Is Tom Aspinall the next great UFC heavyweight?

Last weekend at UFC Vegas 36, Tom Aspinall (11-2) took on Sergey Spivak (13-3) in the co-main event of the evening. Aspinall has been perfect since joining the UFC last year having started 3-0.

Back in February, he got a huge fight with former champion Andrei Arlovski. Aspinall passed that test with flying colors submitting Arlovski in the second round of their fight. Spivak was set to be another challenge for Aspinall.

Spivak was another top fifteen UFC heavyweight. It was the first time that Aspinall was taking on another ranked heavyweight and once again, the British heavyweight passed the test with flying colors.

While Spivak was set to challenge Aspinall, Aspinall ran right through him. Halfway through the opening round, Aspinall dropped Spivak and followed up with some brutal shots. Ultimately the referee called a stop to the action and Aspinall picked up his fourth straight UFC victory.

What’s next after UFC Vegas 36?

Tom Aspinall looks like he’s the full package. He has tremendous skills on the ground and his boxing is incredibly crisp. One of the things that makes him so dangerous on his feet is his work with boxing heavyweight champion Tyson Fury.

After UFC Vegas 36, many were wondering if Aspinall would be vaulted towards the top of the division. However, Aspinall wants to take things slow and admitted that he believes he’s not quite ready for the top guys at heavyweight.

After his win at UFC Vegas 36, Aspinall told the media, “I need a lot more experience before I fight those guys. I’m not ready for those guys yet. This doesn’t mean I’m not confident. This means I’m very confident in my ability, but I’m also confident that I need to be ready to beat these guys.”

Aspinall also pointed out the fact that he’s only 28 years old. The UFC has a star in the making with Aspinall and I think they should follow his ideal plan. A slow build would be the best thing for his career.

Aspinall actually mentioned a perfect opponent for him next. That opponent would be Blagoy Ivanov (18-4). Ivanov is a fellow top fifteen heavyweight who’s just known for being an insanely tough fight. This would be a great fight to test Aspinall.

The main reason the Knicks haven’t seen the best of Mitchell Robinson

New York Knicks, Mitchell Robinson

The New York Knicks seem to have undying confidence in center Mitchell Robinson. Having played just 31 games last year due to a fractured foot and hand, Robinson was unable to reach his potential after taking a step forward during the 2019–20 campaign.

Despite his ups and downs, Robinson is confident he will make a strong return, indicating he is eyeing the Defensive Player of the Year award this upcoming season. With more strength and size added to his frame, Robinson will have more power in the paint, especially when it comes to defending power forwards and scoring centers.

Ultimately, it boils down to health for Mitchell, who will be turning 24 next year and is heading into the final year of his contract with the Knicks. He will be paid $1.8 million, but management is convinced he is preparing to take a big step forward in his growth and establish himself as one of the best defenders in the league at his position. He also has underrated scoring abilities that have been suppressed. Despite his return, the three-year veteran will have competition, as the Knicks retained Nerlens Noel on a three-year contract, guaranteeing him he would have the opportunity to compete for starting minutes.

During his small sample size last year, Robinson averaged 8.3 points, 1.5 blocks, 8.1 rebounds, and shot 65% from the field. He saw a decrease in the blocks, assists, and field-goal percentage categories, which is disappointing, but over a small sample size, we can’t create a well-rounded report card.

The main reason the Knicks haven’t seen the best of Mitchell Robinson:

One of the primary reasons Robinson has been unable to reach his potential is poor point guard play. The Knicks rolled with Elfred Payton as the primary starter last season; he averaged 3.2 assists over 23.6 minutes per game. Comparably, he averaged 7.2 assists during the 2019–20 season, so it is clear he had a tough time adapting to Tom Thibodeau’s style of play. It wasn’t until Derrick Rose joined the team that the Knicks began stringing wins together and appeared as a solid playoff-contending team.

The one factor that will benefit Mitchell the most is better point guard play, which will make him more active and efficient off the pick-and-roll and give him more opportunities in the paint with better facilitators. Rose and Robinson were unable to play together for the majority of the second half, but the veteran elevated the entire team, averaging 14.9 points, 4.2 assists, and shooting 49% from the field. With a better option down low, Rose will have more confidence kicking the ball underneath to Robinson where he can take advantage of his height and increased playing strength.

In an ideal scenario, Robinson will average double-digit points for the first time in his career next season, but he needs to improve his block rate and play a full season with a clean bill of health. If he can accomplish all of these things, which is entirely attainable, the Knkcks will likely offer him a sizable extension next off-season.

Good news and bad news as Yankees give up Wild Card advantage

aroldis chapman, yankees

The New York Yankees dropped their fifth consecutive game on Wednesday against the Toronto Blue Jays. In a must-win game to keep their Wild Card advantage, the hitting once again faltered, posting just three runs while Toronto scored six to secure the win. Over the last three games, the Yankees have only scored four runs.

With the offense struggling to get going and the postseason quickly dissipating from their view, the Yankees have an internal decision to make. We know they are capable of stringing together wins at an unseen rate, but they also go on massive cold streaks that plummet them down the standings. Currently, the Bombers are only 1.5 games ahead in the WC, as the Blue Jays are quickly picking up ground. With one game to finish off the series on Thursday, the Yankees must extract a victory and put themselves 2.5 games ahead.

Good news and bad news for the Yankees:

Again, the bad news continues to mount, but luckily, they have a series against the New York Mets coming up. The Mets are playing better as of late, but they still represent a struggling team with plenty of weaknesses the Yankees could take advantage of. On a more positive note, they will have three of their best starters featuring in a three-game series against the Mets, including Jordan Montgomery, Corey Kluber, and Jamison Taillon.

General manager Brian Cashman anticipated these three starters to have impactful seasons, but most have underwhelmed due to injury or inconsistencies. Montgomery hosts a 3.47 ERA, representing the best option of the three, but has still struggled in some categories. Montgomery has walked nearly as many batters as earned runs as he’s allowed (43 to 52).

Kluber, who suffered a shoulder injury that kept him out for a significant portion of the season, is looking to make a comeback, posting a 3.69 ERA so far over 61 innings. Taillon, on the other hand, hosts a 4.41 ERA, allowing 68 earned runs and 24 homers this season over 138.2 innings.

All three starters have had their ups and downs, and with Gerrit Cole picking up a hamstring injury against Toronto on Tuesday, it seems the perfect storm is brewing. I would be remiss not to mention Aroldis Chapman giving up a blast to Vladimir Guerrero Jr. in the ninth inning. Chapman has been an absolute liability during the 2nd half of the season, seeing his ERA elevate to 3.86. He’s given up eight homers, and 20 earned runs this year.

One positive Takeaway is Luis Gil, who gave up three runs over 3.1 innings. Some might look at that stat line and extract negativity, but he managed to battle his way out of a tough bases-loaded jam. Gil walked seven batters against a strong Toronto lineup — an unacceptable number but a good learning experience. He struck out six batters, tossing 91 pitches during a short amount of time on the mound in his third career start at the MLB level.

It is clear the Yankees have something special in Gil, and they need to continue utilizing him, presenting him with more reps and experience. He has earned a 1.42 ERA over 19 innings pitched this year, but I anticipate the Yankees relying on him a bit more moving forward.

New York Yankees: Takeaways from another perplexing loss mystifying Yankee fans

New York Yankees, Aaron Boone

The New York Yankees are in a tailspin that is quickly putting their postseason hopes into the rearview mirror. For this writer and Yankee fan, it is totally perplexing how a team can go from the winningest team in baseball just a week ago to a lifeless team that now has a season-high five losses in a row.

Luis Gil is human; after all

New York Yankee pitching prospect sensation Luis Gil was the first pitcher since 1901 to not give up a run in his first three starts as a Yankee. But now, Gil has proved that he is indeed human. Although he started last night’s game allowing a walk, and even though catcher Gary Sanchez allowed a passed ball with the runner advancing, Gil still got out of the inning unscathed. But that walk would be telling.

In the second inning, Gil struck out the side, and it looked like Gil was back into control. Then, in the third, Gil walked two and loaded the bases but showed the guts of a veteran by working into and getting out of a bases-loaded jam scoreless. But in the fourth, everything went south for Gil. He walked two more Jays. At the end of the half, the Rays had scored three runs against the 22-year-old.

At the end of the night, which came after just 3.1 innings for Gil, he had stuck out an impressive 6 Jays, but that was spoiled by walking seven which was his demise. After the game, manager Boone basically said that players and pitchers alike have bad days. However, it should be noted that no matter how well he pitched in his first three starts, in the minors, Gil had one of the worst walk records.

The Yankee’s rollercoaster is scary!

This 2021 baseball season for the New York Yankees has been a rollercoaster that would make Kingda Ka at Six Flags in New Jersey seem like a kiddie ride. Even though the first half for the Yankees was horrible, they did have their moments. But since July 4th, the roller coaster has gone into overdrive. With no hope of reaching the postseason, the Yankees became a new team becoming the winningest in baseball.

At one point, the Yankees won 13 games straight that landed them in the number one wild card berth. Now with losing five consecutive games, a season-high, the Yankees have lost that berth. If they lose again tonight, they will only have the second berth by .5 games.

Last night in an otherwise boring and disheartening game for Yankee fans, there was a bright spot. In the fifth inning veteran, Brett Gardner hit a three-run homer. For those that thought it might spark the Yankees, the bright spot quickly faded.

Chapman still doesn’t have it while the rest of the bullpen is completely worn out

At this point in the season, Aroldis Chapman’s struggles are well known, but his struggles have been systemic for the team. Aaron Boone forced to use other pitchers to close in close games has caused undue stress on a bullpen already struggling with missing members and overworked arms.

The plain and simple fact is that the Yankee bullpen is completely blown out. Overwork has caused normally dependable relievers to be undependable in many instances and many situations. So comparing Mariano Rivera to Chapman is unfair. But to illustrate the problem with Rivera on the mound, you knew the Yankees would win. With Chapman on the mound, you usually know it’s going to be a nailbiter at best.

Last night was no different; Boone called him in in a non-save situation to hold the Jays. He didn’t; he walked two and gave up another run putting the game out of reach for the Yankees before being pulled. The other relievers not named J-Rod also gave up runs. The usually dependable Chad Green and Clay Holmes couldn’t keep the Jays scoreless, just showing how tired the pen is.

The Yankee’s wild card dilemma explained

The dilemma for the New York Yankees is that they are not winning games and slipping back in the AL East. After the winning streak, the Yankees had clawed their way back to just five games out of the AL East lead, but that was then, and this is now. They have slipped back to 9.5 games behind the Tampa Bay Rays and would be even further back, but the Rays have helped losing a few games recently.

At the end of the winning streak, the Yankees found themselves the number one Wild Card game owner with home-field advantage. Now, after the losing streak that doesn’t seem to be coming to an end anytime soon, they are about to be out of the wild card picture altogether. What is even scarier is that with just 23 games left in the season, the Toronto Blue Jays and Seattle Mariners are surging while the Yankees are in the dumper.

With this New York Yankee team playing as they are, with only one dependable starter, injured and may miss a start at best, a lifeless lineup, and a worn-out bullpen, the Yankees are going to have to find a way to reverse things and start winning again. But, with time fleeting, they need to do it sooner than later.

Giants’ Kadarius Toney drops legendary comment regarding status for Week 1

new york giants, kadarius toney

The New York Giants will need every offensive weapon against the Denver Broncos in Week 1. With a strong secondary and fantastic pass rush, Denver is looking to establish themselves against an offense that ranked 31st in points per game last season. The Giants, who added Kenny Golladay, Kadarius Toney, Kyle Rudolph, and will likely have Saquon Barkley at their disposal, should provide more consistency and production in the scoring department.

However, the injury report following Wednesday’s practice was packed to the brim. The players categorized as limited were Barkley, Golladay, Toney, Adoree Jackson, Rudolph, Danny Shelton, Kaden Smith, and Andrew Thomas. To summarize, the majority of the Giants’ most important players were all limited in some fashion due to individual injuries.

Despite the designations, rookie receiver Kadarius Toney strongly indicated he would be available against Denver. It seems as if head coach Joe Judge is trying to keep things under wraps, putting as many players on the injury report as possible to create confusion for Denver’s coordinators.

Toney, though, essentially made it clear that unless somebody made up a reason for him to miss Week 1, he would be available and ready to play.

When asked if Toney if an injury or issue would keep him from playing against Denver, he said:

“Nah, I mean, unless you wanna go make one up.”

Toney has had a problematic off-season, missing time due to a hamstring injury, and contracted Covid. This isn’t the first time we’ve seen a rookie receiver miss plenty of time, as Odell Beckham Jr. returned from a hamstring issue in Week 4 of his rookie campaign.

Kadarius, who has the capabilities to spark an offense and create electrifying plays, will finally get an opportunity to showcase his abilities. Missing all three preseason games and joint practices, there’s a little film to work off of regarding the 20th overall pick.

With the Florida product on the field, the Giants can get a bit more creative, utilizing jet sweeps, pre-snap motion, and more unique play calls to get him into space with the ball in his hands.

In addition to Toney, fellow receiver Kenny Golladay is also expected to suit up against the Broncos. Golladay, who earned a Pro Bowl nod in 2019, will feature as quarterback Daniel Jones’s WR1. Jones hasn’t had a receiver like Golladay since general manager Dave Gelman traded Odell Beckham Jr. just weeks before the Giants selected Jones in the first round. Golladay hauled in 65 receptions for 1,190 yards and 11 scores two years ago with Detroit but played in just five games last year with a myriad of injuries.

Golladay has been dealing with a hamstring injury this off-season but has been moving crisply and seems to be prepared to play this upcoming weekend. With the majority of the Giants’ top playmakers likely to be available, the scheme should also improve with it. One of the biggest knocks on the offense has been coordinator Jason Garrett’s playcalling, but expect more downfield targets and fewer curl routes, which was his preference in 2020.

Why Knicks’ Evan Fournier and RJ Barrett are an underrated duo

new york knicks, rj barrett

Adding talent this off-season was a priority for the New York Knicks, especially with a ton of cap space to spare and utilize. Of course, they would’ve preferred to land a big name with championship-caliber play, but instead, they added several players who can contribute toward a deep postseason run over a longer period.

Acquiring Evan Fournier and Kemba Walker injects talent into two positions that were considered weaknesses last season. While Reggie Bullock, who spent the last two years with the Knicks, played valiantly, averaging 10.9 points and shooting 41% from three-point range, Fournier offers a massive upgrade.

Not only is the French-born player capable of creating shots for himself, but he’s also a better three-point shooter, averaging 41.3% last season over 6.7 attempts per game. Bullock only attempted 3.8 shots per game from distance, showcasing the difference in scoring production.

Fournier finished last season with 17.1 points on average, 3.4 assists, and had a 56.5 effective field-goal percentage. He is far and away a better offensive player and even contributes more defensively. He will take significant pressure off power forward Julius Randle, as defenders simply can’t crowd the interior and force the Knicks to win with their shooting.

However, the pairing of Fournier and third-year player RJ Barrett could be something special. One of the most important aspects of sports is communication, and that assessment doesn’t differ in the NBA. Both Fournier and Barrett speak French, allowing them to communicate in a different language, which could give them a slight advantage over their competition, who can’t intercept information. While some might consider this a non-factor, playing off one another and creating shots will be a focal point for the Knicks, which will give them another element offensively.

Barrett, who had his best season to date during the 2020-21 season, averaging 17.6 points, 3.0 assists, 5.8 rebounds, and shooting 44% from the field, is looking to take another step forward this upcoming season. His three-point percentage increased to 40%, attempting 4.3 shots per game. All together, Barrett and Fournier averaged a combined 34.8 points per game.

The primary goal for both players is to improve their shots selection and creation for their teammates. Last season, Fournier posted a 37.2% rate for field goals made unassisted. He is not a traditional spot-up shooter like Reggie Bullock, which offers benefits to a team that needs to draw attention away from their best player in Randle.

Just the slightest advantage in communicating in a different language can be beneficial, which will likely improve the chemistry between RJ and Evan. Another interesting point to make is at Fournier’s assist rate has consistently improved throughout his career, and Barrett saw his average increase from 2.6 to 3.0 last season. If they can continue to improve in that category, they have the potential to be a fantastic scoring duo.