafael Dos Anjos. In his post-fight press conference, Askren revealed that he would be in London for UFC Fight Night 147, where Darren Till faces Jorge Masvidal, with intentions of facing the winner next. Till is currently #3 in the rankings while Masvidal, who hasn’t fought since November 2017, currently sits at #11.
Tial Thang may not be a familiar name to Myanmar’s mixed martial arts fans, but it should not be too long before the “The Dragon Leg” starts becoming a regular topic of conversation.
The 25-year-old bantamweight has just signed a contract to compete in ONE Championship, the world’s largest martial arts organisation.
“I’ve been working so hard to get this opportunity,” he said in an interview with www.onefc.com. “I’m just so happy and excited to show the world what I’m capable of doing.”
Born in the city of Hakha, capital of Chin state. Tial Thang emigrated with his family to the U.S. when he was 14 years old. He had already developed an interest in martial arts during his early years, after taking up nanban, a form of wrestling.
However, his interest soon became his calling after he competed in his first amateur mixed martial arts bout at the age of 19.
“From that moment, I knew it was something I wanted to do for a living,” Tial Thang said
The road to becoming a professional athlete is never easy, and no two journeys are ever the same.
“And I got to start from the ground up. Basically, I could barely walk. Then it was just like start building, start from scratch. How can I get better?”
While some would have fallen into a dark place, with a UFC comeback months, if not years, in the distant future, Lawler took on the challenge of every day. He had surgery to repair his knee Jan. 10, 2018. The following day, he couldn’t walk under his own power.
Now, fewer than 14 months after surgery, Lawler is ready to get back into the Octagon. He’ll be facing undefeated former Olympic wrestler Ben Askren at UFC 235 on March 2 in Las Vegas. Lawler is healthy now, he said, and feels strong than he ever has. But the process was a drawn out one and not easy.
Lawler said he went step by step — not wanting to rush — first learning how to walk on crutches. This is not an unusual injury for athletes. But for Lawler it was brand new. For all the wild fights he has been in, this was one of the worst injuries of his career, if not the worst. And the first time he has blown out his knee.
“The rehab process was slow and tedious, but I just remembered to get back at it and working on straightening my leg, then working on bending it, then getting to the weight-bearing,” Lawler said.
In the early going, when he couldn’t walk at all, Lawler said he relied on a device called Power Plate, a platform that vibrates 25 to 50 times per second. Lawler said he’s been using it during workouts for almost a decade and it’s currently being used by most NFL teams and Division I athletic programs. Lawler said he did isolated work outs on it, in between physical therapy sessions, and stretching.
“You’re getting a lot more work in than you realize, because the vibration kind of forces your muscles to work a lot harder,” Lawler said. “Just made it easy. I wasn’t very mobile, but I was doing a lot of iso stuff and just doing holds. And that really helped kind of get the ball rolling to get my strength back early on.”
Lawler said he had physical therapy three times a week, but in some cases that wasn’t enough for him. He’d have sessions on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, go home and do the same workout again. Then do it again midday the following day.
“I made sure I stayed busy,” he said. “When you’re not very mobile, you kind of keep plugging away and do what you can.”
In May 2018, Lawler started working with Mike Barwis and that’s when he says he took things to the next level. Barwis is a longtime strength and conditioning coach, who currently hosts the show “American Muscle” on Discovery Channel and holds a senior advisor position with the New York Mets.
Lawler said he’s been able to look at his body’s strengths and weaknesses, including even what might have caused him to tear up his knee. He’s been focusing on stability and making those weaknesses better. Lawler believes he has accomplished that.
“My body is stronger than it’s ever been before,” he said. … “I would say I’m a better version of myself. I’ve had room to grow. I’ve just had time to reflect and I’m building. I’m trying to get better in all aspects, not just fighting. I’m trying to learn and trying to develop different parts of my life. That’s what I’ve been doing the past year and that’s what I’ll continue to do it. It’s just evolution and trying to get better in every way.”
What is motivating him heading into a big welterweight fight with Askren? Nothing specific other than this is what Lawler does and what he wants to do. Lawler held the UFC 170-pound title from 2014 to 2016, but doesn’t get up for the possibility of getting back to that spot. It’s simpler than that.
“Obviously, fighting is very fun,” Lawler said. “I love competing and I love pushing myself every day. Goals? I want to enjoy myself and have fun and beat some people up while I’m doing it. I actually really love training with fighters and helping them get to the next level, too. Me being in the room getting myself ready is kind of showing them maybe they should do a little bit of the stuff I’m doing. Then I look at them and I’m like, ‘Oh, I like what they’re doing.’ So, it’s just like a give and take. I love being in the gym and just the camaraderie and getting better with all my friends and training partners.”
Lawler has been working this camp down in Lantana, Fla., at Hard Knocks 365 under coaches like Henri Hooft, Kami Barzini, Greg Jones and others. Logan Storley, a Bellator prospect and four-time former Division I wrestling All-American, is one of his main training partners. So is Kamaru Usman, who is challenging Tyron Woodley, the man who knocked off Lawler, for the UFC welterweight belt.
It’s a good group and Lawler gives them, as well as those who have helped him with rehab, a ton of credit for this comeback. Lawler is no stranger to having a top-notch team around him. He basically grew up with the famed Miletich Fighting Systems team and then reinvented himself at American Top Team en route to the UFC title.
Now, Lawler is trying to write another chapter in his fighting life, 18 years after it all started. Many of his contemporaries back then are long gone. But “Ruthless” is still here. Working.
When asked if he could ever imagine he’d still be doing this when he started about two decades ago, Lawler laughed and said the question was “hilarious.”
“I was pay check to pay check, workout to workout,” he said. “And that’s pretty much still how I try to live my life. If you’re thinking too far ahead, you’re gonna miss what’s going on right in front of you. I was just grinding, getting better and just keeping my eye on the prize. I wasn’t thinking 20 years from now. I just wasn’t.”
Those nearly 20 years have come now. They are here. So is Lawler. “Ruthless” as ever.
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CAPE TOWN – Stand up Africa! Stand up and support your “Boi”.
It’s time for yet another African athlete to carry the continent’s fighting pedigree proudly, as Kamaru Usman takes on one of the most elite MMA athletes the world has seen.
The ‘Nigeria Nightmare’ will challenge the UFC’s welterweight king Tyron Woodley (19-3-1) on Saturday night at UFC235 in Las Vegas, in one of the most exciting cards the billion-dollar organisation has produced so far.
In the last main event, Israel Adensanya (16-0-0) raised the motherland’s name proudly as he got the ‘W’ over arguably the best MMA athlete the world has seen yet after beating Brazil’s Anderson Silva (34-9-0) down in Australia.
Following that victory, Israel made his desires known that it’s time the UFC heads to Africa soon.
And a title win for Usman tomorrow night could turn the volume up even more, encouraging the biggest MMA organisation to make their debut in Africa.
It’s been years since Usman has been ‘home’, but he still feels a very strong connection to his place of birth.
“Absolutely, all my extended family is there, while my parents are in the US, along with my brothers and sisters.
“Growing up in Nigeria, I always knew I was destined for something great.
“Once we emigrated, I had to assimilate and partake in the sports that were big in the US, and I found wrestling, and that is when I realised what I wanted to do,” said Usman.
It’s enough to strike fear in fighters across the globe.
Aung La N Sang is adamant he’s more powerful than ever as he prepares to defend his ONE Middleweight World Title.
“I’m going to be the biggest, the strongest and fastest, the most explosive and most athletic I’ve ever been for this coming fight,” declared Myanmar’s Aung La, who will fight Japan’s Ken Hasegawa on the historic ONE: A New Era card in Tokyo on March 31.
“I took some time off and I worked on getting stronger and stronger and I feel I am,” said the “Burmese Python. “All my injuries have healed up and I feel sharp. In the last fight I was pretty banged up, but all my injuries have gone and I’m going to be sharp, I’m going to be fast and I’m going to be ready.”
More staggeringly, Aung La claims he hits harder than ever before.
Antoniyar will meet Malaysian striker Audreylaura “Ice Comet” Boniface, in what will be one of the nights most explosive encounters.
The night will see the promotional and professional debut of Tial Thang.
The 25-year-old trains alongside Aung La N Sang in Florida at Hard Knocks 365 gym and is excited about putting on a show at ONE: REIGN OF GLORY.
The Chin state native will meet Cambodia’s Rin Saroth in a catch-weight 68 Kg contest. Saroth is a stand-up veteran with over 100 Kun Khmer bouts under his belt. The Cambodian joined ONE in 2015 and has accumulated both knockout and submission victories under the ONE banner.
South Africa – South African MMA star Dricus du Plessishas cracked KSW’s best fights of 2018 list.
Du Plessis (12-2) gained recognition for his thrilling debut in the promotion against Roberto Soldic (15-3) in April last year, with their showdown coming in at number three on the six-fight selection.
‘Stillknocks’ TKO’d Soldic in the second round to win the welterweight belt after weathering an early barrage from the heavy-handed Croatian at Centennial Hall in Wroclaw, Poland.
Soldic, however, returned the favour six months later with a third-round KO to reclaim the strap from Du Plessis at Wembley Arena in London, England.
Du Plessis, who is the EFC welterweight and middleweight champion, will next face fellow former KSW 77kg champ Borys Mankowski (19-7-1) at the Atlas Arena in Lodz, Poland on March 23.
While based at Team CIT MMA in Pretoria, Du Plessis is currently training alongside the likes of UFC superstars Luke Rockhold (16-4) and Robbie Lawler (28-12) at Hard Knocks 365 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
Luke Rockhold is done killing himself to compete at middleweight.
The former 185-pound champion has declared his intention to move to the light heavyweight division after teasing that same decision throughout 2018 but then ultimately booking a fight against Chris Weidman at UFC 230 in New York.
Unfortunately, Rockhold’s body couldn’t hold up and he was forced to pull out of the fight and that was the final straw to tell him it was time to move up to light heavyweight.
According to Rockhold, he had already plotted a move to 205 pounds but when the UFC came calling with an opportunity to compete on the card at Madison Square Garden in November, it was too good to pass up.
He tried to get through a full training camp while still nursing a shin injury that had hampered him for much of 2018 but the strain was just too much.
Robin van Roosmalen remembers the first time he knew, without question, he eventually had to compete in mixed martial arts.
It’s a pretty simple story, really. An easy memory to recall. The veteran kickboxer knew he had to compete in MMA the first time he hit pads with 4-ounce gloves.
“I didn’t really like the game at first, the wrestling between standup,” van Roosmalen told ESPN. “But the small gloves, that’s what really drew me to it. Sometimes in training, I’ll get lazy with the big gloves. With small gloves, you can’t do that. You don’t want to get hit. It’s a whole different game.
“I was excited and scared at the same time. I put those smaller gloves on and said, ‘Wow. I need to hit somebody with these.'”
Daniel Cormier named ESPN 2018 MMA Fighter of the Year
Daniel Cormier had one of the most dominant years ever for a fighter, going 3-0 while retaining the light heavyweight belt and claiming the heavyweight title.
Earlier this month, van Roosmalen, the only two-weight champion in Glory kickboxing history, announced his departure from the ring in order to pursue MMA full time. The 29-year-old will compete at 145 pounds.
Originally from the Netherlands, now fighting out of Hard Knocks 365 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, van Roosmalen hasn’t signed with an MMA promotion yet, but says a deal could be in place before the end of the year. end of the year.