3 main takeaways as Knicks rain down 3s on Pelicans in win

new york knicks, rj barrett

The New York Knicks overcame the New Orleans Pelicans on Saturday night 123-117, marking their third consecutive win. The Knicks have now defeated the Philadelphia 76ers, Chicago Bulls, and Pelicans in consecutive games, with a similar trend of elite three-point shooting.

While star power forward Julius Randle has failed to pad the stat sheet with points, he’s found different ways to impact the game, whether it be rebounding or assisting his teammates as a facilitator.

However, the Knicks once again brought this game to the end, showing resiliency but failing to put away a game they led by 16 at one point. As a team, the Knicks shot 57.6% from 3-PT range, hitting 19 shots.

Three main takeaways in Knicks’ win over Pelicans:

1.) RJ Barrett is on fire

Third-year guard RJ Barrett has had back-to-back stellar performances, posting 35 points, six assists, and seven rebounds in the win over New Orleans. Barrett featured in 35 minutes, shooting 12-of-18 from the field and connecting on 6-of-8 three-point attempts.

Barrett is not only offering elite defense over the past few games but has contributed fantastic scoring production, helping his team significantly down the stretch.

After a slow start to the year, Barrett has picked up his game in a big way, showcasing his improvements in year three.

2.) Evan Fournier’s offensive contributions

The Knicks took a bit of a risk signing Evan Fournier to a four-year contract, letting Reggie Bullock go in free agency, but it has paid off in dividends so far.

Fournier posted 19 points on 6-of-14 shooting from the field and 5-of-8 shooting from range in the win, also contributing two assists, two steals, and a block. Without Fournier‘s increased offensive production, the Knicks will be looking at a different scoreline this year — his ability to create opportunities for himself and open up the floor for his teammates has proved to be essential.

3.) Kemba Walker can’t miss from deep

Newly acquired point guard Kemba Walker has been elite from three-point range this season, contributing 19 points on Saturday evening. Adding four steals as a defender, he hit 4-of-7 from three and 6-of-11 from the field. Primarily, Walker is not known as a quality defender, but he used his sleight-of-hand and quickness to contribute.

Prior to this game, Walker was shooting 58% from the field from three, increasing that number even further in the victory.

New York Giants still Vegas underdogs against struggling Chiefs

new york giants

The Kansas City Chiefs are fighting to turn around an unexpected bad run, but the New York Giants are still underdogs heading into their Monday Night Football matchup.

The Chiefs are entering the game as -800 moneyline favorites and -10.5 (-111) favorites against the spread based on the latest odds from Oddsshark. The over/under for the Monday Night game is set at 54 total points.

The Giants, on the other hand, are +550 underdogs according to the moneyline. This is despite their victory against Carolina, where all areas of the team stepped up and the Giants defense sent Sam Darnold to the bench after a struggling performance.

There are, however, good reasons for the Chiefs to be 10.5 point favorites in this game. The Giants are suffering from many injuries this season and both Saquon Barkley and Kenny Golladay have been ruled out. Jabrill Peppers is also out for the season, after rupturing his ACL in the week 7 victory.

Nate Ebner, Lorenzo Carter, and Carter Coughlin have also been ruled out at this point. While the outlook is optimistic that Sterling Shepard and Kadarius Toney will return in this game, the Giants are far from full strength coming into it.

That’s not to say they don’t have a chance. Kansas City has a losing record this season with three wins and four losses, and is only 2-5 against the spread.

Patrick Mahomes has thrown at least one interception in every game this year except for the Chiefs opener. Last time out, he had no touchdowns, one interception, and a 57% completion percentage.

If the Giants offense puts up an acceptable performance as more weapons return, and the defense continues like it did last week, the Giants may surprise everyone by beating the spread or even winning outright.

  • The Chiefs are 3-14-1 against the spread in their last 18 games.
  • The total has gone under in 10 of the last 14 New York Giants games.
  • The Giants are 11-3 against the spread in their last 14 games on the road.
  • The Chiefs are 1-8 against the spread in their last 9 home games.
  • The total has gone under in 5 of the last 6 games between these teams.

Glover Teixeira becomes light heavyweight champion at UFC 267

Anthony Smith, UFC

In the main event of UFC 267, the light heavyweight title was on the line. The Polish Power and defending champion Jan Blachowicz (28-8) was defending his title against the veteran Glover Teixeira (32-7).

Back in 2018, Glover Teixeira lost a decision to Corey Anderson. With the loss, he was just 2-3 in five fights and he was getting older. However, Glover wasn’t prepared to hang things up and he’s rattled off five consecutives wins to earn himself another shot at UFC gold.

Back in 2017 at UFC 210, Jan Blachowicz lost a fight to Patrick Cummins. That fight dropped him to 2-4 in six UFC fights. However, things all started to change when he took his career more serious.

The Polish Power went on a streak that saw him go 9-1 leading up to tomorrow night. The top two highlights were winning the UFC title against Dominick Reyes then defending against the previously unbeaten middleweight champion Israel Adesanya.

UFC 267 Recap

Round 1

The UFC 267 main event kicked off with a touch of the gloves. Big low kick lands for Blachowicz and he lands a nice jab behind it. Another good jab for Blachowicz which forces a shot from Glover. Teixeira is able to get the takedown and settles in Blachowicz’s guard.

A couple of soft shots from the top land for Teixeira. Blachowicz is doing a good job of just controlling the posture of Teixeira who continues to look for short elbows from the top. Not a ton of action here happening at the halfway point in the first round.

Nice short elbow lands for the challenger. Another good elbow lands for Teixeira who is just grinding on the champion here in the opening frame. Blachowicz has held Glover in guard throughout this first round but has done nothing to try and get back to his feet.

Another good elbow from the challenger who is completely controlling this opening round against Jan Blachowicz. Big shots from the top from Teixeira. The opening round comes to a close and a dominant opening frame from the challenger at UFC 267.

Round 2

Entering the second round at UFC 267 and Blachowicz needs to find a way to keep the fight standing. Blachowicz plots forward and opens with a jab. Another big jab from Blachowicz and Teixeira tries to close the distance.

The challenger eats a combination and immediately tries for a takedown. However, Blachowicz defends and shakes him off. Teixeira tries to push forward looking for another takedown attempt.

Blachowicz landing well in the second round and is doing a good job of defending takedowns here in the second. Huge shot lands for Teixeira and Blachowicz looks hurt. However, the champion blasts back with a big shot and Teixeira shoots for another takedown.

This time, the challenger gets it and immediately gets to the mount. Blachowicz gives up his back and Teixeira locks in the rear naked choke and Blachowicz taps immediately. Unbelievable story!

Glover Teixeira def. Jan Blachowicz by Submission (Rear Naked Choke) – Round 2

Petr Yan defeats Cory Sandhagen at UFC 267

In the co-main event of UFC 267, we saw a battle for the interim bantamweight title. Former bantamweight champion Petr Yan (15-2) was trying to regain some gold as he took on “The Sandman” Cory Sandhagen (14-3).

This matchup came together after the champion, Aljamain Sterling, wasn’t cleared to compete following neck surgery. Yan lost the title to Sterling back at UFC 259 in an extremely controversial manner. The former champion was completely dominating the latter half of the fight.

However, an illegal knee caused the fight to end and Sterling won the UFC title by DQ. It was also the first UFC loss for Yan who had started out a perfect 7-0 inside the octagon on his way to capturing the title.

Cory Sandhagen would have likely had a title shot against Yan earlier this year had Yan not lost by DQ. He was the clear number one contender, but was forced to sit on the sidelines waiting his turn. The UFC decided to book Sandhagen against TJ Dillashaw.

Dillashaw won a razor close split decision, but suffered a knee injury due to a heel hook attempt by Sandhagen. With Dillashaw out and the fight having been razor close, the UFC opted for Sandhagen as Yan’s challenger.

UFC 267 Recap

Round 1

The UFC 267 co-main event kicked off with a touch of the gloves. Yan immediately takes the center as Sandhagen circles along the outside. Nice leg kick lands for Sandhagen. Good jab for Sandhagen as well. Powerful low kick from Yan finds it’s home.

Good right hand for Sandhagen who looks really sharp here early on. Powerful leg kick from Sandhagen nearly spins around Yan. Another jab and leg kick lands for Sandhagen. Massive left hook just misses from Yan.

Yan turning up the pressure a little but Sandhagen immediately retakes the center with a big hook to the body. Body kick lands for Yan and Sandhagen counters with a combination to the body. Another leg kick lands for Sandhagen.

Good combination from Sandhagen and then Sandhagen gets a body lock on Yan. Yan walks to the cage and is able to separate. Another good combination lands for Sandhagen. Powerful body kick lands for Petr Yan. Both men exchange big leg kicks.

Sandhagen doubling up on the jab. Early on the reach is a massive advantage for Sandhagen. Body kick from Sandhagen. Lead left hook and jab lands for Sandhagen. Lots of pressure from Sandhagen who shoots for another takedown.

Big elbow lands for the former UFC champion. Calf kick from Yan lands just as the round ends. Great first round for The Sandman at UFC 267.

Round 2

Entering the second round at UFC 267 and the momentum is definitely with Sandhagen. Yan takes the center again to start the second. Body kick from Yan opens up the striking. Powerful leg kick from Yan lands. Another big body klick from Yan who is opening up more.

Sandhagen pushes forward and looks for a combination. Powerful rip to the body from Yan. Sandhagen unleashes his own shot to the body. Yan lands a body kick but Sandhagen again counters with a beautiful shot to the body.

Nice hook lands for Sandhagen and Yan counters with a leg kick. Body kick from Yan then he goes to the leg. Big left hook over the top from Petr Yan. Sandhagen is definitely slower here in the second round. Another big left lands for Petr Yan.

Sandhagen pushes forward and tries to get it back with his own big left hand. Huge combination from Yan lands just after. Nasty body kick from Petr Yan lands and Sandhagen opens up his hands to counter. Big takedown attempt from Sandhagen is stuffed by Yan.

Big elbow on the break from Yan. Sandhagen missing a lot more here in the second round as Yan plots forward. Nice left hand lands for Yan. Sandhagen landed some decent shots but round two at UFC 267 was all about Petr Yan.

Round 3

I have it all even after two here at UFC 267. Yan takes the center again to start the third. Sandhagen is the one that starts the striking in this round with a nice combination. Nice spinning back kick to the body lands for Yan.

Sandhagen with a nice leg kick. Left straight lands for Yan and Sandhagen responds with a straight shot of his own. Hand fighting in the center and both men looking for an opening. Huge rip to the body for Yan. 1-2 lands for Sandhagen.

Both men displaying really good defense here in the second. Big uppercut lands for Yan and he lands a nice straight behind it. Sandhagen tries to answer but Yan’s defense is clean. Yan pushes forward and lands a couple of additional big shots on Sandhagen.

Sandhagen looks for his jab as he circles. Another big combination lands for Yan and Sandhagen tries to respond but nothing home. Massive body kick from Yan and then he follows it with a combination that drops Sandhagen.

Yan is all over him here and Sandhagen is trying to survive. A scramble finds Sandhagen on top but Yan scrambles and they are back to standing. Round comes to a close and it’s 2-1 Yan at UFC 267.

Round 4

Entering the fourth at UFC 267 and Sandhagen needs to get some momentum back. Yan pushes forward immediately to start the fourth round. Sandhagen working his feints and lands a really nice straight right hand.

Yan counters with a big combination of his own. Sandhagen going back to his jabs which seems to be working here in the fourth. However, Yan is blasting him back with massive power, but Sandhagen is taking it well.

Clean counter lands for the former champion. Yan pressuring Sandhagen against the fence then unloads with a combination. Sandhagen is really starting to get busted up by Yan here in the fourth round.

Sandhagen shoots in for a takedown and is able to get Yan down. He tries for a heel hook but Yan slips right out and they are back to striking. Once they are, Yan really starts turning it on. Huge shots up top and huge shots to the body lands for Yan.

Sandhagen is looking hurt to me here in the fourth round. Another massive combination from Yan lands and Sandhagen is starting to swell up. Huge shot lands for Yan which forces a Sandhagen shot. Yan is in complete control here. The round ends and it’s 3-1 Yan at UFC 267.

Round 5

Entering the final round and Cory Sandhagen needs a finish at UFC 267. Yan immediately moves forward again to start the fifth. Sandhagen looks a little more fresh here in the fifth as he starts to work his jab.

Two good left hooks land for Yan and he spins Sandhagen with a low kick. Sandhagen looks for a flying knee but doesn’t come close. Big shot lands for Yan. Body kick lands for Yan and Sandhagen circles on the outside.

Yan plotting forward and looks for big shots but Sandhagen dodges well. Sandhagen looks much better here in the final round. Nice combination lands for Sandhagen. Huge head kick from Yan lands right on the chin and Sandhagen just eats it.

Sandhagen pushes forward and rips to the body to counter. Nice uppercut lands for Yan as Sandhagen circles. Another good combination from Yan. Body kick from Sandhagen and Yan again plots forward. Big spinning back fist lands for Yan then he lands a clean left straight.

Nice knee from Sandhagen and these two just throw down as the final round comes to a close. Insane fight and Petr Yan should be getting UFC gold wrapped around his waste.

Petr Yan def. Cory Sandhagen by Unanimous Decision (49-46, 49-46, 49-46)

Bing Bong! Inside the culture behind Knicks’ early success

The New York Knicks are on top of the Eastern Conference.

It is expected to remain that way after Saturday’s night road game in Big Easy with no Zion Williamson as a roadblock.

“Whenever [Zion] is on the court, it makes it a lot tougher, for sure,” RJ Barrett, the hero in the Knicks’ road win in Chicago, said. “Nonetheless, they’re still a good team. They have a lot of weapons. We can’t overlook anybody.”

The Knicks have made that mistake against the Orlando Magic, and they paid dearly for it — the only blemish so far in an otherwise perfect record dating back to the preseason.

They have won in a myriad of ways and best quality teams. They have also lost to a bad team. But this team is built for overcoming adversities.

“It’s hard to win in this league,” Kemba Walker said following their tough win in Chicago where the Knicks almost blew a 13-point lead inside the final three minutes.

They have found ways to win even when their odds are stacked against them. They have risen above adversities early in the season because, as Tom Thibodeau would always say, “don’t fight pressure with pressure.”

Past Knicks teams would have folded up easily to pressure. But not this new, rejuvenated Knicks team of misfits and outcasts tied together in a string by a journeyman coach who’s been kicked out twice but found a way to get up and reinvent himself.

They all found a home in New York.

They have been winning on the court and stealing the hearts of fans in a demanding city that requires toughness and recognizes real hard work.

“I think the way we play together, you know our connection, our togetherness, it’s unreal,” said Walker who has never felt great and looked healthier than this in the last two seasons.

That cohesiveness made them survive against Boston and Chicago and made them reign over Orlando and Philadelphia.

Walker is starting to find his groove and spot in the team after early struggles to start the season. The Bronx native has racked up back-to-back 20-point games, and his backcourt partnership with Evan Fournier has juiced up the Knicks offense.

Walker and Fournier have combined for 36 three-pointers through the first five games. The Knicks are winning even when the teams are loading up on their All-Star leader Julius Randle.

“I love the way every game they get better and better. So, they’re building chemistry,” Thibodeau said of his reloaded starting unit.

“We’re gelling so well. We care for each other,” Walker added. “Nobody cares who scores the basketball or who makes the play. We just want to win. That’s what this game is about, man. It’s all about guys playing to win. And that’s going to make us special. That’s going to take us a long way.”

The selflessness had been infectious.

Derrick Rose quickly put to bed any issue between them and Walker right on the first day of training camp. The former MVP has ceded the starting role to Walker. When Rose closed out the first three games, Walker didn’t have qualms about it. Eventually, Walker’s rising play earned him minutes to close out the last two wins.

Their mutual admiration and respect have made them seamlessly fit in Thibodeau’s egalitarian system.

The Knicks have carefully constructed a balanced roster that is two-deep in each position. That keeps players on edge and makes each scrimmage competitive.

Iron sharpens iron.

Not every team can boast of that.

One example is the team they have recently beaten. Ahead of the Knicks-Bulls game, Chicago coach Billy Donovan admitted that they didn’t have anyone resembling Mitchell Robinson in practice. Donovan has staggered his starters with his bench throughout the game to compensate for their lack of depth.

On the other hand, the Knicks have one of the best second units in the league. Their bench currently ranks fifth in the league in scoring with 39.2 points per game and third in plus differential with 4.6 plus/minus.

“When we sub, there’s not a drop-off. And so whoever is going good, some nights one guy will play a little more and the other guy a little less,” Thibodeau said. “But I love the fact that everyone is sacrificing for the team and putting the team first. And that’s how you win big in this league.”

Selflessness is fueling their togetherness.

Culture is a buzzword that is thrown around often these days. That word seemed to have remained foreign to the Knicks until Leon Rose shifted from representing stars in the league to accepting the challenge of cleaning the mess in New York. When Rose handpicked Thibodeau, a few eyebrows were raised. Thibodeau, critics argued, is coaching rethread, who has quickly worn out his welcomes in his past two stops.

Rose’s first offseason quietly came and went. But Thibodeau, like in Chicago and Minnesota, made some noise right away. The challenge for him is how to sustain it longer than his past two stops.

Nobody saw this New York thing coming. Nobody thought the rebuilding would be this quick. From ping pong (balls) to bing bong, the Knicks are making the headlines now for all the right reasons.

For Thibodeau, culture isn’t just about the Knicks’ defense or how they are blitzing a pick and roll.

“Culture is what you do every day. It’s not one particular thing. It’s how you approach everything from draft, free agency, trades, player development, practice, travel, summer program,” Thibodeau explained during the training camp.

That starts by showing up in the training camp in good shape. In a nutshell, that is Thibodeau’s way or highway. The Knicks treated preseason like regular-season games. They went 4-0 with the starters playing deep in the fourth quarter.

Thibodeau defended that as his way of setting the tone for the season and keeping his players extra sharp ahead of the league.

“You have to be in shape to play for Thibs. It’s non-negotiable,” said Barrett, who dropped a season-high 20 points in Chicago on an array of drives and transition points. “That’s what we do. That’s what we practice.”

What happens when you’re not in top shape?

“You’re not going to play,” Randle said. “It’s the standard. We have a standard and a culture. That’s a part of it. It’s not just Thibs standard. It’s our standard that marks us as a team. We hold each other accountable. Everybody comes in the right shape. That’s the first thing.”

Randle earned Thibodeau’s respect when he showed up in great shape ahead of last year’s training camp. It set the tone for his breakthrough season that carried the Knicks to a surprising playoff run. That golden standard is what is driving them again to early success this season.

“How are you going to win games if you’re not in shape?,” Randle asked.

The minutes’ police keenly monitored Thibodeau’s first season with the Knicks. But Randle, who led the league in minutes, proved to be durable. He played all but one of the 72 regular-season games.

Even Walker, who did not play back-to-back games last season, has only missed one so far in a nine-game stretch dating back to the preseason. Walker revealed after the Knicks win in Chicago that taking care of his balky knees is a whole day routine, not just when he’s in the practice facility.

“I think guys know when they’re coming here to the Knicks, they’re coming here to play for Thibs. That’s what it is,” Randle said. “When you sign up to play here, you expect that of yourself. You expect that other guys to come in [with the same mindset].”

Thibodeau loves being around this team because they have embraced the culture of hard work, accountability, and togetherness.

It’s becoming a norm to see Knicks players working on their game outside their schedule in their practice facility. Randle’s road game routine of having extra work in the gym rather than checking out bars — something that he’s learned from the late Kobe Bryant — has caught on with the whole team.

But all work and no fun is no fun at all.

Thibodeau has learned that the hard way from his previous stops. There is still his gruffness and toughness on the court. But off the court, he’s now socializing and opening himself up a little bit.

The report coming out in Chicago is another reminder of that. The Knicks reportedly have stayed the night after their grueling win. Usually, they fly out to their next destination after games. Instead, they went out for dinner as a whole team.

“I don’t think I’ve seen that all my years in the NBA,” NBA analyst Brian Scalabrine, who played for Thibodeau in Chicago and Boston, said on SiriusXM’s NBA Radio.

Thibodeau still yells and yanks his players out of the game when he sees them repeatedly committing mistakes. But you will never hear Thibodeau throwing any of his players under the bus in postgame pressers, unlike other coaches around the league.

He still runs brutal practices. But he also throws around occasional jokes and cut short scrimmages when he feels his team needs a break.

“[Culture] is how you do everything and approach each day. If you have an organization putting everything they have and teaching every day, good things come out of that,” Thibodeau said.

From top to bottom, the Knicks have a synergy never before seen in James Dolan’s era. And to Dolan’s credit, he has given everything the team asked for — from robust analytics department to installing the league’s most comprehensive Noah Basketball system at their practice facility, from keeping out of any PR mess to letting Rose and the Thibodeau run the organization and the team.

“You couldn’t ask anything more [from Dolan]. Leon (Rose), Wes (Wiliam Wesley), and Scott (Perry) have been terrific,” Thibodeau said.

“Our players have been very committed. It’s a hardworking group but we don’t have it all figured out and there’s a long way to go. And it doesn’t go away. You have to do it every day. You can’t let up. There’s no shortcut to this. So everyone has to be willing to pay that price.”

Not everyone is built to play in New York. In the same way, not everyone is fit to play for Thibodeau. You have to be mentally tough and always ready for the grind — the price of sustainable success.

The Knicks are not the same old Knicks. Even with a large salary cap space in the offseason, they did not go after the flashy names. Instead, they signed role players to team-friendly contracts. They are keen to continue developing their own young players into stars with flexibility to trade for one who fits their culture.

Even if devoid of superstars, the Knicks are winning. They are thriving because of their culture.

“It’s still early, but we just want to continue to fight for each other and play the right way,” Walker said.

The Knicks are on top. And they don’t have any plan to come down.

Follow this writer on Twitter: @alderalmo

Islam Makhachev submits Dan Hooker at UFC 267

On the main card of UFC 267 we saw a tremendous lightweight contest between Dan “The Hangman” Hooker (21-10) and Islam Makhachev (20-1). Hooker was looking for his second win in just over a month while Makhachev was going for his eighth straight win.

The dream for AKA and Eagles MMA was for Islam Makhachev to take over for Khabib Nurmagomedov right after the former UFC lightweight champion retired and Makhachev just might be on his way. He’s 9-1 in the UFC and right now he looks like he could be one of if not the best in the world.

Standing in his way of another win today was the tough Dan Hooker. Last month, Hooker took on Nasrat Haqparast at UFC 266 and was able to pick up the decision win. After Rafael Dos Anjos pulled out of this UFC 267 matchup with Makhachev, Hooker immediately stepped up for this massive opportunity.

UFC 267 Recap

Round 1

The UFC 267 lightweight contest kicked off with a touch of the gloves. Hooker immediately looks for the jab as the two start. Front kick to the body from Hooker. Nice leg kick from Hooker as Makhachev is looking for an opening early.

Both men exchange jabs and Makhachev catches a kick from Hooker and takes him down. Makhachev settles in to halfguard and starts working to advance position. Knee to the body lands from Makhachev. Nice elbows land for Makhachev who keeps trying to advance.

Makhachev starts working for a kimura and Hooker is trying to defend. However, Makhachev locks it in and steps over. It’s deep and Hooker is forced to verbally tap and Makhachev gets another huge win at UFC 267.

Islam Makhachev def. Dan Hooker by Submission (Kimura) – Round 1

Khamzat Chimaev smashes and puts Li Jingliang to sleep at UFC 267

On the main card of UFC 267, we saw the return of one of the most hyped prospects in recent memory. Khamzat Chimaev (9-0) was making his highly anticipated return as he took on “The Leech” Li Jingliang (18-6).

Li is ranked 11th in the welterweight division while Chimaev sits just outside the top fifteen. However, Li was a massive underdog. Granted, that’s not a spot that Li is uncomfortable with as he was a decent underdog in his last fight.

As mentioned, Khamzat Chimaev has a ton of hype behind him after what he did in 2020. The Chechen made his debut on Fight Island last year and won three fights in three months. All by stoppage. The UFC then booked him against Leon Edwards, but COVID got in the way.

Chimaev had a terrible battle with COVID and at one point, he thought he was going to have to retire. However, the UFC got him the care he needed and he’s back and ready to take on one of the toughest contenders in the division.

UFC 267 Recap

Round 1

The UFC 267 welterweight contest kicked off with immediate pressure from Chimaev. Chimaev has beautiful timing and he gets a body lock on Li. He picked up Li and talks to Dana White as he slams The Leech to the ground.

Chimaev circles to the back of Li and is heavy on the pressure. Li tries to get up along the fence, but Chimaev drags him right back down. Heavy back pressure here from Chimaev who is landing some nice shots along the fence on Li.

Chimaev settling in here on the back of Li as he continues to land shots. Big shots land for Chimaev who is completely dominating Li here in the first round. Chimaev gets full back mount and flattens out Li.

Huge shots land for Chimaev and Chimaev locks in a rear naked choke. Li defends well at first but Chimaev switches it up and locks it in deep. Li goes to sleep and Chimaev looks unstoppable after UFC 267.

Khamzat Chimaev def. Li Jingliang by Submission (Rear Naked Choke) – Round 1

Magomed Ankalaev shuts out Volkan Oezdemir at UFC 267

Kicking off the main card of UFC 267 was a battle between top ten light heavyweight contenders. Former title challenger Volkan Oezdemir (17-5) was tasked with taking on the big favorite and top contender Magomed Ankalaev (15-1).

Entering UFC 267, Oezdemir was just 2-4 in his last six fights. That stretch started with his title shot against Daniel Cormier where he was dominated. One of the wins in that stretch was a controversial split decision win over Aleksandar Rakic.

In the eyes of many, he’s just 1-5 in his last six. Not a great spot to be in when you’re taking on one of the UFC‘s brightest contenders in Magomed Ankalaev. Ankalaev is a monster and he’s slowly making his way up the light heavyweight ranks.

The Russian has won six consecutive fights leading up to UFC 267 after losing his debut in the promotion to Paul Craig. A dominant win over Oezdemir today would like net Ankalaev an opponent inside the top five.

UFC 267 Recap

Round 1

The UFC 267 main card opener kicked off with a touch of the gloves. Ankalaev circles on the outside as Oezdemir plots forward to start the fight. Good 1-2 from Ankalaev opens up the striking and Oezdemir gets popped with another stiff jab afterwards.

Oezdemir charges in but is met with a clean check right hook. Then Oezdemir lands a nice shot and a big uppercut on Ankalaev. Ankalaev backing up and Oezdemir goes for a flying knee which forces a clinch from the Russian.

Knees to the body from Ankalaev, but Oezdemir is able to circle out and break. Good 1-2 lands for Oezdemir and he ends with a nice leg kick. Kick to the body lands for Ankalaev. Ankalaev lands a straight left that sits Oezdemir down briefly.

Oezdemir bounces right back up but he still looks a little wobbly. Nice jab lands for Ankalaev. Lunging right doesn’t come close for Oezdemir and Ankalaev counters with a jab. Beautiful 1-2 lands for Ankalaev. Ankalaev is now the one pressing forward at UFC 267.

Oezdemir circling on the outside and he’s popped with a couple of jabs. Nice body kick from Oezdemir. Oezdemir steps in but eats a big combination from Ankalaev. The first round comes to a close and it’s 1-0 Ankalaev at UFC 267.

Round 2

Oezdemir needs to get some respect back from Ankalaev as we enter the second at UFC 267. Ankalaev takes the center to start the second. Oezdemir presses forward into a clinch but eats a big knee to the body. Huge straight left from Ankalaev finds it’s home.

Nice calf kick lands for Oezdemir. Ankalaev steps in with a clean combination and Oezdemir just evades the last big power shot. Another big calf kick from Oezdemir. Oezdemir steps in and gets clipped with a nasty right hook from Ankalaev that immediately opens a cut.

Jab lands for Ankalaev who is moving forward like a fighter who smells blood. Oezdemir circling on the outside looking for an opening. Oezdemir plots forward but isn’t finding a home for anything big. Nice counter lands for Ankalaev.

Big calf kick again from Oezdemir and that one got the attention of Ankalaev. Ankalaev immediately shoots for and lands a takedown after that calf kick. Big shot lands for Ankalaev on the break and the round comes to a close. 2-0 Ankalaev at UFC 267.

Round 3

Entering the final round at UFC 267 and Oezdemir is going to need a finish to get the win. Oezdemir takes the center to start the final round and eats a jab from Ankalaev to start the final round. Head kick attempt misses from Oezdemir.

Ankalaev pressing forward looking for his opening. Huge combination lands for Ankalaev but Oezdemir eats it with no issue. Oezdemir shockingly shoots for a takedown and Ankalaev immediately brushes him off.

Nice check right hook lands for Ankalaev. Ankalaev presses forward and lands a clean combination where he finishes with a head kick. Another clean left counter lands for Ankalaev as Oezdemir tries to press forward. Jab from Ankalaev who has really pulled away in this one.

Another beautiful left followed by a nice combination from Ankalaev. Oezdemir is looking hurt with just over a minute left as he circles on the outside. No urgency from Oezdemir here as Ankalaev keeps picking him apart from the outside.

Oezdemir tries pressing forward but eats another combination from Ankalaev. Ankalaev with a nice body kick. Oezdemir throws a body kick back. The fight comes to a close and Ankalaev just pitched a shutout at UFC 267.

Magomed Ankalaev def. Volkan Oezdemir by Unanimous Decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28)

Knicks’ Tom Thibodeau praises Mitchell Robinson for incredible defense

mitchell robinson, knicks

The New York Knicks have done a fantastic job on defense to start the season, but there is still plenty of room left to grow. After stifling the Chicago Bulls on Thursday evening, the Knicks will look ahead to the New Orleans Pelicans as their next opponent on Saturday night.

The team expects to return center Nerlens Noel soon, after extending him on a three-year, $27 million deal this past off-season. Noel lead the charge as the team’s primary starter at the spot during the 2020–21 season, but due to knee soreness, Tom Thibodeau has relied on Mitchell Robinson.

The Knicks were hoping they could ease Robinson into the season after rehabilitating from a fractured foot suffered last year. With unresolved stamina, Robinson has put his best foot forward, averaging 30.8 minutes per game, a career-high up to this point.

“I think Mitch is working through his conditioning but he has such a great impact on the game,’’ Knicks head coach Tom Thibodeau said. “He’s impossible to score over.’’

As Thibodeau mentioned, scoring over Robinson is virtually impossible given his massive 7-foot frame and additional muscle mass.

Despite Noel making a return, Thibodeau is confident that Robinson will continue to play more minutes and garner more attention.

“Mitch, he’s gonna play more and more as we go, and that’s the great value in the team,’’ Thibodeau said. “When we sub, there’s not a drop off. And so whoever is going good, some nights one guy will play a little more and the other guy a little less. We have elite rim protectors.’’

Through five games, Robinson is averaging 8.6 points, 1.4 blocks, 0.6 steals, and a career-high 9.6 rebounds. His dominance on the boards has been apparent, collecting 17 rebounds in the opener against the Boston Celtics. While his rebound numbers have dropped a bit the past two games, they’re favored Julius Randle instead. He’s also collected five blocks in his past three games, showcasing his adaptation after missing the majority of last year.

The confidence Thibodeau has portrayed goes a long way, and if Mitch continues to improve his defense while adding a bit more offensive production, there is little doubt the Knicks will offer him a nice extension come next off-season.

David Ortiz details how the Yankees can solve their problems

New York Yankees, Aaron Judge

The New York Yankees will have an active off-season as they try to solve multiple positions of weakness. It seems as if every year they face similar struggles, trying to find a solution at shortstop and injecting more talent into the starting pitching rotation.

Hopefully, general manager Brian Cashman can finally solve this everlasting problem, but one former player believes it’s not about their talent, it’s about their chemistry.

David Ortiz stated in an interview with the NY Post:

They don’t need more players. They need new chemistry. They got the talent. But the chemistry comes from the talent. If you have no chemistry you can have the best talent and you’re not going to win.

I tend to agree with Ortiz, as teams with lesser talent find ways to win based on confidence and chemistry alone. The Yankees, who enjoyed several losing streaks during the 2021 season, have more than enough qualities to beat any given team. The fact they showed up so dull against the Boston Red Sox in the Wild Card says a lot about their confidence and excitement to play with one another.

Just take a look at the Atlanta Braves, who are currently leading the World Series 2–1 over the Houston Astros. They are a team currently playing in unison as a unit; the Yankees seemed to be a team playing for the individual instead of each other.

Sometimes money can’t fix everything, and the Yankees are learning that the hard way as the rest of the MLB continues to catch up in terms of production. The question is, is that a managerial problem?

The Yankees didn’t hesitate to extend Aaron Boone on a three-year contract this off-season, indicating he is a strong presence in the locker room. However, some believe he lacks the discipline to command a team and create a winning atmosphere.