UFC Las Vegas: UFC to introduce stricter COVID-19 testing ahead of Nevada return on May 30

The UFC will introduce a more stringent series of coronavirus tests for fighters and their coaches ahead of upcoming fight cards in their multi-million-dollar UFC Apex facility at the organization’s Las Vegas HQ.

The UFC has held three events since emerging from the coronavirus lockdown, all of which occurred in the same venue in Jacksonville, Florida.

One fighter, Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza, was found to have contracted the virus in testing conducted during fight week ahead of UFC 249, though the fighter was present for the weigh-ins on the eve of the event where he came in close physical proximity to several other athletes and UFC president Dana White.

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Despite insisting that their testing regime was sufficient at the time, a report from MMA Junkie has shown that the company will introduce an improved battery of tests ahead of the return to Las Vegas.

Each fighter to compete at cards in the Apex arena will face two mandatory COVID-19 antigen oropharyngeal swab tests before competing and when arriving at the fighter hotel, at which point each fighter and coach who undergoes the test will face a period of self-isolation until the results of their tests are available.

Fighters “should not leave the Athlete Hotel or have physical contact with anyone other than the members of your camp until you have received your test result,” according to a memo issued to fighters.

If the test results are negative, fighters are invited to conduct their regular fight week activities. Upon a negative test, they are told to remain in their room until contacted by a UFC medical staff.

A second test takes place after the weigh-ins, after which fighters must self-isolate in their hotel rooms until it is time to be transported to the location of the fight. 

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During this time, no athletes or cornermen will be permitted to leave the Athlete Hotel without express prior approval from the Nevada State Athletic Commission,” the memo states. “You also should not have physical contact with anyone other than the members of your camp.

The first event inside the UFC Apex facility takes place this weekend with a card headlined by former welterweight champion Tyron Woodley, who takes on surging Brazilian contender Gilbert Burns. 

Spain’s coronavirus death toll DROPS by 2,000… after new counting system introduced

Spanish authorities have revised the coronavirus statistics, weeding out duplicate cases and deaths not linked to the dreaded disease. As a result, the country’s death toll sharply dropped by nearly 2,000.

The Covid-19 figures were revised downward on Monday, after health authorities rolled out a new counting system.

The current sharp drop in the coronavirus death numbers comes after the government was able to identify cases that had been counted twice, as well as to exclude altogether deaths that had been wrongly attributed to the virus.

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Spain’s health ministry warned that “the discrepancies that may appear with respect to the data on total cases previously reported are the result of their validation by the autonomous communities and the transition to the new surveillance strategy.” It added that the figures are likely to fluctuate in the next few days as well.

However, even with the revised tally, Spain remains one of the worst affected by the pandemic. The total number of Covid-19 deaths now stands at 26,834 – 1,918 less than the total yesterday. The number of confirmed cases dropped by several hundreds as well, and currently stands at the 235,400 mark.

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Worldwide, the coronavirus pandemic has already killed nearly 350,000 people, and more than 5.5 million have been infected.

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Chinese media TROLLS Pompeo, depicting him using dollars to lure Hong Kong protesters to hell

A Chinese state media outlet has mocked Mike Pompeo, who is tasked with ‘certifying’ Hong Kong’s autonomy, depicting him dressed as a sheep, seducing protesters with cash into falling off a cliff into the fires of hell.

The unflattering portrayal of the US Secretary of State comes from the CGTN, Beijing’s international broadcaster, which lampooned Pompeo’s involvement in Hong Kong protests in a cartoon on Monday.

It shows a line of zombie-like protesters, some armed with Molotov cocktails, standing in line to receive apple-shaped dollar grants from the hands of the top US diplomat. They then walk through an archway labeled as “heaven” but plunge lemming-style into hell.

The satanic references could prove particularly unwelcome for Pompeo, a fervent evangelical Christian who has often cited religious faith as a guiding force in his work for the Trump administration.

The cartoon was an apparent response to Washington blasting China for its plans to ramp up security in Hong Kong. The proposed national security law sparked fresh demonstrations and clashes with Hong Kong police on Sunday.

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If the legislation is passed, “Pompeo will likely be unable to certify that Hong Kong maintains a high degree of autonomy and if that happens there will be sanctions that will be imposed on Hong Kong and China,” US National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien commented on Sunday.

Pompeo is required by a law passed by Congress last year to certify Hong Kong’s autonomy from Beijing each year, to maintain the territory’s trade privileges.

Before the start of the pandemic, Hong Kong had been gripped by months of mass protests, often escalating into riots, with Beijing accusing Washington – which has publicly supported the protesters – of fuelling the unrest. US lawmakers, in turn, have moved to impose sanctions on Chinese officials complicit in “violating Hong Kong’s independence.”

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‘A young talent gone too soon’: Tributes pour in as ex-Roma youngster Joseph Bouasse, 21, passes away from cardiac arrest

Former Roma player Joseph Bouasse Perfection, who played with the Italian giants’ academy side in 2016, has died from cardiac arrest at the age of just 21, reports from Italian media have confirmed.

The Cameroonian player never represented Roma’s first team, but trained with the likes of Francesco Totti and Edin Dzeko during his spell in the Italian capital after he was signed up by the Serie A side following a successful trial.

It is understood that he died on Sunday evening after suffering a cardiac arrest. Further details are unavailable at this time.

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Bouasse’s story is a remarkable one. His trial with the club came about after he was found to have been left alone at a train station at the age of 16 by a human trafficker who had promised him a career in professional football. 

He was subsequently signed up Liberi Nantes – an Italian team comprised entirely by refugees. He was spotted and recognized as a “special talent” by Roma scouts during a friendly with the team in 2015, and was invited to train with the youth team. 

Bouasse was elevated to Roma senior team training shortly after, and is reported to have been privately tutored by club legend Danielle De Rossi.

A promising player, he made his debut in Italian football on loan at Serie B side Vicenza on loan from Roma in 2017 and has recently moved to Romanian team Universitatea Cluj in February.

The club is desperately saddened to learn of the untimely death of former Primavera player, Joseph Bouasse Perfection,” a statement from Roma reads.

The thoughts of everyone at AS Roma are with all those closest to him.”

Former Roma defender Antonio Rudiger, now at Premier League side Chelsea, echoed his former club’s thoughts, saying on Twitter: “Horrible news – I’m so sad about it. Rest in peace, my brother. A young talent gone too soon from us. Condolences to the entire family!

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WHO SUSPENDS trials of Trump-chosen hydroxychloroquine drug over SAFETY RISKS for Covid-19 patients

The World Health Organization has paused the clinical trials of anti-malarial drug hydroxychloroquine in coronavirus patients. It says the drug, notably taken and endorsed by US President Donald Trump, has raised safety concerns.

The drug’s safety data is being reviewed by a monitoring board, and the trials have been put on hold, the WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told reporters. It was being tested as part of the Solidarity international program aimed at tackling the Covid-19 pandemic.

The UN health body took the step out of an “abundance of caution,” said Mike Ryan, the head of the organization’s emergencies program.

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The WHO has previously advised against the widespread use of the drug in treatment of Covid-19, arguing that it should be reserved solely for clinical trials. However, it has been actively promoted by Trump, who even took a two-week hydroxychloroquine course as a preventive measure against the coronavirus. In his latest interview published Sunday, Trump said he has finished the course and “is still here.”

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Palestinians start ‘cautiously returning’ to normal life in West Bank

Mosques, churches and businesses in the occupied West Bank will reopen on Tuesday in an easing of coronavirus restrictions, Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh has said. It is time to “cautiously return life to normal” now that infection rates have slowed, Shtayyeh added.

The Palestinian Authority declared a health emergency in March and imposed lockdowns after the first cases of the novel coronavirus were confirmed in the West Bank town of Bethlehem. The Palestinian Health Ministry has confirmed 423 cases of Covid-19 in the West Bank and two deaths. In Gaza, which is run by the Palestinian Authority’s rival, the Islamist group Hamas, 54 coronavirus cases and one death have been recorded.

The reopening of places of worship, shops and factories in the West Bank on Tuesday will coincide with the last day of the Eid El-Fitr festival, marking the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

Government ministries and offices will reopen on Wednesday and checkpoints, set up to limit traffic between West Bank cities, will be removed.

PM Markovic declares Montenegro first coronavirus-free state in Europe

Prime Minister Dusko Markovic on Monday declared Montenegro a coronavirus-free country, 69 days after it reported its first case and after 20 without a new one. Montenegro has reported 324 confirmed cases of Covid-19 illness and nine deaths, Reuters said.

“The battle with such a vicious virus has been won and Montenegro now becomes the first coronavirus-free country in Europe,” Markovic told reporters after meeting a body tasked with combating the epidemic. The PM started the news conference by taking off his face mask.

In early March, the Balkan republic of 620,000 people, which relies heavily on revenues from tourism along its Adriatic coast, closed borders, airports and seaports, shut schools and banned public gatherings and outdoor activities. The restrictions have been gradually eased since March 30.

Markovic said Montenegro would open its borders to travelers from countries reporting no more than 25 cases of infection per 100,000 people – including Croatia, Albania, Slovenia, Germany and Greece.

Top 30 tennis player Nikoloz Basilashvili faces three years in jail for allegedly assaulting ex-wife

Georgian tennis star Nikoloz Basilashvili is embroiled in a scandal, having been charged with physically assaulting his ex-wife, Neka Dorokashvili. The player faces up to three years in jail, if found guilty.

The world number 27 was accused of assaulting his former partner in the presence of their five-year-old son, and was detained on May 22 in Georgia.

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Basilashvili denied all accusations and was released on payment of US $31,500 bail on Sunday.

I apologize for the events that have affected my family members. I’m grateful to my fans for their support,” Basilashvili said

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I hope all the details will soon be revealed, so that a fair verdict will be reached. I don’t want to talk about my private life until this happens. I don’t want to discuss my ex-wife and to prove anything.”

The next court hearing is scheduled to take place on June 16 in Tbilisi, Georgia.

Mike Tyson to receive improvement on $20 million offer for BARE KNUCKLE COMEBACK

Bare Knuckle Fighting Championship (BKFC) will next week improve their previous bid of $20 million dollars to tempt former heavyweight boxing king Mike Tyson out of retirement and into the ungloved ring.

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BKFC boss David Feldman said his firm plans to lure 53-year-old ‘Iron Mike’ to return to fighting 15 years after his last professional outing with a mega money deal which could see Tyson earn close to his biggest ever payday.

In an interview with MMA fighting, BKFC boss David Feldman said: “I think I know what we need to do to make this thing happen,” after an earlier cool $20 mil failed to tempt Tyson.

Feldman confirmed this time round the offer will be in excess of that amount and also include additional payments such as charitable donations the could near the $30 million biggest career purse of Tyson’s career.

The BKFC boss didn’t confirm exactly how much the contract would be worth, but did confirm that MMA legend Tito Ortiz would not be in the running to face Tyson, and instead mooted the idea of “dangerous” former UFC fighter Wanderlei Silva.

Tyson himself admitted there was a plethora of contenders queueing up for the fight and told Lil Wayne on his Young Money Radio show “Some time this week we’ll have the contract done” for a mystery opponent.

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Mike Tyson is gearing up for a ring comeback at age 53.  © Reuters
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Tyson created a whirlwind when he hinted at a comeback by posting a string of social media videos hammering the pads and showing off his impressive physique to show that ‘Iron Mike’ had gathered almost no ring rust despite him turning 54 next month.

Almost a quarter of a century has passed since prodigal New Yorker Tyson, then known as ‘Kid Dynamite’, became the youngest man to win the heavyweight championship aged just 20 years, four months and 22 days.

Formerly known as ‘the baddest man on the planet’, Tyson now more resembles ‘a respectable man about town’ and has left his hellraising days behind to settle down to his Hotboxin’ podcast and Tyson Ranch cannabis products company. 

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Consequently, some fans have doubted whether the Brooklynite can muster the same evil streak that saw him mow down 44 opponents from his 50 career wins and make nine defences of his heavyweight title.

There has been talk Tyson could rematch Evander Holyfield for a second time with the three-time world heavyweight champion also announcing a comeback for a charity match and training with another heavyweight ruler in Wladimir Klitschko.

That would make the colorful Tyson-Holyfield rivalry into a trilogy; Holyfield won their 1996 match by 11th-round TKO in one of the division’s greatest ever shocks, but their 1997 rematch became famous for Tyson biting both of The Real Deal’s ears in one of the most shocking events ever seen inside the squared circle, thus losing by 3rd-round disqualification.

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Mike Tyson is gearing up for a ring comeback at age 53.  © Reuters
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Among others who have expressed interest in making Tyson their scalp is Russia MMA fighter Sergei Kharitonov, who accepted a potential fight when offered by boxing promoter Vlad Khrunyov.

Tyson himself however dismissed a potential matchup with New Zealand rugby player-turned boxer Sonny Bill Williams as “an insult to boxing”.