UFC Vegas 33 Preview: Uriah Hall – Sean Strickland

Tomorrow night in the main event of UFC Vegas 33, we will see a showdown in the middleweight division. Two top eleven contenders will battle it out as “Primetime” Uriah Hall (17-9) is taking on Sean Strickland (23-3).

These two men are very familiar with each other and they’ve trained with each other in the past. However, they are both in each other’s way at UFC Vegas 33 and one of them is wanting to make that next jump up in the middleweight division.

Entering UFC Vegas 33, Strickland has won four straight. He’s been incredibly active since a two year layoff that started back in 2018. Last October, Strickland made his return and he’s gone 3-0 in the UFC with one stoppage.

The stoppage was an incredibly impressive win over Brendan Allen. In his last fight, he defeated Krzysztof Jotko by decision which setup this UFC headliner opposite Uriah Hall.

Hall has been a curious case over the course of his UFC career. While having all the talent in the world, Hall really never lived up to the hype. That said, the soon to be 37 year old is riding a four-fight win streak into tomorrow night.

We last saw Hall at UFC 261 where he set a record. Hall defeated Chris Weidman after Weidman snapped his leg on a checked kick. It was the first time in UFC history that someone one by TKO without landing a single strike. Prior to that, Hall stopped Anderson Silva last October.

UFC Vegas 33 Prediction

I think you’re going to see a fun striking battle tomorrow at UFC Vegas 33. However, which Uriah Hall shows up will tell us a lot about how the fight is going to go. I’m expecting Sean Strickland to be the aggressor tomorrow night.

In a sense, that would play right into the playbook of Uriah Hall. Hall is a brilliant counter striker, however, we’ve seen him become way too passive in fights. When he’s passive, he can easily be outworked.

Ultimately, I think he’s going to get the job done at UFC Vegas 33. I think Strickland will have some success early, but I think Hall finds a huge shot in those middle rounds ultimately leading to his fifth straight win.

Prediction: Uriah Hall by TKO – Round 3

FOCO Releases New York Mets Black Jersey Bobbleheads

The New York Mets are finally back in their black jerseys, and FOCO has fans covered with more great bobbleheads. As the Mets take the field tonight, FOCO’s bobbleheads feature two of the Mets aces, Jacob deGrom and Marcus Stroman.

There are 321 of each bobblehead, and they are each priced at $65.00. The unique part of these bobbleheads is that their base also spins around as well. Both deGrom and Stroman are in their signature poses on the mound, and Stro even has his highlights on the back of his hair as well. They also have the “back to black” logo on top of the Mets logo. Make sure to get these amazing bobbleheads before they become unavailable!

Bellator 263 Preview: Patricio Pitbull – AJ McKee

Patricio Pitbull Freire

Tomorrow night in the headliner of Bellator 263, we are going to see the featherweight title fight we’ve been waiting on. The final match of the Featherweight Grand Prix features a clash between Bellator champion Patricio “Pitbull” Freire (32-4) and AJ McKee (17-0).

This is such a massive fight for Bellator and they know it to. This is one of the few times where Bellator will be going head-to-head with the UFC as the UFC is back tomorrow night with UFC Vegas 33.

However, many eyes are going to be on Bellator 263. When the promotion announced that they would be doing a Featherweight Grand Prix, fans started dreaming of the potential fight between Patricio Pitbull and AJ McKee.

Pitbull is the greatest fighter in the history of Bellator. The two-division champion has fought with the promotion most of his career and holds virtually every record. Coming into this fight tomorrow, he’s won seven in a row including back-to-back first round finishes.

Standing across from Pitbull at Bellator 263 is AJ McKee. McKee has been brought up by the promotion have his first professional fight with Bellator back in 2015. He’s been bread to be a superstar and the undefeated McKee has his chance to take the crown tomorrow night.

Bellator 263 Preview

If I’m being completely transparent, I don’t think I’ve ever been this excited for a Bellator event. You have the greatest of all time in that promotion taking on the guy who looks like he can become a massive superstar in the sport.

It’s going to be a tremendous fight to see. Now, when breaking down the Bellator 263 main event, there’s going to be a few things I’m watching for. One thing is the size and reach of AJ McKee.

McKee is much longer and taller that Pitbull. He uses his length well on the feet and his length allows him to be incredibly slick on the ground. I could see him giving Pitbull some problems with his length.

On the other hand, the wrestling and counter striking of Pitbull can give McKee issues at Bellator 263. Pitbull is sensational on the ground and he has very strong wrestling. He has the skills to ground McKee and keep him there without getting submitted.

I’ve really gone back-and-forth over this prediction. I think if you’re looking for a safe bet, you pick Patricio Pitbull in this spot. However, my gut keeps telling me that McKee’s star will shine brighter even more tomorrow night. Call me a little crazy, but I’m picking the challenger tomorrow night.

Prediction: AJ McKee by Submission (Triangle Choke) – 3rd Round

Islanders’ Adam Pelech finally becoming household name

We’ve entered day three of free agency and everything continues to be hush-hush in and around the Islanders.

G.M. Lou Lamoriello and his confidants have put on a masterful display to not have let anything be divulged about any possible new deals in place with their key restricted and unrestricted free agents. Sooner or later though, the dam is going to break and we will either be treated to one piece of news or several transactions all at once.

One of those deals “hopefully” soon to be finalized is the long-term extension for d-man Adam Pelech. And there’s been plenty of talk about him as his stock around the NHL continues to rise.

Sportsnet’s NHL Insider Elliotte Friedman was on the No Sleep Till Belmont podcast earlier this week with Islanders’ beat writer Arthur Staple to chat about the team when he was asked which player he’s watched from afar who has improved the most as during the organization’s success the last three years. His answer: Pelech.

“Pelech is the guy,” said Friedman. “I didn’t put him on my Norris ballot this year, but as I watched the playoffs more and more, I missed not putting him on.”

I had mentioned yesterday about Pelech evolving into a possible candidate to represent Canada at next year’s Winter Olympics. But this? How can you not say wow. That’s some extremely high praise coming from one of the most well-respected journalists and analysts in the sport whose word is gold. For Friedman to also mention Pelech and the Norris Trophy in the same light is incredible considering the 26-year-old’s place was on this team not even just four seasons ago.

It’s funny that expansion draft took place last week, because it was just that scenario four years ago where former general manager Garth Snow made the bold move to protect Pelech. Snow was berated by Isles fans for his decision, which now might have turned out to be the smartest thing he did during his tenure. The proof has been there for some time now the Islanders are not complete without his presence.

“I just think he’s a heck of player,” Friedman continued. “He’s a typical Trotz-Lamoriello low-maintenance, understated guy who just plays and plays hard. I’ve become a huge fan of his game.”

Pelech’s ascent to being one of the premier d-men in the league has been on a steady pace for a while now. Already the clear-cut No. 1 d-man on the Isles, he’s finally becoming the household name everyone needs to recognize.

While the silence has been defeaning on Long Island in terms of moves, a few miles away the Rangers have been very loud in the revamp of their squad under new general manager Chris Drury. The latest move being the acquisition of enforcer Ryan Reaves from Vegas last night.

The Islanders bullied the Rangers at the end of the regular season last year, and with Reaves now the newest Blueshirt, the rivalry between the two clubs just added some extra spice.

The Isles have history Reaves from the team’s past encounters in Vegas. Now they get to see him six times a year? Should make for some entertaining contests.

 

 

 

 

New York Yankees: Preview of the weekend Miami Marlins series

New York Yankees, Jameson Taillon

The New York Yankees start a three-game weekend series with Derek Jeter’s Miami Marlins tonight at LoanDepot Park, a retractable roof stadium located in little Havana just two miles west of downtown Miami. It is the smallest MLB park by capacity. The Yankees have great ties with the Marlins, its manager is the former Yankee star Don Mattingly, and Derek Jeter is the team’s Chief Executive officer.

The Marlins this season sit at the bottom of the National League East with a 44-58 record and coming off losing 6 of their last ten games. The New York Yankees are in third place in the AL East 8.5 games behind the division-leading Boston Red Sox. However, they are 6-4 in their last ten games.

The Yankees will have a new look tonight with acquisition Joey Gallo somewhere in the middle of the lineup. It is not known if Anthony Rizzo will be available for tonight’s game. They will also have reinforcements in the bullpen with new pitcher Clay Holmes who made his scoreless relief debut last night for the Yankees. Joining him in the bullpen will be Joely Rodríguez, who came to the Yankees in the Gallo trade. J-Rod is a lefty that is 1-3 with an ERA of 5.93 with the Rangers in 31 games.

Tonight, July 30, 7:10 pm:

Jameson Taillon will take the mound tonight in Miami, facing right Zach Thompson. Taillon, all season long, has been one of the Yankee’s least dependable pitchers but has improved recently. Taillon is 6-4 with an ERA of 4.36 and 93 strikeouts. He is coming off one of his best wins of the season against the Boston Red Sox in a Yankee 4-3 win. He has won the last two of his starts. Jesus Aguilar has given Taillon the most trouble hitting .357 against him with 2 home runs in 14 at-bats.

Taillon will face Zach Thompson, a righty with a 2-3 record with an ERA of 2.45 in 8 starts this season. The Marlins have lost his last three starts. No Yankee has ever seen Thompson pitch except in videos.

As of this writing, the Marlins have not announced their starters for the last two games of the weekend series. Tonight’s game will be televised in the New York area on WPIX and its affiliates. In Miami on Bally Sports Florida.

Saturday, July 31, 6:10 pm:

Game two of the series on Saturday night will feature Domingo German on the mound for the Yankees against a yet to be announced Marlins pitcher. German has been a mixed bag for the Yankees this season. After bombing out in his first start, he was sent down to Scranton to figure it out. Upon his return, the Yankees won his next six starts. Most recently, he has not gone deep into games and has struggled. He pitched seven innings losing to the Boston Red Sox in his last outing, only giving up 1 run and striking out a season-high 10 Boston players. Which German shows up for game two is anyone’s guess. Watch in the YES Network and Bally Sports Florida.

Sunday, August 1, 1:10 pm:
The final game of the series, a Sunday Matinee, will be started by Jordan Montgomery, a lefty that is 4-5 with an ERA of 3.78 and 100 strikeouts. Montgomery has been one of the Yankee’s best pitchers this season but has gotten nearly no run support in his starts. The Yankees have lost 5 of his last 6 starts but only scored 12 runs across those starts. He is coming off a five-inning 102 pitch scoreless outing against the Tampa Bay Rays. Sunday’s matinee is on the YES Network and Bally Sports Florida.

New York Giants: Shane Lemieux “avoided worst-case scenario” injury, says HC Joe Judge

New York Giants, Shane Lemeiux

The New York Giants kicked off training camp this week and on the second day of practice already had a major injury scare. Projected starting left guard Shane Lemieux was carted off of the field on the second day of practice. It was later revealed that Lemieux suffered a knee injury, though the severity of that injury was not initially revealed.

As the Giants get back at it for the third day of practice today, head coach Joe Judge spoke to the media and provided an update on Shane Lemieux’s injury status. According to Judge, the “worst-case scenario looks to have been avoided.”

The worst-case scenario would have been a season-ending injury for Lemieux. Thankfully, that has been avoided, and Giants fans will get to see Shane Lemieux suit up at some point this season. However, there is currently no timetable for Shane Lemieux’s return. Giants fans can expect to see players such as Zach Fulton and Kenny Wiggins fill in during Lemieux’s absence.

Joe Judge on Shane Lemiuex’s injury status

Joe Judge could not provide the media with too many details regarding Shane Lemieux’s injury status. But he did promise that more updates will be given in the coming days. Judge said sometime in the next “24-48 hours” the team will have a better understanding of “where he’s at.” The team cannot yet make a diagnosis on Shane.

One thing I’ll tell you about Shane, he’s kind of like a wild animal, he’d chew his leg off through a bear trap if he had to, so him not being out here kind of drives him nuts. – Joe Judge on Shane Lemieux after suffering a knee injury this week

It seems that Shane Lemieux will make a return to the practice field sooner than later. The second-year guard from Oregon was on the practice field today. Lemieux was out there, watching the whole practice today, and was seen walking off the field with his helmet on alongside Will Hernandez (Pat Leonard NYDN).

Kenny Wiggins filled in for Shane Lemieux as the starting left guard during today’s practice (Zack Rosenblatt NJ.com). According to Rosenblatt, the Giants are keen on keeping Will Hernandez at right guard.

The New York Giants caught a huge break with Shane Lemieux. The Giants are already thin on the offensive line and could not afford to lose one of their starters this early in the season. Shane Lemieux is a young hog molly who struggled as a rookie but has worked hard to improve and prepare for the 2021 season. Thankfully, this injury should not prevent Lemieux from seeing the field in the regular season.

Analyzing the Mets’ last chance to make a statement on trade deadline day

New York Yankees, Chicago Cubs, Kris Bryant

The Los Angeles Dodgers are getting Max Scherzer and Trea Turner from the Nationals. The Milwaukee Brewers brought All-Star infielder Eduardo Escobar. The San Diego Padres brought shutdown reliever Daniel Hudson and are rumored to be interested in starter Jose Berrios. Yes, the New York Mets traded for pitcher Rich Hill, but they could still improve the rotation to give it more depth and certainty, and bring a star infielder.

The Mets remain engaged with the Chicago Cubs for infielder/outfielder Kris Bryant, who would not only give them an exciting slugger to complement the lineup, but would also represent a huge defensive upgrade over JD Davis at the hot corner.

However, another Cubs’ infielder appears to be on the Mets radar: It’s Javier Baez, who said this week that he would like to play with fellow Puerto Rican shortstop Francisco Lindor.

Since Lindor is injured, Baez would be a stellar fill-in, and once the former returns from his oblique strain, Baez could slide over to second base, moving Jeff McNeil to third base.

A Mets – Cubs trade is still a possibility

A combination deal sending Kris Bryant or Javier Baez and pitcher Zach Davies to the Mets is “one possibility,” according to Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic, who noted, however, that nothing is close at the moment.

SNY’s Andy Martino reported earlier this month that Davies could be a fit for the Mets. He is not having a particularly good season, however, and is no better than most of the options that New York currently have.

The Colorado Rockies could also be a tempting trade partner for the Mets. They remain open to trading All-Star shortstop Trevor Story, but are now reportedly reluctant to deal starter Jon Gray and reliever Daniel Bard.

Berrios, and perhaps Kenta Maeda, could also be options for the Mets as they look to make a statement and protect their first place in the NL East division.

New Yankees’ first baseman Anthony Rizzo discusses move to the Bronx

New York Yankees

The New York Yankees shocked the baseball world on Thursday night, when they decided to make a deal for Chicago Cubs’ first baseman Anthony Rizzo. The left-handed slugger is a free agent after the season, but will take advantage of the short porch, contribute very good defense, and excellent on-base skills.

The slugger was seen taking pictures at Wrigley Field, his home for several years, with his family, soaking it in while he could. His next journey includes trying to take the Yankees to the playoffs, and there is a lot of work to do: the Bombers sit at 53-48, 8.5 games behind the Boston Red Sox for the division lead, but only 3.5 behind the Oakland Athletics for the second Wild Card spot.

“All good things come to an end,” Rizzo said to reporters in Chicago, including MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian, on Thursday. “To be able to go to another historic franchise like the Yankees, it’s unbelievable. Getting all the calls and texts, how excited they are, how excited I am. My family is all from New Jersey and New York. Emily’s family is up in Connecticut. It’s going to be a really special opportunity for me these next three months. I’m just going to enjoy it all.”

The Yankees sent the Cubs two prospects: starting pitcher Alexander Vizcaino, and outfielder Kevin Alcantara. Neither is among the team’s top five prospects, but both are very highly regarded. The Cubs will pay for the remainder of Rizzo’s 2021 salary.

Rizzo is focused on helping the Yankees

The lefty-hitting first baseman is hitting .248 with 14 home runs, 40 RBI and a .792 OPS in 92 games.

The Yankees have been active in the trade market, most recently bringing Joey Gallo to the fold.

“I’m just focused on going to be a Yankee now,” Rizzo said. “It’s just another really cool opportunity to play for another historic franchise. This will always be home for me, but like I’ve said, my best friend leaving, Jon Lester, he did the same thing. He has two special places in his heart.

“But for these next three months, it’s going to be fun. You go right into a race. Seeing the Yankees pull the triggers like this — get Gallo, me now, obviously — that’s what they do. And they’re excited.”

Yankees’ acquisition of Anthony Rizzo could spell the end for Luke Voit | Is a trade on the way?

New York Yankees, Luke Voit

The New York Yankees made two massive moves to improve the batting order, injecting slugging left-handed batters. Acquiring Joey Gallo from the Texas Rangers and Anthony Rizzo from the Chicago Cubs will contribute more offensive production immediately.

Both players are expected to join the team against Miami on Friday, as Rizzo will take over at first base, and Gallo will host an outfield spot.

However, the acquisition of Rizzo could make Luke Voit expendable, as the Yankees have drawn interest in the power righty.

Jack Curry of the YES Network has indicated that the Yankees could trade first baseman, Luke Voit:

Luke Voit has drawn interest in trade discussions the Yankees are having with multiple teams. Voit is on the verge of returning from the IL. Led the majors with 22 HRs last season, but has been limited to 29 games this season.

Unfortunately, while Voit is a key piece to the lineup and has been one of the most exciting players for the Yankees the past two seasons, he was simply replaced due to injury.

Voit is currently on his third stint on the injured list due to left knee inflammation. Having signed a $4.7 million deal this past off-season, the Yankees could theoretically get his money off the books and add a bit more wiggle room to acquire a pitcher, whether it be in the bullpen or starting rotation.
There is always the possibility that the Yankees utilize Voit as their DH upon his return, which would give them one of the best home run hitting lineups in baseball if they don’t have it already. With team control until the 2024 season, Voit is an extremely valuable piece, and they might be inclined to retain him, given Rizzo is on the final year of a seven-year, $41 million contract. The Cubs are paying his entire $16.5 million this season but gained a solid haul of prospects in return.
On the year, Voit has only made 29 appearances, hitting .241 with three homers and 11 RBIs. However, he’s only one year removed from leading the MLB in homers with 22 and hosting a .277 average. He was arguably the Yankees’ top player last season, which shouldn’t be forgotten as Brian Cashman is looking to acquire value after the acquisition of Rizzo.

Knicks still vying for Chris Duarte post-draft, land Clemson F Aamir Simms, save ton of money with trades

knicks, chris duarte

The New York Knicks had two 3-and-D style players in mind in the 2021 NBA draft. With the front office targeting Oregon guard Chris Duarte, the Knicks found themselves between a rock and a hard place. Trying to move up in the draft, they failed to execute with a partner, settling for their second-tier option, Houston stand-out Quentin Grimes.

However, despite missing out on Duarte, the Knicks were still looking to acquire his services after the draft finished.

According to the Indy Star, the Knicks were in hot pursuit of Chris Duarte even after the draft concluded:

Long after the NBA Draft concluded Thursday, there were exchanges between the Pacers, Golden State Warriors and New York Knicks for the 6-6 forward.

Clearly, they see Duarte as a potential star player, having averaged 17.1 points, 2.7 assists, 1.9 steals, and shot 53% from the field last season. His most impressive statistic, though, was his 42% success rate from three, averaging 5.5 attempts per game.

He is the exact fit for Tom Thibodeau and his defensive style with the addition of offensive scoring. Grimes offers something very similar, but they saw more potential with the Oregon product.

Knicks land forward Aamir Simms out of Clemson:

The Knicks landed Aamir Simms as an undrafted free agent after the draft ended on Thursday.

Last season with Clemson, Simms posted 13.4 points, 6.4 rebounds, and shot 53% from the field. He is a solid forward with potential. He will likely develop behind the scenes and potentially with the Westchester Knicks.

The Knicks saved themselves even more, cash to allocate during free agency:

A flurry of trades in the first round contributed in multiple ways for New York, adding both draft capital for the future and saving money. The Knicks traded the 19th overall selection to the Charlotte Hornets for a future conditional first-round pick and then traded back with the Los Angeles Clippers, offering the 21st pick in exchange for the 25th and a future second-rounder.

This move had impressive implications, as the Knicks saved about $2 million they can reallocate toward a potential free agent. They have big plans for this August, as the market is littered with talent. Expect to see a few FA pickups and the signing of a veteran point guard to help West Virginia draft pick Miles McBride develop his game. Bringing back Derrick Rose could be a priority.