Here is what’s at stake at GLORY 79: Collision 3 this weekend

Fresh off the heels of a historic boxing trilogy bout between two legendary fighters in their prime, the combat sports world will get yet another contest of the sort when Rico Verhoeven (58-10, 15 KO’s) and Jamal Ben Saddik (36-8, 29 KO’s) square off this Saturday at GLORY 79: Collision 3 in the Netherlands.

Aptly named, this kickboxing spectacle is sure to arise goosebumps among the hardcore fight fans that make up Glory’s target audience. Founded in 2012, the GLORY kickboxing organization is looking to grab more of a hold of the combat sports space and is well on its way with a massive event such as this.

Making this fight most interesting – even on top of the top 0.1% skill-level – is the utter disdain these two fighters share for each other both inside and outside of the ring. Having each finished each other during their two prior fights, this contest boasts massive stakes that is sure to further propel the winner toward even bigger stardom.

The current champion, Rico Verhoeven, is currently riding an unheard-of 14-fight winning streak into Saturday night’s bout and is a staggering 21-1 inside the GLORY promotion, overall. In a standup sport where the masterful skill levels of the fighters is so close, reeling off that type of win streak is unparalleled.

On the other side, Jamal Ben Saddik is one of the few men (and was the first, overall) on planet earth that to claim a stoppage win over Verhoeven, while having also knocked out the promotion (and in effect, the world)’s #2-ranked heavyweight in Benjamin Adegbuyi in his last fight. A winner of four in a row in his own right, Ben Saddik is coming off of a three-year layoff having not fought since 2018.

Still, Rico Verhoeven will have his hands full, and then some, against Ben Saddik and the monster right hand he carries with him into each and every fight. At any moment, Ben Saddik is liable to land a flush straight right that can end Rico’s night, yet, Verhoeven surely has the advantage in terms of overall technique and stamina.

Overall, Ben Saddik carries with him a freakish 80% career finishing rate, while Verhoeven’s 22% knockout rate is more representative of a fighter that is looking to be in it for the long haul and win on points — it is a clash of styles, to be sure.

‘The Goliath’ (Jamal Ben Saddik) did not get his nickname for no reason, as the Morocan native stands 6’9” and weighs in around 275 pounds, typically. At 6’5” 265 pounds, Rico Verhoeven, commonly known as ‘The King of Kickboxing’ is rarely the smaller man in the cage. Most believe that Ben Saddik will have to finish this one early to have a chance (he KO’D Rico in the 1st round of their first fight), with his chance of victory dropping in each of the rounds to follow.

‘The Goliath’ is a last-minute replacement of sorts, as former UFC star Alistair Overeem was originally scheduled to make his much anticipated promitional debut for GLORY but was forced to pull out due to injury.

Fans around the globe are not complaining, however, as the bad blood in this bout is palpable, while it will help settle the even 1-1 score between the (basically) undisputed two best heavyweights in the world.

The main card begins at 2PM EST and you can buy the event here for $24.99. The preliminary card will be available for free starting at 12PM EST here on Youtube, amongst other platforms.

New York Giants: Jabrill Peppers nonchalant about potential trade

New York Giants, Jabrill Peppers

New York Giants safety Jabrill Peppers didn’t have much to say to the press on Wednesday.

Peppers kept his statements to few words, not giving up much that could become sound bite material. That included not giving a strong response leaning one way or the other when asked about the chance of a trade happening.

“I just want to win, baby. I want to make plays, go out there and win ball games,” Peppers told reporters when asked if he expects to remain in New York after the trade deadline.

At this point, given his contract and given the way the season is going, it looks like trading Peppers is a no-brainer for the Giants.

Peppers becomes an unrestricted free agent next year, and the Giants will have to either pay him or lose him for nothing. Based on the current cap situation and Peppers’ declining role on the field, there’s likely little to no chance that the Giants sign him to a new deal.

The Giants have underperformed since the season started, and recent injuries have made the situation worse. At the trade deadline, they look like a selling team and few players seem truly safe if the Giants do take a selling approach.

With that being said, it still remains unknown if the Giants can get a good deal for Peppers.

The rest of the league also knows that Peppers becomes an unrestricted free agent next year, and his problems in coverage and hamstring issues may make him a less attractive trade target.

For now, Peppers seems focused on football. But as his presence isn’t what it was last season, it’s unclear how much longer the safety will spend in these surroundings.

UFC: Paulo Costa’s steep fall from grace continues

It’s rough being a Paulo Costa fan these days; believe me, I would know. Yes, there is once again drama ahead of the polarizing UFC star’s main-event fight this weekend.

Less than 13 full months after facing 185-pound king Isreal Adesanya, the public narrative on Paulo ‘The Eraser’ Costa (13-1, 5-1 UFC) has shifted from one centering around a tantalizing fighter and personality to him being entitled, overrated, and an excuse maker amongst UFC fans. To be sure, Costa has brought most of this criticism on himself.

After storming into the UFC as a blue-chip, 8-0 prospect back in 2017, ‘The Eraser’ went on to score KO finishes in each of his first four contests with the promotion: That kept alive a 100% finishing rate that Costa had racked up during his first eight fights outside the UFC. In his 5th UFC fight, ‘Borrachinha’ and (former) perennial 185-pound contender Yoel Romero went at it in a true fight of the year contender that saw Costa eke out a close – yet exciting – decision.

Costa headed into the legit super-fight with ‘Izzy’ heavily respected by both UFC fans, and Las Vegas oddsmakers (he was just a short +155 underdog) alike. What happened next shocked most onlookers, as even those who believed ‘The Last Stylerbender’ would win the bout could not have envisioned Costa’s timidness.

The rare matchup between two undefeated fighters in their prime did not live up to the hype, namely because Paulo Costa looked like he didn’t belong in the octagon with Adesanya. After the fight, he famously blamed his performance on the fact that he drank too much wine the night before. He went on to say that he was only at “10-20% of his capabilities” and the fans would see the old Costa in the near future.

It’s been over a year now and that still has not happened, with Costa declining to take anything less than what he feels is a bout that will catapult him right into another title shot. Twice, proposed fights between Costa and top-five ranked middleweights have been scrapped since then and he has done himself no favors when he has decided to speak with the media.

And, even though he’s gotten what he’s asked for with this Saturday’s upcoming contest with #5-ranked middleweight Marvin ‘The Italian Dream’ Vettori (17-5-1, 7-3-1 UFC), the whole thing now has a stinky smell to it now that he came out on Wednesday and admitted he currently weighed a full 25 pounds over the 185-pound limit and that he would not be able to make the weight in time.

No reason – legitimate or otherwise – was given to reporters who flooded the 30-year-old with questions as to how, or why, this happened. Instead, Costa shifted the honus for the fight still happening on Vettori, simply stating the fight would happen, “if this guy still wants to fight me.”

Talk about gaslighting.

New terms for UFC Fight Night: Costa vs. Vettori

As of Thursday afternoon, the much-heralded fight will go on, but now at a 195-pound catchweight (an agreed-upon weight at a non-traditional weight ‘class’). Paulo Costa will also be fined 20% of his purse, a standard practice when a fighter misses weight, which he was obviously set to do at Friday’s weigh-ins.

‘The Eraser’ has uncharacteristically short arms for the middleweight division and many have argued that he has only been so successful because he is essentially a light-heavyweight fighting a full 20 pounds under his true fighting weight. For the most part, actually making the scale has not been an issue for Costa in his UFC career, although he has ballooned up to crazy-high weights on fight night after re-hydrating.

Now, the focus will shift to whether or not Costa will even be able to make the new 195-pound limit. Vettori has been a good sport about the whole ordeal but noted that he still wanted Costa to have to ‘suffer a little bit’ in addition to forfeiting a chunk of his purse.

Unfortunately for Costa, even if he does score a terrific knockout victory over ‘The Italian Dream’ now, the victory will be marred by yet another Paulo Costa failure.

Sizing up the Bellator Light Heavyweight Grand Prix Finale

Last weekend at Bellator 268 we saw the two semifinal matchups in the Light Heavyweight Grand Prix. In the co-main event, Corey Anderson (16-5) took on former light heavyweight champion Ryan Bader (28-7).

Meanwhile the main event consisted of Vadim Nemkov (15-2) defending his Bellator title against the alternate, Julius Anglickas (10-2). In the first matchup, Corey Anderson made quick work of Ryan Bader.

In a matchup that was supposed to be incredibly competitive, it was anything but. Anderson landed a big right hand in the opening minute and quickly stopped the Bellator heavyweight champion to punch his ticket to the finals.

The main event was the fight that surprised me the most. Nemkov was a massive favorite to successfully defend his Bellator title against Anglickas. However, it was Anglickas who struck first by dropping and hurting the champion.

Nemkov was able to weather the storm and hold on despite being hurt badly. Ultimately in the fourth round, Nemkov was able lock in a submission and get the win which booked his next title defense against Corey Anderson.

Bellator Grand Prix Finals

Last year, Corey Anderson was knocking on the door of a UFC title shot. He didn’t get that shot after he was knocked out by Jan Blachowicz and let go from his UFC contract after he requested a release. Anderson was signed by Bellator almost immediately.

Upon signing with Bellator, many thought Anderson would get an immediate title shot. However, that’s not what the promotion had in mind. Anderson dominated Melvin Manhoef in his debut before the promotion put together this Grand Prix.

When the Grand Prix was put together, the two best light heavyweights were being looked at as Anderson and Nemkov. Well, we will now see this highly anticipated matchup in the Bellator Grand Prix finals.

It’s going to be an interesting battle and whoever wins might just have a claim as the best light heavyweight in the world and not just in Bellator. Granted, Jan Blachowicz might have a lot to say about that. Either way, I’m incredibly intrigued and excited for this finale.

New York Rangers: Morgan Barron set to make season debut

morgan barron, rangers

Barron, a sixth-round pick from the 2017 draft, is set to make his season debut when the New York Rangers visit Nashville tonight.

Reports from New York Rangers practice indicate that center/left winger Morgan Barron will make his 2021-22 season debut when the Blueshirts battle the Nashville Predators on Thursday night (8 p.m. ET, MSG). Barron’s presumed arrival stems from a report from Newsday’s Colin Stephenson, which indicated that Julian Gauthier, Libor Hajek, and Jarred Tinordi were set to be the team’s healthy scratches.

Barron was the Rangers’ sixth-round pick in the 2017 draft (174th overall), chosen through a pick acquired from San Jose. He made his NHL debut through five games with the team last season, earning his first Ranger goal on May 5 against Washington after earning 21 points in 21 games with AHL Hartford. Barron added two further goals in a pair of games with the Wolf Pack this year including the game-winner in last Friday’s season-opening win over Bridgeport.

A Nova Scotia native and Cornell alum, Barron was called up after Kaapo Kakko left last Saturday’s win over Montreal with an upper-body injury. Kakko has since been placed on injured reserve while the Rangers (2-1-1) are also missing Ryan Strome, who remains in COVID-19 protocol.

Barron has earned praise for his leadership abilities, which were prominently displayed as a captain at both Cornell and St. Andrew’s College in Ontario. He’ll likely appear on the Rangers’ fourth line as on the left wing alongside Ryan Reaves and centered by Greg McKegg.

In other roster news, Igor Shesterkin is expected to make his fourth consecutive start after missing last week’s season opener, per USA Today’s Vince Z. Mercogliano. Shesterkin made 40 saves in Monday’s 2-1 overtime win in Toronto and will be making his first career start against Nashville (1-2-0).

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags

New York Yankees News: Yankees lose another coach

The New York Yankees announced today that they are losing first base coach Reggie Willits whose contract is up in December. According to Lindsey Adler, Willits is leaving the organization to be a volunteer assistant coach at the University of Oklahoma. Willits spent his entire playing career in the outfield with the Los Angeles Angels.

The New York Yankees hired Willits in 2015 to be their outfield and baserunning coordinator. He was promoted to first base coach for the 2018 season, where he has served for the last four years. It is a bit surprising that he is leaving for a non-paying job as he is only 40 years old. However, he is returning home to Oklahoma, where he met his wife Amber in the sixth grade. They both attended the University of Oklahoma, where they were married. They have three children and live at the Double 7 Ranch. With Willits departure, he adds his name to three other coaches that will not be returning for the 2022 season.

Even before the end of the World Series, the New York Yankees have already made some significant changes to the staff. Hitting coach Marcus Thames will not be returning in 2022. Also, highly thought off third base coach Phil Nevin will also not have his contract renewed after a terrible mistake ushering Aaron Judge home and being called out by at least twelve feet. ESPN has also reported that Assistant Hitting Coach P. J. Pilittere’s contract will not have his contract renewed either.

It’s no secret that the Yankees had a darn awful hitting season going long stretches not hitting, and it appears that the Yankees hitting coaches are paying the price. During the offseason, the Yankee organization will have to develop a brand new hitting department that hopefully can correct that deficiency. With the departure of Willits, they will also be looking for a new first and third base coach. Stay tuned to EmpireSportsMedia.com for all the offseason Yankee activity as they look to put together another championship team.

Islanders’ Barry Trotz details how important one youth player is to team’s success

kieffer bellows, islanders

The Islanders have started off the 2021–22 season with just one win over three games. After a 4-1 victory over the Chicago Blackhawks, the offense finally began to click, as Anthony Beauvillier, Cal Clutterbuck, and Oliver Wahlstrom all contributed goals.

A much-needed victory was on the line, and now the team will prepare to take on the Columbus Blue Jackets in the fourth game of the regular season on Thursday evening. With Wahlstrom leading the team with three points and three goals, Columbus presents a team winning two of their first three games but is coming off a 4–1 defeat to the Detroit Red Wings.

The Islanders, though, are still waiting on Anders Lee to make a return, relying on one youth player to pick up the slack in the meantime.

2016 first-round pick, Kieffer Bellows, was inserted into the game against Chicago, playing in about 13 minutes of action. He contributed five hits and one shot on goal. His development and impact will go a long way this season, especially if injuries begin to arise.

“It is [important], not only for our franchise but for every franchise,” said Trotz. “There’s some backside pressure there, which you need. You need it for the salary cap. You need it for freshness and you need it to continue filling spots. You’re always going to lose players over the years.”

Lee was scratched against Chicago, and it is unlikely he takes on Columbus on Thursday with the Islanders, but after he overcomes an illness, Islander fans will be happy to welcome him back with open arms. Of course, the pairing of Lee, Matthew Barzal, and Kyle Palmieri represent the majority of their offense.

However, keep an eye on Bellows this season — more action will help his growth, but in the meantime, look ahead to the impact of Lee’s return,

Knicks’ Obi Toppin puts growth on display in season opener over Boston

obi toppin, knicks

In dramatic fashion, the New York Knicks walked away with an awesome victory over the Boston Celtics to open the season. Led predominantly by Julius Randle and Evan Fournier, who combined for 67 points, four blocks, four steals, and 12 assists, one player who flew under the radar was second-year power forward Obi Toppin.

After struggling in his rookie season to find his path in the NBA, averaging just 4.1 points, 2.2 rebounds, and shooting 50% from the field, Toppin put forth a showing that displayed his growth this off-season. The Dayton product is known for his transition abilities and highflying athleticism, and he showcased some of that skill against Boston, dunking over a number of defenders and continuously shredding their interior defense.

“Man, hearing your name getting chanted in the Garden is amazing,” he said. “It’s an unbelievable experience that I can’t even explain. It’s just something you have to live through.”

With Obi’s name ringing throughout a packed Madison Square Garden, echoing down eighth avenue, following a corridor of buildings as far as the eye can see, the city felt vibrant with the coming of a new team…a new age.

“He’s confident,” Julius Randle said. “He’s just playing to his strengths. All of that is from repetition and work. I’ve seen him work every day, he works extremely hard. You continue Randall had nothing but great things to say about his young teammate, and fellow veteran Kemba walker also indicated that top and change the pace of the game and curated momentum shifting opportunities toto work in this league year after year, you’re going to get better.”

Randle had nothing but great things to say about his young teammate, and fellow veteran Kemba Walker also indicated that Toppin changed the pace of the game and curated momentum-shifting opportunities to demoralize Boston.

“Obi, I thought he changed the pace of the game,” new point guard Kemba Walker said. “He’s a very special talent. He can really run.”

Toppin finished the game with 14 points, one block, five rebounds, and shot 6-of-9 from the field over 28 minutes. While he missed all three of us three-point attempts, his big transition dunks provided a spark of motivation on offense.

If Obi continues to produce at this level and develop, the Knicks will see their 8th overall pick from 2020 reach his potential. Some were skeptical of his talents and how he’d make an impact, but with the right coaching and work ethic, anything is possible.

UFC booking Clay Guida – Leonardo Santos

A UFC fan favorite and legend is gearing up for another sprint to the octagon. Clay Guida (36-21) is returning this December when he takes on lightweight contender Leonardo Santos (18-4-1). The matchup will take place at a Fight Night on December 4th.

Guida was the first to announce on his Instagram that the UFC had booked the matchup between him and Santos. For Santos, he’s going to be looking to bounce back after he suffered his first UFC loss in his last bout.

The last time we saw Santos was when he got stopped by Grant Dawson in the final seconds of the third round. Had that fight gone to the scorecards, Santos would’ve won another decision which would’ve made him 8-0-1 in the UFC.

However, Dawson pulled off the miracle stoppage win and handed Santos his first loss in the octagon. After taking some time off, Santos is ready to get back at it and he’s going to be taking on a UFC Hall of Famer upon his return in December.

UFC Hall of Famer Returns

The legend himself will run to the octagon again on December 4th before getting slapped by his brother and sprinting around the cage. Clay Guida is one of a kind and whenever he gets ready to step into the octagon, there’s a real excitement from UFC fans.

No, Guida doesn’t always have the most entertaining fights. However, there’s something about Guida that’s infectious. The constant movement and the constant ability to keep you on your toes as a fan makes Guida fun to watch.

Over the course of his career, he’s been in there with some of the very best that the UFC has to offer. He’s been in there with former world champions and has big wins over former world champions like Anthony Pettis.

Now, in the twilight of his career, things are starting to slow down for Guida. However, the UFC Hall of Famer isn’t ready to hang things up at all. The last time we saw him was in August when he lost to Mark Madsen by split decision.

Had the decision gone to Guida, he would’ve had two straight UFC wins and might’ve been looking at a ranked fighter next. Well, he is getting a great opponent in Leonardo Santos and this fight should tell us a lot about where Clay Guida is.

Yankees have a massive problem brewing in the starting rotation…again

New York Yankees, Aaron Boone, jameson taillon

The New York Yankees have plenty of problems to solve this off-season, ranging from the shortstop position to the starting pitching rotation. After signing Corey Kluber to one year, $11 million deal and trading for Pittsburgh Pirates starter Jameson Taillon, the Yankees are once again facing an uphill battle at a spot they seemingly solved last offseason.

To no surprise, Kluber suffered a shoulder injury mid-season, allowing him to feature in just 16 games after pitching in 33 back in 2018 with a Cleveland Indians. Without his production and presence, the Yankees struggled in the middle of the campaign, going on lengthy losing streaks to hurt their chances at the postseason.

Taillon also dealt with injury, pitching in 29 games, logging a 4.30 ERA. However, Taillon tore a tendon in his right ankle during the latter portion of the season, which he will get surgery on in the coming weeks.

Taillon is expected to miss a minimum of five months but is expected to return by Opening Day of 2022. The Yankees now have another question to answer, and it will likely involve the front office spending more money.

Current Yankees starting pitchers:

  • Gerrit Cole
  • Domingo German
  • Jameson Taillon
  • Jordan Montgomery
  • Luis Severino

Some may look at this list of starters and see a reason for optimism, but the significant number of injuries they’ve dealt with over the past few seasons and inconsistencies undoubtedly present a problem.

There are free agents on the market, including Zack Greinke, Justin Verlander, Clayton Kershaw, Max Scherzer, Kevin Gausman, and a flurry of lesser options. While targeting some of the top arms would be ideal, the Yankees only have so much money to spend after extending DJ LeMahieu on a significant contract last year.

General manager Brian Cashman may have to push past the $210 million luxury tax threshold, but the Steinbrenner’s feel as though they’ve invested more than enough to build a winning team.