Former opponent George Foreman has described his iconic ‘Rumble in the Jungle’ fight with Muhammad Ali as special following the death of the three-time world heavyweight champion on Friday night.
Ali died in Phoenix, Arizona after being admitted to hospital with respiratory issues earlier in the week after a three decade battle with Parkinsons disease.
In their 1974 bout, Ali claimed the world heavyweight title from Foreman for a third and final time at the age of 32, with 25-year-old Foreman the heavy favourite with a feared reputation.
The pair were lifelong friends and since Ali’s death Foreman has described the loss as ‘a piece of himself’ dying.
If Michael Bisping was as prolific in the Octagon as he is with his trash talking, perhaps he’d already have a UFC belt wrapped around his waist.
‘The Count’ landed the early blows as he and 185lbs champion Luke Rockhold came face to face at the UFC 199 pre-fight press conference. And it got nasty, fast.
The warring middleweights blasted each other with taunts, threats and a wide-range of colourful language ahead of tomorrow’s reshuffled main event in California at The Forum.
For 37-year-old Bisping, he will enter the Octagon as the No. 1 contender for the very first time, owed to Chris Weidman’s injury pullout which gave him his short-notice shot, after a decade with the UFC.
Rockhold, on the other hand, is hoping to once again shut up a rival he choked out 16 months ago as he defends the belt for the first time since defeating Weidman at UFC 194. But the main event may have had an entirely different look about it were it not, according to Bisping anyway, for Rockhold “turning down” an initial fight with Ronaldo ‘Jacare’ Souza.
It was thought Jacare, the first choice option, passed on the opportunity to step in for Weidman because he needed knee surgery. Bisping was viewed as the ‘Plan B’ but that was not the case according to the Brit.
“Luke says that he’s on a different level than everybody else and he’s by far the best fighter and he can destroy anybody and this, that and the other,” Bisping said at Thursday’s press conference.
“Well, if that is the case, then it turns out he’s a liar, because he turned down Ronaldo ‘Jacare,’ whatever his name is. He turned the fight down. I didn’t turn this fight down. Two weeks, two days, two hours, I’ll take on anyone, any time, any place.”
Rockhold denied that version of events, instead insisting he “chose” Bisping over Jacare because his motor-mouth rival will help shift pay-per views.
“Jacare turned down the fight. I never turned it down,” Rockhold said. “Fortunately, a clown like you will pay the bills.”
Bisping was the clear winner in the verbal exchanges and likely scored a victory over Rockhold. But on two-weeks notice, he is a massive underdog against the longer, stronger and younger champ.
Should he become the first ever fighter hailing from the UK to hold UFC gold, though, that may well even be enough to leave one of MMA’s best trash-talkers, speechless.
Three-time world heavyweight champion Muhammad Ali has died at the age of 74.
Ali is widely considered to be the greatest in boxing history and was involved in some unforgettable fights.
Here, take a look through Ali’s career in numbers:
61 – Fights Ali was involved in.
56 – Ali called himself ‘The Greatest’ and he had the wins to back that claim up.
37 – Wins by knockout.
5 – Defeats Ali suffered.
31 – His winning streak before he was beaten for the first time by Joe Frazier in ‘The Fight of the Century’.
14 – Rounds Ali and Frazier went toe-to-toe in their third and final fight, the ‘Thrilla in Manila’.
21 – How long his career spanned in years.
3 – World heavyweight title victories.