By Jason Cruz
Northwest Asian Weekly
As the summer days turn to fall, we look at what’s new in the world of sports.
It’s been a great year for Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) lightweight champion Benson Henderson, and it will be topped off with a homecoming. Henderson won the UFC lightweight championship in February, successfully defended it in August, and will be defending the belt again in December in Seattle, when he fights in Key Arena on Dec. 8. Henderson is a locally grown Pacific Northwesterner, having grown up in Federal Way and graduated from Decatur High School. He will defend his lightweight championship at the Key Arena on Dec. 8. Get your tickets early, as the last UFC event in March 2011 set a new attendance record. If you can’t make it, Fox is televising the fights nationally.
In other mixed martial arts world news, the UFC’s reality show, “The Ultimate Fighter,” is coming to India. The show is part-“Big Brother,” part-“American Idol” and stars aspiring MMA fighters competing to win a contract to fight in the UFC. No word on who the fighters will be, but it’s likely that the show will feature a bulk of Indian fighters.
The return of Pacquiao
Is UFC not the way you like watching people getting hit in the face? On the same night, Manny Pacquiao will have his much anticipated return to the ring after a controversial loss to Timothy Bradley. No word on Pacquiao’s opponent, although he is set to make an announcement on Sept. 18.
Jordan gives Cho keys to franchise
When we last saw Rich Cho, it was at the NBA draft this past June. Although the Charlotte Bobcats set a record for the lowest winning percentage in NBA history last year and had the best chance to get the number one pick in the NBA lottery, the Bobcats did something familiar, they lost. Cho looked stunned on television, as if the franchise could do nothing right. This year, Cho is set to steer the Bobcats to a respectable level. Or, at least, not another record-setting loss percentage.
The world’s best basketball player Michael Jordan may be the world’s worst general manager, in my opinion, because his player personnel decisions have been horrible. Because of this, Jordan has given the proverbial keys to the car to Cho. And Jordan is expecting that the Honda Civic he’s given Cho becomes a Bugatti Veyron, sooner rather than later. Essentially, Cho is expected to right the wrongs of the owner or else Cho may be taking the bus.
This is a high pressure situation, as he must turn around a franchise that’s only been to the playoffs once and has lost money year after year.
15-year-old wins LPGA event
Lydia Ko won the Canadian Women’s Open last month, becoming only the fifth amateur to win the event. More impressive is that she is only 15 years old. Ko, who was born in South Korea and now lives in New Zealand, won another professional event at the age of 14 this past January.
To commemorate Ko’s Canadian Women’s Championship, the golf glove she wore in the final round was sent to the World Golf Hall of Fame.
Earlier this summer, 14-year-old Andy Zhang played in the U.S. Open and now Ko wins the Canadian Women’s Open. It seems like parents are investing in golf lessons earlier nowadays.
A little older than Ko and Zhang, University of Washington sophomore-to-be Cheng-Tsung Pan is one to watch in collegiate golf. Pan, a native of Taiwan, is ranked 14th in the World Amateur Golf Rankings. Pan left Taiwan as a teen for Florida, so he could attend a prestigious golf academy. The training must have worked, as he is one of the top golfers for the Huskies, despite being one of the youngest on the team. Pan is also one of the smallest, at 5’6″ and 152 pounds.
Most recently, Pan had a good showing at the U.S. Amateur Championship in August.
It’s interesting to see so many Asians getting involved in golf at an early age. Could it be that many Asian parents are looking at their sons and daughters and thinking they could be the next golfing phenomenon?
Wang trying to land on his feet
Offensive Lineman Ed Wang became the first Chinese American to be drafted in the NFL draft when the Buffalo Bills picked him in the fifth round in 2010. Unfortunately, Wang was plagued by injuries with the Bills and was released after just six games. This past May, Wang was signed by the Oakland Raiders. He was able to play through the preseason, but was let go again by the Raiders after suffering another injury.
Hopefully Wang can catch on with another team after he recovers.
Nathan Adrian Day
Although the Olympics are already a distant memory, we should not forget Olympics swimmer Nathan Adrian, who swam well in London. The Bremerton native returned to his hometown in late August and celebrated Nathan Adrian Day. As part of the celebration, Adrian signed autographs and the city named a street after him — Nathan Adrian Drive. Adrian, whose mother is Chinese, won two golds and a silver in London. No word yet on whether Michael Phelps or Ryan Lochte also have streets named after them. (end)
Jason Cruz can be reached at email@example.com.