Under the Radar at UFC 239: Ismail Naurdiev

first_imgPrior to every event, Under the Radar will cast the spotlight on an up-and-coming talent who shows the potential for growth in their division and isn’t getting enough attention as they head into battle. At International Fight Week, that fighter is “The Austrian Wonderboy,” Ismail Naurdiev.Name: Ismail NaurdievRecord: 18-2 overall; 1-0 UFCDivision: WelterweightTeam: Hard Knocks 365 Combined with his impressive first showing, it’s easy to recognize the positives and be excited about what Naurdiev brings to the table.One appearance isn’t enough of a sample size to accurately forecast how high the 22-year-old Salzburg-based Naurdiev can go, especially in the deep and talented welterweight ranks, however he made a tremendous impression in his debut and if he can follow it up with another strong showing here, there will be more people claiming their seats on the Ismail Naurdiev bandwagon.And they should — it’s quite lovely and the seats are comfortable. With the crush of events that take place over the course of the year, we have a tendency to forget some of the great stuff that occurs in January and February. It’s not malicious, it’s just a function of there being 30-odd events every 12 months and a ton of cool things that happen after winter gives way to spring.Case and point: Ismail Naurdiev’s promotional debut.Join DAZN and watch more than 100 fight nights a yearTabbed to replace Ramazan Emeev on the preliminary portion of the UFC’s debut fight card in Prague, Czech Republic in February, the 22-year-old welterweight strolled into the Octagon on two week’s notice — and three weeks after scoring a 36-second knockout win — and beat Michel Prazeres, ending the Brazilian’s eight-fight winning streak.This wasn’t a grind’em out, squeak by on the scorecards, split decision type of effort either — Naurdiev was in complete control from start to finish, outworking Prazeres all the way through to secure the first victory over his UFC career. Because Prazeres isn’t a major name and didn’t beat a bunch of elite talents during the course of his extended run of success, folks are likely to undervalue what Naurdiev accomplished in his maiden voyage into the UFC cage, but that would be a serious mistake.Prazeres entered with a 10-2 record in the UFC and having won 10 of 11 after dropping his debut. The only guy to beat him during that span was former interim title challenger Kevin Lee and “Trator” collected wins over guys like Mairbek Taisumov, Gilbert Burns, Josh Burkman and Zak Cummings during that run.Even if you’re not blown away by the names on that list, look up how many fighters have ever won eight straight fights or more in the UFC and maybe then you’ll understand that no matter the opponents, building a winning streak like that is an impressive accomplishment and ending it in your promotional debut, on short notice, three weeks after your last fight, as a 22-year-old is an outstanding achievement.For the record: 20 fighters have won eight or more in the UFC; Prazeres is the only one to have never fought for championship gold, so yeah, he is in elite company.With all of that said, clearly it’s safe to say I’m pretty excited about seeing Naurdiev return to action this week.Following his win over Prazeres, Naurdiev had two requests: to fight in Las Vegas and to face a Top 15 opponent.The first request was granted as he’ll take part in International Fight Week and compete at T-Mobile Arena on Saturday, but rather than facing a ranked opponent, he’s squaring off with Chance Rencountre, a 32-year-old Alliance MMA representative who dropped his short own notice debut (to Belal Muhammad) before rebounding with a quick submission win last time out.History has taught us all that MMA Math doesn’t work, so it would be a mistake to simply suggest that Naurdiev’s win over Prazeres and Rencountre being a relative newcomer to the promotion means “The Austrian Wonderboy” is going to roll into the cage and collect an easy victory because there are no easy wins in the UFC and the Oklahoma native is a solid grappler with a big size advantage heading into this one.But Naurdiev has already proven that he’s capable of out-working an established, powerful grappler and carries the kind of conditioning necessary to push hard for 15 minutes at a torrid pace. Before arriving in the UFC, he showed some pop in his hands and a diverse striking arsenal as well, so while he’ll be giving up size, he has a more diverse skill set and more paths to victory in this one.In addition to his impressive debut, another piece that makes Naurdiev such a compelling newcomer to track is that he’s shifted his training to Fort Lauderdale, FL., where he’s working with Henri Hooft and the crew at Hard Knocks 365. While he’s enjoyed success training at home, there is always something to be said for seeking out a place with better coaches, better training partners and a generally more experienced group. Naurdiev was so pleased with how his camp went this time around (and the weather) that he’s strongly considering making a permanent move to Florida, which speaks volumes about the team that he worked with and the benefits he felt preparing for Rencountre.last_img read more


Ronaldo eyes more FIFA success as Real dominate awards

first_imgThe Portuguese ace has scored 44 goals in just 48 games for club and country so far this calendar year, including two in a 4-1 Champions League final win over Juventus in Cardiff on June 3.Ronaldo saw off competition from longstanding Barcelona rival Lionel Messi and Paris Saint-Germain’s Neymar, the world’s most expensive player.Cristiano Ronaldo, FIFA Player of the Year © AFP / Gal ROMA, Laurence CHU , Vincent LEFAI, Sophie RAMISBut, typical of a footballer who has enjoyed huge success at both Manchester United and Real, Ronaldo was not satisfied.“I want seven. Five is good but seven is my lucky number so seven would be great.”Real boss Zinedine Zidane took the corresponding manager of the year award, with the Spanish giants providing five players in the FIFPro team of the year.Ronaldo won the inaugural Best FIFA men’s player of the year award last year following the end of a six-year merger between the FIFA honour and France Football’s Ballon D’Or.The 32-year-old previously won the FIFA World Player of the Year award, the precursor to the Best FIFA award, in 2008.Real Madrid’s French coach Zinedine Zidane (R) shakes hands with Italian manager of Nantes, Claudio Ranieri after winning the Best FIFA men’s coach of 2017 award © AFP / Ben STANSALLHe has now won the last two FIFA men’s trophies as well as three of the last four Ballon D’Or awards.“Thanks a lot for voting for me,” said Ronaldo after receiving his trophy from Argentina great Diego Maradona and Brazil’s Ronaldo at the London Palladium theatre.“I mention Leo and Neymar, great to be here. Real Madrid supporters, my team-mates, my coach, they all support me all year.“We are in England for the first time and I win consecutive awards,” he added. “This is a great moment for me. I have fans all over the world.”Zidane won out ahead of Chelsea’s Antonio Conte and Juventus’s Massimiliano Allegri to be crowned men’s coach of the year after becoming the first man to oversee a successful defence of the European Cup in the Champions League era.“I’d like to thank all of the players for making this possible,” said Zidane. “This is a very special prize.”By video-link, Netherlands midfielder Lieke Martens holds her trophy for The Best FIFA women’s player of 2017 © AFP / Ben STANSALLReal’s superb campaign was recognised in a FIFPro team that featured Ronaldo and club-mates Toni Kroos, Luka Modric, Marcelo and Sergio Ramos.The XI also included FIFA’s goalkeeper of the year, Gianluigi Buffon.AC Milan’s Leonardo Bonucci and PSG’s Dani Alves were in the defence, with Barcelona playmaker Andres Iniesta in a side also featuring Messi and Neymar.– Giroud wins best goal –Juventus and Italy shot-stopper Buffon topped a three-strong shortlist for the goalkeeper award ahead of Real’s Keylor Navas and Bayern Munich’s Manuel Neuer.Monday also saw the Puskas Award for the best goal of 2017 go to Arsenal’s Olivier Giroud.The France striker received the award named in honour of Hungary great Ferenc Puskas for a spectacular ‘scorpion-kick’ against Crystal Palace in January.The Frenchman’s flicked volley with his left foot that went in off the crossbar won ahead of goals from Venezuela’s Deyna Castellanos, 18, and South African goalkeeper Oscarine Masuluke.Juventus and Italy goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon (L) wins The Best FIFA goalkeeper of 2017 award © AFP / Ben STANSALLMeanwhile tournament hosts the Netherlands’ achievement in winning their first major female football title, the 2017 Women’s European Championship, was recognised with Women’s Coach of the Year and Player of the Year awards for Sarina Wiegman and Lieke Martens respectively.Supporters of Celtic won the Fan Award for the way they marked the 50th anniversary of the Glasgow club’s European Cup triumph.The Fair Play award went to Francis Kone for saving the life of goalkeeper Martin Berkovec, who nearly suffocated as a result of swallowing his tongue during a Czech league match in February.Voting for the bulk of the awards was equally weighted between national team captains and coaches, media and fans.0Shares0000(Visited 1 times, 1 visits today) 0Shares0000Real Madrid and Portugal forward Cristiano Ronaldo stands with the trophy after winning The Best FIFA men’s player of 2017 award on October 23, 2017 in London © AFP / Ben STANSALLLONDON, United Kingdom, Oct 23 – Cristiano Ronaldo has set his sights on a “lucky seventh” piece of FIFA silverware after collecting his fifth Men’s Player of the Year award on Monday.Ronaldo’s Real Madrid side, who won both La Liga and the Champions League last season, dominated the 2017 Best FIFA football awards at a star-studded ceremony in London on Monday.last_img read more