Cory Sandhagen flattens Marlon Moraes at UFC Fight Island 5

Tonight, the UFC hosted their fifth fight night from Fight Island. The night was filled with great action including one of the better knockouts you’ll ever seen dished out by Joaquin Buckley.

In the main event of the evening, two top UFC bantamweights went head to head as “Magic” Marlon Moraes (23-6-1) took on Cory Sandhagen (12-2). Both men were looking to take another step forwards towards a UFC title shot win a win on Fight Island.

Early on in the fight, Sandhagen was doing a really good job of fighting from the outside and using his size advantage. However, Moraes started landing some power shots about halfway through the first round. Despite landing a few power shots, Moraes was not getting the best of the exchanges early.

Sandhagen did a fantastic job of being elusive in the first round. Moraes was landing some decent shots, however, Sandhagen was doing a fantastic job of mixing up his combinations and landing more shots in the first round.

Moraes came out looking very tentative in the second round. Sandhagen cracked him with a couple of shots and shouted out that he broke Moraes’ orbital.

Seconds later, Sandhagen flattened Moraes with a spinning wheel kick. A few follow up shots followed before the ref called a stop to the action. Massive UFC win for Sandhagen.

What’s next after UFC Fight Island 5?

UFC Fight Island 5 was a big of a coming out party for Cory Sandhagen. Sandhagen was already one of the better bantamweights in the UFC, but this win puts him on another level. He was embarrassed by Aljamain Sterling back at UFC 250.

After the fight was over, Sandhagen talked about potentially fighting Frankie Edgar or the returning TJ Dillashaw next. The main thing is that Sandhagen wants a shot at the UFC belt. While it was a sensational performance for Sandhagen, the same couldn’t be said for Moraes.

For the Magic Man, this was arguably his third straight loss in the UFC. Moraes needs to head back to the drawing board and figure out what’s next for him. Tonight was his first camp under American Top Team, and he didn’t have the results he was looking for.

 

New York Jets Game Preview Week 5: Arizona Cardinals

New York Giants, Lorenzo Carter

The New York Jets have been cleared for Sunday action at MetLife Stadium, but a dangerous, angry opponent awaits.

What: Arizona Cardinals @ New York Jets
Where: MetLife Stadium, East Rutherford, NJ
When: Sunday, 1 p.m.
Watch: CBS

After the ongoing health crisis invaded the NFL realm in Florham Park, the New York Jets have been cleared for Sunday action barring any unforeseen developments. They’re set to take on an avian invasion at home, one seeking revenge after a strong start has given way to distress.

The Jets (0-4) will take to the field for the first time in 10 days, as they battle the Arizona Cardinals at MetLife Stadium. They’ll go into battle with a quarterback who previously earned plenty of success with a bird on his helmet, as backup Joe Flacco takes over for the injured Sam Darnold.

New York last took the field on October 1, opening the Week 4 slate in a Thursday night tilt against the Denver Broncos. In what became their closest game of the season, the Jets fell in a 37-28 decision. Darnold earned 314 yards of offense, including a career-best 84 on the ground. A majority of that tally came on a 46-yard scoring rush that gave the Jets their first lead of the season. Jamison Crowder broke the century mark in receiving yardage (104) while Pierre Desir had two interceptions on defense.

Meanwhile, the Cardinals (2-2) have suffered consecutive defeats after a strong start. They by a 31-21 final to the Carolina Panthers last weekend in Charlotte after dropping a home tilt with the Detroit Lions. Kyler Murray threw a trio of touchdown passes in the Carolina defeat, while Jordan Hicks had four tackles for a loss.

The Series

The Cardinals are on the Jets’ opposite coast in more ways than one. Not only do they play three time zones away from New Jersey, but they play in a different conference. In other words, meetings between the Jets and Cardinals are not very common, even with the latter franchise lingering around in some way, shape, or form since 1898.

In either case, the Jets lead the all-time series 6-3, earning each win in succession between 1978 and 2012 (the first one coming under the Cardinals’ St. Louis moniker). Arizona broke the streak in their last meeting in 2016, when they took home a 28-3 decision in Glendale.

History Happens: 2008

Brett Favre’s brief yet eventful time as a New York Jet got off to a tough start. The Jets sat at 1-2 and were reeling from a one-sided Sunday night loss in San Diego in a return to Giants Stadium. An ensuing matchup with future NFC champions Kurt Warner, Larry Fitzgerald, and Anquan Boldin was perhaps one of the earliest signs that the 2008 was going to be quite out of the ordinary.

The Jets scoring 34 points seems like a pipe dream to some modern fans, but they acquired that tally in a single quarter on a late September afternoon against the Cardinals. Dressed in their New York Titans-inspired throwbacks, Favre and Laveranues Coles united for three scores while Darrelle Revis took back a Warner interception back for a touchdown. Arizona slowly worked their way back with three unanswered rushing scores (two from Edgerrin James) in the third quarter, but Favre kept the Cardinals down with three more touchdown passes. Jerricho Cotchery was the recipient of two, while Dustin Keller had the last. New York took the game by a 56-35 final. The six touchdown passes were a career-best for Favre, who united with Warner to throw for 761 passing yards.

They Said It

“I’m not looking at it in terms of bringing a spark,” Flacco said. “Of course, we want to get things rolling as a team and kind of get our morale up and get us headed in the right direction. But not one guy, including myself, can try to do too much. We just have to go out there, take it play-by-play and let things fall in place.”Jets QB Joe Flacco on starting Sunday, per Eric Allen 

“I think this week particularly, all of us want to get back on the field. There was frustration with how we played last week, so we’ve been chomping at the bit to get back after it. So when you hear that initially, you’re like, ‘Oh no, we really want to get back out there.’ And then you settle in and realize, hey, you can control what you can control.”-Cardinals head coach Kliff Kingsbury on dealing with the Cardinals’ current situation, per Katherine Fitzgerald 

Matchup To Watch

RB Le’Veon Bell vs. Arizona’s Run Defense

Even when we were having the “Is Joe Flacco elite?” debate every week, it was never wise to put the game solely in his hands. The Jets have averaged 35 pass attempts a game over the first four games of the 2020 season. Flacco-led are 31-48 in the regular season when he throws the ball at least 35 times.

New York enjoys a bit of a boost this week with Le’Veon Bell making his return from injury, but the reunion comes in a game where Mekhi Becton, one of the Jets’ rare silver linings, list listed as doubtful on the injury report. With the franchise quarterback down and the receiving corps still missing links (Breshad Perriman is likewise doubtful and Denzel Mims is still inactive), Bell may be called upon to take on an increased workload to alleviate the pressure on Flacco.

Head coach Adam Gase was pleased with the way Bell kept himself in game shape during his injury absence. Bell hasn’t played since the Week 1 defeat in Buffalo.

“I think he can be pretty effective,” Gase said his top rusher in a report from ESPN’s Rich Cimini. “He did a good job of getting healthy and then staying in good shape. (He) did a good job making sure that he maintained where his weight was. I think he feels even better now than he did when we kind of hit that first game.”

Arizona’s run defense ins’t anything to truly write home about, stagnant in around the middle of the pack in the statistical rankings. If Bell can get his legs back quickly and overcome the losses of some starting big men on the line, he can earn a long-awaited return to form and shoulder some of the load a desperate offense needs to properly distribute.

The Jets Will Win If…

They contain Kyler Murray.

Over the past two weeks, the Jets’ defense failed to contain an aging Phillip Rivers and a third-stringer in Denver making his first career start…and they had trouble with Nick Mullens and the 49ers’ reserves the week before that. That was all before they ran into a showdown with Murray, a dual-threat who was working on MVP candidacy over the first two weeks before running into trouble against Detroit and Carolina. Murray has no doubt seen the struggles of the Jets’ defense and has to be licking his chops going into this matchup. The Jets have earned only six sacks so far and was already torched by one dual-threat, Josh Allen, in aforementioned opener against Buffalo. Murray’s prescience has loomed over Jets practice all week.

“To keep him in the pocket, try to make him one-dimensional because he can throw and use his feet as well once he gets outside the pocket,” safety Marcus Maye said on Thursday, per Kristian Dyer of Sports Illustrated. “If we can pressure him, make him one-dimensional, I think we can be OK.”

The Cardinals Will Win If…

They embrace their sense of desperation.

Arizona was seen by some as a team able to play consequence-free football in 2020. Murray excelled in his rookie year, and the outlook was mostly positive moving forward. Expectations rose slightly when DeAndre Hopkins was gifted to them from Houston, but there still would’ve been no shame from a Cardinal standpoint if they didn’t beat out the Seahawks or 49ers in the competitive NFC West.

However, after topping the Niners in Week 1, the Cardinals were seen as surprise contenders. The past two weeks have been disappointed, and Arizona now sits at .500 while the Seahawks remain dominant, the 49ers thrive despite several big injuries, and the Rams start to reintroduce themselves to the NFL scene. A terrifying trap game scenario awaits in New York. It’s a game that’s starting at 10 a.m. local time. It’s a game that the eternal Cardinal Fitzgerald has labeled a “must-win”.

Seattle is the leader in our division, 4-0 right now, and they are rolling,” Fitzgerald said, per team writer Darren Urban. “We have to be able to find a way to get back on the right track. Another road game, going across three time zones to play, you have to find a way to put together four good quarters in all three phases. It’s as simple as that.”

“We need to be able to keep pace with the Rams and the other teams playing well in the division. It’s definitely a must-win.”

Prediction

Even with Arizona’s struggles, it’s far too much to ask this Jets team to pull off what would nonetheless be a miracle. The loss against Denver provided a small hint of momentum, but topping an interconference foe bent on division domination is too far out of the Jets’ realm of possibilities.

Cardinals 23, Jets 10

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags

New York Giants: Why the offense could break out in week five

New York Giants, Daniel Jones

The New York Giants are about to play their first division-rival game of the 2020 NFL season on Sunday. At 4:25 p.m., the Giants and Cowboys will kick off their Week Five matchup in Dallas.

Through the first four weeks of the season, the Giants’ offense has been one of the worst units in the NFL. The Giants are averaging just 11.8 points per game on offense, the worst in the NFL by about 5 points. New York has not scored a touchdown in their last two games and never even found their way into the red zone in Week Three.

That pattern should change this week, as the Giants are about to face one of the worst defenses in the NFL. Playing the Cowboys could be exactly what the Giants need to see their offense break out this season.

The Cowboys’ Shaky Defense

The Dallas Cowboys’ defense is arguably the worst in the NFL right now. Through four games, the Cowboys’ defense ranks as one of the worst units against both the pass and the run. Opposing offenses are averaging 430.5 yards per game against Dallas, the third-highest total in the NFL.

The Cowboys’ opponents have been raking in a serious amount of points. Dallas has allowed opposing offenses to average 36.5 points per game against them. Against the Cleveland Browns in Week Four, Dallas allowed their opponents to rush for 307 yards. Dallas fell to 1-3 on the season after their loss to Cleveland, just one game better than the Giants who sit at 0-4.

New York is in desperate need of a win. Unfortunately, their offense has not been able to do enough to get them across the finish line, despite the Giants’ defense being one of the NFL’s top units through four weeks. New York has allowed only 24 points per game. They have also allowed only 328.3 total yards per game (fifth-best in the NFL).

But the Giants’ defense will face a tall task in Dallas this week. The Cowboys’ offense has somehow been just as good as their defense is bad. Dallas is currently averaging 31.5 points per game and a league-high 509.5 total yards per game.

This game is likely to be a shootout or a blowout. The Giants’ offense will need to keep up with Dallas’ high-powered offensive machine. Fortunately, New York has a favorable matchup on offense, facing Dallas’ struggling defense. If the Giants’ offense can exploit this matchup, Giants fans could finally see their team break out and put some points on the board.

A Fast exit from the New York Rangers as four players file for arbitration

New York Rangers

The Carolina Hurricanes have signed free-agent forward Jesper Fast, who spent the past seven seasons with the New York Rangers, to a three-year contract with a $2 million average annual value, according to Pierre LeBrun of TSN.

Last year with the Blueshirts, Fast posted 12 goals, 29 points, with a +16 rating in 69 games. His career-best season came in 2017-18, with 13 goals and 33 points in 71 games.  The Rangers drafted him in the sixth round in 2010.

In the “if you cannot beat them join them” category, Fast is being remembered by Hurricane fans playing a role in the Rangers’ dominance against Carolina in recent years, with five goals and 14 points in 24 games, his most against any team.

In another interesting plot twist, Fast will be rejoining a former teammate that leveled quite a hit on him during the most recent playoffs. Early in Game 1, Fast was slammed into the boards by Canes defenseman Brady Skjei, a former Rangers teammate. Fast did not return to the game or the series, It will prove interesting to see what their first conversation might be.

“Jesper is an intelligent, versatile player who will fit the mold of how the Carolina Hurricanes play hockey under Rod Brind’Amour,” Carolina president and general manager Don Waddell said in a statement.

Four rangers file for arbitration

Right around the time the Fast signing was revealed, the NHLPA posted a story that 26 players have filed for salary arbitration, including current Blueshirts Tony DeAngelo, Ryan Strome, Alexandar Georgiev, and Brendan Lemieux.

The deadline for Club-Elected Salary Arbitration notification is Oct. 11 at 5 p.m. ET. Salary Arbitration hearings will be held from Oct. 20 to Nov. 8.

In the case for Strome, his award would be just for one season since upon completion of the 2020-21 season, he would be an unrestricted free agent. It has been speculated that he could earn around $4.75 million.

Since DeAngelo has four years of experience, the Rangers can decide whether it is a one or two-year award since they didn’t elect for arbitration. If they decided on two years it would take him to the spot that Strome is in currently.

Georgiev has just 77 games of experience to his name, and is coming off an entry-level deal that saw him count $792,500 against the salary cap.

Lemieux has 131 games of experience, and made $925,000 this past season after re-signing with the Rangers. He had been acquired from the Winnipeg Jets.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rays’ Ji-Man Choi trolls Yankees and Astros in post-game celebration

New York Yankees, Tampa Bay Rays, Ji-Man Choi

The winner of the ALDS between the New York Yankees and Tampa Bay Rays was always going to celebrate in fashion. The bad blood between the two teams stemmed from the regular season when closer Aroldis Chapman threw a fastball at the head of Michael Brosseau.

That intensity spilled over into the postseason, where both teams went head-to-head and ultimately watched the Rays emerge victorious in game five. Brosseau hit the go-ahead homer in the final innings, ironically off Chapman.

Following the game, the Rays blasted “New York, New York,” mocking the Yankees and their usual celebration song.

Tampa’s first baseman, Ji-Man Choi, hosting a cigar, trolled both the Yankees and their future opponents the Houston Astros.

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past year, you would know that Houston was caught in the middle of a major cheating scandal.

They were found guilty of banging on garbage cans as a part of a sign-stealing scheme, which helped them win the 2017 World Series.

Choi and his teammates stomped on a recycling bin to replicate their opponent’s tactics, and hopefully what they will do to them in the ALCS. Despite the bad blood between the Yankees and Rays, I will be rooting for Tampa to beat Houston, as ever sane human should.

While Choi and the Rays stomped around and blasted “New York, New York” and “Empire State of Mind,” they won the series fair and square, and once again opened up old Yankee wounds that desperately need fixing this offseason.

New York Islanders: 3 key remaining targets in free agency

New York Islanders, Anthony Duclair

The first day of free agency has come and gone, and the New York Islanders didn’t make any moves. You can blame this on salary cap issues. The Isles can’t lose their big 3 RFA’s, but they also need to improve. Thomas Greiss recently signed with Detroit, and a couple of the other minor UFA’s will leave soon as well. I’ve pointed out 3 targets that the Islanders should try to sign to make up for these losses. One of them may surprise you.

Three targets in FA for the New York Islanders:

Anthony Duclair

I love Anthony Duclair with all of my heart. I don’t know if it’s the way he plays or just how he’s been doubted on every team he’s been on. Duclair is 24 years old and recently erupted on the NHL scene with his performance this past season in Ottawa. Duclair recorded 23 goals and 17 assists in 66 games. This will no doubt solve some of the scoring issues the Isles have at wing. Duclair can either be on the 2nd or 3rd line, probably will be paired with his old teammate, JG Pageau. Duclair is also representing himself, so Lamoriello can probably chip away a few thousand to give to others.

Tyler Toffoli

Tyler Toffoli is often overlooked when people think of good scoring wingers in the NHL. Toffoli is exactly what the Islanders need right now. Toffoli recorded 24 goals and 20 assists in 68 games this past season. The signing will not be cheap at all, but it’s cheaper than a Mike Hoffman. Toffoli is a better team player, leader, and overall better locker room guy than Hoffman as well. Lou might be in on Toffoli; no one would ever know.

Alexander Georgiev

“Why’d he put a goalie on this list? We already have Sorokin and Varlamov”. Well, after those two, who’s the AHL goalie? Christopher Gibson went to Tampa. Linus Soderstrom is in Finland permanently. There needs to be another goalie who is capable of playing if god forbid one of the goalies gets hurt. Georgiev is perfect for this role. It’s a cheap signing, and yet he’s still a good goalie. I don’t think Isles fans would mind seeing him relief in between the pipes.

New York Jets: LeVeon Bell to return in week 5

New York Jets, Leveon Bell

The New York Jets have been without their former All-Star running back since week one of the season. In the Jets’ 27-17 loss to the Bills, Bell seemed to have an awkward fall in the midst of running a route.

It ultimately ended up being  a hamstring injury that sent him to the IR. Now, before the Jets take on the Arizona Cardinals, Bell will be joining them.

What’s This Mean?

This is great news for the Jets organization for multiple reasons. The first that tomorrow marks the first start for Joe Flacco while Darnold sits with a shoulder injury, so adding a playmaker like Bell back into the fold could ease some of the pressure. Especially with a veteran quarterback who is coming off an injury himself, having Bell can open up things more for him.

The next reason this is so important, is because of the impact Bell has when healthy. Without Bell for the past few games, the Jets have accumulated only 263 yards on the ground from running backs.

Sam Darnold is currently the team’s leading rusher with 117 yards, while Frank Gore sits at 74 yards on 55 carries. It’s safe to say the Jets need a boost out of the backfield and Bell could provide that.

The last reason this is crucial is because of a potential trade. With Bell likely out the door after this season, the team could use the next two or so games as a showcase for what Bell can do. If he’s the key cog in the offense for the next couple of games, don’t be surprised because that may be an order from management. A trade of Bell could shed around eight million dollars of cap space for the organization and potentially nab a mid rounder. It may not be the route the team goes, but it’s certainly a possibility.

One thing is for sure though, the Jets need some kind of fire on offense right now. That’s a fire that Bell can bring. Who knows, his return may just make this offense competitive.

Aaron Boone’s managerial decisions may have cost the New York Yankees the ALDS

New York Yankees, Aaron Boone

Late Friday evening, the New York Yankees dropped a decisive game five against the Tampa Bay Rays in the ALDS to be eliminated from the postseason. Many things went wrong for the New York Yankees, but maybe most importantly was Aaron Boone. Some of his decisions may have cost the Yankees the series, going back to game two.

Game two is when Boone pulled Deivi Garcia after just one inning and put in JA Happ. The goal was to flip the Rays lineup with lefty vs. lefty matchups, but Happ isn’t dominant against lefties. Batters had a .250 average off him from the left-hand side in the regular season. Happ would give up four runs in 2.2 innings, taking the loss.

The decision to pull Garcia in game two may have cost the Yankees a win in that game, and in that case, the team wouldn’t have even needed game five.

However for the Yankees, there was a game five. In the eighth inning, Boone pinch hit Mike Ford for Kyle Higashioka, resulting in a strikeout. Ford had just a .135 average in 2020, making Boone’s decision look skeptical. They should’ve either left Higashioka, who did an incredible job behind the plate this series, or pinch-hit Clint Frazier. Frazier bats a career .260 against right-handers, and would’ve been facing one of the toughest Rays right-handers in Diego Castillo.

And finally, Boone called on Aroldis Chapman in the seventh inning to try and get the final seven outs, mind you the game was tied. Chapman threw 23 pitches the night before, and was likely a bit gassed. Yet, Chapman is blamed for giving up the game-winning home run in a poorly managed game while the Yankees had just three hits. This isn’t Chapman’s fault.

Throughout the ALDS, the Yankees dealt with some inconsistent offense and poor umpiring. But ultimately, it may have been poor decisions from Aaron Boone and the Yankees that led to the team’s elimination.

New York Giants: Golden Tate and Jalen Ramsey silent about postgame brawl

New York Giants, Golden Tate

We’ve almost reached the division matchup between the New York Giants and the Dallas Cowboys, but the last game isn’t in the past yet. There’s certain things that have stuck around in the memory of fans and press. The lack of offense for the Giants was one of them, but another one is the fight between Golden Tate and Jalen Ramsey after the game. As of now, the league hasn’t issued a statement about the incident and both players are acting quiet about it to the media.

But it was impossible for Ramsey to avoid hearing about it as he had his first media availability since the original incident this Friday. During that conference call, he was predictably questioned on it.

“We’re gonna talk about football, man. Everybody has kind of answered it already and I keep telling y’all ‘no comment,’ so I’m not gonna get into nothing. We talk about football. We got the Washington Football Team this week and that’s what’s important, honestly,” Ramsey told reporters.

The conflict between the two players originally began because of Ramsey’s relationship with Golden Tate’s sister. Tate’s sister is the mother of Ramsey’s children, but the breakup between the two caused tension when Ramsey and Tate met on the field. Obviously, the tension boiled over before either player could leave the field.

Golden Tate gives his take

Tate himself had a similar stance to Ramsey on the matter.

“I don’t want to backpedal and discuss that because I don’t think, you know, going back to that is going to help us this week,” Tate had said on Thursday.

The situation could be of interest to Giants fans because it remains to be seen if the league is going to hand down a punishment. But considering how close it is to the next game and how no decision has been issued, that looks less and less likely. Neither team has chosen to take action and it seems like if the league were going to do something, it would have been done by now.

The game against the Cowboys will have bigger worries for the Giants than family drama – namely, avoiding an 0-5 start. And from what we’ve seen so far, we can expect Tate to be back on the field and back to himself for that matchup.

New York Yankees: The Rays are in bad taste and act like children after the game

Last night the New York Yankees lost the ALDS to the Tampa Bay Rays and drifted into the night having to wait for another chance at a World Series win. The Yankees were devastated after losing a tied game right up to the last minute, only to have Aroldis Chapman give up a home to the Rays’ Mike Brosseau for the Ray’s 2-1 win in the final game of the ALDS.

When the game was done, Ray’s all rushed to the field to celebrate, which would be expected.  They all greeted each other with high fives and hugs, while the Yankees sat in their dugout dejected, after fighting all kinds of obstacles and injuries, to get to the postseason and then lose it once again.

Then the tv cameras turned off, but the Tampa Bay Rays weren’t finished, in bad taste and in one of the most unsportsmanlike behaviors, the Rays weren’t happy enough with their win, they had to shove it in the face of hurting Yankee players, by playing “New York, New York” and Jay-Z’s “Empire State of mind” blaring from the dugout.  Many of them stood around the dugout and drank and smoked cigars. Last night they may have proved that they were the best team this season, but the also proved that many of them are classless baseball players that don’t know how to win graciously.

“We’re little kids trapped in grown men’s bodies,” veteran Kevin Kiermaier told Jerry Beach of the Associated Press after Wednesday’s night’s win over the Yankees.