UFC, boxing back on in Vegas after Nevada approves return

Tyron Woodley
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Updated 28 May 2020

UFC, boxing back on in Vegas after Nevada approves return

  • The UFC immediately confirmed its plans to stage a show without fans in attendance Saturday night

NEW YORK: Mixed martial arts and boxing are back in business in Nevada.

The Nevada Athletic Commission unanimously agreed Wednesday to allow two UFC events and two Top Rank boxing shows in Las Vegas over the next two weeks.

The decision ends the moratorium on combat sports that has been in place in Nevada since March 14, when the commission stopped competition amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The UFC immediately confirmed its plans to stage a show without fans in attendance Saturday night at the UFC Apex arena on its expansive corporate complex in Las Vegas, followed by the UFC 250 pay-per-view show at the same place June 6.

Top Rank is expected to hold fan-free boxing shows at the MGM Grand on June 9 and June 11.

Citing the importance of sports to the state’s economy and morale, Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak announced Tuesday night that sporting events could return if promoters followed health rules approved by the appropriate authorities.

The commission on Wednesday approved stringent coronavirus safety protocols to accompany the return of combat sports to their hometown. The UFC and Top Rank have worked closely with the commission in recent weeks to create the protocols, according to Bob Bennett, the commission’s executive director.

“Throughout this process, we’ve been working hand in glove with the UFC,” Bennett said. “I’m aware of their operations plan, and everything is moving forward based on their operations plan and our protocols.”

The UFC established a partial blueprint for the safety rules when it staged three shows in Jacksonville, Florida, earlier this month while waiting to get approval from the Nevada commission to return to
its hometown.

The Nevada commission’s safety protocols include immediate testing and mandated quarantine at a hotel upon all participants’ arrival in Las Vegas, followed by another test and isolation period before the events.

The UFC is expected to stage several domestic cards in Las Vegas over the upcoming weeks, and President Dana White still intends to hold other shows on a private island for fighters not based in the US.

The UFC show Saturday will be headlined by former welterweight champion Tyron Woodley facing Gilbert Burns.

The main event of UFC 250 on June 6 features dominant two-division champion Amanda Nunes defending her featherweight belt against Canadian challenger Felicia Spencer. UFC 250 initially was scheduled for May 9 in Nunes’ native Brazil, but was postponed and eventually moved.

White said the events in Jacksonville included more than 1,110 processed tests for COVID-19. Veteran fighter Jacare Souza and two of his cornermen tested positive before the first event in Florida, but no other positive tests were reported.


Chinese badminton superstar Lin Dan retires

Updated 04 July 2020

Chinese badminton superstar Lin Dan retires

  • Lin Dan will not be competing in the next Olympics in Tokyo

BEIJING: China’s two-time Olympic champion Lin Dan, arguably the greatest badminton player of all time, announced his retirement on Saturday aged 36.

It means that Lin, who won gold at the Beijing 2008 and London 2012 Games, will not compete at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, which were pushed back to next summer because of coronavirus.

The end of Lin’s glorious career comes just over a year after the retirement of his great rival and friend, the Malaysian star Lee Chong Wei.

The duo reigned over the sport for more than a decade and have only relinquished that hold in recent years as their powers waned.

Lin, who had something of a “bad boy” reputation during his younger days and has several tattoos, ends with 666 singles wins and a glut of medals.

“My family, coaches, team-mates and fans have accompanied me through many peaks and difficult troughs,” he said in a post on China’s Twitter-like Weibo that quickly went viral.

“Every forceful jump was a desire for victory.

“I have dedicated everything to this sport I love.”

As well as the double Olympic golds, Lin was also a five-time world champion and a long-time former world number one.

Lin earned the nickname “Super Dan” at the peak of his career.

However, the left-hander’s career has tailed off in recent years as age and injuries took their toll.

He always said that he was determined to reach the Tokyo Olympics, but his ranking of 19 in the world and the postponement of the Games made that dream unlikely.

Lin had always maintained that he would try to make it a last Olympics hurrah in Tokyo in an unlikely bid for a third Olympic gold.

But he said on Saturday his body would not allow him to plow on.

“’Persevere’, I said to myself in every moment of suffering, so that my sporting career could be prolonged,” he wrote on Weibo.

“Rather than simply pursuing rankings as I did when I was younger, in these years, I have been wanting to challenge the physical limits of an ‘old’ athlete and practice the sporting spirit that I will never give up.

“(But) my physical abilities and pain no longer allow me to fight alongside my team-mates.”