Cage Warriors 68: Wallhead vs. Roberts Preview

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Saturday 3rd May
Echo Area, Liverpool

Simply put, this is most likely going to be the best & biggest single UKMMA card of the year (discounting CWFC’s teased Super Saturday dual card…)

That’s not hyperbole, just look at the fights!

The headliner sees CWFC veteran ‘Judo’ Jim Wallhead (25-8) return after a spell alternating between Bellator and BAMMA and is indisputably one of England’s top welterweights not contracted to the UFC, while across the cage we have in-form hometown boy Danny ‘Hot Chocolate’ Roberts (10-1) who is riding a four fight win streak.

Both men are in clear contention for the Welterweight belt now held by Nicolas Dalby and should provide a heated and competitive climax to the evening’s fights.

Experience is clearly on Wallhead’s side, but Roberts has the greater momentum and such advantage as comes from fighting with the crowd in your corner.

With both fighters being finishers (72% for Wallhead, 80% for Roberts) capable of ending a fight on the feet and each in possession of some excellent grappling skills this is sure to be a great fight to watch.

Backing up that main event we have exciting and accomplished English fighters Ronnie Mann (23-6-1) and Matt Inman (13-5) facing international opposition in Marcelo Costa (8-2-1) and Mauro Chimento Jr (15-10) respectively.

Not enough? OK, how about a middleweight contest between ex-UFC fighter Che Mills (15-7) and the popular Leeroy Barnes (12-13, 1NC) both looking to break losing streaks?

The undercard also features Dinky Ninja’s John Cullen (17-8-2) and Dean Reilly*(6-5) so we’ve got more than a little local interest in the event as well.

*Sadly Dean’s match was cancelled due to his opponent pulling out due to injury. 😦

It’s a cracking card and we can’t wait for Saturday.

Viewing Details:

LIVE STREAMING

MMAjunkie.com | USA and Canada only
http://www.IrishMMA.tv | Ireland only
Viaplay | Scandinavia only
CageWarriors.tv | Rest of the world

LIVE TV

Premier Sports | United Kingdom
Setanta Sports 1 | Ireland
TV 10 | Sweden
Fight Now TV | USA
The Fight Network | Canada, Portugal, Belgium, Turkey, Middle East
Fight Klub | Poland
Setanta Action | Africa
ESPN | Caribbean, Latin America, Pacific Rim

MAIN CARD | 9pm BST local time (4pm ET, 1pm PT)

Danny Roberts vs. Jimmy Wallhead
Marcelo Costa vs. Ronnie Mann
Mauro Chimento vs. Matt Inman
Steve Dinsdale vs. Matt Hallam
Leeroy Barnes vs. Che Mills
John Cullen vs. Dean Garnett

FACEBOOK PRELIMS | 7.50pm BST local time (2.50pm ET/11.50am PT)

Conrad Hayes vs. Paddy Pimblett
Dez Parker vs. Charlie Watts
Ant Phillips vs. Adam Ventre

UNAIRED PRELIM | 7.30pm BST local time

Ellis Hampson vs. Azi Thomas

KUMITE European MMA Rankings, April 2014

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Sorry I’m a bit late with the rankings this month, been busy. Anyways it’s been an active month with movement in every division and a few big changes based on fighters being removed due to inactivity or bans. Check it out…

Heavyweight

1- Alistair Overeem (Holland) 37-13 UFC
2- Vitaly Minakov (Russia) 14-0, Bellator def. Cheick Kongo 4/4
3- Andrei Arlovski (Belarus) 21-10, UFC
4- Stefan Struve (Netherlands) 25-6 UFC
5- Cheick Kongo (France) 20-8-2 Bellator lost to Vitaly MInakiv 4/4
6- Alexander Volkov (Russia) 21-4 Bellator def. Siala-Mo Siliga 11/4 UP 1
7- Damian Grabowski (Poland) 19-1 M-1 DOWN 1
8- Sergei Kharitonov (Russia) 22-6 IND
9- Alexey Oleinik (Ukraine) 53-9-1 IND
10- Marcin Tybura (Poland) 10-0 M-1 def. Maro Perak 4/4 UNRANKED

Light Heavyweight

1- Alexander Gustafsson (Sweden) 15-2, UFC
2- Jimi Manuwa (England) 14-1, UFC
3- Attila Vegh (Slovakia) 29-5-2, Bellator
4- Mikhail Zayats (Russia) 22-8, Bellator
5- Ilir Latifi (Sweden) 7-3 UFC
6- Jan Blachowicz (Poland) 17-3, KSW
7- Linton Vassell (England) 12-3, Bellator
8- Stephan Puetz (Germany) 9-1 M-1
9- Maxim Grishin (Russia) 17-6 IND
10- Mikkel Parlo (Denmark) 12-2 def. Johnny Cisneros 4/4 UNRANKED

Middleweight

1- Alexander Shlemenko (Russia) 50-7 Bellator UP 1
2- Michael Bisping (England) 24-5, UFC lost to Tim Kennedy 16/4 DOWN 1
3- Mamed Khalidov (Poland) 28-4-2, KSW
4- Gegard Mousasi (Armenia) 34-4-2 UFC
5- Frances Carmont (France) 22-8, UFC
6– Luke Barnatt (England) 7-0 UFC
7- Michal Materla (Poland) 20-4 KSW
8– Vyacheslav Vasilevsky (Russia) 23-2 M-1
9- Tom Watson (England) 16-6 UFC
10- Sultan Aliev (Russia) 11-2 IND NR

Welterweight

1- Tarec Saffiedine (Belgium) 15-3, UFC
2- Gunnar Nelson (Iceland) 11-0-1, UFC
3- Cathal Pendred (Ireland) 13-2-1, Cage Warriors
4- Nicholas Musoke (Sweden) 12-2 UFC
5- Adlan Amagov (Russia) 13-2-1, UFC
6- Gael Grimaud (France) 19-6, Cage Warriors
7- Nicolas Dalby (Denmark) 12-0 Cage Warriors
8– Paul Daley (England) 34-12-2 BAMMA
9– Andrey Koreshokov (Russia) 15-1 Bellator
10- Karl Amoussou (France) 17-6-2 Bellator def. David Gomez 18/4 UNRANKED

Lightweight

1- Khabib Nurmagomedov (Russia) 22-0, UFC def. Rafael dos Anjos 19/4
2- Rustam Khabilov (Russia) 17-1, UFC
3- Alexander Sarnavskiy (Russia) 26-2 IND
4- Ross Pearson (England) 15-6, UFC
5 – Marcin Held (Poland) 18-3 Bellator def. Derek Anderson 18/4 UP 5 
6- Ivan Buchinger (Slovakia) 26-4 M-1 def. Sergey Golyaev 4/4 UP 2
7- Musa Khamanaev (Russia) 13-3, M-1 DOWN 2
8- Norman Parke (Northern Ireland) 19-2-1 UFC DOWN 2
9- Piotr Hallmann (Poland) 14-2 UFC DOWN 1
10- Mansour Barnaoui (France) 11-2 BAMMA DOWN 1

Featherweight

1- Magomedrasul Khasbulaev (Russia) 21-5, Bellator def. Mike Richman 4/4 UP 2
2- Conor McGregor (Ireland) 14-2, 10-1 UFC
3- Tom Niinimaki (Finland) 21-5-1 UFC
4- Marat Gafurov (Ukraine) 9-0 M-1 NR def. Lee Morrison 4/4 UNRANKED
5- Shabulat Shamhalaev (Russia) 12-2-1, Bellator
6- Daniel Weichel (Germany) 33-8, Bellator
7- Joni Salovaara (Finland) 14-7 IND
8- Sergei Greicho (Lithuania) 15-5-1 OC
9- Niklas Backstrom (Sweden) 7-0 IND
10- Robert Whiteford (Scotland) 11-2 UFC

* Dennis Siver removed from rankings due to PED ban.

Bantamweight

1- Vaughan Lee (England) 14-9-1 UFC
2- Brett Johns (Wales) 10-0, Cage Warriors © def. James Brum 12/4
3- Ronnie Mann (England) 23-6-1 Cage Warriors UP 1
4- Cory Tait (England) 8-2 Cage Warriors UP 1
5- Timo-Juhan Hirvikangas (Finland) 8-2 Cage FC def. Tymoteusz Swiatek 5/4 UP 1
6- James Brum (England) 14-2, Cage Warriors lost to Brett Johns 12/4 DOWN 3
7- Sirwan Kakai (sweden) 9-2, IND UP 1
8- David Haggstrom (Sweden) 7-2-1 IND UP 1
9- Toni Tauru (Finland) 9-1-1 Cage Warriors UP 1
10- Magomed Biboulatov (France) 5-0 IND UNRANKED

* Martin McDonough now a Flyweight

Flyweight

1- Ali Bagautinov (Russia) 13-2 UFC
2- Brad Pickett (England) 24-8 UFC
3- Pietro Menga (England) 11-0 FCC ©
4- Marcin Lasota (Poland) 8-0 Cage Warriors
5- Neil Seery (Ireland) 13-10 UFC
6- Shaj Haque (England) 4-1 Cage Warriors def. Martin McDonough 12/4 UP 1
6- Mikael Silander (Finland) 10-3 The Cage def. Daniel Barez 5/4
7- Rany Saadeh (Germany) 6-1 BAMMA def. Mahmood Besharate 5/4 UNRANKED
8- Kairat Akhmetov (Kazakhstan) IND UNRANKED
9- Kevin Petshi (France) 5-0 IND def. Victor Balica 4/4
10- Phil Harris (England) 22-12 Cage Warriors DOWN 2

Women’s P4P

(Due to the less developed state of Women’s MMA we’re ranking our top ten female fighters from across the weight classes – we hope to expand this section in future.)

1- Joanne Calderwood (Scotland) 8-0 Invicta FC
2 – Marloes Coenen (Netherlands) 21-6 Invicta FC
3 – Katja Kankaanpaa (Finland) 8-1-1 Invicta FC
4- Rosi Sexton (England) 13-4 IND
5- Aisling Daly (Ireland) 12-5 Cage Warriors
6- Milana Dudieva (Russia) 8-3 ProFC
7- Maria Hoegaard Djursa (Denmark) 5-4 IND
8- Shiela Gaff (Germany) 10-6-1 UFC
9- Agnieszka Niedzwiedz (Poland) 6-0 Cage Warriors def. Gemma Hewitt 12/4 UNRANKED
10- Pannie Kianzad (Sweden) 4-0 IND DOWN 1

 

 

Cage Warriors 67: Johns vs. Brum Preview

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Sat, 12 Apr 2014
Swansea, Wales
The LC Arena

In the middle of an ambitious run, Cage Warriors return to British soil tomorrow with a solid card topped by an insanely compelling main event.

That headline match sees hometown boy Brett ‘the Pikey’ Johns (9-0) make the first defence of his Bantamweight title against James ‘Job Done’ Brum (14-2).

Johns won the title back in September, defeating David Haggstrom and plucky alternate Jordan Deesborough in the final to lift the belt after the winner if the other semi final, James Pennington was injured.

Undefeated, well rounded, with cardio to burn and still only 22 years old, the possibilities for Johns career at this point are infinite.

However, this first defence comes against one of the most consistent, entertaining and dominant Bantamweights in the world.

In the 2 1/2 years since his decision loss to Erik Perez (who’s gone 5-1 since, with four UFC victories to his name), Brum has amassed an eight fight win streak including victories over Martin McDonough, James Saville and Olivier Pastor and was Cage Warriors’ fighter of the year for 2012.

Long considered the uncrowned champion by many, Brum now faces the younger belt holder to see who really belongs on top of the mountain. It’s gonna be epic.

My plus one pick has to be the flyweight encounter between Martin ‘Mr Pink’ McDonough (11-4) and Shaj Haque (4-1).

McDonough drops from bantamweight on the back of a five fight streak of submission victories and only missed out on a place in the tournament that crowned Johns as champion through injury.

Haque, despite his relative inexperience is one of the best flyweights in Europe, ranked #7 by us and #14 by FightMatrix and given that he has always gone the distance in his fights, while McDonough has only won by stoppage means something has to give.

With Neil Seery off to the UFC and the likes of Phil Harris and Marcin Lasota appearing in Cage Warriors, both fighters will be looking to impress and put down a marker for the vacant title.

With bouts of such significance at the top of the bill and an undercard full of interesting bouts, this event should continue Cage Warriors awesome run. Get it watched.

MAIN CARD | 9pm local time BST (4pm ET/1pm PT)

Brett Johns (c) vs. James Brum – CWFC bantamweight title bout
Sean Carter vs. Mario Saeed
Shaj Haque vs. Martin McDonough
Jamie Pritchard vs. Phil Raeburn
Gemma Hewitt vs. Agnieszka Niedzwiedz
Simas Norkus vs. Stu Tyrie

UNAIRED PRELIM | 7.30pm local time BST

Mark Handley vs. Paul Rogers

BROADCAST DETAILS

LIVE STREAMING

MMAjunkie.com | USA and Canada only
http://www.IrishMMA.tv | Ireland only
Viaplay | Scandinavia only
CageWarriors.tv | Rest of the world

LIVE TV

Fight Now TV | USA, Carribbean
The Fight Network | Canada, Middle East
TV 10 | Sweden
Viasat | Norway
Fight Klub | Poland
Setanta Action | Africa
ESPN International | Latin America, Pacific Rim

#Menga4UFC

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Over the past week, since Pietro ‘Pitbull’ Menga extended his unbeaten record to 11-0 with a win over Sotir Kichukov at FCC9, I’ve seen the hashtag #Menga4UFC pop up a lot on my Twitter feed.

Before we go any further, check out the match…

Ranked 31st in the world and 3rd in Europe on Fightmatrix, few can argue against Menga’s worthiness for a crack at the brightest lights, but aside from continuing to decimate all comers in the North West of England, what can Menga do to expedite his progression to the world stage.

Without intending any disrespect to Full Contact Contender who are a fantastic promotion, if a UFC call isn’t immediately forthcoming I believe Menga should sign for Cage Warriors.

‘Pitbull’ would immediately be amongst the top contenders for the Flyweight title vacated by Neil Seery and successful outings against the likes of Paul Marin, Mikael Silander or Shaj Haque on the well respected and internationally broadcast show, especially when combined with his record and dedicated fan base in the north west could raise his stock enough to get a UFC call sooner rather than later.

To be honest, if I was in Sean Shelby’s shoes I’d have signed Menga up already, the UFC’s Flyweight division is shallow as it is and Menga is already at least as good as half the guys they have under contract in the weight class and would give the rest a damn good fight.

He’d be a really good fit for the upcoming Dublin card in July, but if that doesn’t materialise then a winning run in Cage Warriors should make him a lock for the early 2015 London card.

The Good, The Bad & the Ugly: UFC London Edition

You know how this works by now…

The Good:

The action throughout was of a high quality but the undoubted high points have to be the standout performances by Alexander Gustafsson and Gunnar Nelson, with the compelling bouts between Pickett/Seery and da Silva/Scott and big wins for Ilir Latifi, Luke Barnatt and Louis Gaudinot.

The new announce team of John Gooden and Dan Hardy did a fine job, offering informative and engaging commentary while not stepping on the action or indulging in self aggrandisation – a rare and special feat in terms of MMA announcing it seems.

A lot of UK cards have felt a tad second rate in the past, headed by bouts that wouldn’t make the main card of a US show but that criticism simply cannot be aimed here. Two number one contenders were decided and some other fighters took big steps towards the top echelons of the divisions.

Even the late replacements to the card were significant with Neil Seery proving a great test for Brad Pickett and really showing his quality (Dana White was vocally impressed, for one thing) while Michael Johnson added to his win streak with plenty to spare against Melvin Guillard.

The Bad:

A strangely lacklustre co-main event where some promising trash talk resulted in a tepid match with long periods of reluctance to engage interspersed with burst of compelling action was a bit disappointing.

Indeed, I don’t recall another match that had several near knockdowns that proved so unsatisfying and unmemorable.

The new EMEA ring announcer (who’s name I’ve forgotten already) wasn’t convincing and I can totally understand the criticism of some US commentators feeling that his delivery made the show seem like a regional level event. Do we not have anyone in the UK who won’t fluff the information given on their cue cards and doesn’t make their ring announcing sound like a pro wrestling bout in a working men’s social club, circa 1982?

In truth, it wasn’t a great night for British fighters as they went 1-4 on the card, with only Luke Barnatt really adding to his stock (I’m not counting Pickett vs. Seery here as it was pretty much a derby fight) but Brad Scott can feel aggrieved at losing the decision in his fight and Manuwa and Mitchell both showed plenty of skills and entertainment value.

The Ugly – this week retitled, The Funny:

Towards the end of the Igor Araujo vs. Danny Mitchell match, the two fighters were locked in a mutual leg lock and with time winding down, they flailed at each other like (admittedly large and strong) toddlers fighting over who gets to play with the toy bricks.

Totally understandable in the circumstances, but visually hysterical nonetheless.

Disclaimer: We watched the whole show on Fight Pass / BT Sport, so didn’t have first hand experience of the Channel 5 offering of the top fights, but by all accounts their broadcast was embarrassingly bad which shouldn’t surprise anyone who witnessed their half assed attempts on BAMMA shows.

If we’d had the UFC chequebook we would have given bonuses to…

Fight of The Night:

It had to be Pickett vs. Seery for sheer competitiveness, quality and variety of action and a sense that the fight mattered. While not quite the OMG spectacle I had built the fight up to be, it still had a bit if everything and I can’t criticise Brad Pickett for doing the sensible thing and taking Seery down to ensure what was a vital win for him.

Performance of the Night #1:

Alexander Gustafsson, who waited till he had Jimi Manuwa’s measure and then ended his undefeated streak almost at will, choosing to turn up the heat midway through the second round and quickly dropping the powerful Englishman. This was exactly the result Gustafsson needed following his razor thin loss to Jon Jones and he is back as #1 contender once again.

Performance of the Night #2:

Gunnar Nelson for handling the very dangerous Omari Akhmedov with his characteristically unhurried style. Nelson has never been one to rush things or look particularly stressed by a situation, but his calm demeanour through the early striking exchanges and his supremely smooth jiujitsu towards the end made a worthy opponent look like a beginner at Mjollnir MMA that Nelson was demonstrating techniques to.

Surely a top ten opponent for Gunnar next, maybe Mike Pyle or the winner of Matt Brown vs. Erick Silva?

Notable mentions go to Ilir Latifi for a good performance and brutal neck crank submission win, Luke Barnatt for a big KO over a very underrated Mats Nilsson and Louis Gaudinot for his party pooper early sub of Phil Harris.

MAIN CARD

Alexander Gustafsson def. Jimi Manuwa via TKO (knee and punches) – Round 2, 1:18
Michael Johnson def. Melvin Guillard via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28) – Round 3, 5:00
Brad Pickett def. Neil Seery via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28) – Round 3, 5:00
Gunnar Nelson def. Omari Akhmedov via submission (guillotine) – Round 1, 4:36

PRELIMINARY CARD

Ilir Latifi def. Cyrille Diabate def. submission (neck crank) – Round 1, 3:02
Luke Barnatt def. Mats Nilsson def. TKO (strikes) – Round 1, 4:24
Claudio Henrique da Silva def. Brad Scott def. unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28) – Round 3, 5:00
Igor Araujo def. Danny Mitchell def. unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27) – Round 3, 5:00
Louis Gaudinot def. Phil Harris def. submission (guillotine) – Round 1, 1:13

Conflicted Loyalties – One Punch, or 2 Tap?

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Usually, I know exactly who I’m backing in a fight.  Sometimes it’s an easy question with an exciting, likeable fighter from a nation I hold an affinity to facing off against a dull, dislikeable fighter from a nation I don’t but sometimes the equation is more balanced.

Sometimes there will be a fighter who’s style I like but who’s personality I don’t against a polar opposite, a fighter who I might favour for geographic reasons against one who’s style I like better or any sort of combination of factors.

As a rule I favour fighters in the following order of nationality – Scottish, Irish/Welsh, English/Scandinavian, European, Asian, Brazilian, North American – this often has as much to do with underdog status as anything else and can be completely thrown out if I’m a big fan (or not) of the fighter’s personality, skills or style.

Basically, if I’m backing you purely because of your nationality, it’s because I have no strong feelings about you apart from that, which is not a good thing.

However, never have I been as on-the-fence as I am for tonight’s bout between Brad ‘One Punch’ Pickett and Neil ‘2 Tap’ Seery.

I’m a huge fan of both fighters, for their personality, fighting style and the fact that they are both from a similar part of the world to me*.

* I hesitate to say ‘British’ as Seery and most Irish fans wouldn’t like the designation, even if it’s intended as more a geographical than political term, to be used in similar terms to ‘Scandinavian’ – the fact that I am a Scot in favour of Scottish independence, yet quite happy to also self-identify as part of a cultural ‘British’ diaspora (drinking tea, speaking English as a first language etc.) seems to confuse and threaten a lot of people.  Is a desire for self-determination without racism really so hard to understand?

Under normal circumstances, I would pull for Ireland over England (well, I do when they meet in the 6 Nations, it’s a gaelic thing) and the underdog over the established star, but I can’t bring myself to cheer against Pickett, because I like him and my team sports tendency for ‘anyone but England*’ doesn’t extend to MMA, it seems.

* which again, stems more from sheer annoyance at the English sports media and the fact that they are sort of the big dogs around these parts.  

So, I’ll do the sensible thing.  I’ll sit back, watch the match and enjoy the performance of two martial artists that I have massive respect for, cheering and applauding both men.

In a lot of ways, this is something that I love about MMA – it cuts through a lot of the more insidious prejudices that are commonly associated with team sports and at the end of the day, you tend to like or dislike a fighter based on their personality and performances, rather than their country of birth.

Sure, nationality can be a starting point before you get to know the fighter, but it all too quickly becomes a secondary concern for most fans and that’s a really good thing.

Either way, I think this is a lock for our fight of the night and I can’t wait…

Probably The Worst UFC London Preview In The World

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I’m enjoying the build up to this card too much to overanalyse everything so here goes…

This card is stacked with fun fights, but I’m particularly looking forward to the headliner between Alexander Gustafsson & Jimi Manuwa as two European fighters with a penchant for intense striking battles face off with the promise of a title shot on the table. What’s not to love about that?

That said, my pick for fight of the night is the Flyweight contest between Brad Pickett and Neil Seery – two reliably entertaining fighters with a few built in story lines for added value (Pickett’s hunt for a title shot, Seery’s ‘Rocky’ story and the whole England vs. Ireland thing) facing off in a guaranteed barnburner.

Throw in UFC debuts for Danny Mitchell and Mats Nilsson, the fact that every single match (bar the co-main event) will have a an impact on our European rankings and I can’t see any way that Michael Johnson vs. Melvin Guillard and Omar Akhmedov vs. Gunnar Nelson will be dull matches.

I’m also excited to see how the box fresh commentary team of John Gooden and Dan Hardy get on. Gooden has long been one of my favourite announcers and Hardy is easily one of the most engaging figures in MMA, so they should be an excellent partnership.

Our live tweeting will be done from a party (UFC at a civilised hour is a good excuse to gather friends and have a few beverages, no?) and may well include photos and videos of our own merry-making chaos as well as insight on the fights themselves.

We’re gonna have a great night, and we think everyone who attends or tunes in will as well.

Card Information

UFC Fight Night 38: Gustafsson vs. Manuwa
March 8, 2014 | O2 Arena | London, England

MAIN CARD
BT Sport 8 p.m. GMT / UFC Fight Pass, 3 p.m. ET
Channel 5 from 9.45 p.m. GMT for the co-headliners and highlights.

Alexander Gustafsson vs. Jimi Manuwa
Melvin Guillard vs. Michael Johnson
Brad Pickett vs. Neil Seery
Omari Akhmedov vs. Gunnar Nelson

PRELIMINARY CARD
UFC Fight Pass, 12:30 p.m. ET / 5:30 p.m GMT

Cyrille Diabate vs. Ilir Latifi
Luke Barnatt vs. Mats Nilsson
Brad Scott vs. Claudio Henrique da Silva
Roland Delorme vs. Davey Grant
Igor Araujo vs. Danny Mitchell
Louis Gaudinot vs. Phil Harris