UFC: Khabib Nurmagomedov Could Have Pick Of Final Opponent

It appears that, according to his manager, Khabib Nurmagomedov is going to shoot for a record of 30-0 before retiring altogether. Manager Ali Abdelaziz told the news to UFC Arabia, but the final opponent for Nurmagomedov – assuming that he beats Justin Gaethje to advance to a record of 29-0 – is still an unknown.

The fight with Gaethje is set to unify the lightweight belt and determine the true champion, whether that’s the underdog Gaethje or the favorite, Khabib. However, it appears from the outside that the death of his father has impacted his motivation to defend the belt in the future even if he does unify it when the Gaethje fight finally happens.

Khabib will likely go for the 30-0 mark

Instead of aiming to defend the belt for as long as possible, Khabib’s plan is to take one more fight and achieve an undefeated 30-0 record before retirement. According to ESPN, that’s something that UFC boss Dana White is willing to accommodate.

On Monday, White told ESPN that he would support Nurmagomedov’s choice of a final opponent, including former welterweight and middleweight champion Georges St-Pierre.

White mentioned that one of the possible fights to make is the rematch against Conor McGregor, who pushed for the fight ever since the first match between the two happened. McGregor, however, is retired right now. At least allegedly.

Would a second fight with Khabib be enough to lure McGregor back into the sport? It’s possible, and many would say that it’s likely, but McGregor has a track record of not behaving how experts and fans expect.

We also don’t know yet if Khabib himself is after the rematch. Another fight mentioned by White is one between Khabib and Georges St-Pierre, who has been away from the sport for longer than McGregor has. However, St-Pierre was recently called out by Kamaru Usman, and responded by quickly denying talks about a return.

“I need to stay objective and smart about my decisions, and right now, to come back to fight for the welterweight title against Kamaru Usman and risk it all, there’s more cons than pros. It’s not worth it for me,” St-Pierre said on the matter.

White also said that he’s willing to do anything Khabib wants, when it comes to the matchmaking for his final fight.

Of course, all of this talk about a 30-0 record depends on Khabib winning one more fight against Justin Gaethje in September, and that’s no given. Especially with recent rough events in Khabib’s life, which have potentially played a role in his decision to retire early in the first place.

Once the title unification fight happens, things will truly get interesting for lightweight matchmaking.

New York Mets Find Their Offense and Wacha Shines in 7-4 Win

The New York Mets only needed four innings to surpass their scoring total from the first three games of the season. They did all of their scoring during innings 2-4 and used three home runs to fuel their 7-4 victory over the Boston Red Sox. The win was also Michael Wacha‘s first in a Mets uniform.

Two-run home runs from Michael Conforto and Pete Alonso in the second and third inning got things started. Both were monster shots but in different ways. Conforto’s traveled 434-feet while Alonso’s was a missile coming off the bat at 116 mph. Dominic Smith added a three-run homer in the fourth to extend the Mets lead to seven. Wilson Ramos also added a double and single to the Mets offense.

Splendid Debut

Michael Wacha had an opposite debut to Rick Porcello. He gave the Mets five strong innings, allowing five hits, striking out four and the only run coming on a Mitch Moreland home run. Wacha kept the Red Sox off balance throughout his start, using his changeup and cutter very effectively. It is a good sign for the Mets rotation, which had significant concerns after Porcello’s disastrous start.

Chasen Shreve pitched two innings following Wacha with the only blemish coming on a Xander Bogaerts home run. The line for Jeurys Familia was uglier than it was during the game. Outside of a Rafael Devers double, the Red Sox did not do too much damage.

A groundball Jeff McNeil could have thrown home in a closer game resulted in an out, and the other hit came on a seeing-eye single up the middle. Familia’s control was not as sharp as it was during his first outing, but his slider was very sharp.

Seth Lugo cleaned up the mess in the eighth and carried the momentum to the ninth inning to retired all four batters in his four-out save. Through the first two outings, it is evident that Lugo is already the best Mets reliever.

For Tuesday’s matchup, the Mets still have not named a starter as of 11 p.m. on Monday. The likeliest option is either David Peterson to make his MLB debut or a bullpen game. Whoever pitches will be opposed by Matt Hall from the Red Sox. The first pitch is at 7:30 p.m. ET.

New York Liberty: Kia Nurse comments on injury, new efforts in 2020

Kia Nurse left the New York Liberty’s opening loss early on Saturday but has been enthused by the efforts both on and off the court.

Kia Nurse may be back on duty sooner than expected.

The New York Liberty’s returning All-Star and third-year point guard left the team’s opening tilt against the Seattle Storm on Saturday with an ankle sprain but was in good spirits when meeting with the media over Zoom on Monday afternoon.

“Ankles recover when they want to recover, so we’ll see when this one does,” Nurse said. ”

Head coach Walt Hopkins officially labeled Nurse as a “day-by-day” case as the Liberty prepare to take on the Dallas Wings on Wednesday night in the WNBA’s Bradenton bubble (8 p.m. ET, CBSSN). Rookie Leaonna Odom started the second half in her place. The Liberty fell 87-71 sans Nurse to the 2018 WNBA champions that welcomed back former MVPs Breanna Stewart and Sue Bird. Rookie Leaonna Odom stepped in for Nurse in the second half and scored 9 points on 4-of-6 shooting.

Nurse played 10 minutes in the Liberty’s opening day loss before her departure. She is one of two veteran returnees to the Liberty’s 2020 roster (the other being Amanda Zahui B) and is coming off an All-Star season that saw her put up 13.7 points per game (seventh amongst Eastern Conference scorers). As a young leader…only Zahui B and free agent newcomer Layshia Clarendon have more experience…the 2018 first-round draft pick has a special role in New York’s structure, a role she has described as being a “baby vet”.

She was pleased with the valiant effort the Liberty put up against Seattle, keeping things at a single-digit deficit before the Storm pulled away over the final 10 minutes.

“I was really proud of our team going up and playing fearlessly,” Nurse said. “We obviously have a lot of new faces to the league and I think they went out there and they did what they do best. They fought and they fought hard and I think we played a pretty decent game in terms of only being together for only the two weeks that we were. I was really proud of them for that and to see the young people step up.”

Nurse is a New Yorker of many talents. Her All-Star trip to Las Vegas last season saw her compete in the league’s three-point shootout, for example. She’s using those talents to make a difference off the court in these revolutionary times.

With the league dedicating its 2020 to social justice causes, Nurse is doing her part to amplify her message. She’s looking to make a difference not only in the United States, but in her native Canada as well.

“For me, it’s really understanding that (racism) might look different in another country,” Nurse said. “In Canada, it might be more microaggressions, more polite, not as blatantly in your face or on video, but it all still exists. This is all something that still happens in my country. I’m thinking along the same lines of really understanding the background behind all these stories and obviously the indigenous people in Canada as well, the aboriginal and what has happened with our history there, really focusing on amplifying our voices and learning from the past.”

Nurse expressed hope that Canadian audiences who tuned into the nationally televised game on TSN were inspired by the WNBA’s opening day tributes to Breonna Taylor, a 26-year-old African-American victim of police brutality. Players from each of the WNBA’s dozen squads wore Taylor’s name on the back of their jerseys and observed a 26-second moment of silence prior to tip-off. Members of the Liberty also partook in a video calling for the arrest of Taylor’s murderers. Nurse said it was “an extremely tough” video to film, but it was something the team “really wanted to put forward”.

Should Nurse miss Wednesday’s showdown with the Wings, it’ll be a Bradenton-based battle of the WNBA’s youngest teams. New York and Dallas’ respective rosters feature ten rookies between them, including Megan Walker on the Liberty side. Nurse’s fellow University of Connecticut alumna entered the bubble with a pair of negative COVID-19 tests. She was chosen ninth overall in April’s draft, eight slots after the Liberty took Sabrina Ionescu with the top choice. Walker partook in Monday’s practice, though, like Nurse’s return, Hopkins was reluctant to put a timetable on Walker making her debut.

“She didn’t look out of sorts, she didn’t look lost,” Hopkins said. “She looked good. Her energy was good…She looked pretty sharp all things considered.”

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags

UFC: Edgar – Munhoz moved again; will headline August 22nd card

Well, the anticipation of former UFC lightweight champion Frankie Edgar‘s bantamweight debut will continue to grow.

UFC’s New Headliner

That’s right, for the fourth time, the UFC has booked Edgar against Pedro Munhoz (18-4). The fight was originally going to take place on the UFC 251 PPV.

Then the fight was pushed back to be the co-main event on UFC Fight Island 1. However, Munhoz tested positive for COVID-19 which scrapped the fight altogether.

The promotion worked quickly and was able to book the fight for the main card of UFC 252 in August. Of course, now we know that this fight will once again be on the move.

Nothing official has been released by the promotion, but the lack of a main event for their August 22nd card is the likely reason for the switch. More than likely, they were trying to pull together a main event that never materialized.

So now, Frankie Edgar – Pedro Munhoz has been booked for it’s fourth fight card. Hopefully everyone makes it to August 22nd healthy so we can all see this anticipated bantamweight matchup that has big implications for the division.

With the addition of Edgar – Munhoz, the August 22nd card is really looking strong. Here is the full card as of now for the UFC’s Fight Night on August 22nd:

  • Pedro Munhoz vs. Frankie Edgar
  • Uriah Hall vs. Yoel Romero
  • Shamil Gamzatov vs. Ovince Saint Preux
  • Mariya Agapova vs. Shana Dobson
  • Mizuki Inoue vs. Amanda Lemos
  • Angela Hill vs. Michelle Waterson

New York Giants And 4th Overall Pick Andrew Thomas Agree To Terms

New York Giants, Andrew Thomas

The New York Giants have agreed to terms with the fourth overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft, offensive tackle Andrew Thomas. The Giants and Thomas are in agreement on a four-year, fully guaranteed $32.345M contract with a $21.1M signing bonus, according to Ian Rapoport.

Andrew Thomas, the three-year starter out of Georgia, is the fourth top-five pick to get his deal done. Thomas will take a physical today then sign the contract.

The New York Giants desperately needed an upgrade at offensive tackle this offseason. Last season, the Giants’ starting offensive tackles allowed a combined 96 pressures. Nate Solder accounted for 56 of those pressures and also allowed 11 sacks on the season. Andrew Thomas is now in a contractual agreement to be the Giants’ left tackle of the future.

Andrew Thomas played 1,075 pass-block snaps in his collegiate career. On those snaps, Thomas allowed only 37 total pressures. He also has not allowed more than 2 pressures in a game since 2017 (his freshman season at right tackle).

The Giants report to training camp tomorrow. New York is working to get its entire rookie draft class under contract. Sixth-round pick Cam Brown signed his rookie contract earlier today. Seventh-round pick Tae Crowder has also signed. TJ Brunson, Matt Peart, and Darnay Holmes have also agreed to terms with the Giants. There are only a few rookies left for the Giants to sign, including second-round pick Xavier McKinney. Expect to see the Giants complete these deals with their rookies very soon.

MLB News: After conference call MLB will forge ahead with baseball season

This afternoon in light of the coronavirus outbreak sidelining one third of the Miami Marlins, the MLB had a conference call with all the owners.  Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred has announced that the season will not be paused and will not be shut down at this time.

In the conference call, there was no talk of shutting down the season; instead, the league plans to double down on its already-in-place safety protocols — including cracking down on high fives and spitting while making masks mandatory in the clubhouse.

The #MLB hope is to regroup today as #Marlins remain quarantined in Philly &, depending on today’s test results, the team would bus to Baltimore & play tomorrow’s game there instead of Miami w/others from “taxi squad” joining club there and subbing in, according to industry sources.

Because there are no clear MLB guidelines in the agreement between the union and the league as it pertains to what would prompt a shutdown, that discretion is to be made by Manfred alone. He was asked earlier in July, during a radio interview with Dan Patrick, what would have to happen for him to consider exercising that power.

“I don’t have a firm number of days in mind (to pause the season). I think the way that I think about it, Dan, is in the vein of competitive integrity, in a 60-game season,” Manfred said. “If we have a team or two that’s really decimated with a number of people who had the virus and can’t play for any significant period of time, it could have a real impact on the competition, and we’d have to think very, very hard about what we’re doing.”

Clearly, MLB’s Manfred doesn’t feel the Marlins outbreak will have a “real impact on the competition.” Rather, Manfred seems to subscribe to the same school of thought as Los Angeles Dodgers president Stan Kasten, who said on Monday “I do think we expected something like this at some point, and maybe getting it out of the way early will help teach us things that we’ll avoid repetitions of this going forward.”

In a Zoom call today, Nationals manager Davey Martinez’s voice was off. Very emotional. You could tell he was struggling to keep it together. These are real people in real situations here. I tried to get a statement from the Yankees but was unsuccessful.

It may be wishful thinking or just blind optimism, but all the bad news today apparently will not end a season the MLB and the owners so want to complete.

MLB owners didn’t discuss canceling the season during Monday’s conference call

About 40 percent of the Miami Marlins active roster tested positive for coronavirus. The team played at Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia over the weekend, which is where the New York Yankees were slated to play before Major League Baseball (MLB) decided to suspend that particular game as they perform more tests.

However, and according to a report from Scott Miller of Bleacher Report, MLB didn’t show an intention to cancel the 2020 season amid the Miami Marlins latest COVID-19 outbreak. The league did cancel two games that were going to be played on Monday: Yankees – Phillies and Orioles – Marlins.

During a conference call held by team owners on Monday afternoon, canceling the season wasn’t among the discussed topics, which indicates that MLB and the clubs will try to play through the conditions.

Will MLB continue to be able to manage the situation?

What was discussed during the conference call? The report states that the Commissioner’s Office will revise regulations and health directives to try to preserve the health of players, coaches and staffers. Among them are mandatory use of face masks in the clubhouses, and the reinforcement of health standards such as high-fives and spitting during games.

During the first week of MLB action, lots of players have disrespected social distancing rules by engaging in hugs, high fives and other forms of contact, and the no spitting rule has also been ignored in a lot of cases.

A total of 11 of the 33 players in the Marlins’ traveling party and two coaches tested positive for COVID-19. Besides canceling the Yankees – Phillies game on Monday, it’s possible that Tuesday’s game could be impacted pending test results.

Commissioner Rob Manfred would have the final say regarding the viability of a season, but for now, the show goes on even through the difficult reality.

MLB News: Due to the coronavirus, what happens if all teams don’t play 60 games?

New York Yankees, Aaron Judge, Gleyber Torres, Giancarlo Stanton

For a season filled with unknowns, MLB will have many decisions to make.  One is when and if the coronavirus affects too many teams, when will it be time to shut down the season?  What do we do if all teams don’t complete all the games in a 2020 shortened season?  These are just a few of the decisions that will have to be made.

Buster Olney of ESPN has an answer to that last question:

“If MLB continues to try to move forward with games — and that is the expectation with a lot of teams — they shouldn’t worry about the ‘integrity’ of a 60-game schedule. If some teams play 55 games, others 59 or 60, just go by winning percentage. This happened after 1981 strike.”

The decision to shut down the entire season will be a much harder one to make. Matt Collins of overthemonster.com is calling to the season to be shut down now so that things don’t get worse.

“The MLB season is three games old after a long delay into the summer, and it already looks like it’s time to shut things down. Just one series into the year, we already have a major outbreak from a team that still decided to play on Sunday. The Marlins, after already having multiple players and coaches test positive over the weekend, had eight more players and two more coaches test positive for COVID-19 Monday morning.”

Jeff Passan of ESPN reported:

The MLB season is three games old after a long delay into the summer, and it already looks like it’s time to shut things down. Just one series into the year, we already have a major outbreak from a team that still decided to play on Sunday. The Marlins, after already having multiple players and coaches test positive over the weekend, had eight more players and two more coaches test positive for COVID-19 Monday morning.

It is doubtful that this first hit of the virus will shut down the season at least at first.  Much will be dependent on how they control the virus and if more and more cases start popping up.  Most MLB teams are committed to a baseball season this year.  The New York Yankees are focused on a World Series Championship.

The Marlins seem committed as well even after this disaster they have suffered this weekend.  They are already out there scrambling around trying to find baseball players to fill spots vacated by sick players.  Early this afternoon, they claimed RHP Justin Shafer from the Cinncinatti Reds. They will use some prospects, but they have more holes to fill.

If nothing else, this season will go down in history as the strangest of all baseball seasons.  Let’s hope the MLB can get this present outbreak under control and can complete this short baseball season.

 

New York Giants: DeAndre Baker Placed On Commissioner’s Exempt List

New York Giants, DeAndre Baker

New York Giants cornerback DeAndre Baker has officially been placed on the NFL commissioner’s exempt list, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL Network. This is big news for the Giants who are set to begin training camp tomorrow. DeAndre Baker was planning on reporting to training camp, but the NFL has now decided to take action. The Giants have also now made a decision; they are not granting DeAndre Baker permission to participate in training camp or other team activities. DeAndre will have to wait until his legal situation is ironed out before he can return to the Giants.

DeAndre Baker is accused of committing armed robbery and has eight felony charges looming overhead. The legal situation is unresolved, though, and prosecutors have not yet determined whether to proceed with the case. Because of this uncertainty, Commissioner Goodell has placed DeAndre Baker on the commissioner’s exempt list.

What Is The Commissioner’s Exempt List and How Does It Work?

Essentially, the commissioner’s exempt list places DeAndre Baker on paid leave. He will still be a member of the New York Giants but he will not be a participating member of the team:

“While on the commissioner’s exempt list, a player is paid as if he were on the active roster, yet he does not count against his team’s 53-man active roster limit. A player on the exempt list is not allowed to practice or attend games, but he is allowed to be present at the facility for meetings, to work out, and to receive treatment.” – via NBC Sports.

“The Exempt List is a special player status available to clubs only in unusual circumstances. The List includes those players who have been declared by the Commissioner to be temporarily exempt from counting within the Active List limit. Only the Commissioner has the authority to place a player on the Exempt List; clubs have no such authority, and no exemption, regardless of circumstances, is automatic.” – NFL.com

DeAndre Baker will continue to be a New York Giant for as long as he is not found guilty. The Giants had not cut ties with Baker yet because there is a chance that he is found innocent and exonerated of these charges. Baker was a first-round pick just two years ago and is viewed as a key building block for the Giants’ defense. The hope is for DeAndre to be found innocent and continue his career with the Giants. But for as long as this case is unsettled, Baker will remain on the commissioner’s exempt list.

MLB News: Boston Red Sox pitcher shut down with heart issues after recovering from COVID-19

As reported by MLB, last week, the Boston Red Sox shut down their best pitcher.  Eduardo Rodriguez was shut down from his throwing program after discovering health complications stemming from his bout with COVID-19. Although he recovered from the coronavirus, he was left with myocarditis, which is an inflammation of the heart muscle.

Even though people young and old can recover from the virus, they may be left with life long health issues that may pop up at any time.  Issues with the kidneys, liver, and heart are some of those issues, according to the Mayo Institute.

Rodriguez, 27, told reporters he was “still scared” about the condition after learning more about it in recent days, but that he doesn’t intend to opt-out of playing at some point this season. “I want to be pitching yesterday, the day before, or today,” he said. “I want to be out there every time I can, so I’m never thinking of getting out of the season. I feel bad every time I see a game happening, and I’m not even in the dugout.”

Myocarditis can affect the “heart’s ability to pump and causing rapid or abnormal heart rhythms,” according to the Mayo Clinic, and is usually caused by a viral infection. Although COVID-19 is considered a respiratory disease, it has been linked to myocarditis frequently enough to merit further scientific study. A sports cardiologist explained to CBS Sports the potential impact of COVID-19 on the heart before the season resumed.

The New York Yankees and all of MLB are facing those issues today, and two games have been canceled due to COVID-19 outbreaks that make it too dangerous to play.  The next few days will be telling for baseball in a season full of unknowns.