Beyond the Brits making history in Formula 1 and cycling there were successes for England in the Women’s Six Nations and at the Italian Open golf, while a legend retired from the Octagon. Here are five stories you might have missed over this hectic weekend of sport…
Khabib battles, breaks down, then bows out
Khabib Nurmagomedov donned his distinctive Papakha headwear for one final time and headed for the sunset on Saturday after beating Justin Gaethje to unify the UFC lightweight championship. In the post-fight interview, he announced that he was retiring.
After the death of his father, Abdulmanap, in July, Khabib had promised his mother that he would stop fighting after this weekend’s bout at UFC 254 in Abu Dhabi. And, true to his word, he called it quits following his second-round win over the American.
Khabib collapsed in the Octagon following his 29th successive victory, covering his face as he sobbed in what was immediately recognised as an emotional moment due to his father’s death, but it was only when he declared “This is my last fight in the UFC,” that people realised the true extent of his reaction.
The longest-reigning lightweight champion in UFC history has bowed out at the top, with a 29-0 record. His legacy will take some beating.
Ben Stokes dedicates his big ton to his ill father
There were more outpouring of emotions in Abu Dhabi after Khabib’s retirement, as Ben Stokes hit a game-winning 107 not out for Rajasthan Royals in the relocated Indian Premier League on Sunday, and later dedicated the century to his father, Ged.
Stokes senior announced earlier this year that he is suffering from brain cancer, prompting the England vice-captain to take time out of cricket to be with his father in his native New Zealand. But after returning to the sport in the IPL, Stokes has shown few signs of emotional baggage and on Sunday he led the Royals to a huge eight-wicket win over Mumbai Indians with 10 balls to spare, bashing his unbeaten 107 in just 60 balls including 14 fours and three sixes.
“I take a bit of solace that back home, where things are a bit rough, hopefully that gives him a bit of happiness,” Stokes said afterwards, having earlier marked his century with his now-traditional folded-finger salute to recognise his dad, who had a finger amputated due to injuries he sustained during his rugby league career.
England's women win the Six Nations
Ireland’s victory over Italy in the men’s Six Nations on Saturday might have teed up an almighty final weekend of the 2020 championship but the women’s title has already been won by England following Sunday’s play.
Scotland’s 13-13 draw with France at Scotstoun Stadium in Glasgow ensured that England cannot now be caught by Les Bleus thanks to the nine-point lead held by Simon Middleton’s side. Instead, skipper Sarah Hunter and her colleagues head to Parma on Sunday for their final game of the Six Nations knowing that only their current 100 per cent record is on the line.
It is a 16th Six Nations Championship for England’s women, who retain the title for the first time since 2012, when they recorded the last of seven successive titles. They also clinched a 21st Triple Crown and a fifth straight such success earlier in this year’s competition.
Everyone in the Premier League has lost
Among Arsenal fans it is known as ‘Invincibles Day’, the moment when no team can replicate what the Gunners did in that memorable 2003-04 season. And the annual celebration in north London has come earlier than ever this year as Everton’s 2-0 loss to Southampton on Sunday means that every Premier League team has suffered a defeat already in 2020-21.
Besides the Toffees, Aston Villa also went into the weekend boasting an unbeaten record, but their 3-0 home defeat to Leeds United put paid to their unblemished start and Carlo Ancelotti’s side weren’t far behind in suffering a first defeat.
While Liverpool’s first loss last season didn’t come until 29 February as they threatened to become only the second team ever to go unbeaten in a Premier League campaign, the hectic start to the current season has seen all 20 sides come unstuck already.
Never in the 29-year history of the Premier League have we previously seen a season in which every team has lost at least one of their first six games. At least Everton can console themselves with the fact they remain top of the league.
Ross McGowan claims first tour title in 11 years
Ross McGowan had been to golfing hell and back since his last European Tour victory in 2009, but on Sunday he finally got his hands on silverware once more by winning the Italian Open in Brescia by a single shot.
The Essex native’s Madrid Masters win at the age of 27 back in 2009 was meant to be the start of something special as he was tipped to be a part of Europe’s Ryder Cup team 12 months later and was expected to be a big name on the circuit for some time to come.
As it turned out he lost his place in the European Tour in 2011 following a poor run of form and a number of injuries, and had to make do with Challenge Tour and Sunshine Tour competition for the next four years. He has been back on the European Tour full time since 2018 but has rarely troubled the challengers on the final day until this weekend’s stunning success in Italy.
His birdie on the par-five 18th rounded out a stunning weekend by nosing him beyond joint runners-up Laurie Canter and Nicolas Colsaerts with a score of 20 under-par.