New York Giants: Lawrence Tynes has strong words for Saquon Barkley

New York Giants, Saquon Barkley

Eventually, the New York Giants will have to decide what to do with Saquon Barkley. The running back appeared to have limitless potential in his rookie season, but injuries and bad offensive lines have left everyone wondering just how much he can really do. This season, Barkley will play under another coaching staff and will once again be under pressure to perform for a future contract.

As for what Barkley can actually improve on, former Giants kicker Lawrence Tynes has some advice. Surprisingly, it doesn’t have to do with Barkley’s physical speed.

Lawrence Tynes tells Barkley to find his “why”

Tynes is taking the angle of questioning Barkley’s motivation, which is a bold statement. After all, Barkley spent much of the previous year telling everyone just how motivated he is to get back to playing well.

Despite those statements, though, it’s clear something is still amiss with Barkley. It could be physical or it could be mental, but he hasn’t lived up to the level of performance from his first two years in the league.

His 593 yards and two touchdowns isn’t the worst statline in the world for a player coming off an ACL injury, but it leaves room to wonder if Barkley’s injuries have impacted his ceiling.

Of course, Barkley had less overall rushes in 2021 compared to his first two years. But even looking at the average instead of the total, there was a drop-off. After averaging 5 yards per attempt in 2018, he averaged 3.7 in 2021.

Some of that is indeed on a poor offensive line. The Giants have gotten worse in that area during his time with the franchise, not better.

But it’s likely not the only problem impacting Barkley’s game.

Maybe Barkley lost a step from the ACL tear, or maybe it’s a mental thing as Tynes suggested. Regardless of the true answer, the pressure on Barkley will be at an all-time high this season as a large future contract is at stake.

New York Giants: Eli Manning details secret ingredient to Odell Beckham Jr.’s success with Los Angeles

giants, eli manning, odell beckham jr.

Former New York Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. lit the league ablaze back in 2014 when he was drafted in the first round. Beckham finished his rookie season with 1,305 yards receiving and 12 touchdowns, playing in just 12 games after struggling with a hamstring injury to open the year.

What Beckham accomplished during his time with the Giants was illustrious, but the antics and lack of maturity planted a stain on his character. Consecutive losing seasons and a failure from management to build a competent team drove him down a hostile path that the New York media capitalized on.

However, Beckham has found success with the Los Angeles Rams this season after being released from the Cleveland Browns, the team that originally acquired him from the Giants in a blockbuster deal.

Eli Manning spoke about OBJ’s success with Los Angeles on Morten Andersen’s Great Dane podcast.

“They’re winning playoff games and are in a Super Bowl now (with) a chance to win a championship. Happy for him being a part of that.”

Manning is happy that Beckham has taken a step forward in his career and found success, preparing to play in his first Super Bowl on Sunday night. This season, Beckham has tallied 537 yards and five scores coming off an ACL tear.

In just eight games, he’s recorded 305 yards and five scores with the Rams, but his postseason statistics have been important to the team’s success. Last week against the San Francisco 49ers, OBJ recorded 113 receiving yards on 11 targets and nine receptions. His 81.8% catch rate was phenomenal, the Giants fans remember when he dropped multiple passes and recorded a 36.4% catch rate back in 2016 against the Green Bay Packers in the first round of the playoffs.

It seemed as if OBJ has put all of the negativity behind him, focusing on the future, but that didn’t come without evolving.

“Yeah, you wouldn’t think LA, drama, and Odell – on paper it doesn’t work. I think it’s just the fact that you know, he’s just learned his lesson a little bit. He’s grown up some.”

The secret ingredient has always been maturity for Odell, who has all the talent in the world but has succumbed to distractions in the past. The laser focus he currently holds on a successful team is dangerous for opponents, and the Cincinnati Bengals know they will have to limit his contributions if they want a chance at beating Los Angeles.

New York Giants: Trading Odell Beckham remains the right move

Giants fans will possibly have to stomach OBJ hoisting the Lombardi Trophy, but it was still the right move for both parties moving forward.

Dave Gettleman’s tenure as the New York Giants’ general manager produced little, if any, moves that will impact the team in a positive way moving forward. Trading Odell Beckham Jr. remains one of the few exceptions.

Such a statement could sound bizarre as Beckham prepares to partake in Super Bowl LVI as a member of the hosting Los Angeles Rams on Sunday evening (6:30 p.m. ET, NBC). The preceding postseason has offered redemption for Beckham after a highly publicized divorce from the Cleveland Browns: the formerly embattled receiver is the second-leading receiver for the Rams on their path to the Super Bowl (no dishonor when the leader is Cooper Kupp) and earned some of most important catches the NFC title game had to offer.

The Browns have borne the brunt of the Beckham jokes, if only because his departure from the Cuyahoga River is more recent and there’s a polarizing face to attach to the proceedings in Baker Mayfield. But the Giants and their fans, whose recent seasons have pushed them toward an agonizing, Cleveland-esque new normal, are likely wondering what might’ve been as Beckham suits up in a different shade of blue for the Big Game. Their incoming coaching hires have undoubtedly inspired confidence, but they won’t be able to do anything during Sunday’s trophy presentation, which will see either Beckham or fellow fallen first-rounder Eli Apple (now a Cincinnati Bengal) hoist the Vince Lombardi Trophy.

But, in the interest of both parties, shipping Beckham off remains one of the few things the franchise has done right over the past half-decade.

What exactly would Beckham have changed?

One question anyone even remotely associated with Giants football over the past five years…other than “Where are we picking this year?”…is “What if?”. In the eyes of many, it’s the lowest form of football conversation, one where the interrogators cry over spilled Gatorade with no way of getting it back in its cup.

But, for Giants fans, the hypothetical is perhaps one of the few sources of hope they had left. The hirings of accomplished football minds like Brian Daboll, Joe Schoen, Mike Kakfa, and Don “Wink” Martindale are visible signs that there is a plan to make things right, but they’re still seven months away from the ultimate barometers of gridiron success. Hypotheticals (from both the past and future) will thus continue to dominate metropolitan football conversations until Week 1 of the 2022 season (presumably at 1:00 p.m. ET).

Such discussions often allow fans to stretch the truth to the absolute city limits of their imaginations. Just one year ago, for example, a small (but vocal) sect of Giants fans was convinced that Doug Pederson removing Jalen Hurts from 2020-2021’s final regular season game against the Washington Football Team was the one thing standing between their 6-10 team and a Super Bowl run.

But what about both the Giants and knowing what we know about Beckham has convinced fans that his prescience would’ve changed anything?

The Giants, as they were, were far from a mere “Beckham away” from contention. Nothing would’ve changed had he been retained. Since their last Lombardi Trophy host in 2012, the high points of Giants football have consisted of Beckham highlights tainted by the memory of the final score: Big Blue fans often neglect to mention his famous one-handed Sunday night grab was earned in a loss to the Dallas Cowboys. Just look at the one season where Beckham did stick around: his performance was attractive enough (1,052 yards and six scores over a dozen games) but the Giants had issues far beyond No. 13. This was the team, after all, that embarked on a disastrous two-year journey under Pat Shurmur (and later Joe Judge) and committed over $3 million to 17 yards of Jonathan Stewart. Simply put, the 2018 season proved that the Giants could go 5-11 with Beckham and could go 5-11 (or worse) without him.

Alas, style points don’t count in the NFL (though a trick catch competition has emerged as an attractive alternative to the Pro Bowl), so it’s safe to say that the rational side of the Giants’ fandom wouldn’t have been satisfied with dominating the SportsCenter Top 10 rather than the NFL’s top 14.

Beckham’s revival doesn’t erase his New York shortcomings

No one can deny that his California dreams allowed Beckham to reclaim the narrative on his NFL career. Even as it prepares to reach a victorious summit on Sunday, it’s worth exploring exactly why Beckham needed redemption in the first place.

In the grand scheme of things, animated antics from NFL personalities can be excused on one eternal condition: that the player in question shows up and does his job on Sunday. Rob Gronkowski has done so for years. On a championship note, Terrell Owens came back from injury to post one of the gutsiest Super Bowl performances of all time in the game’s 39th edition (albeit in a losing effort). Johnny Manziel couldn’t counter his off-field proceedings (which included legal issues) with Sunday results and is thus remembered as one of the most notorious busts in league history.

Even when things were supposedly “ideal” in New York, namely the 2016 season where it looked like the Giants had something of an optimistic future, Beckham wasn’t wholly satisfied. Some things were, as they tend to be in the NFL, overblown: the infamous “boat photo”, for example, served as a scapegoat to the Giants’ 2016-17 playoff loss in Green Bay, made to excuse an uncharacteristically poor defensive performance.

But it’s not fair to the Giants’ organization to act like Beckham’s New York exit was entirely on the team. While ridiculously covered, Beckham’s famous encounter with a kicking net he “attacked” during the 2016 campaign dominated the headlines and only ended when he capped it off with more ridiculousness (“proposing” to the net after scoring a crucial touchdown in a win over Baltimore). Beckham’s often firey displays on the sidelines also attracted the eyes of cameras on the sidelines (the same cameras whose viewers classified Tom Brady tirades as “motivational” but that’s another conversation entirely) also generated controversy, as did Beckham’s ability to appear on both Page Six of the New York Post and its sports section.

The jury’s still out on current franchise thrower Daniel Jones. But was the unpredictability of Beckham, unarmed with the results to justify his continued services, really something Eli Manning’s successor should’ve been saddled with?

The Beckham deal was necessary for both sides to move forward

The Giants and Beckham, both beleaguered at the time of the fateful trade in March 2019, were afforded an interesting rare opportunity upon his departure. It was a life preserver from the NFL’s unforgiving waters, an afforded opportunity for each side to get back on track. True to their 2020s form, the Giants even botched their end of the deal: Gettleman’s famous declaration of “we didn’t sign Odell just to trade him” became a chat of the damned as the New York losses continued to pile up.

The only difference is that Beckham has taken advantage of his press of the metaphorical reset button. The Giants have not.

Both the Giants and Beckham needed a fresh start, a change in fortunes. The Giants, after nearly three years, are starting to inch their way back toward respectability, though that will come down to their own abilities come September. Their recent hires offer the first legitimate hope the franchise has had since Mario Manningham made his famous catch from Eli Manning’s perfectly aimed arm during the 46th Super Bowl.

Many of the Giants’ modern moves have been made in the name of erasing any lasting trace of the Gettleman era. Beckham’s departure, despite the flaws associated, is a rare one that has the potential to leave a lasting legacy toward the team’s potential redmeption.

As Giants prepare their Super Bowl watch parties, undoubtedly sullied by the team’s recent fortunes, should well remember moving forward: the temporary pain of Beckham’s Lombardi Trophy lift could well prove to produce lasting joy later.

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags

WATCH: Giants’ Eli Manning drives down the field to win Super Bowl XLII

New York Giants quarterback, Eli Manning.

It was February 3, 2008, at the University of Phoenix  Stadium in Glendale, Arizona. The Giants had stayed relevant in the game against the New England Patriots with 2:39 left on the clock. A young Eli Manning trotted onto the field with nervous energy, but the gods hand-delivered the drive that won them Super Bowl XLII.

The Giants started at their own 16-yard line with Manning in shotgun in a 3×1 wide receiver set. Eli stepped back into the pocket with jittery feet, launching a pass in between three defenders that Amani Toomer caught at the 28-yard line.

What happened next was a bit more nerve-racking, as Eli scooped a low snap off the floor and threw a pass off his back foot that sailed over the head of Plaxico Burress, which easily could’ve been an interception.

Luckily, the Giants had the football gods on their side that day, as Eli launched another pass off his back foot on a deep out-route by Plaxico Burress from the slot. A Patriots defender jumped up in the air and nearly came down with the game-sealing interception.

At that moment, with Manning under center on a 3rd-and-10 play, he launched another ball off his back foot right to Amani Toomer at the sticks. He was about a yard short, coining arguably the game’s most intense moment. Standing in the offensive backfield on 4th-and-1 was Brandon Jacobs, a 264-pound car of a human being. With an illustrious stretch of his right arm, Jacobs fell forward just enough to secure a first down and gift the Giants a chance at victory.

Many times over the lengthy career of Eli Manning, we’ve seen him get caught from behind and fumble the football. On the very next play, after Jacobs converted, Manning lost control of the ball after being hit from behind but corralled it between his legs, stifling yet another opportunity for New England to end the game.

On 2nd-and-5, Manning threw a prayer to the sidelines with David Tyree cutting his route short. Asante Samuel had a chance to seal the game, but the ball flew right through his hands. New England had three different opportunities to intercept Manning before he crossed midfield on 3rd-and-5 with one of the most insane moments in Super Bowl history.

Manning escaped the clutches of the New England pass rush, heaving up a ball that will forever be remembered as one of the craziest throws and moments the league had ever seen. David Tyree high-pointed the football, clutching it against his helmet as he stayed above the grass and put the Giants in a position to walk away with a miracle.

Soon after, the Giants faced a 3rd-and-11 with 47 seconds left on the clock. Eli hit Steve Smith on the boundary, who tip-toed his way to a first down, putting the Giants in prime position to throw a beautiful fade route to Plaxico in the end zone.

With 35 seconds on the clock, the Giants needed their defense to step up and stop Tom Brady after one of the most exciting drives in Super Bowl history. We all know how the end played out, and we’ve been reminiscing ever since as the Giants fight to climb to the top of the NFL once again.

 

 

Knicks completely blew the 2021 off-season, but Damian Lillard could still be a possibility

knicks, damian lillard

The New York Knicks are coming off an embarrassing loss to the Portland Trail Blazers, who played without CJ McCollum, who was traded at the deadline, and Damian Lillard due to injury.

The Knicks have dropped to a new low on the season, failing to beat teams littered with reserved players. With a 20 point lead at one point in the game, picking up a loss is a testament to the lack of willpower and energy they’ve displayed all season long.

With Tom Thibodeau’s team dropping to just 25 wins, seven games below .500, some are beginning to wonder who must take responsibility for the team’s shortcomings. Did the front office miss significantly in the off-season, or is Thibodeau failing to get the best of his players?

Both factors hold reason, and after such a polarizing change in direction, luring big names to the big apple might be far more difficult than it was last off-season. The Knicks had leverage in 2021, targeting players like Damian Lillard and Bradley Beal, but with Julius Randle struggling after his All-Star performance in 2021 and the Knicks’ free agent acquisitions showing wild inconsistencies, they may have to hit restart once again.

Ultimately, the Knicks need a legitimate star alongside Randle to take the pressure off. If you look over at the Brooklyn Nets, they have Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, and Ben Simmons — they’re still not a lock to win a championship.

If the Knicks really want a big name like Lillard, who the team could pursue once again next off-season, they will have to be content with losing one of their rising young players.

“If they’re going to be in the hunt for Lillard, they’d have to have a good lottery pick this year,’’ one NBA executive said, via Marc Berman of the New York Post. “Because they’d have to give up RJ Barrett. I don’t see how they get him otherwise.’’

Realistically, the Knicks will end up in the bottom half of teams in the 2022 NBA draft, but they could make a run at the play-in tournament. If they have a high selection that holds value, Portland, who recently sold the house at the deadline, could be willing to part ways with Lillard and his massive contract.

Lillard signed an extension in 2020, earning over $40 million per season over the next three years with a player option in 2024. Currently, Lillard is out after undergoing abdominal surgery, so it is possible he doesn’t play again this season.

Nonetheless, the Knicks have no shot at being a championship-caliber team with the current players on the roster. They made drastic mistakes in free agency, whereas they should’ve gone after players like DeMar DeRozan, who’s having one of his best years in the league.

Yankees have a rising star in the bullpen that deserves more attention

New York Yankees, Gary Sanchez

When the New York Yankees originally acquired Jonathan Loáisiga from the San Francisco Giants back in 2016, they hoped he would blossom into a serviceable starting pitcher.

So far, Loáisiga has taken steps in the right direction to become a focal point in the bullpen during the 2022 season and beyond. In 2021, the 27-year-old recorded a 2.17 ERA over 70.2 innings pitched. He logged 8.79 strikeouts per nine, 60.9% ground ball percentage, the highest of his career, and a 3.01 SIERA.

With injuries to players like Zack Britton, the Yankees have had to put more responsibility on the shoulders of Loáisiga, who battled his own injuries during the 2021 season but ended up being arguably their best arm on the back end.

When looking at Jonathan as a pure pitcher, he predominantly utilizes a fastball, curveball, and changeup. This past year, he recorded a career-high 98.4 MPH fastball on average, using it 58.8% of the time. His curveball saw a 3 MPH increase to 87.1, and changeup hit 90 mph. When you have a pitcher throwing a 90 MPH changeup, you know you have something special that is worth investing in.

General manager Brian Cashman only has so much money to invest in talent this off-season, and with reports they could pursue Freddie Freeman in free agency, adding to the bullpen seems like a secondary priority. Currently, the Bombers have Britton, Chapman, Nestor Cortes, Luis Gil, Chad Green, Clay Holmes, Lucas Luetge, Luis Medina, Wandy Peralta, Joely Rodriguez, and Loáisiga as options out of the bullpen.

With the Yankees’ bullpen filling in admirably for the starters, who sustained serious injuries, Johnathan stood out as a dependable option with electrifying velocity on his pitches. Interestingly, the Yankees once viewed Loáisiga as a potential starter, but settling into a relief role has given him the chance to maintain his speed and efficiency over a smaller sample size.

In fact, Loáisiga became one of the best relief pitchers in baseball this past year, earning a 2.4 fWAR ranking only behind Liam Hendriks and Josh Hader. His 2.18 xERA was second behind Hendriks, showcasing his astronomical development.

The Yankees bullpen projects to be one of the best in 2022, and Loáisiga undoubtedly plays a major factor in their plans.

Giants’ Saquon Barkley hints at big scheme change after ‘conversation’ with Brian Daboll

New York Giants, Saquon Barkley

It has been four years since the New York Giants experienced the best of Saquon Barkley at just the ripe age of 21 years old. Barkley amassed 2,028 yards from scrimmage and 15 total touchdowns during his rookie season. He won the Offensive Rookie of the Year award and earned a Pro Bowl nod, setting the stage for an illustrious career filled with success and explosive playmaking abilities.

However, Barkley has become yet another reason to pass on big-name running backs in the first round, especially since the Giants will have to pay him $7.2 million this season in a rebuilding year. Saquon has been exposed to poor offensive schematics, consistent turnover on the coaching staff, and plenty of injuries to go along with the plethora of negatives the Giants have endured over the past four years.

Nonetheless, Saquon hasn’t lost his optimism, despite fighting through a significantly injury and multiple ankle issues over the past two seasons.

Recently, the Giants embarked on a full coaching staff overhaul, bringing on Brian Daboll to be the team’s new head coach and Joe Schoen to lead their front office.

So far, Barkley is extremely excited by the energy that Daboll has brought from the Buffalo Bills, hinting at the new style of offense they will deploy in 2022 given they retain the running back for the last year of his rookie contract.

“I love the energy, I love the conversation I had with him,” Barkley said Friday, via the New York Post. “I think he and the GM Joe Schoen they’re doing an amazing job right now. I can’t wait to get back in April.”

Barkley specifically speaks about building a scheme around player strengths, something that the Giants have failed to do miserably in recent seasons. Jason Garrett forced his team to play a prehistoric system developed by Norv Turner back in 2004.

Of course, the offensive line didn’t help much either, but management is focused on improving the trenches, providing Daniel Jones and Barkley with more protection at the line of scrimmage.

“I think one, the energy that he’s bringing and the conversations about the way he’s going to relate the offense to the players and make the system work for the players,” Barkley said. “Obviously I think with Joe Schoen, what he’s going to do in free agency and the draft to build the team. I think we have the talent on the team. I truly don’t think we’re that far. We just have to keep working.”

It is extremely unlikely the Giants extend Barkley on a long-term deal, mainly after totaling just 593 yards and two rushing scores in 2021. Unless Barkley breaks out and becomes one of the best running backs in football once again, there is practically no chance Schoen offers him a big deal. Buffalo featured the league’s 3rd ranked offense last season, with two mid-round picks leading their RB corps — Zack Moss and Devin Singletary.

There’s always the possibility the Giants try to recoup the $7.2 million they owe Saquon via trade, but the expectation is that the Giants will roll with him for the remainder of his rookie deal, trying to bring the best out of him with a healthy blend of Daboll and my Kafka’s schematics, dipped in the spread and dynamic West Coast style offenses.

Israel Adesanya edges Robert Whittaker at UFC 271

In the headliner of UFC 271, we saw a rematch for the middleweight title that was two and a half years in the making. The middleweight champion Israel Adesanya (21-1) was defending his championship against the former champion Robert Whittaker (23-5).

Whittaker has waited patiently and he’s finally getting his second crack at Adesanya for UFC gold. Back in 2019, Whittaker lost his title to Adesanya when he was knocked out by him in the second round. After that loss, Whittaker went back to the drawing board.

He’s come back better than ever and he’s rattled off three straight wins. Not only has he won three straight, but two of the three men were guys that Adesanya was interested in defending the middleweight title against. Those two men were Darren Till and Jared Cannonier.

Adesanya last fought at UFC 263 when he defeated Marvin Vettori. That was a bounce back win after his loss to Jan Blachowicz where Adesanya failed in his attempt to become a two-division champion. That said, Adesanya has remained perfect at 185 and he was looking to continue that at UFC 271.

UFC 271 Recap

Round 1

The UFC 271 main event kicked off with a touch of the gloves. Adesanya opens the striking with a low kick. Low kick answer from Whittaker. Oblique kick from Whittaker and another low kick lands for the champion. Inside leg kick from Adesanya lands and Whittaker circles.

Outside leg kick from Whittaker. Jab lands for Adesanya. High kick attempt from Adesanya is blocked by the challenger. Another solid oblique kick from Whittaker. Both men are very patient in the opening couple of minutes. Two more solid leg kicks land from Adesanya.

Whittaker blitzes but nothing lands. Jab from Whittaker and a vicious calf kick from Adesanya lands. Big straight shot from Adesanya and Whittaker goes down. Whittaker is right back up but Adesanya is taunting him here. Sloppy takedown attempt from Whittaker is easily defended.

Pressure here from Adesanya and he lands a brutal leg kick. Another sloppy takedown attempt from Whittaker and Adesanya is looking supremely confident here. The round ends and it was a very good one for Adesanya. 1-0 for the champion at UFC 271.

Round 2

Entering the second at UFC 271 and Whittaker needs to get some respect to make this competitive. Double jab from Whittaker and he tries to follow with a head kick but Adesanya evades. Whittaker attacking more here in the second round.

Things are getting wild and Adesanya clips Whittaker. However, Whittaker lands a couple of big shots in the exchanges. Adesanya lands a brutal kick and they are back at range. Nice jab lands for Whittaker. Big right hand just misses from Whittaker, but he lands two good left hands.

Whittaker is definitely landing more here in the second. Head kick dodged by Adesanya and he lands a big leg kick. Big takedown attempt from Whittaker and he gets Adesanya down. However, Adesanya uses the fence and immediately gets back up to his feet.

Whittaker keeps the clinch and is pushing Adesanya against the fence. They break and they’re back to striking. Two solid kicks land for Adesanya. Solid jab from Adesanya and Whittaker lands a big calf kick on the counter. Two good left hands from Whittaker.

Pressure here from the champion and both men trade big shots. Powerful leg kick from Adesanya. The round comes to a close and it was razor close, but I lean towards Whittaker which would make it even at UFC 271.

Round 3

Entering the third and this could be even at UFC 271, but Adesanya definitely still holds the edge in momentum. Adesanya goes right back on the pressure to start the third round. Switch kick from Adesanya just misses the mark and Whittaker comes in with a straight left.

Body kick from Adesanya. Jab from Whittaker as Adesanya comes in. Another solid body kick from Adesanya lands. Low kick from Adesanya who is starting to put on a kicking clinic here at UFC 271. Big left straight from Whittaker and Adesanya lands a big counter.

Oblique kick from Whittaker. Whittaker tries blitzing but Adesanya evades. Level change from Whittaker and he tries a takedown, but Adesanya defends well. Adesanya goes for a head kick and Whittaker uses the opportunity to get a brief takedown.

However, Adesanya pops right back up and they are back to striking again. Nice jab from Whittaker. Double jab from Whittaker but Adesanya lands a flush shot back. Huge low kick from Adesanya buckles the leg of Whittaker. Left straight from Whittaker and a nice counter right lands from Adesanya. Another really close round at UFC 271.

Round 4

Entering the fourth and this is a very close fight at UFC 271. Oblique kick starts the round for Whittaker and he lands a flush left hand behind it. Body kick finds the mark for Adesanya. another brutal leg kick lands for Adesanya. The two men come to a clinch and Whittaker lands some good shots on the inside.

However, Adesanya lands a flush counter on the exit. Whittaker times a takedown beautifully and gets to the back of Adesanya. Adesanya pops up but Whittaker is hunting the choke. He almost has it in, but Adesanya defends it well and shakes off the challenger. Great scramble there and we are back at range.

Both men trade big jabs. Nice left hand from Whittaker but Adesanya brutalizes him with two more leg kicks. Big counter right from Adesanya and Adesanya is pressuring here. Uppercut in tight lands for Whittaker. Whittaker double jabs and Adesanya just misses on a huge right hook.

Adesanya pushes forward, but Whittaker catches him in a clinch and pushes him against the fence. Big right hand lands for Whittaker and the round comes to a close. Likely Whittaker’s round and I honestly have no idea how this is scored at UFC 271.

Round 5

Entering the final round at UFC 271 and this could be anyone’s fight. Whittaker comes in with a double jab and he lands it twice in a row. Nice jab from Adesanya and Whittaker lands a nice left hook. Body kick from the champion and he’s pushing forward here.

Another body kick lands for Adesanya. Huge left straight from Whittaker pops Adesanya’s head back, but he doesn’t follow up. Adesanya back on the pressure and he lands a big kick. Level change from Whittaker and he looks for a takedown. However, Adesanya defends and shakes him off.

Another good left hand lands for Whittaker. Big takedown attempt from Whittaker and he gets Adesanya down briefly. However, once again, Adesanya gets back to his feet. Body lock from Whittaker and he presses Adesanya against the fence.

Nice left hook from Whittaker on the break. Big jab lands for Adesanya and he’s back to the pressure. Low kick from Adesanya lands and Whittaker throws a combination. Another level change and takedown attempt from Whittaker.

He nearly gets him down. However, Adesanya stays on his feet. Whittaker is holding him against the fence and he tries to drag him down, but Adesanya stays on his feet. The round comes to a close and that should be Whittaker’s round, but this could be anyone’s fight at UFC 271. I think Adesanya will likely win a decision here.

Israel Adesanya def. Robert Whittaker by Unanimous Decision (48-47, 48-47, 49-46)

Tai Tuivasa knocks out Derrick Lewis at UFC 271

Two of the biggest and baddest knockout artists went to war tonight at UFC 271. The heavyweight knockout king, Derrick Lewis (26-8) returned to his hometown of Houston to take on fellow knockout artist Tai Tuivasa (14-3).

This is a quick turnaround for The Black Beast as he just fought in December against Chris Daukaus. That night, Lewis was looking to bounce back and he did in a big way when he knocked Daukaus out in the first round. The win was able to get Lewis back on track after his poor performance at UFC 265 where he lost to Ciryl Gane.

Tai Tuivasa burst onto the UFC scene a few years ago and he was knocking out everyone. After reaching 10-0, he had a fight with former heavyweight champion Junior Dos Santos. Tuivasa was knocked out in the second round of that fight. That loss started a three fight losing streak.

After this streak, Tuivasa started taking his UFC career more seriously and he drastically turned things around. Heading into UFC 271, Tuivasa was riding a four-fight winning streak and only one of those fights had reached the second round.

UFC 271 Recap

Round 1

The UFC 271 co-main event kicked off with a touch of the gloves. Lewis holds the center and Tuivasa opens with feints. Low kick from Tuivasa just misses. Then a powerful low kick lands for Tuivasa. Tuivasa ducks under a big hook from Lewis and he pushes him against the fence.

Tuivasa holding Lewis against the fence and he’s working knees to the thighs. More knees to the thigh from Tuivasa and Lewis seems composed. The referee breaks them apart and they’re back to striking. Big head kick attempt from Lewis and Tuivasa just evades a big shot from Lewis.

They clinch again and Lewis pushes Tuivasa against the fence. Takedown attempt from Lewis, but Tuivasa defends well and reverses the position. Good elbows on the inside from Tuivasa, but Lewis gets an inside trip and he gets a takedown.

Massive power shots from Lewis and Tuivasa is rocked, but Tuivasa gets to his feet and they both trade big power shots. Huge exchange and Tuivasa pushes Lewis back up against the fence. Hip toss from Lewis and he gets a takedown.

Tuivasa holds onto a leg and he’s trying to get top position. They get back up to their feet and they rest against the fence. Big knee to the body from Tuivasa. The round comes to a close and it’s 1-0 Lewis at UFC 271.

Round 2

Entering the second at UFC 271 and this is anyone’s fight right now. They touch gloves and here we go. Low kick from Tuivasa and Lewis just misses a huge counter. Lewis rocks Tuivasa again in an exchange. Tuivasa retreats and Lewis is on him.

Lewis settles into the dominant position in a clinch, but Tuivasa reverses. They break and they are back to striking. Huge exchange from both men and Lewis is now rocked. Tuivasa is going after him and he lands a huge elbow. Face plant from Lewis and this one is over. Tai Tuivasa shocks Houston and Derrick Lewis at UFC 271.

Tai Tuivasa def. Derrick Lewis by KO – Round 2