Alexander Gustafsson. Remember him? The man who took Jon Jones deep in to 5 rounds, in to that dark place that great championship fights should go has seemingly been pushed aside since his loss to Jones. Seemingly, because it seems that way but this weekend Gustafsson will take on Anthony 'Rumble' Johnson in what is shaping to be one of the low key fights to watch in this blockbuster summer period.
Gustafsson, thanks to a range of unfortunate circumstances which were headlined by injury missed his chance to get a re-match with Jones, instead Daniel Cormier took up that opportunity. That's fine as Cormier was lurking as a contender and deserved his shot, but Gustafsson has to now show that he's still in the mix and he has to do so against Johnson who himself is very much all up in the mix.
That's why I'm looking forward to this fight as both fighters have a legitimate chance to go on and fight Jones, and offer up a serious challenge. Many will know of Gustafsson thanks to that war with Jones, but Johnson is a very, very serious threat to the light heavyweight belt after returning to the UFC last year looking like a beast. While many may look at someone like Connor McGregor and laugh at the UFC, despite him being a legit fighter, this fighter shows that there's definitely a serious side to the UFC to balance things out. With Gustafsson, Johnson and Cormier all pretty keen to get their mits on the belt, it makes this division a pretty exciting division to keep tabs on.
Meanwhile, Jones has spoken about his cocaine shenanigans. It doesn't sound like he's a coke addict, just like someone who made a wrong choice and is dealing with it. No worries bruv, let's see you back in the octagon.
Shout out to the Silver Ferns who have been toiling away in the Oceania Netball Series. They have won all their games rather easily against Fiji and Samoa, in the process sweeping the competition but the results shouldn't be looked at too intensely. As with most sports, it's our job as kiwis to look after the pacific islands and give back as they have given us so many amazing athletes over the years. For Fiji and Samoa this would have been an awesome event so it's great to see the Silver Ferns getting amongst it. Much of the media seem to have a fair amount of arrogance when it comes to games and tournaments like this describing wins as 'smashed' and 'thrashed' etc, instead of looking at it like the Silver Ferns doing their bit for sport in the pacific. Oh and if you want to write about netball, get in touch. It's hard to be about gender equality and all when no females wanna write about female sports!
There's something very weird about this Nathan Burns saga has he apparently weighs up a big money deal from a Chinese club. Ernie Merrick is playing dumb, but the fact that he has never heard of the 'agent' of the Chinese club kind of points to this being something a little fishy. This could very much be a case of Merrick playing dumb to put up a facade and ensure that Burns stays in Wellington, without disrupting anything. Burns is worthy that sort of money right now, but it would be surprising if Burns is seriously considering some sort of offer because much of his form probably comes the environment, which he is probably very aware of.
The conspiracy level here is high though as these stories have surfaced from Australian news outlets. It wouldn't be too cray cray to say that perhaps the Australian media are just trying to upset the apple cart a wee bit, throw a distraction the way of the Phoenix and cause a bit of drama. Either way, I don't expect Burns to leave the Nix anytime soon.
With former South Sydney Rabbitohs top dog Shane Richardson moving to the NRL, many league pundits finally get what they've really been wanting with another 'league guy' in at NRL HQ. It's been argued that David Smith, the NRL's top dog doesn't really understand rugby league - he knows business, but not rugby league. With Richardson joining Todd Greenberg, the former boss of the Bulldogs, there are now two smart rugby league minds in HQ and we should see some common sense decisions made. Don't be surprised to see the Sate of Origin period revamped to kick off those common sense decisions.
It's also common sense for Greg Inglis to be captain of the Rabbitohs as big money offers continue to flood in for GI. These offers are mainly from European rugby but Inglis has looked extremely happy as a leader at the Bunnies and making him captain should only serve as a reminder of what he really has with the Bunnies. The grass isn't always greener.
Sticking with the NRL, the ongoing Ben Barba headlines continue with Barba coming out and saying that the Broncos didn't really believe in him. It seems that every few days there's something new about Ben Barba which is kind of annoying, but he seems to be playing along and interestingly he continues to talk up the Cronulla Sharks. Most professional athletes tend to down play expectations but the way Barba has been talking you can only expect for him to really fire with the Sharks. Apparently he's lighter and has Shane Flannagan firmly in his corner but I'll believe that Barba's back when I see it.
Anyone else getting excited for the NRL Nines!? Yeah boy, we sure are and we'll have the biggest, baddest preview once all the teams are named.
Martin Odegaard, remember the name. This young lad for Norway has been signed by Real Madrid and he's 16 years old! He burst on to the seen as the youngest player to appear and score in the Norwegian Premier League as well as debuting for Norway as a 15 year old. Slick, the kid goes alright.