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Brazil climbs to the summit for the first time in seven yearsDuro IkhazuagbeSuper Eagles continued their impressive ratings under Gernot Rohr’s watch as Nigeria stepped up one place from 41st to 40th spot in the latest FIFA Rankings released thursday.Rohr’s men who have played five games, pulling a draw against Senegal in the FIFA window in London last fortnight, are fifth best in the African ranking. The other game that would have further soared Eagles standing was against Burkina Faso in London but unfortunately didn’t hold due to visa problems for the Stallions. The Pharaohs of Egypt, are leading the continental ranking with Senegal and Cameroon occupying the second and third places respectively with Burkina Faso in the fourth place.Congo DR is sixth while Tunisia, Ghana, Cote d’Ivoire and Morocco complete the list of Africa’s Top ten football nations.Of the African lot, the Burkinabes have made the most impressions in recent times. The Stallions who are ranked 36th globally recently defeated Ghana in the Match for Third Place at the 2017 CAF Africa Cup of Nations in Gabon to earn their stripes. The result was viewed as something of a surprise, given that they had been eliminated at the group stage of the continental fiesta back in 2015.In the earlier stages of Gabon 2017, Burkina Faso got the better of Guinea-Bissau (2-0), Tunisia (1-0) and Ghana (1-0), and drew with hosts Gabon (1-1) and eventual winners Cameroon (1-1).At the global level, five-times world champions Brazil have returned to what they will consider their rightful place at the top of the FIFA rankings for the first time in seven years.The Brazilians have enjoyed an impressive revival since Tite replaced Dunga as their national team coach last year, winning all nine matches they have played under his leadership including eight World Cup qualifiers.They continued their run in March with a 4-1 win in Uruguay and 3-0 win over Paraguay to become the first side to book their place at next year’s World Cup in Russia with four games to spare.Brazil, who replaced arch-rivals Argentina at the top, previously led the rankings going into the 2010 World Cup where they were eliminated by the Netherlands in the quarterfinals.In second place of the global ranking is Argentina with 2014 World Cup winners Germany in the third place.Chile is occupying the fourth place with Colombia, France, Belgium, Portugal, Switzerland and Spain making up the world’s top ten ranking respectively.AFRICA TOP 101. Egypt2. Senegal3. Cameroon4. Burkina Faso5. Nigeria6. Congo DR7. Tunisia8. Ghana9. Cote d’Ivoire10. MoroccoShare this:FacebookRedditTwitterPrintPinterestEmailWhatsAppSkypeLinkedInTumblrPocketTelegram
The annual International Fight Week card is always supposed to be something special, but all too often over the last five years, the event has been marred by missed opportunities, fight cancellations, failed drug tests and people generally arriving at the event deflated and therefore coming away less satisfied, which isn’t what you want from one of the signature events of your year.Join DAZN and watch more than 100 fight nights a yearBut Saturday night at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, the stars aligned and the biggest event of the year morphed into the best event of the year with each passing fight as prospects shone early and veterans impressed late, with the main card featuring three devastating knockouts sandwiched between entertaining fights that went the distance.Not that UFC 239 needed it, but imagine sticking the heavyweight slobberknocker between Francis Ngannou and Junior dos Santos back on this card and having it end the way it did? It was much better utilized as the main event in Minnesota with Ngannou getting the attention he deserves coming off another blistering effort, but having that finish added to the collection of emphatic performances that took place over the course of the night would have just made things even more ridiculously fun on Saturday night.And here’s how you know it was a truly impactful event: despite the first split decision verdict of his career and a generally tentative fight that merits dissection, Jon Jones isn’t one of the my three main talking points this week. Amanda Nunes is on one of the best runs in UFC historyIt’s time we stop talking about Amanda Nunes simply in terms of where her accomplishments stack up on the women’s side of the sport because after her first-round knockout win over Holly Holm in the UFC 239 co-main event, “The Lioness” deserves recognition as one of the most dominant fighters of her generation — full stop.In securing the finish, Nunes earned her ninth straight win, sixth straight championship victory, and vanquished the last remaining former bantamweight champion she had yet to defeat. She’s beaten everyone to wear gold in the two divisions she currently rules, as well as owning a pair of victories over the reigning flyweight champion as well, with seven of her nine fights during the current run ending inside the distance.Against the four most recognizable names in women’s MMA of this era — Ronda Rousey, Cris Cyborg, Miesha Tate and Holly Holm — Nunes has gone 4-0 with four first-round knockouts, beating the quartet of champions in a combined 9:05.No other champion has come close to matching Nunes’ run, at least not in the last handful of years, as most titles have changed hands too frequently for a champion to amass such an uncanny collection of vanquished foes; the lone exception being Jones, who has turned back all challengers and beat five straight former champions to begin his first reign atop the light heavyweight division.But even then, Jones has more victories over very good, but not truly great opponents (four) than he does elite competition (two or one plus a no contest if you want to be 100 percent accurate) over the last four years, while Nunes has turned aside four former titleholders and the current queen of the flyweights, twice.And here’s the truly impressive thing: she keeps getting better.The 31-year-old showed poise and patience on Saturday night, taking her time against Holm — getting her timing down, waiting for openings, staying calm before uncorking the kick that began the finishing sequence. People will always question her gas tank, but the way she’s going, Nunes hasn’t needed to show how much her conditioning has improved because outside of her twin bouts with Shevchenko, she’s been absolutely dominant.Nunes was already the greatest female fighter of all time before putting away Holm and only further cementing her standing with her victory on Saturday night, but she deserves to be in the conversation as one of the best fighters of her era as well, regardless of gender, because the run she’s on is something truly special.Jorge Masvidal: UFC record-holder, owner of MMA’s most appropriate nicknameThere are plenty of nicknames that fit and make sense, but none feel as appropriate today than Jorge “Gamebred” Masvidal because the new owner of the fastest knockout in UFC history has most certainly has been raised by the game.Masvidal is 34, but has been a pro for 16 years, and made the rounds on the same Miami backyard scene that gave rise to the late Kimbo Slice, famously knocking out one of his protégés, a dude identified only as Ray, in a pair of fights preserved by grainy videos that have a combined 2.35M views on YouTube.For long stretches of his career, Masvidal was one of those guys hardcore fans loved, but casuals knew nothing about because while he’d faced tough competition and fought all over the world, he’d come up short in his most high profile opportunities. Even once he landed in the UFC after a four-fight run in Strikeforce that included a lightweight title shot, Masvidal never really fully caught on with audiences, despite a great deal of success and always delivering the goods on fight night.He was too laid back at times, frequently flashing elite talent, but never really opening all the way up to let his skills and personality shine through. Potential breakout moments were chased by close fights that never seemed to fall his way and gave the impression that Masvidal wasn’t quite elite.But over his last two fights — and one memorable backstage scuffle — the full depth and breadth of what makes his nickname so fitting, so perfect has been on full display.There is a quiet menace to the playful, laid back Miami native, who is quick-witted and venom-tongued, but selective about what he says and when he speaks. Against Darren Till, he showed off his fast, fluid hands and gameness, while against Askren, it was his smarts, savvy and explosiveness that produced his record-setting, five-second finish.Saturday night was a lifetime of experience coming together to produce a career-defining moment, followed by the kind of post-fight celebration, interview and press conference you only get from a guy who has been a real one from the outset and is finally flourishing on the biggest stage in the sport.On Luke Rockhold, or why looking ahead is a very bad ideaYou hear it all the time in the run-up to fights: ‘I’m not looking past my opponent’ or some variation on those words, uttered by almost every athlete set to grace the cage.It’s only partly true because not overlooking your opponent doesn’t mean you can have a rough sketch of what you would like to see happen with a victory, as no one is readying to enter the cage thinking about what they’re going to do after they lose.But every so often, someone comes along who is clearly focused more on the future than the task at hand and more often than naught, it comes back to bite them on the ass.You would think having firsthand experience with dismissing opponents and paying for it, Luke Rockhold would have known better than to set his sights on Jon Jones before actually beating Jan Blachowicz in his light heavyweight debut. But instead, the former middleweight champ cast the Polish veteran as a minor speed bump on his way to the top of the 205-pound division and caught a broken jaw for his hubris.Rockhold fought like a guy who believed he was so far better than Blachowicz that the two of them sharing the cage was kind of insulting. Even after the former KSW champion clipped him with a head kick on the horn at the end of the first round, the Ralph Lauren model didn’t get his hands up, didn’t show any greater interest in protecting himself against Blachowicz’ offensive offerings and generally looked like a guy who thought he was always one second away from flipping the switch, finishing the fight and showing everyone that he really is as otherworldly talented as he believes he is.A minute-and-a-half into the second round, Blachowicz uncorked a left hand that floored Rockhold and ended the fight in a flash, leaving the overconfident former champion pawing around on his hands and knees like a frat boy who had way too much to drink trying to find his keys. It was comeuppance in the highest degree and a blow that would have been in the running for the best knockout of the night if Masvidal didn’t follow it up 18 minutes later by re-writing the UFC record books.Some will chalk it up to karma, but that’s making the same mistake Rockhold did and being too dismissive of Blachowicz, who entered 2019 on a four-fight winning streak before running into Thiago Santos and has proven over the last couple years that he’s a Top 10 fixture in the improving light heavyweight division.Rockhold’s future is now a giant question mark as he’s been knocked out in three of his last four outings and will be sidelined indefinitely waiting for his jaw to heal. Hopefully if he does come back, he’s learned not to be dismissive of the person who is about to punch him in the face.Fight of the Weekend: Jon Jones vs. Thiago SantosThere weren’t any Pier 6 brawls on Saturday night, but the main event was a tactical, tense, back-and-forth contest that nearly resulted in Jones losing the light heavyweight title and Santos proving beyond any doubt that all those who questioned the merits of his championship opportunity owe him an apology.Santos won the opening round handily, one of only two frames the judges all agreed upon, and was having a great deal of success until he tweaked his knee and his mobility became compromised. Despite the obvious issue, “Marreta” never stopped trying to engage and land the blow, or blows, that would end the fight.Conversely, Jones was methodical and patient, preferring to stay outside and snipe at Santos rather than close the distance and give the Brazilian powerhouse a chance to connect with something that irreparably altered the course of the fight. He made full use of his length and range, sliding away from numerous attacks and landing in return from a distance that has to be impossible to deal with if you’re on the receiving end.It was a fairly even fight heading into the fifth round and even once the final five minutes elapsed, you could make a case for either man winning, with UFC President Dana White seemingly being the only person who watched Saturday’s final bout and thought it was a lopsided affair. Video: Looking back at UFC 239 with Dana White (@danawhite), who said anyone who scored that main event for Thiago Santos should never judge a fight again. Which … was a little awkward since … ummm … I scored it for Santos. https://t.co/fOUjDrf7qu— Brett Okamoto (@bokamotoESPN) July 7, 2019 Immediately following the bout, there were questions about whether Jones had suffered an injury himself and simply didn’t disclose it and how much Holly Holm’s knockout loss in the previous fight rattled him, if at all. There were also some suggesting this was Jones showcasing his true greatness by picking apart a dangerous striker, systematically beating him at his own game while only using some of his weapons.All those things need to be unpacked, but the biggest questions that remain for me coming out of the bout are whether Jones is one day going to pay for being overly patient and cautious and not using his entire arsenal and how different is this fight if Santos isn’t operating on an unstable knee for three-fifths of the fight?Somewhere down the line, I’d like to see a rematch because Santos started well and proved he belonged in the cage with “Bones” and something tells me that once he’s back to full health and returns to action, he’ll get right back to stacking up bodies and working toward another title shot.Submission of the Weekend: Edmen Shahbazyan vs. Jack MarshmanThis was a steamrolling of the first order and the kind of performance that really makes you sit up and take notice of a fighter like Shahbazyan.It’s not that people weren’t checking for the undefeated 21-year-old before — he’s represented by Ronda Rousey and trained with the former UFC champion during her glory days at Glendale Fighting Club, so there have been eyes on him since he marched onto the Contender Series last summer and earned a contract with a 40-second knockout win — but this was different.Marshman is a 29-year-old veteran with 30-something fights who has proven, if nothing else, to be a tough, durable out over the course of his career and Shahbazyan ran through him like another overmatched regional circuit opponent. From the second “The Golden Boy” opted to take the fight to the ground, it was a wrap, as Shahbazyan softened Marshman up with clean, powerful ground-and-pound before passing to side control, taking his back and sinking in the choke. It only took 72 seconds! @EdmenShahbazyan improves to 10-0 at #UFC239 with the first round stoppage! pic.twitter.com/dHhBOjkBS4— UFC (@ufc) July 6, 2019 Now 10-0 — including 3-0 in the UFC and 4-0 over the last 53 weeks — Shahbazyan looks like a legitimate rising star in the middleweight ranks and someone who could blossom into a real force as he continues to mature and round out his game.Knockout of the Weekend: Jorge Masvidal vs. Ben AskrenThere is no other option.This is the best knockout of the year thus far and topping it is going to be extremely difficult because it had all the elements you look for in an award-winning finish.It was dramatic and unexpected, plus there was heat between the combatants and legitimate stakes attached to the contest, as a big win for either participant would likely elevate them into position to challenge for the welterweight title once Kamaru Usman is cleared to return.And then Masvidal went out and did this: OH MY GOD MASVIDAL STARCHES ASKREN IN 5 SECONDS!!!#UFC239 pic.twitter.com/8oWeqSIBhW— UFC (@ufc) July 7, 2019 Here’s the other reason you know this is the best knockout of the year: there were a bunch of really impressive finishes on Saturday night, including Blachowicz breaking Rockhold’s jaw with a lethal left hand and Song Yadong detonating a right on Alejandro Perez’ dome and yet there is absolutely no debate about which knockout was the best of the night.“Gamebred” is a real one and this is one hell of a knockout.Prospect to Watch after this Weekend: Arnold AllenHaving already given Shahbazyan props for his quick submission win over Marshman and all-around potential going forward at middleweight, I figured I would use this space to spread a little more love around and highlight the effort turned in by Arnold Allen on Saturday night.For 15 minutes, the quiet kid from Felixstowe picked apart Gilbert Melendez, making it clear that the former Strikeforce champ and lightweight stalwart’s best days are behind him and announcing his presence as a potential contender at the same time. E. Spencer Kyte looks back at an incredible night of action inside the Octagon at UFC 239, highlighting Amanda Nunes’ historic run, Jorge Masvidal’s fitting nickname and Luke Rockhold’s hubris, along with handing out his weekly awards in the latest edition of The Remix.This past weekend was one of the rare weekend’s where the UFC had the combat sports space all to itself and did they ever make the most of it. Because he’s unassuming and has had stretches of inactivity in the past, people aren’t as aware of Allen or hyped about his potential as they are some of the other emerging names at featherweight, but the 25-year-old is now 6-0 in the UFC and riding an eight-fight winning streak overall. Very few people have put together a run like that to start their UFC careers and it should prompt people to pay closer attention to Allen going forward.The thing that has always stood out to me about Allen, who was spotlighted in out Under the Radar series ahead of his March win over Jordan Rinaldi, is his poise inside the cage and he showed it again on Saturday. He doesn’t rush anything or over-extend himself — he just comes forward, lands clean, slips out of range and starts again.There is a veteran guile and savvy to him already and should he ever really harness the full compliment of skills, talents and abilities at his disposal, Allen is going to be an absolute nightmare for everyone in the featherweight division.
A sharp right and some thudding strikes in the sixth suggested Smith’s class was about to tell, but Ryder’s relentless grit was causing the champion issues.Good work on the ropes from close range would have had Ryder dreaming of an upset and the underdog upped the ante when trainer Tony Sims warned him Smith may try to steal it with the jab.Both men landed big hooks in a brilliant final round, but ultimately it was controversially deemed Smith had done enough to control the fight. Callum Smith scored a unanimous decision victory to retain his WBA super middleweight world title but was made to toil by a gallant John Ryder in Liverpool, England.The home-city fighter was an overwhelming favorite against Londoner Ryder but was troubled by the work rate of his tireless opponent, who gave up plenty in height and reach. Smith nonetheless moved to 27-0, with the judges scoring it 117-111, 116-112 and 116-112 in his favor, having clearly decided he landed the cleaner punches.Join DAZN to watch Ruiz vs. Joshua 2 and 100-plus fight nights a yearIt was hardly the statement performance Smith would have wanted as he chases career-defining fights with the likes of Saul “Canelo” Alvarez or Billy Joe Saunders, but a below-par showing here may actually make those bouts easier to make.”I knew he was a tough fighter, I knew it was a tough fight,” Smith said after the bout. “It wasn’t the best performance from myself, but I was due a bad one.”I’m a perfectionist and I always want to do the best as possible. Listen, I know how good I am, how good I can be.”I want the best names in the division. The fear brings out the best performance in myself.”SCORECARDS: 117-111, 116-112, 116-112 to the winner, #AndStill WBA World, WBC Diamond and Ring Magazine Super-Middleweight Champion… @CallumSmith23 #SmithRyder pic.twitter.com/oem3Q95JRb— Matchroom Boxing (@MatchroomBoxing) November 23, 2019Ryder vastly outperformed expectations and the fact there was a smattering of boos amid a partisan home crowd after the scores were read out told a story in itself.After an uneventful couple of opening rounds, Smith began to up the work rate and although the man nicknamed “Mundo” suffered a cut in the fourth, some clean hooks in the fifth had Ryder in trouble for the first time.
Maddenoliday will soon be upon us, which means the time for ratings is here.Starting on July 13, ESPN will reveal “Madden NFL ’21” ratings throughout the week on its programming. The reveal will include members of “Madden’s” 99 Club, members of which are rated 99, the highest rating in the game. ESPN’s morning show “Get Up!” will hold the reveal of the 99 Club while “First Take,” “SportsCenter” and “NFL Live” will all house different coverage of player rankings and ratings throughout the week. MORE: ‘Madden’ fans are disappointed with EA for a big reasonAs with every year, the “Madden” ratings are the cause for debate and contention among fans of the longstanding video game franchise. A player’s rating is correlated to his on-field production and is updated weekly as the regular season rolls along.The unofficial start of ratings-reveal season starts with the rookie QB ratings, which were revealed Thursday by former NFL QB and Hall of Famer Steve Young.”Dang! This is the guy you guys got!?” – @[email protected] reveals #Madden21 Ratings to Rookie QBs pic.twitter.com/PLLH1Fh8XK— Madden NFL 21 (@EAMaddenNFL) July 9, 2020Madden 21 rookie QB ratings:- Joe Burrow: 76- Tua Tagovailoa: 73- Jordan Love: 71- Justin Herbert: 70- Jalen Hurts: 68 (86 speed)- Jacob Eason 63- Jake Fromm 62— NFL Update (@MySportsUpdate) July 9, 2020 On July 17, remaining ratings will be revealed on a “SportsCenter” special, which will also detail EA Sports’ ratings process,Last year, just four NFL players were members of the 99 Club: the Rams’ Aaron Donald, current Cardinals wideout DeAndre Hopkins, Bears pass rusher Khalil Mack and Seahawks linebacker Bobby Wagner. This year, freshly paid Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes may enter the group as a 99-overall player.