Friday, 26 March 2021

UFC 260 Las Vegas: Stipe Miocic and Francis Ngannou in the Ring this Weekend

March 26, 2021 - Stipe Miocic and Francis Ngannou will meet for the first time in 3.5 years at the UFC 260 in Las Vegas. reports that a few days before the UFC 260 kicks off in Las Vegas this weekend, Croatian-American Stipe Miocic and Cameroonian Francis Ngannou met ahead of the highly anticipated rematch, one that'll go down in UFC history. A press conference on Thursday, followed by an official staredown. 


Recall, three and a half years ago, Ngannou climbed on stage, looked at Stipe, and turned both fingers down, saying “you’re done” to the Croatian-American MMA artist. He was smiling, conceited, and confident.

Stipe destroyed him in January 2018 in 25 minutes of fighting. He defended his belt record for the third time and entered UFC history as the best of all time. He later confirmed this with a victory against Daniel Cormier in the great trilogy.

This time, Ngannou did not make any gestures and was very humble instead. He is aware that he has to change something in his approach in order to have a better chance against Miocic, starting with realizing that he is facing the greatest heavyweight in the history of freestyle wrestling.


"Of course I won't take anything away from the victory that Stipe achieved three years ago. He was better that night, but when I look at the footage of that match, I don't recognize myself at all. Not even the way I fought, the way I attacked him. That guy looked like me, but I didn't recognize him," Ngannou said.

"I also made a lot of mistakes entering that match. I wasn't present. I didn't have emotions in that match. This time everything will be different. I had enough time for my team and me to prepare. I think what we have prepared will work,” said Francis, who believes he has made a lot of progress compared to the first match.

"I have always wanted to fight Stipe again. He showed that he was a better fighter then, and I just want to avenge that defeat and prove that I am the best," the Cameroonian concluded.

Stipe is the current champion, the most successful in UFC history, and as such is considered by many to be the best heavyweight to have ever stepped into the sport.

“That means I’m doing something with the coaches and the team right,” Stipe said, revealing what he thinks of the newer version of Ngannou.

"He has definitely gotten better. I knew we would meet again someday. A tough fight awaits us," Stipe said.

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Monday, 8 July 2019

NBA Summer League: Croatia Hold their Own in Loss Against Brooklyn Nets

Croatia's second NBA Summer League game against the Brooklyn Nets ended 58:74, though the result isn't entirely reflective of Croatia, who, similarly to the first match against Detroit, managed to hold their own, reports Sportske Novosti on July 8, 2019. 

Croatia even seemed better at times than two days ago, like at the start of the second half after Antonio Vranković scored for 39:37. Although the Nets had good rhythm, Croatia figured out their flow by halftime and found a solution for the aggressive Gray and Kurucs.

The entire third quarter, unlike against Detroit, was equal, though the problems began at the beginning of the last quarter. The Nets used their speed, which Croatia was unable to follow. But even with their high intensity, Croatia looked better on the court than they did on Friday. The Nets are also competing with two players who had serious playing time in the NBA last season -  Jarrett Allen and the Latvian Rodions Kurucs. The team also features Džanan Musa, who scored 15 points.

Željko Šakić achieved a double-double with 11 points, 11 rebounds, and one assist.

“It was the same as in the first game, we did well, but we had a black hole at the beginning of the last quarter. I think we are presenting ourselves in a good light here and playing well. This is a challenge, we have young players, but in these two games, a lot was good. As far as I'm concerned, I do not feel too much of a difference except in physical strength, because I have never played a physically demanding game, but I am grateful to the coach that I'm here, I’m living the dream,” said Željko Šakić, the oldest in the team and the captain of Croatia in Las Vegas. 

Croatia's top scorer on Sunday was Antonio Vranković, who scored 12 points, and collected eight rebounds, assist and two blocks.

“We went into the game worse, but we woke and were better. The coach set up a zone, and we did our job. We were much better than in the first game; we looked better as a team, we were able to handle the game more energetically. I hope we get at least one victory here,” said Antonio Vranković.

“The attack was better on Friday, but we showed a lot of good things now. In the last 35 minutes, they only scored 56 points. We are showing from game to game that we can match up with these guys and that deserves a positive rating,” said coach Veljko Mršić.

Ermal Kuqo, a scout for the Clippers, concluded.

“The arrival of Croatia in Las Vegas is the best thing that could happen for Croatian basketball. Just look at how the players are cheering for each other, jumping from the bench. This did not happen in your team before.”

Ivica Zubac and his girlfriend Kristina could also be seen in the crowd against the Nets. Recall, Zubac just signed a $28 million contract with the LA Clippers.

“I am surprised, I watched the first game on TV, and after watching it live the guys are really holding their own.”

Croatia will play their third match of the NBA Summer League on Tuesday at 9:30 pm against Oklahoma City. According to what both teams have shown so far, this could be the first real opportunity for Croatia to get an NBA win. 

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