It was a very busy weekend of combat sports action and we take a look back at UFC Stockholm and a huge night of boxing in Madison Square Garden.
After a dismal Champions League final, it’s a good thing that this weekend’s combat sporting events gave us a lot to digest. From epic battles to shocks it really was an intriguing weekend across mixed martial arts and boxing.
Retirements in MMA barely mean anything these days but there’s something quite different about Alexander Gustafsson’s announcement on Saturday night that had many people believing that this may have been the last time we see him step foot inside the Octagon.
The Swede has been one of Europe’s elite fighters at 205lbs for a long time and will be fondly remembered for his epic title fight with Jon Jones back in 2013 in which he lost (controversially) via unanimous decision.
Since that encounter, Gustafsson has gone 3-4 (18-5 overall) including a rematch with Jon Jones last year in which he came up short.
This weekend saw Gustafsson headline the Ericsson Globe Arena for a second time and unfortunately for him, the result was much the same as it was in 2015 when he lost to Anthony Johnson.
It was a gritty back and forth battle with Anthony Smith (31-14) who continues to defy the odds and rally with huge wins and he was able to add another significant notch to his belt with a fourth round submission win over Sweden’s favourite son.
After the fight, Gustafsson was interviewed by Dan Hardy inside the Octagon.
“I think this is the end. I don’t have it in me anymore”, Gustafsson announced to an already deflated home crowd.
Also, announcing his retirement was fellow UFC Stockholm combatant, Nick Hein (14-5-1NC) who suffered a TKO loss in the hands of Frank Camacho leaving the German with a three fight losing streak.
“The Sergeant” made the announcement via his Facebook page.
20 years of Judo. Ten years in the national team.
One decade of MMA, 5 years in the UFC.
I am ready for the next chapter.
Thanks to everyone.
I am looking for the future.
ANDY RUIZ JR.
Perhaps one of the biggest shocks in recent boxing history occurred in New York’s Madison Square Garden on Saturday night as Andy Ruiz Jr. (33-1) picked apart Anthony Joshua (22-1) to become the undisputed heavyweight champion of the world.
After a tentative opening couple of rounds, it was the third round that really ignited the arena as Joshua landed a slick hook to drop Ruiz Jr. to the canvas. It looked like business as usual for “AJ” who made his first appearance Stateside.
However, “the destroyer” had other things on his mind as he survived the standing 8 count and in the same round, clipped Joshua with a left hook that landed behind the right ear causing the Londoner to collapse to the canvas.
Food for thought for Joshua as both men retired to the corners after an exhilarating round.
It was round seven when Ruiz Jr. turned up the heat again on Joshua – who failed to really find his feet and composure after being knocked down – and once again flattened Joshua twice only for the referee to step in and call a halt to confirm the status of Andy Ruiz Jr as the undisputed heavyweight champion of the world.
KATIE TAYLOR PREVAILS
Also on the card was Katie Taylor and Delfine Persoon who thrashed out an entertaining scrap for a unification bout at women’s lightweight.
Katie Taylor ran out an eventual winner on two scorecards (96-94, 96-94, 95-95) by the narrowest of margins to claim her belts which saw a furious Persoon leave the ring immediately and make her way backstage.
Carl Frampton on Sky Sports’ broadcast described the decision as “disgraceful” and although Persoon won her rounds cleanly and clearly, it was a dogged performance from the Bray native and in this writer’s humble opinion, did more than enough in the early goings of the fight to secure the victory.
A rematch is likely however with many people clamouring for her promoter Eddie Hearn to make the fight in Dublin.