Tag: 2020

Dana White: Khabib vs. Gaethje trending to be biggest UFC event ever

While many sports leagues are struggling through a 2020 struck by the coronavirus pandemic, the UFC continues to trend upward. UFC president Dana White has consistently said that this is going to be the promotion’s best year yet. He is now saying that UFC 254: Khabib vs. Gaethje is trending to be the promotion’s biggest single event yet. “Do I think (UFC 254) is going to do over 2 million (pay-per-view buys)? I have no idea, but I can tell you this, the data is telling us it will,” White said at a recent scrum on Fight Island. UFC 254 features undefeated lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov looking to unify his belt with that of interim titleholder Justin Gaethje. The interim title was created when Khabib was unable to compete at UFC 249 in May, the promotion’s first event after a nearly global shutdown. With Khabib at home in Russia and unable to compete at UFC 249, Gaethje stepped in to face Tony Ferguson for the interim designation. He won, but refused to put on the belt and call himself the champ until he beats Khabib. Gaethje will get that opportunity on Fight Island on Saturday. Evidently, sports fans around the world want to find out if he can do it. White insists the data indicates that fans are going to watch in record numbers. He added that UFC 254 has already generated more than 23 billion impressions worldwide; a good indicator that interest actually is at record levels. It’s a trend that White and the UFC have seen follow since they restarted the professional sports world back in May. “Since the pandemic started, you would have never dreamed we’d have pulled the numbers we have on the other pay-per-views with the fights that we had. Everything is trending (up) for us right now. Other sports are going (down) with their ratings, our ratings continue to go up,” said White.  “It’s weird because this whole pandemic thing has been really good for the sport. If you look at the numbers that we’ve continued to pull and the stars that we’ve already started to build through the pandemic, it’s pretty fascinating. “It’s been an incredible run. It’s been fun. And we’ll see how this thing plays out and what’s in store for 2021.” One thing that White and everyone else hopes for is a safe return for fans to live events. The UFC and others have operated primarily without audiences in attendance. White has indicated that he doesn’t want to have fans in attendance until he can do it full strength, but only time will tell if and when that happens. TRENDING > Khabib Nurmagomedov responds to being compared to Mike Tyson and Muhammad Ali | UFC 254 Related Video > Dana White says UFC 254 generating record numbers, looking forward to the day fans return (Subscribe to MMAWeekly.com on YouTube)

Coco Gauff: Andy Murray calling for diversity is inspiring and shows what a great ally he is

Andy Murray has been praised as a “great ally” of diversity in tennis after his latest Instagram post highlighted the fact that there are no BAME board members at either the Lawn Tennis Association or the All England Club. The tribute came from Coco Gauff, tennis’s biggest rising talent, who finished her season on Thursday. Having lost a close match in Ostrava to Aryna Sabalenka, the world No 12, Gauff was asked about Murray’s post. “Nothing is wrong with asking for more diversity,” Gauff said. “For him to say that is definitely inspiring, especially with him being a man and white. For someone like him to call for diversity, it shows how great an ally he is. “It’s important we do have diversity, because there are people from all over the world from different backgrounds and areas, and I think representation is important. At least for me, as a girl, seeing yourself in the media, seeing yourself being represented means a lot. I think that is important to other girls and boys. When they see [people like] themselves they might say, ‘Oh, maybe because they did it I can do it.’ ” On his Instagram page, Murray quoted the absence of BAME representation from the 12-person boards of the LTA and All England Club with the sardonic remark “Tennis in 2020”. This is not the first time this year that he has raised the issue. After the Telegraph’s boardroom survey in June, he told reporters: “I saw a survey of the board positions across all of the governing bodies across the major sports in England and I think there’s, like, three out of 139 positions that were taken up by black people. That’s something that obviously needs to change, and it’s the same in tennis as well.” Back on the court, Gauff had led 5-2 in the deciding set of what turned out to be a 1-6, 7-5, 7-6 loss to Sabalenka. She has not electrified the world of tennis quite as much in 2020 as she did last year, when she made her name by reaching the fourth round of Wimbledon at just 15 years old. But despite developing a debilitating double-fault habit, she still finished with a more-than-respectable record of 10 wins and eight losses in the main draw of tour events. “This year was definitely crazy, but I think the biggest thing is that I know what I need to improve on,” Gauff said. “In 2019, I was just getting by in matches because I was new to the scene. But now most people know how I play, so I know where the holes are in my game”

I regret U.S. Open and Roland Garros failures, says Djokovic

SHOWS: BELGRADE, SERBIA (OCTOBER 22, 2020) (REUTERS – ACCESS ALL) 1. NOVAK DJOKOVIC APPROACHING MEDIA TO SPEAK 2. SHADOW OF DJOKOVIC ON THE GROUND 3. (SOUNDBITE) (Serbian) NOVAK DJOKOVIC, SAYING: “Well, there is certainly a small regret because I didn’t take one of these two grand slams in US Open or Roland Garros. I think I was exceptionally fit in both grand slams. Of course, in Paris I made it up to the finals, and then I simply had a much better rival that day, I was not at my level, and that’s it. The finals is, of course, a great result. On the other hand, in the US Open happened the situation that was simply a little bit unlucky for me, and because of which I was disqualified. But I won the other tournaments where I participated – Cincinnati, Rome… Let me say – if I don’t count that disqualification in New York – I lost one match this year, to Nadal in Paris. I think that I am playing maybe even the tennis of my life this season.” 4. DJOKOVIC STANDING, TALKING 5. (SOUNDBITE) (Serbian) NOVAK DJOKOVIC, SAYING: “My goal is to be the historically longest number one, and I am working on it and it is indeed my highest priority. I don’t think I am in a difficult situation or that there is too much pressure or burden (imposed) upon me, or that the conversation regarding the Association hampers me too much. I simply know how to find a balance and of course that sometimes I get shaken in all that, I get tired mentally and maybe physically, etc. But that’s all life, I mean, nobody is perfect, and you somehow learn throughout life, and every day you acquire some new knowledge and insights into yourself, and then you try to use that in the best possible way so as to be the best version of yourself both professionally and in in private life. So that – Association of Players is something that I feel deep inside as, simply, a vocation, as some kind of a responsibility and obligation to – as a player at the peak of the career, as a tennis player who is at the position where he is and who is (inside) tennis – help the ones who do not have that voice, who do not have that power.” 6. NOVAK DJOKOVIC STANDING, TALKING TO MEDIA 7. (SOUNDBITE) (English) NOVAK DJOKOVIC, SAYING: “Well, first of all, I decided to skip the Paris Masters because I felt I played a lot lately and I wanted to play Vienna Tournament because of the new ranking, temporary ranking system which basically allows me not to drop points that I earned last year, and I have the opportunity to earn points in Vienna, and the points that I won by winning the tournament in Paris last year is protected. So, I felt that at this point, you know, I’m focusing on that kind of goal of trying to build more points difference between me and the second player on the rankings and trying to achieve that historic number one goal, which I’ve been talking about and being open about it, so I’m going to play Vienna and then finish with London Masters in O2 Arena.” 8. MEDIA TAKING PICTURES, DJOKOVIC TALKING 9. (SOUNDBITE) (English) NOVAK DJOKOVIC, SAYING: “Australian Open is of course for me the biggest priority and I will try to aim to go there, you know, I am intending to go to Australia, but obviously we’ll have to wait and see.” 10. VARIOUS OF ENTRANCE TO ‘NOVAK’ TENNIS CENTRE STORY: Novak Djokovic has played some of the best tennis of his life in 2020 but he regrets the failure to win either the U.S. Open or the French Open in his bid to become the world’s most trophy-laden player, the world number one said on Thursday (October 22). Having won the Australian Open in January, Djokovic was disqualified at the U.S. Open after inadvertently hitting a line judge in the neck with a petulant swipe of the ball during his fourth-round clash with Pablo Carreno Busta. He was then blown away by Carreno Busta’s Spanish compatriot and world number two Rafael Nadal in straight sets at Roland Garros. Djokovic has 17 grand slam titles while Nadal and Federer are on 20 each after the Spaniard clinched a record 13th French Open title. “There is a lingering regret that I didn’t win either the U.S. Open or the Roland Garros this year,” a bearded Djokovic told reporters in drenching sun at his tennis academy in downtown Belgrade by the Danube river. “I was in outstanding form at both events but having reached the French Open final, I was beaten by a player who was much better on the day. “I was below par and that’s it. As far as the U.S. Open is concerned, I got myself into an unfortunate situation and was disqualified, but I won several other big tournaments. “The U.S. Open disqualification notwithstanding, I have only lost one match all season and I’ve played some of the best tennis of my life.” Djokovic dismissed suggestions he was under intense presure to overhaul Nadal and Federer in their three-way race to become the greatest male player of all time. “Pressure has been a part of my life for a long time and I’ve learned how to deal with it,” he said. “It comes with the territory if you are a top-level athlete and it can also galvanise you. You take physical and mental knocks along the way but it’s all part of the learning curve. “If I retired now I’d be happy with everything I have achieved but I still enjoy competing and every tournament I enter gives me so much motivation and joy.” Djokovic, who will enter the Oct. 26 – Nov. 1 tournament in Vienna and the season ending ATP Finals in London, said he had decided to pull out of the Nov. 2-8 Paris Masters after consultations with his team. “I feel I have played a lot lately. The new temporary ranking system allows me not to drop points I earned in Paris last year while I have an opportunity to earn points in Vienna. “I am trying to build on the points difference between myself and the second-ranked player. Both my team and I felt that adding Paris to Vienna and the season-ending event in London would have been too much.” Production: Branko Filipovic, Marko Djurica