Covington, American Top Team gym part ways

Colby Covington’s tumultuous tenure with the American Top Team gym has come to an end, as the UFC welterweight contender announced Wednesday that there has been a mutual parting of the ways.

“I’m affiliated with Colby Covington, Inc., as of now,” Covington told ESPN’s Ariel Helwani in a video interview. “I’m my own team.”

Tension had been growing at the gym in Coconut Creek, Florida, especially between Covington and ATT stars Jorge Masvidal, Dustin Poirier and Joanna Jedrzejczyk. Gym owner Dan Lambert, who also has relinquished his role as one of Covington’s agents, instituted a rule that teammates couldn’t rip each other in public, but it was obvious that rule wouldn’t hold back the hostility in the gym.

“I felt bad because of Dan in that situation,” Covington said. “For months, he’s coming to me, ‘Dude, you’re putting me in a tough situation. Everybody wants you out. You’re making the gym uneasy.’ And I didn’t want to do that to him. I didn’t want to make his life tougher than it already is. He already has enough on his plate.

“I felt like it was the best for me to move on, find some other coaches, find some other training partners and go about my business how I got about my business. The biggest thing is that we’re in America, are we not entitled to our own opinion, don’t we have free speech?”

Covington emphasized that he doesn’t have a problem with Lambert, just with some of the fighters in the gym. Lambert told ESPN that it was mostly a mutual parting of ways and about Covington he said, “I still love the guy.”

Regarding his new gym setup, Covington said he wasn’t able to reveal the details yet, but it will be a team focused around him in South Florida.

“Good things take time to develop,” Covington said. “Things are being put in place. I’m putting a lot of hard work in behind the scenes.”

Covington has not fought since falling by fifth-round TKO in a welterweight title fight against Kamaru Usman at UFC 245 in December. He said he has been “begging” the UFC to return since then with the hope of an Usman rematch or a fight against Masvidal next, perhaps as early as this summer.

“I’ve been begging to come back and save the sports world, save America,” Covington said. “We’ve gotta see what the UFC wants to do. … You don’t know how motivated I’ve been, how hungry I’ve been, how much I want to rewrite every wrong.”

Covington (15-2) was on a seven-fight winning streak before losing to Usman. The California native and former Oregon State University All-American wrestler is a former UFC interim welterweight champion. ESPN has him ranked No. 3 among MMA welterweights.

Covington, 32, had trained at American Top Team since his MMA career started in 2012.

“I’m done with American Top Team,” Covington said. “We had a great run while it lasted. It was time to move on. The sun sets, the sun rises. It’s a new chapter.”

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Conor McGregor called out by Kamaru Usman, who accuses Notorious of ducking title shot

Conor McGregor has been accused by Kamaru Usman of ducking the opportunity to fight for the UFC welterweight title. The former two-division champion was offered the opportunity to vie for Usman’s belt last weekend by the Nigerian-American’s manager Ali Abdelaziz.

Abdelaziz, surprisingly, publicly offered McGregor the chance to become the promotion’s first three-weight world champion after seeing No.1 contender Jorge Masvidal divert his attention from a clash with Usman to a rematch with Nate Diaz.

Usman initially played down the prospect of defending his title against ‘The Notorious’, tweeting: “I really don’t understand why you all want this man DEAD!!!

“I’d s**g him in there if I wanted and he’d “DO NOTHIN” FOH.”

‘The Nigerian Nightmare’, however, has since had a change of heart.

JUST IN: Conor McGregor explains why he’s left Khabib out of GOAT list

Conor’s quiet now. Who says no to a title shot?

Kamaru Usman

“I’m gonna give him the opportunity, if Conor wants, let’s do it,” Usman told ESPN.

McGregor has yet to respond to Abdelaziz or Usman’s tweets, which is surprising given how quick he is to fire back at those who mention his name in a negative light.

Usman has been perplexed by McGregor’s silence, adding: “Conor’s quiet now. Who says no to a title shot?

“I’ve never seen this in history, who says no when the champ says come and get your title shot?”

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The UFC’s first African-born champion believes McGregor’s failure to respond to either his or Abdelaziz’s tweets is a sign he truly doesn’t want the fight.

“Unless you know you have no chance in hell of winning,” he said. “This might change the landscape of your fighting career ever.

“That’s the only chance I can see people saying ‘I’m going to pass on that title shot right there.'”

McGregor, 31, revealed his eagerness to claim the welterweight title ahead of his comeback fight earlier this year.

Speaking after Usman’s UFC 245 title defence against Colby Covington, he said: “I like that welterweight bout.

“I like that welterweight title fight that was on the weekend, I like the look of that, I like the look of Kamaru Usman.

“I like the look of Colby. I’m just open to it all at 170. A lot of people forget about my skill base.

“I’m going to go in there and remind them, I don’t feel these people are on my level when I am committed.”

McGregor, 22-4, made his long-awaited return to the Octagon in January in the main event of UFC 246 in Las Vegas, where he locked horns with Donald Cerrone in a welterweight match-up.

The Irishman decimated Cerrone in 40 seconds to claim his first victory in over three years and become the first fighter in UFC history register stoppage wins in the featherweight, lightweight and welterweight divisions.

The UFC’s poster boy is hoping to return to his active ways in 2020, setting his sights on two more outings this year.

McGregor is looking to return to action in July and has put newly-crowned interim lightweight champion Justin Gaethje in his crosshairs.

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Dillian Whyte’s showdown with UFC star Francis Ngannou could be staged this year, says Eddie Hearn

Dillian Whyte’s potential fight with UFC star Francis Ngannou could happen this year, says promoter Eddie Hearn, who is planning talks with UFC boss Dana White.

Britain’s heavyweight contender has welcomed an explosive battle with Ngannou, who suggested he could be open to a boxing match, and Hearn revealed that he has received huge demand to stage the fight.

Whyte is currently training for a rescheduled clash with Alexander Povetkin, but the WBC ‘interim’ champion could then turn his attention to a battle with Ngannou before the end of 2020.

“I never really thought we would take this too seriously, but in the last week we have to take this seriously,” Hearn told Sky Sports.

It’s really got a lot of momentum and a lot of promise. I think there’s a really good chance it could happen.

Eddie Hearn on Whyte vs Ngannou

@dillianwhyte is NOT holding back. He’s said that @francisngannou ‘reminds me of that deluded coward Deontay Wilder’ 👀 after the UFC star declared that he wanted to fight the world’s top heavyweights 🥊⁣⁣

A post shared by Sky Sports Boxing 🥊 (@skysportsboxing) on

“The aim for Dillian Whyte is to become a world boxing champion, but I wouldn’t be surprised at all to see Dillian Whyte against Ngannou towards the end of this year. Obviously we know Povetkin is next, but whether it’s October, November, December.

“I’m going to be reaching out to Dana White and saying: ‘Tell me how this works? Can we actually do this? Are we doing it in a ring? Are we doing it in a cage? Are we doing one round of each?’

“It’s really got a lot of momentum and a lot of promise. I think there’s a really good chance it could happen.”

Whyte has displayed his concussive power with destructive knockouts of Derek Chisora and Lucas Browne, while Ngannou has ruthlessly stopped his recent opponents within the opening round.

Floyd Mayweather’s boxing fight with Conor McGregor generated fiery debate between fans of both combat codes and Hearn believes Whyte-Ngannou would deliver an even more dramatic encounter.

“There’s not just interest online, there is huge interest everywhere for that fight,” said Hearn.

“When I first started discussing it, it was just something that had been mentioned. Fans of both disciplines have always said: ‘Whyte against Ngannou is a cracker’.

“I’ve started to receive a lot of interest from numerous people about staging that fight now. I think it does colossal numbers.

“It’s the first real, genuine crossover fight. I know we had Floyd and we had Conor, but this is a different kind of fight. This is a different kind of experience. This is brutality at its absolute rawest.

“This fight does huge numbers. It’s got the boxing fans, it’s got the MMA fans, it’s got the intrigue. It’s got everything.”

Whyte stoked up his rivalry with Ngannou earlier this week by branding the France-based fighter as a “coward” and “boring.”

“Ngannou is dumber than he sounds if he thinks he’s going to do anything in boxing,” Whyte told Sky Sports.

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Charlie Edwards swaps Eddie Hearn for Frank Warren in search of second title

Charlie Edwards has swapped Eddie Hearn for Frank Warren in a bid to win a second world title.

The former flyweight champion will move up in weight after joining his brother Sunny at the veteran promoter.

Edwards reigned as the WBC flyweight champion until he met Julio Cesar Martinez last year.

The Mexican stopped Edwards in the third round but the fight was then declared a no contest after replays showed Martinez struck the champion while he was on the canvas.

Edwards later gave up his title with Martinez beating Cristofer Rosales for the vacant strap before successfully defending it against Jay Harris.

Edwards revealed he will now operate at either super-flyweight or bantamweight when he returns to the ring.

He said: "I was with Eddie Hearn for six years and I needed to freshen things up. I feel this is the next chapter of my career.

“I have seen what Frank has done for my brother Sunny. He has done very well for him from the start.

“Frank really looks after his fighters as well. I felt I was taken for granted and I am looking forward to getting started with Frank as my promoter.

“I have chatted to Frank at Sunny’s fights and the timing was right. My management MTK sorted the deal, my adviser thought it was best for me and the offer is great.

“The next fight is likely to be a gage to see where I’m at regarding my best weight. The main thing is keeping my world ranking at Super-Flyweight for now.

“I look at the bantamweight champions. I’m not deluded and say, ‘I’m world level’ at that weight because that would be stupid.

“If I go to bantamweight I wont be rushing to get in with world level fighters. It will be building up over a few fights.

“I have Frank behind me and he is not going to chuck me in at the deep end. It’s going to be building into the world title picture.”

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Mike Tyson reportedly offered over $30 million for return from Bare Knuckle Fighting Championship

Mike Tyson is getting closer to a return to fighting — and it may not just be boxing.

The former heavyweight champion is expected to be offered a contract by Bare Knuckle Fighting Championship that will exceed the $AUD30 million pact the company extended to Tyson earlier this month and include charitable donations, the organisation’s president told MMA Fighting.

“I think I know what we need to do to make this thing happen,” BKFC President David Feldman said.

The 53-year-old Tyson, whose last official boxing match was a 2005 loss to Kevin McBride, has teased a return to combat sports. He’s posted videos of intense workouts and pictures of his new ripped physique in recent weeks.

Tyson has expressed interest in partaking in a charity boxing match and has already seen potential opponents line up.

“We got many guys,” Tyson said during an interview with rapper Lil Wayne on Saturday. “Listen we’ve got so many guys that want to do this man. We’re in calls, we’re doing business with guys right now. You’re not going to believe the names when the names come out. Sometime this week we’ll have the contract done.”

Former UFC stars Tito Ortiz and Ken Shamrock have expressed interest in a fight with Tyson no matter the medium, according to MMA Fighting. Former rival Evander Holyfield, 57, has begun posting his own training videos and is open to a third bout between him and Tyson for charity.

“I would do that! Yes, I want to fight Mike Tyson,” Holyfield told The Sun this month. “I can definitely handle him. … But Mike would have to want to do it as well.”

Tyson was back in a ring this week as he appeared on All Elite Wrestling’s Double or Nothing pay-per-view and presented the company’s new TNT title to winner Cody Rhodes.

This article originally appeared on the NY Post and was reproduced with permission.

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Vitor Belfort speaks out on training with Mike Tyson and teases tag team match

UFC legend Vitor Belfort says Mike Tyson must ‘train smart’ as the heavyweight icon bids to return to the boxing ring, while the Brazilian would be keen to link up with the veteran in a wresting tag team match.

Iron Mike announced his comeback earlier this month, with the 53-year-old looking in phenomenal shape ahead of a planned exhibition match for charity, with the likes of Evander Holyfield and Shannon Briggs mentioned as potential opponents.

Tyson – who has been training with legendary MMA coach Rafael Cordeiro – made a guest appearance at All Elite Wrestling’s ‘Double or Nothing’ PPV show on Saturday, with Belfort ringside to watch.

The pair met up during the weekend event and trained together, with Tyson once again showing off his age-defying physique, and Belfort says it is important that the veteran boxer listens to his body and adapts his training.

Asked about Tyson’s comeback, Belfort told Sportskeeda: ‘I think that is a decision Mike has made for himself.

‘It takes a lot of courage to step back in the ring, especially at that age. I admire him for his bravery and wish him the best of luck.

‘He needs to train smart, because what used to work for him before might not work for him now.

‘This is new ground he’s discovering for himself, and it’s a wonderful journey.

‘He needs to make smart choices. The right opponent is key.

‘He needs an opponent that will bring value to the market, and not just an opponent that will try to make some money.’

Belfort enjoyed Tyson’s appearance at ‘Double or Nothing’ and would love to team up with the boxing legend at another event, adding: ‘I think AEW should have Mike and myself do a tag team match against two of their champions.

‘Tony [Khan], the owner of AEW is a good friend of mine. That for me is a great idea and I’m open to it. It will be the two youngest champions of combat sports against the two youngest champions of AEW.’

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Fury claims Wilder will be 'more dangerous' in fight three

‘He is more dangerous than the last fight’: Tyson Fury claims Deontay Wilder will be ‘hungry to prove his worth’ to the boxing world when they eventually fight for a third time

  • Tyson Fury recorded a stunning win over Deontay Wilder back in February
  • The American had a rematch clause in his contract that he has activated
  • Fury said he is willing to fight Wilder anywhere to put on a how post Covid-19

Tyson Fury is preparing for a Deontay Wilder that he has never seen before when they eventually meet the third instalment of their fierce rivalry.

Fury recorded a stunning win over Wilder in their second match in Las Vegas in February after their initial encounter was drawn. 

For part three, Fury knows he is encountering someone looking to reclaim his reputation, as well as his WBC heavyweight title belt

Tyson Fury believes his hardest fight with Deontay Wilder will come in the third match-up

Fury recorded a brilliant victory over rival Wilder back in February in Las Vegas

‘Heavyweight boxing takes one punch. Dismantle Deontay Wilder? It only takes one punch off Deontay Wilder,’ Fury told Sky Sports.

‘Still a very dangerous opponent, still a very hungry man, who is coming in there to prove his worth, to prove he can come back and become a two-time heavyweight champion.

‘More dangerous than the last fight, for sure.

‘Do you know what? It’s just a boxing match. It’s a boxing match, I don’t look at it like anything else. You win some, you lose some. You never can tell.’

Reports have emerged over the past few days that the next match-up could be held outside of the UK and USA due to the outbreak of coronavirus.

Fury now holds the WBC heavyweight title belt that he won off Wilder earlier this year

The Englishman is ready to fight again anywhere in the world after the coronavirus outbreak

Fury said he is willing to face Wilder anywhere.

‘I’ll get over there, nice and early, eight to 10 weeks beforehand. Put in a good, gruelling training camp,’ he explained.

‘Hopefully I’ll be injury-free and we’ll go out there and dance beneath the stars, in front of the world after the coronavirus.

‘It’s out of everybody’s hands, apart from people who are running the world, and unfortunately, I’m not one of those, and I’m glad I’m not because that job is difficult. Much more difficult than taking punches in the face for money.’ 




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Holyfield reveals what happened when he sparred a 17-year-old Mike Tyson

Evander Holyfield has stoked the fire ahead of a potential rematch against Mike Tyson by claiming the pair’s first ever sparring session had to be stopped because he had Iron Mike ‘in the corner and he couldn’t get out’.

The pair are in talks over an exhibition fight later this year that would see the duo come head-to-head for the first time since their infamous 1997 bout.

While Tyson’s training videos have captured attention, Holyfield’s whet the appetite with a string of his own sparring sessions and he looks in incredible shape for a 57-year-old.

Holyfield is Tyson’s senior by four years but the pair came through the ranks together and the Alabama-born fighter said his first ever sparring session against Tyson had to be stopped because ‘somebody was going to get hurt’.

‘[We were] very close, Mike and I were friends, we did spar one time. The difference was he was 17 and I was 21, that’s a big difference for confidence and knowledge’ Holyfield told Chris Mannix.

Asked what he thought when he sparred Tyson at 17, Holyfield replied: ‘I definitely knew he was a good puncher because he was knocking everybody out.

‘Mike was the only person who had to pay people to come in and spar with him.

‘The fact of the matter he had to pay people to come in, we didn’t have to pay nobody because we weren’t nobody.But somehow he was knocking sparring partners out with 16oz gloves.

‘That’s the difference, he was a puncher, he was very aggressive. But I’m a guy who tended to fight aggressive people very well.

Asked if Tyson tried to knock him out in sparring, Holyfield replied: ‘He did what he did but they stopped it because they said somebody was gonna get hurt. An Olympic coach came in and stopped it and Mike was telling people, ‘wow, he’s skinny but he’s strong’.

‘I used to spar the heavyweights and the super-heavyweights all the time anyway. I was the guy who sparred with Henry Tillman, Tyrell Biggs, I sparred with all the big guys, I never sparred with people in my same weight division.

‘They stopped it at about a minute and 30 seconds, they said someone was going to get hurt. At that time I had him in the corner and he couldn’t get out.

‘I was 21, he was 17, he was very good back then. But the point is that it was nothing to talk about, it was sparring. The Olympic coach stopped it but I knew I wasn’t going to get hurt. There wasn’t anybody hurt but I had him in the corner.’

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UFC: Stricter COVID-19 testing on tap for Vegas

    Ariel Helwani is an MMA reporter at ESPN. Follow him on Twitter at @arielhelwani.

The UFC is instituting stricter coronavirus testing guidelines ahead of its return to Las Vegas this weekend.

The promotion sent a memo, which was obtained by ESPN, to the fighters competing on the Las Vegas card scheduled for Saturday. The event will be held at the UFC Apex arena, which is located at UFC headquarters.

Per sources, these are more detailed and stricter than the guidelines in place prior to the three shows in Jacksonville, Florida, earlier this month.

MMAJunkie.com first reported the details of the memo.

All athletes and fighters will now be required to take two COVID-19 antigen oropharyngeal swab tests prior to competing: once upon checking into the athlete hotel and another time following Friday’s official weigh-ins.

Test 1: The UFC is requiring every person who is tested upon checking in to “self-isolate” within the hotel until they receive their results.

“This means you should not leave the Athlete Hotel or have physical contact with anyone other than the members of your camp until you have received your test result,” the memo reads.

The memo goes on to state that if the test result is negative, “you may continue with your fight week activities. If your result is positive, you should remain in your hotel room and await further instructions from UFC’s medical team.”

Test 2: Following the second swab test after Friday’s weigh-in, those tested will be required, per the memo, to self-isolate within the athlete hotel and remain inside overnight until their scheduled departure to the UFC Apex on Saturday afternoon.

“During this time, no athletes or cornermen will be permitted to leave the Athlete Hotel without express prior approval from the Nevada State Athletic Commission,” the memo reads. “You also should not have physical contact with anyone other than the members of your camp.”

If the test result is negative, the athlete and their corner may proceed to the event. If not, they will have to await further instructions from the UFC medical team.

The memo also states that the UFC’s Performance Institute will not be open for use during this time. It does not mention daily temperature checks or antibodies testing, which occurred in Jacksonville.

In addition, the UFC is asking the fighters and cornermen to sign a HIPAA authorization form to allow the specified testing lab to share the tests results with the promotion.

UFC 249, the promotion’s first event since the COVID-19 lockdown, was held on May 9 in Jacksonville. The athletes who competed on that card ended up taking two swab tests, but that wasn’t the original plan. The reason for the second test, which occurred following the weigh-ins, was because the initial test results were not scheduled to arrive in time for the event. The fighters who competed on the subsequent two events on May 13 and 16 took only one swab test before competing.

Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza, who was scheduled to compete on the May 9 event, and two of his cornerman were the only ones who tested positive, per the UFC. Souza was removed from the card — as well as the hotel — once his positive result was revealed.

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Tony Bellew backs Dominic Cummings after he broke lockdown to visit his parents

Former boxer Tony Bellew has backed Dominic Cummings after he broke the coronavirus lockdown to visit his parents more than 200 miles away.

It comes after the Daily Mirror revealed Cummings drove himself and his family 250 miles north to County Durham from his London home.

The Prime Minister defended Cummings' actions saying he broke lockdown to seek appropriate childcare after his wife began showing coronavirus symptoms. He also went on to show symptoms a few days later.

But Boris Johnson's top aide has come under intense pressure to step down from the public and other MPs after flouting the rules.

Few have been quick to defend his actions after he travelled hundreds while infected with Covid-19 at the height of the pandemic.

However, Bellew said he doesn't have an issue with his actions and tweeted: "I don’t give a sh*t about one man driving the length of the country to get his kids minded! Now if he threw a party with 50 strangers I’d say he’s bang out of line.

"Let’s be honest the media are making out like he’s a proper killer or something! Report something that’ll HELP US!"

Boris Johnson has come under pressure to act appropriately after one his closest aides showed a lack of respect for the rules he helped enforce.

But at Sunday's briefing the Prime Minister said he was aware of Cummings' trip north and that he "followed the instincts of every father and every parent – and I do not mark him down for that.

"Looking at the very severe childcare difficulties that presented themselves to Dominic Cummings and his family, I think that what they did was totally understandable – there's actually guidance… about what you need to do about the pressures that families face when they have childcare needs.

"He found those needs where they could best be served, best be delivered and yes, that did involve travel."

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