Concerns over how Joe Root’s form will be affected by the Test captaincy are ‘nonsense’, according to England great Freddie Flintoff. Star batsman Root was handed the reins following Alastair Cook’s decision to step down after a record 59 matches in charge earlier this month. Indian Premier League star Ben Stokes already better than me – Flintoff Root has developed into one of the best players in the world since making his international debut in 2012, scoring 19 centuries and over 8,000 runs. And Flintoff insists England fans do not need to worry about Root’s performances despite the added responsibility of leading the side. ‘Do you know what, people who say “how will it affect his batting?” are always people who have never done it,’ Flintoff told Metro.co.uk. ‘It’s almost as if they want something to blame it on – something to worry about and write about. ‘I’ll be honest, when I was England … [Read more...] about Concerns over the impact of captaincy on Joe Root’s batting are ‘nonsense’, says Freddie Flintoff
Brad Pickett has backed Amanda Nunes to take on the responsibility passed to her when she knocked out former UFC queen Ronda Rousey. Video: Korean Zombie's brutal uppercut ends Bermudez on return from 3-year break The bantamweight champion tore Rousey to pieces on her return to the octagon, firmly announcing herself to the world with a devastating performance against MMA's biggest name. Pickett believes there has been a passing of the torch in a sense, but is not worried about Nunes disappointing with the weight of the bantamweight division, and even women's MMA, on her shoulders. 'There's a few icons that have helped the sport grow and Ronda Rousey is definitely one of them,' Pickett told Metro.co.uk. 'So when you dethrone her in the manner Amanda Nunes did, it brings a lot of responsibility. 'But she's a great athlete. She's doing the right thing, she's calling out Holly Holm or the winner of that (featherweight title) fight so she can have two belts. 'So she's doing the right … [Read more...] about Brad Pickett backs Amanda Nunes to take on the responsibility passed to her by UFC star Ronda Rousey
Tony Bellew has revealed David Haye refused to apologise for throwing a punch at him at their press conference last year at a recent meeting. The WBC crusierweight champion faced off against Haye at the filming of Sky Sports’ The Gloves Are Off and said before the meeting he expected an apology. But in a heated encounter, Bellew said Haye made only excuses and promised to send him to the hospital. ‘He won’t apologise and he refused to at the filming,’ Bellew told Metro.co.uk. Bellew vs Haye BellewFights: 31Wins: 28KOs: 18Losses: 2Draws: 1 HayeFights: 30Wins: 28KOs: 26Losses: 2 ‘I said to him when we first entered the room that he should apologise for throwing the punch. ‘And he said: ‘You pushed me!’ ‘I told him I pushed him because he was on the verge of kissing me and I’m not that kind of fella. ‘He didn’t apologise, it is what it is. ‘He’s a person who has just forgot himself. He needs to be … [Read more...] about Tony Bellew reveals he got no apology from David Haye at the filming of The Gloves Are Off
Jimi Manuwa has backed Alexander Gustafsson to show the UFC that he is the best fighter in the world. The light heavyweight fighter was plagued by injuries in 2016 having fought just once last year as he was forced to pull out of UFC Belfast in November. Gustafsson has fought top contenders Anthony Johnson and Daniel Cormier in recent years and although he has lost those bouts, Manuwa still sees him as the best in the division. Manuwa trains with the Swede regularly and explained why their fellow light heavyweights should fear Gustafsson. ‘He’s second to none, I think he’s the best in the world, Gustafsson,’ Manuwa told Metro.co.uk. Working….. A photo posted by Jimi Manuwa (@pb1_) on Jan 20, 2017 at 5:27am PST ‘He’s good everywhere. Everywhere. ‘Stand up, grappling, wrestling, Judo, everything. ‘I train with him every day, I just finished a session with him. ‘I’m training with him later as well. ‘It’s … [Read more...] about Jimi Manuwa believes Alexander Gustafsson can do anything and is the best UFC fighter out there
Francis Ngannou says the France ban on MMA makes life extremely difficult for anyone hoping to become a professional fighter in the sport. France upheld a ban on MMA this year after the French MMA Federation moved to get the sport legalised in the form currently seen at promotions across the world such as the UFC. But their pleas were turned down by the French government as they backed outlawing key components of modern MMA which effectively makes the sport illegal. Ngannou, who moved to Paris from Cameroon, explained how the ban hurts him and his fellow pros based in France. ‘It’s very difficult for us fighters,’ Ngannou exclusively told Metro.co.uk. Ngannou vs Arlovski Ngannou Record: 9-1 KOs: 5 Age: 30 Arlovski Record : 25-13 KOs: 17 Age: 37 ‘Because MMA is not legal, it’s difficult for someone to practise, even more to be professional fighter. ‘It’s difficult to find training partners, to find competition, to even get sponsors. … [Read more...] about Francis Ngannou says Judo Federation part of powerful political group blocking MMA legalisation in France
Sol Campbell has revealed his desire to return to Arsenal in a coaching capacity but knows a call from Arsene Wenger remains unlikely. Wenger, who was recently criticised by former midfielder Emmanuel Petit, has angered a group of his ex-players having allowed a series of Arsenal legends to leave the club in order to kick-start their coaching careers elsewhere. The likes of Thierry Henry, Patrick Vieira and Dennis Bergkamp have all left Wenger’s side to find work elsewhere, a move that has left some players resenting their former club. ‘I think you have the evidence there in front of you,’ Campbell exclusively told Metro.co.uk when asked about Wenger’s decision not to offer coaching roles to his former players. ‘I think Arsene just has his team, has his frequency and maybe he doesn’t want to change that frequency too much. He has a model that he’s happy with and he might change in the future, who knows. ‘He probably thinks he has … [Read more...] about Sol Campbell on Arsenal return, Arsene Wenger’s successor and the snubbing of club legends
Former Arsenal defender Sol Campbell has urged the club to break the bank in order to tie Alexis Sanchez to a new long-term contract Sanchez, who is currently embroiled in negotiations with the club over a new deal, has been linked with a move away from the club as he enters the final 18 months of his current contract. With the likes of Manchester City, Chelsea, Juventus and host of clubs from the big-spending Chinese Super League all monitoring his current situation at the Emirates, Campbell has urged the club to do whatever it takes to secure the Chilean’s long-term future. ‘Hopefully he will, there’s a couple of contracts out there that need sorting out at the moment,’ Campbell exclusively told Metro.co.uk when asked if he thinks Sanchez will stay with Arsenal. ‘There is always negotiations. A big contract like this one is always dragged on, no big contract is ‘Sign. Done. Finish’ – unless you’re in China! ‘People want you … [Read more...] about Arsenal must break the bank to keep Alexis Sanchez but there’s no chance he’ll join Chelsea, says Sol Campbell
Former England international Sol Campbell believes Tottenham will finish above Arsenal unless the Gunners splash the cash before the January transfer window closes. Campbell, who represented both clubs during his career, infamously decided to allow his contract to expire in the summer of 2001 and defect to Spurs’ fiercest rivals. The transfer proved to be an inspired piece of business by Arsene Wenger, with Campbell going on to become an integral member the Arsenal ‘Invincibles’ squad that claimed the league title in 2004 without losing a single game. Twelve years have passed since the highlight of Wenger’s reign and the Gunners have been unable to get their hands anywhere near that glistening piece of silverware again. Despite their long wait to be crowned domestic kings, Arsenal have maintained their status as top dogs in north London, although they came perilously close to finishing behind Spurs for the first time in 21 years last season, and currently trail … [Read more...] about Sol Campbell fears Arsenal are lagging behind Spurs in the Premier League title race
David Haye has sent a message to Tony Bellew after the Liverpudlian claimed he was sun bathing in Miami by sharing a video of him checking his weight ahead of their fight in March. The heavyweight is set to face off against his fellow Brit in London in just over six weeks and has hit back at Bellew suggesting he is not taking his training seriously. Bellew wrote in his Metro.co.uk column that Haye was partying in Miami and Haye has now revealed he is on track to make weight ahead of their showdown. ‘103kg – 227lbs- 16st 2lbs after a good work out tonight,’ said Haye on his Instagram. 103kg – 227lbs- 16st 2lbs after a good work out tonight. Still a few pounds to burn off. But happy with condition with over 6 weeks left of training before I violently destroy #TonyBellend March 4 on #skyboxoffice A video posted by David Haye (@mrdavidhaye) on Jan 16, 2017 at 5:14pm PST ‘Still a few pounds to burn off. ‘But happy with condition with over 6 weeks … [Read more...] about David Haye promises to ‘violently destroy’ Tony Bellew ahead of March showdown
BAMMA and Bellator will combine forces for the second time in their history on February 24 when both BAMMA 28 and Bellator 173 head to the SSE Arena in Belfast. UFC confirm Nurmagomedov and Ferguson will fight in mega clash for chance to face McGregor Two of the biggest names fighting at lightweight will contest the main event with Norman Parke taking on Paul Redmond. Both men spent periods in the UFC prior to be released last year, but with them both now back to winnings ways on the European circuit they will be looking to make a big statement and get their names back in amongst the talk of the world elite. Parke vs Redmond Parke: 22-5-1 Redmond: 11-6 For Parke, this will be his second fight since leaving the UFC and he will look to build upon the win he recorded in his return last year in October at ACB 47: Braveheart in Glasgow. Parke defeated the Englishman Andrew Fisher that night, but the Northern Irishman was far from satisfied with his performance and knows all too well what … [Read more...] about Norman Parke promises a night to remember in Belfast as he faces Paul Redmond at BAMMA 28
Can three people who have never thrown a punch in their lives learn how to box in 10 weeks? Can any of them win an actual fight in front of a huge crowd after those 10 weeks? We are about to find out. Three of Metro.co.uk’s bravest souls have stepped forward to take part in White Collar Boxing – a phenomenon that is rapidly gaining popularity across the nation. Ordinary people with little or no boxing experience (the latter in our cases) take on a 10-week training course before stepping into the ring and having a fight. A very real fight. There are a whole load of benefits; it gets you fighting fit (literally), it is a great way into a sport that can be intimidating on the face of it and the event itself is sold as an incredible experience – performing in front of more than 1,000 people. It is also more than a little worrying. Fighting in itself is a nerve-wracking prospect, but so is the knowledge of how deeply unfit I am as the training course begins. But 10 weeks … [Read more...] about Metro.co.uk Fight Club: Can three novices master White Collar Boxing in 10 weeks?
These will likely be some of the cheeky tactics that await pampered Premier League stars this weekend as they head to lower league grounds. It’s a far cry from the glamour of the draw for this season’s FA Cup Third Round – which was held at the BT Tower above the bright lights of London. Looking over the capital city, it was there that Steven Gerrard and Ian Wright drew the likes of Arsenal at Preston North End and Leeds United at Cambridge. The legends of Liverpool and Arsenal respectively told Metro.co.uk about some of their experiences in the world’s oldest cup competition and how lower league teams would try to level the playing field. ‘When we went away you would go to places like Barnsley and the dressing room was small and they would throw water on the floor so it’s wet when you go in there,’ remembered former Arsenal striker Wright. ‘It’s just uncomfortable for you, trying to knock you out of your rhythm. But it’s … [Read more...] about Liverpool icon Steven Gerrard and Arsenal legend Ian Wright on the dirty tricks of the FA Cup
It’s been a year of some incredible highs and equally devastating lows for boxing in 2016. The sport lost a few of its own with Mike Towell tragically dying after a fight and Muhammad Ali finally going quietly into the night. It seems as though every time there is fantastic moment in boxing, a failed drug test seems to raise it’s ugly head to remind everyone there is work to do. But, as always with boxing, it has given us some jaw dropping moments as equally heart-wrenching as the lows. We at Metro.co.uk have decided it’s time to honour the boxers who have made the sport a joy to witness in 2016. Fighter of the year: Carl Frampton Carl Frampton has enjoyed a historic year most boxers can only dream of. He became the first Northern Irishman to hold belts at different weight divisions when he beat Leo Santa Cruz in New York. Frampton’s achievement just seems to go on and on when you break it down. He was stepping up from just unifying the super-bantamweight … [Read more...] about Boxing 2016 Awards: Tony Bellew, Carl Frampton and Tyson Fury among winners as we name our fighter of the year
There’s nothing worse for a tennis fan than the off-season. While the players are getting some well-deserved rest, the impatient five-year-old inside all of us is desperately craving the return of some cracking on-court action. Mega-rich Champions League heavyweights prepare £10m offer for Arsene Wenger We at Metro.co.uk have already dished out our awards for the season just gone but we’ll now take a look at what’s coming up in the year ahead. There are plenty of unwritten storylines to unfold, no doubt plenty of thrills and spills and the continued forging of possibly one of the greatest rivalries of all-time. So with that in mind, here are five things for tennis fans to look forward to in 2017: Andy Murray-Novak Djokovic rivalry The Serb may lead their head-to-head 24-11 but for the first time Andy Murray will head into a Grand Slam as the No. 1 seed. Djokovic’s form tailed off, by his meteoric standards, in the second half of 2016 and Murray was … [Read more...] about Five things for tennis fans to look forward to in 2017 including the returns of Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal
It’s been a year of highs and lows for boxing this year with positive drug tests, table throwing and positive role models dominating the headlines in 2016. We’ve had some stellar clashes and some worthy champions as Anthony Joshua has continued his push for heavyweight domination and Carl Frampton wrote himself into history. The fights have come thick and fast across the world and in all honesty it was hard to keep up sometimes. But with the year now almost at an end, we here at Metro.co.uk have tried to put together a quiz of 2016. We’ve tried to get everyone in, but we’re only human. Enjoy! MORE: A second batch of tickets for Anthony Joshua versus Wladimir Klitschko will go out in January … [Read more...] about Boxing 2016 Quiz: What do you remember from a fantastic year of action in the ring?
It’s been a stellar year for the UFC as they have continued their assault on world domination, with a little help from Conor McGregor. McGregor will certainly claim the last year in the UFC has had his name written all over it, but there were plenty of history makers in 2016. Michael Bisping became the first UK champion while Stipe Miocic ended a 52-year drought championship drought in Cleveland. The pay-per-views, fight purses and venues hit new heights this year and with the UFC on the verge of it’s final event of 2016, it’s definitely time for a quiz. Here at Metro.co.uk we’ve put together 12 questions that try and run through a remarkable year of action. So, have at it! MORE: Tom Duquesnoy: The brightest MMA prospect in the world is ready for the UFC … [Read more...] about UFC 2016 Quiz: What do you remember from a year of history for Conor McGregor and Michael Bisping?
It’s been another sensational year of tennis in 2016, with drama and excitement flowing throughout. The likes of Andy Murray, Novak Djokovic, Serena Williams and Angelique Kerber have spent the year travelling around the world playing the sport they love and there have been plenty of thrills and spills along the way. But how much do you remember about the action in 2016? With the tennis season at a close, we at Metro.co.uk thought it’d be the perfect time to look back at the year just gone and test you on your knowledge of the year gone by. Here we’ve put 23 questions forward, which range in difficulty, that should stretch you to the limit. See how you get on… MORE: Where will Novak Djokovic go next after Boris Becker split? MORE: Who will win Slams when the 'Big Four' are gone? … [Read more...] about Metro.co.uk’s big tennis quiz 2016: Test your knowledge on this year’s tennis action
Violence on the oche is very much banned in professional darts but world champion Gary Anderson has lamented that fact when it comes to his great rival Michael van Gerwen. World number one MVG is well known for his eye-bulging, fist-pumping, throat-shredding antics after hitting his doubles – actions that rub some opponents up the wrong way. The Flying Scotsman is one of a number of players that doesn’t enjoy Van Gerwen’s overzealous celebrations during matches, but he has his own way of dealing with the problem. ‘Sometimes a wee smack in the jaw wouldn’t go a miss, but we’re not allowed to do things like that,’ said the world number two. Anderson had his tongue firmly in cheek when making the suggestion, adding: ‘No, I get on well with Michael.’ He did have a warning for the Dutchman ahead of the forthcoming World Championships, though, and a ominous prediction for MVG. ‘I go on the dartboard thinking “you’re no … [Read more...] about Michael van Gerwen could do with a ‘wee smack in the jaw’ says darts world champion Gary Anderson
Arsenal have a squad capable of winning every competition they’re in this season according to Ian Wright, but they must fix a worrying problem first. The Gunners are currently sitting second in the Premier League, have qualified top of their group for the last-16 of the Champions League and will face Preston North End in the Third Round of the FA Cup. So things are looking good. ‘They’re equipped to do it [win trophies this season], because they’ve got the players who have shown, from goalkeeper through to the forwards, they’ve got players who are more than good enough to do it,’ Wright told Metro.co.uk. However, the club’s former striker has spotted a concerning trait that has cropped up numerous times already this season. ‘In a couple of games this season, the Tottenham game, the Man United game, the Paris St Germain game [which all ended in draws], there was a real lack of intensity in the team which was quite worrying. … [Read more...] about Ian Wright: Arsenal can win everything this season – but they must address ‘intensity’ issue
Welshman Jack Marshman has revealed he does not believe he would now be in the UFC if it had not been for the support of the army during his career. Video: Ronda Rousey doesn't say a word in the latest tension filled UFC 207 promo The middleweight became the first fighter to sign for the UFC this year and put on a memorable debut as he came out on top of a true slugfest with Magnus Cedenblad at UFC Belfast last month. Marshman joined the army at 17 and has balanced being an MMA fighter with serving for the Parachute Regiment, including a term in Afghanistan. 'It's not even that I think the army shaped me perfectly for the UFC, I know it did,' Marshman told Metro.co.uk. 'I don't think I'd be in the UFC right now if I didn't have the backing of the army for so long. Masrhman record Fights: 26Wins: 21Via KO: 13Via decision: 3Via submission: 5Losses: 5 'The amount of training they've let me do, the experiences, they pushed me massively.' Marshman took a beating from Cedenblad in the … [Read more...] about Exclusive: Jack Marshman explains without the army he would have never made it to the UFC