Nigerian-born Israel Adesanya was back to his brilliant best Saturday, defeating challenger Marvin Vettori with a show of superior striking and defending his middleweight title at UFC 263 in Glendale, Arizona.
It was a masterful return to form for the New Zealander on a wild night at the Gila River Arena that also saw the UFC crown its first-ever Mexican-born champion.
“I didn’t feel any threat at all,” said Adesanya, 31, after getting a comfortable unanimous decision.
Adesanya suffered the first loss of his MMA career in March after moving up a division and finding himself outmuscled.
But Saturday saw him down to a weight class where he is noticeably more comfortable. The Nigerian-born fighter’s speed around the cage and his precision striking, with low kicks and jabs, was too much for Vettori from the first bell.
The Italian tried to use his bigger bulk to get Adesanya to the mat, but each time the New Zealander slipped out and got up to his feet again.
In the end, the judges’ cards read 50-45, 50-45, 50-45 –- and Adesanya was back in business, describing himself as “the king.”
There were questions before the fight about the mental toll on Adesanya of his career’s first defeat, and of the death last month of one of his close friends who was attacked on a night out in Auckland.
Adesanya dedicated the fight to his friend and laid his belt down in the middle of the cage in tribute.
Before Adesanya’s masterclass, the 18,000-odd fans in attendance raised the roof when flyweight challenger Brandon Moreno laid on a rear-naked choke in the third round that saw Brazil’s Deiveson Figueiredo first tap out and then hand over his belt to the Mexican.
Despite his nation’s storied history across all combat sports, there has never before been a Mexican UFC champion and the 27-year-old Moreno broke down in tears as he spoke in the cage afterwards.
“This moment is so amazing,” he said. “I’ve worked my whole life for this. Viva Mexico!”
The pair had thrown up one of the fights of the year when they met at UFC 256 last December, across five rounds of mayhem that was called a majority draw.
This time around, Moreno left nothing to chance, moving with speed and purpose at a high tempo.
Saturday night continued the UFC’s rollout of live events for American fans as the United States emerges from pandemic lockdowns that shut down most action for a year.
The UFC described the Arizona event as a sellout, much like the open-to-the-public events in Jacksonville, Florida, and Houston, Texas.
Dollar Rain for Amusan, Brume, others from Sports Ministry for Commonwealth successes
Team Nigeria medallists and their coaches at the 2022 Commonwealth Games have received their cash rewards from the Federal Ministry of Youth and Sports Development for their heroics in Birmingham.
Athletes who won gold medals received $5,000, silver medallist received $3,000, while bronze medallists got $2,000. Athletes who represented Nigeria in the 4 x100 relay received $15,000 for the team.
Amongst those who got rewarded are Women’s 100m Hurdles Champion, Tobi Amusan, 200m Silver medallist and long jump winner, Ese Brume among others.
The Coaches and officials also got rewarded by the ministry for their roles in Team Nigeria’s success.
The Minister of Youth and Sports, Sunday Dare ensured that three weeks camping allowance was paid to all athletes.
Nigeria’s Performance At Commonwealth Games A Parting Gift To Me – Buhari
President Muhammadu Buhari has described Team Nigeria’s performance at the 22nd Commonwealth Games, Birmingham 2022, as a parting gift to him.
Buhari said this in a statement issued by his media aide Femi Adesina.
‘‘We are proud of these achievements and the memories will linger with the nation forever and for me this is a special moment and a fitting parting gift, being my last Commonwealth Games as Head of State,” Statement quoted Buhari as saying.
He said, “the President commends the 94 worthy ambassadors that proudly flew the Nigerian flag in nine sporting events, and for those exciting moments when the medalists brought smiles to our faces by breaking world, national, and games records, as well as achieving personal bests in their career.”
According to Buhari, the athletes’ performance was a display of the “God-given attributes of the real Nigerian- never give up, strive to the end”.
“The President also lauds the coaching crew and team officials for the passion towards the development of sports in the country, assuring them that history will remember them for all their contributions to making our athletes shine in the international arena,” Adesina’s statement added.
Nigeria finished with 35 medals, including 12 gold, nine silver, and 14 bronze, the nation’s best outing at the Games in years.
CWG2022: Buhari Celebrates Team Nigeria’s 35 Medals
President Muhammadu Buhari has joined sports loving Nigerians in celebrating the Nigrerian athletes that represented the Country in the the 22nd Commonwealth Games, Birmingham 2022.
Accodding to a statement by the Senior Special Assistant to President on Media and Publicity ,Femi Adesina said President Buhari watched some of the colourful and spectacular moments in the 11-day competition, which had no fewer than 5,000 athletes representing 72 nations and territories, competing in 280 medal events.
Buhari saluted the memorable display of Team Nigeria athletes.
The president commended the 94 worthy ambassadors that proudly flew the Nigerian flag in nine sporting events.
He lauded them for those exciting moments when the medalists brought smiles to people’s faces by breaking world, national and games records, as well as achieving personal bests in their career.
He noted with delight the 35 medals, including 12 gold, 9 silver and 14 bronze harvested already on the late evening of the 10th day of the Games, and more medals likely for the country on the last day,
The president thanked the shining stars of Nigeria for competing among the best in the world and displaying the God-given attributes of the real Nigerian- never give up, strive to the end.
According to the President, it is noteworthy that majority of the medals so far, including 12 gold for the country, were championed by the nation’s talented young women and girls.
These, he said, include multi medalist Tobi Amusan (100m Women’s Hurdle and 4x100m Relay), Favour Ofili, Rosemary Chukwuma, Grace Nwokocha (4x100m Relay) and Miesinnei Mercy Genesis (50 kg),
Other are, Blessing Oborududu (57 kg) and Odunayo Adekuoroye (57kg) in Women’s Freestyle wrestling; as well as Adijat Adenike Olarinoye (55kg) and Rafiatu Folashade Lawal (59kg) in Women’s weightlifting.
Other gold medalists are Folashade Oluwafemiayo, Women’s heavyweight Para Powerlifting, Eucharia Iyiazi, Women’s shot put, Chioma Onyekwere and Goodness Nwachukwu in Women’s Discus throw, and Ese Brume, long jump.
‘‘We are proud of these achievements and the memories will linger with the nation forever and for me this is a special moment and a fitting parting gift, being my last Commonwealth Games as Head of State,” he said.
The president also lauded the coaching crew and team officials for the passion towards the development of sports in the country.
He assured them that history would remember them for all their contributions in making the athletes shine in the international arena.
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