Conor McGregor teases UFC comeback date, Khabib Nurmagomedov blasted by PETA, Justin Gaethje eyes mega fights after ‘Cowboy’ win

16 Sep

talkSPORT.com brings you a round up of all the biggest news and gossip from the world of UFC…

Return of the Mac

Conor McGregor appears to have potentially announced his UFC return for December 14 in Dublin, Ireland.

The 31-year-old former two-weight champion posted a tweet containing just this date and venue in the early hours of Monday morning, prompting many fans to assume the information is his next fight plan.

However, no official confirmation has followed and people currently remain unsure if he’s confirmed a comeback or something else.

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Khabib upsets PETA

Khabib Nurmagomedov has been blasted for his ‘loathsome’ behaviour towards bears by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA).

The UFC, meanwhile, has been encouraged by the organisation to evaluate its relationship with the lightweight champion.

A video of an eight-year-old Nurmagomedov wrestling a bear has been widely circulated online and is often used to highlight the fighter’s toughness and upbringing.

Khabib has been blasted by PETA
@khabib_nurmagomedov

However, the 30-year-old unbeaten fighter has been told to stick to fighting humans.

“PETA urges Mr Nurmagomedov to stick to wrestling with willing human opponents.”

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Planning ahead

Justin Gaethje wants the winner of Tony Ferguson and Khabib Nurmagomedov following his TKO victory over Donald ‘Cowboy’ Cerrone.

The Arizona-born lightweight recorded his third consecutive win by knockout, by stopping the veteran Cerrone in the first round at Fight Night 158 on Saturday in Canada.

“I want the winner of Tony and Khabib,” Gaethje said in his post-fight interview.

“I want to fight for the world title. I want to prove I’m the best in the world. So that’s what’s next.”

While McGregor had previously mentioned Gaethje as a potential opponent, the latter has welcomed that fight should the Irishman decide to go through with it.

“As far as I know he’s retired. He is in the rankings so he either fights or he gets out. That’s how I see it,” Gaethje said about McGregor. “I absolutely would love to fight him.”

Liverpool discover potential FIFA Club World Cup opponents after draw is made for Qatar tournament

16 Sep

Liverpool have discovered who they could face at the FIFA Club World Cup after the draw was made in Zurich on Monday.

The Reds have qualified directly for the competition’s semi-finals because they won the Champions League and will play their last-four tie on Wednesday December 18.

Liverpool will play in the Club World Cup this December
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It means they will come up against either Al Sadd, who are managed by Barcelona legend Xavi, Hienghene Sport or CF Monterrey in Qatar.

Al Sadd SC will take on New Caledonian side Hienghene Sport in round one and the winner of that tie will go on to face Mexico’s CF Monterrey.

Liverpool’s last appearance in the competition came in 2005 after they beat AC Milan on penalties in the Champions League final, having recovered in normal time from 3-0 down.

However, they were suffered a 1-0 defeat to Sao Paulo in the Club World Cup final at Japan’s International Stadium Yokohama.

In fact, Manchester United are the only English side to win the Club World Cup, beating Ecuadorian club LDU Quito 1-0 in 2008, while Chelsea lost 1-0 to Corinthians in 2012.

Club World Cup schedule

Match 1: Al Sadd SC v Hienghene Sport

Match 2: Monterrey v winner of match 1

Match 3: AFC winner v ES Tunis

Match 4 (semi-final 1): Copa Libertadores winner vs Winner match 3

Match 5 (semi-final 2): Winner match 2 vs Liverpool

 

 

 

James Maddison compared to Phillippe Coutinho by Brendan Rodgers as fine Leicester form continues

16 Sep

Brendan Rodgers has likened James Maddison to former Liverpool star Philippe Coutinho.

Despite Leicester losing 1-0 to Manchester United on Saturday, Maddison was once again impressive and showed why a number of clubs are keen to sign him.

James Maddison has been in fine form for Leicester this season
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United are keeping tabs on him as they consider a summer move for the Leicester midfielder – though they’ll face competition from Liverpool and Manchester City for his signature.

After witnessing another strong display from the 22-year-old, Rodgers said there were similarities to Bayern Munich player Coutinho, who he managed for three seasons when in charge of Liverpool.

[Maddison] is the type of player who will drift from position to position, I remember working with Coutinho at Liverpool, sometimes he’d play inside, sometimes he’d drift off the side. James is a little bit like that in terms of positioning,” Rodgers said after the match.

“He will continue to work. His job was to create and score goals, he’ll keep working on that. He was unlucky on the free kick.

Coutinho played under Brendan Rodgers at Liverpool
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“He has a threat to get in behind, he was unlucky when the keeper makes a save with his ankle, I think it was. He was unfortunate there. That’s what it’s about for him: numbers, creating goals, scoring goals. It’s only his second season at this level and he’s already showing great talent.”

The ex-Norwich midfielder has already recorded two assists in the league this term and the playmaker’s form has seen also him called up to the England squad, though he failed to make his Three Lions debut during the recent international break.

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Kevin De Bruyne reveals how Man City players reacted in dressing room to Norwich defeat

16 Sep

Kevin De Bruyne has revealed how the Manchester City dressing room was subdued in the aftermath of their shock 3-2 defeat by Norwich on Saturday.

The Premier League champions were deservedly beaten at Carrow Road as the injury-hit Canaries earned the most famous of victories.

Norwich claimed an unlikely victory over Manchester City
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Teemu Pukki’s sixth goal of the season proved to be the winner and, despite goals from Sergio Aguero and Rodri, a first defeat since January leaves Pep Guardiola’s side five points behind leaders Liverpool.

De Bruyne, who was introduced from the bench with just over an hour to go, has now revealed just what happened in the dressing room after the full-time whistle.

So, was there a dressing down by Guardiola, or were players at each other’s throats in the wake of the defeat?

It appears not.

“Nobody was shouting or angry with each other,” said De Bruyne to the Manchester Evening News.

“You know, everybody makes mistakes – it gets magnified when you lose. You also make mistakes when you win.

“In the end, people may be a little bit down. You pick them up as a team and you go on to Wednesday and try to win the game because it’s important to win the away game at Shakhtar.

City had not lost any of their previous 25 matches against promoted sides – a run stretching back to 2015 – and this was only a second win for Norwich over the reigning champions in 15 games.

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“It’s never nice but you have to put it into perspective,” De Bruyne continued. “The teams against us, they’re going to try to do everything to win the game and make it difficult and Saturday was nothing else.

“Nothing is lost. We’ve played five games so far and there’s such a long long, long time to go. But yeah, we are points behind and we know that.

Sergio Aguero and Rodri scored for City but Norwich held on for a remarkable victory
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“There’s no point dwelling on myself or blaming other people, you know. It’s 14 people who played and the team didn’t win, and did not do well enough and you go on to Wednesday.

“Wednesday comes so quick and then it’s Saturday and it’s Tuesday again. I think you just have to get on with what you’re doing it, there’s no point crying about what happened.”

PETA slam Khabib Nurmagomedov for ‘loathsome’ treatment towards chained bears and urge UFC to ‘evaluate’ its relationship with the lightweight champion

16 Sep

Khabib Nurmagomedov has been blasted for his ‘loathsome’ behaviour towards bears by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA).

The animal rights organisation also said it ‘encourages’ the UFC to evaluate its relationship with the lightweight champion ‘until he shows a clear change in attitude and a commitment to showing animals the respect that they deserve.’

Khabib has been blasted by PETA for wrestling a bear ahead eight
Getty

A video of an eight-year-old Nurmagomedov wrestling a bear has been widely circulated online and is often used to highlight the fighter’s toughness and upbringing.

However, the 30-year-old unbeaten fighter has been told to stick to fighting humans.

Elisa Allen, the UK director for PETA, told Business Insider: “Wrestling with a chained bear is loathsome behaviour that shows an utter lack of respect for and consideration of who these animals are.

“In the wild, bears roam across vast territories, foraging, swimming, digging in the dirt, climbing trees, searching for a mate and expressing other essential, natural types of behaviour.

“Those used in Russia for ‘boxing,’ ‘dancing’ or other archaic forms of entertainment are typically torn from their mothers as cubs, chained, caged, muzzled, beaten and deprived of everything that’s meaningful to them.

“PETA urges Mr Nurmagomedov to stick to wrestling with willing human opponents.”

His father, Abdulmanap Nurmagomedov, said it was to test his character more than exercise.

“It is a pity that there was nothing more interesting when he was younger,” he said.

“In the end, this was a test of character more than exercise.”

On his Instagram page in April, Nurmagomedov shared a picture of himself posing with a chained bear and the caption: ‘With my old friend.’

View this post on Instagram

With my old friend 🐻 ✋🤚

A post shared by Khabib Nurmagomedov (@khabib_nurmagomedov) on

Earlier this month, he dominated and beat Dustin Poirier at UFC 242 to retain his title in Abu Dhabi.

The Russian forced Poirier to submit with a rear naked choke in the third round of their contest to extend his record to 28-0.

Serge Aurier ‘happy to stay’ at Tottenham after failing to secure summer transfer away from Spurs

16 Sep

Serge Aurier insists he is happy being at Tottenham despite Spurs blocking his exit from the club throughout the summer.

The Ivory Coast international provided two assists in the 4-0 win over Crystal Palace on Saturday, impressing in what was his first Premier League appearance of the season.

Aurier was in fine form as Spurs eased past Crystal Palace
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Aurier has had a difficult time at the club following his 2017 move from Paris Saint-Germain and said he wanted to leave earlier this year due to a ‘personal situation”

The 26-year-old insists there was no rift with boss Mauricio Pochettino and is now looking forward to the future.

Asked if he wanted to leave, Aurier said: “Yes, but that was the situation before the transfer window closed, the transfer window is now closed, now I am calm and happy to stay.

“I speak with everyone, I don’t want to leave.

“I had something in my head, but I didn’t want to leave for the gaffer or the chairman (Daniel Levy).

“It was my personal situation and now it is OK, everyone wants to give me another chance and now I am happy to stay and happy to play and happy for the victory.

“We need to give the best for this season and for the trophies.

“Nothing has changed in my life. I stay and now I want to prove and give my best for the supporters, for the club, for everyone.”

Aurier is hoping to be involved as Spurs begin their Champions League campaign this week with a trip to Olympiakos.

Despite getting to the final last season, where they enjoyed a memorable run to Madrid, defender Jan Vertonghen says Tottenham are still outsiders for the competition.

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“We want to go as far as we did last year,” said Vertonghen. “We’ve got a nice group. Good games, nice challenges, teams we haven’t played against yet.

“Like 15 or 20 teams feel like they belong there, so we’ve got a big challenge. But we had a great run last year and we want to repeat it.

“We’ve earned their respect now. Teams treat us differently than a couple of years ago. But they will look at us as an outsider.”

Liverpool forward Roberto Firmino compared to Manchester United legend Eric Cantona after stunning performance vs Newcastle

16 Sep

Newcastle manager Steve Bruce has heaped praise on Liverpool forward Roberto Firmino – evening comparing him to Manchester United legend Eric Cantona.

The Brazil international continued his excellent start to the season, coming off the bench to help Liverpool recover from a goal down and beat Newcastle 3-1 in Saturday’s lunchtime clash.

Firmino had a huge impact when he was introduced against Newcastle
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Jetro Willems’ stunning strike gave the Toon a shock lead, but a brace from Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah’s lone strike helped extend Liverpool’s winning run and send them five points clear at the top of the Premier League.

However, many of the plaudits were reserved for Firmino, who replaced Divock Origi on 37 minutes and played a crucial part in two goals at Anfield.

Last month, he became the first Brazilian to score 50 goals in Premier League history when he struck against Burnley, and Newcastle boss Bruce noticed similarities between Firmino and his former team-mate Cantona.

“He’s one that drifts into that little area and he naturally does it, where it’s so difficult for defenders to go,” said Bruce, who played alongside Cantona in United’s title-winning sides of the 1990s.

“And his attitude and work-rate, it’s so important. Of course, their [Liverpool’s] front three are as good as you are going to play against as a threat to you.

Eric Cantona is a Manchester United legend
Getty

“The way they play with the intensity, the full-backs are only young and the delivery and presence they bring to the box you can see why they are Champions of Europe.

“Cantona is as good a player as I’ve ever seen. I haven’t seen Firmino week in week out like that, but just when you see him here and what he gives them, it’s a perfect balance. And Cantona gave us that.”

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Firmino has hit double figures for goals in each of his four years at Liverpool, and he’ll hope to extend his record for a fifth consecutive season having already netted twice this term.

Manchester United legend Gary Neville would ‘run a mile’ if ever offered the chance to manage Red Devils

16 Sep

Gary Neville has admitted he would ‘run a mile’ if ever offered the chance to manage former club Manchester United.

The Old Trafford legend gave the candid response as he conducted a question and answer session on social media on Sunday evening.

Neville made 602 appearances for Man United during his 19-year career
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Neville spent four months in his first, and so far only, managerial role at Valencia, whom he took charge of in December 2015.

A surprise appointment, Los Che won only 10 of 28 matches under Neville, and he was sacked with the club just six points clear of the relegation zone.

He returned to media duties with Sky Sports upon his dismissal, and remains in this position to this day.

And though Neville may return to football management in the future, he has made it clear he will NOT be taking charge of United.

During the Twitter Q&A session, one fan asked the ex-United full back: “If the opportunity ever arose would you take the United managerial role?”

Without hesitation, Neville replied: “That call isn’t coming and if it did I would run a mile.”

Neville also made a joke at his own expense, when told to name the weirdest thing he’s ever been asked to sign. He replied, quite simply: ‘Valencia contract.’

Man United beat Leicester 1-0 on Saturday to claim their second win of the Premier League season under Neville’s former team-mate Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

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Jurgen Klopp wanted by Real Madrid and Barcelona who also chase Liverpool star Virgil van Dijk

16 Sep

Jurgen Klopp and Virgil van Dijk are wanted by both Barcelona and Real Madrid with the Spanish giants reportedly set to battle to lure the pair from Liverpool.

The two men have been crucial to Liverpool’s recent success and are credited with turning the club back into genuine Premier League title challengers.

Klopp brought Van Dijk to Anfield and has been rewarded many times over
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Klopp has been Liverpool manager since October 2015 and has guided the Reds to two Champions League finals, eventually winning the European Cup last season as they beat Tottenham 2-0.

The Anfield club currently lead the Premier League table by five points and are the only side to win all of their opening five matches.

Centre-back Van Dijk arrived from Southampton in January 2018 for a then world-record £75million fee, and he’s now widely considered to be the best defender in the world.

He was named PFA Player of the Year, and was also crowned UEFA Men’s Player of the Year for his performances during last season’s Champions League.

Spanish outlet AS is reporting that Real and Barcelona will go head-to-head in a bid to bring Liverpool’s two most valuable assets to La Liga.

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Neither side have looked entirely convincing so far this season, with Real narrowly beating Levante at the weekend and Barcelona failing to win both their away matches, and doubts have been raised over the futures of managers Zinedine Zidane and Ernesto Valverde.

According to the report, both clubs are already considering alternatives, with Klopp near the top of their lists – and they hope signing the German will give them an advantage in the race to buy Van Dijk.

Manchester City losing Aymeric Laporte to injury is like Liverpool being without Virgil van Dijk, says Jamie Redknapp

16 Sep

The absence of Aymeric Laporte in Manchester City’s backline is the equivalent of Liverpool losing Virgil van Dijk, according to Jamie Redknapp.

City face being without their centre-back for more than four months because of a knee injury suffered during the 4-0 defeat of Brighton at the end of August.

Manchester City’s Aymeric Laporte has been ruled out for four months
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The Premier League champions have since confirmed Laporte has had successful surgery to repair the damage to his cartilage and lateral meniscus.

However, on Saturday City were stunned by Norwich, losing 3-2 at Carrow Road and their defence was worryingly exposed on several occasions, notably Nicolas Otamendi, who was caught in possession in his own area which led to Teemu Pukki scoring the decisive goal.

With Liverpool leading the way, five points clear of City, former Reds midfielder Redknapp believes the pendulum has swung in favour of the Champions League winners.

City struggled in defence as they lost 3-2 to Norwich
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“City are wounded. They have lost Aymeric Laporte, and that is the equivalent of taking Virgil van Dijk out of the Liverpool team,” he told the Daily Mail.

“I was at Carrow Road on Saturday to see City line up for the first time since Laporte suffered his unfortunate injury and their defensive frailties were exposed. Sunday League players would be embarrassed to make the same mistakes Nicolas Otamendi made against Norwich.

“For Liverpool, everything seems to be falling into place. They will not read too much into a five-point lead in mid-September but it feels like the momentum has shifted.”

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City’s next match is in the Champions League when they travel to Donetsk to play Shakhtar, which is live on talkSPORT on 18 September.

It is the third successive season the two clubs have been pitted against each other in the group stage.

City won 3-0 in their last meeting and Laporte was on the scoresheet, along with David Silva and Bernardo Silva.