UFC books headliner between Paulo Costa and Marvin Vettori

The UFC has finalized a fun fight between two top five middleweights. ESPN’s Brett Okamoto was the first to report this evening that the promotion had finalized a headliner between Paulo Costa (13-1) and Marvin Vettori (17-5-1).

The fight is expected to headline a UFC Fight Night on October 23rd. This fight has been desired by both sides and the UFC finally got the deal done. Both men are in a very similar position in the division.

Marvin Vettori got his second crack at Israel Adesanya back at UFC 263. Their rematch was for the middleweight title. Vettori had won five straight fights to earn a shot at the middleweight title.

The Italian Dream fought Adesanya to a split decision in their first fight. Having the first fight be so close gave Vettori a lot of confidence heading into UFC 263. However, their title fight was not close at all.

Adesanya stifled Vettori for all five rounds and The Italian Dream lost a lopsided decision. Now, Vettori will look to right the ship as he takes on another top contender who also suffered a similar fate against Adesanya.

UFC Fight Night Headliner

When Paulo Costa makes the walk on October 23rd it will be his first fight in over a year. His last fight came at UFC 253 when he fought Israel Adesanya for the title. An undefeated Costa was a popular upset pick, but he proved to be no match for the champion.

Adesanya completely dominated Costa and stopped him in the second round. Prior to that loss, Costa was a perfect 5-0 in the UFC. Costa had a number of excuses for the bad performance, however, at the end of the day he lost.

Now, Costa will look to seek a little redemption. There’s going to be some heat on this fight and Costa needs to show everyone that he’s still one of the best in the UFC. Whoever wins this one will be right back in the title picture.

New York Yankees Recap: Home runs lead the Orioles to win over the Yankees

The New York Yankees are coming off a sweep of the Miami Marlins, and tonight at Yankee Stadium will look to win game one from the Baltimore Orioles to accomplish another sweep. The Yankees are in 3rd place in the AL East, 7 games behind The Tampa Bay Rays. The Baltimore Orioles sit at the bottom of the East 26 games back but have played well recently, winning six of their last 10 games. Tonight new Yankee pitcher Andrew Heaney started against the Orioles Jorge Lopez. The Yankees ended up with a very disappointing loss to the O’s. The final score was 7-1 Orioles.

Heaney took to the mound for the first time as New York Yankee facing Cedrick Mancini flew out to left. Austin Hays popped out to LeMahieu. Trey Mancini flew out to end a perfect half for Heaney. DJ LeMahieu led off the bottom by grounding out. Anthony Rizzo, to huge applause, took to the plate and got plunked and went to first. Rizzo went to second on a balk. Aaron Judge ground out to left. Joey Gallo, in his home debut, walked. With two on and two outs, Giancarlo Stanton ground out to third to end the half stranding two. No score

At the second, Ryan Mountcastle led off by doubling down the left-field line. Anthony Santander struck out. Ramon Urias flew out to Stanton playing right field for the first time this year. Pedro Severino tapped back to Heaney for the final out. Rougie Odor led off the bottom by grounding out to short. Gary Sanchez walked. Gleyber Torres flew out to right. Brett Gardner walked. LeMahieu, with two on and two outs, ground out to second again, leaving two on base. No score.

Maikel Franco led off by grounding out. Pat Valaika went down looking. Then, Mullins homered to center for the Orioles lead. Austin Hays hit a back-to-back homer this one to left field. Trey Mancini flew out to Gardner, but the O’s picked up two runs. At the bottom, Rizzo ground out to second. Judge went down looking. Gallo also went down looking. Baltimore Orioles 2 New York Yankees 0.

The fourth inning was led off by Mountcastle, who got the third Oriole home run. Santander popped out to Rizzo. Urias hit another home run against Heaney. Severino doubled to the center-field wall. Franco doubled on a great play by Gallo at the left-field wall. Valaika struck out swinging, but the O’s picked up another two runs. At the bottom, Stanton ground out to third. Odor had a towering out to right field foul territory. Sanchez ground out to third as the Yankees remained no-hit through four innings. Orioles 4 Yankees 0.

Mullins led off the fifth inning against new Yankee pitcher Joely Rodriguez, and he singled. He then stole second. Hays struck out on a change from J-Rod. Mullins stole third. Mancini ground out. Mountcastle was out on a fly ball to Stanton in right. At the bottom, Torres walked. Gardner out. LeMahieu out and Torres scored on a Rizzo RBI. Orioles 4 Yankees1.

At the top of the sixth, the Baltimore Orioles tacked on another two runs. At the bottom, Joey Gallo doubled. Stanton struck out. Odor popped out to short center. Sanchez popped out to the shallow right as the Yankees leave another runner stranded. So far, the Yankees could only get 2 hits off of the mediocre pitcher. Orioles 6 Yankees 1.

Mullins led off the seventh against new Yankee pitcher Lucas Luetge and flew out to Gardner in center. Hays ground out. Mancini struck out for a 1-2-3 inning for Luetge. At the bottom of the inning, Torres singled. Gardner walked. LeMahieu banged into a 6-4-3 double as he has so many times this season. Rizzo against the new Baltimore pitcher Paul Fry stuck out for the final out of the inning. Orioles 6 Yankees 1.

In the eighth inning, Mountcastle, against another Yankee pitcher, Albert Abreu, got a base hit down the left-field line for his third hit of the night. Santander singled with Mountcastle going to third base. McKenna was brought in to pinch run. Urias hit into a double play, but Mountcastle scored. Severino stuck out, but the O’s continued to tack another run. At the bottom, the inning was delayed for some time while a cat was on the field. He finally left the game in a ground-rule exit. Judge flew out to center. Gallo popped out to short. Stanton walked. Odor flew out to the centerfield wall. Orioles 6 Yankees 1 Feline 1.

Franco led off the ninth ahead by five runs, and he doubled when a fan interfered with the ball in left. An Abreu pitch hit Valaika. Mullins went down on strikes. Hays hit into a double play to end the hitting for the O’s. At the bottom, with last licks on the line for the Yankees, Gary Sanchez took to the plate and against Dillon Tate ground out to third. Gleyber Torres flew out to center. Brett Gardner, who walked three times on the night, singled. Gardner took second on indifference. DJ LeMahieu lined out to right to end the game.

The final score was the Baltimore Orioles 7 and the New York Yankees 1. The winning pitcher was Jose Lopez, and the loser was Andrew Heaney.

Note: Gerrit Cole that was supposed to start tomorrow’s game has tested positive for the Covid virus according to Aaron Boone. He will miss at least two starts. Gio Urshela is also going on the IL not Covid related, but with a hamstring injury.

 

Knicks bringing veteran PG Derrick Rose back on three-year deal

derrick rose, knicks

According to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN, the Knicks are bringing back veteran PG Derrick Rose on a three-year, $43 million deal, averaging $14.3 million per season.

Prior to New York bringing back Rose, they signed Alex Burks to a three-year, $30 million deal, Nerlens Noel to a $32 million deal over three years, and Evan Fournier to a four-year, $78 million deal, which includes a team option of the fourth season.

The expectation was always that New York would bring back the veteran PG, given he elevated their team last season and helped secure the 4th seed in the Eastern Conference. Once he was traded from Detroit to the Knicks, head coach time Thibodeau didn’t shy away from utilizing him on a daily basis.

With Elfrid Payton failing to secure minutes, Rose averaged 26.8 minutes per game, the highest in two years. He averaged 14.9 points, 4.2 assess, and shot nearly 49% from the field.

Rose offers so much more than just offensive production on the court, but also a fantastic mentor for Immanuel Quickley and new draftee, Miles McBride out of West Virginia. Providing experience and leadership for such a young team is essential, and the Knicks are proving to be loyal to their players after carrying them to a playoff appearances for the first time since 2013.

President Leon Rose and the front office have spent the majority of their funds up to this point, but they could still make a few low-key moves to help improve the back end of the roster.

Report: Knicks snag sharp-shooter Evan Fournier on four-year deal

new york knicks, evan fournier

Reports early on Monday indicated the New York Knicks’ interest in sharpshooter Evan Fournier, who spent last season with the Orlando Magic and Boston Celtics.

According to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN, the Knicks have come to an agreement with guard/forward Evan Fournier on a four-year deal worth as much as $78 million.

Fournier offers an improvement over Reggie Bullock, who signed a three-year deal with the Dallas Mavericks shortly after free agency commenced. Last season, the small/shooting guard averaged 17.1 points, 3.4 assists, and shot nearly 46% from the field. He posted a career-high 41.3% from range, averaging 6.7 attempts per game.

Compared to Bullock, Fournier is able to create shots for himself and is a better ball handler. Bullock was more of a catch-and-shoot specialist, and while Fournier can serve that purpose, he’s able to command attention that will take pressure off Julius Randle.

The French-born player has a team option in the fourth year of the deal, which would average out to $19.5 million per season. Reports had previously indicated that Fournier was in search of a four-year, $80 million deal, and it seems as if the Knicks are offering him just that.

Having retained Nerlens Noel and Alec Burks on three-year contracts, paying out $32 million and $30 million apiece, the Knicks are still in the race to bring back Derrick Rose on an extension. This would prove their loyalty, retaining some of their own players while going out and grabbing a replacement for Bullock, who serves an even bigger purpose. The former first-round selection has nine years of NBA experience and is a far more productive scorer.

Report: Knicks will ‘likely’ work out deal with PG Derrick Rose, Reggie Bullock signs with Dallas

new york knicks, derrick rose

With the Knicks retaining two of their own in Nerlens Noel and Alec Burks, the expectation is that they will “likely” work out an extension for point guard Derrick Rose, per Marc Berman of the NY Post.

Noel signed a three-year, $32 million deal and Burks a three-year, $30 million contract at the opening of free agency, and while Rose hasn’t yet made it official, they’re looking to bring him back.

Rose could be in line for a nice pay raise after signing a two-year, $14 million deal with the Detroit Pistons during the 2019 off-season. Last season with New York, Rose averaged 14.9 points, 4.2 assists and shot nearly 49% from the field. He logged a career-high 41% from three, showcasing he still has gas left in the tank.

Without Rose, the Knicks likely wouldn’t have secured the 4th seed in the Eastern conference, and bringing him back to provide mentorship for players like Immanuel Quickley and rookie guard Miles McBride could be beneficial.

At 32-years-old, Rose played in 50 games last year, and while he doesn’t represent a long-term solution for the team, they could bring him back on a one-year deal, which would allow them to clear cap space and target a high profile free agent during the 2022 off-season. With players like Bradley Beal and Zach LaVine expected to be available on the market barring an extension, clearing as much space will be essential.

However, the three-year contracts the team signed with Burks and Noel will tie up a bit of money, but nothing they can’t overcome with the cap expected to rise over the next few seasons and plenty of youth to supplement any deficiencies down the road.

Rose has plenty to offer despite his last All-Star appearance coming in 2011.

In addition, Knicks small forward/shooting guard Reggie Bullock is preparing to sign with the Dallas Mavericks, opening up the door for a potential deal between New York and Evan Fournier.

Bullock served a solid purpose last season but had limitations beyond being a catch-and-shoot specialist. He played spotty defense and was inconsistent at times. Fournier would offer a pure playmaker who can create shots for himself rather than require good floor spacing and open shots to be effective.

BREAKING: Knicks agree with Alec Burks and Nerlens Noel on three-year deals

New York Knicks, Alec Burks

According to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN, the New York Knicks have agreed to bring back Nerlens Noel and Alec Burks on individual three-year contracts.

Burks will stay with the Knicks for three years, $30 million, and Noel, three years, $32 million, signing very similar contracts that provide offensive and defensive proficiency on both ends of the floor.

Last season, Burks averaged 12.7 points, 2.2 assists, and shot 42% from the field. He impressively connected on 41.5% of his shots from range, averaging 5.0 attempts per game. Alec is a quality offensive play-maker, coming off the bench and giving the Knicks immediate point production when they needed it most. He can play both small forward, shooting guard and fill in at point guard if necessary.

They clearly value the former first-round pick, as his contract will expire at 33 years old. Continuity remains a priority for New York, as they also brought back Noel, who posted a career-high 2.2 blocked shots per game during the 2020-21 season. While he doesn’t offer much on offense, averaging 5.1 points, he is a solid complement to Mitchell Robinson, who will earn $1.8 million after the Knicks picked up his club option.

Expect the Knicks to be very active over the next few days, if not hours. They have approximately $17 million remaining in cap room with $15 million tied up in cap holds for Derrick Rose, Reggie Bullock, and $3.3 million in non-guaranteed money with Luca Vildoza.

New York Giants get lesson in discipline under Joe Judge at training camp

new york giants, joe judge

We’ve all heard about the tough guy reputation of New York Giants head coach Joe Judge. It’s something that had produced varying reactions, ranging from respect from fans who think Judge has brought the team in line with a new direction to dismissal by some national media outlets who have called Judge a parody of himself.

That reputation flared up last season when the firing of offensive line coach Marc Colombo allegedly turned heated, and a recent on the field confrontation between Judge and Kelvin Benjamin may have reminded some of that reputation once again.

But, even if it’s controversial, there’s at least one thing that Judge’s no-nonsense style is definitely good with – building discipline. That’s manifested itself this training camp in the form of players running laps for various mistakes. And sometimes, depending on the mistake, the whole unit has to run the lap around the practice field.

We saw that happen in Monday’s practice when one player made a substitution error during a field goal block. As a result, the defense including the coaches was spotted running a lap around the field.

It’s not the only time that it happened. Former Dallas lineman Joe Looney ended up running two laps also, and expected starting center Nick Gates would end up running one quickly to avoid holding things up – the Giants aren’t the deepest team at center, and their other regular option was busy working with the second team on a different field.

All in all, the laps are a minor thing but it’s still nice to see a tangible example of the culture of hard work and improvement that many Giants players have spoken about since the arrival of Joe Judge.

After all, far from considering Judge a parody of himself, every statement from the players shows that the locker room has bought in – even when they have to run laps at practice because of this no-nonsense style.

Mission DPOY: Trainer Marcell Scott lays out plan for Mitchell Robinson’s bounce-back season

myles turner, knicks, pacers

The New York Knicks remain heavily invested in their 23-year old center Mitchell Robinson despite the Myles Turner trade rumors.

After the Knicks exercised their $1.8 million team option that will make Robinson an unrestricted free agent next summer, Empire Sports Media has learned that the team is closely monitoring his physical conditioning to get him ready for the training camp.

“Some of the Knicks staff is here in New Orleans making sure he is straight physically. They are truly invested in Mitch,” Robinson’s trainer Marcell Scott told Empire Sports Media. “It’s gonna be a great year!”

Robinson’s ascent as one of the premier defensive big men in the league got sidetracked last season after a pair of serious injuries — fractured hand and foot — limited him to just 31 games. In that small sample size last season, the young center flashed promising signs of improvement under defensive guru Tom Thibodeau and big man’s whisperer Kenny Payne.

Robinson learned to stay disciplined on and off the court. His foul rate (2.8 per game) went down to its lowest in his three seasons in the league, leading to an increased playing time of 27.5 minutes per game.

The rebounding numbers shot up in the process to 8.1 from 7.0 per game last season. His blocked shots may have gone down (1.5 from 2.0 per game last season), but that is because he has learned to play more with his feet and not just by his hands.

Robinson finished fourth among centers in defensive win shares (0.114) behind Rudy Gobert (0.181), Joel Embiid (0.135), and Anthony Davis (0.125) last season, according to NBA.com.

Overall, his numbers — 8.3 points, 8.1 rebounds, 1.1 steals, and 1.5 blocks — don’t scream a star center, but he’s starting to fit in nicely to Thibodeau’s system as their anchor in the middle before the injuries. Offensively, he was limited to just catching lobs and cleaning up the boards, but that could change soon if he can show improvements on his shooting and with a better point guard coming in to orchestrate plays for the team.

On a contract year, Robinson is aching to show he’s worth a significant investment. According to ESPN’s front office insider Bobby Marks, Robinson is eligible for a contract extension worth up to $51 million.

“He must have a good season. No excuses! He’s well capable so no worries about this end,” Scott said.” The boy is good.”

But Scott made it clear that he is in no way part of the negotiating camp of Robinson for his next NBA contract.

“I just train. I don’t do anything else. That [next contract] is his agency’s decision. Now, will he be ready? Absolutely,” Scott said. “He will be fine. God is looking over him.”

Robinson is now on his sixth agent, Thad Foucher and Joe Smith of the Wasserman Group, after moving on from super-agent Rich Paul of Klutch Sports last year.

But that’s the least of Scott’s concerns as he said that this summer’s priority is to have Robinson at full strength before they can set their sights on their goals, including the coveted Defensive Player of the Year award.

“No major training as of now, he’s just staying healthy and getting stronger. I just want him to be ready to do everything the coach asks of him,” Scott said. “DPOY (Defensive Player of the Year), make free throws are the goals for next season. Everything else just comes with being the high-energy guy on the floor.”

Last year, Robinson shot a career-worst 49.1 percent at the line on just 1.7 free throws per game. Scott already has a plan in place to have Robinson work on improving that.

If things go according to plan, Robinson is in line for a redemption season that will hopefully lead to a bigger payday down the line.

Follow this writer on Twitter: @alderalmo

Report: Knicks expected to re-sign both Nerlens Noel and Alec Burks as free agency looms

alec burks, knicks

The New York Knicks have their sights on former Boston Celtics shooting guard/small forward Evan Fournier. Having spent time with Orlando and Boston last season, Fournier averaged 17.1 points, potentially bringing a solid ball-handler to New York for the next few seasons. General manager Scott Perry has already traded for Fournier once in the past, so acquiring him would offer a familiar face.

However, the Knicks are also intrigued by some of their own, Including Center Nerlens Noel and versatile offensive weapon, Alec Burks.

According to Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report, the Knicks are expected to re-sign both Nerlens Noel and Alec Burks.

How did Noel and Burks impact the Knicks last season?

Nerlens Noel: Contract worth about $10 million per year

Noel is coming off a resurgent season, signing a one-year, $5 million deal with New York last year. At 27-years-old, Noel set a career-high with 2.2 blocks per game. While he doesn’t offer much on offense, he played in 64 games, supplementing the loss of Mitchell Robinson valiantly. He shot 61% from the field on 3.5 attempts per game, and with Robinson set to earn $1.8 million, overspending on Noel, a reliable defender, is a solid move.

Ultimately, the Knicks know exactly what they’re getting a Noel, a great shot blocker who protects the rim extremely well.

Alec Burks: Three years, $30 million

Burks was one of the more clutch players on the team last year, so retaining was likely a priority. The former first-round pick is expected to earn $10 million per season, averaging 12.7 points, 2.2 assists, and shooting 42% from the field in 2020. He also connected on 41.5% of his shots from range, a career-high, attempting 5.0 3’s per game.

It seems the Knicks are prioritizing continuity and believe their roster last season simply needed a few additions. Acquiring Fournier and having the money left over to sign a point guard would be an ideal situation, as it seems the team is looking to act quickly.

Kevin Knox returns to NBA Summer League to lead Knicks

In 2018, NBA Summer League stud Kevin Knox was heralded as a future NBA star.

Three years later, Knox will return to Las Vegas not as a star but as a broken player.

Ian Begley of SNY reported that Knox asked the New York Knicks to include him on their Summer League roster.

He wants to play and repair his shattered confidence after bottoming out last season.

Knox will be the longest-tenured player in the Knicks’ Summer League roster and will be playing for the third time in the last four years. There was no NBA Summer League last year due to the pandemic.

In the 2019-20 Summer League, Knox averaged 16.8 points per game after making it to the All-NBA Summer League First Team in 2018, where he posted eye-popping numbers: 21.3 points, 6.5 rebounds, and 2.3 assists over four games.

Joining Knox in the squad are incoming sophomores Immanuel Quickley and Obi Toppin, who jumped ahead of him in the rotation last season. Rookies Luca Vildoza, Quentin Grimes, Miles McBride, pick-and-stash Rokas Jokubaitis, and Jericho Sims will also make their Knicks debut.

The 20-year old Jokubaitis agreed to play for the Knicks this summer, but he’s expected to return to Europe to play for Barcelona next year.

Meanwhile, Vildoza’s arrival in Las Vegas is contingent on Argentina’s quarterfinal game against Australia Tuesday in the Tokyo Olympics.

If Argentina wins, Vildoza will have to stay in Tokyo until the medal round on Saturday. If they flame out, Vidoza will fly out Wednesday to rejoin the Knicks.

The NBA Summer League opens on Sunday with the Knicks scheduled to play the Toronto Raptors.

Rounding up the roster are NBA free agents trying out for Training Camp spots: Justin Patton, Reid Travis, Wayne Selden, Quinton Rose, MJ Walker, Tyler Hall, and Aamir Sims.

Here’s the Knicks’ NBA Summer League broadcast schedule (all in Eastern Time):

Aug. 8 vs. Raptors 4:30 pm ESPN2

Aug. 11 vs. Lakers 10 pm ESPN2

Aug. 13 vs. Pistons 8 pm NBA TV

Aug. 14 vs. Cavs 8 pm NBA TV

Follow this writer on Twitter: @alderalmo