Knicks cast 3-point spell on Magic on historic night


After teasing a new-look offense tailored to the pace and space era in the preseason, it only took two games into the new season before the New York Knicks shattered their three-point record.

The Knicks hit a franchise-record 24 three-pointers en route to a 121-96 rout of a young Orlando Magic team Friday night at the Amway Center.

Eight different players made at least one three-pointer as the Knicks are off to a 2-0 start for the first time in nine years. The Knicks’ first five field goals came from downtown, setting the tone for the record-breaking night.

The 24 three-point shots made broke their previous record of 20, which they did thrice (2011, 2013, and 2018), while the 54 attempts also eclipsed the 51 they threw up in a quadruple overtime loss to Atlanta Hawks on January 29, 2017.

They also made 24 3s in a preseason win against the Washington Wizards two weeks ago. This time, the Knicks made it official.

“I think it’s a reflection of the team playing for each other and just making the right play,” Thibodeau said. “We talked about it a lot of wanting to shoot more 3s, but we want them to be the right 3s. When the second defender comes, guys are making the right read.”

The Magic had no answer to the Knicks’ vaunted offense, which kept on poking holes in their porous defense.

The Knicks had a smooth sailing save for a Mitchell Robinson injury scare and a Julius Randle technical foul.

Robinson clutched his hamstring before Kemba Walker replaced him with 4:19 to go in the third quarter. But the 23-year old Knicks center, who was playing in his third game back from a fractured foot injury, returned to play five more minutes in the fourth quarter.

“It should be fine,” Thibodeau’s curt reply when asked about Robinson’s hamstring.

Randle flirted with a triple-double (21 points, 10 rebounds, 7 assists, and 2 steals) before a technical foul forced Thibodeau to take him out with 4:28 left and the Knicks leading by 32.

Randle shoved Orlando’s Wendell Carter, Jr. after the Magic forward knocked him down in a fastbreak play.

“The one thing that I could assure you is that if I play [Randle] too much, you’ll gonna let me know. If I don’t play him enough, you’ll gonna let me know. And the one thing I know for certain it’s never the right amount,” said a smiling Thibodeau eliciting laughter from the reporters.

Walker went 3-for-3 from downtown in the first stanza, where the Knicks seized a 20-point lead that swelled to as large as 34 in the second half. He wound up with 11 points while his fellow newcomer and former Magic Evan Fournier continued his red-hot shooting with four three-pointers and 18 points.

Obi Toppin picked up from where he left off. The sophomore forward scored 13 points — from fastbreak slams to corner three-pointers — in 24 minutes that electrified the large Knicks crowd who showed up in Orlando.

Veteran guards Derrick Rose and Alec Burks also came off the bench and kept the ball moving. They produced identical numbers — 12 points and seven assists off the bench. The Knicks recorded 34 assists on a staggering 50 percent (44-of-88) shooting from the field.

They will aim to keep their perfect start when the Magic visit them at the Garden on Sunday for a rematch at 7 p.m.

After a quiet season opener, Immanuel Quickley came off the bench and joined the three-point party. Quickley finished with 16 points on 5-of-10 shooting from the field, including 4-for-8 from beyond the arc.

“Everybody loves playing for each other,” Quickley said. “Everybody can make plays. We can all shoot, dribble, pass and we play for each other. That’s the Knicks culture. — play for each other, play hard every night and that’s gonna get the job done.”

So far, job well done.

Welcome to the new era of Knicks basketball.

Follow this writer on Twitter: @alderalmo

New York Giants: John Mara and Jonathan Tisch seen at Friday practice

New York Giants, John Mara, Dave Gettleman

This season, there’s been a lot of calls for the New York Giants’ owners to step up and do something about the state of the team.

Many believe that a frustrating pattern has emerged: the Mara family taking a hands-on role in influencing the team’s decisions, but watching things unfold from a distance without taking accountability for the failures.

The sentiment that John Mara needs to do more has likely reached its highest point this season as the Giants sit at 1-5 going into their latest game.

Fortunately for the fans that are asking for the Maras to do more, things may just be headed in that direction. John Mara and Jonathan Tisch were seen at the practice field on Friday, and reportedly spoke with Joe Judge and Dave Gettleman.

What were the New York Giants owners there for?

Of course, it’s not known publicly what the contents of that conversation were. Based on the current situation, though, it’s not hard to imagine it had something to do with the team’s performance.

While the team ownership has been patient despite the results over the past seasons, even they can’t ignore that it’s gotten bad enough for the players to get booed at home games.

A message to Judge and Gettleman that it’s time to get things together and start winning wouldn’t be a surprise.

The talk could also have to do with the coming trade deadline. It looks like the Giants are a selling team this year, and a large sell-off is the kind of move that usually needs the approval of team owners.

Either way, it’s interesting to see two of the team’s owners coming out to speak to Judge and Gettleman directly.

Their appearance could mean nothing, but as we don’t have much to go on, it’s something worth noting as pressure continues mounting on both the ownership and the staff members.

New York Giants run defense needs to step up on Sunday vs Panthers

New York Giants, Dexter Lawrence

The New York Giants face the Carolina Panthers on Sunday. The Giants (1-5) are playing a superior opponent in the Panthers (3-3). New York has disappointed in every facet of the game this year, but their defense has been an extreme blunder.

The New York Giants have invested a great number of assets into their defensive line. Leonard Williams is signed to a mega-contract. Dexter Lawrence is a former first-round pick lining up opposite Williams. Despite these two great talents, the Giants’ defense has struggled mightily to stop the run this season.

Blake Martinez, a premiere run-defender and the Giants’ best linebacker, is out for the year after suffering a torn ACL in Week Three. New York has not been able to stop the run effectively since then. However, if the Giants want to beat the Panthers on Sunday, they need their run defense to step up.

The New York Giants run defense

The Giants rank 29th in rushing defense through the first six weeks of the season. They will face the Panthers’ offense that ranks 16th in rushing at 109.5 yards per game. Rookie running back Chubba Hubbard will get the start in Carolina’s backfield with Christian McCaffery out.

“You’ll see a vastly different look from us moving forward. We’re not going to line up and drop back and throw it 40 times a game and think that’s going to win the game for us. It hasn’t. So there’s no McCaffrey, Chuba [Hubbard is] showing us he can run the ball at a high level when given enough opportunities.” – Panthers head coach Matt Rhule on the team’s offensive approach.

It is clear what the Carolina Panthers’ gameplan is on Sunday: run the football. Going up against a New York Giants’ defense that is struggling tremendously to defend the run, the Panthers are planning on pounding the rock against New York. If the Giants want to get their second win of the season, they will need their run defense to step up and shut down Chubba Hubbard and the Carolina Panthers.

Knicks big men Nerlens Noel, Taj Gibson out vs Magic

nerlens noel, new york knicks

New York Knicks‘ centers Nerlens Noel and Taj Gibson will not play against the Orlando Magic Friday night, coach Tom Thibodeau told reporters before tipoff.

Noel is still nursing a sore left knee, but Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau said he’s close to returning. He has now missed six straight games dating back to the preseason.

According to Marc Berman of the New York Post, Gibson, who became a father last Tuesday, made the trip to Orlando but will not play for the second straight game.

Thibodeau will likely start Mitchell Robinson, who had a monster season debut (11 points, 17 rebounds, three assists, and two blocks), at center with rookie Jericho Sims backing him up.

Against a very young Orlando team that will start Mo Bamba and Wendell Carter, Jr. in the paint, Thibodeau will have another chance to experiment with the small-ball lineup that was effective against the Boston Celtics.

The Knicks have outscored the Celtics by 12 points during the 16 minutes Julius Randle, and Obi Toppin played together.

Meanwhile, the Orlando Magic will be missing four players led by key players Markelle Fultz (knee) and Jonathan Isaac (knee), who are still recuperating from their injuries. Joining them in the sickbay are Chuma Okeke (hip) and Michael Carter-Williams (ankle).

Follow this writer on Twitter: @alderalmo

Evan Fournier reacts to Knicks fans NSFW viral post-game celebration video

evan fournier, knicks

New York Knicks‘ swingman Evan Fournier is back in Orlando, where he spent his last six-and-a-half seasons in the NBA before he was traded in February.

It was a little surreal for him to enter the Amway Center and proceed to the visitor’s locker room area just for the second time since the trade that sent him to Boston.

Last May, Fournier scored 18 points in his return to Orlando helping the Celtics beat his former team Magic, 132-96.

“It’s a little different for sure. Like last night, you know, in the back of my mind, I was like my house is used to be 15 minutes away [from here]. So I could just go home and do stuff,” Fournier said after the Knicks’ Friday morning shootaround.

“It’s not my life anymore,” he said. “I’ve changed teams. I have a new house, but you know, I had a great time here, and I definitely won’t forget it.”

Fournier’s life on and off the court has changed dramatically in the past seven months bouncing from Orlando to Boston and now New York.

The Frenchman bucket-getter has already endeared himself to the Knicks fanbase just one game into the new season.

Last fall, he could still ride New York’s subway unnoticed. But after a scintillating debut on Wednesday night at the Garden, Fournier won’t be able to even walk around the city without people recognizing him.

‘Google Fournier’ is now vogue after his career-high-tying 32-point performance, which fueled the Knicks’ epic double-overtime win against his former team Boston Celtics.

Yes, he’s the new Knicks swingman and the new crowd’s darling.

And after long wanting to play for the Knicks in the most famous arena, Fournier’s expectation matches reality.

Following his heroic performance on opening night, he re-tweeted the now-viral, expletive-filled Knicks’ fans postgame celebration outside the Madison Square Garden with a caption that said, “What did I get myself into? (laughing emojis).”

“I was laughing my ass off,” Fournier said, referring to the video. “I thought it was hilarious. They’re crazy, but they’re passionate, and you know, as players, that’s what you want. You want a fanbase that’s really pushing you. Like I said in the postgame, the energy that they gave us against the Celtics was a big reason why we won the game.”

Fournier is getting more than what he expected. And after being on the other side — getting boos and jeers from the Knicks fans even in their home games in Orlando — for so long, he’s looking forward to experiencing the Knicks’ fandom on the road.

Fournier hated that feeling where visiting teams’ fans invaded the Amway Center in their home games when he was still a Magic.

“There are a lot of Miami, Boston, New York, and a little bit of [San Antonio] Spurs fans, and it’s a horrible feeling. So now that I’m on the other side, I’m looking forward to it hundred percent,” Fournier said.

Follow this writer on Twitter: @alderalmo

Frazier, Ewing, Reed lead Knicks greats in NBA 75th anniversary team

Five members of the New York Knicks championships teams in the 70s and former franchise cornerstones Patrick Ewing and Carmelo Anthony have been named to the NBA’s 75th Anniversary Team, which was announced across TNT and ESPN from Oct. 19-21 as the league tipped off its landmark 75th Anniversary Season.

Walt “Clyde” Frazier, Willis Reed, Earl Monroe, Dave DeBusschere, and Jerry Lucas, all Hall of Famers, have been part of the last Knicks team to win an NBA championship in 1973. Frazier, Reed, and DeBusschere were also members of the Knicks’ 1970 championship team.

Frazier is the Knicks franchise leader in assists, while Reed was the Finals MVP of the Knicks’ two championships. Reed also won the 1970 regular season MVP. He is best remembered for his gusty Game 7 performance in the 1970 NBA Finals. A hobbling Reed inspired the Knicks to beat old rival Los Angeles Lakers for the title.

Ewing, an 11-time NBA All-Star, was the last no.1 overall selection by Knicks in 1985 and the last player in franchise history to win Rookie of the Year. He is the Knicks’ franchise leader in points and rebounds.

Anthony played his prime years with the Knicks in the last decade. He led the team to its last playoff appearance in 2013 before last season’s feel-good, surprising fourth seed finish in the Eastern Conference.

Other former Knicks players on the list are Jason Kidd and Bob McAdoo.

Kidd played his final NBA season with the Knicks in 2013, but he is best known for his time with the New Jersey Nets and Dallas Mavericks, where he won an NBA championship in 2011.

McAdoo joined the Knicks three years after they won their last NBA championship. He played three seasons with the team alongside Frazier and Monroe. But McAdoo is best remembered for his first four years in the league with the Buffalo Braves (now Los Angeles Clippers), where he won Rookie of the Year in 1973 and NBA MVP in 1975. Later on, he won two championships as a key reserve for the Lakers in 1982 and 1985.

The NBA 75th Anniversary Team was selected by a blue-ribbon panel of current and former NBA players, coaches, general managers, team and league executives, WNBA legends, sportswriters, and broadcasters. 

Voters were asked to select the 75 Greatest Players in NBA History without regard to position. Panelists did not rank their selections. Current and former players were not allowed to vote for themselves.

Follow this writer on Twitter: @alderalmo

Bellator 269 Preview: Fedor Emelianenko – Tim Johnson

Fedor Emelianenko

Tomorrow in the main event of Bellator 269, the legend Fedor Emelianenko (39-6) will be fighting in his home of Russia as he takes on Tim Johnson (15-7). The fight is Fedor’s first matchup in almost two years.

Fedor Emelianenko last made the walk back in December of 2019 at Bellator 237 when he took on Rampage Jackson. Emelianenko was able to pick up the first round knockout that night that moved him to 3-2 overall in Bellator.

It’s no secret that we truly never saw the best version of Emelianenko in the US. The best version of Fedor was the Pride Fedor, but that man is long gone. Now, at 44 years old, we could be looking at the last time that we ever see Fedor compete.

He doesn’t have any easy task in front of him tomorrow in Tim Johnson. Johnson has really turned things around since moving to Bellator. In 2020, he went on a sensational run that saw him go 3-0 with wins over Tyrell Fortune, Matt Mitrione, and Cheick Kongo.

Those wins earned him a shot at the interim Bellator heavyweight title against Valentin Moldavsky. Ultimately, he fell short in that matchup, but he’s still right there in the title picture for the heavyweight crown.

Bellator 269 Prediction

When thinking about this matchup, I think about the Fedor of old. No disrespect to Tim Johnson, but I think about the fact that nobody would even give him a shot against Prime Fedor if Prime Fedor was fighting at Bellator 269.

That said, the man he will be facing tomorrow has shown a suspect chin over his last few fights and I think that could come into play tomorrow night. Fedor Emelianenko has never been a big heavyweight and I think that can hurt him against Tim Johnson.

I’m expecting Johnson to make this fight ugly and try to grapple a bit with Emelianenko. Emelianenko still carries power and definitely carries a speed advantage. However, Johnson has been more active with a tougher schedule as of late. I think the legend gets put down in his home country tomorrow.

Prediction: Tim Johnson by TKO – Round 2

New York Jets: Four goals for the post-bye slate

rob saleh, jets

Though the playoffs are still a pipe dream, there is plenty for the New York Jets to accomplish over the next dozen weeks.

After a one-week reprieve for their beleaguered fanbase, the New York Jets are back in action.

The Gang Green faithful actually enjoyed the last week of NFL football: no other AFC East team picked up a win and Sam Darnold lost in overtime before Jamal Adams and Geno Smith fell in a prime time thriller. Those latter instances allowed the Jets to shoot up the draft board thanks to prior transactions. Entering Week 7 play, the Jets own two picks in the top ten and four within the first 46.

The fortuitous weekend for Jets fans was perhaps unironically assisted by the fact that their team didn’t play a single down, but that gravy train comes to an end on Sunday afternoon. New York (1-4) resumes their season on Sunday, commencing a dozen weeks of uninterrupted gridiron endeavors at Gillette Stadium against the New England Patriots (1 p.m. ET, CBS).

Even though the Jets entered Week 7 play only a game-and-a-half out of the last AFC wild card spot, the playoffs remain a pipe dream. Having said that, there’s plenty for the team to accomplish and plenty of ways for them to feel good about the 2021 season as things get back underway in New England…

zach wilson, jets

Break 30 points

The modern NFL is one that worships offense under the supervision of a deity known as fantasy football. Teams reach point and yardage totals that would make Arena Football League (RIP) teams blush…and still lose.

The Jets have been left behind in this regard: over the past two-plus seasons, they have reached the 30-point plateau in only three games…all of which came in November 2019. That’s tied with Pittsburgh (which has been weighed down by aging and backup quarterbacks) for the second-worst such tally in football and besting only the lowly Jacksonville Jaguars.

Growing pains were to be well-expected with a rookie quarterback in tow. No broadcast of a 2021 Jets game is complete without showcasing the fact that Peyton Manning, for example, threw 28 interceptions during his rookie campaign near the turn of the century. But that doesn’t mean the Jets should wave the white flag on offensive development.

Through five games, it’s tough to make a case that the Jets have generated any form of offensive consistency. Week 4’s upset win over Tennessee, a game that saw the Jets earn their first touchdown in a first half, seemed like a great catalyst, but they followed that up with a brutal half-hour of game time in London before salvaging a respectable final score against the Atlanta Falcons. It’s great that a defense held together by the flimsy tape of draft weekend Saturday acquisitions and late summer camp cuts has held its own, but there’s no need to make a gargantuan task even harder.

Reaching the landmark of 30 points would be a strong step forward for the offense, a nice task to cross off the Zach Wilson NFL to-do list. The Jets need to finally get with the times; doing so sooner rather than later would have all kinds of benefits.

elijah moore, jets

Maximize Mims and Moore

It’s been a long, long time since the Jets have had a homegrown big-play receiver. Robby Anderson had a chance to be that weapon but the Adam Gase era scared him away from further metropolitan efforts. The last realistic option is probably a toss-up between Santana Moss (2001) and Jerricho Cotchery (2004).

Over the past two springs, the Jets have spent their primary picks on necessary upgrades to the offensive line (Mekhi Becton/Alijah Vera-Tucker) but found diamonds in the second-round rough through Denzel Mims (59th overall in 2019) and Elijah Moore (34th last April). Each entered this season with something to prove: Mims was forced into a de facto redshirt year after hamstring issues ate away at his rookie training camp while Moore wants to show the football world that he should’ve been a first-rounder.

When the winds of change swept through the Jets’ offense, both Mims and Moore were expected to become sizable parts of the offensive revolution. But each has found themselves awkwardly sidelined: Mims was a surprise healthy scratch for two of the first five games and has struggled to beat out reserves like Braxton Berrios and Jeff Smith for playing time. Moore missed the Tennessee win with a concussion sustained the week prior in Denver but struggled to work his way back into the London lineup, partaking in only 41 percent of offensive snaps (though one drew a length pass interference penalty that set up the Jets’ final touchdown of the day).

The Jets have invested a lot into Mims and Moore. In choosing the former, for example, the Jets passed on instant, consistent contributors like Jeremy Chinn, Logan Wilson, and Antonio Gibson. Time is on Moore’s side, but the Jets are nearing a point of no return with Mims. If offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur wants to leave a lasting positive impression on the long-suffering unit, the best way to do that would be to carve out roles for two undeniably talented playmakers. The Jets have lost enough ground in the big-play race; they have the resources to restabilize themselves and would be foolish not to take advantage.

marcus maye, jets

Turnaround the Turnover Game

Their 1-4 record may mask it to the broad, national scene, but the Jets’ defense has been one of the most pleasant surprises of the NFL’s early slate. The group’s efforts have been particularly impressive considering that the average drive starts less than 66 yards from the end zone (an NFL-worst). New York has established one of the scarier pass rushing units in the league, their success personified by a four-year extension bestowed to John Franklin-Myers worth a guaranteed $30 million.

But their efforts in forcing turnovers have left much to be desired: the Jets have earned only four takeaways over the first five games, half of which came through fumble recoveries in London. Through the first six weeks of play, they’re the only team in the league that has yet to record an interception.

It doesn’t take much research to show how important it is to force turnovers in today’s NFL. The resurgent Dallas Cowboys are allowing 295 aerial yards per game (30th in the league) yet their defense is the talk of the football town thanks to a league-best 11 interceptions, seven of which have landed in the arms of Trevon Diggs. The Jets have done a solid job of limiting damage from Wilson turnovers, but it’s time to take the next step. With Marcus Maye not only returning from an ankle injury but also reiterating his immediate dedication to the team, there’s a prime opportunity to generate positive momentum in New England.

zach wilson, jets

Beat Another Contender

Though the playoffs are probably out of the question, there are prime opportunities for the Jets to earn victories. A six-game stretch that stretches from Thanksgiving to Christmas looks particularly tasty, as that slate (Miami twice, Houston, Philadelphia, New Orleans, and Jacksonville) comes against teams that own a combined eight wins (three of which come from the Saints).

But if the Jets truly want to provide an “ahem” moment to the rest of the league, a warning that they’re going to be a problem in the near future, they need to beat one of the elite squads that reside on the immediate road ahead. They still have to face the Buffalo Bills twice, while New England, Indianapolis, and Cincinnati linger at the cusp of contention. The Jets also ring in the new year with a visit from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in their MetLife Stadium finale on Jan. 2.

The Jets might’ve taken care of that with the aforementioned over the AFC South-leading Titans, but any good vibes were erased by a listless first-half against an Atlanta squad whose wins have come against the cursed New York football duology. A shutout loss in Denver also looks particularly ugly now that the Broncos have lost four in a row.

Playing out the slate after a slow start is a task the Jets have become far too comfortable with over recent seasons. The first year of the Gase era, for example, forced them to work through a 1-7 start. They would finish that year with a respectable 7-9 ledger, but almost all of those wins came against teams in equally dire straits. Another win over an established contender wouldn’t cancel out listless showings against mediocre squads. But it would help the Jets feel more comfortable with what they’ve built and the investments they’ve made so far.

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags

UFC Vegas 41 Preview: Marvin Vettori – Paulo Costa

Tomorrow night in the main event of UFC Vegas 41, we will see a battle of former middleweight title challengers. The Italian Dream Marvin Vettori (17-4-1) takes on Brazil’s Paulo Costa (13-1) in the main event.

The last time we saw both fighters was against Israel Adesanya. Vettori lost a decision to Adesanya a few months ago while Costa was knocked out by Adesanya last October. Now, both former title challengers will look to get back on track at UFC Vegas 41.

This fight has taken a lot of turns this week due to the weight. Costa announced just a couple of days ago that he wasn’t going to make 185 pounds at UFC Vegas 41. The two men signed up for a middleweight contest, but Costa said he couldn’t make the weight.

Vettori agreed to meet Costa at 195 pounds and the two signed a deal giving Vettori 20% of Costa’s fight purse. Then, we found out that Costa couldn’t make 195 pounds. From there, the fight shifted to a light heavyweight contest and the two men weighed in today.

UFC Vegas 41 Prediction

Paulo Costa has become his own worst enemy leading up to UFC Vegas 41. To be completely honest, I don’t know what to expect from him tomorrow night and that really puts me off from wanting to predict him.

If we were to see the best version of Paulo Costa tomorrow, we’d see a guy who pushes forward non-stop while throwing fight ending power. However, I don’t know if he’s the same guy after he lost to Israel Adesanya.

That loss to Stylebender really seems to have done a number on Costa. When it comes to Vettori, I’m expecting a lot of pressure from him and I really expect him to push the grappling early on. I think Vettori is going to try and make UFC Vegas 41 as dirty as possible.

Costa has the power to end the fight, but I just don’t have the confidence in him to pick him at the moment. I think we are going to see a relatively flat Paulo Costa which will result in Marvin Vettori winning a decision. I could be completely wrong, but I just don’t know what to expect from Costa at this point.

Prediction: Marvin Vettori by Decision

Is the UFC targeting Nate Diaz – Tony Ferguson?

Today we might’ve seen a hint that the UFC is targeting a lightweight matchup that fans have wanted to see for years. One of the biggest stars in the sport, Nate Diaz (20-13) took to Twitter today and posted a very cryptic tweet.

The tweet was just a picture of former interim UFC lightweight champion, Tony Ferguson (25-6). El Cucuy and Nate Diaz have long been linked to each other but a fight between the two men never materialized.

Now, with Diaz seemingly targeting Ferguson, perhaps the UFC is going to move in that direction. Over the past few years, Diaz has really been directing his own career. Usually, if he wants to fight someone, the promotion makes it happen.

Diaz got two fights with Conor McGregor, a fight with Jorge Masvidal, a fight with Anthony Pettis, then he recently fought Leon Edwards at UFC 263. The fight with Edwards made no sense for Diaz from a rankings perspective, but it’s the fight Diaz wanted so he got it.

Last UFC stand for El Cucuy?

Stockton’s Own appears to be targeting El Cucuy. Ferguson appears to be nearing the end of his run in the UFC. For years, Tony Ferguson was looked at as one of the very best lightweights in the world. In fact, for a while, many considered him to be the very best.

In the deepest division in the UFC, Ferguson went on a 12-fight win streak from 2013 to 2019. During that time he defeated the likes of Rafael Dos Anjos, Josh Thomson, Anthony Pettis, and Donald Cerrone. The highlight was his interim title victory over Kevin Lee.

During this stretch, the UFC tried to book Ferguson against Khabib Nurmagomedov for the undisputed lightweight title. In the six year stretch, Ferguson and Khabib were supposed to fight five times but it always fell through. Most recently at UFC 249 last April.

Ferguson ended up fighting Justin Gaethje for an interim title and lost. That loss started a streak that has now seen Ferguson lose three fights in a row. El Cucuy still has his following but it’s harder to book him a fight nowadays. A fight with Nate Diaz would satisfy the masses and makes sense for both men.