Mixed Martial Arts is heading to the UAE with Absolute Championship Berkut 81 taking place at The Dome, Sports City. ACB, the leader in Russian martial arts is live in Dubai for the very first time, featuring a packed card with the experienced Roan Cornero taking on the number two-ranked ACB welterweight Aslambek Saidov. The co-main event also features Great Britain’s Luke Barnatt, who fans will recognise from the UFC’s Ultimate Fighter, taking on the hard-hitting Maxim Futin.
The event, which is fully supported by the Dubai Sports Council, features over 24 fighters in competitive bouts. Fans will get to see a range of fights from different weight classes, with the winner of the Cornero v Saidov headline attraction will likely earn a shot at the welterweight title. Britain’s Barnatt is making the permanent move to light-heavyweight while the card also sees action in the flyweight division, including the highly anticipated return of Yoni Sherbatov as he takes on Josiel Silva.
The ABC’s stop in the UAE is sandwiched between tournaments in Russia and Brazil as the organization looks to increase its worldwide profile, having already put on events in the UK, Poland, Georgia and Tajikistan. The company prides itself on focusing more on the fighting side of the sport, rather than the more flamboyant elements associated with the UFC, in turn, giving mixed martial arts fans more of the sport they love. The promotion held it’s first recognized event back in 2010 but began numbering the events in 2014 to push the brand higher in the MMA market.
Luke Barnatt has experience in the UFC, making his debut in 2013, having appeared on The Ultimate Fighter, where he reached the semi finals, earlier that year. He won his debut fight via unanimous decision. He fought five more times in the UFC, losing three times, before being released by the promotion in 2015. After fighting around independent promotions following the UFC he made his ACB debut in March last year.
Headliner Roan Carneiro also has UFC experience having made his debut with a win in 2007. He would fight four more times – winning once – before being released from the company. However, the Brazilian made a UFC comeback, against Ryan LeFlare, last year, losing the bout via unanimous decision. ACB 81 will be his first bout back since the defeat as he looks to get back to winning ways.
ACB 81 – FIGHT CARD:
What: Absolute Championship Berkut 81
Where: The Dome, Dubai Sports City
When: February 23.
When you think of running shoes the usual candidates spring to mind, Nike, Adidas and Asics, but when Meb Keflezighi was first over the line of the 2014 Boston marathon another brand cemented themselves as worthy candidates in the marketplace.
Keflezighi, who became the first American to win the race since 1983, was sporting a pair of GO Meb Speed Skechers, which legitimized the footwear company as a serious player in the sportswear sphere.
Founded in 1992 by Robert Greenberg, the man behind the launch of LA Gear in the late 1970s, Skechers is now one of the biggest footwear brands in the world, amassing billions of dollars in revenue each year.
Perhaps still recognised more as an everyday shoe, Skechers knew that in order to be taken seriously in the sporting world it would have to develop something which could compete with the rest of the market.
“In order to be legitimised in the sneaker business you need to have a premium level or a performance level, which is why we now have that, ” says Skechers Managing Partner Marvin Bernstein.
“We recognise that we’re a lifestyle brand but a lot of it stretches into performance so we approached that end of the business, and made some headway in the running business.
“Including marathons and events around the world.”
In order to get a running shoe which can compete with the market leaders, Bernstein says their team take inspiration from what’s already out there and add to it by asking athletes what could be added.
“We have runners and they tell us what they need, different features that would be good on the shoes and what we’re lacking, if anything.
“We look at our competitors and see what they’ve got.
“I don’t know anyone who has an original thought, honestly.
“Nike and Adidas has that edge and now we do too.”
Skechers were in fact the first to add Memory Foam innersoles to their line of trainers, which other sports brands have now adopted.
Speaking exclusively to Sport360 at their customer showcase event at the Meydan Hotel, Bernstein admits the company’s success has not come as a surprise, having worked with the brand since the beginning.
He credits the accomplishments to a driven CEO who along with being an astute businessman has retained his love of sneakers for all these years.
“The only way you get this big is by having that vision, you don’t go into business thinking it’ll be nice to have a $50million company, get that, and then look for a $100million company, you have to have to always have that drive at the top.”
In a bid to conquer every possible market, Skechers releases thousands of new shoes every year, with 4,000 of those being released in the first quarter of this year.
Along with the sports shoes, there’s are shoes for back-to-school, special nurses footwear with non-slip souls, construction shoes with steel-tips, glow-in-the-dark kids trainers and even smart Dress Knit range to wear with a suit in the office.
The UAE is an ever-growing market for Skechers, sitting only behind the United States, Europe and China in terms of popularity.
And while the company has long been established in many parts of the world, the UAE is only just getting started.
Bernstein adds, “Dubai and the UAE is already a huge market for us, and more importantly it’s not over.
“There’s a footwear brand to build and also an apparel line, so it’s just getting started here.”
Go for a drive anywhere in the UAE and within seconds you’ll see a Pajaro on the road. A staple of the Dubai motoring scene, the Pajero has more than held its own in the competitive SUV market, which now has another player in the game – the Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross.
The new model contains all-new features including a a 1.5-litre direct-injection turbo-engine which we put through its paces at the Dubai Autodrome in a series of tests ranging from acceleration, emergency serves and sharp turns. Along with a pedal-to-the-floor drag race down the back straight, the Eclipse managed an impressive 140kph (86mph) before approaching the first bend. It boasts a top speed of 204kmh (127mph) with acceleration of 99kmh (62mph) in 9.8 seconds.
Keeping a speed of 70kph around the track, the Eclipse Cross grips the surface well, and better than you’d ever need to experience out on the road. What’s more, the handling through the emergency serve obstacles isn’t a problem for the family-friendly SUV, which feels very safe given there are no less than seven airbags dotted throughout the vehicle, protecting occupants from all sides.
It also uses laser radar technology as adaptive cruise control, while collision mitigation technology keeps a constant eye on the road ahead, warning the driver should an impact risk be detected either from traffic or pedestrians. Not to mention the front and rear parking sensors.
As we continue around the Autodrome the next task is sneaking through cones in the middle of the track. While it’s something you’d hope not to face on the road it’s reassuring to know the Eclipse Cross reacts quickly and efficiently to the steering wheel and gets through the cones without incident at speeds of around 50kph.
The Eclipse Cross certainly has a place in the market, it’s an SUV but not too big to handle, yet big enough to feel comfortable and protected on the road. The back doors seem smaller than your traditional SUV, but it’s the compact feel, which will appeal to those not wanting a hulking over-sized car. This is especially handy for when parking as you can get in and out without fearing you’re hitting the car in the space next to you.
Design-wise, it’s sharp edge and bold beltline with a forward raked rear window gives it a meaner sporty look, especially sat on five-spoke alloy wheels. At the rear, the Cross has central LED brake lights forming a single bar of light running across the tail.
Inside, the new SUV’s dashboard is shaped using horizontal lines, with silver metal frames and a black and silver monotone colour scheme helping create a sense of refinement that is both dynamic and sporty. Three variants are available in the range.
It’s available now from Al Habtoor Motors and while we don’t expect to see many of the new Eclipse Cross racing around the Dubai Autodrome it shouldn’t be long before you’re seeing a lot of them on the road.