Steve Bruce has an impressive record against Liverpool – can he bring an end to Newcastle’s wretched form at Anfield?

14 Sep

Few fixtures in Premier League history generate such excitement as Liverpool against Newcastle United.

Be it the classic contests from the 90s or the back-and-forth battle at St James’ Park last season, it is a fixture steeped in history and drama.

Thankfully, talkSPORT will bring you live and exclusive commentary of the game from Anfield at 12.30pm on Saturday so you don’t have to miss any of the drama.

Steve Bruce is one of the few Premier League managers who enjoys facing Liverpool
Getty Images - Getty

Liverpool are unbeaten in 23 Premier League home matches against Newcastle United, and have scored in each of those fixtures, scoring 58 times while keeping 12 clean sheets.

The Reds are also unbeaten at home in all competitions since May 2017, when Christian Benteke inspired Crystal Palace to a famous three points against his former side.

It is fair to say the omens for the Magpies are rather ominous, but it appears as though they may well have the perfect man in charge to topple the title challengers.

Steve Bruce can lay claim to having the fifth best record of any manager in Premier League history against Liverpool, winning 27 points.

Steve Bruce lays claim to a fantastic record against Liverpool. *Includes only managers who have bossed 15 games or more against Liverpool
Bruce has won 27 points against Liverpool – losing just six times

Based on data provided by Opta, of all the managers in Premier League history who have played fifteen games or more, the 58-year-old is only bettered by Harry Redknapp, Martin O’Neill, Sir Alex Ferguson and Jose Mourinho when it comes to facing Liverpool.

In 21 games against the Reds, the former Birmingham, Wigan and Sunderland manager has lost just six times – averaging 1.29 points per game.

He boasts a better record than Arsene Wenger, Sam Allardyce and David Moyes.

Having already beaten Tottenham Hotspur on the road this season, there is no reason why this well-drilled Newcastle side cannot go and draw on Bruce’s considerable expertise to get a remarkable result against Liverpool.

Saturday is GameDay on talkSPORT. We’ll bring you LIVE commentary of Premier League games across all three time slots on Saturday – 12.30pm, 3pm and 5.30pm – including Liverpool vs Newcastle this weekend.

Liverpool going for history, Manchester United misery, Tammy Abraham close to equalling Cristiano Ronaldo record – Five things to look out for in the Premier League

13 Sep

The Premier League returns this weekend after a week-long international break, although it will surely feel like longer to most fans.

Liverpool and Manchester City have continued from where they left off last season, battling for supremacy at the top of the table.

The Premier League returns after a week-long hiatus
Getty Images - Getty

Last season’s Championship winners Norwich City have entertained with their exciting brand of football, while there is a sense of nostalgia seeing Sheffield United and Aston Villa back in the top flight.

GameDay returns as well across the talkSPORT network this Saturday, with Liverpool’s game against Newcastle the first of three live and exclusive commentaries throughout the day.

As ever, there are a host of records and achievements which can be broken or reached this weekend as the standards continue to be realised higher and higher.

Check out the five things is looking out for this weekend.

1) Liverpool aiming to equal Premier League record

The Reds have made a 100% start in the league this season after coming so close in the previous campaign and then winning the Champions League.

Victory in the talkSPORT live game against Newcastle will be the 14th in a row for Jurgen Klopp’s men, a feat managed by only three other sides.

Only Arsenal in 2002 (14 games) and Manchester City in 2017 (18) and 2019 (15) have achieved the feat.

The Reds could become the first team to do so while scoring more than one goal in each match.

Liverpool have made a flying start to the Premier League season
AFP or licensors

2) Leicester City producing title-winning form

Many people tipped the Foxes to break into the Premier League’s Top Six after another impressive summer recruitment drive.

The world record sale of Harry Maguire has done little to dampen the optimism at the King Power, with Jamie Vardy firing on all cylinders.

Should Leicester avoid defeat against Manchester United on Saturday, it would be only the second time in the last 19 seasons the Foxes have gone unbeaten in their first five league games of a season.

The last time they did that – in 2015-16 – they won the Premier League.


Check out all the live commentaries coming up across the talkSPORT network this week

  • Derby vs Cardiff (Friday, 7:45pm) – talkSPORT 2
  • Liverpool vs Newcastle (Saturday, 12:30pm) – talkSPORT
  • Fulham vs West Brom (Saturday, 12:30pm) – talkSPORT 2
  • Tottenham vs Crystal Palace (Saturday, 3pm) – talkSPORT 2
  • Norwich vs Man City (Saturday, 5:30pm) – talkSPORT
  • Huddersfield vs Sheffield Wednesday (Sunday, 12pm) – talkSPORT 2
  • Barnsley vs Leeds (Sunday, 12:30pm) – talkSPORT

3) Manchester United’s misery continues

Since Sir Alex Ferguson hung up his coat and retired as Manchester United manager, things have just not been the same at Old Trafford.

The legendary Scot achieved remarkable success with a very limited squad, with four of his successors unable to find the winning formula.

A draw at Southampton before the break for internationals meant United have made their joint worst start to a Premier League season since 1992/93.

United have five points from their opening four fixtures and a trip to the West Midlands is hardly the fixture needed to amend this slump.

Pogba will miss the clash against Leicester
Getty Images - Getty

4) Crystal Palace taking names away from home

2019 has been an excellent year for Roy Hodgson’s Eagles, with only Arsenal, Manchester City and Liverpool picking up more points this calendar year.

Victory against United at Old Trafford in their third game of the season was the latest in a long line of giant killings Hodgson has masterminded away from the sanctuary of Selhurst Park.

Palace take on Spurs at the Tottenham Hotspur stadium on Saturday and another victory would add to their impressive tally.

In its last five away games against Top Six teams, Roy Hodgson’s men have beaten Manchester City, Arsenal and Manchester United.

Jordan Ayew has led Crystal Palace to the Champions League spots
Getty Images - Getty

5) Tammy Abraham aiming to equal Ronaldo’s record

Tammy Abraham could equal a record set by Cristiano Ronaldo and Dele Alli this weekend, when Chelsea face Wolverhampton Wanderers at Molineux.

It seems the days of sending an army of starlets out on loan are no more at Stamford Bridge, with Abraham profiting the most.

A double at Carrow Road against Norwich City was followed instantly by another, this time at the Bridge against Sheffield United.

And if Abraham can replicate the feat once again, he will put his name amongst esteemed company.

The striker can become only the third player aged 21 or younger to score at least two goals in three consecutive Premier League matches, after Cristiano Ronaldo, in December 2006, and Dele Alli in January 2017.

Saturday is GameDay on talkSPORT and talkSPORT 2 as we become your go to destination for all the Premier League action.

We’ll bring you LIVE commentary of Premier League games across all three time slots on Saturday – 12.30pm, 3pm and 5.30pm – delivering award-winning coverage to more GameDay listeners than ever.

Wolves vs Chelsea predicted teams: How the Blues could line up at Molineux with fitness updates on N’Golo Kante, Antonio Rudiger and Pedro

13 Sep

Chelsea return to Premier League action when they travel to Molineux to take on Wolverhampton Wanderers on Sunday evening.

The Blues have made an indifferent start to the season under new boss Frank Lampard, picking up five points from their opening four fixtures.

In fact, defeat and results going against them could even see the club slip into the relegation zone.

N’Golo Kante has struggled for fitness throughout the season
AFP or licensors

Despite going 2-0 up at Stamford Bridge to Sheffield United, Chelsea allowed their advantage to slip and were forced to settle with a point prior to the international break.

So how could they line up against a side they failed to beat home or away last season?

Team News

Frank Lamprad has confirmed Pedro and Antonio Rudiger are fit to play some part in the Black Country, as is Mateo Kovacic.

Rudiger has been absent since he sustained a knee injury against Manchester United, while Pedro and Kovacic have played important roles throughout the season so far.

The German international is close to a return

However, France international N’Golo Kante is not available. The midfielder was struggling for fitness prior to the Europa League final and has yet to recover sufficiently in the early stages of the season.

Lampard said: “This game has come too soon for him, hopefully close. We are waiting for that final step, but hopefully that will be the same time.”

Predicted line up

Here’s how the Blues could start against Wolves on Sunday

Saturday is GameDay on talkSPORT and talkSPORT 2 as we become your go to destination for all the Premier League action.

We’ll bring you LIVE commentary of Premier League games across all three time slots on Saturday – 12.30pm, 3pm and 5.30pm – delivering award-winning coverage to more GameDay listeners than ever.

The stats which suggest Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino have a right to be aggrieved with Liverpool teammate Mohamed Salah

13 Sep

On the surface, Liverpool made the perfect start to the new Premier League season after securing their sixth Champions League trophy in Madrid.

And while European success is always coveted, domestic dominance is what Reds supporters have craved ever since their last league title in 1990.

Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane are seemingly fine with one another after their ‘spat’
Getty Images - Getty

Now the first round of international fixtures have concluded, the focus returns to the bread and butter of Premier League football.

Liverpool host Newcastle United at Anfield, in a fixture steeped in history and goals. But does Jurgen Klopp have a potential issue on his hands?

Prior to the international break, the Reds were seemingly coasting to a comfortable victory against Burnley at Turf Moor, but the win was marred somewhat by an altercation on the away bench.

Sadio Mane was taken off against the Clarets, much to the Senegal striker’s chagrin. And Mane made no secret of his disgust at the decision, fans began to suggest there was an ulterior motive behind the sulk.


Check out all the live commentaries coming up across the talkSPORT network this week

  • Derby vs Cardiff (Friday, 7:45pm) – talkSPORT 2
  • Liverpool vs Newcastle (Saturday, 12:30pm) – talkSPORT
  • Fulham vs West Brom (Saturday, 12:30pm) – talkSPORT 2
  • Tottenham vs Crystal Palace (Saturday, 3pm) – talkSPORT 2
  • Norwich vs Man City (Saturday, 5:30pm) – talkSPORT
  • Huddersfield vs Sheffield Wednesday (Sunday, 12pm) – talkSPORT 2
  • Barnsley vs Leeds (Sunday, 12:30pm) – talkSPORT

Just moments before being withdrawn, Mane was in space and calling for a pass from Mohamed Salah. However, the former Chelsea striker did not notice his teammate and opted to shoot.

But it seemed to trigger the angry response, leaving fans concerned. Klopp spoke to talkSPORT after the game and played down the ‘altercation’.

“Yes, very okay, all good,” Klopp said. “These guys throw everything on the pitch and sometimes they are not happy but it is all fine.

“We spoke about it after and I respect that a lot as long as the boys invest so much.

The Senegal international appeared furious with Salah
Sky Sports

“We are not always choir boys, they really are men!

“So we spoke afterwards and it is fine and everything is good again.”

But does Mane have a genuine basis behind his Turf Moor tantrum and is Roberto Firmino also within his rights to to feel so aggrieved?

talkSPORT looked at the evidence to determine whether or not the Liverpool front three is working as cohesively as possible.

Firmino and Mane have been at Anfield together since 2016
Getty Images - Getty

Since Salah arrived from Roma in the summer of 2017, Liverpool’s front three have created 178 chances for one another – 59 each by Salah and Firmino, with Mane generating the remaining 60.

At first glance, it seems to represent a relatively even split among the trio – but almost a quarter of the total were Mane providing an opening for Salah (43).

By contrast, back-to-back Premier League Golden Boot winner Salah has created just 25 chances for Mane, compared with 34 for Firmino.

Statistics also suggest the Brazil international slightly favours picking out Salah (33 chances) over Mane (26).

While there is no suggestion of a rift between the triumvirate, the evidence suggests Salah and Mane are perhaps more competitors than teammates. But that could be the driving factor which finally takes Liverpool to the Premier League title.

How Liverpool’s front three share the creative and goal scoring burden

After years of relying on Steven Gerrard, Liverpool were only ever able to ever supplement the legendary skipper with one genuine superstar with whom he was forced to share the goal scoring burden with.

Fernando Torres and Luis Suarez played the role of sidekick in Gerrard’s ‘Roy of the Rovers’ story.

Despite second placed finishes under Rafael Benitez and Brendan Rodgers, the Reds could not go that one step further before the former England captain eventually departed Merseyside for the glitz of Hollywood in 2015.

Perhaps with a trinity of lethal marksmen driving the side forward, this could finally be Liverpool’s year.

Saturday is GameDay on talkSPORT and talkSPORT 2 as we become your go to destination for all the Premier League action.

We’ll bring you LIVE commentary of Premier League games across all three time slots on Saturday – 12.30pm, 3pm and 5.30pm – delivering award-winning coverage to more GameDay listeners than ever.

Tottenham, Chelsea and Manchester United in danger of slipping into the relegation zone – how else could the Premier League table change?

13 Sep

After what feels like an eternity, Premier League football is back this weekend.

England may have provided us with a thrilling fixture against Kosovo on Tuesday, but there’s nothing like the bread and butter of league football to excite fans.

The Premier League returns after a brief international hiatus
Getty Images - Getty

Liverpool and Manchester City look set to continue their titanic tussle at the top of the table after their unbeaten starts to the season, while Leicester City and Crystal Palace have proved to be the surprise packages of the season.

GameDay also returns to the talkSPORT network after a brief hiatus, with three live games exclusively across talkSPORT and talkSPORT 2.

By the time Aston Villa host West Ham on Monday, the table could well have changed drastically.

Of course, the season is still very much in the embryonic stage so it is difficult to read too much  into the early standings.


Check out all the live commentaries coming up across the talkSPORT network this week

  • Derby vs Cardiff (Friday, 7:45pm) – talkSPORT 2
  • Liverpool vs Newcastle (Saturday, 12:30pm) – talkSPORT
  • Fulham vs West Brom (Saturday, 12:30pm) – talkSPORT 2
  • Tottenham vs Crystal Palace (Saturday, 3pm) – talkSPORT 2
  • Norwich vs Man City (Saturday, 5:30pm) – talkSPORT
  • Huddersfield vs Sheffield Wednesday (Sunday, 12pm) – talkSPORT 2
  • Barnsley vs Leeds (Sunday, 12:30pm) – talkSPORT

However, as with Liverpool and Man City at the top, the teams who are starting to slip towards the bottom will be hoping they can get points on the board sooner rather than later.

Check out how the Premier League table could change over the course of the weekend, thanks to information gather by Sports Visualized.

20. Watford

Highest possible position: 13th

Lowest possible position: 20th

19. Norwich City

Highest possible position: 8th

Lowest possible position: 20th

18. Aston Villa

Highest possible position: 8th

Lowest possible position: 20th

Aston Villa return to Villa Park on Monday against West Ham
AFP or licensors

17. Wolves

Highest possible position: 8th

Lowest possible position: 20th

16. Brighton

Highest possible position: 6th

Lowest possible position: 20th

15. Bournemouth

Highest possible position: 5th

Lowest possible position: 20th

14. Newcastle

Highest possible position: 5th

Lowest possible position: 20th

Newcastle travel to Anfield to take on Liverpool in Saturdays early kick off
Getty Images - Getty

13. Southampton

Highest possible position: 5th

Lowest possible position: 20th

12. Burnley

Highest possible position: 5th

Lowest possible position: 20th

11. Chelsea

Highest possible position: 4th

Lowest possible position: 18th

10. Sheffield United

Highest possible position: 4th

Lowest possible position: 18th

9. Tottenham

Highest possible position: 4th

Lowest possible position: 18th

8. Manchester United

Highest possible position: 3rd

Lowest possible position: 18th

The worlds most expensive defender has understandably come under intense scrutiny
Getty Images - Getty

7. West Ham United

Highest possible position: 2nd

Lowest possible position: 14th

6. Everton

Highest possible position: 2nd

Lowest possible position: 14th

5. Arsenal

Highest possible position: 2nd

Lowest possible position: 14th

4. Crystal Palace

Highest possible position: 2nd

Lowest possible position: 14th

Jordan Ayew has led Crystal Palace to the Champions League spots
Getty Images - Getty

3. Leicester City

Highest possible position: 2nd

Lowest possible position: 10th

2. Manchester City

Highest possible position: 1st

Lowest possible position: 7th

1. Liverpool

Highest possible position: 1st

Lowest possible position: 2nd

Saturday is GameDay on talkSPORT and talkSPORT 2 as we become your go to destination for all the Premier League action.

We’ll bring you LIVE commentary of Premier League games across all three time slots on Saturday – 12.30pm, 3pm and 5.30pm – delivering award-winning coverage to more GameDay listeners than ever.

What is the UFC’s new ‘BMF’ belt for UFC 244? The unofficial top 10 ‘Baddest M***** F*****s’ including Conor McGregor, Khabib Nurmagomedov and Nate Diaz

12 Sep

Nate Diaz and Jorge Masvidal are set to square off at Madison Square Garden at UFC 242 in a fight few could have predicted at the start of the year.

With Diaz still inactive after his 2016 defeat to Conor McGregor and Masvidal languishing outside the UFC’s top 10 welterweight rankings, it seemed unlikely the two should cross.

Jorge Masvidal and Nate Diaz will throw down in NYC to determine who is the BMF
Getty Images - Getty

However, Masvidal’s resurgence since moving up to 170-lbs and Diaz’s emphatic return against Anthony ‘Showtime’ Pettis have granted MMA fans with a Fight of the Year contender.

Biggie Smalls vs Tupac Shakur, Wu-Tang Clan vs NWA, Snoop Dogg vs P Diddy; the East Coast and West Coast rivalry is as complicated as it is bitter.

And Diaz and Masvidal have a chance to etch their names into history by claiming the inaugural (albeit unofficial) ‘Baddest M***** F*****’ belt in New York.

After calling out Gamebred at UFC 240, Diaz insisted the Miami-native was the only gangster  left in the game and insisted the duo would be competing for the right to be crowned the ‘BMF in the game.

The idea quickly became a reality and Dana White explained to fans why the ‘BMF’ belt will never be defended after the main event at UFC 244.

“No. It’s a one-and-done,” White said when asked to elaborate on the future of the title. “Whoever wins, wins the belt and claims the title. ‘BMF.’”

White gave credit to Diaz for the concept after the Stock-native’s use of colourful language to call out Masvidal, who was in attendance in California.

“This fight is one of those fights that sort of took on a life of its own,” White said. “Nate said in his interview this is a fight to see who’s the baddest mother f****** in the game. He’s like, ‘That’s what this championship is.’ So alright, I’m in.”

Diaz returned to the octagon after three years with an emphatic victory
Getty Images - Getty

But if these two are the baddest in the game, who are their closest competitors?

Anyone who steps into the octagon deserves respect, but there are some who are just that little bit more charismatic; be it with their fighting style or with their enigmatic personality.

So, without further ado, we have counted down the unofficial top 10 baddest m***** f******s in the UFC at this very moment in time. Check it out below!

10. Lerone Murphy

Lerone Murphy literally spat out bullets after being shot
Getty Images - Getty

Four weeks before UFC 242 in Abu Dhabi, Murphy was given a call by the UFC to see if he wanted to fight Zubaira Tukhugov.

The Mancunian Featherweight went into the contest as an underdog, but secured a split decision draw after landing 80 strikes in the three-round contest and did not look out of place, despite the late call up.

Nicknamed ‘The Miracle’, it actually is a wonder the 28-year-old is even alive.

At 3.30pm on Saturday, May 25 in 2013, Murphy was shot in the neck n a suspected gang-related activity.

Murphy still bears the scars from the entry wounds but, after spitting out the bullets himself, the slugger understandably fears no man.

9. Francis Ngannou

The Predator is as deadly as they come

Before he became one of the most fearsome finishers in the UFC, Ngannou was fighting to survive and reach his teenage years.

Born in Batie, Cameroon, Ngannou had a limited education and lived in complete poverty. By the age of 12, he was working in a sand quarry to try and support his family.

After rejecting the chance to join several gangs, Ngannou decided to stick to fighting and began undertaking boxing training at the age of 22. He moved to Paris four years later in an attempt to fulfil his dream, but was forced to live on the streets.

With no money, no friends and no place to live, the ‘Predator’ trained for free and was eventually introduced to the world of MMA by coach Didier Carmont.

The rest, as they say is history; Ngannou possesses freakish power and took a combined 96 seconds to finish former UFC world heavyweight champions Cain Velasquez and Junior dos Santos.

8. Mike ‘Platinum’ Perry

Platinum has his nickname tattooed on his face
Getty Images - Getty

Prior to his promising career as a UFC welterweight, Mike Perry spent six months in a Central Florida prison after falling into a life of drugs and crime.

“I felt like, ‘I’m stronger, tougher and badder than everyone else. Why can’t I have what I want? I’m tough enough to take it, so I’m gonna go get it,'” Perry told ESPN’s Five Rounds.

“I went about it the wrong way. Now, in fighting, I actually get to be the tougher guy and go take it — and it’s legal. It’s really crazy I get this opportunity. I didn’t get any guidance earlier.

“The things I looked up to were drug dealers and thieves, who had what I and my family never had — nice house, nice cars, nice clothes. I said, ‘Well, I’m strong. I can go get these things.'”

Perry is famous for his no-nonsense style of fighting and his desire to engage opponents at every opportunity.

While a title shot seems some way away, Perry’s bravery was never more evident during his previous contest against Vicente Luque where, despite sustaining one of the most brutal broken noses seen in the sport. However, he managed to escape a guillotine despite being unable to breathe through his nose.

7. Conor McGregor

As Dustin Poirier said: “He went from apologising to nobody, to absolutely everybody”
Getty Images - Getty

While even the most ardent Conor McGregor cannot forgive the Notorious’ latest indiscretions, there is no doubting his place on the list.

McGregor arrived in the UFC in 2013 and set about wiping out the entire featherweight division in his quest for gold.

After a brutal run of knockouts, he fought Chad Mendes on 10 days notice to win the interim belt. He finally got his chance to become undisputed featherweight champion against the pound-for-pound king Jose Aldo, who was unbeaten in a decade. The Irishman knocked him out in 13 seconds.

After that, he jumped up two weight classes to take on Nate Diaz, beating him in a rematch widely considered to be one of the best in the history of the welterweight division.

McGregor then became the first fighter in history to hold two belts simultaneously after beating lightweight champion Eddie Alvarez, before going ten rounds with the greatest boxer of all time.

After two years out of the octagon, he decided to jump straight back in against the fearsome Khabib Nurmagomedov. Although he was unsuccessful, the 31-year-old is as game as they come and the sport would be worse if he never returned to competitive action.

6. Khabib Nurmagomedov

Khabib is undoubtedly the best lightweight on the planet at this moment in time
Getty Images - Getty

While there are plenty of boxers who can spend most of their career protecting an unblemished record, the feat is far more difficult to replicate in MMA.

However, Khabib Numragomedov has mauled 28 men in his professional career and arguably only ever lost one round in his entire career.

The Dagestani destroyer wrestled bears as a child and was hardened by the environment he was raised in, his father Abdulmanap pushed the youngster all the way.

But Khabib never lost sight of the respect of martial arts and has shown compassion and cruelty in equal measure to his opponents. During his annihilation of Michael Johnson at UFC 205, he told the southpaw to quit so he could stop pulverising his face.

After vaulting the cage at UFC 229 after his win over Conor McGregor, the ‘Eagle’ was handed a suspension and a $500,000 fine.

But he refused to fight unless his friends, who were also involved in the brawl, were given lesser sentences. Proof that loyalty cannot be bought.

5. Derrick Lewis

The Beast is a certified fan favourite and has a sponsorship deal with Popeye’s Chicken
Getty Images - Getty

Derrick Lewis one of the most lovable and hilarious chacracters in MMA, but the ‘Beast’ has a dark past.

One of seven siblings, Lewis was raised by a single mother in New Orleans, Louisiana, where trouble followed him. He took to street fighting, until the family moved to Houston, Texas.

Boxing training helped the 34-year-old, but the gym he as training at shut while he was 17 and his life was plunged into chaos. Violence and crime went hand in hand for Lewis, who was charged with aggravated assault, and was placed on probation two weeks after graduating high school.

He was then given a full scholarship to Kilgore College to play American Football, but Lewis violated his probation and was sentenced to five years in prison, up serving three and a half.

Boxing was again his saviour, but he soon developed a love for MMA and, after spells in Bellator and Legacy FC, the heavy-hitter made his way to the UFC and racked up a string of impressive wins.

4. Justin Gaethje

Gaethje is durable and likeable in equal measure
Getty Images - Getty

In a sport filled with drama and excitement, earning a reputation as ‘The Human Highlight Reel’ suggests you are doing something right.

Justin Gaethje is undoubtedly one of the most thrilling fighters to watch in the UFC, earning four Fight of the Night and two Performance of the Night awards in his five fights in the UFC.

Born in Arizona, Gathje wrestled from the age of four and became a a two-time Arizona state champion as a wrestler at Safford High School, and an NCAA Division I All-American during his time at the University of Northern Colorado.

But the 30-year-old very rarely attempts takedowns in the octagon and would rather stand and trade heavy leather with his opponents in a gun fight – which can end disastrously.

Given his wrestling ability, powerful striking and ability to absorb punishment like kitchen roll, there are many who believe Gaethje may well be the man to finally end Khabib’s unbeaten streak in MMA.

3. Donald ‘Cowboy’ Cerrone

Cowboy has been a certified fan favourite for years
Getty Images - Getty

Donald ‘Cowboy’ Cerrone is certainly guaranteed a spot in the UFC Hall of Fame when he decides to hang up his gloves and his hat.

Nobody in the world perhaps embodies the ‘Anytime, Anywhere’ philosophy as much as the veteran. And while a world title has evaded him in two different weight classes, the 36-year-old will forever be etched into the history books.

After defeating cocky young rising star Alex Hernandez in 2018, Cowboy earned his 21st win in the UFC and his 15th stoppage – the most in history.

Cerrone’s most endearing quality is perhaps his humility; he takes losses on the chin with grace and fights anyone at any given opportunity for the love of the sport.

Entertainment is guaranteed with every Cowboy fight and he is as likely to finish a fight with a four-strike combo or a wonderfully crafted submission.

Cerrone owns a Muay Thai gym out in New Mexico called BMF Ranch. The mantra is simple: “We don’t breed livestock, we train Bad Mother F*****”. Says it all really.

2. Jorge Masvidal

Gamebred shut down the Ben Askren hype in just five seconds
Getty Images - Getty

Jorge ‘Gamebred’ Masvidal has been fighting quite literally all his life. At school, the youngster scrapped on the streets of Miami.

How he got there is even more incredible; according to Masvidal, his father defected from Cuba in a self-made raft, ending up in the Virgin Islands.

The scrapper took up wrestling at St Brendan High School, but failed to get the necessary grades to continue.

He found infamy fighting under the legendary Kimbo Slice on his YouTube channel, beating Slice’s famous protégé Ray via brutal knockout.

Professional fighting was the obvious route to take, with stints as a boxer, kickboxer and with Bellator, Strikeforce  before making his way to the UFC.

Gamebred is currently on the back of two devastating KO’s. First, he stopped Darren Till in London with a brutal barrage of punches, before ending Ben Askren’s undefeated streak via a flying knee in just 5 seconds – the fastest knockout in UFC history.

Masvidal has been dropped three times in fights before going on to win and has never been stopped in his MMA career. The Miami native is as tough as they come and is a born fighter.

Before we reveal who holds the unofficial BMF title in the UFC, we would like to take this chance to deliver some honourable mentions:

Tony Ferguson, Robbie Lawler, Max Holloway, Robert Whittaker, Korean Zombie, Amanda Nunes

1. Nate Diaz

Diaz is without doubt the “Baddest M***** F*****” in the game
Getty Images - Getty

Nate Diaz is without doubt the master in the subtle art of not caring what anyone thinks about you and has achieved celebrity status in MMA.

Born and raised in Stockton California, the younger brother of Nick, Nate has become the ultimate anti-hero for the UFC. The 34-year-old threatened to become nothing more than a entertaining journeyman until he shocked the world.

On 11 days notice, Diaz submitted Conor McGregor in 2016 and when asked by Joe Rogan post-fight how it felt to have shocked the world he replied; “I’m not surprised mother f*****s.”

The image of Diaz bloodied and cut became a mural in his home town. But perhaps the reason behind Diaz’s super-stardom is the fact he just does not care. Prior to his comeback fight against Anthony Pettis, Diaz strolled into the open workout and smoked a CBD joint in front of the crowd, before passing it to fans.

“Myself and the fans, his fans, have just come to learn that he is very unique,” the U.F.C. president, Dana White, said in a phone interview. “He looks at things completely different than most normal people do.”

Although his record in MMA is not outstanding (21-11) Diaz has endeared himself to fans by entertaining and surprising in equal measure. After securing a triangle choke against Kurt Pellegrino, the Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu expert flung two middle fingers into the sky.

View this post on Instagram

I taught these guys how to ride bikes..

A post shared by Nate Diaz (@natediaz209) on

When a potential rematch with McGregor was teased, Diaz told Dana White to take him out for a steak dinner, just as he had for the Irishman, to hash out terms. Diaz also convinced White to let him deliver the infamous ‘Stockton Slap’, which the fighter promptly posted on Instagram.

“That’s what this culture loves,” White said, explaining that Diaz gives the finger to ‘The Man’ and does his own thing. “Nate Diaz is absolutely difficult to deal with, but I don’t dislike Nate Diaz.”

MMA News: Patricio Freire and Donald Cerrone reveal how to beat Khabib, Colby Covington lashes out, Justin Gaethje injury scare

12 Sep

After the roaring success of the UFC’s first show in Abu Dhabi after a five-year hiatus, the attention of the MMA world turns to the weekend’s activities.

Khabib Nurmagomedov once again reinforced his reputation as the best lightweight in the world after choking out Dustin Poirier in the third round of their title fight.

Ryan Bader defended his Bellator world heavyweight title against Cheick Kongo, while Nate Diaz and Jorge Masvidal were confirmed as the main event for UFC 244 in New Yokr City.

Here’s what is making news in the world of MMA today.

Khabib defended his lightweight belt on Saturday
Getty Images - Getty

Bellator ‘champ champ’ wants Khabib

Particio Freire believes he will KO Khabib Nurmagomedov if the two were to ever meet.

The Bellator featherweight and lightweight world champion is recognised by CombatPress as No.9 in their pound-for-pound list in the world.

And the 32-year-old believes he would be able to close the distance on the fearsome wrestler to knock him clean out.

Nurmagomedov dominated Dustin Poirier from start to finish
Getty Images - Getty

“Khabib is very tough, has phenomenal wrestling and sambo, but he has a huge deficiency on the feet so I can catch him,” Freire told MMA Fighting. “Nothing is impossible. I think he’s very tough, 28-0, but another fighter from Rio Grande do Norte, (Gleison) Tibau, put on a very tough fight with him, and I think there’s a path to beat him.

“I believe we can do it. If my hand lands — and it would land — it’s over.”

Since that fight at UFC 148 seven years ago, the Dagestan native has improved to become one of the most fearsome fighters on the planet thanks to the rigorous training methods employed at the American Kickboxing Academy.

But Friere is not impressed with what he has seen.

“He has the same fight pattern since his first fight,” Freire said. “He backs his opponent against the fence, moves and shoots to the leg. No one has ever tried … maybe someone did try to land a knee, but I don’t remember anyone getting close to landing.

“Iaquinta was doing well against him, moving well on the feet, but he was closing the distance the wrong way. I think I can close the distance better.”

Cowboy welcomes grappling match with Khabib

Donald ‘Cowboy’ Cerrone has underlined his fan favourite credentials yet again by welcoming a GRAPPLING match with Khabib Nurmagomedov.

The 28-0 Russian once wrestled bears as a child and has only ever lost one round in professional MMA career, largely thanks to his aggressive sambo style.

But Cowboy, who has a large variety of attacks in his arsenal with which to hurt opponents, believes taking the ‘Eagle’ to the ground may not be such a bad idea.

Cowboy has been a certified fan favourite for years
Getty Images - Getty

“I didn’t see the fight [with Poirier]. I don’t know, I was on the lake,” Cerrone said. “I figured [Khabib won], I heard the news. But I think people need to welcome Khabib to the ground. I’d let him. Come on in, let’s go.”

Cowboy has 17 wins via submission from his 36 since his debut in 2006 and is a black belt in both BJJ and Gaidojutsu. So the chance to take the best grappler in the world down to the mat does not worry the 36-year-old.

“How does Khabib do on his back?” Cerrone asked. “What if I take Khabib down? Who knows? S***.”

Covington explains beef with Masvidal

Colby Covington is beginning to make a career out of trash-talking his opponents and even his friends.

The American Top Team member has lashed out at former friend Jorge Masvidal as the duo battle to reach gold in the welterweight division.

With champion Kamaru Usman refusing to fight Covington at MSG, Masvidal and Nate Diaz will headline the card on November 2, leaving the ‘Chaos’ without an opponent.

And it seems as though the damage is irreparable as the former interim champion explained where the rivalry originated form.

“That tweet came from Jorge trying to get in the way of my money and I take that money very serious,” Covington told MMA Fighting. “That’s food on the table for my mom, my dad, the life they never had, my family. I come from a very broke background and now he’s trying to mess with my money and my business so now you’re a competitor.

Covington has hit back at Masvidal
getty images

“Now you’re in my sights. That’s been a long time coming. People think we’ve been friends recently but that friendship ended a long time ago.”

While the welterweight title contenders continued to root for each other publicly in interviews, Covington says he hasn’t been close with Masvidal for nearly two years.

The origins of their issues started after he fought Demian Maia in Brazil and the friendship effectively ended after he won the interim welterweight title with a victory over Rafael dos Anjos in 2018.

“When he got beat up by Demian Maia and then I had to come up and clean up the scraps and completely decimate Demian Maia in his hometown of Sao Paulo, that’s when the relationship ended,” Covington explained. “Jorge got jealous. He got bitter. He wanted something that he couldn’t have, which was beating Demian Maia and be in position to fight for the title.

“Then as soon as I won the belt, that’s when he completely turned on me and he started talking s—t to me at the gym, at fights he’s saying stuff to me. I’m like dude stop. You’re a light round. You want to see how me and Jorge goes? Go look on YouTube. I wasn’t even trying hard. I know the haters don’t know how to turn on a girl but they should learn to turn on YouTube.”

Gaethje explains injury scare ahead of UFC Fight Night

After providing fans with a match up made in heaven, it seemed as though the MMA Gods were set to intervene once more and put a halt to the Cerrone vs Gaethje fight scheduled fro Saturday in Canada.

But thankfully the 30-year-old will not back out of the fight, despite suffering from an eye infection.

Gaethje is durable and likeable in equal measure
Getty Images - Getty

“I’ll be honest to everyone, I’m wearing these sunglasses because I almost didn’t make it to this fight,” Gaethje said. “I had an eye infection and I’m through that now and I just got off the plane about an hour and a half ago and I came straight here because I was not gonna miss this opportunity to work out and get the blood flowing and get my mind into fight week.

“So these lights are super bright, but I’m 100 percent ready to go.

“I’ve fought blind my whole life, so unless my eyes are cut out I’m fighting.”

Tyson Fury vs Otto Wallin: What happened when Anthony Joshua fought Wallin as an amateur?

12 Sep

Tyson Fury is preparing to face Otto Wallin at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas this weekend in the hope he can avoid a slip up like Anthony Joshua on American soil.

The 2012 Olympic Gold medallist was stopped on his US debut at Madison Square Garden by the unfancied Andy Ruiz Jr, who pummelled ‘AJ’ into a seventh-round submission.

Fury will be hoping there will be no such disasters on his return to the ring, three months after beating Tom Schwarz in Sin City.

Otto Wallin in a 16/1 underdog with some bookies against Tyson Fury
Getty Images - Getty

The ‘Gypsy King’ (or El Rey Gitano as he wants to be known) is hoping to light up the Las Vegas strip on Mexican Independence Day weekend against an unbeaten and untested heavyweight.

Wallin may not be the blockbuster name fans were hoping to see the Brit test himself against but, as Ruiz proved in New York, no one is to be taken lightly in this division.

And one man who knows more about the Swede is Joshua himself, with the duo having fought twice in the amateurs.

Wallin lost to Joshua on two separate occasions before joining the paid ranks, with their final fight in 2010 proving to be significant.

Fury is taking over Las Vegas this week
Getty Images - Getty

Fury claimed his second win over Wallin at the International Amateur Boxing Tournament via a points decision and joined the GB squad shortly after.

But the 28-year-old clearly made an impression on Joshua, who drafted the southpaw in as a sparring partner before his IBF world heavyweight title fight in 2016.

And it is this experience in the gym which Wallin believes has prepared him for this moment.

“I mean, sparring is just sparring,” he said as the pre-fight press conference. “But it’s the closest thing you can get to a fight.

“I haven’t been on this big stage in fights before, but I’ve been in sparring.

“I feel like I’ve always done well and I feel like I am on this level. I am ready to prove it.”

Leicester City have won 25 Premier League points since Brendan Rodgers took over, only Liverpool and Manchester City have secured more

11 Sep

When Brendan Rodgers took charge of Leicester City in March, it’s fair to say the Foxes were at a low point.

After enduring a period of dour football and fan unrest under Claude Puel, the hierarchy at the King Power Stadium decided a change at the top was required.

Brendan Rodgers is guiding Leicester towards a European Tour next season
Getty Images - Getty

The 2018/19 season proved to be traumatic and challenging and equal measure, with the tragic loss of Chairman Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha in a helicopter crash casting a dark shadow over the East  Midlands.

But since the appointment of Rodgers from Celtic, the outlook is undoubtedly more positive.

Since the Northern Irishman’s first match in charge on 3 March, Leicester City have earned 25 points. Only Liverpool and Manchester City have secured more in that time, with 40 and 37 respectively.

However, this prestigious record could well be under threat considering how tough Leicester’s next run of games is.

The Foxes are currently sitting third in the Premier League table, but face a tough run of fixtures
Getty Images - Getty

The Foxes went into the international break sitting in third place in the Premier League table after picking up eight points from their first four games.

City’s first game back after the international break is a date with potential top six rivals Manchester United, before home fixtures with Tottenham and Newcastle, and a trip to Liverpool.

The trip to Old Trafford presents Rodgers with an opportunity to get one over former pupil Harry Maguire, who left to join the Red Devils in a world-record £80million deal this summer.

How Tammy Abraham can achieve a feat managed only by Cristiano Ronaldo and Dele Alli at Wolverhampton Wanderers

11 Sep

Tammy Abraham is on target to equal a record set by Cristiano Ronaldo and Dele Alli this weekend, when Chelsea face Wolverhampton Wanderers at Molineux.

The England Under-21 international was one of a host of loan stars given the chance to prove themselves under the tutelage of Frank Lampard this season.

Tammy Abraham is closing in on equalling records set by Cristiano Ronaldo and Dele Alli
Getty Images - Getty

With the Blues legend replacing Maurizio Sarri in the midst of a transfer ban, it became apparent youngsters would be presented with the chance to prove themselves in the first team.

It seems the days of sending an army of starlets out on loan are no more at Stamford Bridge, with Abraham profiting the most.

A double at Carrow Road against Norwich City was followed instantly by another, this time at the Bridge against Sheffield United.

And if Abraham can replicate the feat once again, he will put his name amongst esteemed company.

Ronaldo achieved the record in the 2006/07 season
AFP or licensors

The striker can become only the third player aged 21 or younger to score at least two goals in three consecutive Premier League matches, after Cristiano Ronaldo, in December 2006, and Dele Alli in January 2017.

Perhaps the 21-year-old’s desire to score goals can be intrinsically linked to his idol; none other than west London legend Didier Drogba.

Abraham said: “I have so many stories from when I was younger watching him, growing up watching such a talented striker.

“I’ve always wanted to be like him, always hungry to score goals.”

Chelsea’s No.9 is aiming to follow in Drogba’s powerful footsteps by cleaning up on the domestic and European stage. The Ivory Coast international won four titles, four FA Cups, three League Cups and scored the winning penalty in the 2012 Champions League Final.

And Abraham has set about emulating his hero’s achievements.

He added: “Just looking at him he had that appearance about him. And I’ve always wanted to add that to my game. So to follow in his footsteps [as the club’s main striker] is always nice.”