New York Giants bolster line play in CBS 2022 mock draft

New York Giants

With the New York Giants spending this week without an opponent, it’s as good a time as ever to look ahead. While the season isn’t finished yet, we can predict that the Giants will have a high first round pick if they keep up their pattern from the first half of the season.

Additionally, the Giants also have a first round pick from the Bears which should give them another high selection. But what position will they spend these picks on?

According to the latest mock draft from CBS Sports, both the offensive and defensive line are areas the organization could prioritize.

Pick 8: Aidan Hutchinson, DE

CBS has the Giants taking Michigan defensive end Aidan Hutchinson with the 8th pick, who they rank as the third best defensive end in this class.

Azeez Ojulari leads all rookies with 5.5. sacks, but that is not as impressive as it seems. New York still needs to supplement its pass rush and Aidan Hutchinson is one who would fit in well on that Giants defensive line.

It’s not hard to see the justification for a move like this. Hutchinson has contributed 35 tackles and 6 sacks up to this point in the season with Michigan, and the Giants are still looking to repair a pass rush that has been underwhelming in recent seasons.

The Giants are getting their main production in this area from Azeez Ojulari and Leonard Williams, with both having 5.5 sacks right now, but it’s unclear whether they can consistently rely on Williams to put together seasons like last year, where the defensive end had double digit sacks.

Adding another name to this group of pass rushers with a top 10 pick would certainly help to improve the defense.

Pick 9: Kenyon Green, OT

Somewhat predictably, CBS has the Giants helping out their other line using their pick from the Bears. The player projected for the pick is Kenyon Green, a junior tackle from Texas A&M who could solve the team’s needs opposite of Andrew Thomas.

Kenyon Green is and always has been a dominant guard prospect. I think his foray to tackle early this season led some to forget that fact. The roller coaster should come back to a peak with Green moving back inside.

The Giants generally have a spotty record drafting offensive line prospects, or at the very least, they’ve run into problems integrating some of those prospects into an NFL offensive line after drafting them.

Taking Green, one of the top three tackles in this class, would be considered a safe move. It’s one that few fans would complain about, as for a team like the Giants, it’s better to run with the highly ranked ‘safe’ prospect when spending a valuable pick on a blue-chip position like tackle.

Hornets 104, Knicks 96: 2nd team nearly completes comeback after starters struggle

knicks, kemba walker

The New York Knicks took on the Charlotte Hornets on Friday night in what felt like a playoff game, experiencing ebbs and flows with big deficits and resilient comebacks.

However, the Knicks blew another double-digit lead in the defeat, as the starters struggled once again to provide adequate defense and consistent scoring. All-Star power forward Julius Randle finished with 10 points, missing three free throws down the stretch that would’ve pulled the Knicks within range of a last-second comeback. Evan Fournier contributed five points, and RJ Barrett posted just two, going 1-for-9 from the field and missing both of his attempts from three-point.

The only starter that showed respectable numbers was Kemba Walker, who recorded 26 points, hitting 4-for-9 three-point shots and 9-for-18 from the field.

The Knicks’ reserves were the only saving grace, providing quality defense and intensity, climbing back from a double-digit deficit in the fourth quarter. Alec Burks contributed 15 points, and Immanuel Quickley nine points, as the pair combined for six three-point shots and 11 rebounds.

Ultimately, New York provided ample effort but simply couldn’t escape with a win after the stars failed to contribute in the waning moments. They held Charlotte, the league’s top three-point shooting team, to just 27.8%, presenting a resilient defensive effort. One of the keys to stopping the Hornets was the limiting of Miles Bridges, who posted 24 points in the win.

The Knicks will now look ahead to the Indiana Pacers on Monday evening as their next opponent, dropping three of their last five games.

New York Giants would have two top-ten draft picks if the season ended today

New York Giants, Daniel Jones

The New York Giants are 3-6 and currently in the middle of their Week 10 BYE Week. At 3-6, the Giants are making a push back into the playoff race. It may be a long shot, however, New York does have a chance to slip in if they can string together some late-season wins. The Chicago Bears are also 3-6. This is important to note as the Giants hold the Bears’ first-round pick in the 2022 NFL Draft.

In the 2021 NFL Draft, the New York Giants traded down with the Chicago Bears in the first round. The Bears landed their next franchise quarterback, Justin Fields, while the Giants landed an electric playmaker in Kadarius Toney.

To acquire Justin Fields, the Bears swapped first-round picks with the Giants and also traded away their fifth-round pick in 2021, as well as their first and fourth-round picks in the 2022 draft. This future first-round pick will give the Giants two first-round picks in next year’s draft and an opportunity to rebuild their team with two top-tier draft prospects.

The Giants could land two top-ten picks

While the Giants are looking to make a late playoff push, they are currently 3-6 and likely to end the year with disappointment. The same can be said, however, for the Chicago Bears.

If the season ended today, both the Giants and the Bears’ draft position would fall inside the top ten. The Giants’ pick is eighth overall and the Bears’ pick (which the Giants own) is ninth overall. If the season ended today, New York would own two top-ten picks.

Landing two top-ten picks in this year’s draft would be huge for the Giants. The 2022 NFL Draft class is expected to feature a load of offensive line talent. The Giants have a clear need for offensive linemen and with two first-round picks in April, this could be the year that New York’s biggest issue is finally fixed. Players like Evan Neal (OT, Alabama) and Tyler Linderbaum (iOL, Iowa) come to mind. The Giants are in a position to land a pair of top prospects in the 2022 NFL Draft.

New York Yankee Top 10s: Great Yankee Shortstops

New York Yankees, Derek Jeter

The New York Yankees in their 108-year glorious history have had their share of great baseball players.  From Babe Ruth to Joe DiMaggio to Ron Guidry, Derek Jeter, and dozens more, some of the best baseball players in history have graced Yankee Stadium.  I have many top Yankee 10s. but after writing this morning about the shortstops the Yankees may target to add to the team this off-season, I thought it might be a good idea to look at some of the best Yankees shortstops ever. With so many shortstops, some writers will differ in the order of their preferences.  Here are this writer’s top 10.

One through five is relatively easy, beyond that gets more difficult as the New York Yankees are more known for their outfielders, 2nd and 3rd baseman. If the Yankees have a position that is the weakest in their history, it is probably at shortstop. Also, the Yankees have had players that were known for their offense and defense of their positions, but they were more well known at another position. A good example is Alex Rodgriguez, one of the top five shortstops in all of the baseball lore, but he played 3rd base for the Yankees. Joe Sewell, the Hall of Fame shortstop, could have been included in this list, but I did not consider him as he only played for two years for the Yankees.

10.  Tom Tresh

First, let me say about Tom Tresh that he would have been in the top five with the exception that he played more in the New York Yankee Stadium outfield than in at short. Tresh played nine years for the Yankees with a career batting average of .247 with 140 home runs, five seasons with 20 or more, while being an excellent defender at both short and in the outfield.

9. Gene Micheal

Gene Michael was valuable to the New York Yankees, as a player, coach, manager, and in the front office.  He was as much responsible for the last ’90s, 2000’s Yankee dynasty as anyone in the organization. Michael started his seven-year stint with the Yankees in 1968. He was not known as a hitter and less so as a long-ball hitter.  What he was known for was his excellent defense at short.  He is another Yankees that could have ranked higher on this list if his offense was in line with his defense.

8. Mark Koenig

Many present-day fans don’t know Mark Koenig, he played for the Yankees for six years starting in 1925.  Koenig was an excellent hitter for that time, hitting .285.  He was not a home run hitter but hit for contact.  In 1928 he hit .319 for the season.   He was agile at short and played 2nd and 3rd when needed.  In 1927 he had third-most assists at shortstop in all of baseball (423).  In the World Series that the Yankees lost that year, he hit .500 without any errors in 28 chances.

7. Kid Elberfeld

Kid Elberfeld is another Yankee that few fans don’t remember.  He played short for the New York Yankees between 1903 and 1909.  In his seven years, he averaged .268 with 28 home runs.  As with many players at that time, he played all infield positions with the exception of the 1st base.  His fielding average was .938, which was excellent for shortstops at that time.

6. Bucky Dent

Some may say that Bucky Dent should be further down this list or not on it it all.  I place him sixth due to his exceptional spotlight play in the 1978 one-game playoff with the Red Sox. Dent hit .239 while with the Yankees and was an All-Star twice mostly because of his defense.  Dent was primarily known as a clutch contact hitter hitting 518 hits as a Yankee.

5. Frank Crosetti

Frank Crosetti is my choice as the 5th best Yankee shortstop.  Crosetti played his entire 17-year career with the Yankees, which brings him up on the list substantially. He hit .245 with over a thousand runs scored.  He was a two-time All-Star and a three-time MVP candidate.  Crossetti started his career at short for the Yankees in 1932, a position he held until a poor season in 1940 when Hall of Famer Phil Rizzuto took over for him at short.  But he retook the job when Rizzuto left for the Navy. Rizzuto rejoined the club in  946. Crosetti then became a player/coach for the club when he retired in 1948.  He had a .948 fielding percentage as a Yankee

4. Roger Peckinpaugh

Roger Peckinpaugh was a Yankee for nine years and was an MVP candidate in 1914 when he was a player/manager.  He is the only one on the list to have managed the Yankees. He had a .949 fielding average while with the Yankees, which was quite good for that era.  He had a .259 batting average over the span.  He was known as a contact hitter with the ability to steal bases.  He stole 38 in 1914.  In 1921 Peckinpaugh led all of baseball with the most assists in one game (9).  After leaving the Yankees, he had a long managerial career ending with the Indians in 1941.  He later became general manager and president of the Indians.

3. Tony Kubek

Tony Kubek was one of the most beloved New York Yankees. He played for 9 years with the Yankees in 1957 he won the Rookie of the Year award.  He played from 1957 to 1965.  He was an All-Star four times and was an MVP candidate three times.  Kubek is the first utility player to make the list, and although he played all over the field, 80% of his games were played at short, which is where he won all his awards.  The only position that Kubek did not play for the Yankees is that of pitcher or catcher.  In Game Seven of the 1960 World Series, he bungled a double play when he was hit in the throat by a bad hop that knocked him out.  At short, he had an excellent .967 fielding percentage.

2.  Phil Rizzuto

Known as much for his career in broadcasting and his onfield play at short. Rizutto can not be overlooked as one of the best Yankee shortstops ever. The “Scooter” had a .968 fielding percentage at short in his 13 Yankee seasons.  Rizzuto was of small stature, and the manager at the time that Rizzuto made his major league debut in 1941 Joe McCarthy once said Rizzuto was too small to be a good baseball player.  History has shown that McCarthy was very wrong.  IN 13 years, he had a fielding percentage of .968.  He hit .273 over the life of his career with almost 1,600 hits over the span.  Rizzuto the five-time All-Star was an MVP candidate eight-time capturing the award in 1950.  Rizzuto was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame. When he left the Yankees in 1956, he had over 1200 double-plays under his belt.

He contributed to seven Yankee World Series championships and is sixth all-time in World Series games played, eighth in hits with 45, fourth in walks with 30, and tied for third in stolen bases with 10. Rizzuto would go on to have an exceptional 40 years broadcasting on radio and TV for the New York Yankees.  His folksy style embraced him to the Yankee fans.  His signature “Holy Cow” was known throughout baseball even to this day.

1.  Derek Jeter

Derek Jeter is the hands-down best New York Yankee shortstop ever.  This baby bomber spent his entire Hall of Fame career, 20 years with the Yankees all of them at shortstop. He is one of the very few career Yankees to have never played a game at another position at any time during their career.  Jeter was the most popular of all Yankees from the late ’90s to the present.  He was a member of the “Core four” that brought the Yankees to five World Series Championships.

After 20 years at short, he had the highest fielding percentage (.976) of any Yankee shortstop in the history of the club.  Add to that, Jeter was clutch at every important opportunity.  He hit an amazing batting average of .310, the eighth highest of any Yankee.  He led all Yankees playing 2,247 games while getting a historic 3,465 hits.  He was also number one with 544 doubles.

Getting back to Jeter being clutch, he had a unique ability to find himself in impact changing moments during the regular and postseason.  He seemed to relish it, although the shortstop was one of the most modest players always putting the team first.  A few examples include him getting his 3000th hit.  He didn’t just get a hit, he did it in style with a smashing home run.  When it came time for Jeter to retire in his last appearance at Yankee Stadium, he turned fantasy into reality when he hit the walk-off home run in his final game.

Jeter, during his career with the Yankees, was Rookie of the Year in 1996, he was an All-Star 14 times, a twelve-time MVP candidate, a five-time Gold Glove award winner, and a Silver Slugger award winner five times.  Jeter was one of those unique players that played consistently throughout his entire career and retired at the top of his game.  Jeter became the second Yankee shortstop to be elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame to be inducted in the 2020 class.  He missed a unanimous vote by just one sour sportswriter.

In selecting my top ten, I valued time with the club, performance as per Baseball-Reference.com.  Peak career performance and performance in postseason play was also a factor.  Special situations like changing career positions were also a consideration.

EmpireSportsMedia.com’s Columnist William Parlee is a member of the Society for American Baseball Research.

What is ailing Knicks starting unit? Evan Fournier has a theory

evan fournier, knicks

The New York Knicks‘ uneven performances had been perplexing.

There were nights when they looked every inch a deep playoff team, beating quality teams such as the Boston Celtics, Philadelphia 76ers, Chicago Bulls, and defending champion Milwaukee Bucks. But there are also nights when they look like a lottery-bound team in their five disappointing losses.

On the surface, you can quickly notice the night and day difference between the Knicks’ starters and the second unit’s play. That came to the fore against the Bucks for their third straight loss at home. Tom Thibodeau yanked the starters one by one towards the end of the third quarter and did not return. They helplessly watched on the bench as the second unit completed a 24-point comeback that fell short in the end.

“The (bench) guys were playing well,” Fournier said. “You obviously want to be on the floor. But we had no business being on the court.’’

Their poor play led to Thibodeau losing his cool when the constant question of how many more games the starting unit needs to build chemistry together was asked.

“You know what they say — when it’s 10 games, you say we need 20. When you get to 20, you say 30. When we get to 30, you say 40, and then before you know it, the season’s over,” said Thibodeau referring to how much time do his starters need to jell. “So, that’s a bunch of bull—t.”

Evan Fournier contributed to the Knicks starting unit’s uninspiring play with a season-low two points on 1 of 5 shooting. He was sympathetic to Thibodeau as he was disappointed too with their embarrassing performance.

“Sh–t, I would be too,” said Fournier after their Friday morning shootaround in Charlotte. “I mean we don’t need Tom to get mad at us like we know we did not play well.”

“We’re all veterans. We all know what we’re capable of doing and it doesn’t feel good when we don’t play well. We all feel responsible for it because the bench did a great job.”

Despite the addition of Kemba Walker and Fournier and the return of Mitchell Robinson, the starting unit has regressed compared to last season’s starters.

Last season, the most used Knicks starting lineup of Elfrid Payton, Reggie Bullock, RJ Barrett, Julius Randle, and Nerlens Noel are a much better team on both ends of the floor than this new iteration in their first 12 games together.

Despite the knocks on Payton being an offensive liability and Bullock’s problems creating off the dribble, their metrics with the staring unit last season trump the new Walker-Fournier backcourt so far.

Knicks Starting LineupNet RTGOff RTGeFG%Def RTG
Payton, Bullock, Barrett, Randle, Noel
(percentile)
-4.4 (33rd)109.8 (36th)54.4%
(43rd)
114.2 (40th)
Walker, Fournier, Barrett, Randle, Robinson
(percentile)
-15.6 (8th)106.2 (45th)51.9% (48th)121.7
(0)
All stats from Cleaning The Glass

The Knicks have been heavily relying on the best bench in the league when it comes to offensive rating, generating 70.6 points per 100 possessions. Their second unit also has the current second-best net rating (6.9) behind the league-leading Golden State Warriors (9.0).

Fournier believes that the starting unit has to get back to what has worked in their hot 5-1 start.

“The main difference between the first and second units is really ball movement, body movement. It feels likes at times, we’re very stagnant. We have to find that rhythm that we had early on in those first five games of the season,” Fournier said.

The Knicks starters are playing at the slowest pace among the most used five-man lineups that have played at least 100 minutes together. They are only generating an estimated 96.55 possessions per 48 minutes. The Warriors’ starting lineup of Stephen Curry, Jordan Poole, Andrew Wiggins, Draymond Green, and Kevin Looney currently tops the league in pace with 104.40.

Fournier has cooled down after a hot start in October, where he averaged 3.8 3s per game on a staggering 45.1 percent. The Frenchman gunner is only averaging 1.2 3s per game in the last six games on a cold 21.9 percent shooting.

Fournier said his current poor form is a perfect reflection of the starting unit.

“We started really well, shooting the ball well, sharing the ball well. Now it’s not as good. Are we not playing well because we’re missing shots or are we missing shots because we’re not sharing the ball? It’s always that question that you’re gonna ask yourself. In my opinion, because we aren’t getting good shots,” Fournier said.

Fournier’s field goal attempts dropped from 14.3 in the first six games to just 9.7 in the last six.

In the same span, Randle only had a slight uptick in field goal attempts from 17.5 to 18.2, while Barrett also only had a minimal increase from 13.2 to 15.8.

“When you look at the Milwaukee game, we were really stagnant but you can’t really look at one game and say, ‘okay, here’s the problem’ like every night is different,” Fournier explained before anyone pin the blame on Randle’s isolation-heavy plays or Barrett’s recent explosion before the regression.

“It depends on the matchups, it depends on who’s hot or what we’re doing but just like I said we have to make sure we’re sharing the ball, make sure we run, make sure we have a good pace, and execute well.”

Fournier sounded like a broken clock, but the main key moving forward, he said, is sharing the ball.

“Sometimes you just pass the ball and the rhythm is gonna come back, Fournier said. “Once we all touch the ball, you get a good rhythm, you get better shots, then we’re all feeling good.”

Like Thibodeau, Fournier correlated their shooting woes to their energy on defense. But he also pointed out their defensive schemes under Thibodeau require them to spend a lot of energy which in theory also impacts their offensive burst.

When you don’t score, it usually affects your defense. More and more players and teams are seeking threes on transition. And at halfcourt, we’re a team that’s known for protecting the paint. We do that pretty well,” Fournier said. “The thing that’s a little bit hard is to protect the paint and get out. We have to make sure we have multiple efforts that we really go out there and contest the shots.”

The Knicks are giving up nearly 48 points from downtown every game, with their opponents averaging a league-most 15.7 three-pointers made. They also have the 11th lousiest transition defense in the league, allowing 13.2 fastbreak points per game.

While Fournier admitted that their chemistry is still a work in progress, he’s encouraged with their earlier play to start the season.

“We haven’t been playing well together lately. The good thing is we did it early. So, you know we’re capable of playing very well together. That’s the positive thing. We just have to come back to that. Hopefully tonight,” Fournier said. “Hopefully tonight.”

The Hornets, who are coming off a feel-good 118-110 overtime win against the Memphis Grizzlies that snapped a five-game losing streak, will be a good test for the Knicks.

Charlotte has one of the best three-point shooting teams in the league in terms of percentage. They are shooting 39.7 three-point percent, tied with the Brooklyn Nets, and average 13.6 3s made.

Led by the exciting open floor tandem of LaMelo Ball and Miles Bridges, the Hornets are also averaging a league’s sixth-best 15.2 fastbreak points per game.

But the thing is, the Hornets do not have a dominant force inside the paint. Will the Knicks still pack the paint? Which Knicks team will show up tonight?

The fans, and even Fournier, hope it would be the Knicks that went off to a hot 5-1 start.

Follow this writer on Twitter: @alderalmo

Bellator 271 Preview: Aaron Pico – Justin Gonzales

Tonight on the main card of Bellator 271, one of the biggest prospects in all of MMA will be making his 12th appearance. Aaron Pico (8-3) is back tonight as he takes on the unbeaten contender series veteran in Justin Gonzales (12-0).

Let me just get this out of the way, Justin Gonzales is no joke. Gonzales is a former LFA champion and he won his fight on Dana White’s Contender Series. After that shot on the Contender Series, he won his title in LFA before being picked up by Bellator.

Gonzales made his Bellator debut back in June with a split decision win over Ty-Wan Claxton. In his last seven wins, Gonzales has gone on to finish his opponent. That said, he has an extremely tall order in front of him at Bellator 271.

Aaron Pico was the most hyped prospect MMA has ever seen. Olympic level wrestling with sensational boxing and a ton of power, Pico was instantly signed by Bellator before fighting a single amateur fight. Pico crashed to earth when he was stopped quickly in his debut.

It’s been an up and down story so far for Pico, but he’s finally reaching his potential at the young age of 25. Since making the move to Jackson-Wink, Pico has gone 4-0 with four stoppages in his last four Bellator appearances. He’s getting closer and closer to title contention.

Bellator 271 Prediction

On paper, this is not a tough matchup to predict and it’s really tough when you start to look at both of these fighters. Justin Gonzales is incredibly gritty and he has really good kickboxing with solid grappling. He will be comfortable wherever the fight goes at Bellator 271.

The same can be said for Aaron Pico. Pico has really turned the corner since making the move to Jackson-Wink and he continuously gets better and better. Early in his career, he got in trouble when he would try to brawl with opponents.

Now, he’s much more measured and he will take the fight to wherever he has the advantage. If he’s not doing well in standup, he can take it down. If he’s doing well on the feet, he can keep it standing. Pico will dictate this matchup at Bellator 271.

Most are prediction another Pico finish, but it’s hard for me to pick a guy to get stopped when he’s never lost. I think Gonzales is game and I think he will have success in this fight. However, he won’t have enough success to get over the mountain that is Aaron Pico.

Prediction: Aaron Pico by Unanimous Decision

3 keys for the Knicks as they take on struggling Hornets team in Charlotte

derrick rose, knicks

The New York Knicks have won two of their last four games, including an awful performance from their starters against the Milwaukee Bucks on Wednesday night. However, they will be looking to bounce back against the Charlotte Hornets, a struggling team that sits at 6-7 on the season. The Hornets have lost five of their last six games but recently snapped the losing streak against the Memphis Grizzlies.

The Knicks present a formidable opponent, but they must start strong, indicating that Tom Thibodeau could make a change at point guard in this contest. We will take a look at why that makes sense in the three keys necessary for New York to extract a victory on Friday night.

Three keys for the Knicks against Charlotte on Friday evening:

1.) Limit LaMelo Ball and Miles Bridges

Charlotte’s best players are LaMelo Ball and Miles Bridges, who are averaging 19.8 and 21.3 points apiece. Ball, who is in his sophomore season, is shooting 43.4% from the field and nearly 40% from three-point range; he’s also a 93% free-throw shooter. Averaging 7.1 assists, Ball is developing into one of the league’s most lethal point guards; stopping him is essential for New York. They have struggled in limiting opponents’ three-point percentages, which tells a story for their defense.

Bridges, on the other hand, is shooting 43.8% and 34.4% from deep, but is attempting 7.4 per game. The Hornets love to take three-point shots, so the Knicks need to be extremely careful with how they play this team. They’ve been burned in recent days at the hands of the three-point shot, so they must do something differently against the Hornets, who are currently the best three-point shooting team in basketball at 37.9%.

2.) Intense defense on the perimeter

As stated above, if the Knicks can’t guard the perimeter aggressively and limit Charlotte‘s most lethal deep threats, this will be a long night for New York, who simply can’t match that type of production with Kemba Walker struggling and the starting unit getting in early holes. New York has gotten flustered, heaving up poor shots to try and catch up instead of working their offense diligently and correctly.

Closing out shooting opportunities is a must, as opponents have figured out the equation to unlock the Knicks’ defense. They simply drive to the paint, collapsing the defense and kick the ball out to the corners, where they have been highly successful knocking down three-point shots.

3.) Start Derrick Rose over Kemba Walker

The Knicks found themselves in a 24-point deficit against Milwaukee on Wednesday, thanks to the poor performance of the starting unit. Veteran point guard, Walker has been utterly useless over the past four games, logging single-digit production for his team. Walker is not known as a defensive threat, so Thibodeau might want to consider starting Derrick Rose against the Hornets, increasing the unit’s efficiency and allowing Walker to find his shot with the second team.

Ultimately, the Knicks can continue giving up the advantage early in games, especially against lethal three-point shooting teams. Rose offers so much more on offense and defense at the moment that Thibodeau must make a strategic call and start him over Walker. Eventually, they will swap back to the normal unit, but for the time being, it makes sense to put Walker in a secondary role.

Bellator 271 Preview: Cris Cyborg – Sinead Kavanagh

Tonight in the main event of Bellator 271, the women’s featherweight title is on the line. One of the best to ever do it, Cris Cyborg (24-2), is back to defend her featherweight crown. Standing across the cage from her will be Ireland’s Sinead Kavanagh (7-4).

Kavanagh got off to a really good start in her MMA career. She won her first three fights which earned her a shot with Bellator. She won her debut to start out 4-0, but since then, it’s been a mixed bag in terms of results.

Kavanagh lost two in a row before getting a first round knockout win and then dropping two fights in a row again. However, since that last losing streak, Kavanagh bounced back well winning two straight. Her last win came in October of 2020 in the form of a decision over Katharina Lehner.

There might not be a more fitting name in all of MMA than Cyborg for Cris Justino. Cyborg has been nothing short of dominant since starting in MMA. After losing her debut, she’s gone 24-1 with her lone loss being to the GOAT, Amanda Nunes.

She’s been a UFC champion, Strikeforce champion, and now Bellator champion. Since jumping to Bellator, she’s 3-0 with three knockout wins. She’s a staggering -1600 betting favorite for tonight’s main event.

Bellator 271 Prediction

Let’s be honest, it’s going to be a very steep mountain to climb for Sinead Kavanagh tonight at Bellator 271. She does have good boxing and we’ve seen her put her opponents away in the past with her hands. However, Cyborg is just another animal and she has the ability to dictate where the fight takes place.

There’s a huge difference in terms of the power. Cyborg has the advantage on the feet, but even if Kavanagh landed something big to get the attention of Cyborg, Cyborg can just take the fight to the ground with her incredible grappling.

Kayla Harrison is going to be cageside for Bellator 271 and I think Cris Cyborg is going to send a message to the hottest free agent in MMA. I expect a very dominant yet methodical performance from Cyborg. Expecting a masterclass in the first round before a brutal stoppage in the second.

Prediction: Cris Cyborg by TKO – Round 2

Kayla Harrison to be cageside for Bellator 271 headlined by Cris Cyborg

MMA, PFL

Tonight in the headliner of Bellator 271, one of the greatest female fighters of all time will be defending her title. Featherweight champion Cris Cyborg (24-2) will be defending her title against Ireland’s Sinead Kavanagh (7-4).

Like with virtually any Cris Cyborg fight, the champion is a massive favorite to retain her title at Bellator 271. While most would be focused on the action tonight, there is one storyline outside the cage that is getting more and more attention.

Sitting cageside for tonight’s event will be two-time PFL champion and two-time Olympic Gold Medalist Kayla Harrison (12-0). A couple of weeks ago, Harrison stopped Taylor Guardado in the second round to capture her second PFL title.

That fight was the final one on the contract for Harrison and she is now the most highly saught after free agent in MMA. Bellator is already very interested in bringing Harrison in and Scott Coker said this week that they are planning on having some dialogue with her.

Harrison to Bellator?

It’s going to be very interesting to see the path that Harrison takes with her free agency. Since becoming a free agent, she’s appeared at UFC 268 in New York and now she’s going to be cageside scouting Cris Cyborg at Bellator 271.

Harrison is making the rounds and I would expect that her free agency will end before too long. Make no mistake about it, PFL is going to try everything to bring Harrison back. They even imported former Bellator champion Julia Budd to try and provide more challenges in that arena.

However, PFL is a been there done that for Kayla Harrison at this point. Yes, they’ve been extremely good to her and helped make her a star, however, there’s nothing left for her to prove. Bellator on the other hand provides big opportunities.

There’s good competition in Bellator and the Cris Cyborg fight is something that Harrison wants. Harrison was vocal about being frustrated when PFL didn’t sign her. Now, Harrison has the chance to get that fight if she jumps to Bellator.

Of course, you can never rule out the UFC, but given her relationship with Amanda Nunes, I don’t think the UFC is as appealing right now. If I had to handicap her free agency, I would say that Bellator is the favorite right now.

Harrison looks very interested in jumping ship to fight Cyborg. If she fights Cyborg and wins, she will immediately jump towards the top of the pound for pound rankings. In speaking about a potential fight with Cyborg, Harrison has no doubts she would win.

“I think I would dominate,” Harrison said this week.

Giants’ HC Joe Judge provides an update on former 1st round OL Isaiah Wilson

isaiah wilson, new york giants

The New York Giants can use as much help on the offensive line as they can get, which is where former first-round talent Isaiah Wilson comes into play. Wilson is an estranged tackle, making his way through the Tennessee Titans and the Miami Dolphins before being released due to character concerns.

Wilson attended camp overweight and missed practices and meetings, taking for granted the opportunity he earned with the Georgia Bulldogs. However, reality has smacked Wilson in the face, and he has worked diligently with the Giants to earn another opportunity in the NFL.

While the Giants continue to mold his body back to playing shape and work his fundamentals, he is still quite some time away from earning an opportunity. Unless injuries arise, I wouldn’t expect to see him this season, despite the poor play of Nate Solder at right tackle.

“I think we have long-term plans for this guy in terms of where we see this guy being able to help in the future. However, in terms of this year, he’s made a lot of progress and if the situation arises and the opportunity comes up, we’re getting him ready to go ahead and help us,” Judge stated, via Patricia Traina of Giants Country.

Judge did say that Wilson could earn an opportunity this season, but there’s little confidence he would make an appearance unless Big Blue was forced to make a move.

“For a guy specifically, Isaiah, he’s been making progress for us. He had some really good work yesterday in the one on ones against the defensive line and the defensive rush,” Judge said.

Judge continued on to give some insight into how they are coaching Wilson, taking a basic approach toward his game, and rewiring his internal work ethic.

“He gets extra work at some of the schematics and just you can take it back to really like a base level with a lot of these guys because you get them at different points of the year, it’s good to almost go back and reset and start by going over like it’s OTAs or training camp with a lot of these younger guys and make sure they get every detail of the install on the way up. When guys come in, you get them the information, you get them the install, but it’s good as a group to all hear it again together for the first – well, not for the first time, but like it’s the first time.”

If the Giants stick with Wilson and continue to develop him as a new player, he could end up being a potential starter down the line. At this point, he’s still not in playing shape and hasn’t enjoyed any reps with the starting unit, so we are likely talking about the 2022 season as a potential opportunity for him to work his way onto the roster.

However, it is great to see that he’s making positive progress and hasn’t had any character setbacks.