New York Giants: Jason Garrett not favored as Chargers HC, likely to return

New York Giants, Austin Mack, Jason Garrett

Some New York Giants fans might have been hoping the Chargers would take Jason Garrett off the hands of the team, but it doesn’t look so likely that a deal will happen. While Garrett did interview to become the head coach of the Chargers, reports are coming out that indicate the team is interested in another candidate.

That candidate is Bills OC Brian Daboll, whose team is still alive in the AFC playoffs following a win against Baltimore.

Jordan Raanan has reported that the feeling around the league is that Daboll is the favorite for the Chargers. If that does happen, it looks like Garrett will come back for another year with the Giants.

The Giants haven’t shown any signs they want to move on from Garrett, and statements from John Mara seem to indicate the opposite. And so far, it looks like the Chargers job is the only other job that Garrett has interviewed for.

Garrett had a tough outing in his first year, of course. He had to alter his plans due to Saquon Barkley going down early in the season, but few would say the Giants offense adapted well to the change.

While the Giants were able to show flashes of potential in some of their wins, Garrett was criticized for a lackluster passing game and not calling creative routes that would allow receivers to get separation.

But with his first year disrupted by limited offseason training due to COVID-19 as well as the injury to Barkley, it seems the Giants organization is willing to give Garrett another go next season. After all, if the team didn’t want Garrett back, we would have heard about it by now.

Buffalo Bills: Three stars from Saturday’s win vs. Baltimore

The Buffalo Bills are headed to the AFC Championship Game for the first time since 1994 after a dominant second half against Baltimore.

A celebration 27 years in the making commenced in Orchard Park on Saturday night.

Stefon Diggs earned 106 yards on eight receptions, one of which went for a score, while cornerback Taron Johnson returned an interception 101 yards for another. Both scores came in the third quarter and allowed the Bills (15-3) to pick up a 17-3 lead over the Baltimore Ravens in the AFC Divisional playoffs.

The Bills now awaited the winner of the other leg of the AFC Divisional round, with the matchup between the Kansas City Chiefs and Cleveland Browns set to go down on Sunday (3:05 p.m. ET, CBS). If Cleveland wins, the conference championship will be held at Orchard Park, while the Bills will hit the road if Kansas City triumphs.

ESM has three stars who played a major role in Saturday’s game…

3rd Star: WR Stefon Diggs

Stefon Diggs and the Divisional playoff round…after the Minneapolis Miracle and providing the biggest offensive spark on Saturday, it’s hard to find a better combination. Josh Allen wasn’t his usual 2020-21 self, but captured a semblance of it with Diggs, particularly during the game-changing 66-yard drive to open the second half. Facing a brutal 2nd-and-16 after a Pernell McPhee sack, Allen went to Diggs for a 20-yard gain that put the Bills back in Baltimore territory. After some collaboration with Devin Singletary, Allen found Diggs for the score that gave the Bills the lead for good, a three-yard pass to make it a 10-3 game.

2nd Star: CB Taron Johnson

Johnson may not be a household name quite yet, but arguably no one has done more to shift postseason momentum to the Buffalo side than Johnson. One week ago during the Wild Card round, Johnson’s crucial goal-line tackle of Jonathan Taylor on third-and-goal led to a turnover-on-downs and prevented Indianapolis from taking a scary two-possession lead. This time around, Johnson’s shifting became NFL history, as he took back a Lamar Jackson interception 101 yards for a touchdown, tying an NFL playoff record that George Teague held by himself for 27 years.

1st Star: DE Jerry Hughes

One of the Bills’ rare leftovers from their 17-year playoff drought…which becomes more distant of a memory with each passing victory…Hughes played a major role in making Jackson and the Baltimore run game feel uncomfortable. Hughes posted his second multi-sack playoff game in Buffalo (his first coming during their postseason cameo in Houston last year) with two takedowns and two other quarterback hits. The latter category might’ve been even bigger than his sacks. One play before Johnson’s pick-six to glory, pressure from Hughes forced Jackson to rush his pass to a wide-open Marquise Brown. The resulting incompletion paved the way for Johnson to make history and for the Bills’ conference title game dreams become an even truer reality.

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags

WATCH: CB Taron Johnson makes history, shifts momentum to Buffalo

Johnson made NFL history with a 101-yard defensive score, giving the Buffalo Bills a two-score lead in the Divisional tilt vs. Baltimore.

The AFC Divisional playoff tilt between the Buffalo Bills and Baltimore Ravens failed to live up to its high-profile offensive billing through nearly three quarters. But the Bills defense was happy to make up for it.

Shortly after the Bills took a 10-3 lead through an 11-play, 66-yard drive that ended on a three-yard connection between Josh Allen and Stefon Diggs, Baltimore looked poised to knot things up with a long drive of their own. But on the 15th play, Bills cornerback Taron Johnson kept the momentum in the Western New York corner with NFL history. Johnson’s interception, taking a pass intended for tight end Mark Andrews wound up going coast-to-coast, a 101-yard return to glory for a pick-six that shook Orchard Park to its core. Johnson’s triple-digit runback ties the longest interception return in NFL history, uniting with George Teague of Green Bay, who accomplished the feat during the 1994 NFC Wild Card round against Detroit.

Should Buffalo hang on for the win, this would arguably be the second consecutive week where a big play from Johnson permanently put momentum on the Bills’ side. Last weekend in Indianapolis, Johnson stopped Jonathan Taylor from scoring on third-and-goal, one yard away from the Buffalo end zone. Had Taylor scored, the Colts would’ve had 17-6 lead late in the first half. The big stop led to a turnover-on-downs on the next play, with Buffalo taking the game by a 27-24 final. Johnson is in the midst of his third season with the Bills, chosen in the fourth round of the 2018 draft.

Buffalo continues to hold a 17-3 lead on the Ravens in the fourth quarter. The winner of Saturday’s game will battle the winner of Sunday’s tilt between Kansas City and Cleveland (3:05 p.m. ET, CBS) in the AFC title game.

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags

 

Dana White announces Stipe Miocic – Francis Ngannou 2 will headline UFC 260

MMA, Stipe Miocic

Yesterday it was reported that the UFC was looking to book two big title fights for their second PPV in March. This morning, the news broke that the promotion had finalized the co-main event with Alexander Volkanovski taking on Brian Ortega. 

At the UFC Fight Island 7 post-fight press conference, White announced that they had finalized the main event. White said that Stipe Miocic (20-3) will be defending his heavyweight title in a rematch against Francis Ngannou (15-3) on March 27th.

UFC 260 now has their two title fights officially booked and the main event is one that fans have been waiting for. The heavyweight division has been halted over the last few years with the trilogy between Miocic and Daniel Cormier.

Miocic has fought Cormier in all three of his last three fights. Their trilogy concluded at UFC 252 when Miocic was able to win by unanimous decision. Outside of the first fight where Miocic was knocked out by DC, Miocic hasn’t lost since 2014.

Miocic first fought Francis Ngannou back at UFC 220 in January of 2018. Ngannou was riding a ton of momentum and I think he bought into his own hype. Miocic humbled the challenger and dominated him over five rounds.

UFC champion as the underdog?

That loss did a number on Francis Ngannou. He was being built up as this untouchable force in the UFC and Stipe Miocic just completely controlled him. The fight shook him so bad that in his next fight against Derrick Lewis, he hardly threw any strikes.

As a result, he lost his second straight fight. However, after that loss, Ngannou rededicated himself to the sport and he hasn’t looked back. The Predator will go into the rematch on a four-fight winning streak.

However, it’s not just the fact that he’s won four in a row. It’s the fact that none of those fights have gone more than 71 seconds. He last fought at UFC 249 where he knocked out the previously unbeaten, Jairzinho Rozenstruik, in just 20 seconds.

It’s a weird thing because I think Ngannou will actually be the favorite at UFC 260 despite losing to Miocic the first time around. I think Ngannou is the best he’s ever been and Stipe’s going to need his best effort on March 27th to retain his title.

Max Holloway hands Calvin Kattar a five-round beatdown at UFC Fight Island 7

In the main event of UFC Fight Island 7, we had a massive featherweight contest between Max Holloway (21-6) and Calvin Kattar (22-4). Holloway was fighting in his first non-title fight since 2016 in the main event.

The former UFC featherweight champion was looking to get back on track having lost two in a row. Granted both of those losses came against the current champion, Alexander Volkanovski (22-4).

While the majority believed Holloway deserved an immediate rematch after their second fight, the UFC decided to have both guys move on for now. So Holloway decided to take this matchup against The Boston Finisher.

Calvin Kattar had a sensational 2020. He scored a huge knockout over Jeremy Stephens then he won the second headliner on Fight Island against Dan Ige. If Kattar was to pickup a win over Holloway, he believed it would earn him a title shot. 

UFC Fight Island 7 Recap

Round 1

The UFC Fight Island 7 main event got underway with a couple of quick hooks from Holloway. Kattar got his striking started with a low calf kick on the former champion. Kattar landed a stiff jab and followed it with another low kick.

Holloway then pushed forward and landed a clean combination of his own. Both men exchanged leg kicks, but Holloway was being much more active with his hands. Kattar landed another solid jab, but Holloway came in and landed another crisp combination after.

Halfway through the round and the former UFC champion was really putting the pressure on Kattar. Holloway was mixing it up extremely well going low and high. Kattar landed a couple of clean right hands over the top on Holloway with 90 seconds left in the round.

Holloway responded by throwing another good combination. Kattar was doing a good job of landing low kicks, but Holloway was really lighting him up with combinations in the first. Holloway looked much quicker in the first round.

Holloway then landed a flush spinning back kick to the body and followed it with his hands. Kattar landed some good shots, but the first round was all Holloway.

Round 2

The second round started and Kattar immediately was looking more aggressive. However, Holloway was countering well then went right back on the attack. Holloway was starting to have some fun in the second round.

Kattar was waiting too much and he was taking a lot of shots from Holloway as a result. Holloway was throwing everything from kicks to knees to hands in the second. However, a clean right hand from Kattar staggered Holloway momentarily.

Holloway seemed to recover well and went right back on the attack. Halfway through the round and the former UFC champion continued landing clean combinations. However, Kattar was landing more as the round went on.

Two minutes left in the round and Holloway unloads a big combination. Kattar took it well, but he was looking overwhelmed by the former UFC champion. Kattar just had no room to breathe in this one.

Holloway stepped in and wobbled Kattar with a massive elbow. Holloway then followed up with a vicious combination, but Kattar wouldn’t go away. Kattar was busted wide open and he tried to clinch with Holloway. Another massive elbow for the former UFC champ. Dominant round two for Holloway.

Round 3

Kattar looked really busted up as the third round started, but he was game. Holloway went right back to work with combinations as the round started. The former UFC champion was completely lighting Calvin Kattar up in the third round.

Kattar clinched with Holloway trying to slow down the onslaught in the third. Holloway separated and started landing again. However, Kattar landed a massive uppercut that stopped Holloway in his tracks. Both men then exchanged massive power shots.

Two minutes into the round and the former UFC champion landed a solid one-two down the middle. Holloway then landed a big body kick and a huge uppercut behind it. Kattar was game though but he was busted up bad.

Kattar then landed a massive overhand right on Holloway. However, Holloway continued to walk him down. Holloway ripped to the body with 90 seconds left in the round. Kattar tried to time Holloway for a big shot, but he whiffed and ate a combination for his troubles.

Holloway’s pressure was relentless and with under a minute left he ripped another massive combination. Kattar was getting no room to breathe and continued to eat big shots from the former UFC champion. Three dominant rounds in the books for Max Holloway.

Round 4

The fourth round started and again, the former UFC champion went right back to work. Kattar missed on a right hand and ate four shots after he missed. Holloway really was working the body early in the fourth round.

Kattar was whipping hooks, but Holloway’s head movement looked incredible. Holloway pressed forward and landed another big combination 90 seconds into the round. Kattar did land a really good left hook on Holloway, but the former UFC champ seemed unphased.

Three minutes left in the round and Holloway had Kattar pressed against the fence. Holloway started unleashing massive shots and Kattar was in deep trouble. Kattar was whipping shots trying to fight back, but he was getting beat down.

Two minutes left in the round and Holloway looked moments away from a finish. The body shots were doing so much damage to Kattar. However, Kattar wasn’t backing up and he was still fighting.

Holloway was actually looking a little tired and Kattar landed a big overhand right that backed up the former UFC champion. Kattar missed on a combination and Holloway landed with a clean headkick to close the round. Four to nothing in dominant fashion for Max Holloway.

Round 5

Entering the final round and Kattar was needing a miracle at UFC Fight Island 7. The two men touched gloves to start things in the fifth round. Holloway went right back to work with his combinations and ripped another shot to the body.

Kattar was still throwing heat, however, he wasn’t landing. A minute into the round and Holloway started working his jab. Holloway landed a clean right that wobbled the legs of Calvin Kattar.

The former UFC champion broke the nose of Kattar with another clean combination. Max Holloway was putting on a clinic in this one. Kattar threw back a couple of shots and did land and Holloway smiled.

Two minutes left and Holloway continued to press forward throwing shots. Holloway then lands a no look right hand and yells at Kattar that he’s the best boxer in the UFC. Kattar did land a shot, but then ate several clean shots from Holloway.

Holloway was talking mad trash in the final minute and was beating down Calvin Kattar. Thirty seconds left and Kattar threw some big shots but nothing was home. The final bell sounds and this one sided beating is over. Y’all must’ve forgot about Max Holloway!

Max Holloway def. Calvin Kattar by Unanimous Decision (50-43, 50-43, 50-42)

Carlos Condit beats Matt Brown by decision at UFC Fight Island 7

Carlos Condit

In the co-main event of UFC Fight Island 7, we had a matchup that fans have been waiting years for. Veteran welterweights Carlos Condit (31-13) and Matt Brown (22-17) finally met inside the octagon.

Carlos Condit was able to snap a five-fight losing streak during the UFC‘s last trip to Fight Island. He was looking to pickup his second consecutive win today. This would be the first winning streak for Condit since 2012 if he was to win.

There was also a lot riding on this fight given Condit’s contract situation. Condit announced this week that UFC Fight Island 7 was the final fight on his current deal with the promotion. He needed a win to ride high into negotiations.

On the other side of the octagon you had Matt Brown. The gritty veteran saw his two-fight win streak snapped last May when he was knocked out by Miguel Baeza. The 40 year old welterweight was aiming to prove that he can still put on a show.

UFC Fight Island 7 Recap

Round 1

The UFC Fight Island 7 co-main event of the evening started and both men immediately started training. Brown was looking to pressure Condit early while Condit was looking to work his low kicks.

Condit was working his kicks on all three levels in the first minute of the fight. Brown was able to catch Condit on an entry and he landed a takedown. Matt Brown wasn’t throwing much on the ground instead just using it for control.

Condit was able to work back to the guard, but Brown was able to push him against the fence. After a minute on top, Brown started throwing some shots. With two minutes left in the round Condit started trying to work his way up, but Brown was holding control well.

With a minute left in the round, Condit started working for submissions off his back. Condit worked his way up to his feet and hit a switch to end up on top of Matt Brown before the round ended. Very tough round to score considering Brown didn’t do much on top, but I’ll still give him the round.

Round 2

The second round of the UFC Fight Island 7 co-main event started with Condit pushing forward. Condit was throwing kicks and combinations, however, Matt Brown caught Condit flush with a big elbow that buckled Condit’s legs.

Matt Brown wasn’t able to capitalize on a hurt Condit. Condit recovered well and went back to working his combinations. Brown tried to land a couple of takedowns, but Condit was doing a good job of defending in the second round.

Halfway through the round and Condit really started opening up. Then out of no where, Condit landed a spectacular takedown of his own. Once on top, Condit started working his elbows looking to hurt Matt Brown.

Matt Brown was really starting to look tired on the bottom. Condit was doing a good job of constantly touching Matt Brown and holding him down in the second round. The second round comes to a close and it was a dominant round overall for Condit.

Round 3

The former interim UFC welterweight champion looked like he had all the momentum entering the final round. Both men touched gloves to get things underway but the action immediately paused with an accidental low kick from Condit.

When the action resumed, Condit went right back to attacking with his kicks. Thirty seconds into the round and Brown shot for a takedown, but Condit defended well. Matt Brown was able to push Condit against the fence and land a solid right hand.

He chained that into a takedown attempt, but Condit was able to reverse and get the back of Matt Brown. Brown was able to work his way back up, but then Condit took him right back down and landed in side control.

Matt Brown was looking exhausted in the final round. Condit was able to get the back once again, but he slipped and Brown used that to get back to his feet. Condit slipped and Brown ended up on top with 90 seconds left in the round.

Brown was on top, but he wasn’t doing much with it. Condit was attacking submissions off his back and throwing shots. With 50 seconds left, Condit got back to his feet. Once there, Condit went for a takedown, but Brown reversed and got his own takedown.

The fight comes to a close and it was razor close. Given the activity, I give the third round and the fight to Carlos Condit 29-28.

Carlos Condit def. Matt Brown by Unanimous Decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)

Jingliang Li knocks out Ponzinibbio in the first at UFC Fight Island 7

One of the more intriguing matchups at UFC Fight Island 7 was the welterweight contest between Santiago Ponzinibbio (27-3) and Jingliang Li (17-6). For Ponzinibbio, this was his first fight back in the UFC in over two years.

A couple of years ago, Ponzinibbio looked like he was on his way to being a force in the division. To close out 2018, he starched Neil Magny and looked like he was going to become a title contender.

However, multiple injuries have kept Ponzinibbio on the shelf for the last couple of years. I was very intrigued to see how he would look in this matchup especially given the style of opponent that the UFC gave him.

Jingliang Li is not the type of opponent you get when you want to ease into your return. Li is a guy who loves to come forward non-stop and throw everything at you. Whether it’s hooks, kicks, or takedown attempts, Li will try it. This fight was promised to deliver on the action.

UFC Fight Island 7 Recap

Round 1

The UFC Fight Island 7 welterweight contest got underway with a touch of the gloves. Ponzinibbio opened up with a little pressure on Li looking for low kicks. Li was throwing a lot of feints trying to gauge Ponzinibbio.

The first clean shot lands a minute in and it was a left hook from Li. Ponzinibbio took it well, but he was looking slightly tentative. Li started to go to work with throwing hooks and mixing in some low kicks.

Ponzinibbio tried to work his way inside behind his jab, however, he wasn’t throwing much. Ponzinibbio’s UFC layoff looks like it was impacting him early. Two minutes left in the round and Li lands a solid straight right hand on Ponzinibbio.

Ponzinibbio kept with the pressure and was beginning to open up a little more with his leg kicks. However, Li was doing a good job of responding. Li was throwing and landing a lot more than Ponzinibbio in the first round. Out of no where, Li lands a massive left hook and puts Ponzinibbio to sleep! Wow!

Jingliang Li def. Santiago Ponzinibbio by KO – Round 1

Alessio Di Chirico knocks out Joaquin Buckley in the first at UFC Fight Island 7

The second fight on the main card of UFC Fight Island 7 looked on paper like it was going to be a showcase matchup. One of the UFC’s top prospects, Joaquin Buckley (12-3), was returning to take on Alessio Di Chirico (12-5).

2020 was a great year for Joaquin Buckley. In July, he wasn’t even on the UFC roster. However, when Kevin Holland needed an opponent, Buckley stepped up on just seven days notice to take on Holland.

Buckley had just secured a knockout in LFA that impressed the UFC. While Buckley lost to Holland, the promotion decided to keep him around. After that, he had two sensational knockout wins including one that went viral.

Dana White has seemed very excited about Buckley as a prospect in the middleweight division. The UFC decided to give him Di Chirico which on paper looks like a fight that should go for Buckley.

Alessio Di Chirico is not a bad fight, however, he’s not really special. He entered the octagon today on a three-fight losing streak. He was fighting to stop the Buckley hype train but he might also be fighting for his job in the UFC.

UFC Fight Island 7 Recap

Round 1

The second fight at UFC Fight Island 7 kicked off with a body kick from Di Chirico. Buckley pressed forward trying to pressure Di Chirico, but Di Chirico was doing a good job of keeping him at range with his kicks.

Di Chirico then started working low kicks on Buckley. Buckley seemed a tad tentative after taking some decent kicks from Di Chirico. Halfway through the first round and Buckley was still struggling to get inside on Di Chirico.

Out of no where Di Chirico lands a flush head kick to the temple of Buckley and Buckley’s out! Unbelievable performance at UFC Fight Island 7 for Alessio Di Chirico.

Alessio Di Chirico def. Joaquin Buckley by KO – Round 1

Khabib Nurmagomedov will come back if someone does something special at UFC 257

Back in October after UFC 254, lightweight champion, Khabib Nurmagomedov (29-0) laid down his gloves and retired. It had been an incredibly tough 2020 for Khabib in which he lost his father to a battle with COVID-19. 

Khabib had promised his mother before the Justin Gaethje fight that he would retire after UFC 254. However, Dana White has been holding out hope that Khabib Nurmagomedov would change his mind and come back for one more fight. 

The original plan for Khabib was to try and retire from the UFC at 30-0. That was his father’s plan, but Khabib admitted that he didn’t want to go on without his father in his corner. Abdulmanap Nurmagomedov was the lead trainer for his son Khabib.

There is no questioning that Khabib Nurmagomedov is the best lightweight in the world. He’s an absolute animal who just appears to be getting better every time we see him. From a fighting perspective, it would be a shame to never see Khabib in the UFC again.

That is where Dana White has been coming from in wanting him to fight. Well, yesterday White and Khabib had their much anticipated meeting about Khabib’s future. After the first fight on the main card at UFC Fight Island 7, White announced Khabib’s decision.

The decision’s impact on the UFC lightweight division

White told Jon Anik that Khabib is going to wait until after UFC 257 to make a final decision. Khabib is not ready to close the door on his fighting future, however, he’s not ready to commit to a comeback just yet.

White said that Khabib will be watching next Saturday and if he feels that someone does something special, he’ll think about coming back to defend his UFC title. However, if nothing excites him, he won’t hold up the division and he will give up the title.

The Conor McGregor (22-4) rematch is what the UFC wants to do. However, McGregor has to get by Dustin Poirier first. For now, the decision really didn’t give us anything new. We know that Khabib is not fully committed to retirement, but at the same time, he’s not committed to coming back yet.

NASCAR news roundup (1/16/21): Kevin James NASCAR sitcom announced, Noah Gragson to attempt Daytona 500

Read for all the latest NASCAR news.

NASCAR sitcom featuring Kevin James to premiere on Netflix

A new NASCAR sitcom, “The Crew,” will premiere on Netflix in February featuring Kevin James.

In the series, James acts as a Crew Chief for a fictional racing team. His goal is to lead the fictional team to wins and stop a new owner from modernizing the team. In addition to James, Sarah Stiles, Gary Anthony Williams, Freddie Stroma, and Dan Ahdoot star in the series.

According to NASCAR.com, much of the racing footage was filmed at Michigan International Speedway during the NASCAR weekend this past August. The car featured in the series is a Spire Motorsports car.

The first episode of “The Crew” premieres on February 15th, the Monday after the 63rd Daytona 500.

Noah Gragson to attempt to make Cup Series debut in Daytona 500

According to reports, Noah Gragson will attempt to make his Cup Series debut with Beard Motorsports in the Daytona 500. Gragson, 22, will drive the No. 62 car, filling the ride of the newly retired Brendan Gaughan.

Beard Motorsports typically fields a car in Cup Series restrictor-plate races, but their intentions for the rest of 2021 are unclear. The team is unchartered, meaning Gragson will have to qualify the car into the Daytona 500.

Gragson’s going into his third full-time Xfinity Series season with JR Motorsports after winning twice in 2020. He’s also won twice in his career with Kyle Busch Motorsports in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series.

“I’m excited and humbled to have this opportunity with Beard Motorsports,” said Gragson. “As a young racer from Las Vegas, I had always dreamt of racing in the Daytona 500. I’m very appreciative of the faith the Beard family and Brendan have in me, and equally appreciative to JR Motorsports for allowing me to pull double duty and compete for them in the Xfinity Series and also Beard Motorsports while we’re down in Daytona.”