After impressive victory at UFC Vegas 26, what’s next for Marina Rodriguez?

This past Saturday at UFC Vegas 26, Marina Rodriguez (14-1-2) took on Michelle Waterson (18-9) in the main event. The fight came together on short-notice, but both of these ladies threw down for five minutes.

With a full camp, I really liked Marina Rodriguez in this matchup. She’s much bigger than Waterson with more powerful striking. However, I wasn’t sure how she would hold up under the short-notice circumstances.

Waterson just fought in a short-notice UFC main event back in September. That combined with her grappling ability, I thought she could pickup a decision. However, Marina Rodriguez looked sensational.

The two top ten strawweights both had their moments throughout the fight, but it was clear that Rodriguez was getting the better of the exchanges. Ultimately, all three judges gave the win at UFC Vegas 26 to Marina Rodriguez.

It’s a massive win for Rodriguez who has bounced back strong from her first UFC loss last July. Now, Rodriguez has won two in a row and she’s looking towards the top of the strawweight division.

What’s next after UFC Vegas 26?

After UFC Vegas 26, it’s time for Rodriguez to take the next step up in competition. Having won two fights in a row, Rodriguez is now 4-1-2 in her seven fights inside the octagon. However, she’s looking better every time she steps in there.

So who should the UFC pair her up with? Rodriguez and others have hinted at a potential matchup with former UFC champion Joanna Jedrzejczyk (16-4). Jedrzejczyk is looking to make her comeback soon and a matchup with Rodriguez does make sense given their standing.

Not too mention the fact that it would be an incredibly fun matchup stylistically. Another option that could be out there is Mackenzie Dern (11-1). Dern has been surging having won four fights in a row.

A matchup between Rodriguez and Dern could present the UFC’s strawweight division with a fresh title contender. Either one of these ladies would be a perfect next opponent for Marina Rodriguez.

New York Yankees: 3 Major takeaways from the Yankees 2nd walk-off win

New York Yankees, Giancarlo Santon

The New York Yankees went into yesterday’s rubber game with the Washington Nationals, with the Yankees hoping to take the series; after a second walk-off win in as many nights, they accomplished their goal. The Yankees are now 18-16 and have taken their 3rd series in a row.

2nd walk-off, different star

For the second night in a row, the New York Yankees had a walk-off win over the Washington Nationals at Yankee Stadium. Saturday’s rain-delayed matinee ended in the eleventh inning when Gleyber Torres hit a 50′ infield single, driving in the winning run. Yesterday in the bottom of the ninth inning Giancarlo Stanton that had been in a slight 0 for 10 slide hit a bomb single through the left-field gap for another walk-off win and allowed the Yankees to take the series from the Nationals.

No decision pitcher’s duel

Again for the second night in a row, the Yankees and the Nationals were locked into a pitchers duel. In Saturday’s game, Corey Kluber and Max Scherzer; both went deep into the game but ultimately were not involved in the decision. Yesterday, Domingo German had regained his form and, other than one bad pitch, pitched a brilliant game into the seventh inning. For the Nationals, it was Joe Ross who pitched a fine game into the 5th inning.

Both starting pitchers allowed two runs. With the game tied, it was up to the bullpen again to decide the game. German had 6 strikeouts with just one walk. Ross had 7 strikeouts but allowed 5 Yankee walks. The combination of Michael King, Wandy Peralta, and Aroldis Chapman pitched 2.2 scoreless innings. At the same time, the National’s closer Brad Hand gave up the winning hit in the bottom of the ninth inning. The final score was 3-2 Yankees, with Chapman taking the win.

Will Giancarlo Stanton have an MVP year?

New York Yankee fans see something they haven’t seen since 2018, a healthy Giancarlo Stanton, and he is showing Yankee fans the kind of player he can be when healthy. With 20% of the season already played, he leads the Yankees among players who have played in 20 or more games in batting average, home runs, and runs batted in.

The Yankees traded for Stanton after the 2017 season because he was the NL 2017 MVP. But after a fine 2018 season when he hit .266 with 38 home runs, he only played in 18 games in 2019 and 23 games in 2020 due to various injuries. Now healthy, he is on track to hit 45 home runs this season if he can remain healthy. If he can continue leading the team in these stats, he will give DJ LeMahieu a run for his money for the Yankee’s MVP Award. Yesterday, he hit the walk-off winning hit.

New York Giants landed an instant-impact pass rusher in Azeez Ojulari, what does he offer?

new york giants, azeez ojulari

After a season where the outside linebacker position struggled for the New York Giants, they made it a priority to bolster the unit with further talent. Drafting Azeez Ojulari out of Georgia and Elerson Smith out of Northern Iowa, the Giants now have a few more options to work with on the defensive line.

Despite watching Lorenzo Carter and Oshane Ximines fall to injury in 2020, the Giants still managed 40 sacks, which ranked 12th in the NFL. Thanks to phenomenal performances by Leonard Williams and the interior pass rush, the Giants walked away content with their defense.

However, it is necessary to have a dominant edge rusher to build around, and Ojulari represents a player with immense upside at just 20 years old. The fact that the Georgia stand-out dropped to 50th overall is astounding, and the Giants might’ve walked away with a steal of the draft after Ojulari was being mocked to them at 11 just a few weeks ago.

In fact, Ojulari ranked first in the SEC last year with 9.5 sacks and four forced fumbles. He also tallied 12.5 tackles for a loss and 31 total tackles. He has incredible bend around the edge and very solid speed-to-power moves — he has a refined chop move that he uses with violence. Entering the NFL with a perfect pass-rush move will prove to be huge for his development, but refinement is still on the horizon.

CBS believes the Giants landed a steal at 50th overall, and I would tend to agree:

Ojulari did not deserve to have to wait until the 50th pick in the 2021 draft to hear his name called. He was a consistent pressure-creator as a 20-year-old rusher in the SEC at Georgia. And, I get it — the safe assumption with a 6-2, 249-pound edge defender is that he gets worked against the run.

That’s not the case with Ojulari. He sets a mean edge and can rip through blockers to make impact plays in the backfield against the run. But of course the main reason he was selected by the Giants was to get after the quarterback, and the former Bulldogs star has the first-step burst, bend around the corner, speed-to-power conversion, and just enough pass-rushing moves to be a high-caliber pressure-generator in the NFL.

Overall, adding competition to a unit that was considered weak before the draft was a great move for the Giants. General manager Dave Gettleman elected to take a BPA approach toward the draft, adding draft capital while also injecting instant impact players on both sides of the ball. Wide receiver Kadarius Toney and Ojulari represent two playmakers who can contribute immediately, which is exactly what the Giants needed at positions of weakness.

Big Blue now has a respectable wide receiver corps and optimistic OLB unit, two positions that were devastated by inadequacy and injury last year.

New York Knicks proved 2 major things in gargantuan win over Clippers

derrick rose, knicks

The New York Knicks desperately needed a victory after falling to the Denver Nuggets and Phoenix Suns in order last week. The LA Clippers offered them their next opportunity. Facing off against Kawhi Leonard, Paul George, and a bevy of fantastic talents is always a challenge, but the Knicks found a way to defeat the Clippers and retain the 4th seed in the Eastern Conference.

This was an all-out battle, as the Knicks’ defense once again rose to the occasion, limiting the best three-point shooting team in the NBA to just 34.3% from downtown. Tom Thibodeau and his team played to their strengths, something they failed to do against Phoenix and Denver. Aggressive defense and consistency from point guard Derrick Rose and late shots from Julius Randle got the job done.

This was a statement win for the Knicks, who needed to show they can compete with some of the best teams in the NBA as they head toward a playoff berth.

Two massive takeaways from the Knicks’ win over Clippers:

1.) The Knicks can beat elite teams

Losing to both Denver and Phoenix put a major question on New York’s head. Ultimately, some analysts and fans were beginning to think they couldn’t overcome some of these quality teams, but they proved otherwise against the Clippers, emerging victorious by a score of 106-100.

Randle shot 7-of-19 from the field and failed to hit a shot from beyond the arc. To supplement his deficiency in that category, Reggie Bullock posted 24 points and hit five three-pointers to help the Knicks to victory. However, Randle contributed in other ways, recording 14 total rebounds and five assists.

For a shorthanded team to beat the Clips on their home court was a statement, and approved everybody, including the doubters, witnessed that the Knicks are the real deal. Keep in mind, they were without Immanuel Quickley and Alec Burks.

2.) The Knicks can win when it matters most

Heading into Sunday’s matchup, the Knicks were .5 games ahead of the Atlanta Hawks and Miami Heat, but when it mattered most, they rose to the occasion and overcame a stellar opponent. They will now take on the Los Angeles Lakers, who have been struggling this season without LeBron James and Anthony Davis due to injury. The Lakers have a very similar record to the Knicks, who have lost five of the last six games, with their most recent coming against the Portland Trailblazers.

A tough matchup against the Phoenix Suns prior to the Knicks on Tuesday will offer New York a competitive advantage. If they can walk away from this West Coast trip with two wins under their belt, they should feel satisfied. That would be enough to help them retain the 4th seed and catapult them into the playoffs without a play-in scenario.

New York Giants: Washington named team to beat by Jordan Raanan

new york giants, ryan anderson

The New York Giants narrowly missed out on the division title last season. Instead, it was Washington that ended up with a trip to the playoffs, even if it came in controversial fashion due to their season finale against the Eagles.

Both teams will look different this year with the Giants notably taking a step forward, but will it come down to New York versus Washington once again for the NFC East title?

ESPN’s Jordan Raanan seemingly believes that’s the case. In an article analyzing the outlook of the NFC East for the 2021 season, Raanan was skeptical about crowning Dallas the division champion early on and instead gave the title of team to beat to Washington.

Consider me skeptical of the Cowboys. How about they do something before earning even the slightest bit of public trust? The favorite should be Washington, and it shouldn’t be close. It won the division in 2020 with the league’s second-ranked defense and upgraded this offseason at quarterback. Even though I’m not much of a FitzMagic fan, Washington is the team to beat. — Jordan Raanan

The Cowboys are the +105 betting favorite for the division going into the season. The Giants, on the other hand, were only given the third best odds while Washington was above them and Philadelphia came last.

Washington will have some more tools the next time they meet the Giants. That includes Curtis Samuel, a receiver who might be on the verge of a 1,000 yard season, as well as Jamin Davis, a linebacker who the Giants may have drafted in the first round if Washington hadn’t done so first.

They also come into the season with 38 year old Ryan Fitzpatrick as their apparent starter at QB, which presents an interesting matchup for the Giants – despite his age, Fitzpatrick represents a better option for Washington’s offense than the revolving door at the position that was there last season.

Regardless of who the favorite is, it appears the Giants are being slept on by the oddsmakers who only placed them as the third best team in the division. They may very well surprise Vegas this season, after taking big steps forward in the offseason.