ONE: Returning Tom DeBlass eager to showcase skills again

Tom DeBlass unretires, signs with ONE Championship.

MANILA, Philippines—Grappling legend Tom DeBlass broke his seven-year sabbatical and decided to join ONE Championship after finding inspiration from an odd source.

With the world in a virtual lockdown due to COVID-19, DeBlass had more time on his hands and he was able to step back and re-evaluate his career which eventually rekindled his passion for the sport.

“This pandemic has really changed my way of thinking and my thought process. It’s very hard for me to just sit in my home, and I started developing a fire, a drive, and a motivation that I didn’t have before, but I put all my faith in God,” said DeBlass.

The 38-year-old then got a call from ONE Championship CEO Chatri Sityodtong that would eventually cement his decision to get back to the sport.

“A few days after I had a long prayer, Chatri [Sityodtong] messaged me and asked me what I thought about fighting. If it wasn’t him who messaged me, I wouldn’t have even thought about it. I truly admire what he has done with ONE, and I admire him. I said this must be God’s plan,” said DeBlass.

A product of the Renzo Gracie-Ricardo Almeida lieage, Deblass has a 9-2 record after his last professional fight against Jason Lambert in Nov. 2013 for Bellator ended in a first round knockout.

DeBlass also became the teacher of Garry Tonon, Jen Allen Russell, and Kyle Cranmer.

Sityodtong said DeBlass will be fighting in the heavyweight or light heavyweight division with the Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt potential fighting for a World title.

“With his athleticism and finishing abilities, Tom has the potential to take both divisions by storm, and make a World Title run. Of course, he will have to conquer some monumental challenges in

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Games without fans ‘sadder than dancing with your sister’—Spain coach

Spain’s coach Luis Enrique gives a press conference on November 27, 2019 in Madrid during his official presentation. (Photo by GABRIEL BOUYS / AFP)

Spain coach Luis Enrique says playing behind closed doors is “sadder than dancing with your own sister,” as football faces the prospect of games without supporters for the foreseeable future due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Germany’s Bundesliga became the first major European league to resume last weekend following the two-month shutdown, with strict hygiene measures enforced at all matches across the country.

“(Playing without fans) is sadder than dancing with your own sister. It’s not attractive,” Luis Enrique told the “Colgados del aro” (“Hanging from the hoop”) basketball show on Wednesday.

“I watched the German football and it’s a sad sight. You hear the voices, you even hear the insults… you lose the intimacy of the better moments.

“But you also have to understand it’s a business that generates lots of money, and even if the spectacle is a long way from that when there’s fans it can help in dealing with the confinement.

“Watching football again or any other sport, as a fan it’s interesting,” he added.

Luis Enrique returned to his job as Spain coach in November after resigning last June to take care of his daughter, Xana, who died in August of cancer.

“(As a player), I would have liked to get back playing as soon as possible. I have no fear,” he said.

“I was a bit scared at one moment for my parents, my in-laws and the elderly people I cherish and above all for the people who may suffer. But on a personal level, I have zero fear.”

Euro 2020 has been postponed by a year due to the health crisis and Luis Enrique admitted the uncertainty was affecting everyone

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Lewandowski’s staggering numbers mean he’s encroaching on Ronaldo and Messi’s territory

It was just another day at the office for Robert Lewandowski. He bagged the opener in a 2-0 victory at Union Berlin but his performance was hardly memorable.

The striker had fewer touches (33) than any other Bayern Munich starter on Sunday and managed only two attempts at goal, getting on the scoresheet from the spot with one of them.

Yet, his strike held plenty of significance.

In converting the penalty that Leon Goretzka won, Lewandowski notched up his 40th goal of the season in club football, marking the fifth consecutive time he’s reached that milestone.

The only other players to celebrate that accomplishment in the 21st century?

Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi.

For over a decade their duopoly has ruled the world of football, fending off confrontations from pretenders along the way.

The likes of Neymar, Gareth Bale, Mohamed Salah, Luis Suarez and even Radamel Falcao have, at various junctures, threatened to force their way into that exclusive bracket but none were able to sustain a challenge.

That’s precisely why Lewandowski’s accomplishment carries so much weight. The Poland international is arguably the finest striker in the modern era and has consistently proved his quality season after season since his emergence.

His numbers in the last five years though have catapulted him into a new stratosphere, heights that only Messi and Ronaldo have scaled among the current crop of superstars.

It’s not just about the goals either. At 31, Lewandowski is only a year younger than Messi. It takes great dedication to maintain such a standard of fitness, avoid serious injury and remain sharp for every outing.

That level of commitment and mental strength can’t be understated.

What’s remarkable is that Lewandowski appears to be in the form of his life when he should really be slowing down.

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