UFC

UFC 266: Volkanovski proves doubters wrong in brutal title defence against Ortega

By Sports Desk September 26, 2021

Alex Volkanovski defended his featherweight belt after overcoming Brian Ortega in one of the most dramatic fights of the year at UFC 266.

Volkanovski withstood two submissions in a brutal showdown with Ortega in Las Vegas, where the Australian champion prevailed by unanimous decision (49-46, 50-45, 50-44) on Saturday.

Ortega (15-2) – largely outclassed – looked to be on the brink of victory after a mounted guillotine and then a triangle choke in the third round left Volkanovski in trouble at T-Mobile Arena.

But Volkanovski (23-1) silenced his critics, emerging from the jaws of defeat to celebrate his 10th consecutive win in the UFC.

"All you doubters, I'm going to prove you wrong time and time again," Volkanovski said in his post-fight interview.

"Bring it. About f****** time [you put respect on my name].

"Keep doubting me. I love it. I'll be underdog to the day I die."

Of the submission attempts, Volkanovski – who has not lost since May 2013 – said: "Some of them were pretty tight.

"For some reason I went to the ground with him. Obviously, he's good. ... I thought I was in his head and he came back even stronger."

Ortega added: "I thought it was done. That's what we trained for my entire camp. ... That little bastard is f****** tough as hell."

In the co-main event, Valentina Shevchenko completed her sixth straight title defence at the expense of Lauren Murphy.

Shevchenko (21-4) scored a devastating fourth-round TKO against Murphy in the flyweight title showdown.

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    Arnaud Demare enjoyed another successful day at the Giro d'Italia as he registered his second stage victory of this year's race.

    Demare pipped Caleb Ewan in a thrilling sprint finish to stage six on Thursday, just nudging the tip of his wheel ahead of the Lotto Soudal rider as they crossed the finish line in Scalea.

    At the end of a relatively flat route, Mark Cavendish made a late push, but was unable to latch onto the front two at the end.

    "It was a really calm stage and everybody had fresh legs. Yesterday it was a collective job and today we had everyone as well," said Groupama-FDJ rider Demare.

    "At each roundabout we were perfectly placed. Around 500m, Jacopo [Guarnieri] did a great job and I got myself into the wheels. The sprint lasted about 100m and I managed to get there.

    "I thought maybe it was me that was second until we saw the photo."

    It was a frustrating day for Fernando Gaviria (UAE Team Emirates), meanwhile.

    The Colombian had expressed frustration with his bike after stage five, saying "what a s*** bike", and this time he collided with Alberto Dainese and Cees Bol on the home stretch.

    Gaviria was deemed to be at fault and relegated, so he has dropped from third to fifth in the points classification, losing 13 points.

    There was little change in the general classification standings, with Juan Pedro Lopez keeping hold of the maglia rosa, though his lead was cut by a second.

    DEMARE MAKING FRANCE PROUD

    That was Demare's seventh stage win at the Giro d'Italia, meaning he has now won more stages in the Grand Tour event than any other French rider.

    According to the Giro's official data, across the 13-second sprint, Demare averaged a remarkable 68.4 km/h speed, while maxing out at 1,410 watts of power.

    STAGE RESULT  

    1. Arnaud Demare (Groupama-FDJ) 5:02:33
    2. Caleb Ewan (Lotto Soudal) same time  
    3. Mark Cavendish (Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl Team) same time 
    4. Biniam Girmay (Intermarche-Wanty-Gobert) same time
    5. Giacomo Nizzolo (Israel-Premier Tech) same time

    CLASSIFICATION STANDINGS   

    General Classification  

    1. Juan Pedro Lopez (Trek-Segafredo) 23:23:36
    2. Lennard Kaemna (Bora-Hansgrohe) +0:38
    3. Rein Taaramae (Intermarche-Wanty-Gobert) +0:58

    Points Classification

    1. Arnaud Demare (Groupama-FDJ) 147
    2. Biniam Girmay (Intermarche-Wanty-Gobert) 94
    3. Mark Cavendish (Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl Team) 78

    King of the Mountains  

    1. Lennard Kamna (Bora-Hansgrohe) 43
    2. Mirco Maestri (EOLO-Kometa Cycling Team) 18  
    3. Juan Pedro Lopez (Trek-Segafredo) 18

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    Jurgen Klopp has apologised for his outburst on Antonio Conte's tactics following the draw between Liverpool and Tottenham on Saturday, suggesting it was a "backhanded" compliment.

    Liverpool dropped ground in the Premier League title race as they were held to a frustrating 1-1 draw at Anfield, Luis Diaz's deflected second-half strike salvaging a point for the Reds.

    Spurs managed just 35 per cent of possession against the Reds, who outshot their opponents 22 to three – though the visitors registered as many shots on target (three each).

    Having defended deep and relied on the counter-attacking prowess of scorer Son Heung-min and Harry Kane, Tottenham became the first team to stop Liverpool from winning at Anfield in the Premier League since Brighton and Hove Albion last October.

    Klopp took aim at Spurs' approach after the game, stating he "could not coach" Conte's defensive style as he implored Tottenham to do more with their talented "world-class players".

    However, the German manager has since retracted his remarks as he hailed the work that Conte and Atletico Madrid's Diego Simeone do in setting their teams up to defend. 

    "No. It's what I think, it's just not what I should say because it's not appropriate," Klopp told reporters when asked if he would contact Conte to apologise. "We didn't lose and it felt like a loss.

    "One of you guys asked how they defended and that was the moment it clicked. I mean it when I say I couldn't coach it – it was a backhanded compliment.

    "I couldn't. What they do is incredible and so difficult for the opponent – they make it hard to score.

    "When you don't score and then Harry Kane gets on the ball, it's not a brain f***, but what can you do in these moments? My main message is I can't coach it.

    "Diego Simeone and Atletico Madrid, I can't wait to face them again. That’s what I mean, it's unnecessary I say these kinds of things. It came out before I was thinking."

    Liverpool also attempted 46 crosses to Tottenham's 17, but Klopp refuted suggestions his side should not have relied on sending the ball in from the flanks, even if he bemoaned the Reds' build-up play.

    "The crosses you can read easily are not right with the way they defend," he added. "They need to go back in the centre, get to the touchline and square it.

    "It's just that the main challenge of a game like this is that you are in a creative mood, but every missed pass is a massive problem, it is hard to stay calm.

    "If we chip the ball in behind the wing-back that’s great football, but we didn't anticipate it. If we had won 3-1 you wouldn't have asked me about all these crosses and that's the problem, not a perfect game but great things.

    "The counter-press was amazing. I don't forget but we keep going. If we win 1-0 and there's no counter-press, we have only a few games left and I have to say 'Boys, what happened?'.

    "Nothing is broken, that's how I see it so let's keep going from there. It doesn't always work out and that's the nature of it.

    "We had the situations where we could have scored. Virgil [van Dijk's late header], he could have scored and it would have been perfect."

    Liverpool will look to cut Manchester City's three-point lead at the Premier League summit when the Reds visit Aston Villa on Tuesday.

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    Stan Wawrinka said he was "feeling great" after securing his first win in 15 months by downing 14th seed Reilly Opelka at the Internazionali d'Italia.

    The three-time grand slam winner made his tour return last month after requiring two surgeries on a left foot injury, but rallied after losing his first set against Opelka to secure a memorable 3-6 7-5 6-2 first-round victory.

    Speaking after booking a second-round meeting with Laslo Djere, who beat Borna Coric 6-2 6-7 (3-7) 6-2, Wawrinka said his desire to play at the top level never left him, despite his injury woes.

    "I think in general I was feeling good on the court, physically I was feeling great," he said. "For sure, when you don't win a match in more than a year, you start to think about it more than you should and not focus on the right things. 

    "In general, I think it was a great match, a great battle. I stayed positive. I started to feel much better with my tennis by the end of the second set, and in the third set. I'm really happy with this victory.

    "After two surgeries, at my age I could easily have stopped playing because my career is way better than what I expected when I was young.

    "But I still have this fire in me. I still believe that I can play great tennis. I still believe that I make some big results, maybe not now, but in a few months."

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    Having lost to Andy Murray at the Madrid Open last time out, 2020 US Open winner Thiem is still chasing his first victory of the year after losing 6-4 7-6 (7-5) to the 34-year-old Italian.

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