Given the magnitude of this welterweight matchup, it will likely serve as the co-main event on July 10th. Wonderboy has been wanting to fight the elites of the division again and he will get his chance at UFC 264.
Stephen Thompson took on arguably the two scariest young contenders at welterweight in his last two fights in Geoff Neal and Vicente Luque. Wonderboy dominated both of them and completely outclassed them on the feet.
After both of those wins, Wonderboy made it clear that he didn’t want to be the UFC‘s gatekeeper at 170 pounds. He’s been calling for a fight with Leon Edwards, but in my opinion, he’s getting one better in getting a shot at Gilbert Burns.
Potential UFC title eliminator?
After Gilbert Burns moved to the UFC’s welterweight division, he looked like a destroyer. Burns had defeated every fighter who stepped in front of him and that earned him a title shot at UFC 258 against Kamaru Usman.
When the fight started, it looked like Burns was going to have his crowning moment. Burns used his speed and power to drop Usman in the first round. However, after that moment, things went downhill.
Usman was able to regain his composure and ended up dominating the fight. The UFC welterweight champion stopped Burns early in the third round. Since that loss, Burns has been itching to get back into the cage.
This is a fantastic matchup at UFC 254. The welterweight division is in a very unique spot, but this could serve as a potential title eliminator. Either way, whoever wins, is going to be squarely in the discussion for the next crack at the championship.
The show is set to begin filming later this month. Originally, the UFC was targeting Colby Covington – Jorge Masvidal as the coaches of TUF, however, things changed when the promotion shifted to Masvidal – Usman.
Combine that with the cancellation of the UFC 260 title fight and it was the perfect storm that led to Volkanovski and Ortega coaching. This will be the UFC‘s first season of TUF on the ESPN platform.
UFC featherweight title
As mentioned, the show begins filming later this month and will air in the early summer. The show usually runs for six weeks. The UFC is currently planning on Ortega and Volkanovski fighting after the show concludes.
Given the timeframes and what is currently booked, we will likely see the title fight in either August or September. For Volkanovski, he’s going to be searching for his second successful UFC title defense.
Many don’t believe that he won his first title defense against Max Holloway. This fight is pivotal in showing the world that he’s the best. For Brian Ortega, he’s going to get his second chance at capturing UFC gold.
His first attempt came against Max Holloway and he was completely dominated. However, Ortega returned last year after a lengthy layoff and looked like he could be the best featherweight in the UFC. This year’s TUF and this featherweight title fight should have fans excited.
Luka Doncic got loose in the final quarter to power the Dallas Mavericks to an ugly 99-86 rout of the slumping New York Knicks Friday night at The Garden.
The Mavericks overcame the absence of their head coach Rick Carlisle, who tested positive for COVID-19 before the game.
Jamahl Mosley, who interviewed for the Knicks coaching job in the offseason, guided the Mavericks to their 26th win in 47 games for a firm grip of the seventh spot in West.
The loss dropped the Knicks one game under .500 (24-25), tied with the Boston Celtics for the seventh and eighth spots in the East.
Doncic delivered 13 of his 26 points in the final 9:36 while ex-Knick Kristaps Porzingis punctuated the road win with an alley-oop slam.
Doncic shot 6-for-11 in the decisive fourth quarter, converting one more field goal than the whole Knicks combined.
“It was a hard-fought game up to that point,” New York coach Tom Thibodeau said.
It was a struggle offensively for the Knicks, who shot 5-for-19 in the final frame as they only coughed up 17 points.
Despite their shooting struggles all game long, the Knicks only trailed by three, 78-75, early in the fourth.
Then Jalen Brunson, son of ex-Knick Rick Brunson and a former Tom Thibodeau assistant, caught fire. He combined with Doncic in a back-breaking 12-0 run to pull away for good.
Brunson finished with 15 points. Former Knicks Porzingis and Tim Hardaway, Jr. added 14 apiece.
Porzingis, who got booed lustily by a sparse Garden crowd, overcame a 2-for-11 shooting in the first half. The 2015 Knicks’ fourth overall pick made four of his six shots in the second half.
On the other hand, the Knicks’ current top three players—Julius Randle, RJ Barrett, and rookie Immanuel Quickley—were a combined 10-for-40 from the field. The entire team shot 36 percent overall.
Alec Burks paced New York with 20 points off the bench. Randle ended up with 14 points, eight rebounds, and 11 assists, but he was only 5-for-20 from the field. He also committed a team-worst five turnovers.
The Knicks looked banged up, lacking the bounce and energy in their game.
“We’re at the stage of the season where players start to feel something. We have to manage that, play better. Right now, we’re in a bit of a funk,” Thibodeau said. “We have to fight our way to get out of it.”
With their offense stagnant, the Mavericks pounced on the opportunity, punishing the Knicks inside the paint.
Dallas scored the bulk of their points around the rim, outscoring New York, 50-30 in the paint.
“We have to play with energy and share the ball,” Thibodeau lamented.
New York only had 18 assists, 11 of them coming from Randle. Derrick Rose was the only other Knick who issued more than one with four assists.
Obi Toppin was the only bright spot for the Knicks. The lottery pick finally hit his strides offensively, scoring all of his nine points in a fun stretch in the second quarter. Toppin’s explosion highlighted by a nasty putback slam over Porzingis had the Knicks jumping to a 13-point lead. But it was short-lived.
The Mavericks closed out the first half with an 18-2 run to go up by three at the break, 49-46.
It was all downhill from there.
The Knicks have barely 24 hours to recover and dig deep in their reservoir for energy as they travel to Detroit for the second game of a back-to-back schedule.
Perhaps they can find some energy from Norvel Pelle, the shot-blocking big man they recently signed to a 10-day contract in the wake of Mitchell Robinson’s foot injury.
The Pistons will also welcome back their lottery pick Killian Hayes, who hasn’t played since January with a hip injury.
New York has beaten Detroit twice this season. But with the way the Knicks are playing lately, a third straight win isn’t a guarantee.
It will get more challenging for the Knicks after the Pistons with the surging Brooklyn Nets and the Celtics on their plate next week.
The New York Yankees fell short to the Blue Jays in their season opener by a score of 3-2. It was the first time since 2017 that the Yankees had started the season with a loss. It was also the first Opening Day game since 2019 that the Yankees had fans in attendance.
Although there were only about 11,000 fans for the season opener, they made their presence known. In total, the Yankees left 10 men on base and were 0-9 with runners in scoring position. This was mostly due to the struggles from the top of the order. The only hit that came from the first four batters was an Aaron Judge single in the bottom half of the sixth. That means that in total, those four batters hit 1/18 (.055). The other half of the lineup hit 5/17 (.294). Not exactly what you want from your top guys.
Despite the top of the orders’ struggles, the Yankees did find themselves with bases loaded and only one man out. At this point, the game was tied at two, and it was the only sign of life since the beginning of the game. Aaron Judge was up with an opportunity to give New York the lead. Unfortunately, the worst possible outcome became a reality. Judge hit a sharp ground ball to third as Toronto tossed a 5-4-3 double play to end the inning.
That wasn’t the only chance Aaron Judge had, however. In the bottom half of the ninth, Judge found himself in a similar spot. He had two men on with two outs and a chance to end the season opener in walk-off fashion. Gardner (pinch-running for Frazier) was the lead runner at second, and a single from Judge would’ve most likely ended the game. However, a five-pitch at-bat ended with a swinging strikeout from Judge, sending the game into extras. The Blue Jays followed with an RBI double by Grichuk with no response from the Yankees’ offense.
After the game, Judge described those situations as “missed opportunities on his part,” saying that he didn’t “come through” when it mattered most. He even went as far as saying that he should’ve “caught” the RBI double that gave Toronto the lead.
The performance as a whole was awful from the top, but Judge did, in fact, take responsibility for it. However, there is still plenty of time for Judge to redeem himself. After all, it was only the first game of the season. The Yanks will be back in action against the Jays tomorrow at 1:05 pm EST.
Ben Simmons missed an entire season. Brook Lopez missed 100 games. Kevin Durant only played 27 games during the 2014-15 season.
History suggests that New York Knicks center Mitchell Robinson could be facing an uphill climb in his recovery from his latest injury.
Lopez, Simmons, and Durant were the latest NBA players standing 6-10 and above who successfully recovered from a fractured fifth metatarsal in their foot or most commonly known as Jones fracture, which Robinson suffered last week.
Likely done for the season
On Monday, the Knicks announced that he had a successful surgery at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York. The team did not offer any timetable for his recovery.
Dr. Martin O’Malley, HSS’s noted NBA players’ orthopedic surgeon who performed the surgery on the three players mentioned above and likely on Robinson, begged off to comment on this story.
But a Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation Specialist offered a bleak forecast of a Robinson comeback this season.
“If [Knicks] were being cautious, then yes [Robinson is likely done for the season]. Of course, it depends on the severity, but to undergo foot surgery this late in the season is typically season-ending. If he plays, it may be restricted play (minute restriction/load management). However, I don’t know if they’d want to do that with a young, dynamic player,” Dr. Ernest Eusebio told Empire Sports Media.
The recovery can take an entire year, according to Dr. Eusebio, the founder of the Jersey City-based Wolves Performance & Lifestyle Collective, an all-encompassing high-performance consultancy providing solutions in Professional Sport, Entertainment, & Fortune 500.
“It could very well be 9-12 months until he returns to the court unrestricted, pending success of rehab & player’s ability to return to NBA shape,” he said. “[Knicks] said his surgery was successful, which could mean at best he may be back for the offseason in 4-6 months, but that does not necessarily mean playing time due to the nature of the game,” Dr. Eusebio said. “Full recovery is typically a 6-9 month window.”
Dr. Eusebio, who has worked with NBA, MLB, NFL athletes, and Olympians, is not discounting the possibility of a postseason return for Robinson, giving him a 3-4 month time frame for recovery.
“It would be amazing to see him late in the first round of the playoffs, and it wouldn’t surprise me with [Tom Thibodeau]. But I believe it’s more likely that he plays in the second round if the Knicks make it which will be a huge asset,” he added.
Pau Gasol was another 7-footer who had the same injury when he was 26. He returned in four months in 2006. But Memphis put him in a 25-minute restriction. Former Washington Wizards’ 6-11 forward Andray Blatche also broke his foot in late June of 2010 and was back in early October for the training camp.
What is Jones fracture?
Dr. Eusebio, who earned the “Best in Patient Care” award from the American Health Council in 2018, explained that the regional blood supply in that area isn’t the greatest. That’s why a surgical repair is necessary to return to high levels of performance.
“A fifth metatarsal fracture that requires surgery is more often than not a Jones fracture, which hints that a break may have occurred along the shaft of the bone, proximal to the base,” explained Dr. Ernest Eusebio.
“This is an unfortunate injury to deal with as an explosive player due to the foot’s vital role in jumping and running. Rehab is usually initiated non-weight bearing, and as pain decreases and bone healing occurs, Mitchell [Robinson] should be progressively loading his foot and sports specific movements accordingly – which can take some time,” Dr. Eusebio added.
The average missed time in the NBA for this type of injury is roughly 39 games, according to sports injury expert and certified athletic trainer Jeff Stotts who operates the website instreetclothes.com, which breaks down typical sports injuries for the fans. But as history suggests, the recovery period is longer for big men.
If there’s one thing going for Robinson, it’s his age. The 7-foot-center just turned 23 Thursday.
Simmons was 20 when he broke his foot. Durant was 26 when he had Jones fracture and was coming off his MVP season. Lopez was the same age as Robinson when he suffered the injury.
The injury’s timing couldn’t come at the worst possible time as the Knicks are in the thick of a playoff hunt, and Robinson is eligible for a contract extension this summer.
Robinson, who has been durable in his first two seasons —only missing a total of 21 games—has already undergone surgery twice this season. The Knicks went 9-6 without him earlier in the season while recovering from a broken hand. They have lost their last two games since he went down with his latest injury, which he suffered in Milwaukee ironically against Lopez.
The Knicks have signed Norvel Pelle to a 10-day contract for their 14th roster spot as insurance if Nerlens Noel or Taj Gibson misses time. They have pivoted from Andre Drummond, who eventually signed with the defending champion Los Angeles Lakers, because they are still holding out hope on Robinson.
While it may take longer to recover, there’s no evidence to suggest that Robinson will not return his old form.
Lopez, Durant, and Simmons all survived and thrived after the injury. Only Rasheed Wallace, who was 38 and at the tail end of his career in 2013 with the Knicks, was forced to retire because of the same type of injury.
A study on NBA players who suffered Jones fracture from 1994 to 2013 has encouraging results for Robinson.
“Four of the 26 (15%) players did not return to play in a subsequent NBA game after the season in which a Jones fracture was sustained. Twenty-four of 26 (92%) athletes were treated with operative fixation, and three players (12%) underwent secondary reoperation. Recurrence of the injury was experienced by five players (19%),” said the study published online in 2015 in the national library of medicine.
Lopez and Durant were the fourth and fifth NBA players who had re-surgery. Durant even had a third surgery. Simmons avoided it after he underwent a bone marrow injection.
Robinson’s value takes a hit
Robinson has a $1.8 million team option, which the Knicks will likely exercise next season to make him a restricted free agent and buy them some more time to evaluate him.
Some teams were interested in trading for Robinson at the trade deadline, according to Begley. Those teams will likely take a wait-and-see approach after this latest setback in the young big man’s career.
Certainly, Robinson’s market value has taken a hit with his latest injury. But that should be further from Robinson’s mind as he needs to focus on his recovery. His performance after this injury will dictate his next contract—whether that will be with the Knicks or another team.
The New York Giants brought back Leonard Williams this offseason, but that doesn’t rule out their interest in Gregory Rousseau completely. Rousseau has been one of the first players linked to the Giants with the 11th pick because of his status as one of the top pass rushers in this draft, and head coach Joe Judge was one of the NFL personnel in attendance at Rousseau’s pro day in Miami.
While there were multiple University of Miami football players on display during that pro day, we can probably assume that Rousseau is the one the Giants were interested in. He was, after all, one of the top pass rushers in the college game before opting out of last season.
His draft valuation has fallen, but that might be a good thing for the Giants if they do go with the option of trading back from the number eleven pick rather than spending it outright.
Rousseau’s 15.5 sacks in 2019 which put him behind Chase Young, who the Giants infamously missed out on, is his big draw. But his projections in mock drafts have fallen since the offseason started, in part because he’s not the kind of player that’s expected to become a hit right off the bat.
The Giants might have room for a project player on the line, however, as they already got their top pass rusher back with the big deal that Leonard Williams signed. At the end of the day, it looks like the Giants will have more interest in other players, but Rousseau presents an interesting option if they decide to trade back.
The New York Jets undoubtedly improved this offseason, but there are several areas of need to address as the calendar flips to April.
The New York Jets undoubtedly became a better team this offseason. Whether that’s a result of the Adam Gase era giving them nowhere to go but up or it leads to actual results on the field remains to be seen, but the Jets have laid down a solid foundation for the Robert Saleh era. Optimism reigns for an already star-crossed franchise coming off a two-win season through the signings of names like Tevin Coleman, Corey Davis, and Carl Lawson.
“There’s a lot of optimism, especially coming off a bad season, so I’m looking forward to working. I love the process,” Lawson said in video provided by the Jets. He compared the situation to franchise mode on the Madden NFL video game franchise. “I play Madden because I love building teams. I love franchise mode. Franchise mode hasn’t changed on Madden in like 15 years, but I’m never going to stop loving it because I get to build, I get to grow, I get to improve.”
Yet, as the calendar flips to April and the free agency frenzy mostly pacified, the Jets have several areas of need that have yet to be satisfied. Competing in the crowded AFC will probably be difficult with even the perfect offseason, but the Saleh era can get off to an optimally smooth start if the following areas are satisfied, preferably sooner rather than later…
Solving the offensive line issues was probably at the top of the Jets’ offseason to-do list, the necessity even outweighing the quarterback quandary. No matter who’s throwing the ball, he’s going to need protection.
Joe Douglas has shown he’s willing to make up for the blocking negligence of the Mike Maccagnan era. His drafting of Mekhi Becton was a strong start, but his free agency signings failed to pan out. Several are set to return for another season, but the Jets missed out on the big targets (Joe Thuney, Corey Linsley, Matt Feiler), adding only interior man Dan Feeney from the Los Angeles Chargers. Another addition, tight end Tyler Kroft, has gained positive reviews for his blocking, but nothing that should dramatically change the Jets’ protection affairs.
An interesting gambit for the Jets would be to draft top blocking prospect Penei Sewell with the second overall choice and letting Sam Darnold work behind a revamped line, but the Jets’ due diligence at incoming rookie passing class hints that they’re headed toward that direction. But at least one of their early picks, namely the 23rd and 34th overall selections, should be used on a blocker if only to raise the heat on some of the incumbents. Veteran help from abroad, like Kansas City’s Austin Reiter, should also be considered. Reiter, set to turn 30 in November, was the Chiefs’ starting center in each of the last two Super Bowls.
After the spending frenzy in March, the Jets appear to have a plan in place when it comes to their safeties. Marcus Maye was granted the franchise tag, which basically serves as a $10 million “prove it” deal. On the strong side, the post-Jamal Adams era continues. Ashtyn Davis will get a de facto second rookie season after injuries marred his original and the Jets have brought in a strong mentor and veteran prescience in LaMarcus Joyner to help out. Elsewhere on defense, front seven newcomers Lawson and Jarrad Davis have experiences in the 4-3 scheme that Robert Saleh is reportedly hoping to implement.
But the cornerback depth is definitely concerning. Youngsters Bless Austin and Bryce Hall have shown flashes of brilliance in their infantile NFL careers, but they’ll probably need further development before fully embracing the starting roles. Newly signed Justin Hardee is listed as a corner but primarily works on special teams. The Jets also have a decision to make on one of their free agents, Brian Poole.
The 23rd pick, obtained from Seattle for Adams, can potentially be used on the top cornerbacks on the draft, namely Caleb Farley, Patrick Surtain, or Jaycee Horn.
The Jets have not had a quarterback start every game in a season since Ryan Fitzpatrick went all 16 in 2015. If Darnold stays, the Jets should be ready for the unthinkable again, as he has yet to play a full NFL season. Should the rookie arrive, some see Darnold as a safety blanket. But if Zach Wilson or Justin Fields make their entrance, Darnold still shouldn’t stay. There doesn’t need to be a quarterback controversy and the USC alum isn’t at the “veteran mentor” stage.
When Darnold got hurt last season, the Philadelphia-bound Joe Flacco did a serviceable job in relief. But with the Super Bowl XLVII MVP donning a new shade of green, they need to be prepared in case of an emergency. The draft can’t be an option, as the Jets have far too many needs to fill with their surplus and the fourth-round choice of James Morgan in last year’s proceedings remains puzzling. If they want a safety net that can win games, Saleh and Mike LaFleur’s Bay Area comrade Nick Mullens could be an option, while veteran mentors are available through Alex Smith, Brian Hoyer, or Blake Bortles.
Since Pro Bowler Jason Myers absconded to Seattle, the Jets have gone through six different kickers over the last two seasons. When you’re a team like the Jets, a team that struggles to get into the end zone, you need a reliable kicker to ensure visits to opposing territory end with at least some points. There appears to be a competition in place between two of those names (Sam Ficken and Chase McLaughlin), but the Jets need reliability and would be smart to showcase new talent.
The Jets haven’t used a draft pick on a kicker since Mike Nugent in the second round of the 2005 selections. There’s certainly no need to go that early this time around, but the selection of punter Braden Mann with their final pick last year shows the Jets won’t hesitate to address their special teams on draft weekend. Evan McPherson (Florida) and Jorge Borregales (Miami) are the top boots this time around.
The biggest fight the UFC could make in 2021 in terms of dollar signs is official. Yes, this matchup is even bigger than the potential heavyweight title fight between Jon Jones and Francis Ngannou in terms of PPV revenue.
Over the weekend it was reported that the UFC was targeting the trilogy matchup for July. However, until ink hits the paper, anything could happen so it wasn’t a guarantee. Now, that ink has hit the paper and UFC 264 has it’s headliner.
Dustin Poirier turned down an opportunity to fight for the vacant lightweight title to take this trilogy matchup with McGregor. Poirier exercised his demons by finishing The Notorious one back at UFC 257.
High UFC stakes in July
This fight is massive for both of these fighters. Both of these UFC champions hold knockout victories over the other. Their first matchup came when both men were on the rise and McGregor scored the knockout win.
However, Dustin Poirier turned the tables and knocked McGregor out in January. For Conor McGregor, this is almost a do or die fight for him and his brand. It would be really hard to come back after losing two times in a row to Dustin Poirier.
McGregor was in a very similar position back in 2016 with Nate Diaz. After Diaz won the first fight, McGregor was adamant about running things back right away. In their rematch, McGregor made the adjustments and won a decision.
It will be interesting to see if he can make adjustments at UFC 264. Dustin Poirier exposed Conor McGregor the last time they fought. McGregor’s boxing heavy style came back to bit him as Dustin Poirier destroyed him with calf kicks.
The big question about this fight is whether or not McGregor can make the adjustments. McGregor outstruck Poirier in the first round at UFC 257, but the calf kicks did him in during the second round. Can McGregor defend those or will he get chopped down again by The Diamond.
COVID-19 is already altering MLB’s plans of having a relatively normal season, as the Washington Nationals have an outbreak of the virus. They were going to open their season against the New York Mets on Thursday, but that plan went out the window as it was revealed yesterday that the Nats had one positive and four other players isolated due to contact tracing.
The situation got worse on Friday, as the Nationals now have a total of four positive tests in their roster and other five players and one staff member in quarantine after contact tracing. The events of the last 24 hours led MLB to cancel the Nats – Mets series, as the teams were scheduled to take the field on Saturday and Sunday.
The Nationals don’t know when they’ll play again, but the Mets’ season will start on Monday against the Phillies in Philadelphia.
Naturally, Mets’ players are disappointed because they wanted to start playing as soon as possible, and now, they will be several games behind the rest of the NL East. That would mean multiple doubleheaders in the future, as well.
The Mets are staying ready no matter what
JD Davis, the Mets’ third baseman, talked about the situation over a Zoom call with reporters, as outlined by SNY.
“It’s a little disappointing,” Davis said. “Again, it can happen to anybody. We’re fortunate to have good protocols here and have good rules to track down this kind of a spiderweb with what’s going on over in the Nationals to kind of lock it down and get control of the virus.
“Guys, including myself, we were super pumped for Opening Day. Of course, it’s unfortunate, but it is what it is. …I woke up at 9 a.m. on Opening Day, I was ready to go. Had breakfast, had coffee, I was already doing my scouting reports and everything, and then I got the word at like 10, 11 o’clock. So it was definitely a punch to the stomach, but it is what it is.”
Despite the continued inactivity, the Mets’ roster is staying in shape, according to Davis.
“We’re just [doing] the same old workouts we do in spring training: live ABs, seeing pitches come out of the hand, ground balls, live ground balls, BP, getting our sprints in and agility stuff in, just playing kind of sim games. Just kind of the same things we’ve been doing in spring training to keep us ready and keep us locked in,” he said.
The New York Knicks recently lost center Mitchell Robinson due to a fractured right foot, which could keep him out for the remainder of the 2020-21 season. In his absence, the Knicks will rely on Nerlens Noel and Taj Gibson, but they added another player to the ranks in support on Friday morning.
New York is signing Norvel Pelle to a 10-day contract, having played with the Brooklyn Nets and Sacramento Kings for just a combined four games this season. Since his inception into the NBA in 2019, Pelle is averaging just 2.4 points per game but can be a decent rebounder and offer a presence in the paint. His production doesn’t scream efficiency, but he will likely play a third-string role behind Gibson and Noel.
The New York Knicks plan to sign center Norvel Pelle to a 10-day contract this weekend, sources tell @TheAthletic@Stadium.
As the Knicks patiently wait for a timetable for Robinson’s return, they needed a bit more depth, considering Taj is 35 years old and Noel is 27 with knee issues.
Either of them could go down at any moment, so securing a backup plan was a necessity. After missing out on Andre Drummond after the trade deadline, this is a simple depth move. Clearly, they didn’t value signing DeMarcus Cousins, who is a four-time NBA All-Star and averages over 20 points per game historically.
The Knicks are preparing to take on the Dallas Mavericks on Friday evening, coming off a disappointing loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves on Wednesday.