Chiesa – Magny to headline UFC Fight Island 8; Chimaev – Edwards pushed back again

UFC Fight Island 8 has a new main event. Dana White told The Schmo last night that the promotion was moving forward with Michael Chiesa (17-4) and Neil Magny (24-7) as the main event of UFC Fight Island 8.

The fight between the top ten UFC welterweights was originally supposed to be the co-main event of the evening. However, after Khamzat Chimaev (9-0) had to pull out of the main event due to COVID, Chiesa and Magny get promoted.

White said in the interview that both of these guys deserve this spot. This will be the second UFC headliner for both Magny and Chiesa. Magny headlined a card with Kelvin Gastelum in 2015 while Chiesa headlined a card with Kevin Lee in 2017.

Chiesa has looked really good since moving up to the welterweight division. The former UFC lightweight had lost two in a row before making the jump to 170. Since doing that, he’s riding a three-fight winning streak.

Neil Magny made his UFC return in 2020 after serving a suspension. Magny went 3-0 this year and capped off his 2020 with a victory over former UFC welterweight champion, Robbie Lawler.

UFC will keep Chimaev – Edwards

After Khamzat Chimaev fell out of the UFC Fight Island 8 main event, Leon Edwards (18-3) made it clear that he still wanted to fight on January 20th. The promotion looked into options to accommodate Edwards.

However, ultimately the promotion decided to keep the Chimaev – Edwards fight together. White also told The Schmo that the UFC will keep the Edwards – Chimaev fight and it will be rebooked in early 2021.

Chimaev had COVID-19 in early December. Despite testing negative now, he’s still dealing with some of the effects. A doctor told him that he shouldn’t train until early January due to the impact on his lungs according to White.

The UFC President said there is no date for the matchup just yet. You have to really feel for Leon Edwards who missed all of 2020 due to the pandemic and other opportunities falling through. His last fight came in July of 2019.

New York Jets: The complicated legacy of Frank Gore

New York Jets fans constantly complained about Frank Gore’s usage. But the experienced rusher left a lasting impact on his young teammates.

When 2020 denied us sports, America talked about…well, sports.

The major professional sports leagues made their return amidst the ongoing health crisis (with varying degrees of success). But, in the interim, we, the sports-loving public, amused ourselves with icebreaker-like games on social media. One such pastime, played in a tongue-in-cheek manner, named “legends” from countless sports…but facetiously remembered them for their most obscure seasons and uniforms. Local examples included “Giants legend Kurt Warner” and “Knicks legend Tracy McGrady”. A reverse example would include Orlando Magic legend Patrick Ewing.

Frank Gore’s name could be a popular name when that game is inevitably played again. The running back is best known for his decade in San Francisco but has since embarked on a gridiron sabbatical that has taken him to Indianapolis, Miami, Buffalo, and the New York metropolitan area over the past six seasons.

Gore’s final NFL snaps could well come with the New York Jets, with whom he signed a one-year deal in March. This single season ended on Sunday in East Rutherford against Cleveland, as Gore will not play the Jets’ 2020-21 finale against New England on Sunday (1 p.m. ET, CBS) due to a lung contusion. Prior to departing, Gore made NFL history in a Jets uniform, joining Emmitt Smith and Walter Payton as the only members of the NFL’s 16,000-yard club. His entry was a bright spot in an otherwise bleak season for New York football, as the Jets’ 13-loss tally is their worst since 1996. Gore did manage to score a touchdown and earn a crucial catch in the Jets’ first win of the season, a 23-20 triumph over the Los Angeles Rams on December 20. 

Save for that memorable landmark, Gore, 37, has struggled to leave a true on-field landmark in a New York uniform. He was ostensibly seen as a spell option for Le’Veon Bell but was pressed into service upon the former’s release in October. Gore tallied 653 yards on 187 carries, two of which went for scores. He improved on yardage (up from 599 with the Bills last season) but the 3.5 average was the lowest of his career. 

The Miami alum has been mum about his future but seemed to hint that retirement was on the horizon following the Jets’ 34-28 loss to the Los Angeles Chargers in November. It was their tenth loss in a row to open the season. 

“We’re thinking about (0-16) every day,” Gore said, per Rich Cimini of ESPN. “We’ve got to get one. You don’t want to go 0-16, especially (since) this might be my last year. I can’t go out like that.”

One could hardly blame Gore for walking away. Sunday’s trip to New England will mark only the third NFL weekend over the past decade that won’t feature a dressed Gore. An elusive Super Bowl aside, he’s accomplished plenty at the NFL level, including five Pro Bowl invitations, a spot on the league’s All-Decade Team for the 2010s, and the 2016 Art Rooney Award for sportsmanship. Even if Gore sticks it out for another year, there’s no use in delaying the discussion on his legacy.

With his resume, Gore is likely on his way to football immortality in Canton. He’s likely well on his way to a one-day contract in San Francisco so he can retire a 49er. The team will likely retire his No. 21 when fans are allowed to visit Levi’s Stadium again. His previous employers during his traveling days are inching toward completed rebuilds, but the Jets are set to complete one of the most brutal seasons in their already star-crossed history. With Gore possibly set to move on before the renovations are completed, it’s fair to see what role he’ll be eventually remembered for in this latest chapter of change, especially with his name etched all over this year of toil and drudgery.

 Mandatory Credit: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

In the eyes of some observers, Gore will be seen only as a hindrance. It was clear at several points this season that he was no longer capable of a primary rusher’s workload. Signed with the intentions of being a spell back, it was clear Gore was meant to be a temporary solution, not part of the Jets’ plans beyond the start of the new decade. When the situation became increasingly dire, the Jets had an opportunity to take advantage of free research and development. Instead, Gore continued to receive a majority of the New York carries over La’Mical Perine, Ty Johnson, and Josh Adams.

An opportunity was there for the Jets to cross an item off their offseason shopping list, a chance to audition someone like the fourth-round rookie Perine or Johnson, the first Jet to reach triple digits in yardage in a single game in over two full calendar years after Gore was hurt in a December loss to Las Vegas. Gore got his retirement tour, though, perhaps stemming from the relationship he previously built with head coach Adam Gase in Miami.

Yet, Gore has a chance to leave a positive impact on One Jets Drive, especially if the words of his teammates are to be believed.

If anyone knows about rising from the depths of the football underworld, it’s Gore. He first did so on a personal level, recovering from a devastating ACL tear at the University of Miami in 2002 (where he beat out future NFL starter Willis McGahee for starter’s reps in his sophomore season) to become a third-round pick of the 49ers in the 2005 draft. If retirement is truly on the way, Gore’s career is bookended by some truly garish times on the turf. It took him seven seasons to just to experience a winning record in the pros, as he and other homegrown San Francisco talents (Alex Smith, Patrick Willis, Vernon Davis, NaVorro Bowman, Colin Kaepernick, and Joe Staley among them) eventually built them into Super Bowl contenders.

If there’s any voice the players of this developing team needed to hear, it was that of the resilient Gore.

“The young guys including myself and all the guys on the team look at him and you just want to embody everything that he shows on a day-to-day basis,” Jets quarterback Sam Darnold said of Gore, per Andy Vazquez of “It’s so consistent, and that’s why he’s had such a long career, that’s why he’s had the career that he’s had, because of how consistent he is day-to-day, regardless of circumstance. He isn’t a “rah-rah” guy, but you know when he has something to say, people listen and it’s important. He’s a great leader for this team and one of the best ones to ever do it. I’m super happy to have played with him and very grateful to play with him this year.”

“Frank, man, he’s like no other,” wide receiver Breshad Perriman, a rare veteran in the Jets’ organization, said of Gore in a training camp report from Rich Cimini of ESPN. “If you know Frank, if you see him work, especially in the offseason, he grinds so hard. He works like he’s young, you know what I’m saying? Like he’s young, like he hasn’t accomplished anything. He’s still got that hunger, that drive, and you see it every time he works. You have to respect that.”

For a player like Perine, a third-day choice looking to prove why he belongs at the NFL level, Gore was a welcoming prescience, a bright light to turn to.

“We come in every week and meet one-on-one to go over the plays, every Wednesday. He’s a guy I look up to, Perine told team reporter Jack Bell in October. “I’m trying to find my routine, and he has a good routine. I just hope I can last as long as he has. He’s a great leader on and off the field. I just try to learn from him.”

At the end of the day, Gore’s Jets career, seemingly set to last only 15 games, won’t be fondly remembered by metropolitan football fans, at least not in the present day. If his words and experiences can even lead to even one unexpected victory, they’ll come to appreciate his brief time in green, even if it comes in an unwitting fashion.

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags

Rangers start a new chapter with Igor Shesterkin the new No. 1

The New York Rangers begin a new chapter in their storied history next week when Igor Shesterkin starts training camp as the team’s number one goaltender.

For the past 14 seasons, the New York Rangers have had Henrik Lundqvist lead the team onto the ice to start their season. Now a new beginning will begin when training camp opens next week.

25-year-old Igor Shestrkin will now take the torch as he and his Rangers teammates look to build on the successful season the club had last season. Replacing an icon will be no easy task for the rookie goalie.

Shesterkin made his NHL debut last January with a victory over the Colorado Avalanche at Madison Square Garden. He went on to win 10 of his first 12 games and in the process was designated the team’s number one goaltender.

That decision by head coach David Quinn moved Lundqvist to a backup role with Shestrkin gaining confidence from his teammates while adapting to a faster game on the ice than was the case while he was in Hartford playing with the Wolf Pack.

A New Begining

The goalie only played in one game when the team competed in the “Play-In” best of three playoffs against the Carolina Hurricanes due to an injury, but this story truly begins with the upcoming 2020-2021 abbreviated season.

Now Shestrkin will be relied upon to sharpen his skills in a quick two-week training camp that will not include any exhibition games. He will feel the importance of his role on this team immediately and without room for errors.

The pressure on the rookie has been felt even before he steps on the ice for his first training camp. Sportsnet’s Luke Fox predicted Shestrkin would win the Calder Trophy this season. The Calder is awarded to the top rookie in the NHL every season.

Fox said in his report,

Not since Columbus’s Steve Mason captured the NHL’s Rookie of the Year honours in 2009 has a netminder claimed the award.

New York Rangers phenom Igor Shesterkin — a.k.a. the reason Henrik Lundqvist was bought out — ends that streak with a stellar campaign and further establishes himself as the heir to the King’s throne.

Shesterkin, 24, will build upon his 10-2, .932 performance toward the end of 2019-20 and earn more votes than Calder finalists Alexis Lafreniere (also Rangers) and Kirill Kaprizov (Wild).

An impressive prediction considering he has only appeared in 12 NHL games. Shestrkin has won at every level he has played in so the recognition should not be a surprise, but that won’t help elevate the expectations for him this season.

Skill And Agility

Shesterkin’s stickhandling ability is something the Rangers have never really seen from a goaltender in past seasons. He can handle the puck well behind the net which adds another dimension to the team’s defense. He also has a knack for clearing the puck up ice for a fast transition from defense to offense.

He also is a very good skater which enables him to get from one side of the net to the other effortlessly. He is able to come out of his net to cut down shooting angles of his opponent with the quickness to get back and stop shots coming from across the ice.

This is a new Rangers hockey team. Shesterkin will need to focus early on and find ways to win the tough, close hockey games in a condensed 56-game schedule.

The work finally begins next week in Tarrytown, NY at the club’s practice facility.  A new era is set to begin in Rangerstown at the toughest position in the sport.

Shestrkin has given the club and its fans every indication he is up for the challenge.