Leon Edwards only wants a UFC title shot or top 4 opponent in his next fight

Leon Edwards

The UFC has a little bit of a problem in their welterweight division. They have fights they want to make, but the fighters involved don’t seem interested in the fights that the promotion wants to make. Let’s start with the situation regarding Khamzat Chimaev.

The UFC is wanting to showcase their new star in a headlining fight in November. They wanted Chimaev to fight Stephen “Wonderboy” Thompson, but Wonderboy has turned down the fight. This leaves the UFC with very few options for Chimaev.

Instead, Wonderboy has called out Leon Edwards. This is a fight that makes sense from a rankings perspective. However, Edwards is not interested in fighting Thompson despite his top five UFC ranking. He cited Thompson’s knockout loss to Anthony Pettis as a reason.

Edwards told MMA Fighting, “As far as Wonderboy, he got knocked out like a fight ago. Pettis knocked him out one fight ago. If I go out there right now and I fight Wonderboy and I beat Wonderboy, the UFC will be like ‘let’s go one more in the top-five and then we’ll go for a title.’ They wouldn’t give me a title shot straight away.”

What should the UFC do?

Despite the objections from Edwards, the UFC should push to make the Wonderboy – Edwards fight. Despite the complaints from Edwards, he really hasn’t defeated anyone of significance inside the welterweight division. His best wins came against Donald Cerrone and Rafael Dos Anjos.

Neither one of those guys are true UFC welterweights. I really don’t understand Edwards’ argument. Yes, he’s won eight consecutive fights, but he hasn’t defeated any top guys in the welterweight division. Wonderboy would by far be the best fighter that Edwards has fought in the division.

Kamaru Usman is fighting Gilbert Burns for the title at UFC 256, and the promotion is working on booking Jorge Masvidal – Colby Covington. The winner of that fight will fight the winner of the Usman – Burns matchup which takes place in December.

Edwards has been begging for a top four opponent, but there’s nobody to fight at the moment. Edwards is in a position now where he either needs to accept the Wonderboy fight, or wait until 2021 for the top four to finish their fights.

New York Yankees’ Aaron Judge: “Pressure is a privilege”

New York Yankees, Aaron Judge

If you think about Aaron Judge’s first at-bat this postseason against Shane Bieber, you wouldn’t think that he was forced to miss most of the season with a calf issue and that his rhythm and timing were never altered by the injury. He homered against the likely AL Cy Young and set the tone for the New York Yankees to sweep the Cleveland Indians.

The Yankees’ slugger recently talked to Bryan Hoch of MLB.com and said that, in his view, the real season is about to begin.

“To me, the regular season is kind of like Spring Training,” Judge said. “The real season is the playoffs. You want to see a team that shows up in the postseason. That’s what we’re going to see.”

However, baseball is a game of reps and, for batters, timing. That home run against Bieber, that gave the New York Yankees a 2-0 lead before Gerrit Cole even threw a pitch, ended up being Judge’s only hit of the series.

He’s been struggling to get his timing back, and used the final 10 games of the regular season to rediscover his craft.

“There was never any concern,” Judge said. “We didn’t really have any chance to have rehab games to work the kinks out, see pitches, put the ball in play. We got thrown right into games going down the stretch when it mattered. I wasn’t too concerned about trying to hit home runs. Once the postseason comes, I’d be ready to go.”

Yankees duo worked hard to regain rhythm

Judge and fellow Yankees’ slugger Giancarlo Stanton, who also recently came off the injured list, have worked a lot to get their mojo back. Before the Cleveland series, they spent additional time with hitting coach Marcus Thames using the high-velocity machine.

Now, Judge has spent several days getting used to Petco Field in San Diego, where the New York Yankees will play the Tampa Bay Rays in a best-of-five series, starting today. He’s checking ball bounces, angles, and the outfield walls.

“We’ve got a lot of homework to do,” Judge said. “We’re excited for it. Pressure is a privilege. There’s going to be a lot of pressure situations that we get thrown into throughout this postseason. I think that’s what makes this team so special. We’re not running from those bases loaded, two outs, game on the line spots. We’re embracing them.”

New York Yankees: Gerrit Cole and Blake Snell’s thoughts heading into Game One

After sweeping the Cleveland Indians during the Wild Card Series, the New York Yankees are ready for Game One of the ALDS against the Tampa Bay Rays on Monday night. Sitting on top of the standings at the one seed, the Rays dominated the Yankees during the regular season, beating them eight out of the ten times the teams met.

Tonight, Gerrit Cole and Blake Snell are matched up against each other. Cole held a 2.84 ERA through 12 games started this season and Snell was credited to a 3.24 ERA through 11 games started.

“They’re just a really good ball club all around,” Cole said during a pregame interview. “They take care of the baseball on defense, play good offense, having many different styles on how they play offense. They have a good rotation and a good bullpen.”

Cole commented on because of how the Rays have played this year and the tension between the two teams, he expects there to be high intensity tonight and during the series. “Yeah certainly,” Cole responded when asked about the intensity. “Especially in the postseason. There’s already kind of a baseline of tension and with the history of tension, there’s going to be some people playing on edge.”

Snell had a similar approach to tonight’s game. “I think playing them is just like playing any other team,” Snell said. “It’s a talented team and some people look at it differently, but I just focus on what I can control and what I’m going to be ready for, and that’s their lineup. I’m more excited about that than the ‘he said, she said.’ That doesn’t really bother me.”

The Rays finished first in the AL East during the regular season with a 40-20 record. After starting the season incredibly hot, the New York Yankees faltered for a stretch and fell in the standings, eventually finishing in second place with a 33-27 record. Both teams swept their opponents during the Wild Card round.

Tonight’s game will 8:07 PM in Petco Park, San Diego.

New York Yankees: Luke Voit’s foot is well-rested, and the slugger is ready for the Rays

New York Yankees, Luke Voit

The New York Yankees and the Tampa Bay Rays beat the Cleveland Indians and the Toronto Blue Jays, respectively, in the Wild Card round and are now ready to face each other starting today.

For the New York Yankees, it will be the perfect opportunity to seek revenge. The Rays took eight of the ten games they played in the regular season, back when the Bombers were struggling with injuries and dropping game after game.

However, Luke Voit, who led the Yankees and the whole league in home runs this season, those ten games are no indication of how the series that will start tonight will go.

“We’re a lot healthier, and these games are a lot more meaningful,” Voit told MLB.com. “They have good pitching, and they’ve figured ways to score runs against us, so you’ve got to give them credit. But I think we’re a lot different team than when we faced them during the regular season. I feel good about us. We’ve got a really tough lineup, and I think we’re going to do a lot of damage against them.”

The last time the Yankees played against the Rays in the regular season, in a series that started on August 31 and finished on September 2, they were missing Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton and Gleyber Torres, three of the most decorated hitters on the team.

The Yankees are healthier now

But now, they are all ready to rock, and Voit has enormous confidence in what Gerrit Cole, who will be on the mound tonight for the Yankees, can do.

“We paid him to pitch in October. It’s a lock,” Voit said. “Everyone knows that. We need him to go out there to throw seven or eight strong innings and do what he does best.”

On a personal level, the 2020 season was a great one for Voit, who slashed .277/.338/.610 with the league-leading 22 round-trippers. He has been dealing with foot issues in the last few days but is confident that the four off days that the Yankees got after sweeping the Indians will serve him well.

“It’s nice not having to wear cleats right now,” Voit said. “That’s a big thing. I’ve been able to get a lot of treatment done. I haven’t had any pain, but I’m sure it will find a way to come back in this series. It’s something I can keep grinding through.”

The New York Rangers remain undecided about Ryan Strome

New York Rangers, Ryan Strome

The New York Rangers have already made qualifying offers to restricted free agents Tony DeAngelo, Alexandar Georgiev, and Brendan Lemieux. However, according to Larry Brooks of the New York Post, the Rangers have yet to make an offer to Ryan Strome.

Strome had a career year in 2019-20 and finished third on the team in scoring. The 27-year-old posted new highs in assists (41) and points (59) and showed strong chemistry with Artemi Panarin.

So with those improved numbers, why would the Blueshirts not give Strome a qualifying offer?

According to Brooks, arbitration eligibility is a major issue regarding the qualifying offer. Those numbers would likely elevate Strome, who had a cap hit of $3.1 million last season, into the realm of the $4.75 million neighborhood. If you add in the fact that he is just a year away from unrestricted free-agency, this may give the Rangers a situation that they are unwilling to pay for.

The Blueshirts brass has worked really hard in clearing up cap space, as evidenced by the deadline trade of Brady Skjei to Carolina, the offloading of Marc Staal to Detroit, and the buyout of franchise legend Henrik Lundqvist. Even so, with several others needing contracts they are not in a spot where they can just spend the extra money and hope everything turns out fine in the end.

The other issue could be whether the Rangers think that this might be a one-year thing for Strome and/or that his production was more Panarin related.

Before 2019-20, Strome was coming off of five straight seasons between 28 and 35 points. Those numbers were just satisfactory as he was viewed as a frequent underachiever during his time with the Islanders and Oilers before joining the Rangers. His record would be something the Rangers would mention in an arbitration case but his performance this season would factor in heavily in a hearing.

There is still the possibility that the Rangers might be trying to see if they can find a more cap-friendly replacement on the free-agent market. However, between cap hits and age, an already thin free-agent crop at the center position makes this task more difficult.

The Rangers have until 5:00 PM on Tuesday to make a Qualifying Offer.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Stephen Thompson turns down UFC match with Khamzat Chimaev: ‘It just doesn’t make sense for me’

The UFC has been trying to book a headlining fight with their budding star Khamzat Chimaev (9-0). The promotion is wanting to have Chimaev headline a Fight Night in November once they return from this latest stint on Fight Island.

The UFC had been offering the fight to Stephen “Wonderboy” Thompson (15-4-1). However, Wonderboy didn’t seem interested and instead has spent his time calling out Leon Edwards (18-3) for a fight. Both of those men rank inside the UFC‘s top five at welterweight.

Dana White said that the UFC was close to finalizing a matchup for Chimaev that was not Demian Maia. Maia was originally supposed to fight Chimaev if Chimaev defeated Gerald Meerschaert. After Chimaev knocked out Meerschaert in 14 seconds, the promotion had other plans.

The UFC appeared to still be angling for the Wonderboy fight. However, Wonderboy has continued to turn the fight down. He elaborated more on his YouTube channel saying, “No, I’m not fighting him, man. I mean, it just doesn’t make sense for me at this point. I’m ranked No. 5 to fight a guy who is unranked?”

UFC’s booking issue

You can’t really blame Wonderboy for his train of thought. Wonderboy has been grinding for years in the UFC‘s welterweight division and he’s fought for the title twice. This would be a total stepping stone type of fight for Chimaev.

If you’re asking me, Thompson is thinking correctly. The fight to make is between Thompson and Leon Edwards. Both of those UFC welterweights need a fight, and they are both in the top five. Edwards wants a high profile fight, but most of the top contenders are booked.

The UFC then has an issue with Chimaev. I’m not sure if Maia decided to turn down the fight, but that to me was still the fight to make. Chimaev would be a massive favorite, but Maia has challenged for UFC gold multiple times in his career.

It would be a massive name and a big victory for the Russian. White said that the UFC was close to announcing something, but it wasn’t Maia. We now know it’s not Thompson either. I’m going to be really interested to see who the UFC decides to book across from Khamzat Chimaev next.

The New York Giants make potential strides at problematic CB2 position

New York Giants, Ryan Lewis

The New York Giants fell 9-17 to the Los Angeles Rams on Sunday afternoon, but the game was much closer than a week three travesty to the San Francisco 49ers. The Giants made back up quarterback Nick Mullens look like the next coming of Joe Montana, and he was subsequently benched against the Philadelphia Eagles this week. It seemed to be an anomaly for a team that has a lot of fight but simply can’t extract wins this year.

New head coach Joe Judge has his team battling until the final moments, and the start of the season was always going to be problematic with multiple new starters on both sides of the ball and a new coaching staff with different schematics.

While the defense has looked fantastic for the most part, one position remains a big question going into a week five matchup against the Dallas Cowboys.

The New York Giants are finding answers, slowly:

The second cornerback spot, left by DeAndre Baker after his legal proceedings, has been a rotation of multiple options. He left a serious hole in the secondary, and the Giants have been trying to compensate ever since.

In week four, the Giants chose to bench Corey Ballantine entirely. He received zero snaps on defense but played the majority on special teams. Former third-round pick Isaac Yiadom, whom the Giants traded a seventh-round conditional pick for prior to the start of the regular season, earned only 26% of the snaps. Instead, they took a different route, inserting undrafted free agent Ryan Lewis for 74% of the snaps at CB2.

Lewis had a solid outing, and at 26 years old, the Giants will likely be utilizing him more frequently in the near future. Against the Rams, he racked up three combined tackles and didn’t allow a reception. Interestingly, he spent eight games with the Patrick Graham lead Miami defense in 2019, holding his opposition to a 58.3% completion rate and just one touchdown over 36 targets. He was actually quite successful in coverage, and bringing him onto a shallow Giants’ secondary was a good move. His experience in Graham’s scheme is proving to be essential and I expect him to continue growing in the role.

Nonetheless, finding an even serviceable option at CB2 is essential at this point. Ballentine and Yiadom have proven to be liabilities in coverage, and Lewis is already showing positive momentum in an area that has significantly hurt the team in recent weeks.

Yankees’ set to start Clint Frazier over Brett Gardner in game 1, but why?

New York Yankees, Clint Frazier

The New York Yankees will face off against the Tampa Bay Rays in game one of the ALDS on Monday evening. The matchup will feature Gerrit Cole and Blake Snell, the team’s top starting pitchers. This should be one for the ages, as both teams have displayed hostility during the regular season, notably from a 100 mph fastball that closer Aroldis Chapman through at the head of Michael Brosseau. This sparked significant animosity between the two teams, and it has spilled over into media pressers and public forums.

The New York Yankees are still deciding on several big factors:

However, the Yankees are still making final decisions on their lineup and how they will operate against a strong Tampa team. One big decision lies in left field, as they decide between Clint Frazier and Brett Gardner.

Gardner, who started off his postseason with stellar performances against the Cleveland Indians, would theoretically be getting the start on any given day. He is currently hitting .375 with one homer and three RBIs. He also has two walks over 10 plate appearances. He was a significant reason for the Yankees’ domination of the Indians, but it is seeming that management will go with Frazier in game one against the Rays.

As George A. King of the New York Post suggests, starting Frazier in left field makes sense only because Blake Snell is pitching. Matching him up against a lefty pitcher gives the Bombers an advantage, as Gardner has struggled against similar arms. Against lefties this year, Frazier hit .250 and Gardner .211.
King also mentioned that Gardner has hit .286 in his career against Snell, while Frazier is 1-for-8 and .125.

Modern-day baseball is a game of numbers, and manager Aaron Boone has remained steady in that mindset. Looking at their past performances, it actually seems as if Frazier has less success than Gardner against Blake, but simply batting against lefties the advantage is clear. The sample size against Snell is too small for both players to make any sure-fire justifications.

Who do you think the Yankee should start in left field in game one? Comment below!

UFC: Is Carlos Condit – Nick Diaz 2 the fight to make?

Carlos Condit

This past weekend at UFC Fight Island 4, former interim champion, Carlos Condit (31-13), got back in the win column after a five fight losing streak. The former champion hadn’t won since 2015, and his back was against the wall.

However, Condit came out with a dominant performance over former Ultimate Fighter winning, Court McGee (19-10). Condit dropped McGee in the first round and cruised to a decision. A massive UFC victory for the Natural Born Killer.

Earlier in the week, Condit expressed interest in fighting Nick Diaz (26-9, 2 NC) if he were to win on Saturday night. The two men have some history that dates back to UFC 143 which was almost nine years ago.

That night, Diaz and Condit fought to a decision for the UFC interim welterweight title. The decision was razor close, and a lot of people felt that Diaz won the fight. In the end, Condit walked away with the decision and the interim title.

Diaz recently announced that he was training and getting ready for a UFC comeback. There has not been any progressive talks between him and the UFC on who he would face upon his return in 2021. However, Condit is ready to throw his name into the mix.

Should the UFC book it?

When Diaz’s team announced that he would be returning, they said he had his eyes on some of the top fights in the division. One of those fights did not include what happened Saturday night between Condit and Court McGee.

Diaz looked to be more interested in the guys at the top of the division. However, a fight with Condit could be a good way for the UFC to reintroduce Diaz to competition. It’s a winnable fight for Diaz, and there is some name recognition there.

Not too mention the fact that Diaz could get his revenge in that matchup. We already know that Condit is down for the rematch. I’m not sure that Diaz would sign up for this, but if I’m the UFC, it’s worth offering out to both parties.

If Condit doesn’t get the fight against Diaz, I think the next reasonable fight to look at is the Robbie Lawler – Mike Perry fight taking place in November. Condit had a Fight of the Year with Lawler so that would make for an excellent rematch. A fight against Matt Brown could also be a possibility.

Yankees in for battle as Rays’ Kevin Kiermaier starts the chirping early

New York Yankees. Kevin Kiermaier

The New York Yankees and the Tampa Bay Rays have plenty of bad blood from the regular season, and it would be no surprise if it spilled over into the postseason.

Awkwardly, both teams are currently sharing the same hotel ahead of Monday’s opening game of the ALDS. It will be one for the ages, as both teams went back-and-forth this season, with the Rays earning the upper hand. They go into the series with an advantage and momentum, but the Yankees have a team that is virtually unstoppable when they are playing at the top of their game.

Earlier this year, the hostility began when closer Aroldis Chapman threw a 100 mph fastball at the head of Michal Brosseau. This sparked extreme animosity between the two teams, and it is clear that both dislike one another.

Rays outfielder Kevin Kiermaier didn’t hold back from expressing the truth: “The don’t like us, we don’t like them, and it’s going to continue to stay that way.”

Considering what went down, I’m not surprised that Kiermaier was openly negative toward the Yankees. His team got the best of the Bombers this year, and are arguably the best team in baseball, as outfielder Brett Gardner mentions.

“They had a really good season, ran away with the division. Obviously, it’s up to us to come out and play better against these guys,” Gardner continued.

Game one will feature two of the best pitchers in baseball, Gerrit Cole and Blake Snell. Cole was fantastic in his first post-season start in pinstripes. He lasted 7.0 innings, allowing two earned runs. He finished with a 2.57 ERA in the win over Cleveland in the Wild Card. Snell, on the other hand, was even better against the Toronto Blue Jays. He lasted 5.2 innings, striking out nine batters and allowing just one hit over 5.2 innings.

The major difference between the two was longevity. Cole managed to pitch almost two entire innings more than Snell but gave up two more runs. If the Yankees can remain patient and knock him out of the game early, they have a better shot at winning against the Rays.

The problem, Tampa has a stellar bullpen, and the Yankees struggle in that category. Their offense will need to be at the top of their game if they wish to walk away with a series win. Thankfully, they’re coming off a two-game sweep against Cleveland where they posted 22 total runs.