Fight Club: Israel Adesanya set for shock defection to Australia

UFC superstar Israel Adesanya is in talks to move his entire City Kickboxing operation to Australia before the end of the year as part of preparations for a blockbuster rematch with Robert Whittaker at UFC 271.

In what would be a huge move for the middleweight king, this column can reveal discussions are underway to shift the CKB crew – led by Adesanya and head coach Eugene Bareman – across the ditch from Auckland and into the Australian digs of UFC featherweight champ Alex Volkanovski.

The move comes as New Zealand’s ongoing travel restrictions around Covid have prevented several CKB fighters, including Dan Hooker, Brad Riddell and Kai Kara-France, from returning home to their Auckland base.

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Initially, Adesanya had spoken about moving his fight team to America for the foreseeable future, however the 32-year-old is now close to signing off on a move to good mate Volkanovski’s gym in Windang, near Wollongong.

This column can also reveal Whittaker’s team have this week agreed to terms for the UFC 271 blockbuster on February 12, meaning Adesanya could be living and preparing in Sydney’s far south within weeks.

Speaking on Tuesday, Volkanovski confirmed the whispers and said both he and his head coach Joe Lopez were keen to host the CKB crew at their Freestyle Fighting Gym.

“That’s definitely the talk,” Volkanovski said.

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Camera IconAustralian UFC weapon Alex Volkanovski could house the CKB crew at his south coast gym. Richard Dobson Credit: News Corp Australia

“Nothing is set in concrete, and I can’t tell you they’re coming here next week. It all depends on how things go in New Zealand.

“If things start opening up, I’m sure they won’t go anywhere. But there are definitely talks (because) they can’t just sit around and wait.

“They can’t even get back into their own country right now so we’ve talked to them about (moving) and it’s definitely what they want to do if they keep having dramas.”

Lopez agreed, adding: “It’s on the cards.

“Eugene and I are good friends, we think the same about a lot of things. So while we have two gyms, we really are one in so many ways.”

ALOIAI’S SECRET WEAPON IN GALLEN SHOWDOWN

SOLOMON Haumono is the “secret weapon” Josh Aloiai has deployed to topple Paul Gallen.

Aloiai told journalists last Monday he has some special help preparing for the December 10 showdown in Newcastle.

When later pressed by Fight Club, the Manly Sea Eagles prop said: “I’ve got some secret weapons in my training camp that pose a lot of threat, incredible pressure, incredible power, incredible ring IQ, the names I’m not going to give out.

“We’re keeping that quiet on social media, I’ll give big thanks to them after the fight.”

But we can revel former NRL hitman and Australian heavyweight champion Haumono is Aloiai’s chief sparring partner.

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Camera IconSolomon Haumono has been deployed to help Josh Aloiai toppled Paul Gallen. Craig Greenhill Credit: News Corp Australia

It adds to the rivalry of next month’s event, given Haumono and Gallen used to be sparring partners and at one time we in talks about fighting each other.

But the revelation came as no shock to Gallen, nor is he concerned.

“I sparred Sol five years ago, I sparred him for two or three years, very good fighter,” Gallen said.

“He’s done everything all over the world, a very hard puncher, but so what? I’m sparring everyone I can spar too.”

Haumono’s last fight was a points loss to former heavyweight world title challenger Tomasz Adamek in Poland in 2017, however the 46-year-old is scheduled to make his return to the ring on the same night as Gallen vs Aloiai, in a different show in Melbourne against Kris Terzievski.

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Camera IconJosh Aloiai (L) has added extra spice to the Gallen fight with the addition of Haumono to his crew. Jonathan Ng Credit: News Corp Australia

THE TRUTH BEHIND SILENCE OVER OUTSPOKEN STAR

George Kambosos has been highly critical of Australia’s boxing media failing to hype up his fight against unified lightweight champion Teofimo Lopez on November 27.

He is a Sydneysider, fighting for the undisputed championship, which would make him just the third unified boxing champion from Australia, joining greats Lionel Rose and Kostya Tszyu.

So why are there only a couple of mainstream journalists covering Kambosos?

Simple; his attitude towards media.

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Camera IconBoxer George “Ferocious” Kambosos Jr. Credit: News Corp Australia

We spoke to Kambosos eight months ago when he landed the fight and $2 million payday from previous promoter Triller.

It was a good interview, a positive story ran in The Sunday Telegraph on February 28, and during the call Kambosos urged us to come to his gym for a proper sit-down and set-up photos.

We called two days later to do so, but Kambosos redirected us via text message to his father and manager, Jim Kambosos. We tried calling Jim, then left a text asking for a suitable date and time. We never heard back.

Around this time, George made some truly vile comments on Twitter to a leading media identity, which we won’t repeat.

But it’s no wonder he eventually deleted the posts.

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Camera IconGeorge Kambosos Jnr has been vocal about the lack of support from the media. Adam Yip Credit: News Corp Australia

He then took an exception to some reporting on a story in The Daily Telegraph and voiced his annoyance on Twitter. We tried calling him to clear the air, but didn’t hear back.

Last week, Kambosos again took aim at the Telegraph for failing to include him in the debut Fight Club column. Despite his previous snubs, we tried calling again to rebuild some relations. Yet again, he never took the call.

Kambosos has had run-ins with at least two other boxing journalists, which is a shame because the small but dedicated fight media crew in Australia fights tooth and nail with editors to get combat sport exposure in newspapers and television.

Kambosos claims Australia’s boxing media has shown him disrespect by not promoting his career-defining fight, but respect is a two-way street.

KEY INGREDIENT THAT MADE TSZYU A POWERHOUSE

REPETITION has made Tim Tszyu’s hands ticking time bombs, sparring partner Joel Camilleri has revealed.

Camilleri has become one of Tszyu’s main sparring opponents since the pair fought two years ago, and has felt first-hand his development in power – Tszyu is on a five-fight KO streak heading into next Wednesday’s showdown against Takeshi Inoue.

“I’ve made improvements since then, and I’ve seen him come on, his composure, his body has developed – he was still a kid when I fought him in 2019,” said Camilleri, 31.

“Now he’s 27, he’s become stronger. He’s been in with better guys and got through them on the big stage.

“He’s been throwing the same shot for so long, with extra explosive drills as well, but he’s practising the same shot over and over again with the perfect placement.

“It’s not about how much weights you do, it’s about the placement and accuracy of your shot, and that’s why he hits hard.”

Camilleri (20-6-1, 8KO) will fight Koen Mazoudier (8-2, 4KO) on the Tszyu-Inoue undercard next Wednesday.

“I’m defending my WBC Australasian title against Mazoudier after Wes Capper pulled out,” Camilleri said.

“One fight at a time, I want every super-welterweight in Australia. Tim’s moved on to a bigger stage, but anyone else in the division I’m ready for and I believe I defeat them hands down.”

VOLKANOVSKI FUMES OVER ‘INSULTING’ TRILOGY SNUB

ALEXANDER Volkanovski says arch rival Max Holloway should be “begging” him for a trilogy fight if he wins this Sunday, with the UFC featherweight champ warning: “Nothing is bigger than that shiny gold belt I know he wants”.

Two years after Volkanovski stripped Holloway of his UFC crown, and then defended against him last year, the Hawaiian superstar is now fighting to put himself into a third showdown with the Aussie when he faces Yair Rodriguez at UFC Vegas 42 this Sunday.

While Volkanovski has now beaten Holloway twice, the closeness of both outings means a win on Sunday will see the pair go into the trilogy showdown early next year.

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Camera IconAustralia’s Alex Volkanovski celebrates following his win against Max Holloway at UFC 245. Richard Dobson Credit: News Corp Australia

Yet speaking on Ariel Helwani’s The MMA Hour this week, Holloway suggested he had “bigger options” ahead of him in 2022 – with possible alternatives including a Conor McGregor fight, a move to lightweight, even a switch to boxing.

To which the champ says what?

“You hear Max trying to act like ‘well see what happens’,” Volkanovski laughed. “Well, hey, you’re zero and two against me.

“You should be begging.

“But if you’re going to act like you don’t want it, sweet. I’ll give it to someone else.

“I don’t have anything to prove.

“I want the best guys and if you prove you’re the best, you’re next. If you don’t want it, if you want to go chasing money because you can’t get the gold, no worries.”

Later, Volkanovski continued: “You think you’ve got bigger things? Think you can insult me?

“Fine.

“But nothing is bigger than the shiny gold belt that I know he really wants. That I took off him and he can’t get.

“So he’s going to act like he has bigger plans.

“But the UFC don’t have bigger plans.

“The UFC want the winner of (Sunday’s) fight fighting me.”

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Camera IconVolkanovski has already taken down Holloway on two occasions. Richard Dobson Credit: News Corp Australia

Elsewhere, Volkanovski also opened up on his new role as a wrestling coach at St George Illawarra, with both he and coach Joe Lopez joining the Dragons staff for 2022.

Asked what he would bring to the Red V, the champ said: “We like to break things down and go right into detail.

“Mechanically, the way we use our body to control the opposition, there are a lot of little tricks you can use.

“(Laughs) I’m not expecting them to be doing suplexes by the end of this. I’m not here to teach them how to be Olympic wrestlers.

“But with their body, their movement, their mechanics, it’s about getting the right tool for the job.”

AUSSIE HAS EYES ON WORLD TITLE FIGHT

ANDREW Moloney is targeting WBO super-flyweight champion Kazuto Ioka next year in his bid to become world champion for a second time.

Moloney (21-1, 14KO) won the WBA title against Elton Dharry in 2019 before losing it to Joshua Franco last year in the first of their spiteful trilogy.

The 30-year-old Moloney is now embarking on his revival and will headline the December 9 Fox Sports show in Newcastle against Froilan Saludar (32-4-1, 22KO), but already has an eye on Japan’s dominant champion Ioka (27-2, 15KO).

Ioka has won 13 of his past 14 fights and his only losses have been close split decision calls.

“This is the start of my journey towards becoming world champion again, we’ve picked an opponent that’s not your typical comeback fight, this guy (Saludar) is a world-class opponent,” Moloney said.

“But I’m hoping a win over him will fast-track me back to that world title as soon as possible.

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Camera IconAndrew Moloney (L) has a second world title fight in his sights. Getty Credit: Supplied

“Hopefully in 2022 I get the chance again to become world champion.

“I believe the WBO is the route that’s going to fastest for me, Kazuto Ioka is the champion and I’d love to fight him.

“At the moment I’m working on my power. Early in my career I fought with a more aggressive style and stopped a lot of people, in my recent performance I went away from that and concentrated on being too technical and overthought things.

“I’ll look to be aggressive and dominant in this fight and hopefully take him out.”

Moloney’s trilogy against Franco earned him a legion of new fans in the United States, so much so that promotional giants Top Rank will stream his bout against Saludar live in America.

OLYMPIC STAR’S BOLD BID TO BE AUSTRALIA’S GREATEST

OLYMPIC bronze medallist Harry Garside doesn’t mince words about his ambition as a pro.

“We’re going to the top, I want to be unified [champion], I want to be the best fighter Australia has ever produced and this is just the beginning,” Garside told us.

The 24-year-old lightweight makes his highly-anticipated professional debut on the Paul Gallen vs Josh Aloiai undercard in Newcastle on December 10, against Fiji’s Sachin Mudaliar (9-1, 1KO).

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Camera IconHarry Garside returned from Tokyo as a bronze medallist – but has huge plans as a pro. Credit: Supplied

While Mudaliar is not a big puncher, his experience makes him a big risk for Garside.

“The best athletes in the world feel the pressure and rise to it,” Garside said.

“The bigger the event in my amateur career, the better I performed; Commonwealth Games (gold medal) and the Olympics as well.

“This is my professional debut, I want to make a statement, I want to look good.”

BAM BAM’S CRUEL BLOW

AUSSIE heavyweight Tai Tuivasa is out of his November UFC fight because of visa issues. The Mt Druitt slugger, who is currently training out of Dubai, could not get a visa for his fight with Augusto Sakai on November 20 in Las Vegas.

SIX MONTHS OF HELL AS Covid RUINS EVERYTHING

AUSTRALIAN MMA fighter Arlene Blencowe has been stranded in the United States for six months.

She lives above a gym in Albuquerque .

Is unable to draw a wage.

Three times she has tried to fly home to Sydney – and three times she has been denied.

Worse, the Penrith mum is desperately missing her two teenage children.

One of whom, son Keane, has “grown five inches taller” since she left home in May for what was supposed to be eight weeks.

“But then Covid hit again,” she says. “And everything turned to shit”.

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Camera IconArlene Blencowe is stranded in the USA. Credit: News Regional Media

Yet complain?

No, while the pandemic has stranded Blencowe Stateside ever since Bellator 262 – where she defeated Dayana Silva via TKO – the Aussie insists her run of bad luck has been “a blessing in disguise”.

Or more specifically, catapulted her back into another title fight with Bellator featherweight queen Cris Cyborg.

After first losing a title championship against Cyborg in 2020, Blencowe says she can now earn a second shot by beating Pam Sorenson at Bellator 271 this Saturday (AEST).

A card too, which is headlined by the champ.

Importantly, the 38-year-old‘s second tilt also comes on the back of having spent the past six months living and training out of Albuquerque’s famed Jackson Wink Academy, where workout partners have included the likes of Holly Holm, Clarissa Shields and Michelle Waterson.

Which is a big deal for the fighter who first became a mum at 18.

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Camera IconBlencowe (left) left for an eight week trip – six months ago. Credit: News Regional Media

A fighter whose entire career hasn‘t only been spent juggling camps with raising kids, or working at Coca Cola, but more recently her new gig as a western Sydney youth worker.

“So for the first time in 20 years I’m being a bit selfish,” says Blencowe, who will now finally fly home the day after her fight.

“Obviously this isn’t something I planned. And being on the other side of the world … I was suffering anxiety about leaving my kids for even eight weeks.

“But for my career, this is exactly what I need.

“After fighting Cyborg that first time, I decided to give it one more shot and leave no stone unturned.

“Which is exactly the opportunity I’ve been given.

“And if I win this weekend, I really think Bellator will give me that next shot”.

FIGHT FAVOURITE’S UFC AMBITIONS REVEALED

AUSTRALIAN fight favourite Brentin Mumford says his career goes one of only two ways if he wins the Eternal lightweight title on Saturday week – crack a major organisation like the UFC or retire.

After having a heap of fights cancelled over the past 18 months due to ongoing Covid restrictions, 34-year-old Mumford has finally jagged a title showdown with champ Jack Becker at Eternal 63 on November 20.

Should Mumford win big in the Gold Coast headliner, which will be broadcast on UFC Fight Pass, he is hoping to get one final crack at a promotion like UFC, Bellator, ONE or the PFL.

“But if that doesn’t happen, I’ll probably call it a day,” he says. “Finish at the top.

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Camera IconMumford wants to have one last crack at the big time. Supplied Credit: Supplied

“With the way the world’s shut down over the past two years, like a lot of fighters I‘ve lost a couple of prime years.

“Before doing anything with mixed martial arts too, I played ice hockey in Canada. So from age 10, I really put my body through the ringer.

“So while I still have the passion to compete, if I win the belt and call it a day I can live with that.”

Currently coaching at CMBT Training Centre in Burleigh Heads, Mumford says his other goal moving forward is to get more heavily involved with coaching Australia’s next generation of MMA stars.

“Because over the past decade I’ve trained at places like Tiger Muay Thai, City Kick Boxing, worked with Alex Volkanovski,” he says. “And you don’t study for 10 years to become a labourer.”

So as for how he beats Becker?

“Either I get a quick finish or it’s decided over five gruelling rounds,“ Mumford says. ”But he‘s definitely a good opponent.”

*

UFC light heavyweight Jimmy Crute will arrive in Sydney on Wednesday to spend four days training with Robert Whittaker at his Smeaton Grange gym. Crute has flown in from Melbourne as part of preparations for his December bout with hyped American Jamahal Hill.

*

QUEENSLAND heavyweight Junior Tafa will get another crack at Dana White’s Contender Series after missing out this year because of travel restrictions around Covid. His team said the UFC have already confirmed his spot for 2022.

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