Carl Frampton reborn but relieved


Carl Frampton returned to competitive action after 10 months away from the sport. It was also his first fight since his unblemished record was tarnished, losing to Leo Santa Cruz in a majority decision. In the build up Frampton spoke of how he did not obviously show his disappointment obviously in the ring after the fight the defeat had seriously affected him. If you thought he might ease himself back into action to dust off some ring rust with a lower level fighter you would have been mistaken.

Frampton took on experienced Mexican Horacio Garcia. At 27 years of age he had fought 37 times before his encounter with Frampton. While recent fights had not gone his way he remained a threat to the returning former 2 weight champion.

‘The Jackal’ got the better of Garcia over the distance the fight could have been completely different if it was extended by 2 rounds.

Looking sharp early Frampton found his range almost instantly and landed big shots on his opponent. He was on his toes and moved away from the Mexican, who had Canelo Alvarez at ringside to cheer him on. Frampton looked good, as if he had not been away. Making Garcia follow him around and making him look sluggish and flat footed at times.

As the fight moved on into the middle rounds things began to change. Frampton slowed down and started getting pinned up against the ropes, exactly where he did not want to be. Garcia started letting flurries go and Frampton’s legs were unable to move him out of trouble. It was not a case of ‘the Jackal’ wanting to get into a war, he had no choice. He knew it was turning into Garcia’s type of fight and he did not have the energy to do anything to stop it.

Jamie Moore now in Frampton’s corner emphasised the importance of moving and using the jab to the body but in the later round the Northern Irish fighter had to rely on instincts. And he certainly delivered. Parts of Frampton were tested that we rarely get to see. His ability, preparation and game plan are usually so tight that he does not have his engine and desire tested. He dug in and when the chips were down he hung on for the win.

His temperament was also thrown under the microscope. In the 7th round he slipped but due to a punch being landed on the way down it had to be scored a knock-down. He initially threw his hands up and claimed he slipped but that was all. Soon he was back to his feet and trying to steady the ship. It felt that this may make the fight close going down the stretch but in the end it was not important. Frampton won on all 3 judges scorecards; the closest by 3 and the widest by 5. The final card had him winning by 4 points.

Coming through this will have got rid of the worries that were present after his loss to Santa Cruz. Now Frampton wants one of the champions.

“It was a good fight for the fans. I boxed well for the first few rounds but then got myself caught up in a fight. I wanted a hard fight for my comeback and that’s what I got. The rust is off, the cobwebs are gone and now I want to fight one of the big guys.” (Carl Frampton)

The trilogy fight with Santa Cruz is on the cards but there are domestic fighters who will want a piece of Frampton. Lee Selby fights next month and holds the IBF featherweight title. A fight between the pair has been predicted for some time. The one people want to see though is the trilogy fight with Santa Cruz. Another British boxing classic could be on the card if Frampton decides to take on Scott Quigg again or Josh Warrington. The other champions at featherweight are Gary Russel Jr and Oscar Valdez who hold the WBC and WBO respectively. While all those fighters have fights scheduled another possible opponent Abner Mares could step in to face Frampton.

This fight answered a lot of questions for Frampton. He is back and looks great. A changed of team and promoter could be exactly what the 30 year old needs to reinvigerate his career. Coming back in such a tough fight will advance his preperaton for a title fight greatly. 2018 is set to be a huge year for ‘the Jackal’.

Also on the card Jamie Conlan was stopped by Jerwin Ancajas in the 6th round as he attempted to win the IBF World super flyweight title. Paddy Barnes moved to 5-0 and recorded his first professional stoppage to claim the vacant WBO Inter-Continental Flyweight title against Eliecer Quezada.

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Everton facing serious problems

Toffee Trouble

Everton’s 2-2 draw against struggling Crystal Palace was cited as a positive by stand in manager David Unsworth. Everton were behind twice in the game and the way the draw was achieved was in some ways impressive. However, Everton should be overcoming these challenges if they wish to get back to were they once were. Many problems are apparent at the club and the new manager that comes in, whoever that may be, faces a big challenge to turn the club around.

“It’s horrible for any coach to be sat there after one minute 1-0 down, but the lads were terrific and showed great fight and desire to come straight back and I’m very proud of them.” (David Unsworth)

Decline since 2014

While it is easy to look at recent issues the club is paying for a few seasons peppered with bad decisions. The 2013/14 saw manager Roberto Martinez finish 5th in the Premier League. Martinez improved the squad with 3 loan signings – Gareth Barry, Gerard Deulofeu and most importantly Romelu Lukaku. The on loan Belgian striker would prove vital for ‘the Toffees’ over a period of time. In his season on loan he top scored for Everton with 16 in all competitions.

Both Barry and Lukaku made their moves to Goodison Park permanent in the summer of 2014. Samuel Eto’o joined on a free and Brendan Galloway and Muhamed Besic made the move to the blue side of Merseyside that summer also. That took their summer spending to £36 million which is low for the quality of players they brought in.

Only 12 games were won in the Premier League for Everton in the 2014/15 season leaving them in 11th place. They were knocked out of the FA Cup and League Cup in the 3rd round and they reached the last 16 in the Europa League.

This represented a failure. No European football next season meant that Martinez was already under pressure going into the new season.

The same place finish, 11th, in the 2015/16 season saw Martinez’s employment with the club come to an end. Sub par recruitment and no sign of improvement were the reasons Martinez could not continue. While there was an improvement in the domestic cup competitions, Everton reached the semi finals in both, the lack of success in the league and failure to qualify for Europe was simply not good enough.

The new man coming in, Ronald Koeman, joined from Premier League rivals Southampton. Fortunes improved but certain problems were apparent. Lukaku had grown as a player, improved and was depended on highly by Everton to score goals. Koeman’s first season in charge saw Lukaku score 26 goals in all competitions. The closest rival he had in terms of goalscoring was Ross Barkley with 6 goals. Improvement in the league proved that the club were focusing on league objectives as they went out in both domestic cups in the 3rd round.

2017/2018 – A disaster so far

Interest in Lukaku was present for a long period of time. The summer transfer window saw him switch to Manchester United and Koeman had a serious problem. Money in the bank but teams knew they had it. Prices inflated and deals stalled. It was a tough time for the club and manager.

Big money was spent on Michael Keane, Davy Klaassen, Jordan Pickford and eventually Gylfi Sigurdsson. Wayne Rooney made a return to the club in an attempt to bring some star quality.

The biggest frustration during this period is the Ross Barkley situation. A real talent who was vital to Everton in recent times trying to force a move away and Koeman taking a hard stance. He made an example of Barkley and the situation was negative for the player, club and the manager, fatally, suffered from.

Now sitting 16th in the league and struggling for form David Unsworth is taking on managerial duties. Some time has gone by since the sacking of Koeman and still Everton have not replaced him with a permanent successor.

What went wrong?

A lot has to be said for the recruitment in the summer. There were some good signings in Koeman’s defence. Keane came in from Burnley. He is a good age and had been excelling at his previous club. Pickford is a superb goalkeeper and is only getting better. If Everton can build a solid defence in front of him they have the making of a solid unit at the back.

The big issue that ultimately found Koeman in trouble was the lack of income splashed out on a goalscorer. Lukaku had carried the team since his arrival. Without his goals the club would have found themselves in danger earlier. He scored goals and is a great hold up player. Holding it up brought players in deeper roles into the game and offered them space.

Rooney came in and given recent form it was clear he was not in a position to fill the void left by the Belgian. Sandro Ramirez came in from Malaga, but at 22 years of age and with little experience it would be too much to ask of him to start scoring regularly instantly. The signing of Olivier Giroud could have changed this, a move that Koeman said was close.

Creative players Klaassen and Sigurdsson have failed to make an impact. Klaassen has played 11 times in all competitions and failed to score and Sigurdsson has the single goal to show for his 16 games for his new club.

A major issue in the Everton side at the moment is the lack of pace. The front players are not the quickest and Rooney and Sigurdsson both drop deep and it can ease the pressure on the centre backs knowing that that space is vacant.

What does the future hold?

It will continue to be a difficult season for ‘the Toffees’. There is a real unbalance in the squad and goals will be difficult to come by.

Will they survive? Realistically there is far too much experience for the team to be relegated. The quality of the players at the club will lead them to a mid table finish and another season losing ground to the teams at the top of the table.

The new man coming in will have a job on his hands. It looks likely that Watford manager Marco Silva is the favourite, even though Watford are rejecting advances from Everton, but Unsworth is also fancied by the club. First choice for Everton was Sean Dyche but they have had no luck in luring him to Goodison.

It will not be a season to remember for Everton fans. This season will be a battle. If they can bring Silva to the club the future will be something to look forward to. The club has money and a decent foundation to build around. A manager of the calibre of Silva will bring fresh ideas and a stylish type of football. Whoever the new manager is their main priority will be bringing goals and pace to the side.

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England 30-6 Australia: Jones’ England have Australia at Cheik-mate


England ensured their 100% record in the Autumn Internationals continued through a flattering 30-6 defeat of Australia, denting hopes Down Under of usurping the English to 2nd in the World Rankings.

The victory for Eddie Jones’ men is their biggest winning margin against the Wallabies, but Michael Cheika’s team will feel aggrieved by the Television Match Official (TMO) decisions.

Tries for Jonny May, Jonathon Joseph, Danny Care and Elliot Daly secured the win, but the scoreline did not reflect the ferocity of the contest. Three quarters into the match, despite a couple of sin bins to captain Michael Hooper and Kurtley Beale, the Aussies were firm on England’s heels. Eddie Jones said after the match, naively, that it wasn’t as close a contest, but had TMO decisions gone in Australia’s favour, we could be looking at a very different story.

The first try to be rescinded occurred late into the first half. Excellent intricacy by the Australians led to a grubber kick by Tevita Kuridrani, intended for Marika Koroibete, but finished by Hooper. Unfortunately for the away side, Hooper was offside when the grubber was kicked, an outcome correctly ruled, but gaining sarcastic applause from the Australian coaching staff.

Another try was chalked off in far more contentious circumstances in the second half. With England leading 13-6, an excellent break from Koroibete, with a swift interchange from Bernard Foley before Koroibete grounded the ball looked to have levelled the affair. However, Stephen Moore was judged to have obstructed Chris Robshaw in his efforts to make a last ditch tackle. The TMO in ruling out the points irked Cheika profoundly, even leading to a confrontation with a support.

Before that, two penalties from Owen Farrell and one by Reece Hodge had left the contest finely balanced. In drizzly conditions, the kicking contest was going to be essential. In the scrum Australia countered English size with tenacity, making duels between the forwards enthralling. Both sides showcased excellent try saving defences, but mid-way into the second half the tide significantly turned.

A majestic break between the lines by Samu Kerevi almost led to Australia being a shoe-in for 5 points, but his pass could not find a supporting Kuridrani. As England swept up, a hopeful punt to touch by George Ford trickled agonisingly close to touch. Inept covering by Beale, who starred for Wasps last season, let the pace of Daly steal a march, prodding it towards the tryline to score. TMO again judged in England’s favour. Farrell converted.

At 13-6, even after the disallowed try, the Wallabies had a chance to resurrecting their cause through a penalty. But inexplicably they chose to go for touch, losing ball in the resulting phase. With 15 men on the field, those in green and gold were playing some fantastic phases of ball-in-hand rugby. But strength-in-depth in replacements handed England an unmountable lead.

Two excellent kicks behind the Australian wave by replacement scrum-half Danny Care provided opportunities for Joseph and May to score respectively. May, fresh from already scoring 10 tries for his new side Leicester, then picked up a loose pass before galloping downfield. Stopped just short, he returned the favour to Care to make the final score 30-6. The English were tested, but excellent game management and resources from the bench provided Jones’ 5th straight win over Cheika’s side. A sweet start to potential English dominance over the Aussies in sport this winter.

England and Australia both finish their Autumn campaigns next weekend, at home to Samoa and away to Scotland respectively.

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Are English players still proud of playing for their country?


Question marks over England’s manager, Gareth Southgate, have been present ever since he took charge of the side. The majority of them were fair – his lack of experience and his reserved and cautious personality are usually enough to discard candidates CV’s. While he has not answered any of the questions that were asked when he took over he deserves some credit. He took over in the strangest of circumstances and lead England to a World Cup. It could have been a disaster and while it was not pretty at least it was successful. The issues with the English national team runs deeper than the manager.

The biggest factor Southgate had in his favour during the search for a new manager was his experience with the younger players. He had coached the under 21 side for 3 years before being promoted to the senior role. As the squad was put together this time there was joy as some players who have never been involved in the senior squad were included. Success at youth level on the national circuit meant that this was somewhat exciting.

Unfortunately it has not been of Southgate’s choosing to throw in the younger and less experienced players. From his original squad choice for these games 7 players have returned to their clubs due to injuries. This begs the question, do the English players still take pride in wearing the famous three lions?

The major loss to the England squad is Tottenham’s Harry Kane. The man who captained England in their last fixtures picked up a knock against Crystal Palace. Kane is England’s main man and genuinely world class. While these games are only friendlies the standard of opponent means they are good preparation for the World Cup in Russia.

England will be without Kane’s Tottenham team mates Dele Alli and Harry Winks which will hurt England but nowhere near as much as missing their star striker. Oddly enough Tottenham boss Mauricio Pochettino has declared Kane fit for their next fixture. Tottenham take on Arsenal in the North London derby next and it seems funny timing for the Spurs manager to make such a statement.

While Southgate remains adamant that there is not club vs country debate it seems there is. Kane’s absence from England duty is more than likely precautionary a decision has more than likely been made that his club duties are more important than his national ones.

“I am hearing this talk of club v country but it is a nonsense, the players are injured and cannot play.  I knew Harry Kane was in trouble because he stayed down. Harry Kane doesn’t stay down. I knew already we had a potential problem. Both him and Harry Winks were scanned. Both scans our medical department have viewed and no way they are available for our two games.” (Gareth Southgate)

While what Southgate is saying makes sense, it is difficult to believe. If Kane had this injury in the run into a World Cup or competitive game would he be out? Certainly not. What if a player like Tammy Abraham or Jamie Vardy put in 2 world class performances against 2 of the biggest national football powers? Do they go ahead of him in the queue? No they would not. So why would Kane play in this game and risk further injuries? It does not make sense for him. Southgate needs to be strong and make some big decision in the run in to this World Cup and side with players who are willing to give their all.

Other players missing include Raheem Sterling who has had an indifferent time for England. He performed out of his skin against Italy at the 2014 World Cup but has been inconsistent since. Manchester City team mate Fabian Delph also drops out for the second consecutive time. While injuries are part and parcel of football it seems to happen to regularly and conveniently for the City pair.

Jack Butland has suffered an injury that will see him sidelined for some time and Jordan Henderson of Liverpool will also miss out.

The issue here is complex. Genuine injuries happen, it cannot be stopped. But should players be allowed to withdraw due to knocks and save themselves for club duties? Of course they should. But they should face consequences. Players who answer the call and perform to the best of their ability should not lose their places because of somebodies reputation. Southgate needs to be strong and hold pride in representing the country and eagerness to play in high regard.

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Hammers managerial reshuffle

Slavan Moyez

Slaven Bilic’s time in charge of West Ham United has come to an end. It has been coming for sometime as the club have dipped in form and struggled to adapt to a new stadium. The new man coming in, David Moyes, is looking to reinvent himself after his career snowballed after a poor showing at Manchester United. Can he find the form that sparked his glory days at Everton? Or will we see the Moyes of more recent times continue to suffer?

Bilic had to go!

Bilic joined the club in 2015 and hit the ground running. He fired the team into a 7th place finish exceeding expectations at the time. A busy transfer market saw the new boss bring in the likes of Dimitri Payet, Michail Antonio and Angelo Ogbonna on permanent deals. West Ham’s squad was bolstered further by some impressive loan players coming in. Carl Jenkinson, Manuel Lanzini, Victor Moses and Alex Song all came in for the season and helped West Ham reach the upper mid table.

Unfortunately for the former Croatian national team manager he could not carry it into the 2016/17 season. Payet, who had been the catalyst for so much glory for ‘the Hammers’, left and the loan players returned. Lanzini joined on a permanent deal and was successful but it was not enough. The other signings brought in by Bilic struggled. Money was splashed on Andre Ayew from Swansea. Further funds were used on Robert Snodgrass and Jose Fonte in January but West Ham failed to reach the heights of the previous season. They struggled to an 11th place finish, which did not look like a success after achieving 7th place.

The performances got worse at the start of this season. Only 2 league wins for Bilic in the opening 11 games meant that he had to leave. Although he attracted players such as Javier Hernandez and Marko Arnautovic he could not turn it around. A come back win against Tottenham in the League Cup bought Bilic sometime. But ultimately 11 goals scored, 23 conceded and lying 18th in the league is simply not good enough for a club like West Ham.

Moyes’ last chance

If David Moyes has anything going for him it must be the hunger to succeed and prove everybody wrong. He has struggled ever since leaving Everton. Succeeding Alex Ferguson really effected the Scotsman and in recent roles he has failed and been sacked. Can he rediscover the formula that saw him achieve so highly at Everton? He does not have a choice. If he wants a successful future in football management he has to turn West Ham around.

It has been a difficult first day with West Ham’s Managing Director Karen Brady having made comments about the incoming manager when he was at Sunderland. A comment Moyes made to a female reporter after an interview caused controversy and Karen Brady accused the then Sunderland manager of sexism. His first task will be getting Brady on his side as the club will have the option to get rid of Moyes at the end of the season if things do not go to plan. An uneasy position for Moyes but one he could not realistically argue against.

There are some positives for Moyes. West Ham are a big club and the players they currently have are good to work with. Their is potential in the squad and because they did not perform well for Bilic does not mean they will not get behind the new boss. In January they will have money to spend. He will be able to get some of his players in and build the squad. If he gets that right and can tap into the potential of the current squad he can succeed.

Moyes has got his chance. It is time for him to step up and regain some credibility. It will be difficult for him given his history but he has shown in the past he is a good manager and West Ham have a solid foundation to build on. Unfortunately for Bilic he achieved too high in his first season. Expectations were raised by the 7th place finish and the pressure in the Premier League to improve year on year grew and ultimately was his downfall. Moyes must come in and steady the ship. It will take some time to get West Ham back in the top half but Moyes has the ability to do it even if he has not shown in recently.

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UFC 217 – A night for the underdogs


The most anticipated night for fight fans across the world has been and gone. It did not disappoint that is for sure. A card stacked with top quality fights headed up by 3 world title fights provided non stop action and enough drama to satisfy UFC fans for the rest of the year. Georges St-Pierre’s return after a 4 year absence was the main draw. He faced off against Michael Bisping for the middleweight belt. Ex Team Alpha Male team mates Cody Garbrandt and TJ Dillashaw battled it out for the right to be called the bantamweight champion of the world. The third title fight was in the women’s strawweight division pitting Polish champion Joanna Jedrzejczyk against Rose Namajunas. It was a night that would see silverware change hands regularly.

Rose Namajunas Def. Joanna Jedrzejczyk via KO in round 1 

As Joe Rogan said on commentary, who would have thought Namajunas would have knocked out Jedrzejczyk who was widely considered the best female fighter in the UFC. Namajunas is a submission specialist and many believed if she was going to cause an upset she would make the champion submit. She landed a heavy left hook to score her second knockdown of the fight in the first round. She piled on the pressure and the champion had no response. It appeared that Jedrzejczyk tapped from the punches landing on her from the challenger.

Namajunas was cool during the build up and even cooler in the ring. As a huge underdog with bookmakers she was available at 9/2 while the champion was 1/6. She took everything in her stride and with the quality of opponent in front of her shows how good her mindset is. Even after the win she was calm, no adrenaline infused celebrations, just a calm gracious attitude which will surely grow her fan base.The future is bright for ‘Thug Rose’ as she is still only 25 years of age.

It was not just the bookies who were favouring Jedrzejczyk it was the wider MMA comunity as well. A rematch is certainly on the card and the ex champion has already signalled her intent to set the record straight.

“I must sit and talk to Dana and the UFC. I think I’ve been a good athlete and good champion for the UFC. That’s it. I think I deserve the rematch, if I will not get the rematch, we’ll see. I want my belt back and that’s the thing, it’s probably going to be the biggest goal right now to get my belt back because s**t happens everywhere, so it was a mistake, it was a big surprise.” (Joanna Jedrzejczyk)

‘The Boogeywoman’ went on to say that it was not a lucky punch and that Namajunas had a great game plan. The rematch is the logical option for both women and with Jedrzejczyk being brought back to earth expect a closer fight next time.

TJ Dillashaw Def. Cody Garbrandt via KO in round 2

The build up to this fight was electric. Crosswords, tension on the Ultimate Fighter series and former friendships really made the run up to the fight sizzle. The action delivered as well. After such a fantastic build up it is sometimes an anti-climax when it comes to the fight.

The first round was slow. Garbrandt stalking his opponent waiting for him to make errors coming forward so he could land a massive shot to end the contest. Dillashaw moving around the octagon and looking loose trying to connect with a kick to his opponents head. When the two came together it was frantic. Garbrandt landed a huge right hand inside the last 10 seconds of the round and totally floored TJ.

Dillashaw will be grateful it landed so late. The punch landing 30 seconds earlier could have been a win for the champion.

TJ recovered and proceeded with caution in the second. A wild kick missed and Garbrandt show boated, which now looks foolish. But at the time he was in control. Moving out of distance as TJ came forward and letting his fast hands go when the chance presented itself.

The dynamic of the fight changed when TJ landed a high kick right on the sweet spot of his opponents head. Garbrandt went down and was clearly shaken. Then later in the round the two came together and TJ was able to land the killer blow. Flooring Garbrandt TJ pounced and ended the contest loading up shots on his grounded opponent.

After all the animosity in the build up the two came together and were respectful to each other. That was after somebody in TJ’s camp shouted something which caused Garbrandt to react. It was quickly forgotten and a handshake between the two represented a huge moment in the rivalry.

What next? TJ wants to go down and fight Demetrious Johnson. He still has unfinished business in his current weight division. A close defeat against Dominick Cruz, which saw TJ lose the belt in January 2016 means that a rematch must be on the agenda. However, down the road the rematch with Garbrandt will happen. The pair are evenly matched and with Garbrandt only being 26 he is still well and truly on the bantamweight radar.

Georges St-Pierre Def. Michael Bisping via submission (rear naked choke) in round 3

What a way to end the night! Going into the fight the odds were against GSP. He started well and put Bisping on the back foot. Then he was cut open as Bisping landed viscous strikes and elbows on the ground from the bottom. A left hook dropped Bisping and as GSP put the pressure on before retreating slightly he was able to take Bisping’s back and put him to sleep. The momentum of the fight swung between each fighter and it really entertained.

It was the perfect way to round off the night with the third world title changing hands. Bisping humble in defeat congratulated the new champion and after all the words exchange the respect was obvious. GSP back and it seems he is here to stay. He looked strong and quick at 185 but questions will be raised about his stamina as he seemed to become tired in the second round.

History made and a legacy enhanced. What next for GSP? Robert Whittaker in Australia looks like the next step and defending the title will even further cement GSP’s legendary status. Bisping on the other hand maintains he will not call it a day. Age and now fight options play a factor in rumours he is finished. He still has enough in him for a couple more fights but does he want it?

UFC 217 delivered that is 100% true. The title fights were the main highlight but the prelims and undercard was also good viewing.

The option for rematches are open to all the title fights and the level of fighters involved it is no impossible that the all the titles could return to the losers at this event. The event certainly helped the reputation of the company. With Conor McGregor off the scene for sometime and a gap in UFC cards as he took on Floyd Mayweather hurt the reputation. With new stars emerging the UFC brand improves and the entertainment and drama on show in New York highlights the growing strength of the roster.

3 world title fights, 3 new champions – there is a lot to live up to for UFC 218. Who would bet against the organisation getting even stronger next year.

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Bisping St-Pierre showdown in New York


UFC legend Georges St-Pierre will return after a 4 year absence to attempt to snatch the middleweight title from English fighter Michael Bisping. The fight will see Bisping defend the belt for the third time after winning it from Luke Rockhold and defending it in Manchester against Dan Henderson. It is an interesting match up and the returning GSP, who says he is back to stay, has numerous questions over his head.

St-Pierre ,the former welterweight champion, has not fought since 2013 when he defended his title against Johny Hendricks. Later he vacated the title and said he was not going to compete for a while. GSP informed fight fans that he needed some time away from the sport so he could recharge. He was one of the best fighters in his time in the UFC and had a strong following. He will be hoping to return to glory with a victory over Bisping.

Can GSP step back in and be as magnificent as he was? It is a tough ask for the Canadian as no matter how hard you train and how much you spar nothing replicates being under the pressure of fighting in the octagon. Bisping has been active in the 4 years GSP has been away. The champion has fought 5 times and won all of his bouts while GSP has been away. The sharpness of GSP will be vital and if he cannot settle quickly Bisping will be able to take control.

The key to this fight is who can implement their style. Bisping is happier on his feet and if he can stop GSP taking the fight to the ground it will be a successful night for the Englishman. Bisping has relentless stand up skills and will not stop until he lands a knockout shot. If GSP can get the fight to the ground it will be a different story. Bisping struggles when taken down and with his opponents elite ground game he could be in serious danger.

While GSP weighed in at 184.4 pounds to Bisping’s 184.6 size is a huge factor. GSP is moving up from 170 to middleweight and it shows. Bisping is slightly taller but is comfortable at the weight. It is the champions natural weight and the challenger is moving up. Again GSP can negate this by securing a take down which would remove all of Bisping’s strengths.

The build up has been a good watch. Bisping has been outspoken and verging on arrogant. Instead of respecting what GSP has done he has questioned why he has come back and why he has returned at a higher weight. His game plan is to get under the skin of the returning fighter and put him on the back foot before they come face to face on fight night. GSP has been relaxed, nothing has angered him to any extreme and, as you would expect with all his experience, he has taken everything in his stride.

When it is all said and done fight fans are being treated to a truly unique encounter. A legend returning to competition against a fighter with a great record and will be regarded as one of the greats when he does call it a day.

Who will win? Bisping is the favourite. Everything is in his favour physically and momentum is with him. But anything can happen. Especially with a fighter as special as GSP in the octagon. If he can take Bisping out of his comfort zone he could cause an upset.

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