Dana White shoots down UFC title shot for Islam Makhachev after turning down RDA fight

UFC, Dana White

If there’s one thing that UFC president Dana White doesn’t like, it’s guys who turn down fights. Not only guys who turn down fights, but guys who come out saying they’ll accept a fight only to turnaround and say no.

That is exactly what happened with Islam Makhachev (22-1). The lightweight hailing from Dagestan has been on an incredible winning streak and he continued that this past weekend at UFC Vegas 49. 

Makhachev ran through Bobby Green to win his tenth straight fight. This weekend at UFC 272, Rafael Dos Anjos (30-13) was gearing up for a five-round co-main event when he found out his opponent had covid and pulled out of the fight.

The former UFC lightweight champion was adamant about staying on the card. The UFC started working on replacement opponents for RDA and one of those opponents was Islam Makhachev. In fact, Makhachev was the top choice by the promotion.

It was the best fight they could make. The UFC has tried making this fight multiple times in the past. Makhachev came out on Twitter and said that he would step in to face Dos Anjos at 170 pounds this weekend. This callout is now being looked at as a major bluff.

RDA immediately came back and told the UFC that he would take the fight against Makhachev. Dana White told Barstool today that he thought the fight was done. However, the Makhachev camp changed their tune.

No UFC title shot for Makhachev

Per Dana White, he went to bed thinking that Makhachev and RDA would fight at UFC 272. The next morning, he was informed that Makhachev and his team turned down the short-notice fight which prompted them to move to Renato Moicano.

From my understanding, the Makhachev camp firmly believes that he’s next for the UFC lightweight title. Factoring the risk/reward of taking the fight against RDA, they decided that it was not worth the gamble. Simply put, they folded after they got called on their bluff.

That fold is now looking like a horrific mistake. White told Barstool that Makhachev’s next opponent is not going to be the UFC lightweight champion. Instead, the UFC is going to rebook the fight between Makhachev and Beneil Dariush (21-4-1).

This was the fight that was supposed to headline last weekend’s fight night, but Dariush injured his leg. White said that since Makhachev turned down RDA, the Dariush fight would be next and then they’d look at a title shot should he win that fight.

Giants’ asking price for Saquon Barkley ‘significant’, per report

saquon barkley, giants

The New York Giants have begun their exile of players as new management attempts to get below the salary cap, having started the off-season with -$12 million. Both Kyle Rudolph and Devontae Booker were released on Wednesday, saving the team approximately $7 million, bringing them closer to their goal but still far off from the $40 million Joe Schoen needs to operate smoothly.

Schoen indicated on Tuesday during the NFL Combine that he’s open to any deal regarding players, whether it be via trade or player-for-player swap. Specifically, regarding Saquon Barkley, the team has a big decision to make — keep him on a $7.2 million deal or trade him for draft capital now.

If Barkley ends up balling out in 2022, the Giants face a tough situation, since they don’t want to sign him to a lucrative deal given his injury history and positional value. That would suggest that the Giants’ best mode of action is to extract any value they can at this point in time, however, reports have indicated the asking price is “significant.”

According to Jordan Schultz, Schoen isn’t simply looking to dump his contract, he’s trying to get back the 1st round pick the Giants initially invested in him, which sounds outlandish. After amassing over 2,000 all-purpose yards during his rookie season, Barkley has failed to reach expectations, mainly due to injuries and porous offensive schematics/offensive line play.

Another team could bring the best out of Saquon, but spending $7.2 million on a player one year removed from an ACL tear is a risk. Nonetheless, a team that has the salary space and feels as though a premium running back is their missing piece to a championship could call on the Giants to provide.

Looking at the situation realistically, there’s no chance Schoen brings back a 1st rounder, but asking for a luxurious amount is a good negotiation tactic. If you were a Schoen and asked for a 3rd round pick for Barkley, you may get a 4th or 5th in return, but asking for a 1st, you could possibly extract a 3rd. It’s all about perceived value and presenting an argument for that price — however, anyone with half a brain could figure out Barkley in the final year of his rookie deal is not exactly a valuable asset for the long-term.

What’s next for Bobby Green after UFC Vegas 49?

This past weekend at UFC Vegas 49, Bobby Green (29-13, 1 NC) had a chance to come in and shock the world. Green was taking on the man who many believe is currently the best lightweight in the promotion, Islam Makhachev (22-1).

Makhachev was set to take on Beneil Dariush, but Dariush injured his leg about a week before the event. The UFC needed a replacement. They looked to Bobby Green who had just fought a week and a half prior.

Green jumped at the opportunity to take on one of the best in the world in a main event. It was Green’s first UFC main event which was long overdue. Green came into the fight with a punchers chance and was going to need to land something big to get the job done.

However, he really never got a chance to do so. After an initial feeling out process, Makhachev dove on Green’s legs and secured a takedown. Makhachev went through the guard to secure a dominant position. Green would go on to get stopped in the first at UFC Vegas 49.

What’s next after UFC Vegas 49?

Let’s be clear in that Bobby Green didn’t lose an ounce of ground in terms of his placement in the division. In fact, he earned himself a better position with the UFC by being willing to take on the short-notice main event.

Clearly, Green was overmatched in that spot. However, he was willing to take the chance and he did the UFC a massive favor. Now that this main event is behind him, the promotion needs to give him a fight with someone in the same ballpark in terms of division placement.

There’s one fight that comes to mind that I think would be a ton of fun. I think the matchup for the UFC to make is booking Bobby Green against Brad Riddell (10-2). Riddell just lost his first UFC fight to Rafael Fiziev who also recently beat Bobby Green.

These two would have a sensational striking matchup that fight fans would be drawn too. Sign me up for this one all day everyday and don’t be shocked if this gets booked next.

After defending his title at Bellator 275, what’s next for Gegard Mousasi?

Gegard Mousasi

Last weekend in the headliner of Bellator 275, the middleweight title was on the line. Undefeated top prospect Austin Vanderford (11-1) was getting his shot against one of the best middleweights of all time in Gegard Mousasi (49-7-2).

For Mousasi, the question has never been about how good he is. The questions were always around how motivated he was. Mousasi has been sensational in Bellator and he’s only fallen once during his time with the promotion.

Austin Vanderford was expected to be a very game challenger at Bellator 275. His physical wrestling style could’ve presented problems for Mousasi if Mousasi wasn’t coming in completely motivated. However, Mousasi was motivated and that was a bad sign for Vanderford.

Immediately, Vanderford and Mousasi met in the center of the cage. Mousasi’s clean striking technique was touching Vanderford early in often. During one exchange, it became apparent that Mousasi wobbled Vanderford.

The challenger dove on Mousasi’s legs but Mousasi easily defended. Mousasi found himself in a dominant position and he was able to get the stoppage win to retain his Bellator middleweight championship.

What’s next after Bellator 275?

Gegard Mousasi is going to run into a problem at Bellator. It’s a problem that often happens to great fighters in shallow divisions. After easily defeating Austin Vanderford, there’s really nobody left for him to fight at 185 pounds.

Mousasi also has several fights left on his Bellator contract so there’s not much he can do in terms of moving around. I think the best move would be for Mousasi to move up to light heavyweight and that seems to be on his radar.

After his Bellator 275 win, Mousasi had mentioned that he would love to go up to 205. He would get an immediate title shot which will give him the chance to become a two division champion.

Next month, Corey Anderson and Vadim Nemkov will square off for the Bellator light heavyweight title. Given the state of both divisions, I think a fight with Mousasi and the winner would make sense for all parties involved.

After another dominant win at UFC Vegas 49, what’s next for Islam Makhachev?

This past weekend in the main event of UFC Vegas 49, we saw a matchup between two dynamic lightweight contenders. The surging top contender Islam Makhachev (22-1) was taking on a veteran of the fight game in the “King” Bobby Green (29-13, 1 NC).

Now, it was not the fight that we were supposed to see at UFC Vegas 49. Originally, Makhachev was supposed to face off against Beneil Dariush (21-4-1). That matchup would’ve been pairing two top five contenders against each other and many thought it was a title eliminator.

However, Dariush got injured at the last minute and the unranked Bobby Green stepped in on short-notice. Makhachev did what he needed to do and he ran through Bobby Green in the first round at UFC Vegas 49.

What’s next after UFC Vegas 49?

Earlier this week, it looked like Islam Makhachev was going to have a very fast turnaround. After Rafael Fiziev fell out of the co-main event of UFC 272’s fight against Rafael Dos Anjos (30-13), Makhachev volunteered to step in on short-notice.

I have heard that RDA accepted the fight. However, for one reason or another, there were issues on the Makhachev side in getting the fight done. His camp believes he’s in the drivers seat for a UFC title shot so there was hesitancy in taking a fight against the former champion on short-notice.

Whatever the truth is, we might never know. So what is next for Islam Makhachev? Well, his camp believes that he should be facing the winner of Charles Oliveira – Justin Gaethje for the lightweight title. While that’s certainly a possibility, it’s far from a guarantee.

The UFC doesn’t know what will be next for the lightweight title after the May fight. Whether people like it or not, Conor McGregor factors into the decision there especially if Charles Oliveira retains the title.

Something tells me that Islam is not going to be fighting for the UFC title next. Don’t know why, but I don’t see it happening. With that, I could see them putting back together the Dariush fight if Dariush can return in a decent amount of time. Dana White has already expressed interest.

However, the fight I think that’ll happen is him against RDA. There’s heat there and it makes sense. I think Makhachev needs another top five-ten win to get a title shot and a win over RDA would get him that.

Miles McBride rejoins Knicks in crucial road trip after clutch G League performance

Rookie Miles McBride had a clutch performance in the G League before the New York Knicks embarked on a make-or-break seven-game road trip.

McBride scattered 29 points, including two straight baskets that served as a cushion in Westchester Knicks’ 115-108 victory over Greensboro Swarm Tuesday night at Webster Bank Arena in Bridgeport, CT.

It was the Knicks’ fifth straight win that kept them sixth in the Eastern Conference with an 11-8 record. Grand Rapid Golds, buoyed by Nik Staukas’ 44-point explosion in a 103-86 win against Wisconsin Herd, are breathing down their necks with a 12-9 record.

The top six teams of each conference qualify for the playoffs.

McBride saved the Knicks from a disastrous collapse after the Swarm nearly wiped out a 24-point deficit and cut it to 104-103 with 1:57 left. A Tyler Hall technical free throw preceded McBride’s heroics. The Knicks’ rookie hit a jumper and a layup to extend Westchester’s lead to 109-103 with 68 seconds remaining. He capped his heroics with a crucial steal that led to a Quinton Rose slam to seal the win in the final 15 seconds.

“It’s crunch time. Big-time players make big-time plays. I just had to turn it up a little bit,” McBride said of his clutch performance.

McBride shot 11 of 17 from the field and went 5 for 7 from behind the arc. He added seven assists, three rebounds, two steals, and one blocked shot for a full line.

Westchester outscored Greensboro by 15 with McBride on the floor. Luka Samanic, the Knicks two-way player, continued to miss time with a plantar fasciitis injury. Allen Crabbe added 19 points, while Quinton Rose and Dewan Hernandez scored 14 points apiece for Westchester.

McBride, the 36th overall pick in last year’s draft, averages 29.4 points on 50 percent shooting and a staggering 53.5 marksmanship from deep to go with 9.6 assists, 5.6 rebounds, and 2.8 steals. But he needs to curb his 4.4 turnovers. Tuesday night was a good start as he only coughed up two errors in 39 minutes.

The New York Knicks immediately recalled McBride to join them in their crucial road trip starting in Philadelphia Wednesday.

McBride has only played a total of three minutes in two games this month for the Knicks. But that could soon change if they continue to slide. Currently, the Knicks are 11 games below .500 and four games behind the Atlanta Hawks for the last play-in spot. Their final 21 games are the seventh toughest remaining schedule, according to Tankathon.

At some point, Tom Thibodeau will have to sit out his veterans to have a better gauge of their young players heading into a summer full of uncertainty.

If Thibodeau gives McBride a chance, the rookie point guard isn’t lacking in confidence. He’s got the G League experience to lean on.

Follow this writer on Twitter: @alderalmo

 

These Yankees’ players will lose a lot of money with cancelled MLB games

yankees, gerrit cole

The current MLB lockout will likely continue indefinitely, since the league and the Players Association couldn’t reach an agreement on a new collective bargaining agreement (CBA) before the owners-imposed Monday deadline (later pushed back to Tuesday). This situation has a heavy impact on the New York Yankees.

Commissioner Rob Manfred announced the suspension of the first two series of the season, and more could be on the way if the two sides don’t agree on a new CBA quickly because players need around three or four weeks of spring training.

These lost games results, naturally, in lost money for players. Of course, those who make the league minimum are the ones who will suffer the most, but in sheer money, those with the highest salaries are slated to lose exorbitant amounts.

The Yankees, for example, will lose seven games: Four against the Texas Rangers and three vs. the Houston Astros. As of now, their Opening Day would be scheduled for April 7 against the Boston Red Sox in Yankee Stadium, per NJ Advance Media.

Yankees’ star will lose a fortune

The MLB calendar, according to the Associated Press, is 186 days. Considering this information, and with the Yankees losing seven days of payment, these players will lose the most money, per Brendan Kuty of NJ Advance Media:

Gerrit Cole

Total 2022 salary: $36 million

Per day: $193,000

Cost of games missed: $1,351,000

 

Giancarlo Stanton

Total 2022 salary: $26 million

Per day: $155,900

Cost of games missed: $1,091,300

 

Aaron Judge

Total 2022 salary (arbitration estimate): $17.5 million

Per day: $94,068

Cost of games missed: $658,476

 

Aroldis Chapman

Total 2022 salary: $16 million

Per day: $86,021

Cost of games missed: $602,147

 

DJ LeMahieu

Total 2022 salary: $15 million

Per day: $80,645

Cost of games missed: $564,515

 

Zack Britton

Total 2022 salary: $14 million

Per day: $75,268

Cost of games missed: $526,876

 

Luis Severino

Total 2022 salary: $11.5 million

Per day: $61,827

Cost of games missed: $432,789

 

Aaron Hicks

Total 2022 salary: $10.8 million

Per day: $57,526

Cost of games missed: $402,682

 

Joey Gallo

Total projected salary (arbitration estimate): $9.5 million

Per day: $51,075

Cost of games missed: $357,525

Kayla Harrison appears likely to resign with the PFL

MMA, PFL

It looks like the hottest free agent in MMA is going to be returning to the PFL. Last year, Kayla Harrison (12-0) continued her perfect run of dominance in the promotion when she captured her second season championship.

It was widely known that Harrison’s contract was up after the 2021 season. After that, Harrison began being courted by all major MMA promotions. The UFC and Bellator both hosted Harrison at their events.

The UFC even gave Harrison the camera treatment at UFC 269 and Dana White hinted at interest in booking her against Amanda Nunes. However, when Nunes lost to Julianna Pena at UFC 269, the UFC’s interest didn’t seem as high.

The promotion was still very interested, but they weren’t at the top of the market. From the beginning, PFL has been coming with the biggest financial offers. Considering Harrison’s place in life and her priorities as a new mom, many considered PFL to be the favorite.

However, that changed last month. PFL resigned with ESPN and upon doing so, they backed off a bit on their efforts to resign Harrison. That’s when Bellator started becoming a very viable option for the top free agent.

Harrison’s PFL return imminent?

Bellator was offering two things that the PFL really couldn’t offer Harrison last month. They were offering her a big financial package and they were offering her the chance to further her legacy by taking on one of the best of all time in Cris Cyborg.

However, after seeing everything unfold, PFL has once again upped their offer per Ariel Helwani. Helwani reported yesterday that the industry expectation is that Harrison will resign with PFL in the coming days. I’m told the deal is likely just going to be for the 2022 season.

Now, one interesting thing to watch out for is Cris Cyborg. The Bellator featherweight champion’s contract is up this year. PFL made a run at her in her last free agency trip but ultimately lost out to Bellator. Perhaps, PFL makes a more serious run this time around to book the Harrison – Cyborg superfight.

I still think personally that the UFC is in Harrison’s future. However, it’s a timing thing and for this place in time, Harrison will remain with the PFL.

Yankees’ potential target is still committed to playing in MLB despite lockout

yankees, seiya suzuki

Despite the fact that there was no collective bargaining agreement (CBA) before the league-imposed February 28 deadline (later pushed back to March 1), potential New York Yankees and Mets target Seiya Suzuki remains committed to playing in the major leagues and not in his native Japan, according to The Athletic’s Andrew Baggarly.

According to MLB Trade Rumors, MLB agreed to freeze Sukuki’s 30-day signing window until there is a new CBA deal in place, which may or may not happen soon and depends entirely on negotiations between the league and the Players Association.

Commissioner Rob Manfred has already cancelled the first two series of the season and, if there is no agreement soon, more games could taken off the calendar. The Yankees, like every other team in MLB, are working on schedule changes and ticket policies after recent news.

Suzuki wants to play at the highest level, could the Yankees sign him?

Baggarly said Suzuki, a potential fit in the Yankees’ outfield if they decide to splash the cash after the lockout, is all-in on joining the majors.

“Seiya Suzuki’s agent, Joel Wolfe, tells me the Hiroshima Carp star outfielder isn’t reevaluating coming to MLB based on (Tuesday’s) news that games will be cancelled: ‘Seiya is 100% committed to playing in MLB this year. He’s shown remarkable patience and resolve,’” he wrote.

Indeed, Suzuki may opt to stay in Japan if the season is called off, but as of now, he is still in waiting mode because he wants to play in America.

Per NJ Advance Media and Japan’s Nikkan Sports, “the Padres, Cubs, Mariners and Giants are ‘expected’ to be among the finalists for Suzuki once negotiations resume. … The Red Sox, Yankees and Blue Jays … have all been linked to Suzuki as well, however, and Yahoo Japan suggests the Red Sox could be an early favorite.”

Suzuki, 27, hit.309 with 189 homers, 621 RBI and a .943 OPS in 1,055 games in Nippon Professional Baseball.

Giants’ HC Brian Daboll gushes over Kadarius Toney: ‘Fun guy to watch’

kadarius toney, giants

The New York Giants are preparing to do anything possible to improve their salary cap situation this off-season, which could include trading several impact players away. Options like Saquon Barkley and cornerback James Bradberry make the most sense in terms of gaining more draft capital and clearing money to spend this off-season, but some have even considered the idea of finding a partner for Kadarius Toney.

Giants’ new GM Joe Schoen indicated during the NFL Combine on Tuesday that the team would stick with Toney and had no plans of trading him, and head coach Brian Daboll mimicked that sentiment.

Daboll had previously scouted Toney during his time with the Buffalo Bills, hitting on his explosive playmaking capabilities.

“Fun guy to watch,’’ Daboll said, via the NY Post. “Quickness, speed, play-making ability, he was a guy we looked at when I was at Buffalo coming out of Florida, he made some really wild plays.’’

This past season, Toney struggled with injuries, specifically ankle. He played in just 10 games, totaling 420 yards, including one electrifying performance against the Dallas Cowboys, where he accrued 189 all-purpose yards, which accounted for almost half his total on the season.

There is no question that Toney possesses the lateral agility and elite athleticism to become a phenomenal receiver in the NFL, but it all depends on his health.

Daboll isn’t worried about Toney’s extracurricular activities regarding his music, even stating that Toney sends him songs from time to time as they begin to grow a relationship through text and FaceTime. Ignoring his musical endeavors, Daboll is giving every player on the team a fresh opportunity to prove they can be contributing factors moving forward because if not, the team will clearly not tolerate any more distractions.

“When you take over a new job and I hope that would be the case for any of us, you get a clean slate,’’ Daboll said. “Everybody’s new, we’re all starting from scratch here. And we’re gonna do this thing together. There will be certain expectations for the people in our building, one being a pro. You can give me 1,000 different definitions of what it means to be a pro. Being on time, working hard, all the things that we talk about. All these players and all the new coaches, including myself, it’s a clean slate.’’

Developing a scheme centered around player strengths, Daboll and new offensive coordinator Mike Kafka have already begun asking the important questions. The Buffalo Bills threw the ball about 70% of the time last season, and the Chiefs also feature a phenomenal passing game, so we should expect the Giants to utilize Toney in creative ways to maximize his electrifying skill set.