Kevin Holland rebooked against Jacare Souza at UFC 256

Kevin Holland

It’s turned out to be a game of middleweight musical chairs in the UFC today. Originally, Kevin Holland (20-5) was set to take on Jack Hermansson next weekend in the card’s headliner.

However, it was reported today that Holland tested positive for COVID-19. Thus, the UFC had to move in a different direction. Marvin Vettori was originally scheduled to fight at UFC 256 against Jacare Souza (26-8, 1 NC).

The promotion went to Vettori and asked him to substitute for Holland. After both fighters agreed, the UFC booked a new headliner for next weekend featuring Vettori and Hermansson. However, that left Souza and Holland without opponents.

Well, on tonight’s UFC Vegas 15 broadcast, the promotion announced that Holland will be fighting Jacare Souza at UFC 256. So in the end, Vettori and Holland just ended up swapping places to keep the fights together.

UFC 256’s new matchup

Kevin Holland is on the shortlist of guys who could make the claim that they are fighter of the year. Holland has won all four of his UFC fights in 2020. He’s looked sensational and he’s knocking on the door of the top 15.

A win at UFC 256 over Jacare would put him at 5-0 in 2020 while giving him the biggest win of his career in terms of name. The PPV will be the first time that we’ve seen Jacare since he lost a split decision to Jan Blachowicz last November.

Souza decided to move up to light heavyweight and had a competitive fight with the now champion. However, Souza decided that he wanted to move back down to the UFC‘s middleweight division.

At 40 years old, there’s no telling on how many fights Jacare has left. One thing is for sure and that is that he’s hungry to snap his two fight losing streak. Jacare only has one win in his last four and that was his knockout over Chris Weidman.

 

New York Giants: A Week 12 win is necessary with difficult upcoming schedule

New York Giants, Daniel Jones

The New York Giants are fresh off of a bye week, ready to face off against the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 12. This is a critical game for the 3-7 Giants who sit one game back from first place in the NFC East. New York is still flying high off of their clutch victories against their rival Football Team and Eagles in Weeks 9 and 10, but need to continue their winning streak to stay alive in the playoff race.

The Cincinnati Bengals are 2-7-1 and lost last week to Washington. But for Cincinnati, it feelsN like they lost twice in one week. Not only did they fail to come out on top against Washington, but they also lost star rookie quarterback Joe Burrow to a season-ending injury. This means the Giants will face the Bengals and their backup quarterback Brandon Allen on Sunday.

This is the Giants’ most winnable game left on their schedule until Week 17. New York is in a prime position to pick up a momentum-building victory in Week 12 against a Bengals team starting a backup quarterback and possessing one of the worst defenses in the NFL.

This is a must-win game for the Giants. Not just because they are playing against an inferior opponent (that does not usually happen, especially when you are 3-7). But this is also a must-win game because there are not many winnable games left on the Giants’ schedule.

Who do the Giants have left?

After the Giants’ Week 12 matchup with the Cincinnati Bengals, they will enter a four-week period where they play some of the best teams in the NFL. The Giants will travel to Seattle in Week 13 to play the Super Bowl-contending Seahawks. Then, New York will host the Arizona Cardinals, another certain playoff team that could be a darkhorse Super Bowl candidate.

After facing off with those two NFC West teams, the Giants will face off against two more AFC North teams. In Week 15, the Giants will host the 7-3, red hot Cleveland Browns. Cleveland has looked like a legitimate playoff contender the last couple of weeks and is heating up for a playoff run. Then, in Week 16, the Giants are going to be on the road again as they play the Baltimore Ravens. The Ravens are a team that has struggled at times this season, but they are still 6-4 and playoff contenders. Entering the season, Baltimore was a Super Bowl contender.

That is four weeks of playoff teams for the Giants after this Bengals matchup. Getting one last win before facing these four superior squads is crucial for the Giants. Furthermore, beating a bruised and battered Bengals team is necessary for the 3-7 Giants. This will be their last favorable matchup until they play the imploding Cowboys in Week 17. Now is the time to really prove that the Giants are better than their record indicates.

New York Giants update: Ximines done for year, McKinney, Crowder activated

New York Giants, Oshane Ximines

The New York Giants are expected to gain back several players on Sunday against the Cincinnati Bengals, but one is hitting injured reserve for the rest of the season in an unexpected move. Second-year pass rusher Oshane Ximines had been dealing with a shoulder issue for the majority of the season and was expected to make his return in week 12. However, the Giants announced that he is being placed on season-ending IR after recording just five tackles, three QB hits, and zero sacks this season over four games.

Ximines was expected to have a breakout season alongside Lorenzo Carter on the opposite side of the defensive line. With a stout interior defense, the outside linebacker position was a big question mark, but the Giants have the talent to maximize their efforts. Nonetheless, injuries are part of the game and have subsequently forced out both of their expected starters before the season began.

Big blue made several other moves prior to Sunday’s game against the Bengals.

Per the Giants:

Two rookies – linebacker Tae Crowder and safety Xavier McKinney – were activated from the team’s injured reserve list. Kicker Graham Gano was activated from the Reserve/Covid-19 list. And rookie defensive end Niko Lalos was a standard elevation from the practice squad.

The Giants activated linebacker Tae Crowder and safety Xavier McKinney from the injured list. Crowder, who was the last pick in the 2020 NFL draft, played in five games this season, compiling 18 tackles, one fumble recovery, and one defensive touchdown. He didn’t show anything flashy but managed to get the job done in their first victory of the year against Washington. A hamstring injury severely limited his progression afterward, and this will be his first opportunity to see live-action since.
McKinney, who was the highest-rated safety on the board in the draft, fractured his foot early in training camp. He is designated for return, and the Giants will likely ease him into the defense and hopefully get him some reps in week 12.
The Giants also activated Graham Gano from the COVID-19/reserve list and elevated Niko Lalos from the practice squad.

Marvin Vettori replaces Kevin Holland in UFC Vegas 16 headliner

Earlier today it was announced that Kevin Holland had tested positive for COVID-19 and was out of his UFC Vegas 16 headliner. Jack Hermansson (21-5) was going to remain in the headliner, but an opponent hadn’t been finalized.

Ariel Helwani was reporting that the UFC was leaning towards Marvin Vettori (15-4-1) as the replacement. Vettori was scheduled to take on Jacare Souza at UFC 256 in just a couple of weeks. However, bout agreements hadn’t been sent out as of this morning.

Well, MMA Junkie is now reporting that the proposed matchup is finalized. The UFC has booked Marvin Vettori against Jack Hermansson in the main event of next Saturday’s UFC Vegas 16 card.

In many ways, this fight is better than the original matchup with Kevin Holland. Unlike Holland, Vettori is in the top 15 of the UFC‘s middleweight division. This is the third proposed opponent for Hermansson for his headliner next weekend.

UFC Vegas 16’s New Main Event

Vettori will go into next weekend as the UFC‘s 13th ranked contender at middleweight. The only man to have gotten the better of Vettori over his past five fights is the current middleweight champion, Israel Adesanya.

This is a massive opportunity for The Italian Dream. Vettori was already scheduled for a big bump up in competition, but getting a headlining spot was something that Vettori simply couldn’t pass up. It also will earn him more props with the UFC.

As mentioned above, this is the third scheduled opponent for Jack Hermansson. Originally, The Joker was supposed to take on Darren Till. This was a huge fight, but it fell through after Till suffered an injury. 

That is when the promotion shifted to the Kevin Holland fight. Holland is a fighter of the year contender having gone 4-0 in 2020. However, today’s news of the positive COVID test has thrown that off.

You have to respect Hermansson for being willing to take on any challenger in his UFC main event. Hermansson is looking to pickup his second consecutive win after dominating Kelvin Gastelum over the summer.

New York Yankees History: Why are there so many star Yankee players not in the Hall of Fame?

rob manfred, mlb

The New York Yankees have had some of the best players in baseball in their 107-year glorious history. Many of those players are in the American Baseball Hall of Fame, but many Yankee greats are not. Many wonder why players like Thurman Munson, Bernie Williams, and Andy Pettitte aren’t in that prestigious group of baseball immortals.

Although many believe the baseball writers who select and vote on the nominees have a bias against the Yankees, there is no simple answer. I can’t verify or deny that notion. Players are currently inducted into the Hall of Fame through election by either the Baseball Writers’ Association of America (or BBWAA) or the Veterans Committee, which now consists of four subcommittees of which considers and votes for candidates from a separate era of baseball.

The criteria that are used by the writers give them a lot of latitude in the selection process.

  1. Playing ability
  2. Integrity
  3. Sportsmanship
  4. Character
  5. Contribution to the team(s) on which they played.

There is no way to know how much emphasis each writer places in each area of the criteria. For instance, one writer might put a huge part of his decision on the fact that Andy Pettitte used PEDs for a short time in an otherwise stellar and moral career. Another writer may feel that it is a small blip in a historic career.

First, let look a the New York Yankee players that have never been considered or never got the needed votes for inclusion. All are for sure Yankee superstars. Let’s start in the infield: 1st base; Don Mattingly, Mattingly was the Bomber’s face of the 1980s. From 1984 to 1989, Mattingly played like a Hall of Famer, with a .327/.372/.530 slash line, netting an AL-MVP, six all-star appearances, five Gold Glove awards, and three Silver Sluggers. 2nd base; Willie Randolph. Although Randolph was never a power hitter, he hit for contact and walked 675 times in his career. His career WAR of 65.9 is 13th all-time among all second basemen, ahead of players like Craig Biggio, Jackie Robinson, and Chase Utley.

Non-Hall of Famer Yankees at third base is Graig Nettles and Alex Rodriguez. There might be an excuse for A-Rod not being inducted, his drug use, and his combative nature. But there is hardly any excuse that Nettles, one of the best hot corner men ever, isn’t enshrined. At shortstop Derek Jeter is in, but one of the most famous New York Yankees shortstops of all time is not. Frank Crosetti, back in the ’30s and 40’s Crosetti was known as one of the best shortstops for that period. One of the biggest Hall of Fame booboos is that catcher Thruman Munson is not enshrined.

The Yankees’ outfield also has its share of non-Hall of Famers. One that immediately stands out is Paul O’Neill. O’Neill was both a DH and right fielder, although he spent most of his time in right field at the Stadium. He slashed a career .303/.377/.492. The Warrior’s .303 over nine years with the Yankees should alone be enough to qualify him. In Centerfield, there is Bernie Williams, one of the most popular Yankee players of all time. In left field, there is Charlie Keller. Keller Keller gets the nod because of his insanely great peak. From 1940 to 1943, Keller was a six-win player on average, with a .531 slugging percentage and a .410 on-base percentage. He averaged over 100 walks per season. In his thirteen-year career, he had a 43.5 WAR.

On the pitching side of the equation, Andy Pettitte isn’t in the Hall of Fame; either is Roger Clemens, Tommy John, Luis Tiant, and of course the Yankees famed pitcher Don Larsen. Larsen is the only pitcher to have ever have pitched a perfect game in the World Series. Clemens probably will never be considered by the Veteran committee due to his drug use and lawsuits. Pettitte on the other hand has been nominated and voted for, but has not reached the necessary voted to be inducted. Other famous Yankee pitchers are also not in the Hall. David Cone and Ron Guidry.

Although these famous players have not reached the Baseball Hall of Fame most all of them are immortalized in Monument Park at Yankee Stadium. Many of them have had their Yankee numbers retired. Having your number retired means that you were one of the greatest New York Yankees ever, and deserving of that honor.

One of the greatest of Yankees was closer Mariano Rivera, he is in the Hall of Fame being the first player to ever be inducted in the Hall of Fame on the first ballot by a unanimous vote.

Although it may seem the Hall picks on the Yankees for not enshrining its best players, the Yankees are not the only ones ignored. The writers have also failed to induct Curt Shilling, Billy Wagner, Dan Quisenberry, Joe Mauer, Dick Allen, Mark McGwire, Adrian Beltre, and many other great players including Barry Bonds. Nevertheless, if you look through the Yankee players highlighted in bold print, they are some of the most famous players in baseball during the last eighty years.

The following Yankees have not been mentioned in this article as they are not yet eligible to be nominated. Mark Teixeira, Melky Cabrera, CC Sabathia, Ichiro Suzuki, Curtis Granderson, Brian McCann, and Matt Holliday, they will all become eligible in the next six years.

All stats referenced to were from baseball-reference.com. EmpireSportsMedia.com’s Columnist William Parlee, is a member of the Society for American Baseball Research. Follow me on Twitter @parleewilliam.

UFC booking Clay Guida – Michael Johnson

The UFC is close to finalizing an entertaining lightweight scrap for Super Bowl weekend. Clay Guida (35-20) posted on his official Facebook page today that he will be taking on Michael Johnson (19-16) on February 6th.

This is one of those matchups that doesn’t mean anything when it comes to UFC rankings. However, this fight should be pretty entertaining as both fighters are known for their entertaining fights.

Guida will go into the UFC‘s Fight Night on February 6th on a two fight losing streak. At 38 years old, Guida is probably nearing the end of the line in his UFC career. However, he’s shown recently that there’s still some fight left in the tank.

The Carpenter has been inducted into the Hall of Fame for his fight with Diego Sanchez years ago that people still talk about. Guida has had a very solid and successful run in the UFC that dates back to 2006.

UFC do or die match

Michael Johnson will enter the UFC octagon on February 6th on a three fight losing streak. Johnson is an interesting case because he’s shown such promise at times, and other times he’s been completely outclassed.

During his UFC career, Johnson has had high points like defeating Edson Barboza and knocking out Dustin Poirier. However, he’s also had low points like right now being on a three fight losing streak.

This is the fourth multiple fight losing streak that Johnson has had in the UFC. If he cannot pickup the victory on Super Bowl weekend, I’m not sure if he’ll remain on the roster much longer.

White has talked about recently how much the UFC has grown. We’ve seen a ton of fighters added through the Contender Series and the Ultimate Fighter is returning next year which should bring in more talent.

With that in mind, the promotion is always looking at trimming the fat. Whoever loses on February 6th might be looking at the end. I think Johnson is the most vulnerable, but both can’t feel comfortable. The desperation should lead to a fantastic matchup.

New York Jets: Sam Darnold, receivers will finally be together

New York Jets, Sam Darnold

 

Sam Darnold hasn’t played in a single game this season with all of the Jets’ top targets. Before the season, in free agency and the draft, the team made considerable strides to add to their receiving corps with the additions of Breshad Perriman and Denzel Mims. These two players, along with Jamison Crowder, have all shown playmaking ability on the field. Now, they’ll finally get to pair their skills, on the field, with Darnold.

The New York Jets will be playing the Miami Dolphins tomorrow, still looking for their first win of the season. CBS Sports’ Pete Prisco predicts that they will get their first, beating Miami 26-23. That would be a huge feat, on a few levels. Firstly, it would be the first win of their season, as already stated and known. Second, Darnold needs to show that he can still be a winning quarterback in the NFL, either with the Jets or another franchise. Lastly, if Darnold stays, building continuity with the receivers, who have been playing pretty well despite the losses without him, is key.

Sam Darnold last played against the Kansas City Chiefs in Week 8, missing the last two games (Jets had a bye in Week 10). Over those two games, all three top receivers have played together. In those games, their overall production has been a nice sight and has caused some excitement. The three top receivers, which have been Perriman, Mims and Jamison Crowder respectively, should be excited to have Darnold back, as well.

The wideouts

Breshad Perriman was brought in to be the main deep-threat guy, pretty much replacing Robby Anderson. Over the last two games, he has totaled 7 receptions for 155 yards and 3 touchdowns. The 22.1 yards per reception average has led the team, along with the touchdowns during that span, including two against the division-rival Patriots.

Second-round rookie Denzel Mims has shown his capability of being a very good well-rounded wideout, as well. Over the last two games, he has totaled 7 receptions for 133 yards. The thing that sticks out, especially to possibly delusional Jets fans like myself, is that he has the ability to win tough catches. With great size at 6’3″, 207 pounds, he can be that go-to big target for Darnold, or whoever is playing quarterback next season. He showed that catching ability on one exciting play against the Chargers last week:

I am, perhaps, most excited for the Darnold-Mims duo tomorrow. They have been able to play zero snaps, let alone games, together this season. Videos and clips of them together from the preseason was cause for excitement, but it, unfortunately, hasn’t had the chance to translate yet.

The final piece of the top-three Jets wideouts is Jamison Crowder. To begin the season, he missed two of the first five games. Although, in the three he played, two with Darnold, he totaled 22 receptions for 335 yards and 2 touchdowns. The last two games, however, haven’t been as dominant. Over the last two, he’s totaled just 3 receptions for 42 yards and a touchdown. Those numbers should be expected to increase.

Crowder has been the go-to guy for Darnold over the last two seasons and has helped build a confident connection between the two.

With Perriman being the deep-threat, Mims being an intermediate-to-deep playmaker and Crowder being a short-to-intermediate option primarily, Sam Darnold will finally be surrounded by the best the Jets have to offer.

UFC: Khabib Nurmagomedov buys Gorilla Fighting Championship (Report)

There is some news that has come out involving UFC lightweight champion, Khabib Nurmagomedov. However, the news isn’t about his return to the promotion, but instead, it’s about his interest in becoming a promoter.

Per a report by RT, the UFC lightweight champion has purchased Gorilla Fighting Championship for an estimated $1 million. The Russian based mixed martial arts promotion has hosted over 30 events in the Middle East.

There has been no word on exactly what the future holds for Nurmagomedov. Back in October at UFC 254, Nurmagomedov stormed through Justin Gaethje to retain his lightweight championship. After the fight, Khabib laid his gloves in the octagon and retired. 

Since then, we haven’t been sure about what was next. Nurmagomedov remained adamant that he was staying retired. However, UFC President Dana White is convinced that Nurmagomedov will come back to try to get to that magical 30-0 that was his father’s dream.

Up until this point, there has not been any serious discussions regarding Khabib’s fighting future. Nurmagomedov posted on Instagram a picture of him and White with the cryptic message of, “See you soon.” No one really knew what the post meant.

Nurmagomedov’s UFC Future

For now, we know that there is a Press Conference scheduled for Nurmagomedov on December 2nd. While it was initially speculated that this could be about his UFC future, it’s becoming clear that it will likely involve GFC.

The current plan is for Khabib to have a discussion with the UFC President. However, it’s unclear about if the discussions are going to be about his fighting future. Perhaps the talks will be centered on the art of being a promoter.

One thing I could see is Nurmagomedov becoming a partner with the UFC. There are rumors that GFC will become Eagle Fighting Championship. I could see the UFC partnering with Nurmagomedov to help develop talent in the Middle East.

Don’t be shocked if you see this Russian promotion become a fixture on Fight Pass. As of now, I think that’s all were going to see from Nurmagomedov. Perhaps he still comes back, but for now, it seems like he’s focused on other things.

Kevin Holland out of UFC Vegas 16 Main Event

Kevin Holland

The UFC hits from COVID just keep on coming. Yesterday, we found out tonight’s main event fell out at the last minute due to a positive test with Curtis Blaydes. Now, we have found out that next week’s main event has lost a headliner.

Kevin Holland (20-5) announced this morning via Twitter that he is out of UFC Vegas 16. Holland was scheduled to face Jack Hermansson (21-5) in the main event. This was a massive fight for Kevin Holland.

In October of last year, Holland was submitted by Branden Allen. Since then, he’s gone on an incredible run in the UFC. Holland has won all four of his fights since May of this year. He was on the shortlist for fighter of the year.

Due to an injury with Darren Till, Holland was getting this main event shot against Hermansson. Had Holland been able to defeat Hermansson, he would have likely shot into the top ten of the UFC‘s middleweight division.

For now, his plans for advancement are on halt. However, 2020 has still been a sensational year for Kevin Holland. It’s very rare for a fighter to have the opportunity to go 5-0 in a year. Holland had that chance, but should still be proud of the incredible 4-0 year.

What is the UFC’s Plan?

As of now, the UFC is still planning on having Jack Hermansson fight in the main event next week according to Ariel Helwani. However, an opponent has not been finalized. There is talk of Marvin Vettori stepping in to take the fight.

This would be a sensational matchup for the UFC to make, and you know that Vettori would be down to take the fight. The Italian Dream is currently scheduled to take on Jacare Souza at UFC 256, but there are serious talks of him moving up.

Vettori is looking to really put himself on the map. He’s won three in a row and the last person to defeat him is the current UFC middleweight champion, Israel Adesanya. We will keep following this story.

New York Yankees Report Card: Adam Ottavino, what happened to the $27 million man?

New York Yankees, Adam Ottavino

New York Yankees relief pitcher Adam Ottavino is a veteran reliever that has spent most of his career with the Colorado Rockies. He started as a starter for the St. Luis Cardinals. But as a reliever, he pitched successfully for the Rockies for seven years before becoming a New York Yankee. He had a relatively pedestrian 2017. After that, he set up a full-size bullpen in downtown New York City. Ottavino is a New York boy attending the city’s public schools. Ottavino, in his new gym, applied technology and high-speed cameras to tweak his pitching style.

Adam Ottavino mostly fixed his control for his efforts and had a 6-4 season with the Rockies with a 2.43 ERA in 77 innings of relief. That kind of season got him a $27 million three year contract with the New York Yankees. The Yankees got their monies worth in 2019 he Ottavino had a 1.90 ERA and a record of 6-5. However, this collapse at the season ended was concerning.

Ottavino went into 2020 with much hope of being a combination stopper and setup man for the Yankees. Unfortunately, he ended the season 2-3 with a dismal 5.89 ERA while pitching only 18 innings. He didn’t lose velocity and didn’t lose control, but he collapsed even quicker in this short season. In one game against the Toronto Blue Jays, he gave up two walks, four hits, and six earned runs without recording an out in the eventual 12-7 Yankee loss. In the postseason, he only pitched 2/3’s of an inning and gave up a run.

Adam Ottavino’s 2020 report card reads C-.

C minus may not seem all that bad, but it’s actually horrible for a supposed stopper, and Ottavino in interviews couldn’t really explain what was going on. If you can’t determine what’s wrong, it really difficult to make the adjustments necessary to correct the deficiency.   By the time the playoffs came around, Ottavino was all but lost, pitching just two-thirds of an inning and allowing a run against the Tampa Bay Rays in Game Two of the American League Division Series. Even with Ottavino’s past regular season successes, he’s been a train wreck in every postseason; small sample sizes be damned. He currently owns a 7.04 ERA in 12 games.

Ottavino is now in the last year of his contract with the Yankees; if he doesn’t improve this year, he will be packing his bags. Although Ottavino doesn’t know what’s wrong, he seems to lose gas to the casual observer as the season progresses both in 2019 and 2020. For him, that means he loses his ability to pitch to the corners. In 2020 he threw meatballs right down the middle of the plate. Those meatballs counted for 12.4% of his pitches compared to a 7.7% rate during his career.

With Tommy Kahnle gone for the season after having Tommy John surgery, Ottavino will certainly get plenty of opportunities to show his stuff. Ottavino is close to but not quite one of the best relievers in baseball. His performance in 2021 with the Yankees will have an enormous bearing on the state of the Yankees’ bullpen as well as his checking account. At 35 years old, he is running out of time.