After loss at UFC Vegas 26, what’s next for Michelle Waterson?

This past weekend at UFC Vegas 26, two top ten strawweights went head-to-head as Michelle Waterson (18-9) took on Marina Rodriguez (14-1-2). The main event came together on short-notice, but both of these strawweights brought it.

For The Karate Hottie, this was her second straight short-notice main event. Back in September, Waterson was set to take on Angela Hill. After the original main event fell through, the UFC moved Waterson and Hill up to the main event.

Despite not training for it, both ladies went five hard rounds. Waterson walked away with a split decision victory. Two weeks ago, this fight wasn’t even on the card for UFC Vegas 26.

However, after TJ Dillashaw fell out of the main event, the promotion approached Waterson and Rodriguez about headlining. Due to the short-notice nature, the two agreed to meet at flyweight to avoid a drastic weight cut.

It was a back-and-forth affair at UFC Vegas 26. However, Marina Rodriguez was clearly getting the better of the exchanges. While it was competitive, Rodriguez walked away with decision victory on all three judges scorecards.

What’s next after UFC Vegas 26?

While it was short-notice, UFC Vegas 26 was a very big opportunity for The Karate Hottie. Had Waterson won on Saturday night, she would’ve had two consecutive wins and she would’ve been in line to fight someone in the top five.

However, she didn’t get the job done on Saturday. With the loss, Waterson falls to 1-3 in her last four. Granted two of the losses came to former UFC champions and one was to Rodriguez who looks like she can be a future champion.

I don’t think the loss hurts Waterson at all and she was the betting underdog heading into the fight. So what should the UFC do with The Karate Hottie next? Well, I don’t think they have to look far in the rankings.

I actually really like the potential matchup between Waterson and Claudia Gadelha (18-5). Both strawweights are just inside the top ten and they are both coming off of losses in their last fight.

I feel like both of them are in a similar position. Both need a win and whoever loses would really have to take a step back and consider what’s next. I think it’s a matchup the UFC should pursue and I’m all for it being what’s next.

Yankees’ outfield prospect is having an explosive start of the season

New York Yankees, Estevan Florial

For years, New York Yankees outfield prospect Estevan Florial has teased with tantalizing tolos that include raw athleticism, impressive power, speed, defense, and a good arm from center field. Yet, he has continually been held back by an inability to make consistent contact, most notably with breaking balls.

After years of consistently failing in Class A-Advanced (he did well there but struggled in both 2018 and 2019) he took a cup of coffee last year with the big club but spent most of his time at the Yankees’ alternate training site.

That time seems to have worked wonders for him, at least in the early going. With the Double-A Somerset Patriots, Florial has been having a renaissance

The Patriots center fielder hit his fourth home run of the season on Sunday. Of those four, three have been of the leadoff variety.

The Yankees are closely following him 

The Yankees’ prospect, who has seemingly been around forever but is still somehow 23, has four homers, six RBI, five runs scored, .955 slugging percentage and 1.355 OPS, all while hitting .318 on the season’s first six games.

Florial is still a promising player despite the recent struggles, and the early part of the 2021 minor league season has served as a reminder of that. Consistency will be the key for him to carve a future with the Yankees.

Yankees’ skipper Aaron Boone is definitely paying attention:

“He’s a beloved guy in that room and has a lot of people in that organization and players that are really pulling for him and know what his ceiling is, know how good he can be, know what the tools suggest,” Boone told reporters on the weekend. “I’m excited for him to go out there and hopefully have a healthy, full minor-league season where he’s able to re-establish what I think the industry and what we feel like he’s capable of doing. It is exciting to see him get off to the kind of start he is. … He’s a five-tool (prospect). I think he could be an All-Star-caliber talent. A guy that can legitimately play center field, fly, power to all fields. He certainly has all the tools to be a special player. It’s about obviously putting those together and having it show up in performance and consistency.”

After capturing bantamweight title at Bellator 258, what’s next for Sergio Pettis?

This past weekend at Bellator 258, Juan Archuleta (25-3) and Sergio Pettis (21-5) battled it out for the bantamweight title. Archuleta was looking to defend his title for the first time while Pettis was looking to become the second world champion in his family.

Throughout his MMA career, Sergio Pettis has lived in the shadow of his brother Anthony. The elder Pettis has been a UFC and WEC lightweight champion and with that, he’s garnered the majority of the attention.

That said, Sergio Pettis has been on a roll and he’s really taken off in Bellator. After a successful stint with the UFC, Pettis jumped ship to Bellator where he won his first two fights to earn him a shot at Archuleta on Friday night.

Heading into the fight, I figured the fight was going to be extremely close. I figured the grappling of Archuleta would really help him retain his Bellator title, but I knew Pettis had a real shot to take the belt.

In the end, all night long, Sergio Pettis was a step ahead of Juan Archuleta. Archuleta was more active, but Pettis was catching him with more clean shots. I personally thought the fight was closer than the scores suggested. However, after watching a second time, the right man won last weekend.

Sergio Pettis earned a clean sweep of the scorecards as he captured the Bellator bantamweight title. The judges had it 50-45, 49-46, 49-46 as the younger Pettis joined his brother as a world champion in the family.

What’s next after Bellator 258?

Bellator’s bantamweight division is one of their best divisions. There are a number of top contenders to watch. With that, here will be no shortage of options for Pettis’ first title defense.

One thing we know for sure, Juan Archuleta will not get an immediate rematch. Archuleta just became the champion and with the lopsided scores, we can pretty safely rule him out for Sergio’s first defense.

I think there are two Bellator bantamweights who are in the lead for the next shot. One being Raufeon Stots (16-1). Stots is an interesting one because him and Sergio are teammates. However, Pettis alluded to the fact that they might have to fight in the future.

Stots is 4-0 in Bellator and he’s knocking on the door of a title shot. The other contender is Magomed Magomedov (18-1). Magomedov is 2-0 since joining Bellator and his lone loss is to former UFC bantamweight champion Petr Yan.

Stots or Magomedov are the two leading candidates. Patchy Mix (14-1) and James Gallagher (11-1) are also options, but I think the promotion will try to pair those two for a fight against each other later this summer.

New York Yankees: Tampa Bay Rays series preview and more

After winning their third series in a row, the New York Yankees embark on their longest road trip of the season today. Their first stop of the trip is a three-game set with the Yankees nemesis, the Tampa Bay Rays, at Tropicana Field. The Yankees will have a slightly different look as last year’s home run leader Luke Voit, and Gio Urshela will be back with the team. After Miguel Andujar went 0 for 9 with no walks in the Nationals series, he was sent down to Scranton.

To say the least, the Yankees have not fared well playing the Rays this season. In their first meeting, they won only one of three at Tropicana Field. The second time they met up with the Rays, the Rays swept the Yankees at the Stadium.  The New York Yankees lost the AL East Division to the Rays last season, and the Rays again beat them in the ALDS. These two teams have built up a great dislike for each other in the last few seasons. The Yankees are hoping to change their fortunes in this third matchup of the season. The Rays are coming off a win on Sunday against the Oakland Athletics and the Yankees a walk-off win of the Nationals.

Tuesday, May 11th, 7:10 pm:

The first game of the three-game set with the Tampa Bay Rays, like the other two games, will be played in Tampa at Tropicana Field. Being a closed domed field, the weather will not be an issue for any of the games. Tuesday game will see Jordan Mongomery on the mound for the Yankees and Luis Patino for the Rays.

Jordan Montgomery won his first game in his season debut but hasn’t won a game since. His last game was against the Houston Astros, in which he had a quality start of six innings. He gave up three earned runs while striking out 4 Astros. Although he didn’t have his best command, he kept the Yankees in the game. His record is 1-1 with a 4.41 ERA. This will be his seventh start of the season.

Luis Patino is in his first year with the Rays; he came to them in the Blake Snell trade with the San Diego Padres. He has pitched in three games for 7.2 innings of work. He has a 1-0 record with an ERA of just 1.17. He is not built up to pitch entire games and likely will only go three or four innings when the Rays turn it over to the bullpen. The game will be broadcast on the YES Network, Bally Sports Sun, and on ESPN out of market.

Wednesday, May 12, 7:10 pm:

The New York Yankees will send out Yankee ace Gerrit Cole to face a yet not disclosed Ray’s starter. Cole has been the best Yankee pitcher this season. His record is 4-1 with a 1.61 ERA.  His only loss of the season was his start against the Rays. He struck out 10 Rays and gave up 3 earned runs. However, in that game, he got no run support; the Yankees only had 3 hits in the game Ryan Yarbrough won.

Although the Rays have not announced a starter for the game, it will likely be Collin Mc Hugh or Andrew Kittredge. The Yankees have lucked out to a degree as they likely won’t face Tyler Glasnow in this series as he just pitched on Saturday. The game will be televised on the YES Network and Bally Sports Sun.

Thursday, May 13th, 7:10 pm:

In the Thursday finale game of the set, Jameson Taillon will take the mound for the Yankees. He is 1-2 with an ERA of 5.02. He is coming off his longest outing of the season; he got the loss but only gave up 3 runs while striking out 5 Nationals. The Yankees bullpen collapsed in that game, giving up 8 runs.

The Tampa Bay Rays starter will likely be whoever didn’t pitch in Wednesday’s game or Rich Hill. Anything can happen in baseball; the Rays could throw in a mystery pitcher in Wednesday’s or Thursday’s game. Or on Thursday, they could start Tyler Glasnow on 5-days rest. They have been using a six-game rotation. The game will be broadcast on the YES Network, Bally Sports Sun, and MLBN out of market.

Road Trip preview:

Hopefully, when the New York Yankees leave Tropicana Field with the fourth series win in a row, they will travel north to play three games at Camden Yards to face the Baltimore Orioles. They will complete their longest road trip of the season when they fly west to play four games against the Texas Rangers at  Globe Life Park in Arlington, Texas.

While playing the Rangers, it will be the first time that the Yankees have played in a 100% fans-allowed stadium since the pandemic started. Although the Yankee players and staff have been fully vaccinated, they will still have to be responsible with any interactions as Texas has no mask mandate. Television cameras have shown in recent games that few were wearing masks.

 

 

The Mets are optimistic Jacob deGrom won’t require a trip to the injured list

The New York Mets have a new injury to worry about. Not only Carlos Carrasco’s return has been pushed back to June at the earlies, but now, their ace Jacob deGrom re-aggravated an issue that had is weekend start in jeopardy.

In fact, deGrom was slated to pitch earlier in the week, but he missed his last start before an MRI revealed lat inflammation. Before the sixth inning of Sunday’s game against the Arizona Diamondbacks, deGrom reported right side tightness while warming up, and had to be removed.

He checked out of the game with Mets manager Luis Rojas and head athletic trainer Brian Chicklo. The injury clearly didn’t affect deGrom during the time he was able to stay on the mound yesterday, as he conceded only one run, a single hit and three walks over five innings, with six strikeouts.

The Mets are crossing their fingers

While there is no telling on how deGrom’s injury will evolve, the Mets do have faith that the two-time Cy Young award winner in the National League won’t require a trip to the 10-day injured list, according to Jon Morosi of MLB.com.

Morosi is hearing that the initial prognosis is “good” after the Mets’ star pitcher was sent for an MRI.

There is a great chance that his next start is pushed at least a couple of days, though, but the Mets don’t think they are dealing with a long-term problem.

DeGrom’s teammates don’t want to see him take any chances. “We’re hoping for the best,” said outfielder Michael Conforto, to MLB.com. “Jake’s very careful. He’s not going to pitch on anything that doesn’t feel right. He’s a really tough guy as well. He’s strong. He’s built well. We don’t know anything at this point, so it doesn’t make any sense to speculate what’s going on. But obviously, we don’t like to see him leave the game early.”

State of the Grand Prix after Bellator 258

This past weekend at Bellator 258, we saw the final quarterfinal matchup in the Light Heavyweight Grand Prix. Anthony “Rumble” Johnson (23-6) took on Jose Augusto (7-3, 1 NC) for a shot at the light heavyweight title.

The winner of Bellator 258 would fight Vadim Nemkov (13-2) in the semifinals, but the light heavyweight title would be on the line. Originally, Yoel Romero was going to fight Rumble Johnson, but he didn’t pass pre-fight medicals.

With that, Augusto stepped in. In a shocking turn of events, Augusto dropped and hurt Rumble badly in the first round. For a moment, it appeared that Augusto was going to pull off the massive upset.

However, Rumble recomposed himself and got back in the fight. In the second round, Rumble landed a massive straight right hand that put Augusto out cold. With that, Rumble made a successful Bellator debut and he moves forward to the semifinals.

Bellator Light Heavyweight Grand Prix

With Rumble’s victory at Bellator 258, the two semifinal matchups are now set. Vadim Nemkov and Rumble will fight for the light heavyweight title on one side of the bracket.

Nemkov defeated Phil Davis by unanimous decision last month to retain his title and punch his ticket to the semifinals. On the other side of the bracket, we are going to see an incredible matchup between Ryan Bader (28-6, 1 NC) and Corey Anderson (15-5).

Bader is the former Bellator light heavyweight champion and he’s the current heavyweight champion. He lost his light heavyweight crown to Vadim Nemkov and instead of moving back to heavyweight, he chose to compete in the Grand Prix to get his belt back.

Bader put on a great performance against Lyoto Machida in the first round. Since making his Bellator debut last year, Corey Anderson has looked incredibly dominant. He has two fights and two finishes thus far.

Despite Bader being the former champion, I wouldn’t be shocked to see Anderson as the betting favorite. Bellator is currently targeting July for the semifinal matchups. From there, October is the target date to crown the Grand Prix champion.

The Yankees update the status of two injured infielders

New York Yankees, Gio Urshela

The New York Yankees’ series against the Houston Astros last week left a good taste in fans’ mouths, as they took two out of three games against their hated rivals. However, it also left two infielders injured.

One of them was the Yankees’ starting third baseman Gio Urshela, who sustained an injury in his left knee on Thursday while trying to make a play in the field. The team was scared enough to send their player for an MRI, but it ultimately didn’t show anything concerning.

Urshela ended up missing the entire weekend series against the Washington Nationals while recovering from his knee soreness. Fortunately, the Yankees say he is feeling a lot better these days.

In fact, the star third baseman will likely be back in the Yankees’ lineup for Tuesday’s series opener vs. Tampa Bay, according to skipper Aaron Boone.

“That’s the hope. He’s going to go through some baseball activities today (Sunday) to get him going. I know he’s probably started the process. So we’ll see how he responds today — and obviously with the off-day tomorrow — hopefully we’ll see where we’re at then.”

The Yankees say Odor is doing fine but he isn’t close to returning

Another Yankees’ infielder got injured in the Astros series: Rougned Odor. His ailment took place on Wednesday after a play at home plate, in which his left knee bent awkwardly. Thankfully, it was a sprain, which is a much better outcome than other potential knee injuries, like damage to the ligaments or the meniscus.

Boone said that Odor took swings and did infield work prior to Sunday’s game. The infielder is doing well, but he is not yet allowed to ramp up baseball activities. The Yankees want to make sure there are no setbacks with his knee.

With the Yankees getting back Luke Voit this week, DJ LeMahieu will slide back to his natural second base position, leaving Odor without a clear path to playing time. He is a valuable piece to have around, nonetheless.

Luke Voit will return this week, and the Yankees couldn’t be more excited

New York Yankees, Luke Voit

The New York Yankees play at first base has been so bad that they have had to employ DJ LeMahieu, their starting second baseman, there for lots of games. Jay Bruce retired after a handful of contests, and while Mike Ford has brought his power stroke with a couple of home runs, he’s not the permanent solution.

For the permanent solution, the Yankees are about to welcome back Luke Voit, their starting first baseman, after missing the whole season to this point with a partially torn meniscus that required surgery. But now, he is ready, locked, and loaded. He is still in play to return for the Tampa series that starts on Tuesday.

“I do. I do think he’ll be back in play for the Rays series,” Boone said to the Yankees’ official site before Sunday’s finale against the Washington Nationals. “Think he’s DHing again today, and we could possibly have him from there.”

He is destroying baseballs with the Yankees’ Triple-A team

He did play the designated hitter role in the Yankees’ Triple-A affiliate, Scranton Wilkes-Barre, and it resulted in another fierce offensive showing: he had a home run and a double, and is currently hitting 7-for-18 with three dingers in his rehab assignment.

The Yankees have a lot of faith in Voit and his right-handed bat. Last season, he led MLB with 22 homers and had 52 RBI, with a .277 batting average. His manager is extremely excited to have him back after all these weeks.

“I mean, very [excited],” Boone said. “He obviously is an impact hitter, an impact bat and just adds a little bit more length and a little bit more heaviness to our lineup, so it’ll be good to get him back. I feel like he’s in a good spot physically, he’s been able to rack up a lot of live at-bats here this week, so we’re looking forward to getting him back for sure.”

Knicks News: Tom Thibodeau comes to Julius Randle’s defense

julius randle, new york knicks

The New York Knicks had a tough matchup against the LA Clippers on Sunday evening, but they emerged victorious thanks to a few stand-out performances. Reggie Bullock and Derrick Rose combined for 49 points, and while All-Star Julius Randle only had 14, his influence came in multiple ways.

Randle posted 14 rebounds, controlling the boards and using his physicality to overpower Los Angeles. For a team that ranks 3rd in a tough Western Conference, the Knicks beat them shorthanded, without Immanuel Quickley and Alec Burks.

However, some might argue that Randle’s influence wasn’t up to par and if he continues that in the postseason, the Knicks might be in bad shape. Head coach Tom Thibodeau would have a different narrative for you, coming to Julius’s defense and the influence he has on a game by commanding double teams and significant defensive attention.

“They’re double-teaming him, he’s spraying the ball,’’ Thibodeau continued. “Everyone tends to measure people on points and shots and not the all-around game. The big thing is the perseverance, the way he rebounded the ball, the hustle plays he made. He played a great game without shooting the ball great. Then at the end of the game he made several big plays for us.

With Julius commanding so much attention, it opens up the floor for his teammates, specifically Bullock and RJ Barrett, who bounced back with 18 points and shot over 50% from three-point range. It is nice to have players around you that are capable of picking up the slack while teams are focusing on you.

“When you have that type of mental toughness, it’s huge for your team. I thought he played a great game, though he didn’t have a high number of points. But he had a great overall game. And that’s what he does for us. I told Julius after the game, the physicality he played with was huge for us.’’

Physicality, aggression, mentality. Those three factors play a massive part in Thibodeau’s system, and Randle not only ran the floor and played high-level defense, but he also stepped up and took what the Clippers were giving him, which ultimately opened up shots for his teammates. At the end of the game, though, Randle iced LA, hitting a few big shots to give them a commanding lead and, ultimately, the victory.

Randle showed one thing, even though teams are focusing on him and trying to shut him down, he still has a significant impact and can still hit contested shots when it matters most.

Yankees: Good news and bad news after series win over Washington

New York Yankees, Gleyber Torres

The New York Yankees are inching their way back to normalcy after starting the 2021 campaign on a bad note. They recently won a series against the Washington Nationals over the weekend and have emerged victorious in nine of their last 12 contests thanks to an increase in offensive proficiency but also stellar relief pitching.

While their offense still struggles at times, they managed to earn a walk-off win against Washington on Sunday afternoon thanks to Giancarlo Stanton, who hit a single to drive in the winning run.

The Nationals have grappled this year to find their footing; the Yankees are now two games above .500 and sit in second place behind the Boston Red Sox in the American League East standings. Luckily, they are not far back from first place, and they will likely catch up in the coming weeks.

Good news and bad news for the Yankees:

First baseman Luke Voit has been absolutely crushing it during his minor-league assignment as he works his way back from injury.

“He obviously is an impact hitter, an impact bat and just adds a little bit more length and a little bit more heaviness to our lineup,” Boone said. “It’ll be good to get him back. Feel like he’s in a good spot physically. He’s been able to rack up a lot of live at-bats here this past week.”

Gaining Voit back will be a tremendous deal for the Yankees, as he adds another slugger to the lineup and one that led the MLB in home runs last season with 22 over 56 games. A bit more consistency at first base and one of their best hitters back should give the Yankees a healthy jolt of energy and production.

Relevant to the victory, the Yankee offense struggled to get going throughout the contest, logging just five hits and striking out 10 times. Gary Sanchez has seen his batting average plummet to .174, striking out three times in the contest, the only Yankee to do so. Skipper Aaron Boone gave Aaron Judge a night off until they decided to call in the big dogs to try and close out the win.

It was Stanton who got the job done, though, driving in the winning run and logging two walks on the afternoon. As for the pitching, Domingo German had a solid performance, lasting 6.1 endings and tallying five hits and two runs allowed. Overall, Boone is likely content with this performance, as the bullpen came in and shut down Washington for the remainder of the contest.

Overall, it was a healthy win thanks to the pitching, but the offense is still in need of energy, and hopefully, Voit can provide that.