UFC: Zabit Magomedsharipov Confirms Long Awaited Yair Rodriguez Fight

Zabit Magomedsharipov, UFC

Zabit Magomedsharipov versus Yair Rodriguez is one of those fights that just seemed like it was never going to happen. There were talks about it since 2018 but a number of things came up that made it seem less and less likely as time went on.

First, it seemed like Rodriguez was out of the UFC after declining the fight. Then, he was back. And then injury kept the fight from happening at UFC 228. There’s been a lot of events since then and this matchup probably moved to the back of a lot of people’s minds.

However, it’s finally happening, as Magomedsharipov confirmed on Instagram by sharing the official fight poster.

The fight announcement we’ve all been waiting for

The caption that Zabit wrote on the post is pretty fitting and describes the whole situation.

“Two years later, on the third attempt, this fight will still take place,” he said.

It’s one of the most exciting fights that fans could ask for, as Rodriguez and Zabit are both in the conversation for the top rising fighter in their division. Zabit is undefeated in the UFC with only one loss overall while Rodriguez has an unconventional fighting style and never puts on a boring performance.

Based on how long everyone has been waiting for this one, it’s safe to say this will be the main event of the upcoming Fight Night 176 card on August 29th. The event is set to happen from the UFC Apex facility. Some of the other fighters on the card include Anthony Smith, Ricardo Lamas, and promising light heavyweight Aleksandr Rakic.

But let’s be real. After waiting a couple of years for this fight, it’s probably the one we’re all looking forward to on this card.

New York Liberty show fight sans Sabrina Ionescu, Kia Nurse (Highlights)

sabrina ionescu, New York Liberty

The New York Liberty were missing two of their star attractions on Friday night, but still took the Atlanta Dream to the brink.

The New York Liberty lost two of their star attractions to injury on Friday night, but still managed to give the Atlanta Dream all they could handle.

Rookie Jazmine Jones led the Liberty with 20 points off the bench after fellow first-year and top overall pick Sabrina Ionescu was lost to an ankle injury in Friday’s tilt against the Atlanta Dream in the bubble at IMG Academy. Atlanta eventually prevailed by an 84-78 final, but the Liberty’s valiant effort without Ionescu and Kia Nurse was encouraging after a one-sided defeat to Dallas on Wednesday.

“We battled most of the game,” head coach Walt Hopkins said in a postgame Zoom conference. “The way that we fought pretty much across the board with our team was impressive and exciting. We responded to the things that we talked about and the things that we worked on. It was good.”

Ionescu, coming off a 33-point showing, rolled her ankle in transition midway through the second quarter. She was helped off the court by a trainer and teammate Leaonna Odom and was and did not return to the game. Hopkins said that Ionescu was likely taken to a local hospital for x-rays, which revealed no fracture and came back negative according to Shams Charania of ESPN. She had 10 points on 4-of-5 shooting prior to her forced departure.

Nurse missed the first game of her three-year WNBA career, suffering an ankle sprain of her own in the Liberty’s opening game last weekend.

Friday presented a roller-coaster affair for the Liberty (0-3) who found themselves trailing 12-0 at the midway stage of the opening frame. The scoring efforts of Ionescu and Kylee Shook allowed the Liberty to trim the lead to 22-16 and even took the lead early on in the second thanks to the efforts of an all-rookie lineup. When Ionescu went down, Jones and Layshia Clarendon, a rare New York veteran, helped keep the Liberty in the game.

The rookie Jones, chosen with the final pick of the first round out of Louisville, added two blocks and two steals to her infantile career-best in scoring.

“We have a mindset, all the rookies especially, that when we get in the game, just run up and down the court, be relentless, be tough,” Jones said. “We’re very talented from top to bottom. In our heads, we feel like we have the better bench per say, because we have a lot of rookies that can play multiple positions. It’s just fun that we have this kind of team, that the coaches can put us in different kind of alignments to be successful.”

Atlanta (2-1) threatened to pull away again in the third quarter, again going on an early run and holding the Liberty scoreless for over the first five minutes. Their lead summited at 14 points, but the Liberty once again made things close. New York whittled the lead all the way down to three in the penultimate minute of the game, but the Dream was able to finally hold them off. Rutgers alumna Betnijah Laney tallied a career-best 30 points while Elizabeth Williams had a double-double (15 points, 10 rebounds). April’s fourth overall pick Chennedy Carter fouled out but tallied 17 points.

Clarendon reached double-figures for the third straight game with 16 points, while rookie Layshia Clarendon earned 14 in defeat.

The Liberty and Dream will square off again on September 3.

New York will wrap up a stretch of three games in five days on Sunday afternoon when they battle the Phoenix Mercury (1 p.m. ET, ESPN).

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags

New York Mets: d’Arnaud Burns His Former Team in 11-10 Loss

New York Mets, Luis Rojas

Just as once Brodie Van Wagenen move blows up in their face, another comes back to haunt him as Travis d’Arnaud burns the New York Mets as his three-run double and five total RBIs helped the Atlanta Braves come back in an 11-10 Mets loss. For another night, the Mets could not get the big hit they needed as Wilson Ramos struck out with the tying run on second to end the game.

Van Wagenen designated d’Arnaud for assignment way too early in 2019, and it continues to blow up in their face. The Mets bullpen was supposed to be a strength for them, but it is clear they have significant issues to address there. Every reliever they turned to allowed a run, and Dellin Betances and Seth Lugo hurt them the most. Both of them did their best Edwin Diaz impression; they combined for a five-run outing to prevent the Mets from winning once again.

At this point in the season, Jeurys Familia and Drew Smith are the only relievers to pitch with any consistency. It would not be a surprise if Familia got the next opportunity to close for the Mets.

Don’t Forget About Porcello

Rick Porcello is partly responsible for the problem as his four-inning, four-run outing forced manager Luis Rojas to turn to the bullpen early. After the Mets took an 8-2 lead, the bullpen began to falter. The loss is their third straight and drops them to 3-5 on the season.

The Mets offense was not the problem as they scored ten times and homered three times. J.D. Davis, Robinson Cano, and Amed Rosario were responsible for the Mets’ longballs. Cano’s latest hot streak moved him to a .360 average on the season. Andres Gimenez also had an impressive offensive game, providing two hits and great defense at third base.

The Mets hope to break their three-game losing streak as Michael Wacha makes his second start of the season. The Saturday night matchup starts at 7:10 p.m. will be opposed by Touki Toussaint.

New York Yankees lose significant bullpen arm to Tommy John surgery

New York Yankees, Tommy Kahnle

The New York Yankees might have beaten the Boston Red Sox on Friday evening 5-1, but they lost a significant arm in Tommy Kahnle to Tommy John surgery. Kahnle, who pitched against the Baltimore Orioles several days ago, felt discomfort in his elbow during training which lead to the Yankees placing him on the 10-day injured list.

After the team’s victory over Boston, manager Aaron Boone stated that Kahnle was likely headed for surgery, which would force him out for the remainder of the 2020 campaign and possibly training camp in 2021.

Kahnle is a significant piece in the Yankees’ bullpen, and losing him could force the team to consider a younger option to fill his spot. In 2019, Tommy earned a 3.67 ERA with 88 strikeouts over 61.1 innings. The Bombers have several arms who can pick up more of the load in the meantime, but losing him will be a significant blow toward the bullpen.

I expect Jonathan Loaisiga, Adam Ottavino, Luis Avilan, Chad Green, David Hale, and others to supplement Kanhle’s departure.

WATCH: Yankees’ Aaron Judge launched two-run homer to pull ahead of Red Sox

New York Yankees, Aaron Judge

In the first series against the Boston Red Sox of the 2020 season, the New York Yankees fell behind early 1-0. However, slugger Aaron Judge couldn’t let the Red Sox take an extended lead, hitting a two-run home run to put the Yankees ahead going into the fourth inning.

Judge’s home run came after an impressive defensive play, where he caught a fly ball and threw out a runner trying to tag from first base.

So far this season, Judge is hitting .263 with three home runs and eight RBIs.

UFC: Conor McGregor to box Manny Pacquiao?

Conor McGregor, UFC

The UFC‘s Conor McGregor sure has a way of stirring up the MMA fans. After announcing his retirement earlier this year, the Notorious one cryptically tweeted, “I accept,” yesterday.

Many people assumed that he was saying that he was accepting a callout from one of his fellow UFC competitors. McGregor took to Twitter once again today to provide a clue on what he might have meant by the tweet.

You might be asking yourself, what does that mean? Well, tinatanggap ko is Filipino for “I accept”. There is only one man McGregor could be talking about if this is in fact who he’s accepting a challenge from.

UFC vs Boxing Round 2?

Conor McGregor has already arguably the greatest boxer of this generation in Floyd Mayweather. If Floyd is the best, one of the guys that is right up there would be Manny Pacquiao.

Pacquiao is a boxing superstar from the Philippines who is currently the WBA Super Welterweight Champion. The Pac Man who is set to turn 42 in December is currently on a three fight winning streak.

The two men have expressed interest in squaring off in the squared circle in the past, but a match between the two men never appeared close to happening. With McGregor stepping away from the UFC, now could be the perfect opportunity.

Now, part of me still feels the same way I did about the Mayweather – McGregor situation. I’ll believe it when I see it. For now, I still tend to believe that McGregor’s next contest will be in the UFC. Although, I would be lying if I said I wasn’t at least a little interested in McGregor – Pacquiao.

 

New York Giants: How Nate Solder’s Opt-Out Affects The Team’s Salary Cap

New York Giants, Nate Solder

In May of 2020, the New York Giants reportedly had less than $3.5 million in salary-cap space. That number has increased significantly with the latest news of offensive tackle Nate Solder opting out of the 2020 NFL season. But head coach Joe Judge also stated today: “We don’t feel like we have money burning a hole in our pocket.” Regardless of how Joe Judge might feel, the Giants’ salary cap situation has changed drastically due to Nate Solder’s decision to opt-out of the 2020 season. How exactly does that decision affect the Giants’ salary cap in 2020 and ahead?

Nate Solder opting out of the 2020 season also has important implications for the rest of the offensive line. You can read about that HERE.

2020 Salary Cap

Exactly how much cap space did Nate Solder’s opt-out free up for the 2020 season? Here is what Jordan Raanan of ESPN reported on the topic today:

This is somewhat complicated. Solder was to count $19.5 million against the salary cap this season. He was to make $13 million, of which he already earned $3.1 million ($3 million roster bonus plus a $100,000 workout bonus).

It’s likely he will be classified as a “high-risk” opt out, making him eligible for a $350,000 stipend that will not be considered a salary advance. A source with knowledge of the salary cap confirmed to ESPN that this would leave the Giants with a cap savings of $16.05 million. – Jordan Raanan of ESPN

The Giants have freed up a significant amount of salary cap space in 2020. They could choose to spend that money or keep it as insurance, but it will not roll over into 2021.

2021 Salary Cap

Solder’s opt-out only frees up cap space for the 2020 season. This year’s salary will now be pushed to 2021. So if the Giants do decide to spend this additional money, it would have to be on a one-year deal.

Nate Solder’s contract was originally set to expire after the 2021 NFL season. Now, it will expire in 2022. His decision to opt-out might have extended his time with the Giants. Solder was a cut-candidate for next season due to his high salary and low dead cap hit. Now his salary cap hit in 2021 is $16.4 million with $13 million in dead cap.

The Giants’ new potential out in the Solder contract is in 2022. In 2022, Solder’s cap hit will be $22 million with only $6.5 million in dead cap. Ultimately, the Giants have gained salary-cap space in 2020 due to Solder’s decision to opt-out. But this decision actually inflates their salary cap numbers over the next two years. Regardless, it was the right decision for Nate Solder to make. His family’s health comes first. But it will be interesting to see how the Giants manage their salary cap with this new and unexpected development.

UFC: Dana White on the Herb Dean – Dan Hardy situation: “That can never happen here again”

UFC, Dana White

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve probably heard about the referee drama from UFC Fight Island 3. Veteran official, Herb Dean, had words with former fighter and current UFC commentator, Dan Hardy.

The verbal confrontation came after Dean was slow to stop a fight. On the broadcast you could hear Hardy yell out, “Stop the fight! That’s twice now…” referring to another stoppage from earlier in the evening.

Today at the UFC Vegas 5 pre-fight media scrum, Dana White was asked about his opinion on the matter.

“We love Dan. Dan got emotional. The problem is with this setup, it’s a lot easier to do. It’s a lot easier to interact with everybody, from the fighters to the refs to the media and everybody. If you work for me in any capacity and you approach a referee or judge or an official, I will fire you that night on the spot. That can never happen here again,” White said.

UFC’s Firm Warning

Dana White and the UFC are not playing games when it comes to this. White has been very vocal in the past about fighters’ interactions with the referees.

If you need an example of how the UFC handles these kind of situations, just ask Jason High who was cut after he shoved an official after a fight. Of course, that situation was much different, but you get how serious the promotion takes these matters.

Dan Hardy has received a ton of support from the MMA community for standing up in that situation. However, White is coming from the perspective that you have to be professional no matter how strongly you feel.

The UFC does not play games when it comes to this kind of thing. I think this was a good reminder, but it’s also something that would have never taken place had we been in a normal non-COVID world.

Everyone will move on from this in the end. Dean will continue to officiate and Hardy will continue to commentate. They are both great at what they do, and this doesn’t change that. Just a heat of the moment thing that we will all move on from. You can view White’s full pre-fight press conference below.

The New York Rangers Sign Morgan Barron to Contract; Zibanejad Gets Team Award

New York Rangers, Mika Zibanejad

The New York Rangers have announced that the team has agreed to terms with forward Morgan Barron on an entry-level contract. The Halifax, Nova Scotia native was selected by the Rangers in the sixth round, 174th overall, of the 2017 NHL Entry Draft. His contract begins at the start of the 2020-21 season.

Barron played his college hockey in upstate New York at Cornell University, where he led the team in goals and points in each of his final two seasons. He also led the team in shots on goal in each of those seasons, recording 255 shots on goal in 65 games (3.92 shots on goal per game over the span). Barron tied for third in the NCAA in shots on goal in 2018-19 (152).

The twenty-one-year-old was a tri-captain with Cornell in 2019-20, led the team in several categories during the season, including goals, points, and shots on goal (103), and he was tied for second on the team in assists. He helped Cornell post a 23-2-4 record and win the ECAC Regular Season Championship during the 2019-20 season.

Barron skated in 29 games with Cornell University this season, registering 14 goals and 18 assists for 32 points, along with a plus-17 rating and 24 penalty minutes. He was named a First Team All-American, and he was selected as one of 10 finalists for the Hobey Baker Award as the top player in collegiate hockey in 2019-20. Barron was named the ECAC Hockey Player of the Year this season. In addition, he was named to the ECAC Hockey First All-Star Team and was a unanimous selection to the All-Ivy League First All-Star Team this season.

Mika Zibanejad gets New York Ranger Team Award

The Rangers also announced that Mika Zibanejad has been named the winner of the 2019-20 Steven McDonald Extra Effort Award.

Zibanejad, who also won the Steven McDonald Extra Effort Award last season, is the sixth Ranger who has won the award in at least two consecutive seasons (along with Adam Graves, Mark Messier, Sandy McCarthy, Ryan Callahan, and Mats Zuccarello).

The Steven McDonald Extra Effort Award presented by Northwell Health is awarded annually to the Ranger who, as chosen by the fans, “goes above and beyond the call of duty.”

The award, which has been given annually since the 1987-88 season, bears the name of New York City Police Detective Steven McDonald, who was shot and injured in the line of duty on July 12, 1986, and passed away on January 10, 2017.

In honor of this year’s award, NorthwellHealth is donating $25,000 to the Steven McDonald Foundation.

 

 

New York Mets’ Edwin Diaz in danger of losing closer gig

New York Mets, Edwin Diaz

After his latest ninth-inning blowup, New York Mets‘ closer Edwin Diaz might be in danger of losing the title, after manager Luis Rojas said after Thursday’s game that “we need to talk” about possibly removing him from the role.

Diaz, who came to the New York Mets before the start of last season alongside Robinson Cano from the Seattle Mariners, keeps struggling to find the strike zone and shows a perplexing inability to miss bats with his high-90s heater.

If you look at the numbers, Diaz’s last appearance on Thursday against the Red Sox wasn’t a complete disaster, as he struck out one batter while allowing one earned run on one hit and two walks. But it was the last inning, the Mets lost, and it has been a recurring occurrence.

Will the Mets make a change?

Put in context, Diaz retired just one of the five batters he faced, and that ain’t going to cut it. “We need to talk,” Rojas said. “That’s something that we’re going to do as a staff, me as the manager, and we’ll talk with the player. We want to keep him on track to what he showed us in camp that he didn’t show tonight. It’s something that, from our coaching standpoint, we’ve got to detect right away and just work on it, fix it quick. Because we liked what we saw in the first two camps and what we saw earlier in the season. Tonight was definitely different.”

This season, Diaz has handed three free passes in 2.1 innings, for a 11.57 BB/9. He has a 7.71 ERA and a blown save, and last season, he had seven of those.

“Different Díaz than what I saw [in the] first camp,” Rojas said to MLB.com. “Different Díaz than what I saw in camp now, and then what I saw the first two outings. Arm-side misses, pulling the ball, slider backing up. Not the same Díaz we’ve seen recently.”

If the Mets do decided to remove Diaz from closing duties, they may have several candidates to replace him. The most natural one is Jeurys Familia (4.91 ERA, 2.26 FIP in 2020,) but Seth Lugo, Justin Wilson and Dellin Betances could also be options.