UFC: Gilbert Burns calls for main event against Khamzat Chimaev

Ever since Khamzat Chimaev (10-0) made his UFC debut, it’s been hard to find him fights. Chimaev made his debut on Fight Island back in the summer of 2020. He completely dominated two opponents in a ten day span while only taking one significant strike.

He had his second fight a couple of months later at middleweight against Gerald Meerschaert. Well, he won his third straight UFC fight by finish when he knocked Meerschaert out with the first punch that he threw. After that, the UFC threw him to the wolves (no pun intended) when they booked him against Leon Edwards.

However, covid nixed that bout. In fact, Covid nixed most of Chimaev’s 2021. After surging to becoming one of the UFC’s biggest stars in 2020, Chimaev’s career was in doubt in 2021 due to the illness. However, he was eventually able to get the proper treatment and made his return in October.

In October, he took on Li Jingliang in his return. Somehow, Chimaev was even more impressive at UFC 267 than he had been in his previous three victories. Once again, he earned himself a stoppage win. While not many fighters are calling out Chimaev, there’s one top contender who wants a main event against him.

Burns calls for UFC headliner against Chimaev

This afternoon, former UFC title challenger Gilbert Burns (20-4) took to Twitter. He tweeted out to Dana White and asked for a main event against the hottest prospect in the UFC. Burns wants a five-round fight against Chimaev and if possible, he wants it to be done in Brazil.

A fight against Burns would be massive for Chimaev. On the flip side, a fight against Chimaev would be massive for Burns. If Burns could derail the hype train that his Khamzat Chimaev, he would likely be in a great position to get a second crack at Kamaru Usman.

Meanwhile, a win against Burns would vault Chimaev right into top contender status. There aren’t many fighters that come along with this kind of “it” factor. Chimaev is something special and if he can prove himself against the best in the world, he will be a massive star for the UFC.

Time will tell, but I think there’s a good chance that this is the fight that’s going to be made. Whoever wins, will likely get a shot at the welterweight championship in the second half of 2022.

Could Jim Harbaugh be the next Head Coach of the New York Giants?

jim harbaugh, giants

The New York Giants are on the search for new management. After the retirement of General Manager Dave Gettleman and the firing of Head Coach Joe Judge, the Giants are working with a clean house. New York has completed nine interviews with GM candidates but have yet to interview any head coaching candidates. But now there are rumors that head coach candidate Jim Harbaugh is “intrigued” by the Giants’ vacancy.

Jim Harbaugh has eyes for the Big Apple

I was extremely interested to learn from reliable sources that 1) Harbaugh’s NFL interest is genuine and that 2) the Giants’ vacancy intrigues him and he’d pick up the phone if they called. – Pat Leonard of the NY Daily News

According to Pat Leonard of the NY Daily News, Jim Harbaugh is intrigued by the Giants’ head coaching vacancy. New York is still searching for its next general manager. But once that decision has been made, the Giants will turn their attention toward head coach candidates, and Jim Harbaugh could potentially be on that list.

Jim Harbaugh coaching history

Jim Harbaugh is the head coach for the Michigan Wolverines. He joined his alma matter Michigan as their head coach in 2015. Since then he has led them to a 61–24 overall record. This past season, Michigan won the conference title with a 12–2 record on the year and earned an appearance in the College Football Playoffs.

Harbaugh has a history coaching at both the college and professional level. Giants fans should remember that Jim Harbaugh coached the 2011-12 San Fransisco 49ers team that New York beat in the NFC Conference Championship Game. San Fransisco made its way to the NFC Championship game in each of Harbaugh’s first three seasons as head coach.

Jim Harbaugh’s career NFL head coaching record in both the regular and postseason is 49–22–1 (.688). Jim Harbaugh’s career college head coaching record in both the regular and postseason is 119–51 (.700). Harbaugh is a proven winner that would make a fine head coach for the New York Giants.

After dominating Giga Chikadze at UFC Vegas 46, what’s next for Calvin Kattar?

UFC

The first UFC event of 2022 did not disappoint in the main event. Top featherweights went to war as Calvin Kattar (23-5) took on Giga Chikadze (14-3). Chikadze had been unbeaten inside the octagon and many thought he would run away with the main event at UFC Vegas 46.

However, Calvin Kattar set out to prove that he wasn’t going to be easily defeated. In the opening minutes, Chikadze looked very strong. He was much faster than Kattar and he was hitting him with brutal kicks. However, you could see Kattar’s game plan from the jump.

Kattar wanted to pressure Chikadze and constantly make him move backwards which would drain his energy. He also landed a takedown in the first round. Starting in the second round, Kattar really started to take over and brutalize Chikadze.

The pressure that Kattar fought with at UFC Vegas 46 was something to behold. He sliced up Chikadze with lead elbows and constantly was touching him with jabs and straight punches. That said, Chikadze didn’t give up and he kept firing back big power shots back at Kattar.

Despite his best shots, Chikadze couldn’t get Kattar out of there at UFC Vegas 46. In the end, it was a dominant shutout for the Boston Finisher.

What’s next after UFC Vegas 46?

Before this past weekend, everyone was talking about Giga Chikadze and a potential UFC title shot. Nobody was talking about Calvin Kattar and it looked like he took that personally. He bounced back in a big way after his brutal loss to Max Holloway last year.

Now, Kattar is not in a position to challenge for the title, but this puts him right back in the mix. Before he can get a title shot, he’s going to need another big win or two. With that, who should the UFC pair Kattar up with next?

In looking at the featherweight division, there’s one name that stands out to me. That name is Brian Ortega (15-2). To me, T-City would be the perfect next opponent for Kattar. Ortega has only been bested by Volkanovski and Holloway during his run in the UFC. If Kattar could get passed Ortega, it would prove that he’s ready for a title shot.

Knicks demolished by Hornets on Tom Thibodeau’s birthday

knicks, hornets, mikal bridges, julius randle

Despite it being New York Knicks head coach Tom Thibodeau’s birthday, his team failed to pick up a victory against the Charlotte Hornets on Monday afternoon. After enjoying a three-game win streak, building momentum at MSG, the Knicks lacked energy against Charlotte, especially from their starters, who all posted a negative +/-.

RJ Barrett and Julius Randle led the scoring efforts for the Knicks, posting 18 points apiece but showcasing lackluster defense in addition. However, Barrett contributed 12 rebounds and Randle 10 in the contest, trying to impose their physicality on Charlotte, who have a relatively small team. Thibodeau’s squad did out-rebound the Hornets 53 to 39.

Once again, new acquisition from the Atlanta Hawks Cam Reddish watched from the bench as he works his way back from an ankle injury.

Point guard Kemba Walker was also questionable for the contest but was ruled out closer to game time due to a left knee injury.

The Knicks are short point guards at the moment, with Immanuel Quickley and Alec Burks picking up the slack. Burks had an off day, posting six points and just one assist. Quickley recorded five assists off the bench but was quiet from three-point range, hitting just 25% of the shots.

Altogether, the starters were not up to scratch, as Evan Fournier posted just six points over 25 minutes. The team hosted a 32.3% three-point percentage and shot 38.7% from the field. Their 52.4% free-throw rate was also an indication of focus issues.

The Knicks have been wildly inefficient from the free-throw line this season, which is part of the reason they are intrigued by Reddish and his qualities as a 90% free-throw shooter the season.

Aside from their offensive deficiencies, the Knicks simply didn’t close out shots fast enough again, Charlotte. They allowed too much space and good shooting opportunities, resulting in a double-digit deficit for the majority of the game.

It is quite clear that New York lacks a point guard at this point in time, with Kemba and Derrick Rose both rehabilitating from injuries. Rose is still several weeks out from a return after undergoing ankle surgery at the beginning of the new year.

Settling back at .500 on the season, the Knicks will look ahead to the Minnesota Timberwolves on Tuesday evening to get back in the win column. They will enjoy three consecutive home games until departing on a three-game road trip against Cleveland, Miami, and Milwaukee.

The Yankees might have stumbled upon another underrate bullpen arm

jimmy cordero, yankees

The New York Yankees and the other 29 MLB teams have had their hands tied since Commissioner Rob Manfred imposed a lockout following an impasse in coming to a new Collective Bargaining Agreement. Unfortunately, that meant that it halted players and teams from even talking together, thus halting all MLB 40 man roster transactions. But that doesn’t mean that the teams can’t make meaningful moves to improve their minor league system, and the Yankees have done just that.

Last season, the Yankees made some acquisitions that turned out to be very helpful during the season. One of those moves was to sign a player that hadn’t played the game in years. He was Lucas Luetge. He turned out to be one of the most reliable arms out of the bullpen. He ended up pitching in 57 games with a 4-2 record with a 2.74 ERA and a 1.13 whip, and he even picked up a save when Aroldis Chapman was down.

The Yankees also picked up, in addition to the little-heralded signing of Luetge last offseason, trades that resulted in getting Wandy Peralta and Clay Holmes to bolster the bullpen. Later at the trade deadline, they picked up Joely Rodriguez in the Joey Gallo trade. All of these pitchers were impactful during the 2021 season.

This season so far has been no different; the Yankees have again added hands to the team with minor league moves. However, one of the most interesting moves to date may have been back on December 16, 2021, when they signed 30-year-old right-handed pitcher Jimmy Cordero who last played with the Chicago White Sox.

If Cordero can help the Yankees next season, it won’t be until mid-season, as he underwent Tommy John surgery last March. Cordero has shown promise in the past. In 2019 he had a .0972 WHIP during 36 innings in 30 games with Chicago. However, he faltered in the 2020 shortened season with a 6.08 ERA, albeit a small sample. Cordero underwent Tommy John surgery last March and is expected back by mid-season this year. He’s shown promising signs in the past, mostly in 2019, when he had a 0.972 WHIP in 36 innings over 30 appearances with Chicago.

After a poor 2021 spring training, he elected to have the elbow surgery that ended his season. If he can come back healthy around the All-Star game, he has featured a sinker that’s been effective, and the Yankees have had success with relievers that use that pitch well. The Yankees are hoping he can be the next Lucas Luetge.

Luetge hadn’t pitched in the majors in six years but spent the entire season with the Yankees last year with excellent results. Wandy Peralta also pitched better than he did with the Giants with much-improved control. Clay Holmes was probably the surprise of the year; he dramatically cut down on his walks and had a 0.786 WHIP with the Yankees in 25 games. All of these pitchers flourished under the tutelage of pitching coach Matt Blake, and the Yankees hope the same will be true of Cordero.

The Yankees still have much to do to improve the pitching staff. After the loss of Corey Kluber to the Rays, they will need a number two type starting pitcher. Also, in the bullpen with the loss of Zack Britton for the season due to his own Tommy John surgery, they will look for a bounce-back season from closer Aroldis Chapman who had the worst season of his career.

Yankees Rumors: Cashman could pursue stud utility man Kris Bryant in free agency 2.0

kris bryant, yankees

After letting Tyler Wade and Brett Gardner go this off-season, the New York Yankees need a new utilityman to fill the void. While they could go with someone cheaper and more cost-efficient, it is possible they view kris Bryant as a potential solution at multiple positions, considering his ability to play third base and in the outfield.

The Yankees could get involved in the Kris Bryant sweepstakes:

Via MLB Trade Rumors:

The Yanks have been a sleeping giant so far in this offseason, seemingly pushing major moves until after they could get a look at the new CBA. DJ LeMahieu is the best fit for third base duties at the moment, though he could also defer to Bryant and move over to first base, especially if the club pulls the trigger on a Luke Voit trade. Like the Blue Jays and Red Sox, the Yankees were also connected to Seiya Suzuki, suggesting they could also find a way to work Bryant into the outfield mix, perhaps in combination with a Joey Gallo trade.

Bryant is an intriguing player at 30 years old, hitting .265 during 2021 with the Chicago Cubs and San Francisco Giants. He also tallied 25 homers, 73 RBIs, and a 23% strikeout rate. While his strikeouts are a bit concerning for a team like the Yankees, who are trying to lower that number, his double-digit home run potential is undoubtedly enticing.

What makes Bryant truly valuable is his ability to play multiple defensive positions, spending time in every outfield spot last season and 55 games at third base and 12 at first base.

Bryant hosts a .950 fielding percentage at third base over 678 games, representing 5,541.2 innings. While that number doesn’t exactly scream efficiency, he only hosts a -4 defense of runs saved about the average, which isn’t an awful number. He is a slightly below-average defender at the hot corner, so if the Yankees wanted to fill that spot, they could look to Bryant as a solution.

Alternatively, he can simply serve as an incredibly valuable plug-and-play utility man. With the vast number of injuries, the Yankees accrue every season, having a player like Bryant would likely be the difference between winning and losing games considering who they had at their disposal last year.

However, Bryant is projected to earn upward of $23 million per season, which might be a bit too pricey for Brian Cashman’s checkbook, considering he needs to find a legit stopgap shortstop and starting pitcher.

Knicks News: Kemba Walker injury update, New York eyes 4th straight win

thom thibodeau, knicks, kemba walker

The New York Knicks are preparing to take on the Charlotte Hornets on Monday afternoon at 1 PM, but they might be without Kemba Walker once again, whose last game was against Detroit on December 29. Walker has missed every game of the new year, representing six contests in which the Knicks have won five of them.

Thanks to the incredible turnaround of third-year guard RJ Barrett, Walker‘s loss has been relatively insignificant, relying on Immanuel Quickley, Alec Burks, and Miles McBride as the primary point guards. Recently, New York acquired Cam Reddish from the Atlanta Hawks, a young small forward with tremendous potential. However, it’s still possible they target a point guard at the deadline in hopes of adding more talent.

Recently, the Knicks were connected to Jalen Brunson of the Dallas Mavericks, and with a few weeks left to secure a deal, it is not out of the picture that the Knicks may continue to have serious talks. Usually, when there is smoke, there’s fire.

As for Kemba, he’s been dealing with a knee injury to his left leg, which was always going to be a concern this season. Bringing back Derrick Rose on a three-year deal was supposed to supplement any injury concerns, but given both are missing time simultaneously, the Knicks have had to rely on other players.

Per Marc Berman of the NY Post, Thibodeau played off Kemba Walker’s injury and focused on who’s available:

“You make your decisions based on the people you have available, but we’ll see when we get guys back,’’ Thibodeau said. “We’re always gonna do what’s best for the team, period. Whatever gives us the best chance to win, that’s what we have to do, so everyone has got to sacrifice. I want us to be at full strength. I think that gives us our best chance. So hopefully, we can get Kemba back soon and we’ll get Derrick [Rose] back and be ready to roll.’’

If Kemba is unable to start again, Charlotte, expect heavy doses of Quickley and Burks. Reddish is still coming back from an ankle issue, so don’t expect him to play for at least another few days. However, the Hornets or no pushover, sitting at 23–20 on the season but having an 11–14 record away, gives the Knicks a slight advantage. They have won four of their last five games but recently lost to one of the worst teams in basketball, the Orlando Magic.

If the Knicks want to secure victory, they need to stifle LaMelo Ball, who is averaging 19.4 points per game and 7.6 assists. Charlotte also features Miles Bridges, who is posting 19.6 points and 7.2 rebounds per game.

Limiting Bridges and Ball is easier said than done, but their best way to success is hyper-focusing on them defensively. Make their role players beat them.

Luckily for New York, they will have an advantage inside with their physicality and height but need to be wary of Charlotte‘s three-point shooting. They currently rank 3rd in the league at 37.3% from downtown. However, they are the 21st ranked rebounding team, so expect New York to present physicality and look for offensive rebounds as a catalyst for offensive production.

Bellator books title fight between Yaroslav Amosov and Michael “Venom” Page

Bellator has booked a big time welterweight title fight that will go down in a few months. The promotion took to Twitter this morning to make the news official that Yaroslav Amosov (26-0) will be defending his welterweight title against Michael “Venom” Page (20-1).

The matchup will take place on May 13th and it will take place in London. MVP is finally going to get another crack at becoming Bellator’s welterweight champion. Last week, we published an article talking about how 2022 could be a massive year for Michael “Venom” Page. 

MVP enters 2022 and will enter this title shot having won six fights in a row. His last loss came against Douglas Lima back at Bellator 221. However, he’s been on an incredible run since winning six straight fights and finishing four of those opponents.

The last time we saw MVP was at Bellator 267 when he had his rematch with Douglas Lima. He edged out Lima to win a very close split decision. There was talk of the trilogy happening next, but Bellator opted to book the title fight for London instead.

Bellator champion’s first defense

The man who will be looking to spoil MVP’s homecoming in May is the current Bellator welterweight champion Yaroslav Amosov. Amosov made his debut with the promotion back in 2018 and he’s been nothing but dominant since arriving.

Overall, Amosov is 7-0 in Bellator. The last time we saw him was back in June at Bellator 260 when he got his shot against Douglas Lima. Lima was the welterweight champion and was extremely motivated after he lost a title fight in the middleweight division.

However, that motivation couldn’t overcome the steady attack of Amosov. Amosov dominated the grappling on his way to becoming Bellator’s undisputed champion. Now, he gets a massive fight against MVP. If he can win this one, it’s hard to see someone taking that title away from him. Should be a good one in May.

Bellator fights that need to happen in 2022

In just a little under two weeks, Bellator will be back for the first time in 2022. It should be an exciting year for the promotion who has some big plans for this year. Obviously, one of the bigger items planned is the bantamweight grand prix.

In addition to that, Bellator will also conclude their light heavyweight grand prix when Corey Anderson and Vadim Nemkov square off. That fight is expected to take place in the first quarter of this year. Many exciting things are planned but there’s still a lot of speculation about the upcoming year.

Scott Coker has teased a couple of big fights that could be coming up. For example, Michael “Venom” Page might be getting his Bellator welterweight title shot in London. Fedor Emelianenko could be getting a heavyweight title fight for his retirement fight.

With so many things up in the air, let’s take a look at a few Bellator fights that need to be booked in 2022.

Bellator fights that need to be booked

AJ McKee – Patricio Pitbull 2

The first fight that Bellator has to make this year is the rematch between AJ McKee (18-0) and Patricio Pitbull (32-5). These two fought in the finals of the featherweight grand prix back in July and McKee stunned everyone when he stopped Pitbull in under two minutes.

Pitbull had done nothing but dominate the featherweight division for years. However, McKee made it look easy when he rocked Pitbull on the feet then choked him out in the first. Scott Coker has already said that the promotion will likely run things back and this is a must for Bellator fans.

Cris Cyborg – Kayla Harrison

This next matchup would pair two of the  very best women in the world against each other. If I’m Bellator, a fight that I have to book this year is Cris Cyborg (25-2) against Kayla Harrison (12-0). Harrison is the hottest free agent on the market and she’s still unsigned.

The two-time Olympic Gold Medalist and PFL champion hit the open market after capturing her second PFL title in 2021. One of her first stops after she won her title was watching Cris Cyborg defend her Bellator featherweight title. This would be a massive fight for Bellator and one they should be going all out for.

Fedor Emelianenko – Heavyweight Champion in Russia

The last fight that I really want to see Bellator book is the retirement fight of Fedor Emelianenko (40-6, 1 NC). However, it can’t just be any ordinary fight. This fight needs to be for the Bellator heavyweight championship and it needs to take place in Russia.

Fedor is coming off of two straight knockout wins that have put him right back in the title picture. In two weeks, Ryan Bader and Valestin Moldavsky will battle it out for the undisputed heavyweight title. Whoever wins that fight should fight Fedor in Russia in the Last Emporer’s final fight.

UFC books Clay Guida – Claudio Puelles

The UFC has finalized a lightweight matchup that will mark the 2022 debut of one of the more beloved fighters in the division. Fordewin MMA was the first to report over the weekend that the promotion has finalized a lightweight battle between Clay Guida (37-21) and Claudia Puelles (11-2).

The matchup will take place at a UFC Fight Night on April 23rd. This is a massive fight for Puelles who will be looking to pick up his fifth straight win. After starting out his career 7-1, the UFC signed Puelles back in 2016. However, his debut didn’t go well.

After losing his debut, Puelles completely turned things around. After that loss, he’s won four straight to earn him this shot against a guy like Clay Guida. Puelles hasn’t been the most active guy since making his UFC debut, but he had a very strong 2021.

After nearly two years away from the octagon, Puelles returned last June when he took on the previously unbeaten Jordan Leavitt. He won that fight by decision. Then he fought at a UFC Fight Night on December 4th and submitted Chris Gruetzemacher. Now, he gets the biggest fight of his career in April.

UFC Fight Night

Clay Guida entered 2021 on a two-fight losing streak. Given the losing streak and his age, there were a lot of questions surrounding The Carpenter. However, he answered all the doubters and had himself a very strong 2021 UFC campaign.

He started the year in February taking on Michael Johnson. After winning that fight by decision, he got a fight with Mark Madsen in August. The fight was incredibly close and he lost a split decision. However, he bounced back strongly by submitting Leonardo Santos in December.

Had one judge felt differently, Clay Guida could’ve gone 3-0 in the UFC in 2021. Guida showed in his last fight that he doesn’t plan on slowing down at all. Now, he’s taking on a tough young contender and will look to pick up his third win in his last four fights.