Press Association The Ger Lyons-trained winner was given a patient ride by Colin Keane on the rail in the Group Three contest, tracking the pace set by Stormfly and Steip Amach, but she looked to have it to do when Newsletter got first run and hit the front at the furlong pole. The latter went for home under Shane Foley, but Ainippe gave chase and found another gear to get up in the last few yards, scoring by half a length from her fellow 9-4 joint-favourite. Ainippe came out on top in a thrilling finish to the feature TRM Ballyogan Stakes at the Curragh. Lyons said: “I thought she was going to be an unlucky loser. She’s not big, but she’s all heart. She has plenty of speed and loved the good ground. We’ve always felt she will get seven furlongs. She’s a good, honest filly. “We took the view that we didn’t want to take on Anthem Alexander in the Lacken and I don’t think she’s good enough for the Commonwealth Cup. Hopefully we can find a Group Two for her. “That was the plan this year, to win a Group Three with her, and we’ll have to sit down and make a plan now for the rest of the year.” Postulation lunged late to take gold in the TRI Equestrian Silver Stakes at the Curragh. Pat Smullen’s mount had raced at the rear of the field for much of the journey in company with odds-on favourite Parish Hall, who improved on the outside with a quarter of a mile to run before leading approaching a furlong out. H e was followed by Postulation and as the pair battled it out it was Dermot Weld’s three-year-old (7-1) who took Listed honours by a neck. There was a minor moment of drama when Parish Hall looked like he attempted to bite the winning rider. Weld said: “Those were the tactics and it worked out well. It was a lovely ride by Pat, and his biggest worry was when the other horse moved towards him near the line! “He’s been a model of consistency and has never been out of the first three. That’s his ideal trip and, with that win under his belt, we might travel with him now.” Smullen added: “We had a plan going out to follow Kevin (Manning, on Parish Hall) all the way, have one go and thankfully it paid off. To be fair to my horse he stepped up. The boss said to take your time and have one go and sometimes it works out perfectly.” Rockaway Valley ran out a most impressive winner of the Irish Stallion Farms EBF Maiden. The Jessica Harrington-trained youngster had shown plenty of ability when second on his debut to Aidan O’Brien’s Air Force Blue in a race that is starting to work out very well, with the third Tonkinese having won on Friday night. Sent off as the 6-4 favourite, Shane Foley’s mount stretched readily clear through the final furlong, having four and a quarter lengths to spare over newcomer Juliette Fair. Harrington said: “He was good and came on a lot from his first run. Shane said he jumped well, always travelled and lengthened when he asked him. He went right away. He has plenty of fancy entries, and will probably come back here for the Railway Stakes. He’s also in the National Stakes. Good ground is perfect for him.” Eddie Lynam’s Fort Del Oro took the TRM Excellence In Equine Nutrition Maiden with some authority, having been s econd on her first run on much softer ground. Billy Lee’s mount travelled strongly and came between horses to lead with a furlong and a half to run, quickly going clear for a four-and-a-quarter-length success from the always prominent Creggs Pipe. Lynam said of the 7-4 favourite: “She did it well. We like her and think she might be good. She did that well today after a good first run. We’ll see what sort of a mark she gets and that will tell us where we are going. Dreaming aloud, she could be good.”
Even though Cormier no longer plans on retiring when he turns 40 next month, the current heavyweight champion isn’t going to stick around too much longer, which would clear a path for a healthy, active Velasquez to once again challenge for championship gold, but that’s getting ahead of ourselves.First, let’s see what he looks like this weekend against Ngannou and whether he can emerge with a clean bill of health.If he clears those two major hurdles, then we can start discussing whether 2019 is the year Cain Velasquez returns full-time to potentially fulfill his destiny as the greatest heavyweight in UFC history. Join DAZN and watch Paul Daley vs. Michael Page at Bellator 216 on Feb. 16Unfortunately, it’s a familiar position to be in when it comes to Velasquez, as the now 36-year-old heavyweight has spent far more time dealing with injuries and extended absences over the last half-decade than he has contending with actual opponents.Velasquez has fought just twice in the last five-plus years, as his triumphant return at UFC 200 came after a 13-month layoff following his submission loss to Fabricio Werdum at UFC 188 in Mexico City. That fight was preceded by a 20-month hiatus that started after he wrapped up his rubber match with Junior dos Santos in convincing fashion at UFC 166.It seems absurd even as I write it — going three fights back on Velasquez’s resume takes us all the way to October 2013, when Lorde burst onto the music scene with “Royals” and her debut album Pure Heroine and Gravity was enjoying another week atop the box office charts.To put it into perspective, the whole of Ngannou’s UFC career has transpired in the time since Velasquez’s loss to Werdum, with “The Predator” making nine appearances in the Octagon to the former champion’s one.Between the injuries and the layoffs, there is no way to know how Velasquez will look on Sunday because while he showed no signs of rust or decline when taking Browne to the woodshed at the UFC’s bicentennial show, that was still well over two years ago and not only is he that much older, but he’s also stepping in with one of the most dangerous threats in the division.But as Velasquez’s return draws closer, it’s impossible not to wonder what the landscape of the heavyweight division might look like had the ultra-talented former champion not lost so much time to injuries.A Dominant ForceBefore delving into what might have been, we first have to remember what we know to be true and that is that for a two-year, four-fight stretch between his losses to dos Santos and Werdum, Cain Velasquez was one of the most dominant forces to ever grace the heavyweight division.Velasquez was a new breed of heavyweights — a 240-pound attack dog with the skill set and conditioning of a lightweight. Sure, he could knock you out with a single clubbing blow like the majority of elite heavyweight competitors, but he could also bury you with volume, maintaining a ridiculous pace for a man his size, all the while threatening to dump you to the canvas and maul you from top position as he did Silva, twice.He was heralded as a something different when he arrived in the UFC with a first-round finish of Brad Morris at UFC 83 and validated his advanced billing by steamrolling the competition on the way to snatching the heavyweight title from Brock Lesnar in a one-sided beatdown that lasted four minutes and change at UFC 121.Even after losing the belt to dos Santos in November 2011, Velasquez returned to re-affirm his standing as the best heavyweight in the sport over the next two years. In twin fights with both Antonio “Bigfoot” Silva and dos Santos, the former Arizona State Sun Devil crippled the wills and stole the souls of the two Brazilians.Silva was never the same fighter following his second fight to Velasquez, which lasted just 81 seconds, while “Cigano” alternated wins and losses over his next four appearances, battling myriad injuries of his own. It wasn’t until the second half of this year that the former champion returned to looking like a potential title threat.Unfortunately for Velasquez, he would spend the better part of the next two years on the sidelines before losing the heavyweight title to Werdum, followed by another extended layoff before returning to beat Browne.Even then, despite all the time off, the numerous surgeries and various other injuries, Velasquez still looked like a force to be reckoned with in the heavyweight division.What Might Have BeenGiven that he’s never been anything other than a champion or elite contender over the last decade, let’s start by agreeing that had Velasquez remained healthy and active in the time since his title loss to Werdum at UFC 188, he would have remained in the championship conversation.His performance against Browne is the only evidence needed to support this assumption.That puts Velasquez competing against the likes of Werdum, Stipe Miocic, dos Santos, and Alistair Overeem, with the possibility of him facing newer additions to the contender class like Ngannou, Curtis Blaydes, Derrick Lewis or Alexander Volkov as well.His history with dos Santos plays a big part in trying to determine what the division may have looked like had Velasquez been active because while the possibility existed, as it does for every heavyweight and every fighter, that he could get caught with something that puts him down, the truth is that Velasquez would have been no worse than a coin flip against all of the top competitors in the division.A rematch with Werdum never materialized and would have been truly compelling, as the Brazilian’s submission skills would have given Velasquez pause when it comes to pursuing takedowns, especially given how their first encounter ended. That said, a healthy Velasquez was far quicker, far sharper and more of a finisher on the feet than Werdum, so meeting him in the center of the cage and turning it into a slugfest would have been a viable strategy.Overeem would have been the inverse of Werdum — a threat on the feet thanks to his assorted weapons, quickness and power, but could he had prevented Velasquez from bullying him the way he did dos Santos in their second and third meetings? It would have been an interesting pairing, but chances are bettors would install Velasquez as a clear favorite.The most intriguing matchup of the bunch is a potential pairing with Miocic, who took over as the division’s well-rounded cardio freak in Velasquez’s stead and possesses the talents and intangibles to match the former titleholder shot-for-shot. In another lifetime, they could have been what the UFC envisioned Velasquez and dos Santos being — the well-matched rivals who pushed it each other to new heights, trading the title back-and-forth in a series of massive pay-per-view main events.As for the new crop of contenders, the results of some of their most recent outings illustrate how hypothetical encounters with Velasquez would have most likely played out.Against Ngannou and Lewis, he replicates the tactics deployed by Miocic and Daniel Cormier, respectively, wrestling each to the canvas and working them over where they’re least comfortable. The same goes for Volkov, who struggled in a clinch-heavy contest with Timothy Johnson. While Blaydes has the wrestling pedigree to potentially stop an onslaught of takedowns, he’s still too hittable to hang with powerful heavyweights on the feet, so a slightly less violent, less rapid replica of his losses to Ngannou serves as a pretty sound template for the approach Velasquez would take.The Daniel Cormier RippleThe most interesting part of a hypothetical “What if Cain stayed healthy?” thought exercise is trying to figure out what becomes of his close friend and training partner Daniel Cormier?“DC” famously departed the heavyweight division in order to stay out of Velasquez’s lane, despite being 13-0 and looking like a mortal lock to eventually challenge for the heavyweight title. With Cain out of the picture, Cormier made the move back to heavyweight last year for a superfight with Miocic, claiming the heavyweight title and successfully defending it against Lewis at UFC 230 in New York City.Now as Velasquez prepares to return, Cormier is once again serving as his biggest cheerleader, telling anyone who will listen that Velasquez is the same fast, strong marauder that once dominated the division.But had he not been limited to just one appearance since losing the belt to Werdum, Cormier’s current situation likely never would have come to pass.Maybe they would have sat down and talked about Cormier returning to the division, depending on whether or not Velasquez had the title and the results he had against the other top contenders, but a healthy Velasquez being in the thick of the title chase or reclaiming the throne probably results in Cormier staying at light heavyweight and never becoming the “Double Champ.”Current Legacy and What’s Still to ComeRight now, Velasquez is the Bill Walton of UFC heavyweights — a dominant force, but someone whose brilliant career was beset by injuries and ultimately cut short.He’s a two-time champion with victories over divisional stalwarts like Cheick Kongo, Ben Rothwell, and “Bigfoot” Silva, as well as former champions “Minotauro” Nogueira, Brock Lesnar and Junior dos Santos. He was the prototype for a new wave of heavyweights — a little smaller with well-rounded striking, excellent wrestling, smooth footwork and elite conditioning. He was a nightmare matchup who could beat you in numerous ways and whose only career losses came in championship fights where he was dealing with injuries.Although it’s impossible to say for sure what the heavyweight division might have looked like had Velasquez remained healthy, his return this weekend against Ngannou is an obvious peak into what might have been.Despite returning from a 952-day layoff, Velasquez is nearly a 2-1 favorite heading into Sunday’s main event and a victory over Ngannou, who rebounded from poor showings against Miocic and Lewis with a 45-second knockout win in November, would put him right back into the thick of the title conversation. 952 days — that’s how long it will have been since Cain Velasquez last set foot inside the UFC Octagon by the time he marches to the cage to face Francis Ngannou on Sunday night in Phoenix, Arizona.Two years, six months and 16 days will have passed since the former heavyweight champion collected a first-round stoppage win over Travis Browne at UFC 200 and as he readies to return, there is absolutely no way to know with any certainty what to expect from the American Kickboxing Academy product.
MASON CITY — The Cerro Gordo County Board of Supervisors at their meeting Tuesday morning will consider pay raises for the next fiscal year for all the county’s elected officials except for themselves.The county’s Compensation Board back on December 10th recommended two-and-three-quarter percent increases in the salaries of the county’s attorney, auditor, recorder, sheriff and treasurer, as well as the three county supervisors for the county’s fiscal year that starts on July 1st.According to a copy of the resolution prepared for tomorrow’s meeting, the supervisors will accept the Compensation Board’s recommendations for all other elected officials but will freeze their salary at $52,460 for Fiscal Year 2019.By law, the supervisors are not allowed to approve anything higher than the board’s recommendation, but they can freeze or cut their own pay.The supervisors decided to freeze their own pay for the current fiscal year. The supervisors meet at 10 o’clock tomorrow morning in the board room on the first floor of the courthouse.