New York Giants: SEC coach claims Giants really wanted DeVonta Smith

New York Giants, Devonta Smith

The New York Giants walked away from the NFL Draft with a new weapon, but it wasn’t the one that was expected. Instead of DeVonta Smith or Jaylen Waddle, they ended up trading down and selecting Kadarius Toney. However, according to one SEC defensive coordinator who spoke with ESPN, the Giants were really interested in Smith.

Coaches expected the SEC’s top three receiver prospects — Waddle, teammate DeVonta Smith and Chase — to go in the top 10. An SEC assistant said the Miami Dolphins would take Waddle or Smith, if available, and an SEC head coach said Philadelphia “got a steal in DeVonta,” likening the 2020 Heisman Trophy winner to former Eagles star DeSean Jackson. An SEC defensive coordinator added, “The Giants wanted DeVonta bad. They were pretty livid when Philly moved in front of them.”

Smith was the player mocked to the Giants in a number of mock drafts in the weeks before the event. The two time national champion is coming off a Heisman winning college season, and is expected to make an instant impact in the NFL.

However, the Eagles trading up to take him before the Giants means that New York will have to face Smith within the division.

It’s not all bad for the Giants, though. From the looks of it, their actual first round pick Kadarius Toney was a steal and the team still comes away with more versatility on the offense than they started with.

The matchups between Philadelphia and the Giants this year will be especially interesting, in part because of their draft results. We’ll have to wait to see which receiver does better head to head, but one look at a highlight reel shows that Toney shouldn’t be counted out.

Sergio Pettis defeats Juan Archuleta at Bellator 258

Tonight in the main event of Bellator 258, the bantamweight title was on the line. Juan Archuleta (25-2) was defending his bantamweight title for the first time against Sergio Pettis (20-5).

Pettis was seeking to become the second world champion in his family. His older brother Anthony was of course the WEC and UFC lightweight champion. The younger Pettis also fought for the UFC before jumping to Bellator just prior to 2020.

Last year, Pettis made his debut with the promotion. He looked very good in both of his fights and won them both. In his career, he’s been in there with some of the best in the world including Henry Cejudo and Joseph Benavidez.

Tonight, he had a huge challenge in front of him at Bellator 258. Juan Archuleta has been close to perfect since he joined Bellator in early 2018. He’s gone 7-1 with his lone loss coming against Patricio Pitbull.

That fight was up at featherweight. Archuleta’s natural weight class is 135, but his first shot at Bellator gold was at 145 and he wouldn’t pass up that opportunity. After that defeat, he moved back down to 135 pounds.

Late last year, Archuleta fought Patchy Mix at Bellator 246. Mix was game, but Archuleta fought incredibly smart and walked away with a decision. Pettis is one of the stiffest challenges in the promotion, but Archuleta was looking to show how good he really is tonight.

Bellator 258 Recap

Round 1

The Bellator 258 main event kicks off with a touch of the gloves. Archuleta looks to establish his jab in the opening seconds. Pettis takes the center of the cage and Archuleta is using his movement on the outside.

Both men trade big shots and Archuleta goes back to circling the cage. Pettis just misses a high kick and Archuleta lands a quick takedown. However, Pettis, is able to pop right back up.

Archuleta pushes Pettis back to the fence as he looks to take him back down. Pettis lands a couple of nice elbows as Archuleta continues to look for the takedown. The two separate with two minutes left in the round.

Archuleta pushes forward, but Pettis gets the better of the exchange on the counter. The Bellator champion looks for a high kick, but nothing home. A beautiful right hand counter lands for Sergio Pettis.

Archuleta pushes forward and lands a body kick, but Pettis counters with a big straight shot. Nice jab lands for Sergio Pettis. Good low kicks land for Archuleta. Archuleta lands a takedown, but Pettis reverses straight into the mount as the bell sounds. 1-0 Sergio Pettis at Bellator 258.

Round 2

The second round starts and Pettis immediately takes the center again. The Bellator champion charges forward with a combination, but nothing significant lands. Good right hand lands for Juan Archuleta.

Archuleta shoots in and lands a takedown on Sergio Pettis just about 90 seconds into the second round. Pettis works his way back up to his feet and Archuleta presses him against the fence. However, Pettis breaks the guard and they go back to striking.

Nice jab lands for Pettis. Archuleta pushes forward and lands a good shot to the body, but misses wild up top. Pettis continues the pressure looking for his jab. Nasty left hand to the body lands for the Bellator bantamweight champion with two minutes left in the round.

Stiff jab from Pettis pops the head of Juan Archuleta. Archuleta pushes forward again, but Pettis gets the better of the striking and Archuleta is cut. Big left uppercut lands for Juan Archuleta.

Pettis tries to go up top, but Archuleta lands a couple of shots to the body. More pressure from the champion and he lands a nice left hook. The bell sounds in round two as Archuleta looks for a takedown. Very close round, but I lean towards Archuleta which makes it 1-1 at Bellator 258.

Round 3

Both men touch gloves to start the third round. Archuleta looks to take the center in this round, but he’s popped with a jab from Pettis. After the jab lands, Pettis goes back to taking the center of the cage with pressure.

Archuleta pushes forward and looks to land. Both men trade good right hands. Nice jab lands for the Bellator champion. Archuleta attempts to land some shots to the body, but he’s a bit out of range.

Pettis’ counter right hand has been landing all night and he lands another one. Archuleta presses forward trying to up the pressure, but Pettis clips him with a left hook and right hand.

Nice right hook lands for Archuleta. Both men step forward and land good shots. The striking numbers are very close halfway through the fight. Archuleta shoots for a takedown, however, he can’t get Sergio Pettis down.

The champion pushes Pettis against the fence and looks to work from the clinch. Pettis breaks the clinch and were back to striking. Archuleta pushes forward and lands a couple of shots. The round closes and the round was extremely close. I lean slightly towards Archuleta so I’ll say 2-1 Archuleta at Bellator 258.

Round 4

This is anyone’s fight heading into the fourth round at Bellator 258. Archuleta pushes forward immediately and both men land shots. Pettis lands the better shot with a nice right hand.

Good lead left hook lands for Juan Archuleta. Pettis backs up Archuleta with a nice left hand, but Archuleta grabs a body lock. Archuleta lands a brief takedown, but Pettis pops right back up.

Both men trade jabs as were back to striking. Two big counter right hands land for Sergio Pettis. Big body kick lands for Pettis. Pettis tries for a brief takedown, but Archuleta just shrugs him off.

However, once back to striking, Pettis lands a clean combination. Nice left hook lands for the Bellator champion. Pettis then lands a big right hand that backs the champion off.

Archuleta tries to push forward, but another clean counter right hand lands for Sergio Pettis. Good combination lands for the champion. Pettis lands a knee to the body and a nice right hand on the break.

Big body kick lands for Pettis. Counter left hook lands for Sergio Pettis and he’s feeling it here in the fourth round. Pettis just seems a step ahead of Archuleta as he lands another good counter here late in the round. The round comes to a close and I think it’s 2-2 entering the final round at Bellator 258.

Round 5

Entering the final round at Bellator 258 and I think it’s tied, but Pettis could very well be winning on the scorecards. Both men touch gloves as we start the final round and Archuleta immediately presses Pettis.

However, he’s unable to land anything clean. Nice jab lands for Pettis, but Archuleta shoots in for a takedown. He pushes him to the fence, but Pettis is able to stay up and he breaks the grip of Archuleta. Two straight jabs land for Sergio Pettis.

Nice right hand and left hook counter lands for Pettis. Pettis lands a nice calf kick which forces Archuleta to move back. Archuleta pushes forward, but he’s met with more counters from Pettis.

Nice body kick lands for Archuleta. Jab for Sergio Pettis and both men trade big shots in close. Archuleta pushes forward again, but Pettis beats him to the punch and backs him up.

Jab and right hand lands for Pettis. Archuleta shoots in deep for a takedown and he slams Pettis to the ground. Huge moment for the Bellator champion. If he can hold Pettis here, he can win the final round.

Archuleta goes into north-south and he looks to land knees to the body. The champion switches to side-control and he’s just holding the position. Pettis uses the fence and he’s able to explode up, but Archuleta holds the clinch.

The bell sounds and this one is going to be razor close. I give the final round and the fight to the Bellator champion 48-47, but I wouldn’t be shocked at all if Sergio Pettis gets the nod here.

Sergio Pettis def. Juan Archuleta by Unanimous Decision (50-45, 49-46, 49-46)

New York Yankees Recap: Yankees pummeled by the Washington Nationals 11-3

New York Yankees, Jonathan Loaisiga

The New York Yankees met up with the Washington Nationals tonight at Yankee Stadium. The Yankees’ Jameson Taillon faced the Nationals’ Patrick Corbin in the first game of a three-game set ending the Yankees longest homestand of the season. Although some of the names were the same, this is not the same team that won the 2019 World Series. The Nationals finished at the bottom of the NL East last season. The Nationals were coming off 3 straight losses to the Atlanta Braves, and the Yankees were coming off winning two of three against the Houston Astros.

In the first inning, Jameson Taillon faced off against the Nationals Trea Turner, who ground out to Miguel Andujar at first. Andujar was called up to replace Gio Urshela, who was injured in last night’s game against the Astros. Why the career 3rd baseman was playing first, I had no idea. Jost Harrison popped out to second. Juan Soto ground out for a fast inning for Taillon. DJ LeMahieu started off the bottom with a home run to right. Stanton gound out. Aaron Judge ground out. Gleyber Torres ground out to short, but the Yankees got the lead with the DJ home run. New York Yankees 1 Nats 0.

Josh Bell tied it up immediately in the top of the second inning with a home run of his own. Starlin Castro flew out to Judge in right. Kyle Schwarber walked. Yan Gomes had a two-run home run to put the Nationals up three runs.  Yadiel Hernandez ground out. Victor Robles ground out, but the Nationals picked up three runs for the Nationals 3, the Yankees 1. At the bottom, Aaron Hicks had a line drive out. Gary Sanchez hit a homer to center. Clint Frazier flew out to center. In his 2021 major league debut, Miguel Andujar flew out to the warning track in center field to end the inning. Nationals 3 Yankees 2.

At the top of the third inning, Turner ground out to Wade at second. Harrison flew out to left, but Clint Frazier made another phenomenal play catching the ball at the warning track. Juan Soto struck out for a 1-2-3 inning for Taillon. At the bottom, Tyler Wade led off by grounding out to first with a flip to the pitcher for the out. Lemahieu hit to right for a single. Giancarlo Stanton almost hit another home run to right. Aaron Judge struck out to end the inning scoreless. Nats 3 Yanks 1.

Leading off the top of the fourth was Josh Bell, who ground out to Wade. Castro ground out. Schwarber struck out for 8 in and row for Taillon after the home run. At the bottom, Torres gound out. Hicks gound out to left, and Sanchez struck out as Corbin put down the Yankees in order. Nats 3 Yankees 2.

Leading off the fifth, Hernandez rolled back to Taillon. Gomez ground out, and Robles flew out to Hicks to end the half 1-2-3 for Taillon. Clint Frazier led off the bottom by flying out to center. Andujar ground out to second. Tayler Wade ground to first as they went down for the very fast inning for both pitchers. Nats 3 Yankees 2.

At the top of the sixth, with Taillon still on the mount, turner flew out. Harrison ground out. Juan Soto struck out with Taillon putting down the last fourteen Nationals in a row. At the bottom, it was the top of the lineup for the Yankees. LeMahieu started the bottom by getting his second home run of the game to tie it up. Stanton flew out to left. Judge flew out. Torres flew out to right to end the inning, but the New York Yankees tied it up at 3 apiece.

Bell led off the top of the seventh with Taillon still on the mound; he flew out to Judge in right. Castro singled. And that was the last pitch for Taillon. He was replaced by Wandy Peralta, who faced the lefty Schwarber who struck out. Gomes struck out, leaving a Nats on base. With Corbin out of the game, Kyle Finnegan struck out Hicks. Sanchez walked. A passed ball to Gomes allowed Sanchez to go to second base. Frazier ground out to short. Andujar flew out for far center, and the game remained tied at 3 apiece.

At the top of the eighth, Hernandez led off against Jonathan Loaisiga replacing Jameson Taillon. Hernandez doubled was Judge did not cleanly handle the catch for an error. Robles made it to first on another error for the Yankees in the same inning, Hernandez to third on the DJ error. Hernandez scored on the Turner single. Harrison homered to left for a 3 run homer and the 7-3 lead for the Nationals. Loaigia had allowed only 2 runs in his first 14 outings and now four runs in one inning.  Juan Soto singled. Josh Bell struck out. Loaisiga was replaced by Luis Cessa facing Starlin Castro, who walked on four straight pitches. Schwarber, with two on and two outs, doubled as Soto scored another run, as the wheels have fallen off for the Yankees. Gomes reached on an error by Torres. Stevenson walked. Robles went down on strikes. Turner ground out but six runs scored in the inning. Nationals 9 Yankees 3.

Tyler Wade led off the bottom of eighth inning against Tanner Rainy; he walked. LeMahieu went down on strikes after going 3 for 3 and two home runs. Stanton, with a 12 game hitting streak, went down on strikes. Judge struck out for Rainy’s third strikeout of the inning. The Nationals blew the game open with 6 runs.

At the top of the ninth inning, Harrison led off by walking against Cessa still in there. Soto hit a homer to center for the Nat’s 11th run in the game. Bell lined out to LeMahieu fr the first out. Castro singled. Schwarber hit into the force for the second out. Gomes flew out to Hicks on Cessa’s 42 pitch of the game. With last licks on the line for the New York Yankees, Gleyber Torres faced Will Harris. Torres struck out swinging. Hicks walked. Sanchez, who homered in the third, flew out to the warning track in center. Hicks took second on defensive indifference. Frazier singled, driving in Hicks for the Yankees’ fourth run. Andujar ground out to end the game.

Final score Washington Nationals 11 and the New York Yankees 4. The winning pitcher was Finnegan, and the loser was Jonathan Loaisiga. The game looked good for the Yankees through seven innings, but then it all fell apart. The Nationals got 9 runs in the last two innings.

Tomorrow in a matinee matchup, game two will take place between these two teams at Yankee Stadium. Corey Kluber will face the Nationals’ Max Scherzer. The game will be televised on the YES Network, MASN, and MLBN out of market.

 

Anthony ‘Rumble’ Johnson knocks out Jose Augusto at Bellator 258

Anthony Rumble Johnson

In the co-main event of Bellator 258, we saw the final quarter-final matchup in the Light Heavyweight Grand Prix. Anthony ‘Rumble’ Johnson (22-6) was making his promotional debut against Jose Augusto (7-2, 1 NC).

Originally, Rumble was set to take on Yoel Romero in the co-main event tonight. However, Romero didn’t pass the pre-fight medicals and as a result, he was pulled off of Bellator 258.

The promotion decided to move forward with the Grand Prix and Jose Augusto got the call. Augusto just fought and won a month ago and he trains under the Pitbull brothers.

Augusto just made his Bellator debut back and April and he seemed more than ready to take on the challenge of Rumble Johnson. This is the first fight for Rumble Johnson in four years. The last time we saw him was at UFC 210 when he lost for the second time to Daniel Cormier.

Daniel Cormier is the only man to defeat Rumble in his last fourteen fights. Rumble was released from his UFC contract and signed an exclusive deal with Bellator. His debut was one of the more hyped Bellator debuts in recent memory. He was looking to make quick work of Jose Augusto tonight.

Bellator 258 Recap

Round 1

The Bellator 258 co-main event kicked off with a touch of the gloves. Rumble immediately takes the center of the cage and starts working his feints. A big leg kick from Rumble is countered by a 1-2 from Augusto.

Another good leg kick lands for Rumble. Rumble putting some pressure on Augusto and he throws a good push kick that backs Augusto up to the fence. Augusto tries to establish his jab, but he’s a bit out of range.

A really nice combination lands for Augusto. Augusto lands a right hand and you can tell he injured his hand. He tries to shake it out, but it’s clearly compromised. Rumble turns up the pressure afterwards.

Another right hand lands for Augusto, and he turns in pain. Rumble turns up the pressure and starts landing bombs, but Augusto isn’t backing down. A huge left hook lands for Augusto and down goes Rumble.

Incredible turn of events and Augusto is going for the finish. Rumble gets up and shoots for a takedown. Rumble lands the takedown as he tries to recover. The first round comes to a close and Rumble survives. 1-0 Augusto after one here at Bellator 258.

Round 2

Rumble definitely looked a little weary entering the second round at Bellator 258. He tries to start the striking with a leg kick, but he was a bit out of range. Augusto lands a good body kick to start his striking.

Solid lead left hook lands for Jose Augusto. Big left hook to the body lands for Augusto. Augusto is a one-handed fighter, but he’s winning the striking here. Nice jab lands for Augusto.

Rumble looking extremely tentative here in the second round. Then out of no where, a huge 1-2 lands from Rumble and Augusto is out. Rumble wins his Bellator debut by knockout.

Anthony ‘Rumble’ Johnson def. Jose Augusto by KO – Round 2

UFC booking rematch between Ketlen Viera and Sara McMann

Today we learned that the UFC is finalizing a bantamweight matchup between Ketlen Viera (11-2) and Sara McMann (12-6). MMA Fighting was the first to report the fight earlier this afternoon. The fight is scheduled to take place on August 28th.

This isn’t the first time that these two top ten bantamweights have stood across from each other. Viera and McMann previously met back in 2017 at UFC 215. That night, Ketlen Viera was able to pick up the arm-triangle submission victory.

Starting with that loss to Viera at UFC 215, Sara McMann is just 1-3 in her last four fights. The former UFC title challenger and Olympic Silver Medalist is getting ready to turn 41 this year, but she has a lot of fight left.

After the birth of her son, McMann took some time off. She returned back in January of 2020 and picked up a good decision win over Lina Lansberg. From there, she took on top contender Julianna Pena at UFC 257.

McMann started the fight out well, but she started fading in the second round. By the third round, Pena was able to get top position on the ground and lock up a rear-naked choke. McMann will look to bounce back in August.

Important UFC matchup for Viera

In March of 2018 at UFC 222, Ketlen Viera defeated Cat Zingano by decision. Viera looked like she was getting close to a UFC title shot seeing as she was a perfect 10-0 in her career and 4-0 inside the octagon.

However, injuries kept her out of the octagon until UFC 245 in December of 2019. After 20 months off, Viera returned to take on Irene Aldana. Aldana knocked Viera out in the first round.

Viera would bounce back against Sijara Eubanks, but then she lost to Yana Kunitskaya back in February. After once looking like a title challenger, Viera is now looking at potentially being 1-3 in her last four UFC fights.

This is a huge fight for both of these ladies. In reality, I’m not sure what happens with the loser of this fight. The winner can pick up some momentum and start climbing the divisional ladder, but the loser will continue to tumble down the rankings with a steep climb up.

Kadarius Toney fills a crucial need for the New York Giants

new york giants, kadarius toney

The New York Giants turned heads last week when they traded down in the first round of the 2021 NFL Draft and selected Florida wide receiver Kadarius Toney at twenty overall. This was the exclamation point on a fantastic offseason that saw the Giants load up on offensive playmakers.

New York filled its major needs this offseason. They got their big-time, alpha-dog outside wide receiver in Kenny Golladay. They signed a dependable tight end who will not drop the ball in Kyle Rudolph. On defense, they signed a seriously talented outside cornerback to play opposite of James Bradberry in Adoree’ Jackson. They also drafted a speed rusher to beat down left tackles in Azeez Ojulari.

When the Giants drafted Kadarius Toney, the selection was almost looked at as a luxury pick. But, in actuality, the Giants were filling a crucial need with this draft selection. Sure, they already invested in the receiver position and already have a talented group of guys with Sterling Shepard in the slot and Darius Slayton as a deep threat. But what the Giants lacked was a playmaker who could accumulate yards after the catch. This is where Kadarius Toney excels.

The need that Kadarius Toney fills

According to Ben Linsey of Pro Football Focus, the New York Giants ranked dead last in the league with the fewest yards after the catch per reception in 2020 at 3.0 yards per. Not only did the Giants’ receivers struggle to separate from coverage last season, but they also struggled to make plays with the ball in their hands.

Kadarius Toney was the most explosive after-the-catch wide receiver in the 2021 NFL Draft. Kadarius Toney forced a missed tackle on 35% of touches since 2018, which was first among the 2021 wide receiver draft class (PFF). Toney forced 32 missed tackles on 80 catches the past two seasons (PFF).

Not only does Toney have reliable hands (only 3 drops on 150 targets in 2020), he gives the Giants the playmaking ability with the ball in his hands that no other receiver on their roster provides. Kadarius Toney is nearly impossible to tackle. He has elite contact balance, quickness/agility, speed, and vision. Anytime Toney has the ball in his hands he is a threat to take it to the end zone. Check out this insane leg-breaking move by Kadarius Toney:

Ex-Knick Pablo Prigioni to Luca Vildoza: See you soon!

It takes one to know one.

Luca Vildoza just got the stamp of approval from Pablo Prigioni after the 25-year old Argentine signed a four-year, $13.6-million deal with the New York Knicks.

Prigioni was the first Argentinian point guard to suit up for the Knicks. As the NBA’s oldest rookie in history at 35 years old, Prigioni helped New York reach the second round of the playoffs in the 2012-13 season. It was the last time the Knicks made it to the postseason.

Eight years later, the Knicks are on the cusp of breaking the playoff drought and have signed another Argentinian point guard. But unlike Prigioni, who was in the twilight of his career then, Vildoza is entering his prime years.

The 25-year old Vildoza is about to follow Prigioni’s footsteps and hopes to leave a mark like his legendary compatriot. 

Prigioni, who is now an assistant coach with the Minnesota Timberwolves, shares the excitement of the Knicks fans on Vildoza’s decision to take his act to the NBA.  

“Congratulations on your four years of constant growth in Baskonia, and I’m sure you are going to do great here, Prigioni wrote on Vildoza’s heartfelt parting shot with Baskonia on his Instagram. “See you soon!”

Ultimate Dream

Before leaving for the NBA, Vildoza delivered an ACB Spanish League title to Baskonia last year and was named the Finals MVP.

Prigioni also won several titles for Baskonia before heading to the NBA. He returned to Baskonia and retired there following a four-year NBA stint. For Vildoza, who admires Prigioni growing up, leaving Baskonia was bittersweet.

“Making the decision to leave has not been easy at all, Vildoza wrote. “However, I have to take the step. Being able to play in the NBA for me is the ultimate dream. It was what I projected when I was a child and played in the room at home with my father. I want and need to realize the utopia. And measure myself.”

Vildoza will have the entire offseason to measure himself to the Knicks standards before the team can guarantee the second year of his contract. He is not expected to play with the season already coming to a close. But they are invested in him moving forward as signing him cost a $2-million buyout with his Spanish club.

Vildoza on Kobe Bryant and Lakers’ radar in 2019

The 6-foot-3 Vildoza will also suit up for the Argentia national team in the Olympics. It was in the 2019 FIBA World Cup where Vildoza started to get into NBA’s radar.

Vildoza was one of the two Argentines that caught the fancy of the late Kobe Bryant.

Los Andes, an Argentinian publication, reported in 2019 that Bryant called the Los Angeles Lakers people and toyed with the idea that Vildoza and Gabriel Deck should play for his former team at some point.

Bryant was said to be enamored by “the speed of the point guard (Vildoza) and his launching mechanics with agile movements plus the aggressiveness.”

Deck recently signed a similar four-year deal with the Oklahoma City Thunder. The Knicks didn’t waste any time to lock up Vildoza before the Lakers, and several NBA teams get into him in the offseason.

Octagon’s Alex Saratsis, whose clients include Knicks’ Alec Burks, the Antetokounmpo brothers, Bam Adebayo, and Vildoza’s Argentina national teammate Facundo Campazzo, negotiated the deal.

Follow this writer on Twitter: @alderalmo

New York Jets announce the release of six players

In the aftermath of the NFL Draft, the New York Jets released six veteran players from their roster on Friday.

The New York Jets announced the release of the following veteran players on Friday morning:

CB Kyron Brown-Brown signed as an undrafted free agent out of Akron after the 2019 draft but spent all of last season on the physically unable to perform list after suffering a quad injury. He partook in three games in green, including one starts, all during the 2019 campaign.

TE Connor Davis-A Stony Brook alum, Davis didn’t partake in any Jets regular seasons games with the Jets but had previous professional experience in the AAF (Birmingham Iron) and XFL (St. Louis BattleHawks.

WR Josh Doctson-The former first round pick out of TCU signed with the Jets last season after four years between Washington and Minnesota but opted out of the 2020 season.

C Leo Koloamatangi-Another 2020 opt-out, Koomatangi had been on and off the Jets’ active roster but did not appear in any regular season games. He previously spent time on Detroit’s practice squad, entering the league as an undrafted free agent out of Hawaii.

K Chase McLaughlin-It appears the Jets’ kicking competition will come down to incumbent Sam Ficken and undrafted free agent Chris Naggar from Southern Methodist. McLaughlin, who appeared on the roster of six other teams before his New York arrival, converted two extra points in the Jets’ season finale in New England.

WR Jaleel Scott-A former fourth-round pick in Baltimore, Scott was added to the Jets’ practice squad after he was part of the Ravens’ final round of camp cuts. He appeared in one game with New York last season, earning a 16-yard reception in the Jets’ December loss to Seattle.

In addition to the cuts, the Jets also place safety Saquan Hampton on the reserve/physically unable to perform list. Hampton joined the Jets in December and partook in a single game, during which he ruptured his Achilles tendon. The Hamilton, NJ native was a sixth-round pick in New Orleans during the 2019 selections.

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags

Bellator announces interim heavyweight title fight between Tim Johnson and Valentin Moldavsky

Bellator is going to crown an interim heavyweight champion. With Ryan Bader competing in the Light Heavyweight Grand Prix, the promotion has decided to create an interim title for the heavyweights.

Bellator announced today that next month Tim Johnson (15-6) will take on Valentin Moldavsky (10-1) for the interim heavyweight title. The matchup will take place at Bellator 261 on June 25th.

Tim Johnson has completely turned his career around. Johnson made his Bellator debut back in 2018 after a stint with the UFC and lost two straight fights by knockout. After those two losses, Johnson took off 2019.

He returned in 2020 and looked like a completely different fighter. He knocked out Tyrone Fortune and Matt Mitrione in the first round. After those two wins, he got a rematch with Cheick Kongo.

Kongo was the first man to face and knock out Johnson in Bellator. However, this time Johnson was able to grind out a split decision. On the heels of these three consecutive victories, Johnson is getting a shot at heavyweight gold.

Moldavsky looks to remain unbeaten in Bellator

Standing across from Johnson on June 25th will be the Russian Valentin Moldavsky. Moldavsky is a protégé of the great Fedor Emelianenko and he’s ready to capture his first world championship in Bellator.

Moldavsky made his debut with Bellator back in 2017 after a four-fight stint in Rizin. Since making his debut with the promotion, Moldavsky has been a perfect 5-0 and he got the biggest win of his career in his last fight.

At Bellator 244 in August, Moldavsky took on Roy Nelson. This was also the same night that his teammate Vadim Nemkov dethroned Ryan Bader of his light heavyweight championship.

Moldavsky was able to pickup the unanimous decision victory over the former Ultimate Fighter winner. With that win, Moldavsky has earned him a shot at Bellator 261. With no definitive timeframe on Bader’s heavyweight return, the winner of this matchup could defend the title before unifying down the road with Ryan Bader.

New York Yankees: An old friend returns to Yankee Stadium tonight

New York Yankees, Miguel Andujar

According to YES Network’s Jack Curry, the New York Yankees are calling up Miquel Andujar to possibly replace Gio Urshela at third base tonight when the Yankees meet up the Washington Nationals at Yankee Stadium. Urshela injured his knee making a diving catch at third base last night. After the amazing catch and failed throw to first base’s Mike Ford, Urshela remained on his knee, although he usually recovers from this type of dives immediately. He was removed from the game and sent for an MRI.

It appears the injury is not serious and he will be day to day possibly avoiding the IL. But he may not play during this weekend series. The Yankees will send down Albert Abreu or Micheal King to make room for Andujar on the roster. The New York Yankee fans may be surprised to find out that Andujar has done very well in the first games of the minor league season at Scranton Wilkes/Barre.

EmpireSportsMedia.com’s own Andres Chevez reported on Miguel Andujar’s progress:

“Last night, the Yankees’ former third baseman of the future socked two home runs in the Rail Riders’ 17-11 victory over Syracuse. It should be noted, though, that one of the dingers came off a position player pitching. In total, Andujar finished the night 4-for-5 with two long balls and three RBI, playing first and third base for the Yankees’ Triple-A affiliate. In three games so far in the 2021 season, Andujar is hitting .462, with three homers and five RBI.”

Miquel Enrique Andujar was born on March 2, 1995, in San Cristobal, the Dominican Republic. He played baseball in the sandlots near his home. He was seen by a Yankee scout that was impressed with his hitting. The Yankees signed Miggy to a minor league contract at the age of just 16 in 2011. After a short time at the Yankees training facility in Boca Chica, Dominican Republic, he was sent to Florida. In 2012, he made his professional debut with the Gulf Coast Yankees.

Andujar spent until 2018 in the minor leagues, where he honed his skills. At the beginning of the 2018 season, he was with the Scranton Rail Riders, but he made his major league debut on  April 1, 2018. He hit his first major league home run on April 17. On April 23, Andújar hit a solo home run against the Minnesota Twins, marking his 7th consecutive game with an extra-base hit. On June 5, he hit his first major league Grand Slam. On September 29, Andujar hit his 45th double of the season, breaking the Yankees’ record for most doubles by a rookie, previously held by Joe DiMaggio.

Andujar was well on his way to becoming the next big Yankee star even though he wasn’t the best of defenders at the hot corner. April 1, 2019, he injured his shoulder and was put on the 10 day IL. On April 30, he was sent to the Florida Tarpons to rehab, on May 4th, he was reactivated, but he again injured the shoulder on the 13th. On the 21st, he was transferred from the 10 day to the 60 day IL due to a torn Labrum, which caused him to have season-ending surgery.

Meanwhile, the New York Yankees needed a third baseman and brought up Gio Urshela from Scranton. Urshela quickly became admired for his Gold Glove-like performance at the hot corner. Quickly thereafter, he became a star at the plate. When Andujar finally returned, he had lost his job at third, and the Yankees really had no place to put him. They tried different positions; he ended up playing in only 21 games during the 2020 season.

After a nothing special performance this spring training and still no viable position options, he didn’t make the Yankees starting roster. Instead, he was sent down to the alternate site to wait for the beginning of the minor league season. In his first game, he played in the outfield and the last two games at third base. Now, although it may be brief, Miguel Andujar will have the chance to show the Yankees he can still be valuable to them.