Posts Tagged ‘Extreme Sports’

Sam Willoughby in Career Best Form Ahead of BMX World Championships

Sam Willoughby Ready to bring home the World Championship. Photo: www.elitesports.com.au

Sam Willoughby Ready to bring home the World Championship. Photo: www.elitesports.com.au

2012 BMX World Champion and London Olympic silver medallist Sam Willoughby is a man on a mission. His determination has allowed him to reclaim his World Cup in Rotterdam earlier this year. But now he wants to keep the title until the Rio games in 2016.

Sam has been training demonically since surrendering his World Championship title in 2013. He believes he is currently in career best form. “Last year I set out to win as much as I could in the U.S.,” he told New Limited reporters. “I didn’t really focus on the World Championships and World Cups, and I was successful in winning 20 out of 24 races, including the World Cup.”

Winning his second World Cup, in Holland this year, tells Sam his training is on the right track. He is now more selective in his racing; as evidenced in his choosing to skip the third round, and two high profile meets in the U.S., prior to entering the World Cup.

The World Championships run from July 22-27. Sam will have one final race in Pennsylvania before then and plans to unleash his A-game.

Jones Aura and Eye-Gouging?

Questions have been raised about the legitimacy of Jon Jones’ fighting style. Former UFC fighter, now commentator, Bas Rutten believes the aura of invincibility emerging around Jon Jones may be a self-fulfilling prophecy. If ‘the Jones factor’ is enough to intimidate referees into letting things like the occasional eye-poke go then Jones has an unfair advantage and increased chance to win. This then only increases his aura – which then increases his intimidation factor, which further increases his chances to win and so and so on.

Bas Rutten points to the recent fight against Glover Teixerira. Jones was twice warned about eye-pokes by the referee, but not penalised. The video clearly shows he continued striking with an open palm. It also shows Jones pushing his hands in Teixerira’s face during several clinches. It can only be surmised he didn’t retract his fingers then.

Teixerira’s face was bloodied up around the eyes. Both eyes swelled to slits as the fight progressed.

Photo: Tommy Gilligan USA-TODAY Sports

Photo: Tommy Gilligan USA-TODAY Sports

Jones took a barrage of criticism for the eye-pokes after the April 26 fight at Maryland’s Baltimore Arena. But UFC President Dana White was quick to defend him. “Jones poked him in the eye twice, and then the referee warned him about it, and he never did it again. They’re (MMA press) making it sound like he was targeting his eyes and sticking his fingers in his eyes the entire fight and nobody did anything about it,” said White to MMAjunkie.

In essence White believes the reaction was a gross overreaction and detracts from the performance of a great champion.

Would any other fighter be shown the same latitude for eye-gouges?

Don’t Steer Me Wrong: Cairns Invitational Pro Bull Riding Event Set to Shine

Photo: www.dailytelegraph.com.au

Photo: www.dailytelegraph.com.au

July 5th sees the Professional Bull Riding Association hosting the Cairns Invitational. Twenty two riders have qualified for the event. Awaiting them are fifty two of the meanest, strongest, most vicious rodeo bulls on the planet.

Animal activists argue that the use of bulls for rodeo entertainment is cruel. But nothing could be further from the truth. Cattle owners get paid massive amounts of money to have their bulls attend rodeos. American bulls like Gunsmoke and Chainsaw are rockstars in the rodeo world. Each of these bulls has resisted the attempts of all riders to stay on their backs for the full 8 seconds. And like anything that can’t be achieved it only makes those trying want it more.

Gunsmoke and Chainsaw have better lives than you or I. These bulls are fed, cared for and trained with the same attention as any other professional athlete. And apart from 4 or 5 seconds work, three times in a night, once a month they live the life of luxury.

Rodeos will sometimes bid against each other for prize bulls. And this is because the riders, as well as the audiences, want to see a competition. Mismatches are bad for business. So as Australian riders evolve and become better they need to test themselves against better bulls.

The Australian Professional Bull Riders website has links to the roster of bulls available for rodeos. At the time of writing this blog links to the bulls were unavailable. But it is expected that rodeo fans will be able to read about the background, training and win-loss statistics of a bull the same way they can about a racehorse before a track meet.

Bull riding, let’s be frank, is brutal. If you think being hit by a 120kg front row forward in a game of rugby league is tough, just wait until what you see what these thousand kilo monsters do to their riders.

Check out the Cairns Invitational on 5th July and see the best riders, the best bulls, and the best action of the year.

Dana White Outraged at TUF Competitor’s Lack of Passion

Already struggling with plummeting TV ratings, UFC boss Dana White has lashed out at thisDana White season’s competitors of the Ultimate Fighter. Even though the season has not even finished he has excoriated the fighters for their lack of commitment and passion.

This is the 19th season of The Ultimate Fighter. One would expect the franchise to have the formula for success down pat at this stage. But it seems quite the reverse is true. In an interview with MMA Junkie Dana White said, ‘You can’t blame the coaches,’ (BJ Penn and Frankie Edgar, UFC Hall of Famers and opposing Head Coaches), ‘you can’t blame this or that,’ White continued, ‘you blame the guys and how bad they really wanted it.

White lamented season 19 as a total failure. He called it the worst season ever.

Any MMA fan with even a passing interest in the TUF brand will point to the Australia versus Canada TUF series as being infinitely worse. The lopsided match-ups between these teams made the fights unwatchable. Even the Canadians were embarrassed with the ease of their victories. There were no fighters or stories about the fighters with which viewers could identify, no displays of determination or passion, no technical fighting brilliance or inspiring demonstrations of skill.

As MMA becomes more professional the fights become increasingly dull. They become more about technique than desire. Everyone can identify with desire. Only some can identify with technique.

Audis too Strong for the Field in this Year’s 24 hour Le Mans

An early deluge saw competitors piling up across the track as the 24 hour Le Mans race roared into life.

At the front Stepahne Sarrazin was determinedly holding off all comers in his Toyota. He paced himself magnificently, always driving within his limits. When the track began to dry he began taking risks and managed to hand the lead over to his partner driver Kazuki Nakajima.

Porsche

Porsche

After nine hours Andre Lotterer pushed into second place behind the slick Toyota team. From this point on Audi began eating into the one lap lead held by Toyota.

Twelve hours in and the battle was well and truly joined. Stephane Sarrazin is leading the Audis of Lotterer and Kristensen. The Audis are making huge gains, being able to run their tyres for four sessions as against the Toyota’s three.

But a shock ran through the Audi garage as their leader developed technical problems. Wurz’s Toyota, in second and battling off the other two Audis, claws back at the lead.

For the next few hours the garages of both Audi and Toyota are busy with impromptu stops and a chain of irritating mechanical problems. The lead changes hands between the manufacturers and the mechanics are tested again and again.

With less than three hours remaining the leading Audi of Kristensen dies in Mulsanne Straight. Kristensen fights to keep his car moving and limps into the pits. In an incredible display of teamwork and technical skill the Audi mechanics replace the car’s turbo charger in a mere 17 minutes. But this this is still enough time to give Timo Bernard the lead in his Porsche.

Lotterer screeches out of the pits and storms after him. Bernhard reacts and pushes his Porsche to the limit.

But as the laps go by the Audi proves itself the quicker car and Bernhard’s Porsche is reeled in.

With less than 90 minutes to go the Porsche 919 is pushed too hard and loses power. With their main rival gone the Audi race team of Benoit Treluyer, Marcel Fassler and Andre Lotterer cross the finish line ahead of all rivals. In total the three men clocked up an astounding 5165.39 kilometres.

The Verdict: Ross Pearson was Robbed

PearsonMost fight fans saw Ross Pearson winning the three round UFC Fight Night Undercard three rounds to zero. Pearson dove forward at every opportunity forcing the usually aggressive Sanchez to defend. Although many of Pearson’s strikes were wide of the mark many were not. And when Sanchez did counter his hometown supporters howled their encouragement.

Speaking after UFC Fight Night 42 in Alberquerque Dana White told Brett Okamoto of ESPN, “Pearson won that fight clearly … We have to treat Pearson like he won and give him that next level fight.”

Pearson has appealed to the New Mexico Athletic Commission to have the decision reversed. The appeal is pending. Statistics show Pearson out scoring Sanchez in significant strikes and takedowns, ring control and aggression, with Sanchez being knocked to the canvas while Pearson remained on his feet.

And yet two of the judges awarded the bout to Sanchez, with one of them scoring it 30 – 27 to the hometown hero.

MMA judging has a chequered history, with many bizarre decisions. But none have been as overtly nonsensical as this. The response from fight fans on social media was swift and to the point with ‘Robbed’ being the word most used.

The UFC is already facing difficulties maintaining viewer interest. Ridiculous decisions like this are doing them no favors.

Is UFC Being Run Into the Ground?

After another ratings failure questions are being asked about the pacing of UFC events. For some time it has been argued that the enhanced pacing of the UFC cards and virtual saturation of TV slots has been counterproductive to promoting the sport. ‘Fans are becoming desensitized to the UFC and MMA in general,’ said one commentator.

Dana WhiteThe UFC hosts 13 events throughout the year, a weekly Friday Night Fight Night, and usually two or three seasons of the Ultimate Fighter. This means there is usually some product from Zuffa on TV at least twice a week. This has a number of consequences:

First, it makes promoting fights increasingly difficult. Dana White had promised there would never be women in the UFC, but had to reverse this stance when it became apparent fans were tiring of the relentless barrage of MMA telecasts each week.

Second, it means that more and more fighters must be drafted into the UFC to fill these timeslots. The consequence of this is a lowering of fight quality. The UFC has suffered a slew of almost unwatchable mismatches in recent times. Such fights diminish what was once the paragon of combat sports and the focus of world attention.

Third, by debasing the UFC through over exposure Zuffa are reducing MMA to the status of every other entertainment competing for audience attention. When the UFC first hit the international stage there was nothing else like it. With the small roster of fighters, fans were always left wanting more. And because of the exclusive nature of the events fight cards were always brimming with the best combatants from all kinds of fight backgrounds.

If responses to the last three UFC events are anything to go by, those days are well and truly gone. Fight talk on Twitter has consistently dwindled, ticket sales are down, Pay Per View subscriptions are falling with each fight.

The lesson here is that you can get too much of a good thing. There is a point of diminishing returns in everything, no matter how much we love it.

Chael Sonnen Dismisses Wanderlai Silva

Chael P SonnenControversial MMA fighter Chael P. Sonnen has dismissed Wanderlai ‘the Axe Murderer’ Silva with a few brief and disparaging remarks. ‘Stupid people say stupid things,’ he said about Silva’s most recent and somewhat outlandish comments to the press.

Chael Sonnen and Wanaderlai Silva were opposing coaches on this season of the Brazilian Ultimate Fighter reality television series. Before the show even began the two revealed their distaste for one another with a spirited and impromptu fight in the TUF gym. Since then relations between the two have only worsened.

But as the world looked forward to the two thrashing out their differences in the Octagon disappointment loomed. First Silva succumbed to a succession of injuries that pushed their fight dates back from UFC 173 to 175. And then more recently Silva was removed from the contest altogether for not taking part in a mandatory drug test.

Silva is holding to the story it was all ‘a confusion’. He claims ‘some guys he has never seen before’ showed up at his gym speaking English and demanding he sign some papers. Unsure what was expected of him Silva did nothing.

Sonnen, by contrast, is claiming that Silva just doesn’t want to fight him. Their barbed interactions in the most recent Brazilian Ultimate Fighter season, he believes, were enough for even Wanderlai to see the hopelessness of getting into the ring with him.

Sonnen believes he will ultimately end up fighting Anthony Johnson.

Bin Bag Game on Mt Everest

mt-everest-bin-bag

There’s a new sport in town – well, sort of. It’s kind of like when your mum tells you of this “fun new game” where whoever can fold the most socks is the winner!

Except instead of the living room floor, you’re climbing Mount Everest and instead of folding socks, you’re collecting rubbish. Also, if you fail the game and collect less than eight kilograms of rubbish per person, you lose your $4000 deposit.

Picture this: Snow and wind swirl in the air as you trudge through the snow, each step harder than the last. The air is thin. You’ve got a picture of your hero, Sir Edmund Hillary, in your pocket. You can’t see the top of the world’s tallest mountain but you know it’s there and you promise yourself you’re going to make it even if you have to crawl there. The path ahead lies agony, glory and… is that a Be Natural muesli bar? Damn, it’s empty. Better add that to my rubbish bag.

From coffee makers, oxygen tanks, broken tent bits and frozen human corpses, official estimates indicate there are hundreds of tons of rubbish scattered across the glorious Mount Everest and the Nepalese government has decided to take action.

“From now on, a climber is required to bring down eight kilograms of waste, and that excludes their own empty oxygen bottles and human dung,” Madhusudhan Burlakoti, joint secretary of Nepal’s tourism ministry, told the New York Times.

It’s tough love for all those extreme climbers out there but it’s all for the sake of the world’s most extraordinary mountain.