UFC: Miesha Tate believes she can take out Amanda Nunes

This weekend at UFC Vegas 43, Miesha Tate (19-7) will be making her second appearance since she came out of retirement. Tate returned back in July where she scored a third round TKO victory over Marion Reneau.

Tate looked really good in her return, however, it’s important to remember the competition level. At UFC Vegas 43, she’s going to get that step up in competition when she takes on Ketlen Vieira (11-2) in the main event.

If Tate can win big at UFC Vegas 43, it’s going to put her in a great position given her status in the sport. Amanda Nunes (21-4) has ran through everyone outside of Valentina Shevchenko since 2014. Nunes has gone on a run that has earned her the title of the greatest female fighter of all time.

One of the names on her hit list is Miesha Tate. The two squared off the main event of UFC 200 when Tate was the bantamweight champion. Nunes completely dominated Tate on her way to becoming bantamweight champion.

Tate wants her UFC title back

Miesha Tate seems more motivated than ever at the moment and her confidence is through the roof. She believes that she’s a better fighter physically and mentally than she was when she first fought Nunes back at UFC 200.

Tate is looking to make a statement Saturday night that puts the division and Amanda Nunes on notice. Make no mistake about it, Tate wants another shot at the champion and if she gets it, Tate believes that she can take her out.

Tate told ESPN this week, Sometimes you only get one shot and when I take that shot at Amanda, it will be the perfect timing, I’ll have the perfect aim. I will be the sniper to taker her out, but I’m not going to jump the gun.”

Worth noting that if Tate wins at UFC Vegas 43, I think she’s only going to be a win away from earning a title shot. Given the status of the rest of the division, it would be an appealing fight for fans to see.

UFC: Is the Volkanovski trilogy or McGregor rematch next for Max Holloway?

This past weekend at UFC Vegas 42, Max Holloway (23-6) took on Yair Rodriguez (13-3, 1 NC). Holloway entered the bout as a massive betting favorite on the heels of his insanely dominant performance against Calvin Kattar back in January.

However, it was apparent from the opening round at UFC Vegas 42 that this was going to be a different fight. Rodriguez started out insanely strong and I think it caught Holloway off guard a bit. It took Holloway a little to find his rhythm and Rodriguez was landing bombs.

Halfway through the fight, we saw Holloway really start to turn it on. The former UFC featherweight champion turned up the pressure and mixed things up beautifully. All of this played a huge role in him winning the latter half of the fight.

In the end, the judges gave Holloway a unanimous decision victory. It was Holloway’s second victory of the year and it puts him in a great position as the calendar gets ready to turn over to 2022.

What’s next after UFC Vegas 42?

There are a few options on the table for Max Holloway at the moment. The obvious choice seems to be the trilogy fight with Alexander Volkanovski (23-1) for the UFC featherweight title. So far, Holloway is 0-2 in his bouts against Volkanovski.

However, a majority seem to believe that Holloway won the second fight despite two of the judges giving the fight to Volkanovski. Holloway has established himself as clearly the second best featherweight in the world behind the champion.

It’s basically Holloway and Volkanovski then a gap before you reach the next contender. However, there is another option out there for Holloway if he isn’t interested in challenging Volkanovski for a third time.

That option would be moving up to lightweight for a rematch with Conor McGregor (22-6). These two have playfully gone back and forth for years after their first meeting years ago. McGregor won their first fight by decision.

McGregor even shared a video of him staring down Holloway during Holloway’s introduction at UFC Vegas 42. Holloway has expressed interest in fighting McGregor once The Notorious one returns which should be in the late spring. Time will tell, but there are some good options for The Blessed Express.

Thibodeau blames himself as Knicks fall to Magic again: ‘That’s on me’

tom thibodeau, knicks

The Knicks‘ starters have taken a lot of heat already. New York coach Tom Thibodeau shielded them and took ownership this time.

Two nights after showing endgame grit in a gutsy win over Indiana Pacers, the Knicks crumbled in crunch time as they lost for the second straight time to Eastern Conference’s bottom-dweller Orlando Magic this season.

Errant passes by second-year guard Immanuel Quickley, hero of Monday’s win, and veteran Derrick Rose doomed the Knicks. The Magic pounced, and they escaped with a 104-98 win Wednesday night at Madison Square Garden. Two of Orlando’s only four wins so far this season came on the Knicks’ home floor, a rare occurrence as the Magic have never done this since the 2017-18 season.

“Unfortunately, we beat ourselves. Our turnovers hurt us. The second shot hurt us. We’re capable of playing a lot better than we did. We give them credit. They played well. They played hard. We didn’t,” Thibodeau said. “I have to do a better job getting them ready. That’s on me. We’ll take a good look hard at it.”

The Knicks committed 18 turnovers, with the last two hurting them the most.

Terrence Ross intercepted Quickley’s lazy pass and converted it into a breakaway dunk as the Magic grabbed the lead, 95-94, with 2:56 left. Quickley atoned for his mistake with a feed to RJ Barrett for the Knicks’ last lead, 96-97. But Orlando went on a 9-2 closing run, sealing New York’s fate with a Wendell Carter Jr.’s alley-oop slam off Rose’s turnover in the final 30 seconds.

The Knicks slid to 8-7, and with 15 games in, the disturbing trend of inconsistent effort from the starters continued.

New additions Kemba Walker and Evan Fournier combined for only 10 points on 4 of 13 shooting and were reduced to spectators again down the stretch. Thibodeau went small in the final 3:42 when Julius Randle replaced Mitchell Robinson with the Knicks up, 94-91. They went super small when Rose was re-inserted for Obi Toppin, who was spectacular with a season-high-tying 14 points off the bench.

It backfired.

Randle did not log in a single attempt. He had a steal, but Rose turned it over.

Game over.

“It’s tough. It’s a lot to fix,” Randle said. “Sh*t’s not going well for us right now.”

Randle finished with only 13 points on 11 shots and contributed three of the Knicks’ 18 turnovers which the Magic converted into 21 points. The starters went into another lull in the third quarter before the second unit led by Toppin picked them up. The Knicks’ bench reinforced by Barrett transformed an 11-point deficit into a five-point lead on a Toppin jumper with 6:33 to go. But the Knicks could not hold it down. They gave up a combined 36 points on second chance and transition baskets.

Their defense, particularly the starters, is not as connected as last season. But it was expected as they replaced the previous season’s defensive-oriented backcourt of Elfrid Payton and Reggie Bullock with more offensive-minded players. The projected firepower addition that should compensate for the defensive regression has yet to pan out consistently.

Almost a quarter into the season, Thibodeau is still searching for the right combinations. But it’s hard to build chemistry with the constant mix and matching of lineups.

“It’s all part of it. The good thing about it is you have depth. Sometimes, the tough thing is trying to figure out who’s going well and that sort of thing,” said a defiant Thibodeau, who hinted before the game that the starting lineup would remain intact for the foreseeable future. “Hey, look, we’re capable of doing better, and we have to. Our only way out is we got to work our way out of this.”

Where do they start?

“The first thing you have to do is eliminate the ways in which you beat yourself,” said Thibodeau referring to their defense, rebounding, and low turnovers. “That’s got to be the priority.”

Thibodeau forgot one more thing. Consistent effort.

Follow this writer on Twitter: @alderalmo

Report: Yankees’ pursuit for elite free-agent shortstop has a caveat

brian cashman, yankees

There is no question the New York Yankees will be active in the shortstop free-agent market, but there is a caveat for any potential deals that general manager Brian Cashman makes. While adding a star talent like Carlos Correa looks excellent on paper, despite the cheating scandals and negative comments about Derek Jeter, his main vulnerability is that he presents a long-term solution at shortstop and not a stop-gap.

According to The Daily News, the Yankees prefer to settle on a stop-gap instead of a long-term solution, which changes everything.

It appears the Yankees will not be the team to hand out that deal, multiple industry sources have told the Daily News. … Sources have told The News that the Yankees don’t want to commit that much money to a shortstop. … The Yankees are expected to turn their attention elsewhere. … The Yankees are apparently comfortable going with a stopgap defensive shortstop while they wait for (Anthony) Volpe and (Oswald) Peraza to reach the majors.

The Yankees have several shortstop prospects rising through their minor-league system, including Anthony Volpe and Oswald Peraza. If either are able to become elite players at the position, the Yankees will need to rethink their strategy with any free agent acquisitions this off-season.
The hope is that one of their young studs will be playing SS at a starting level by 2023, so they will need two years of supplementary play until they need to make adjustments.
With that being the case, a few alternative options make more sense if Cashman is still looking to spend big money. First and foremost, Corey Seager presents a great option, as he projects to move to third base in the future. He’s coming off a season where he posted a .306 average with 16 homers and 57 RBIs. He has endured health complications in the past but offers diversity with his lefty bat and quality defense.
Another option that could fit the bill is Marcus Semien, who is coming off an incredible season with the Toronto Blue Jays. Over 162 games, Semien recorded a .265 average with 45 homers and 102 RBIs, both career-highs. He earned an All-Star appearance, Golden Glove, and Silver Slugger awards at 30-years-old in 2021. One of the best aspects of Semien is that he hasn’t missed a game in three seasons, showcasing impeccable health.
Marcus has dabbled at third base in the past, also playing 147 games at second base this past season. The Yankees can move him around due to his flexibility in the future, making him a solid option if they want to go that route. He would likely be a bit cheaper than Seager or Correa.
Ultimately, Correa doesn’t fit the bill if the Yankees are looking for a stop-gap at shortstop since he is a bonafide star at the SS spot and likely wouldn’t take well to transitioning after just two seasons with the team.

Yankees News: Hal Steinbrenner hints at big offensive acquisitions, details why Aaron Boone was extended

New York Yankees, Gary Sanchez

The New York Yankees are heading into an exciting off-season with money to spend. While they missed out on the Justin Verlander sweepstakes, electing to re-sign with the Houston Astros for $25 million over one season, there’s plenty of free-agent targets and potential trade prospects to consider in the coming weeks.

While pitching seems to be the team’s second priority, offensive efficiency is at the top of the list, something that Hal Steinbrenner stated at the owners’ meetings in Chicago.

The Yankees struggled on offense this past season, which was a primary reason for the downfall, as Steinbrenner said “the main cause of our problems this year was an inconsistent, underperforming offense.”

The Yankees ranked 23rd in batting average this past season and despite a roster loaded with sluggers, they landed at the 17th spot with a .407 slugging percentage. Their OPS sat at .729, good for 13th place in the league. Interestingly, they were unable to place in the top five in home runs, despite that being their ideology. That should give us a pretty clear indication the Bombers will be active in the market this off-season trying to acquire more fire-power.

The Yankees have dealt with significant injuries the past few seasons, which have dampened their production. However, when you’re spending as much money as the Steinbrenner‘s to field a great team, there are no excuses. With that being said, they are ready to open their checkbook once again and give general manager Brian Cashman the flexibility he needs to build a World Series caliber roster. That ultimately starts with solving the shortstop position with one of the top names on the market.

The New York Yankees extended Aaron Boone on a three-year contract as the team’s skipper:

Fans were ready to let Aaron Boone walk this off-season, but upper management views him as a piece to the puzzle that performed well enough to earn several more years with the team. Steinbrenner gave Boone a glowing review, hitting on his intelligence and incorporation of multiple streams of information to help build a winning roster — we are still waiting on the winning roster part.

“Aaron is one of the better managers in baseball,” Steinbrenner said Wednesday. “He’s extremely intelligent, he’s able to assimilate the tremendous amount of information we get from both analytical and pro scouting — we value each equally. He’s very well-balanced personality-wise, which is perfect for this place. And one of the main reasons is: The players want to play for him, they respect them, and they want to win for him, so it’s just not an issue for the players. It really wasn’t a tough decision for me.”

Yankees: Justin Verlander rebuffs New York to stay in Houston

Verlander

Right-handed pitcher Justin Verlander, whose name was on the New York Yankees’ radar as they tried to improve the starting rotation with a high-ceiling addition, decided to take his talents elsewhere, away from the Bronx.

Several outlets reported on Wednesday night that the veteran righty, a multiple time Cy Young award winner, agreed to re-sign with the Houston Astros, ending the Yankees’ hopes of landing the hurler.

According to Ben Verlander (his brother) of Fox Sports, Verlander is reuniting with the franchise that helped him resurrect his career a few years ago. He was also being mentioned as a possibility to join the Detroit Tigers, where it all started for him, but will stay in Houston.

Per the terms of the deal, the Astros are going to pay their star pitcher $25 million for his services during the 2022 season. Also included is a $25 million player option for the 2023 campaign, after the player rejected Houston’s one-year, $18.4 million qualifying offer.

The Yankees will need to keep looking for a top starter

Verlander would have fit in like a glove in the Yankees’ rotation if he had chosen that path, right behind Gerrit Cole, as a potent one-two punch. It wasn’t meant to be, however.

The pitcher, who is already 38 years old, is said to be willing to pitch several more seasons. He wasn’t available for Houston in 2021, as he rehabbed from Tommy John elbow reconstructive surgery. However, the expectation is that he is ready to go this spring.

As for the Yankees, they still need to upgrade the rotation and bring two or three top-caliber starters, because they lost Andrew Heaney and Corey Kluber to free agency and they shouldn’t entirely trust Nestor Cortes Jr.’s breakout campaign without a backup plan.

As of now, Cole, Luis Severino, Jordan Montgomery, Cortes Jr., and Jameson Taillon (if he is ready to go by spring training) are expected to be in the rotation, but depth is thin behind them: Domingo German, Deivi Garcia, Clarke Schmidt, and Luis Gil could be next in line.

Knicks are staring down the barrel of a serious fluidity problem

evan fournier, knicks

The New York Knicks face a significant problem after a disappointing loss to the Orlando Magic on Wednesday evening. Having lost three of their last four games, New York is staring down the barrel of fluidity and chemistry problems.

At the beginning of the season, the starting unit seemed to have better ball movement and efficiency, but they have slowly regressed to a point where they are relying on the second team to pick up the slack.

In their most recent loss to Orlando, the starting team failed to make significant contributions, as free agent acquisitions Kemba Walker and Evan Fournier contributed just 10 points. Recording just 98 points at home against one of the worst teams in the NBA is simply unacceptable, especially when your All-Star power forward is only posting 13 points. While RJ Barrett contributed 17, he missed all seven of his three-point attempts in the loss.

Despite picking up another home defeat, the issues with the starting team didn’t commence against Orlando, they’ve existed for the past few games. A lack of fluidity and chemistry has become apparent, especially on the defensive side. The Knicks did a solid job holding Orlando to just 28.9% shooting from three, but they allowed every starter to score double-digit points, including 19 from Terrence Ross off the bench.

When looking at the team objectively, Walker and Fournier seem to be liabilities on both sides at the moment. After signing Fournier to a four-year, $78 million deal, they expected him to have a more impactful presence, recording a high of just 11 points over the past five games. He has shot below 33% in each of those contests from beyond the arc, playing 19+ minutes in each.

Fournier presents a clear-cut vulnerability on defense, and when he’s not offering scoring production, he’s virtually useless. Nonetheless, head coach Tom Thibodeau has no choice but to roll with him until he finds his shot once again. Walker, on the other hand, has been incredibly streaky this season as well. Over the past five games, Walker has enjoyed two solid performances, scoring 16 and 26 points. However, in the other three games, he scored 8 points or less, including 2 against Milwaukee last Wednesday. The streaky-ness that Kemba has displayed simply isn’t sustainable and hasn’t given the Knicks the advantage they anticipated after signing him to a two-year contract.

Walker and Fournier present a similar complex, little to no defense and when their scoring is off, they present massive liabilities. Thibodeau would prefer to avoid messing with the second-team combination since they’ve been playing so well lately. Against Orlando, though, he tried to get creative with Barrett, Randle, and Immanuel Quickley on the floor simultaneously, but it wasn’t enough to help them over the edge.

There is no specific combination that will solve the starter’s flaws, but rather moving the ball adequately and finding space on the floor to maximize their playmakers. It seems as if the entire first team is perplexed as a result of selfish play. Every player seems to feel as though they need to be a creator when posting up in the corner and presenting an option is simply all that is required at times.

Report: Yankees could pursue star outfielder, but it would be a mistake

byron buxton, yankees

The New York Yankees have been connected to a variety of potential trade partners, and the latest is Minnesota Twins star outfielder Byron Buxton. While general manager Brian Cashman has considered Starling Marte as a potential solution in centerfield, Buxton has elite potential, coming off a season when he recorded a .306 batting average with 19 homers and 32 RBIs.

The Twins could look to acquire significant assets in return for Buxton, who is just 27-years-old and coming off his best season as a professional. However, they are not completely sold on the concept due to the expected response of the fan base if he were to be moved.

Per The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal and Dan Hayes:

Chairman Jim Pohlad, according to major-league sources, is reluctant to move Buxton, knowing such a decision potentially would upset a fan base tired of seeing the team part with homegrown stars. But the Twins have failed to reach an agreement on a contract extension with Buxton, their dynamic, yet oft-injured center fielder who is eligible for free agency after the 2022 season. … Before the Twins would move Buxton, they would want to make sure they are unable to reach an agreement with him on an extension. The parties continue to communicate, but have not made progress toward a deal, sources said.

Buxton is eligible for free agency in 2022, but his most prominent negative is his health history. Buxton played in just 61 games this past season, 39 in 2020, and 87 in 2019. He has only played over 92 games once in his career, back in 2017, which seems like it was 1 million years ago.

Aside from Buxton‘s incredible offensive performance in 2021, he was also an impeccable outfielder. He recorded a .994 fielding percentage with just one error over 509 innings. With elite speed, providing 71 stolen bases over the course of his career, the Yankees would undoubtedly love his talents in the lineup.

Buxton has a sprint speed of 30.9 ft./s, which is categorized as elite. Despite all of his positive attributes, the Yankees can’t afford to add another injury-prone player to their payroll, so they should avoid Buxton like the plague, turning their attention to trade targets like Matt Olson instead.

Miles McBride dominates in G League debut

New York Knicks rookie Miles McBride made the most out of the opportunity and showed out in a spectacular G League debut.

After playing only four garbage minutes in two games to start his rookie season, McBride proved he belonged to the NBA by stamping his class in the developmental league.

McBride came one assist shy of a double-double providing the jolt for the Westchester Knicks to pick up their first win of the season — a 104-98 victory over Long Island Nets on Wednesday night.

The Knicks rookie guard out of West Virginia scattered 29 points and a game-high nine assists. He added five rebounds and two steals as Westchester won its home opener in its temporary home, snapping a four-game losing skid.

The Knicks affiliate club played at Webster Bank Arena in Bridgeport, Connecticut, as the Westchester County Center is currently being used as a COVID-19 vaccination site.

Knicks’ two-way player Luca Samanic was also impressive in his return from a heel injury. The Croatian forward scored 32 points and pulled down 10 rebounds as he and McBride teamed up as Westchester’s 1-2 punch combo.

McBride picked up the pace from the start pouring in nine points and four assists in the opening quarter. His seven-point outburst transformed a one-point deficit into a 25-22 lead, which the Knicks never relinquished.

“I love him, I love him,’’ Thibodeau said of McBride before his Knicks lost to Orlando Magic at Madison Square Garden later in the night. “I think it’s important for him to be with us. But every opportunity we get where we can have him play some, we want to try to take advantage of that as well. But he’s got a great future, a great kid, hard worker. And when you come into this league, it’s all about — you’ve got to learn first. And that’s what he’s doing.”

Westchester led by as many as 17 before a spirited Long Island comeback trimmed the deficit to two points at the start of the third quarter.

A Samanic three-pointer off a McBride assist triggered a 10-2 salvo that restored order for the Knicks. McBride punctuated the run with a thunderous dunk as the Knicks grabbed a 72-62 lead with 8:55 left in the third quarter.

“It’s just day-to-day,’’ Thibodeau said. “When we have an opportunity to send him, we’ll send him. I love the proximity of it where it’s right there, and it’s in our building. So I think it’s important for him to be with us in practice and games. But anytime we have a situation where he can do both. Ideally, that’s what we would like to have.

“There will be some [days] where he goes back and forth. I love who he is. He’s a big part of practice every day for us.”

McBride played 41 minutes and only committed three turnovers. He shot 10 of 24 from the field.

Samanic, a waiver pickup after San Antonio Spurs dumped him, played 32 minutes in his return. He added two assists and made 12 of 23 shots.

Aamir Simms backstopped Westchester’s 1-2 punch combo with 19 points and 10 rebounds.

Westchester’s next game will be on Nov. 23, a rematch against the Nets at home. It is unclear if McBride will see action again as the Knicks will also host the Los Angeles Lakers at Madison Square Garden on the same night.

Follow this writer on Twitter: @alderalmo

 

Chicago Bears: How can the Bears win in week 11?

Currently in the middle of a four-game losing streak, the second half of the Chicago Bears season will begin on Sunday afternoon when the Baltimore Ravens come to town. The Bears, who have won two straight games against Baltimore dating back to 2013 will have another opportunity to get in the win column.

On paper and on the field, the Ravens are just as good as advertised. Led by MVP candidate Lamar Jackson, the offense features a number of weapons, including wide receiver Marquise Brown and tight end Mark Andrews. On defense, Baltimore is one of the most talented in the NFL, a unit that features defensive lineman Calais Campbell, Justin Madubuike, LB Patrick Queen, and defensive backs Marlon Humphrey, Jimmy Smith, and Anthony Averett.

To slow the Ravens down, the Bears will need to slow Jackson down. That means consistently blitzing Jackson while also having a linebacker spy him at all times. The Bears could be forced to turn to reinforcements, as Akiem Hicks, Khalil Mack, and Eddie Jackson did not practice on Wednesday due to injuries. However, luckily for the Bears, Baltimore is coming off a loss to the Miami Dolphins, with a template for how to slow down Jackson and the Ravens offense.

“Give them different looks and get pressure, said CB Jaylon Johnson via the Bears official YouTube Channel. “I thought they did that pretty much all game was sending constant pressure making the ball come out high, making them really go through their route progression. I mean it’s kind of hard to do that when you got six and seven people coming so I mean it, really they just I mean had a good game plan the Ravens didn’t adjust.”

What’s noteworthy is the Bears haven’t won a game out of the bye week dating back to at least 2013. Being 0-3 under head coach Matt Nagy doesn’t bode well either for a HC who’s fighting for his job at this point. The Bears will need to complement the defense’s game plan by being able to consistently move the ball efficiently on offense in order to have a chance on Sunday afternoon.