UFC: Nate Diaz and Dustin Poirier down to fight each other

UFC 269 was this past weekend and Dustin Poirier (28-7, 1 NC) was fighting for the lightweight title. It was Poirier’s second opportunity at undisputed lightweight gold.

Charles Oliveira (32-8) was able to defeat Poirier on Saturday by submission. The loss made Poirier 0-2 in bids to become the UFC‘s undisputed lightweight title.

A dejected Poirier appeared on Ariel Helwani’s MMA Show yesterday and talked about the fight. Poirier mentioned that he hadn’t watched the fight back yet and that he didn’t know what would be next.

In fact, Poirier mentioned that he doesn’t know if he’s going to fight at lightweight ever again. Poirier has expressed interest for a while in moving up to the UFC’s welterweight division.

When asked about potential opponents, Poirier said there’s only one name that gets him excited. That would name is Stockton’s own Nathan Diaz (20-13).

Both interested in January UFC fight

These two were supposed to fight a couple of years ago. However, Poirier had to pull out of the fight with an injury and fans never got to see the highly anticipated matchup.

Diaz took to Twitter yesterday and said that he would fight Poirier next month. Poirier then responded saying that he would fight Diaz this month and the two went back-and-forth.

UFC 270 is the January PPV and one of the main card fights just dropped off. Derek Brunson and Jared Cannonier has shifted to UFC 271 in February.

With the main card opening there, the writing is on the wall if the UFC is interested in making it happen. Ariel Helwani reported last night that it’s not just Twitter talk and that both Diaz and Poirier have serious interest in fighting.

My guess is that the UFC is going to start working towards making this happen. The promotion has been trying to figure out the perfect fight for Diaz as he only has one fight left on his contract.

I think everyone can agree that a fight with Dustin Poirier would be perfect. This will definitely be something to watch over the coming days.

Knicks may have something special in rookie point guard

The New York Knicks may be on a four-game losing streak, but they have plenty of things to be optimistic about. Whether it be the 27-point performance from Quentin Grimes against the Toronto Raptors or Miles McBride bleeding confidence on the floor against Golden State, the Knicks have a few spark plugs.

Grimes was projected to take a more prominent role before being ruled out due to Covid health and safety protocols. The Houston product showcased aggressive defense with superb shooting from range, setting a Knicks rookie record with seven three-point shots made.

However, in McBride‘s first legitimate action of the season, he proved he could stand on his own 2 feet without much support. An electrifying step-back jumper from three-point range in the first half stood out as his highlight of the evening, contributing eight points and four rebounds. He hit 50% of his shots from deep and connected on 37.5% from the field.

McBride has been working diligently off the court to prepare for this moment, dominating in G-League performances to prove his value.

“We see it in practice, when he’s had opportunities in the G-League, he’s played really well there as well,’’ Thibodeau stated after the loss to Golden State. “He played well in the summer league. It’s good for him to have an opportunity like that. All the things that he’s working on every day and then to get into a game situation and to see it unfold, it’s good, it’s positive. Our young guys are really hard playing and they’re coming along.’’

Even veteran point guard Derrick Rose spoke to the confidence of McBride and how great he looked against Golden State, stating, “hopefully Thibs gives him the time.”

During G-League play, McBride is averaging 26.8 points per game on 40.5% shooting from three and 48.2% from the field. His 57.1% effective field goal percentage is fantastic, and he’s  73.2% of his attempts unassisted, indicating play-making ability.

The West Virginia standout primarily focuses on shots from less than 5 feet (22 of 85 attempts) in accordance to the rim and between the 25–29 foot range (28 of 85 attempts). While he doesn’t have much of a pull-up jumper game or mid-range, he’s highly efficient from beyond the arc and close to the basket.

Against legitimate NBA talent, those numbers will undoubtedly level out, but seeing his sustainable success in the G-League is motivating for his future. In addition to his scoring proficiency, McBride is also a stellar defender with a sleight of hand attribute. He is incredibly quick to intercept passes, notably having the biggest hands of any guard in the most recent draft class.

Given the team continues to deal with Covid related absences, McBride is deserving of another opportunity to showcase his skill set. Against a struggling Houston Rockets team, Thibodeau should provide him with added minutes.

Yankees could sign Hideki Matsui replica in free agency

Seiya Suzuki, yankees

The New York Yankees are focused on finding a short-stop free agent this off-season, but another name has bubbled to the surface and could be a solution in the outfield.

Suppose the Bombers were looking for an exact replica of Hideki Matsui. In that case, they might have found a player with his potential in Seiyu Suzuki, who is looking to make a move to Major League baseball after spending his career in Japan with the Hiroshima Carps.

The Yankees and Boston Red Sox were two teams “aggresively” pursuing Suzuki before the lockout, and with a 30-day window to strike a deal with a Major League team, that timeline was put on hold as the owners and Players Union battles it out to compromise on several important issues.

However, when things open back up, Suzuki will be a hot commodity on the open market, expected to sign a five-year, $55 million contract, potentially even more.

Looking at Suzuki’s style of play, his preferred position is right field, currently housed by Aaron Judge. Judge is on the brink of a monster contract extension himself, but Suzuki could make the transition to centerfield unless the Yankees are willing to transition Judge away from his strongest spot.

Looking at the Japanese star’s metrics, they closely compare to Matsui’s back in the day at 26-years-old.

Hideki Matsui’s age 26 season in Japan: .316/.438/.654/1.092 with 42 homers.

Seiya Suzuki’s age 26 seasons in Japan: .317/.433/.639/1.072with 38 homers.

It really can’t get closer between Matsui and Suzuki, who is only about four homers short of exactly replicating Hideki’s numbers.

Given the success the Yankees have had with Japanese players in the past, notably Masahiro Tanaka, Matsui, and Ichiro Suzuki, making a run at the Hiroshima outfielder could be in their best interest.

Ultimately, it comes down to how much general manager Brian Cashman is going to spend this off-season, having already committed to upgrading the shortstop position and adding a starting pitcher to pair with Gerrit Cole.

Whether it be Trevor Story or Carlos Correa, either will cost upwards of $20 million per season to acquire, and a starting pitcher could hover in the same price range. Unless the team is keen on trading for a shortstop that will cost far less, expect Hal Steinbrenner to open up his checkbook after the lockout, which is hard to believe after the Yankees remained quiet prior to the league shutting down.

In terms of Suzuki, he recently unfollowed the Boston Red Sox on Instagram, so it could be a hint that he prefers to wear pinstripes instead of joining a Boston team that had even more success last season. The team’s relationships with Matsui and Tanaka may even prove to be an advantage in their pursuit of Seiya.

Chicago Bears: Matt Nagy won’t commit to starting LT

teven jenkins, bears

Lake Forest, IL– When the Chicago Bears drafted offensive tackle Teven Jenkins in the second round of the 2021 NFL Draft, the assumption was that Jenkins would begin the season at left tackle and eventually develop into a franchise cornerstone. Instead, Jenkins was shut down in late August due to back surgery, forcing the Bears to sign veteran OT Jason Peters, who’s previously played for the Buffalo Bills and Philadelphia Eagles.

When Peters injured his ankle in week 14 against the Green Bay Packers, Chicago was forced to turn towards Jenkins, who was flagged on four separate occasions in his first official NFL action. As the Bears return home to face the Minnesota Vikings, there is an important question that needs to be asked: Who will the starting LT be?

The Bears know and understand the impact of having a veteran like Peters be able to start. However, for the Bears, 2021 isn’t about Peters, it’s about the youth on the roster. With Jenkins being the future of the Bears franchise, the obvious answer would be to give the 39th overall pick the starting nod over the final four weeks of the regular season.

“I mean if he’s (Jason Peters) is healthy, for him, what I’ve been saying that what he’s done this entire year, helping us out, where he’s at the same point in time, with Teven, I do believe that yesterday (Sunday), for him was, although we had some holding penalties, he had a couple things here and there which can be significant, he can learn and grow from,” said head coach Matt Nagy via the Bears official YouTube Channel.

While Jenkins’ performance in week 14 against the Packers may have been a game to forget according to some, for the Bears to move forward with Jenkins and see improvement, Jenkins needs to get extended playing time. When the Bears drafted Jenkins, they saw his potential to develop into a multi-year starter who could protect Justin Fields blindside for at least the next decade.

Chicago Bears: Jaylon Johnson has breakout game in week 14

Green Bay, WI– When the Chicago Bears drafted cornerback Jaylon Johnson in the second round of the 2020 NFL Draft, the franchise added a player that was ready and willing to step up whenever needed. In just his second season, Johnson has been a bright spot on the Bears defense, giving the secondary a lifeline option at CB position.

Johnson has had his fair share of bright moments in 2021. He’s quietly ascended into becoming one of the NFL’s most underrated CBs and week 14 against Green Bay Packers WR Devante Adams was another example of why Johnson had a major breakout game in week 14. Per Next Gen Stats, Johnson allowed just 1.9 yards of separation, 19 total yards against Adams, and one touchdown.

“A lot of motions, a lot of drag routes, underneath routes, a lot of pick routes, I mean they switch it up pretty good, so I mean, I did a lot of things to make covering him very hard,” said Johnson via the Bears official YouTube Channel. “We shouldn’t even have given him that last touchdown at the end, just some technique issues that we just got to fix all together as a secondary,” Johnson said. “We did a heck of a job in the first half, I mean anything else that they got, I thought we shot ourselves in the food and then there was a few plays where they made some plays.”

Johnson being able to shut down Adams so effectively shouldn’t be overlooked. During a season where the Bears’ secondary is amongst the worst in the NFL, Johnson has been consistent all season and as the Bears begin to rebuild a defense on the decline, Johnson has earned a right to be part of the Bears’ future. When Chicago begins searching for cornerbacks during the 2022 offseason, Johnson will have a new sidekick as he continues to the face at CB for the Bears.