Marcos Oliveira, top, fights Neil Wain during the final bout of Abu Dhabi Fighting Championship at the weekend.
Marcos Oliveira, top, fights Neil Wain during the final bout of Abu Dhabi Fighting Championship at the weekend.

Supine sweets of the cage



Around midnight last Friday in the Abu Dhabi Exhibition Centre, a hefty Brazilian fighter who had just pounded a hefty English fighter sobbed deliriously against the cage and then toppled himself supine.

His girlfriend with the lyrical name of Carolina entered the ring among revellers, and within moments he had proposed marriage and slid a ring on to her finger.

She had said 'yes'.

Look, if you think you can do much better than this for a weekend diversion, then please do invite along the rest of us to wherever you're going.

The unanimous decision for Marcos Oliveira over Neil Wain pushed Oliveira into the final of the Abu Dhabi Fighting Championship of mixed martial arts (MMA). It landed him opposite Shamil Abdurahimov of Russia, whom he will fight next year for the prize of Dh1 million.

It dredged tears from a rugged man, and it caused in a witness the common human condition you might call Brazil Envy.

"With the Brazilian guys all the time, everybody is so happy, everybody," said Fabricio Werdum, the gracious Brazilian MMA star, visiting from Los Angeles. "The Brazilian guys have very good vibration, very good energy all the time."

MMA has its rational detractors, just not here today. My principal worry - that performance-enhancing drugs might be a prerequisite for competitive balance - merely matches my worry about almost every other sport with the notable exception of sailing.

My first step into this world came in 2007 in an Ultimate Fighting Championship event in Manchester, England. To start, I interviewed four 20-something fans from nearby Wigan who themselves aspired to the cage.

One yanked up his shirt and asked me to punch his rigid gut, and I declined out of potential embarrassment plus a fear my company might have a policy against punching interview subjects.

Raptly, I watched the spectacle and heard the incessant noise. Some matches had tedious swatches of limited strategy or pinned, writhing fighters, but others had enthralling jolts, none more booming than the last. In the final bout, the mighty headliner and - yes - Croatian parliamentarian Mirko "Cro Cop" Filipovic crashed shockingly in a head-kick knockout from Brazil's Gabriel Gonzaga. He lay unconscious for some hushed seconds, then rose and left the arena groggy.

I left the arena with the unforeseen feeling of being uncommonly awake. People find various appeals from watching MMA, its large audiences impressive for a newly organised sport, but for me it comes from watching people so vividly surmount profound hardship.

Two such Emirati cases highlighted Friday. The Dubai-trained Ali Mohammed Ali Abdullah Ahli seemed submerged in speed and force early in his professional debut, yet he achieved the hard trick of keeping his head, showing enough fortitude and thoughtful variety to win on a split decision.

Hassan al Rumaithi, the UAE champion, bled enough from his nose against Paulo Lamberto, the Italian, that it did qualify as jarring, but with these athletes unusually accomplished in conquering common fears, al Rumaithi fought on almost as if barely noticing, winning on unanimous decision.

And then of course, no sport all full of Brazil can go entirely wrong, and the exhibition centre benefited from Brazilian energy and esprit de corps.

The Strikeforce circuit star Werdum helped, standing watch by the cage and alerting the referee when the opponent of the Brazilian Michel Maia improperly clasped his fingers around the cage to gain leverage. Maia looked profoundly overmatched and found himself corkscrewed upside down yet rallied to win on a submission.

Later came Oliveira and his joy. Werdum, author of arguably the biggest upset in the sport last June against Fedor Emelianenko, who had not lost since 2000, said he hopes to fight in Abu Dhabi. He called Oliveira "very good … a smart fighter ... Everybody knows fighters have a lot of training, and so maybe for four months he's not stopped training. He's so happy because it's so emotional for him."

That exhilaration wrung from escape wrung from toughness, from people thinking and muscling their way out of poundings and pinnings and injuries and training, might explain why MMA can make a viewer feel more alive. Blood, after all, shows in many a sport including rugby and American football.

American football, too, has detractors who worry rationally about the human body, even as its popularity rages on long after its first game, on a college field in New Jersey in 1869, when an angry professor waved an umbrella toward the participants and shrieked: "You will come to no Christian end!"

Nowadays, American football and American Christianity go culturally tethered, especially in the American south east. Makes you wonder how the general public might view MMA 140 years on.

cculpepper@thenational.ae

The years Ramadan fell in May

1987

1954

1921

1888

23-man shortlist for next six Hall of Fame inductees

Tony Adams, David Beckham, Dennis Bergkamp, Sol Campbell, Eric Cantona, Andrew Cole, Ashley Cole, Didier Drogba, Les Ferdinand, Rio Ferdinand, Robbie Fowler, Steven Gerrard, Roy Keane, Frank Lampard, Matt Le Tissier, Michael Owen, Peter Schmeichel, Paul Scholes, John Terry, Robin van Persie, Nemanja Vidic, Patrick Viera, Ian Wright.

UAE currency: the story behind the money in your pockets
COMPANY PROFILE

Name: Xpanceo

Started: 2018

Founders: Roman Axelrod, Valentyn Volkov

Based: Dubai, UAE

Industry: Smart contact lenses, augmented/virtual reality

Funding: $40 million

Investor: Opportunity Venture (Asia)

COMPANY PROFILE

Company: Eco Way
Started: December 2023
Founder: Ivan Kroshnyi
Based: Dubai, UAE
Industry: Electric vehicles
Investors: Bootstrapped with undisclosed funding. Looking to raise funds from outside

Our legal consultant

Name: Dr Hassan Mohsen Elhais

Position: legal consultant with Al Rowaad Advocates and Legal Consultants.

The Continental: From the World of John Wick

Created by: Greg Coolidge, Shawn Simmons, Kirk Ward
Stars: Mel Gibson, Colin Woodell, Mishel Prada
Rating: 3/5

Will the pound fall to parity with the dollar?

The idea of pound parity now seems less far-fetched as the risk grows that Britain may split away from the European Union without a deal.

Rupert Harrison, a fund manager at BlackRock, sees the risk of it falling to trade level with the dollar on a no-deal Brexit. The view echoes Morgan Stanley’s recent forecast that the currency can plunge toward $1 (Dh3.67) on such an outcome. That isn’t the majority view yet – a Bloomberg survey this month estimated the pound will slide to $1.10 should the UK exit the bloc without an agreement.

New Prime Minister Boris Johnson has repeatedly said that Britain will leave the EU on the October 31 deadline with or without an agreement, fuelling concern the nation is headed for a disorderly departure and fanning pessimism toward the pound. Sterling has fallen more than 7 per cent in the past three months, the worst performance among major developed-market currencies.

“The pound is at a much lower level now but I still think a no-deal exit would lead to significant volatility and we could be testing parity on a really bad outcome,” said Mr Harrison, who manages more than $10 billion in assets at BlackRock. “We will see this game of chicken continue through August and that’s likely negative for sterling,” he said about the deadlocked Brexit talks.

The pound fell 0.8 per cent to $1.2033 on Friday, its weakest closing level since the 1980s, after a report on the second quarter showed the UK economy shrank for the first time in six years. The data means it is likely the Bank of England will cut interest rates, according to Mizuho Bank.

The BOE said in November that the currency could fall even below $1 in an analysis on possible worst-case Brexit scenarios. Options-based calculations showed around a 6.4 per cent chance of pound-dollar parity in the next one year, markedly higher than 0.2 per cent in early March when prospects of a no-deal outcome were seemingly off the table.

Bloomberg

Law 41.9.4 of men’s T20I playing conditions

The fielding side shall be ready to start each over within 60 seconds of the previous over being completed.
An electronic clock will be displayed at the ground that counts down seconds from 60 to zero.
The clock is not required or, if already started, can be cancelled if:
• A new batter comes to the wicket between overs.
• An official drinks interval has been called.
• The umpires have approved the on field treatment of an injury to a batter or fielder.
• The time lost is for any circumstances beyond the control of the fielding side.
• The third umpire starts the clock either when the ball has become dead at the end of the previous over, or a review has been completed.
• The team gets two warnings if they are not ready to start overs after the clock reaches zero.
• On the third and any subsequent occasion in an innings, the bowler’s end umpire awards five runs.

COMPANY PROFILE

Company name: Klipit

Started: 2022

Founders: Venkat Reddy, Mohammed Al Bulooki, Bilal Merchant, Asif Ahmed, Ovais Merchant

Based: Dubai, UAE

Industry: Digital receipts, finance, blockchain

Funding: $4 million

Investors: Privately/self-funded

A QUIET PLACE

Starring: Lupita Nyong'o, Joseph Quinn, Djimon Hounsou

Director: Michael Sarnoski

Rating: 4/5

Sarfira

Director: Sudha Kongara Prasad

Starring: Akshay Kumar, Radhika Madan, Paresh Rawal

Rating: 2/5

Company profile

Name: The Concept

Founders: Yadhushan Mahendran, Maria Sobh and Muhammad Rijal

Based: Abu Dhabi

Founded: 2017

Number of employees: 7

Sector: Aviation and space industry

Funding: $250,000

Future plans: Looking to raise $1 million investment to boost expansion and develop new products

WHAT IS A BLACK HOLE?

1. Black holes are objects whose gravity is so strong not even light can escape their pull

2. They can be created when massive stars collapse under their own weight

3. Large black holes can also be formed when smaller ones collide and merge

4. The biggest black holes lurk at the centre of many galaxies, including our own

5. Astronomers believe that when the universe was very young, black holes affected how galaxies formed

Company Profile

Company name: Cargoz
Date started: January 2022
Founders: Premlal Pullisserry and Lijo Antony
Based: Dubai
Number of staff: 30
Investment stage: Seed

Top tips to avoid cyber fraud

Microsoft’s ‘hacker-in-chief’ David Weston, creator of the tech company’s Windows Red Team, advises simple steps to help people avoid falling victim to cyber fraud:

1. Always get the latest operating system on your smartphone or desktop, as it will have the latest innovations. An outdated OS can erode away all investments made in securing your device or system.

2. After installing the latest OS version, keep it patched; this means repairing system vulnerabilities which are discovered after the infrastructure components are released in the market. The vast majority of attacks are based on out of date components – there are missing patches.

3. Multi-factor authentication is required. Move away from passwords as fast as possible, particularly for anything financial. Cybercriminals are targeting money through compromising the users’ identity – his username and password. So, get on the next level of security using fingertips or facial recognition.

4. Move your personal as well as professional data to the cloud, which has advanced threat detection mechanisms and analytics to spot any attempt. Even if you are hit by some ransomware, the chances of restoring the stolen data are higher because everything is backed up.

5. Make the right hardware selection and always refresh it. We are in a time where a number of security improvement processes are reliant on new processors and chip sets that come with embedded security features. Buy a new personal computer with a trusted computing module that has fingerprint or biometric cameras as additional measures of protection.

ABU DHABI'S KEY TOURISM GOALS: BY THE NUMBERS

By 2030, Abu Dhabi aims to achieve:

• 39.3 million visitors, nearly 64% up from 2023

• Dh90 billion contribution to GDP, about 84% more than Dh49 billion in 2023

• 178,000 new jobs, bringing the total to about 366,000

• 52,000 hotel rooms, up 53% from 34,000 in 2023

• 7.2 million international visitors, almost 90% higher compared to 2023's 3.8 million

• 3.9 international overnight hotel stays, 22% more from 3.2 nights in 2023

Venom

Director: Ruben Fleischer

Cast: Tom Hardy, Michelle Williams, Riz Ahmed

Rating: 1.5/5

The specs

Engine: 5.2-litre V10

Power: 640hp at 8,000rpm

Torque: 565Nm at 6,500rpm

Transmission: 7-speed dual-clutch auto

Price: From Dh1 million

On sale: Q3 or Q4 2022

Results

6pm: Dubai Trophy – Conditions (TB) $100,000 (Turf) 1,200m

Winner: Silent Speech, William Buick (jockey), Charlie Appleby
(trainer)

6.35pm: Jumeirah Derby Trial – Conditions (TB) $60,000 (T)
1,800m

Winner: Island Falcon, Frankie Dettori, Saeed bin Suroor

7.10pm: UAE 2000 Guineas Trial – Conditions (TB) $60,000 (Dirt)
1,400m

Winner: Rawy, Mickael Barzalona, Salem bin Ghadayer

7.45pm: Al Rashidiya – Group 2 (TB) $180,000 (T) 1,800m

Winner: Desert Fire, Hector Crouch, Saeed bin Suroor

8.20pm: Al Fahidi Fort – Group 2 (TB) $180,000 (T) 1,400m

Winner: Naval Crown, William Buick, Charlie Appleby

8.55pm: Dubawi Stakes – Group 3 (TB) $150,000 (D) 1,200m

Winner: Al Tariq, Pat Dobbs, Doug Watsons

9.30pm: Aliyah – Rated Conditions (TB) $80,000 (D) 2,000m

Winner: Dubai Icon, Patrick Cosgrave, Saeed bin Suroor

Biography

Favourite Meal: Chicken Caesar salad

Hobbies: Travelling, going to the gym

Inspiration: Father, who was a captain in the UAE army

Favourite read: Rich Dad Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki and Sharon Lechter

Favourite film: The Founder, about the establishment of McDonald's

How to register as a donor

1) Organ donors can register on the Hayat app, run by the Ministry of Health and Prevention

2) There are about 11,000 patients in the country in need of organ transplants

3) People must be over 21. Emiratis and residents can register. 

4) The campaign uses the hashtag  #donate_hope

Director: Nag Ashwin

Starring: Prabhas, Saswata Chatterjee, Deepika Padukone, Amitabh Bachchan, Shobhana

Rating: ★★★★

The specs

Engine: 2.9-litre, V6 twin-turbo

Transmission: seven-speed PDK dual clutch automatic

Power: 375bhp

Torque: 520Nm

Price: Dh332,800

On sale: now

How to help

Send “thenational” to the following numbers or call the hotline on: 0502955999
2289 – Dh10
2252 – Dh 50
6025 – Dh20
6027 – Dh 100
6026 – Dh 200

Cricket World Cup League 2 Fixtures

Saturday March 5, UAE v Oman, ICC Academy (all matches start at 9.30am)

Sunday March 6, Oman v Namibia, ICC Academy

Tuesday March 8, UAE v Namibia, ICC Academy

Wednesday March 9, UAE v Oman, ICC Academy

Friday March 11, Oman v Namibia, Sharjah Cricket Stadium

Saturday March 12, UAE v Namibia, Sharjah Cricket Stadium

UAE squad

Ahmed Raza (captain), Chirag Suri, Muhammad Waseem, CP Rizwan, Vriitya Aravind, Asif Khan, Basil Hameed, Rohan Mustafa, Kashif Daud, Zahoor Khan, Junaid Siddique, Karthik Meiyappan, Akif Raja, Rahul Bhatia

Bharat

Director: Ali Abbas Zafar

Starring: Salman Khan, Katrina Kaif, Sunil Grover

Rating: 2.5 out of 5 stars

TWISTERS

Director: Lee Isaac Chung

Starring: Glenn Powell, Daisy Edgar-Jones, Anthony Ramos

Rating: 2.5/5

RoboCop: Rogue City

Developer: Teyon
Publisher: Nacon
Console: PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X/S and PC
Rating: 3/5

COMPANY PROFILE

Company: Growdash
Started: July 2022
Founders: Sean Trevaskis and Enver Sorkun
Based: Dubai, UAE
Industry: Restaurant technology
Funding so far: $750,000
Investors: Flat6Labs, Plus VC, Judah VC, TPN Investments and angel investors, including former Talabat chief executive Abdulhamid Alomar, and entrepreneur Zeid Husban

The low down on MPS

What is myofascial pain syndrome?

Myofascial pain syndrome refers to pain and inflammation in the body’s soft tissue. MPS is a chronic condition that affects the fascia (­connective tissue that covers the muscles, which develops knots, also known as trigger points).

What are trigger points?

Trigger points are irritable knots in the soft ­tissue that covers muscle tissue. Through injury or overuse, muscle fibres contract as a reactive and protective measure, creating tension in the form of hard and, palpable nodules. Overuse and ­sustained posture are the main culprits in developing ­trigger points.

What is myofascial or trigger-point release?

Releasing these nodules requires a hands-on technique that involves applying gentle ­sustained pressure to release muscular shortness and tightness. This eliminates restrictions in ­connective tissue in orderto restore motion and alleviate pain. ­Therapy balls have proven effective at causing enough commotion in the tissue, prompting the release of these hard knots.

Company Profile

Name: Direct Debit System
Started: Sept 2017
Based: UAE with a subsidiary in the UK
Industry: FinTech
Funding: Undisclosed
Investors: Elaine Jones
Number of employees: 8

ROUTE TO TITLE

Round 1: Beat Leolia Jeanjean 6-1, 6-2
Round 2: Beat Naomi Osaka 7-6, 1-6, 7-5
Round 3: Beat Marie Bouzkova 6-4, 6-2
Round 4: Beat Anastasia Potapova 6-0, 6-0
Quarter-final: Beat Marketa Vondrousova 6-0, 6-2
Semi-final: Beat Coco Gauff 6-2, 6-4
Final: Beat Jasmine Paolini 6-2, 6-2


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Keep up with all the Middle East and North Africa athletes at the 2024 Paris Olympics

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