UFC: Why Conor McGregor’s charity fight is a big deal for the league

Conor McGregor, UFC

It’s debatable whether or not the UFC will allow Conor McGregor to fight Dustin Poirier in a charity match. Both of the fighters are under contract with the UFC, and the charity bout would take place under outside promotion.

The UFC might take some heat from fans for turning it down – after all, the fight would raise a lot of money for charity. But at the end of the day, that may be the likeliest scenario because the UFC has something to lose if they let it happen.

The reason why the fight matters

This fight is intriguing, but not just because of the two talents that would be involved. Sure, the fight itself would be exciting, but from a business perspective there’s more implications. A fight arranged by McGregor and his managers is a far cry from the usual MMA fight, which is organized by a promotion. Even if it is just a charity one-off, it’s a rare boxing style bout in a sport dominated by centralized organizations.

The UFC has competition from other promotions. Bellator, ONE Championship, and others offer fans alternative options to watch. We’ve even seen big name fighters move from the UFC to these organizations for whatever reason. But at the end of the day, they’re still organizations. They act as centralized leagues, with one body deciding who fights who and setting the rankings.

Boxing, on the other hand? It’s a lot more like the wild west. Certain organizations can try to push through certain matchups, but at the end of the day the individual fighters and their managers have a lot more power. That can be a good thing or a bad thing. We’ve still never seen some highly talked about boxing fights, like Anthony Joshua vs Deontay Wilder. In an organization like the UFC, that fight likely would have been pushed through by the league itself.

But on the other hand, boxing is known for more of the profits ending up in the pockets of the fighters. A big boxing fight does more for its stars than a big UFC fight, and it’s been said that Conor McGregor’s fight with Mayweather was motivated by the larger cut of profits from boxing.

Pay disputes with the UFC have been in the news fairly often in 2020. McGregor organizing his own MMA fight, boxing promoter style, is interesting because it opens the door for others to do the same thing. For now, the idea is for a charity fight.

But in the future, the idea of fighters agreeing to MMA fights outside of an organization like the UFC could see other uses. And because of that, expect the league to approach this fight with caution – after all, the UFC would have the most to lose if these boxing style matchups became more regular.

UFC: Dustin Poirier and Conor McGregor agree to charity MMA match

Yesterday was the six year anniversary of UFC 178. That night, Conor McGregor (22-4) knocked out Dustin Poirier (26-6, 1 NC) in the first round of their highly anticipated lightweight matchup. The fight was the first real test for McGregor inside the UFC.

After that fight, McGregor went on to become the biggest star the UFC has ever had. Meanwhile Poirier reinvented himself at lightweight and climbed all the way to winning the interim UFC lightweight championship last year.

Both men have been linked to each other for some time as Poirier has wanted to get that fight back. However, the UFC never came close to booking the fight. Both men are in the same boat right now in that they are not happy with the promotion.

Conor McGregor has been in a public spat with Dana White, while Dustin Poirier has expressed frustrations after his fight with Tony Ferguson never materialized. This was due to financial requests from Poirier which Ferguson actually supported.

Tonight the latest saga involving Conor McGregor’s Twitter account took another turn. Poirier tweeted at McGregor to which McGregor followed up with a request for an MMA match for charity having nothing to do with the UFC. Poirier said that he was in.

Would the UFC allow this to happen?

The simple answer to the above question is no. McGregor and Poirier are both under contract with the UFC and I’m sure that the promotion wouldn’t allow the two fighters to compete against each other even if it was for charity.

However, there is an easy solution to all of this. How about just having McGregor and Poirier fight in the UFC? It’s a fight that makes perfect sense from a rankings perspective, and it would be a fight that would generate the payday that Poirier would want.

Not too mention the fact that it would put McGregor back in the UFC where he belongs. While people would tune in, nobody really wants to see McGregor box Manny Pacquiao. They want to see McGregor inside the UFC.

This Twitter exchange will likely be chalked up to good fun, but it’s actually a fight that makes sense. I know that Dana White is not either mans’ favorite person at the moment, so maybe Hunter Campbell can take this one. Or maybe we could see Lorenzo Fertitta back in the mix to make it happen.

New York Giants: Where Are The Strengths On Gettleman’s Roster?

New York Giants, Dave Gettleman

The New York Giants, once again, are 0-3. Here we are, in September, talking about who we should take with our top-five pick in the 2021 NFL Draft. Out for blood are disgruntled Giants fans, campaigning to begin the Tank for Trevor Lawrence.

These are dark times for New York’s prolific football franchise. The Giants are, historically, one of the greatest franchises in NFL history (arguably in the history of all sports). But for years now, the Giants have been at the bottom of the barrel.

New York has changed head coaches like supermodels change outfits at the Met Gala. Ben McAdoo was hired in 2016 and fired in 2017. Shurmur was hired in 2018 and fired in 2020. Joe Judge was hired this offseason to be the team’s next head coach, but things have gotten off to a very shaky start.

In addition to the firing of Ben McAdoo in 2017, New York also fired general manager Jerry Reese. To replace the two-time Super Bowl champion Jerry Reese, John Mara and the Giants brought in a familiar face: Dave Gettleman. Gettleman previously worked with the Giants from 1999-2012. When Mara promised “wholesale changes,” Gettleman is not the man many had in mind.

Worse Under Gettleman

Three years into the Gettleman era, the Giants have seen little- actually, no improvement. New York is 9-26 since Gettleman took over the roster in 2018. In Jerry Reese’s final 35 games, the Giants were 14-21. Dave Gettleman has run the Giants into the ground; it is time for everyone to realize this.

What Are The Strengths?

Gettleman, admittedly, inherited a bad roster in 2018. But what has he done with that roster? Has he turned any of its weaknesses into strengths?

When looking at the Giants’ roster, it is hard to find any real strengths. The Giants have invested a lot into their offensive line and defensive line, but only one of those two units have performed as a strength for the Giants.

New York has invested a slew of assets into their defensive line. Those investments have paid off, for the most part, as Leonard Williams and Dexter Lawrence combine with Dalvin Tomlinson to form an impressive front line of defense.

But the investments on the offensive line have not found the same success. Andrew Thomas looks like he has the makings of a franchise left tackle, but nearly every other position on the offensive line is a weakness. New York has allowed Daniel Jones to be pressured on 41.5% of his dropbacks through the first three games of the season.

One strength that could also be pointed out is the running back position. Well, that could have been pointed out before Saquon Barkley went down with a season-ending knee injury. The Giants’ receivers have struggled to gain separation this season. Evan Engram has been wildly disappointing. So it is hard to identify any of the skill positions as a strength.

The Giants’ defense has some bright spots. Blake Martinez has been a top-performing at the inside linebacker position and James Bradberry has been lockdown on the outside at cornerback. But the rest of the secondary has struggled and the pass-rushers have not maintained their impressive level of play from Week One.

Overall, Dave Gettleman has built a roster that lacks impact players for the Giants. Every positional unit could use an injection of talent. The quarterback position is also a giant question mark as fans are campaigning for the team to tank for Trevor Lawrence and replace Daniel Jones.

Given the current state of the Giants’ roster, it is hard to see this team being competitive this season, despite the division being the worst in the NFL. Additionally, it is inexcusable on Dave Gettleman’s part for the Giants’ roster to be as bad as it is. His seat is flaming hot and it seems like the writing is on the wall for Dave Gettleman’s impending doom.

New York Yankees: Aaron Boone provides encouraging James Paxton update

New York Yankees, James Paxton

The New York Yankees are set to face the Cleveland Indians in the Wild Card series in what looks to be a very tough assignment. Shane Bieber will take the ball in Game 1 for the tribe, while Gerrit Cole, the Bombers’ ace, will do the same for New York.

The Yankees’ pitching may not be quite as good as the Indians’, but their offense is much better. Still, overcoming Cleveland will be no small task.

If the New York Yankees do manage to make a deep postseason run, there is a slight chance that they get one of their star pitchers back. James Paxton, who is currently out with a Grade 1 strained flexor in his left arm, could potentially be ready later down the road.

The most likely scenario is that Paxton doesn’t pitch again in the 2020 season, as his injury is not a minor thing. But according to Yankees’ manager Aaron Boone, there is a glimmer of hope that the lefty starter can make an appearance before the playoffs end.

Could Paxton return in time to help the Yankees in 2020?

According to Bryan Hoch of MLB.com, Paxton still hasn’t officially been ruled out from returning in 2020. He played catch during the Yankees’ workout on Monday in Cleveland, as he tries to get his arm in shape.

One thing is certain: he will not be ready in time to pitch against the Indians, as he is still in the playing catch phase and would need to graduate to throwing from a mound. Boone explained that the Yankees are looking more “towards the end of the postseason.”

Paxton struggled with the velocity of his fastball this season, especially in the early going. From 2017 to 2019, Paxton averaged almost 97 mph with his heater, but he struggled to even hit the mid-nineties in 2020.

He finished the regular season with a 6.64 ERA and a 4.37 FIP in five starts and 20.1 innings.

Yankees unveil catching plans to start series against Cleveland

New York Yankees, Zach Britton

Well, the move that everyone was waiting for is officially made, the New York Yankees will start backup catcher Kyle Higashioka for Game 1 against the Indians. This move is definitely a very decisive one for many Yankee fans.

Gary Sanchez this year has struggled, and Kyle has paired with Cole nicely it seems. This being said, the Yankees are sacrificing a lot of offensive potential in return for Kyle Higashioka. When you sit down your young catcher for his backup, you have a lot of explaining to do. Whether this is a permanent fixture or not remains to be seen, however, this isn’t a new trend for Gerrit Cole.

A History of Backup Catchers

Gerrit Cole in the 2019 ALCS against the New York Yankees in Game 3 had done the same thing. Robinson Chirinos and his 113 wRC+ was benched for Martin Maldonado and his 76 wRC+. This is because Maldonado was the personal catcher of Cole, despite him being a massive liability offensively. While this news might contribute toward more El Gary hostility, this is just a trend set long before Cole was a Yankee. While the decision might be shocking to some, the Yankees are simply playing a numbers game.

Are the Yankees Potentially Making a Mistake?

In my opinion, they could be, as Gary Sanchez has had historically unlucky batted ball luck. I don’t see Higgy staying in the game when we need a hit late in the game. Cole will most likely not be in the 9th inning, so I imagine Gary Sanchez will be off the bench eventually in Game 1. You always roll with your best players, and Gary is our best catcher right now no question.

That doesn’t detract from the fact that this may just be how it was always going to be. Yes Gary’s bat when hot is incredible, but he hopefully won’t be the difference between an early exit and a deep postseason run. This lineup is simply filled with so many sluggers that the Yankees shouldn’t feel the harm of losing Sanchez too badly.

The lineup isn’t officially set, but this answers one of the most glaring questions for Game 1’s lineup.

New York Mets: Dellin Betances undecided about his future

New York Yankees, Dellin Betances

On Christmas Eve of 2019, the New York Mets revealed a “gift” to their fans: the announcement of Dellin Betances, an extremely talented reliever that excelled for years with the New York Yankees but also sustained several injuries in the months prior to his agreement with the Flushing club.

The one-year pact came with a couple of player options in 2021 and 2022. Most likely, he wanted to use his time with the New York Mets in 2020 to prove that he was over the shoulder and lat issues that plagued his 2019 and the Achilles tear that derailed his normal offseason.

However, the 2020 shortened season wasn’t kind to him. He finished with a 7.71 ERA, a 4.91 FIP and a 6.39 xFIP, with more walks than strikeouts in 11.2 innings. The sample size is extremely small, but truth be told, Betances didn’t have a good year and was forced to miss time.

As Anthony DiComo of MLB.com explains it, the bad season puts the Mets’ reliever in a tough spot. The player option is worth $6 million, with a $3 million buy out. The deciding factor in his decision will be whether he thinks he can find a one-year deal better than $3 million.

“I actually haven’t even given it any thought, to be honest with you,” Betances said. “I do enjoy playing with this group of guys. Obviously, we came very short of expectations, and it’s very frustrating. But I like the guys that are here, the staff as well. It’s a decision I have to make, but it’s something that I haven’t really given any thought.”

Fastball velo is the key for the Mets’ reliever

So long as Betances can regain his fastball velocity, he has a good shot at becoming the reliever he was between 2014 and 2018 with the Yankees, or something close to it. That pitcher was perennially among the league leaders in ERA, strikeouts and other statistics.

Over that five-year span, Betances averaged over 97 miles per hour with his fastball. In 2020? 93.6 mph.
The Mets helped him eliminate some natural cut on his fastball and that resulted in his highest velocity of the season in the season’s final weekend against the Washington Nationals: 96.7 mph.

“It’s the best I’ve been in a couple years,” Betances said shortly after that.

Despite the bad results in 2020, he could elect to stay with the Mets and show his best version next year.

LaMelo Ball interviews with the Knicks but unsure if they’ll trade for him

New York Knicks, LaMelo Ball

The New York Knicks are still up in the air on LeMelo Ball: 

LaMelo Ball dreams of playing next season as the top overall pick.

“Ever since I was a little, when I’d do little projects and stuff, that was one of my goals — to go to the NBA and be the No.1 pick,” Ball said during his Draft Combine zoom call with the media.

Whether that dream will come true with the Minnesota Timberwolves or any team like the New York Knicks, will be known on Nov. 18.

Ball, the consensus top point guard in the Draft, declined to answer which NBA team has talked to him except when he was asked about the Knicks.

“Yeah, I feel like they’re just trying to get know me because there’s a whole lot of stuff out here that you won’t even know if it’s me or not,” Ball said.

When he was asked again if the Knicks did interview him, he had a curt reply: “Yeah.”

The Knicks conducted the interview before the NBA Lottery as noted by Newsday’s Steve Popper.

But when Ball was pressed more about the Knicks’ interest on him and if they’re willing to trade for him, he was careful not to divulge any more details.  

“That I don’t know.  Maybe, maybe not,” he said.

The Knicks currently own the eight pick and have interviewed other guards in the Draft including Killian Hayes, and RJ Hampton, two prospects who also played overseas like Ball.  They have also made their due diligence on Florida State U’s duo of Devin Vassell and Patrick Williams as well as Auburn’s Isaac Okoro. The Knicks are also divided on UNC’s Cole Anthony.

There’s no real indication whether the Knicks would trade up for Ball.  But if it’s up to LaMelo’s father, LaVar Ball, he wants his son to end up as a Knick and dreams of having all of his three sons play together in the mecca of basketball.

“Oh yes, to the end,” LaVar said in Say Less with Kaz podcast last June.

“They (Knicks) don’t have anything.  The last time they won a championship back in the 70s. The bright lights. You need a whole new turnaround over there. The person I want to see him play with, they got to know this, if you’re getting ‘Melo, you’re getting ‘Gelo […] And after that, you have a chance to get ‘Zo. You don’t need one person to change no franchise. You need the whole culture change and that takes all three of my boys […] That would be the biggest show in the NBA ever.”

LaMelo though doesn’t really care where he’ll end up. He could play next to D’Angelo Russell in Minnesota or become the third wheel of Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson in Golden State.

In the same podcast, LaVar said LaMelo and the Warriors are a bad fit.  But the projected top-three pick disagrees.

“My old man, he’s his own man.  He has his opinions and I have mine,” said the youngest of Ball brothers. “Like I said, I feel like I can play on any team.  Anywhere is a great fit. I feel positive anywhere I go. I feel I can make a good impact wherever I go.”

New York Mets: Only Fitting For A Blowout To End The Wilpon’s Reign

New York Mets, Billy Hamilton

Mediocrity is the first word that comes to mind in the broken marriage between the New York Mets and the Wilpon ownership. Their decisions, hirings, and lousy PR led to the Mets becoming the laughing stock of baseball and the butt of every joke. The Mets 15-5 loss to the Washington Nationals closed an ugly 18 years of Wilpon majority ownership.

Seth Lugo likely made his final start as a Met in which he allowed six runs and did not make it out of the second inning. The lack of quality starting rotation depth put the Mets in a situation where they had to force Lugo to be a starter. Should the Mets fix their pitching rotation, Lugo would play very well in his natural bullpen role.

Early Rout

This game was pretty well decided when the Nats had 11 runs after the third inning concluded. Brad Brach and Steven Matz concluded their poor seasons with poor outings, allowing the Nationals to put the game away. Dellin Betances also continued the trend when he made his second outing off the IL. Jeurys Familia was the only reliever to complete two innings without allowing a run and finished his season with a 3.71 ERA.

The two bright spots came from the bats of Pete Alonso and Guillermo Heredia. Alonso had three hits, including two home runs, to finish up the season on a good note. Heredia had two hits and drove in two runs as he hopes to earn an invite to camp in 2021.

The Mets finished their season at 26-34, tied for last place in the NL East. They fell under the .500 mark seven games into the season and never climbed out of that hole in their disappointing season. Steve Cohen and Sandy Alderson inherit a broken organization, filled with potential. With their window to win still wide open, expect the front office to revamp this roster for the 2021 season.

Who is the greatest middleweight in UFC history?

This past weekend at UFC 253, Israel Adesanya (20-0) put on a show. Facing his toughest test to date in Paulo Costa (13-1), Adesanya put on the performance of his career stopping Costa in the second round. He proved he’s the best middleweight in the world.

Adesanya has become a superstar for the UFC. Whether it be the way he talks, his dancing, or his incredible slick striking skills, Adesanya wows fight fans. However, after Saturday evening, I was seeing a little bit of being a victim of the moment.

There were some members of the MMA media and the UFC Twitter mob that were already declaring Adesanya the greatest middleweight in UFC history. Stylebender is clearly the best in the world now, but I think that people need to pump the breaks just a little.

Yes, Adesanya is perfect at 20-0, but he just defended his UFC title for the second time. Remember, he just became champion in October. He’s not even one year into his title reign, and some are already declaring him the GOAT.

There is no questioning the talent and the skill of Israel Adesanya. He very well might be the greatest middleweight to have ever stepped foot in the UFC. However, declaring him the GOAT at this point is wrong. To me, he’s not even in the conversation with the actual GOAT of the middleweight division yet.

One of the UFC’s Best of All Time

There is only one GOAT at middleweight and his name is Anderson Silva (34-10, 1 NC). Before Adesanya fans immediately try to argue, I will warn you that there is no argument when it comes to their resumes inside the UFC.

Yes, I understand that Silva has really fallen on rough times, but you have to remember, he’s far past his prime. When he was in his prime, Silva dominated the UFC like only Jon Jones has dominated the UFC.

Silva outclassed every opponent on his way to winning his first 16 UFC fights. A winning streak that still hasn’t been matched in the promotions history. Silva won the middleweight crown back at UFC 64 and successfully defended the title 11 times before falling in 2013.

Silva’s unbeaten reign inside the UFC spanned seven years. If he would have retired after he defeated Stephan Bonnar, he would still be considered to be the greatest to ever do it. Of course, things derailed for Silva starting at UFC 162.

Like all great champions, Silva was never the same as he exited his prime. However, it’s still impressive that Silva can compete at his age. In fact, he looked pretty good in February of 2019 when he fought to a decision with Adesanya.

Yes, Silva lost the fight, but at 43 years old, Silva was able to keep the fight close, and he won a round. Adesanya is the best in the world right now, but he still has a ways to go in my eyes before he can be declared the greatest middleweight in UFC history. That’s still belongs to the Spider.

New York Yankees face tall task in game one of the Wild Card Series

When the New York Yankees step into the batter’s box at Progressive Field on Tuesday, the team will be facing a difficult task on hill.

Cleveland Indians star pitcher Shane Bieber gets the ball for game one of the Wild Card Series, coming off undoubtedly his best season. The 25-year-old won the pitching triple-crown (wins, ERA, strikeouts), and is most likely on his way to his first career Cy Young award.

Bieber had quality starts in 10 of his 12 games, and went under six innings just twice all year.

With that being said, Bieber is the last guy the Yankees want to be facing, especially in a three-game series. The Yankees certainly haven’t been road warriors either, going just 11-18 away from home.

On the other hand, the Yankees have their ace on the hill in Gerrit Cole, and he’s really hit his stride as of late. Cole pitched to a tune of a 1.00 ERA in September in four starts, discovering backup catcher Kyle Higashioka. The two have worked extremely well together, as Higashioka has caught all four of Cole’s games in September. Higashioka even had himself a three home-run game a few weeks ago.

So regardless, Tuesday’s series opener is expected to be a fun one. Primetime postseason baseball on ESPN. But for game one to be even more fun for the Yankees, they need to hit. They’ve had inconsistent bats all season, and were shut-out to end the regular season on Sunday, halting momentum from Saturday’s win.

Being that the Wild Card Series is just a three-game series, there’s even less margin for error. The Yankees need to play with a lot of confidence, take the first two games of the series and get to California.