UFC: Justin Gaethje Has Confident Words For Khabib Nurmagomedov

The buildup to the lightweight title unification fight between Justin Gaethje and Khabib Nurmagomedov has been great so far. The two are set to fight for the belt in October, but the war of words has already started.

Khabib has said that he’ll drown Gaethje with his ground and pound skills. Gaethje, on the other hand, believes he’ll counter it with a ‘zone of death.’ Pretty aggressive language for both fighters, and it shows just how confident both are in their abilities.

Gaethje spoke to former UFC middleweight champion Michael Bisping on the Believe You Me podcast. During the appearance, he pointed out his experience in wrestling and gave some reasons for his own confidence going into this one.

Gaethje and the ‘zone of death’

“I was a Division-1 All-American…” Gaethje said. “Division-I college wrestling in America is the highest level other than going to the Olympics and wrestling on the international level. But we’re not wrestling anymore.There’s going to be a zone in front of me. It’s not very big. It’s going to be a zone of death, and if I have to represent death every time he enters the zone, that’s what I’m the best (at) – creating carnage, creating car crashes.”

Gaethje stated further that creating as many of these ‘car crashes’ as possible is his goal. He also spoke about his current training partners, which includes some of the top current NCAA wrestlers, who he even admits to struggling against in training. He also had a reflection to make from his past fights.

“I have never not come out of the cage with my opponent not being broken from physical damage,” Gaethje said. There’s not much of a lie there. Gaethje only has two career losses and both of them were Fight of the Night performances where his opponent didn’t get off easy. “He’s never not walked out with a lot of physical damage, so we’re going to see who’s going to impose their will. It’ll be interesting. I do think it’ll be a battle for the ages.”

Nurmagomedov is unlike any opponent that Gaethje has faced before. However, his victory against Tony Ferguson in the fifth round is proof that Gaethje can hang with some of the top ground fighters in the game.

At UFC 254, we’ll see if that experience is enough to hang with Khabib, who is still undefeated and on the hunt for a 30-0 record before retirement. It will be a while before the event takes place. It’s scheduled for October 24th, 2020. But based on the talk so far, it looks like it’s worth the wait.

New York Yankees: Jordan Montgomery with six strong innings against the Atlanta Braves

New York Yankees, Jordan Montgomery

Jordan Montgomery pitched six strong innings on Tuesday to help the New York Yankees beat the Braves and win the first game of a nine game homestead. The 27-year-old southpaw had a nice bounce back outing after some struggles last time out against Philadelphia.

Montgomery gave up four hits and three runs in six innings, striking out four. The first five innings were scoreless for the lefty before giving up three runs in the sixth inning. Travis d’Arnaud and Freddie Freeman each singled, then Marcell Ozuna followed with a three-run home run.

Throughout the evening, Montgomery sat in the the low 90s with his fastball. He’s never been known for his velocity as he’s always gotten by just by having good stuff. Although he’s pitching some good games now, an increase to his velocity in the near future would help him with his consistency. The best pitchers nowadays throw in the upper-90s in addition to having great stuff.

A slower fastball gives the batter more time to react to the pitch and to determine what the pitch is. More reaction time for the batter leads to worse results for the pitcher.

But right now, the Yankees seem to be pretty happy with Montgomery. He’s healthy and doing a good job filling the place of Luis Severino and Domingo German. All they need now is a little more length from not just Montgomery, but all their starters. In a short season with a lot of games in a short period of time, the less stress on the bullpen the better. The last thing the Yankees want to do is burnout their bullpen early on.

Hopefully Jordan Montgomery will build on Tuesday’s strong outing and be sharp again the next time he pitches.

Yankees: Good news and bad news in offensive masterpiece against Braves

New York Yankees, Aaron Judge

The Yankees took on the Atlanta Braves on Tuesday evening in the first game of a two-game series. You might not believe it, but the Yankees lead Atlanta 8-0 going into the sixth inning, but a three-run homer from Marcell Ozuna brought the Braves within five.

Despite Atlanta making inroads toward a comeback, the Yankees were able to stifle their attempt. Utilizing a bevy of relief arms, including David Hale, Adam Ottavino, Luis Cessa, and Chad Green, manager Aaron Boone was able to maneuver his way out of a tough game.

Luckily, the Yankees’ bats came to play, putting up a nine spot on the board. The final score ended up being 9-6, despite an eight-run lead earlier on in the game.

Good news and bad news following the victory for the New York Yankees:

GOOD NEWS:

The good news is primarily on the offensive side of the ball, despite starting pitcher Jordan Montgomery having a solid outing through five innings. Prior to his home run, he had struck out four batters and held Atlanta to just two hits.

Offensively, the Yankees were led by the long-ball once again. In the first inning, Luke Voit smashed a three-run homer, driving in DJ LeMahieu and Aaron Hicks. Fast forward to the fifth inning, and Aaron Judge smashed a solo homer 432 feet to bring the Yankees to seven runs. However, they also managed to utilize their contact hitting, which is a rare approach for the Bombers.

Mike Ford recorded two doubles, driving in three runs, utilizing the DH spot adequately in the absence of Giancarlo Stanton. While the offense was on fire, the pitching remains a liability.

BAD NEWS:

The bad news continues to revolve around pitching for the Yankees. They moved through four relief arms to finally close out the game. Nobody on the mound looked confident, aside from Chad Green. Luis Cessa, who was recently activated after a bout with COVID-19, gave up two runs over just nine pitches.

The Yankees simply can’t rely on Green to close out games and help in the middle innings every night. Hopefully, with Aroldis Chapman returning as the closer, they can utilize Zack Britton More creatively.

More potentially problematic news, Aaron Judge was pulled after his home run in the seventh-inning, showing off a slight grimace as he rounded second base. While it could just be rest related, since the Yankees were leading at the time by five runs, having a rest day on Monday doesn’t justify pulling Judge that early. Breaking his rhythm after a homer could be a negative thing.

New York Mets Can’t Get Out of Their Own Way in 2-1 Loss

New York Mets, Billy Hamilton

The New York Mets season has two scripts to it. Either their pitching forces them to lose by a touchdown or they leave a small village on the bases. In the 2-1 loss to the Washington Nationals, it was the pathetic offensive effort that prevented them from getting a victory.

It looked like the Mets were going to chase Max Scherzer early in the game. Through two innings, he was well over 60 pitches and looked like the same Scherzer they faced a week ago. Per usual with the Mets, they tacked on to their league-leading LOB tally to let him off the hook.

The Mets left seven men on base, and when they did get into scoring position, they failed to record a hit all four times. Luis Guillorme drove in the only Mets run with a sacrifice fly. He also played a strong up the middle defense with Andres Gimenez at shortstop.

The Mets’ best chance to tie the game came in the seventh inning when Guillorme led off the inning with a double. Instead of leaving Billy Hamilton in the game to bunt him to third base, manager Luis Rojas opted to pinch-hit with Pete Alonso. At almost any other point, this is a brilliant move to make, but in the current situation, it becomes very questionable.

Alonso is the epitome of how bad the Mets are with runners in scoring position. Bunting the runner to third base, gives the Mets a chance to score a run with anything outside of a pop-up or strikeout. The clutch hitting is dreadful, and the Mets need any help they can get to make getting the runner in easier. With Brandon Nimmo and Jeff McNeil due up, it would serve them perfectly to hit with a runner on third base.

Instead, Alonso could not get Guillorme to third base, let alone drive him in with no one out. Nimmo walked, then McNeil hit into a tough luck double play, which summed up how dreadful the 2020 season has been for the Mets. Ironically, Guillorme ended up striking out to end the game when Alonso could have pinched hit in the ninth.

Porcello’s Tough Luck

Rick Porcello had a very similar start to his last one against the Nats. He surrendered a run in each of the first two innings but shut the door for the following four innings. Porcello struck out five and worked around eight hits to lower his ERA to 5.68. The high ERA is nothing special, but comparing it to the 13.50 from two starts is a good step forward for him.

Jared Hughes and Edwin Diaz both combined for three scoreless innings in relief of Porcello. Both are pitching well as of late and would be terrific parts of a late-inning bullpen if the offense could ever get them a lead.

The defense for the Mets excelled, but they had to sacrifice offense for it. Despite not having their A+ offensive lineup, there still should be enough power in their defensive lineup for them to score more than one run. If Rojas is looking for more consistency from his lineups, he should stick with the defensive centric lineup. At 7-11, there is not much to lose in a season that seems already lost.

As of 10:25 p.m. ET on Tuesday, the Mets have not announced their starter for Wednesday’s game. It will either be Franklyn Kilome or a bullpen game. Whoever the start is, they will face off against veteran Anibal Sanchez at 7:10 p.m. ET from Citi Field.

UFC: Ion Cutelaba tests positive for COVID-19; fight with Magomed Ankalaev off

Ion Cutelaba

COVID-19 has struck again when it comes to fight cancellations. This time it has taken out one of the main card fights from this weekend’s UFC 252 PPV. Ion Cutelaba has tested positive for COVID-19.

As a result, the anticipated UFC rematch with Magomed Ankalaev has been postponed again. This is the second time that the fight has been pushed back.

UFC pushing back to August 29th

In speaking with MMA Fighting, Cutelaba’s manager said that the current plan is to move the fight back a couple of weeks. “Just got to make sure he doesn’t get sick these next few days,” Cutelabla’s manager said of the proposed August 29th date.

The fight is a rematch from a fight back in February at UFC Fight Night 169. In that fight, Ankalaev appeared to have hurt Cutelaba on the feet causing the referee to step in granting Ankalaev the TKO victory.

Cutelaba immediately protested saying it was all a setup. Cutelaba attempted to contest the fight result, but that went no where. They tried booking the fight for UFC 249, but that also got cancelled.

Ankalaev will enter the octagon whenever they fight on a current four fight winning streak. Cutelaba was coming off of a very big win over Khalil Rountree prior to the loss to Ankalaev.

This is a big fight for the light heavyweight division. Ankalaev is currently ranked thirteen while Cutelaba is not ranked. A win for either man in this rematch whenever it takes place could mean a potential top ten opponent in their next fight.

New York Mets: Walker Lockett “in consideration” to start Wednesday’s game

The New York Mets‘ rotation is currently decimated after right-hander Marcus Stroman decided to opt out of the season even before making a start. Remember he is currently nursing a left calf tear and was about to return when he decided, together with his family, that the best course of action for him was to avoid any potential contact with COVID-19.

Jacob deGrom remains the Mets’ ace, and Rick Porcello is turning his season around after a disastrous start. Rookie David Peterson has been OK in his three turns, but Michael Wacha is also on the shelf with right shoulder inflammation.

That means that there is an opening for someone to take over as a starter for the New York Mets. Tomorrow’s game has no probable starter.

The Mets have several candidates

According to a report from Mike Puma of the New York Post, the New York Mets are giving “strong consideration” to Walker Lockett to make Wednesday’s start. Other candidates to take over the vacating spot in the rotation are Ariel Jurado, Franklyn Kilome, Easmo Ramirez and reliever Robert Gsellman.

Before Tuesday’s tilt, the Mets reinstated both Lockett and reliever Brad Brach from the injured list, and sent reliever Paul Sewald and third catcher Ali Sanchez to the team’s alternate training site in Brooklyn to make room for them on the active roster.

Lockett started the year on the injured list and hasn’t participated in any games in the 2020 season. He has been keeping his arm sharp at the Mets’ alternate training site, though. He is 26 years old and hasn’t had much success in the majors: he had a 9.60 ERA with the San Diego Padres in 2018 and an 8.34 mark with the Mets last year.

The Mets are looking to gain some ground in the National League East standings after a nightmarish start.

BREAKING NEWS: Big Ten Conference postpones 2020 football season, fall sports (Report)

The Big Ten Conference has officially shut down activities in the fall, including football. It will attempt to run a spring season.

Due to the ongoing health crisis, the Big Ten Conference has officially postponed its fall sports slate, which includes the upcoming football season. Conference officials confirmed the delay in a statement released on Tuesday and the plan is to push things back to the spring semesters.

“The mental and physical health and welfare of our student-athletes has been at the center of every decision we have made regarding the ability to proceed forward,” said Big Ten Commissioner Kevin Warren said in a statement. “As time progressed and after hours of discussion with our Big Ten Task Force for Emerging Infectious Diseases and the Big Ten Sports Medicine Committee, it became abundantly clear that there was too much uncertainty regarding potential medical risks to allow our student-athletes to compete this fall.”

Other sports affected by the postponement include soccer, cross country, field hockey, and women’s volleyball.

The Big Ten was the first of the “Power 5” conferences to officially call off autumn activities, though the Pac-12 followed them shortly after.

This delay pushes back the return of Greg Schiano to the Rutgers Scarlet Knights football program. Schiano, who led Rutgers to a program-best 11 wins during the 2006 season, was brought back after Chris Ash was fired last fall. Conference officials unveiled a plan to play only conference games earlier this summer, with Rutgers poised to open on September 5 against Nebraska. Players have also expressed a desire to play, accompanying the social trend “#WeWantToPlay” with desires to create a stable, healthy environment, as well as a players’ association.

Several players from the fallen conference have expressed their displeasure with the news, including Ohio State quarterback and Heisman Trophy contender Justin Fields.

The ACC, Big 12, and SEC are currently still on pace to open their seasons. Independent programs Connecticut and Massachusetts have likewise canceled their own campaigns.

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags

UFC: Yoel Romero out of August 22nd fight with Uriah Hall

The UFC is losing one of the more anticipated middleweight matchups it has planned over the next couple of months. First reported by BJPenn.com and confirmed by multiple sources, Yoel Romero (13-5) has been forced out of his fight with Uriah Hall (15-9).

The fight was expected to be the co-main event of the evening of UFC on ESPN 15 which takes place in eleven days. As of now, there is no reason as to why Romero has had to pull out of the contest.

What does the UFC do?

Obviously this is a tough blow to the main card of UFC on ESPN 15. This fight was arguably more anticipated than the main event between Frankie Edgar and Pedro Munhoz.

We will have to wait to see the reasoning behind Romero pulling out of the UFC contest. If it’s something that will force him to be out for a considerable amount of time, the promotion might look to find a replacement for Hall.

However, if the UFC is able to rebook this fight rather quickly, they might just push it back altogether. This was a massive fight for both of the men involved.

For Hall, this was truly a chance to break through after years of trying. A win over a guy like Yoel Romero would have put Hall only a win or two away from a UFC title shot. This is the closest he’s arguably been in his career.

For Romero, the Hall fight was his chance to get back on track. Romero again failed to capture UFC gold back in March when he lost to Israel Adesanya. The fight was the third straight that Romero had lost.

Again, this is a tough blow for the UFC on ESPN 15 card. It will be interesting to see what the promotion does. Who knows, maybe Khamzat Chimaev will give the UFC a call since he’s wanting to fight desperately this month.

New York Yankees: Yankee pitching questions and find out the latest moves to improve their outlook

New York Yankees, Clint Frazier

The New York Yankees are coming off a 2-5 road stand.  Not where the Yankees wanted to be with 25% of the season played.  They started out very hot, losing only one of their first eight games.  But since then their fortunes have changed.  They have had too many pitchers not pitching to their abilities, and now they have lost Tommy Kahnle for the season (Tommy John surgery) and Giancarlo Stanton to a grade one hamstring injury.

Tonight they will start a two-game homestand against the lively 11-7 Atlanta Braves. Although the Braves don’t have the best record off the Yankees, their young team is on the upswing while the New York Yankees have been sliding.  The Yankees will be looking for Jordan Montgomery to right the ship.

The Yankees starting pitching has been a problem to begin the short season.  James Paxton and J.A. Happ have been unreliable. Montgomery and Tanaka have been 50/50.  Paxton in the lastest outing was vastly improved from his two starts where he didn’t get past the fourth inning.  It appears that the Yankees will use the opportunity of having Thursday off to skip Happ’s scheduled start and move on to Gerrit Cole to open the Red Sox series.

Even Gerrit Cole hasn’t been pitching to his normal dominance.  He hasn’t lost any of his games but has struggled at times and seemed frustrated with the outcome of some of his pitches and the calls that he received.  The Yankees aren’t worried about Cole because he usually gets better as the season progresses.

That leaves Tanaka, Paxton, and Montgomery who together are 3-4 in seven games started.  Unless there is a vast improvement with these three, the Yankees are in big trouble.  Gerrit Cole can’t carry the team alone.  If they get to the postseason they may, as unlikely as it seems, enlist the services of last year’s best pitcher Domingo German who will be off suspension by then.

Also, if any of the aforementioned don’t improve, the Yankees may be active prior to the August 31 trade deadline to bring in another quality arm.

Injuries and replacements

After a 2017 MVP season-like torrid start for Giancarlo Stanton, he pulled a hamstring running on the cardboard-like base paths at the Tropicana Field. The diagnosis was a grade one hamstring injury.  That type of injury can take anywhere from two weeks to eight weeks to heal.  The loss of Stanton in the rotation is huge.  They started the season for the first time with both Aaron Judge and Stanton in the lineup.  The two combined for eleven runs with both near the .300 batting average mark.

It appears since the loss of Tommy Kahnle the Yankees have been taking advantage of Ben Heller’s presence to fill in before Adam Ottavino comes into a game.

The Yankees originally brought up Thairo Estrada to replace Stanton, but yesterday on the off-day they sent him back down to Scranton. All news sources indicate that today, before the game they will have Clint Frazier at the Stadium.  Frazier although not the best outfielder, may find himself in the lineup tonight as the DH.  Frazier’s quick bat will be an enhancement in an already powerful lineup.  Last year in 69 games he hit 12 home runs and had a batting average of .267. This may just be his last chance at Yankee Stardom.

In other New York Yankee news, Aroldis Chapman may be back closing games for the Yankees this week, after recovering from the coronavirus. In his absence reliever, Zack Britton has done a fine job saving all five of his save opportunities.  However, he did lose the last game of the Rays series in a non-save opportunity.

Brooklyn Nets confident they can hang with Toronto Raptors

Brooklyn Nets, Caris Levert

The Brooklyn Nets, 34-36, recently clinched the seventh seed in the Eastern Conference. They’re currently slated to face off with the defending NBA-champion Toronto Raptors in the first round of the playoffs.

Despite going 1-3 against their divisional rival this season, the Nets feel they have a chance to knock out the Raptors.

Caris LeVert says if the Nets “move the ball well” and “play good defense” they can win the series (quotes per Brian Lewis of the New York Post).

“We know they’re a really good team. Obviously they’re playing good basketball, they move the ball really well, they’re a great defensive team, as well,” Caris LeVert said. “But for us, we feel like it’s about us. If we move the ball well, if we play good defense, if we’re locked into the game plan, we can win that series. We truly believe that. So we’re gonna go into that playoff matchup all the way locked in.”

The Nets are without Spencer Dinwiddie, DeAndre Jordan, Taurean Prince, Wilson Chandler, Nic Claxton, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant in the NBA bubble. Despite the aforementioned absences, the Nets have pulled off a handful of impressive victories which include beating the Milwaukee Bucks and Los Angeles Clippers.

One of the new faces for the Nets is guard Tyler Johnson. Johnson says that if the Nets play their “style of basketball” they can beat anybody.

“As far as going into Toronto, you know what to expect. Then again, there’s no homecourt advantage. You’re playing a basketball team in the same spot for however many games it takes to advance,” Johnson said. “For us, it’s continue to play our style of basketball. At this point, we understand that, if we do that, we’re capable of beating anybody, and we showed it.”

Garrett Temple says if the Nets, who are 4-2 in the bubble, continue to “share the ball” and “get stops” they can win some games.

“To clinch seventh was big for us, obviously. We wanted to play whoever was going to be in that second spot, obviously it’s Toronto. We feel confident,” Garrett Temple said. “We’re confident. If we play the right way, if we play like we’ve been playing the last 2 or 3 games, share the ball, get stops, even though they turn people over, if we’re able to take care of it and do what we’ve been doing, we have a chance to win some games.”

Jacque Vaughn is 6-2 since taking over as interim head coach in March.