New York Giants enter Atlanta game as 3.5 point favorites

new york giants, sterling shepard

After a couple of games as the underdogs, the New York Giants are actually favored to get their first win of the season. This comes in week 3 as the Giants prepare to take on Atlanta in a game where they’ll have a 10 day break after previously playing on Thursday Night Football.

According to SI, the Giants have been placed as a 3.5 point favorite with the over/under being placed at 48.

While the Giants are dealing with concerns that this season will be more of the same, after finding a way to lose against Washington in week 2, many believe the Giants offense is more than the Atlanta defense will be able to handle.

The Falcons allowed 32 and 48 points in their first two games against the Eagles and the Buccaneers respectively, and were only able to score six points of their own in their season opener. Matt Ryan’s offense was more productive in the second game of the season, but the Falcons lost comfortably in part because of turnovers and self-defeating mistakes from the offense.

Daniel Jones is coming off what some have called the best game of his career. If there’s ever been a game for him to string together some positive momentum, and for the Giants to bounce back and prove that this season isn’t over by week 3, it would be this one.

Furthermore, this game is an important one for Jason Garrett’s offense. If the Giants can’t even put up a good performance on that front against Atlanta after the Falcons allowed so many points in their opening two games, the pressure on Garrett following week 1 will quickly come back in force.

New York Yankees Recap: Yankees squeak past the Rangers for the 4-3 win

aroldis chapman, yankees

Tonight with new urgency, the New York Yankees entered a three-game series with the Texas Rangers after losing two of three against the Cleveland Indians and slipping out of a wild card berth. The Yankees need to sweep a series off this Texas team playing just .369 baseball this season. The Yankees started Nestor Cortes Jr. facing the Rangers. The Yankees made their first step to get back into the wild card with a 4-3 win.

Isiah Kiner-Falefa led off for the Rangers and singled against Cortes. Andy Ibanez followed up with another single up the middle. The runners advanced on a wild pitch. Adolis Garcia stuck out on a Cortes slider. DJ Peters struck out looking. Nat Lowe struck out, and “Nasty Nestor” got out of the inning, leaving two on base. At the bottom, DJ LeMahieu popped out to first. Anthony Rizzo ground out. Aaron Judge walked. Giancarlo Stanton flew out to the deep center to end the inning. No score.

Nick Solak led off the second inning for the Rangers and ground out to second. Jonah Heim went down looking. Charlie Culberson flew out to a diving Gallo in left. At the bottom, the same Joey Gallo led off by trying for a bunt but was out. Gleyber Torres popped out to right. Gary Sanchez homered into the left-field stands getting the Yankees on the board first. Brett Gardner ground out to end the inning. New York Yankees 1, the Rangers 0.

The third inning was led off by Leody Taveras, who hit back to Cortes, who fielded an excellent out. Kiner-Falefa popped out to second. Ibanez struck out with Cortes putting down nine Rangers in a row. At the bottom leading off was Gio Urshela, who flew out to short right. LeMahieu walked. Rizzo hit one far out into the stands, but just right of the foul pole in right. Then duplicated it. He ended up singling to left-center. With two on and one out, Judge doubled to right, scoring LeMahieu for a tack-on run for the Yankees. Stanton, still with two on and one out, flew out to center with Rizzo scoring. Joey Gallo with two outs and Judge on second walked. Torres, with two on and two outs, singled, driving Judge from second. Gary Sanchez, who already homered in the second, walked to load the bases for Gardner, who struck out swinging to end the inning. New York Yankees 4 the Rangers 0.

The fourth inning was led off by Adolis Garcia, who popped back to catcher Sanchez. Peters struck out on a foul tip. Lowe walked. Solak also walked. Heim stuck out. At the bottom, Urshela ground out to the pitcher. LeMahieu walked. Rizzo also walked. Aaron Judge faced the new Ranger pitcher Jharal Cotton and flew out to deep center. Stanton struck out. New York Yankees 4 Rangers 0.

The fifth was led off by Culberson, who homered to left. Taveras hit a ground-rule double. Falafa doubled, scoring Culberson. Ibanez ground out to Gardner in center, and that was the night for Cortes Jr. Chad Green replaced him. A wild ball let Taveras advance to third. Facing Garcia, he flew out to Gardner, scoring Culberson. Peters flew out. At the bottom, Gallo had a towering pop out to right. Torres walked. Sanchez went down looking. Gardner chopped out to first to end the inning. Yankees 4 Rangers 3.

Leading off the sixth was Lowe, who ground out. Solak chopped in front of Sanchez, who made the play to first for the out. Heim struck out looking. Urshela led off the bottom by singling, going the other way. LeMahieu ground into an around-the-horn double play. Rizzo ground out to third to end the inning. Yankees 4 Rangers 3.

Culberson led off the seventh inning with Clay Holmes pitching by striking out. Taveras tapped back to Holmes. Kiner-Falefa to first. At the bottom, Judge singled to second. Stanton went down on strikes. Gallo struck out swinging. Gleyber Torres faced the new Ranger pitcher Spencer Patton and singled to center. Sanchez, with two on and two outs, lined out directly to short. Yankees 4 Rangers 3.

In the eighth, Ibanez, against Holmes in his second inning of work, singled over Urshela’s head. Yonny Hernandez was brought in to pinch run. Garcia struck out swinging. Peters ground out to third for a force-out. Lowe faced new Yankee pitcher Joely Rodriguez and reached on an infield single. Solak struck out. Gardner led off the bottom by popping out to the catcher. Urshela tapped back to the pitcher. LeMahieu tipped into the catcher’s glove for the final out. Yankees 4 Rangers 3.

At the top of the ninth inning, the Yankees send in closer Aroldis Chapman facing Heim, who stuck out put out. Culberson grounded out to third. Taveras, as the last hope for the Rangers, struck out for the Yankee win. The final score was the New York Yankees 4 and the Texas Ranger 3. The winning pitcher was Chad Green and the loser was A.J. Alexy. Aroldis Chapman got his 28th save of the season.

 

 

 

 

UFC: Leon Edwards down to fight Jorge Masvidal in November

Leon Edwards

A UFC grudge match could be getting closer to happening. For the last couple of years, fight fans have wanted to see welterweights Jorge Masvidal (35-15) and Leon Edwards (19-3, 1 NC) throw down inside the octagon.

However, the fight has never been made. The desire to see these two fight stems back from a UFC Fight Night in England. Both Edwards and Masvidal competed on the card with Masvidal facing Darren Till in the main event.

Masvidal knocked out Till while Edwards won a decision over Gunnar Nelson earlier in the evening. When Masvidal was doing his post-fight interview with ESPN, Edwards walked by and said they should fight in July (2019).

Masvidal replied which caused Edwards to tell Masvidal to, “Shut up.” After Edwards said that, Masvidal approached him and the two had an exchange. Masvidal caught Edwards clean a couple of times and bloodied up the British welterweight.

Ever since then, these two have been jawing back-and-forth, but the UFC has never made the fight. Edwards has called for it over the last couple of years, but Masvidal took fights with Ben Askren and Nate Diaz before getting a couple of title shots.

Will the UFC make this fight happen?

Recently, the UFC has been trying to put this fight together. However, Edwards is wanting to wait for a title shot. Edwards is 9-0, 1 NC in his last ten appearances inside the octagon and believes he should get a shot at Kamaru Usman.

In all honesty, Edwards does have a point. However, Usman is currently booked to rematch with Colby Covington in November which as Edwards on the sidelines. Masvidal has said he’s interested in fighting Edwards, but Edwards has maintained he wanted to wait.

However, he changed his tune a bit today. Edwards told Ariel Helwani that he’d definitely fight Masvidal if they could fight in November. Apparently, the Masvidal camp has been pushing the UFC for December or January.

Edwards wants to try and line up with the welterweight title fight to not delay his shot any further. At this point, there is no word on if Masvidal’s camp is interested in taking the fight in November.

Masvidal recently called out Edwards on Twitter for dodging a fight with him. Well, Edwards has now made it clear that he will fight Masvidal if they fight before the end of the year. We will have to see how this plays out, but I wouldn’t rule the UFC setting this one up.

Reunion with Frank Vogel? Lakers interested in Monta Ellis

After working out with the Houston Rockets and Dallas Mavericks, Monta Ellis has received another interest from a contender in the Western Conference.

Los Angeles Lakers have reached out to Ellis‘ business manager Derrius Nelson of Dagger Basketball Agency, who quickly arranged a conference call with his client Monday.

“I told them that Tae is not big on being a star anymore. He’s been there already,” Nelson told Empire Sports Media. “His [possible] addition can make them one of the best LA Lakers teams to go down in history. With Tae being there, it would be crazy!”

“Derrius, that’s why I’m calling because I know what type of player Monta is. I was a huge fan of him; his [past] works and the time he put in the NBA override a lot of guys that’s been coming to work out because he is reliable,” the Lakers representative was quoted as saying to Nelson. 

Ellis has previously played under Lakers coach Frank Vogel in Indiana. In his lone season under Vogel, Ellis averaged 13.8 points and 4.7 assists.

Vogel appreciated Ellis’ transformation from a big-time scorer into more of a playmaker, embracing the Pacers’ ball movement during their time together.

“He came in here with the reputation of being a big-time scorer, and we’ve been overwhelmed with his ability to pass the basketball [and] to create. That’s what’s been most impressive to me, so I think we’re using him more in that regard rather than just asking him to go score,” Vogel said in 2016.

He settled in nicely with his then newfound role as the veteran leader of a young Pacers team that featured a 25-year old Paul George entering his prime. Ellis was instrumental in helping the Pacers pushed the more experienced Toronto Raptors to seven games in the first round of the 2016 NBA Playoffs. He averaged 11.6 points and 4.3 assists in that series.

“I think it’s who he is,” said Vogel. “First of all, he’s got great will and determination to win. I think he recognizes that we’ve still got a fairly young team — a team where a lot of guys are either young or in new roles. He’s helped a lot of these guys with his experience — sharing his experiences.”

“Monta is at a point in his career where scoring 25 points or 20 points isn’t the most important thing to him. What’s most important to him is winning every night. That’s a blessing and welcome thing for a head coach — to have a guy who is just going to go out and do whatever it takes to win a game. If he scores four points and we win, he’s happy. If we need [him] to go out and get 20, 25 points to help us win, that’s what he’s going to try and go out to do. I love that he’s all about winning right now,” Vogel added.

But after Vogel’s contract was not renewed at the end of the season, Ellis quickly fell out of favor as the Pacers decided to go in a different direction. Nate McMillan was hired to lead the rebuilding process. A season later, the Pacers traded away Paul George and stretched Ellis’ remaining years of his contract.

Now 35, Ellis said in a previous exclusive interview with Empire Sports Media that he still has it. He trained under top NBA trainer Joe Abunassar to prepare for this comeback attempt, and so far, it yielded two workouts and possibly three more with the Lakers one of them.

Five years since their first team-up, Ellis and Vogel’s paths could meet again, with the Lakers stacking up veterans for another possible title run. Currently, the Lakers have 13 players on guaranteed contracts. They also have two players in undrafted rookies Mac McClung and Chaundee Brown on Exhibit 10 deals and a pair of two-way players in rookies Joel Ayayi and Austin Reeves. 

Follow this writer on Twitter: @alderalmo

New York Giants: Andrew Thomas’s season off to a stellar start

New York Giants, Andrew Thomas

The New York Giants are 0-2 with a ton of negativity and pessimism surrounding the team. After the Giants’ Week Two Thursday Night loss, Giants fans are down in the dumps. A huge shadow of darkness has shrouded this team for the better part of three years now. However, every now and then, some glimpses of light shine through. One of those shining lights after two weeks of the 2021 NFL season is left tackle Andrew Thomas.

When Dave Gettleman was hired as general manager of the Giants in 2018, he vowed to fix the offensive line. In 2020, Gettleman made significant moves to deliver on that promise. Most notably, the Giants drafted Georgia left tackle Andrew Thomas with the fourth overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft.

Andrew Thomas’s rookie season was filled with inconsistency. Fans set the expectations high for the Giants’ top-five pick and he did not always deliver. However, he did flash great potential at times last season and looked forward to building on those good performances in 2021.

In the 2021 preseason, fans started to panic when Andrew Thomas struggled in the exhibition season’s finale. But after two weeks in the regular season, Andrew Thomas looks like a brand new player.

Andrew Thomas through two weeks

Andrew Thomas’s sophomore season is off to a strong start. To kick the year off, Thomas put together a top-notch performance against the Denver Broncos. On 43 pass-blocking snaps versus Denver, Thomas allowed 0 sacks (PFF). He also allowed only 2 pressuress in that game.

Andrew Thomas’s Week Two performance built on what he accomplished in Week one. Once again, Andrew Thomas allowed only 2 pressures in Week Two, this time on 38 pass-blocking snaps. Check out this phenomenal pass set below:

Daniel Jones seems to feel safe and comfortable with Andrew Thomas protecting his blindside. If he can continue to play at this level, Andrew Thomas will prove the doubters wrong and prove himself to have been a good selection in the 2020 NFL Draft.

New York Jets: 3 silver linings from another loss to New England

robert saleh, jets

The New York Jets’ 11th consecutive defeat at the hands of the New England Patriots saw several optimistic causes slip through the cracks.

The New England Patriots beat the New York Jets in front of a crowd of disgruntled metropolitan football fans…yes, folks, New York City is back.

New England’s Empire may be over…its destruction brought about by the loss of its superweapon Tom Brady…but it has retained control of the East Rutherford system through a perfect three-game slate over the last two seasons. That includes Sunday’s 25-6 triumph at MetLife Stadium, one that provided the rudest of introductions to whatever lingers of the Jets-Patriots rivalry to Zach Wilson, he of four interceptions in the defeat.

It’s often hard for the Jets to glean anything positive out of get-togethers with the Patriots, who have now won 11 in a row over Gang Green. Eight of those defeats have come by multiple possessions and the Jets (0-2) have yet to earn a regulation win over New England in their modern MetLife-sponsored home since the original staging in 2010. The 19-point loss provided more or less the same heartbreak New York has been accustomed to over the last decade.

Yet, Sunday’s defeat somehow featured several unique bastions of hope in the midst of another defeat…

Get Carter (More Touches)

The Jets’ run game enjoyed a significant boost on Sunday: not only did it triple its yardage output from opening weekend at Carolina (45 to 152, besting its total in all but one game from last season), it did so without the offensive line assistance of Mekhi Becton.

Jets running backs averaged nearly 4.8 yards per carry on Sunday, which could come up big for the developing offense as Wilson still seeks to solve the NFL game. Ty Johnson, for example, maintained his brand of New York consistency (50 yards on 12 carries) while Tevin Coleman burst up the middle for a 17-yard carry in the second quarter.

But Jets management is likely enthused by the progress Michael Carter made on Sunday. Carter, the team’s fourth-round pick from last spring, is expected to pull away from the Jets’ current committee set up and flourished in an expanded role against the Patriots. The 88 yards he tallied from scrimmage were most for a green rookie rusher since Elijah McGuire in 2017 (93).

With five interceptions over his first two games, Wilson could for looking for some non-aerial antics to assist him as he gets further absconsed into the Jets’ offense. The rise of Carter can help the Jets build some much-needed, sustainable offensive momentum.

Defensive Fine

For all the concerns about the Jets’ defense in the early going, the unit has held its own in the early going. The 19-point disadvantage seems ugly to the naked eye but the Jets have lingered in their defeats far longer than should’ve been possible thanks to some strong adaptation by the defense. Wilson’s turnovers should’ve buried the Jets but the defense kept the damage relatively in check, yielding 16 points from the four turnovers.

The Jets’ young secondary group limited attacks from New England’s receivers, as it was once again mostly running back assistance that sank their efforts. James White was a menace on both the ground and through the air, tallying 65 yards on 11 touches. Nothing more needs to be said about the 26-yard rushing touchdown from Damien Harris that dragged several Jets defenders in the end zone.

But the secondary assistance was very reliable, limiting opposing wideouts to only 69 yards on nine receptions, limiting rookie Mac Jones to mostly dink-and-dunk strategies. The pass rush also drastically improved, earning three sacks of Jones in the first half (Marcus Maye, John Franklin-Myers, and Sheldon Rankins being the lucky recipients). New England’s 260-yard output was Patriots’ worst tally against the Jets since 2014. New York could also take faith in a strong performance from C.J. Mosley, who earned 10 tackles in defeat and once against finished a Jets game without incident.

The former Raven was particularly enthused by a late defensive stand by the Jets on the Patriots’ final possession of the afternoon. New England was situated only 25 yards away from the end zone after a turnover on downs but earned only a Nick Folk field goal to create the final margin.

“I know it looks familiar to a lot of people, but I can assure you that this is not the same team. We’re always going to show resilience, we’re always going to battle,” Mosley said, per team reporter Randy Lange. “That’s the picture I try to paint. Even on that goal-line stand at the end, it was all heart for us. In the locker room, we told ourselves we had a great week of preparation, everybody came into this game confident. Now we’ve got to take it to the next level. It’s not on the coaches. It’s on the players wearing the uniform.”

BB’s Great

The Jets’ offense was mostly stuck in reverse thanks to Wilson’s turnovers, but has another reliable receiving threat emerged?

While Jamison Crowder continues to recover from a bout with COVID-19 and a little more uncertainty has emerged around Denzel Mims (a healthy scratch for Sunday’s defeat), Braxton Berrios has picked up the slack.

It would’ve been easy for Berrios to get lost in the receiving fold after the arrivals of Davis, Keelan Cole, and Elijah Moore (who hinted at his powers with 47 yards on a quartet of receptions), but the third-year is making a name for himself. Through two games, Berrios is the Jets’ leading receiver with 124 yards on 12 receptions. That includes a career-best 73-yard showing on Sunday while New England locked down Corey Davis. Berrios has also been a reliable prescience on special teams, as his 23.8-yard average kick return ranks 10th amongst players with at least two attempts. His 38-yard runback in the first half set up the Jets’ first of two field goals of the afternoon.

While both Cole and Moore seem poised to take over in the slot if/when Crowder departs next offseason, Berrios’ development is worth keeping an eye on. The former Patriots previously described himself as a “Swiss Army Knife” in a report from team writer Ethan Greenberg.

“I have everything to work on,” Berrios said in January. “I think there is no one harder on me than m, and I’d like to keep it that way. I truly have everything to work on as a receiver, as a football player in general. Truly, I’m looking forward to doing that and coming back an all-around better player.”

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags 

The New York Yankees need to clean house in the offseason

Heading into this last weekend, the New York Yankees were feeling pretty good. They had a dominant win on Friday night while the Blue Jays lost which put them a half game ahead for the second wild card spot.

The Yankees had Luis Gil and Gerrit Cole scheduled to start over the weekend so you felt pretty good as a fan that they’d win the series. Well, The Indians, who have been no-hit three times in 2021 alone, scored 22 runs in two games.

The powerful Yankees offense which flexed it’s muscles on Friday once again went cold and only mustered four runs total in those two games. Yes, that means that an under 500 club who has been no-hit three times outscored the Yankees 22-4 in two games over the weekend in the middle of a playoff race.

This series with Cleveland was this season wrapped up in one series for New York. One big step forward on Friday and two giant steps back over the weekend. Now, the Yankees have a less than 30% chance to make the playoffs according to the latest odds. Keep in mind, they were near 95% just a few weeks ago.

Yankees Need Change

Aaron Boone looked visibly frustrated after the game and called the two-games, “Terrible.” Outside of that response, we got the same cookie-cutter speech that we’ve seen all year. It was, ‘The players tried hard, the effort was good, the execution just wasn’t there.’

This Yankees team has all the talent in the world, but half the time, they play like they don’t have a care in the world. There is no fire with this team and they play like a team that’s massively up in the division race opposed to a team that’s fighting for their lives.

At the mid-way point in the season, Hal Steinbrenner blamed the players for the inconsistency. Yes, it is the players that are the ones who go out there every single day and play. However, it’s the little things that fall back on the manager and the coaches. The little things are what have killed them this year.

I hate to break it to Aaron Boone, but the effort has not been good with this team. The players don’t look like they try hard all the time. The only player you could say that gives it all in every single game and plate appearance is Brett Gardner.

There is no fire or motivation with this team and that falls back on Aaron Boone. Yes, the Yankees have dealt with injuries and Covid throughout the season. However, when you look at the players that have still taken the field, they shouldn’t be in the position they’re in.

Time to Refresh

A few years ago, the Yankees didn’t bring Joe Girardi back and brought in Aaron Boone. With Boone, you had a completely different managerial philosophy. You had an analytically driven team with a manager that cared more about protecting players feelings than saying it like it is.

Say what you want about Joe Girardi, but if he was managing the Yankees this year, you wouldn’t have had those cookie-cutter press conference responses and I guarantee you that players would be held accountable.

There is no accountability and that’s a massive issue. When there’s no accountability, the players have no reason to worry which has been a big problem for the Yankees. Gary Sanchez is the perfect example of this.

In the last couple of weeks, Sanchez made one of the worst plays I’ve ever seen as a catcher in a game against the Mets. I’m not exaggerating in saying that it might’ve been the worst play I’ve ever seen. Then over the weekend, he drops a crucial pop-up that leads to a seven run inning for Cleveland.

Think the Yankees catcher felt like he was going to get in trouble or benched for that? Absolutely not. When there’s no accountability, players let things like that roll off their shoulders. They know they will be given another chance.

Boone would rather give a million chances to Sanchez than bench him to send the message that this team needed. I’ll say this about Brian Cashman, he did his job this year at the deadline. He gave the Yankees more tools (Outside of the human garbage can Andrew Heaney) to win and they still couldn’t do it.

Boone might be the nicest guy in the world, but it’s time for a new look. They need someone with fire and not occasional fire towards the umpires. They need someone who will lay into his team if they are not playing up to their standards. It’s clear that Aaron Boone isn’t that guy.

Will they do anything?

My biggest fear is that Hal Steinbrenner will not do anything after this season. I have a great fear that they will come out and blame the players and not change anything with the Yankees staff.

Assuming they go on to miss the playoffs, there is no reason to keep Boone as the manager. Could it be slightly unfair considering the fact that he’s not playing? Maybe, but in professional sports, when the players don’t play up to their abilities consistently, the manager/coach is on the hook.

It’s time to send a message. The Yankees are now going to be 12 years removed from their last World Series championship. What they’ve done has clearly not worked and it’s time for some accountability. Enough is enough.

Looking back on Joseph Benavidez’s UFC career

Joseph Benavidez, UFC

This last week, one of the best fighters in the history of the UFC‘s flyweight division announced his retirement. That fighter was Joseph Benavidez (28-8). Benavidez announced that he was walking away from the sport following a recent three-fight skid.

When it comes to the good guys of the game, Joseph Benavidez is one of those guys. A guy that always showed up, never made excuses, and did things the right way. That’s why he was such a fan-favorite and why the UFC cherished him.

Benavidez first burst onto the scene in the WEC in the bantamweight division. At the time, the lowest weight class that he could compete at was 135 pounds. Like Demetrious Johnson, Benavidez made it work despite being much smaller than the competition.

He rose to the top of the WEC and challenged Dominick Cruz for the bantamweight title. Ultimately, Benavidez fell short. After moving over the UFC, the promotion announced that they would be adding the flyweight division. This was a natural fit for Benavidez.

Benavidez’s run at flyweight

Benavidez competed in the inaugural flyweight title fight against one of the greatest of all time, Demetrious Johnson. It was a very competitive fight with Johnson just edging Benavidez by split decision to win the UFC flyweight title.

After that loss, Benavidez went on a three-fight win streak to get another shot at Johnson and the flyweight title. This time, Johnson stopped Benavidez in the first round to retain the flyweight title.

After that loss, Benavidez was in a weird spot. To the eyes of many, he was clearly the second best flyweight in the UFC. However, after losing to the champion twice, it was hard for him to get another crack at the belt.

After the second loss to Johnson, Benavidez would go 9-1 in his next ten fights. The lone loss being a split decision to Sergio Pettis who is now the Bellator bantamweight champion. During that stretch, Benavidez defeated former two-division UFC champion Henry Cejudo.

End of the road and his UFC legacy

That stretch brought Benavidez to 2020 and a showdown with Deiveson Figueiredo. Johnson was no longer in the UFC and Benavidez was set to fight Figueiredo for the vacant flyweight title.

Figueiredo stopped Benavidez in the second round of their first fight, but since he didn’t make weight, the UFC called for an immediate rematch. Benavidez was given another shot, but again fell short against Figueiredo.

After that loss, Benavidez suffered a decision loss to Askar Askarov which prompted this retirement and the end to an incredibly underrated career. Make no mistake about it, Joseph Benavidez is one of the best to ever do it in the lighter weight divisions.

Critics will want to point to the fact that he went winless in UFC title fights. However, his resume still speaks for itself. He beat some of the best and really only lost to the best in the world. Hats off to Joseph Benavidez and his incredible career. Truly one of the good guys of the sport.

After sensational performance at UFC Vegas 37, what’s next for Ion Cutelaba?

Ion Cutelaba

This past Saturday in the co-main event of UFC Vegas 37, we saw a light heavyweight showdown between Ion Cutelaba (16-6-1, 1 NC) and Devin Clark (12-6). Both of these light heavyweight contenders were looking to bounce back after recent losses.

Cutelaba was actually coming off of a draw heading into UFC Vegas 37. The last time we had seen Cutelaba prior to Saturday night was back in May when he fought to a draw with Dustin Jacoby.

That night, Cutelaba started out extremely fast and scored a 10-8 first round. However, he completely gassed and lost the final two rounds leading to the judges calling the fight a draw.

I was very worried about Cutelaba’s cardio heading into his fight with Devin Clark. In fact, the cardio issues are why I picked Clark to squeak by and get a decision win at UFC Vegas 37, however, I was dead wrong.

In the opening round, Cutelaba nearly finished Clark after dropping him with a big shot. The rest of the fight, Cutelaba continued pushing forward and taking Clark to the ground. In the end, Cutelaba won a lopsided decision win to get back on track.

What’s next after UFC Vegas 37?

This was a big win for Cutelaba as he hadn’t won a fight since September of 2019 in the UFC. He was finished twice by Magomed Ankalaev and then had the draw against Jacoby a few months ago.

He looked incredibly impressive on Saturday and he looked like the contender we thought he could be. The question now becomes, who should the UFC pair him with next after that victory?

Well, we have to remember that Cutelaba was in the top fifteen not too long ago. He looked like a top fifteen fighter on Saturday night. I think the UFC should look at top fifteen guys for “The Hulk’s” next fight.

A few guys to keep in mind are Paul Craig (15-4-1), Jimmy Crute (12-2), and Jamahal Hill (8-1, 1 NC). Hill and Crute are set to fight each other in December. Both are in the rankings and coming off losses. Whoever wins could be a good opponent for Cutelaba.

Craig is also around the same spot in the rankings and he needs a new opponent. He was originally supposed to fight Alexander Gustafsson next, but that fight fell through. A fight between Cutelaba and Craig would be interesting for the UFC fans who love grappling. This could be a potential matchup to watch out for.

After dominant win at UFC Vegas 37, what’s next for Anthony Smith?

Anthony Smith

This past Saturday in the main event of UFC Vegas 37, we saw a light heavyweight showdown between Anthony “Lionheart” Smith (36-16) and Ryan Spann (19-7). For Smith, he was trying to turn away another up and coming contender.

Lionheart was at the peak of the UFC‘s light heavyweight division entering 2020. However, two rough losses shuffled him back in the pack and there were a lot of questions regarding the desire of Smith to compete on the highest level.

The UFC decided to book him against some of the younger contenders to see where he was at. As a result, Smith went on a two-fight rampage where he stopped by Devin Clark and Jimmy Crute in the first round.

That said, the UFC decided to give Smith another tough rising contender this past Saturday in Ryan Spann. Once again, Smith answered the call in completely dominating fashion.

From the opening bell, Smith completely outclassed Ryan Spann. Lionheart dropped Spann multiple times before getting his back and submitting him in the first. It was the third straight first round finish for Lionheart in the UFC.

What’s next after UFC Vegas 37?

Make no mistake about it, Lionheart is back near the top of the UFC’s light heavyweight division after Saturday night. He did what the promotion asked in scaling back the competition to reset his career.

Out of this, Smith looks better than ever. His striking looks incredibly crisp and his ground game looks tremendous as he’s secured two submissions. After his win on Saturday, there was one light heavyweight that he called out.

That man is Aleksandar Rakic (14-2). Rakic is currently the UFC’s third ranked light heavyweight contender. Smith and Rakic fought last year with Rakic winning a dominant decision.

Now, you might ask why the UFC would rebook these two after Smith was dominated last year by Rakic? Well, they would for a couple of reasons. The first reason being that this looks like a completely different Lionheart.

Lionheart looks more motivated than ever and he looks more dangerous than ever. The second reason is that Rakic really failed to impress the UFC with his last performance. He defeated Thiago Santos, but nobody was excited about the fight or his victory.

With that, he lost a little steam. Rakic said on Twitter that he’s ready to go for a fight in December. Smith responded in the Octagon saying, “Merry Christmas to me.” This definitely looks like the direction the UFC should and will go next for Lionheart.