Rangers acquire Andrew Copp, three others, as trade deadline comes to an end

General Manager Chris Drury made several transactions for the New York Rangers on Tuesday in the hope of fine-tuning the team for a deep run in the upcoming Stanley Cup Playoffs.

On the final day of the NHL trade deadline, Chris Drury made several trades to shore up his squad for what he and the New York Rangers hope will be a deep run in this year’s post-season.

The Rangers traded for defenseman Justin Braun from the Philadelphia Flyers, center Andrew Copp from the Winnipeg Jets, forward Nick Merkley from the San Jose Sharks, and forward Tyler Motte from the Vancouver Canaucks.  The trades will upgrade the blueline as Braun should be paired with Patrik Nemeth as the new third pair defense unit.

Copp and Motte will be added to the bottom six forming a more cohesive unit. The trades come at a time of uncertainty as head coach Gerard Gallant announced this evening that both Kappo Kakko and Kevin Rooney would be out of the lineup for the remainder of March and possibly into April.

Details of Trades

Justin Braun– Was acquired in exchange for a third-round selection in the 2023 NHL Draft.

Braun, 35, has tallied five goals and 11 assists for 16 points and a plus-3 rating in 61 games for the Flyers this season. In addition, Braun has recorded 79 hits, a team-high 114 blocked shots, and has averaged 20:02 of time on ice this year. His five goals are tied for a career-high mark he originally set in 2017-18 with San Jose.

The Minneapolis, Minnesota native has skated in 783 career NHL games split between the Flyers and Sharks, registering 33 goals and 162 assists for 195 points and a plus-25 rating. Braun is in his third season with the Flyers after coming from San Jose where he played nine years (2010-11 – 2018-19). In 2017-18 with the Sharks, Braun set career-highs in assists (28) and points (33) while ranking second on the team in hits (143), blocked shots (152), and second among Sharks defensemen in points.

The 6-2, 205 pounder has 100 games of playoff experience to his name, tallying three goals and 12 assists for 15 points. He made it past the Second Round of the playoffs in four out of five years from 2016-20. Braun helped the Sharks advance to the 2016 Stanley Cup Final in a playoff year that saw him set career-highs in games played (24), goals (2), assists (5), points (7), and plus-minus (plus-7).

Braun was originally selected by the Sharks in the seventh round, 201st overall, in the 2007 NHL Entry Draft.

Andrew Copp– along with a sixth-round selection in the 2023 NHL Draft from the Winnipeg Jets. In exchange, the Rangers have traded forward Morgan Barron, two conditional second-round picks (conditions listed below), and a fifth-round pick in 2023.

  • Conditional second-round pick 1 (NYR’s own second-round pick in 2022; becomes a first-round pick in 2022 if the Rangers advance to the Eastern Conference Final and Copp plays in at least 50 percent of New York’s playoff games).
  • Conditional second-round pick 2 (either STL’s own second-round pick in 2022 or NYR’s own second-round pick in 2023).

Copp, 27, has registered 13 goals and 22 assists for 35 points in 56 games with the Jets this season. Among Winnipeg skaters, Copp ranks sixth in goals, seventh in assists, fifth in points, and fourth among Jets forwards in time on ice per game (19:48). Last night, Copp recorded his fourth three-point game of the season.

The Ann Arbor, Michigan native has skated in 467 career NHL games, all with Winnipeg, notching 74 goals and 110 assists for 184 points and a plus-56 rating. Copp has recorded double-digit goal totals in each of his last four seasons and 20 or more points in each of his last five seasons. In 2020-21, the 6-1, 206 pounder established career highs for goals (15), assists (24), points (39), power-play goals (6), and power-play assists (6). In the past two seasons combined, he ranks fifth on Winnipeg in points (74) and assists (46), and sixth in goals (28). His nine power-play goals since 2020-21 rank fourth on the Jets.

Nick Merkley– Was acquired from the San Jose Sharks in exchange for Anthony Bitetto.

Merkley, 24, has recorded one goal and two assists for three points in nine games with the Sharks this season. With the San Jose Barracuda of the American Hockey League (AHL), he collected 11 goals and 25 assists for 36 points in 43 games this season. On the Barracuda, he ranks tied for first in assists, tied for second in points, and sixth in goals.

The Calgary, Alberta native has skated in 41 career NHL games split between the Sharks, New Jersey Devils, and Arizona Coyotes, tallying four goals and 11 assists for 15 points.

Tyler Motte– Wasa acquired from the Vancouver Canucks in exchange for a fourth-round selection in the 2023 NHL Draft.

Motte, 27, has recorded seven goals and eight assists for 15 points and a plus-3 rating in 49 games with the Canucks this season. His eight assists are a career-high and his 15 points are the second-most in a single season in his career. He ranks fifth on the Canucks with 90 hits, sixth in blocked shots (51), and tied for sixth in takeaways (27).

The St. Clair, Michigan native has skated in 260 career NHL games with the Canucks, Columbus Blue Jackets, and Chicago Blackhawks, registering 35 goals and 27 assists for 62 points. Since 2017-18, Motte leads all Canucks skaters with 555 hits. Last season, Motte led all Canucks skaters in hits (100) despite missing 32 games due to injury. In 2020-21, he was awarded the Fred J. Hume Award as “Unsung Hero” as voted by the Canucks fans and was also named the winner of the Daniel & Henrik Sedin Award for “Community Leadership”.   (Notes courtesy of NYR PR Department)

Lineup

The Rangers’ next game will be on Tuesday night vs. the New Jersey Devils at MSG.  Providing all players can get to Garden for that game a projected lineup for the forwards could look like the following;

Kreider – Zibanejad – Lafrenierefor
Panarin – Strome – Vatrano
Copp – Chytil – Goodrow
Motte – McKegg – Hunt/Reaves

 

 

Tom Thibodeau explains why Knicks lost to Jazz

In only the second game since 1953, and the only seventh game in NBA/BAA history, where both teams scored on 17 two-pointers or fewer (per Basketball-Reference), the Utah Jazz kept the New York Knicks off the glass to run away with a 108-93 win Sunday at Madison Square Garden.

The Jazz hit only 17 two-point shots while the Knicks made only 15. But the bigger story was the Jazz held the Knicks, the third-best rebounding team in the league, to only 37 rebounds (nearly 10 below their average). It was only the 11th time the Knicks failed to grab at least 40 rebounds this season. And the biggest story of the night was Donovan Mitchell, a Westchester native and a Knicks trade target, put on a show.

“The thing is, they’re a really good team. So you got to play for 48 minutes. We didn’t do that,” New York coach Tom Thibodeau said. “We fell short.”

Indeed, they fell short as Mitchell scored six of his game-high 36 points down the stretch to save the Jazz from a collapse after the Knicks’ bench cut a 10-point deficit and pulled within four, 93-89, with 5:19 remaining.

The Knicks held Rudy Gobert to a single-digit rebound for the first time since Feb. 20, but the Jazz still outrebounded them by a dozen, 49-37.

Gobert finished with 14 points, nine rebounds, and four blocked shots. Despite a rare off-night from Gobert by his standards, he still outclassed Knicks centers. Mitchell Robinson again shrunk against one of the elite big men in the league. He could only produce four points and three rebounds in more than 25 minutes. Rookie center Jericho Sims was scoreless and grabbed six rebounds in more than 21 minutes.

“I thought it was one of the few times I just felt we didn’t rebound the ball well tonight. There were a lot of 50-50 balls that we didn’t get to. We knew they were going to shoot a lot of threes. Covering the elbows is important, and they beat us to those,” Thibodeau said. “That hurt us. That got them going. If you don’t rebound, it’s going to be hard to win.”

The Jazz made 17 of 46 three-pointers, with Mitchell going 7 of 12. The Knicks kept in step, sinking 16 of 40, with Evan Fournier and RJ Barrett combining for 9 of 18 three-pointers. But the Knicks could not survive Julius Randle’s stinker — 13 points on an ugly 6 of 21 shooting and 1 of 6 from deep. Randle did grab a game-high 11 rebounds, but he was a step slow that epitomized the Knicks’ overall play.

After Barrett and sophomores Immanuel Quickley and Obi Toppin conspired in an 8-2 run that gave the Knicks a shot at scoring an upset, Randle and the rest of the starters came in, and it went downhill from there. Randle missed a wide-open layup, committed a turnover, and a foul sandwiched by a Fournier foul to kill any hopes of completing a Knicks comeback.

Mitchell took over for the Jazz.

“When you have a guy like [Donovan] Mitchell, who’s going to require a lot from you — you’re going to be blitzing. [Rudy] Gobert can put a lot of pressure on the rim and then [Jordan] Clarkson as well. He’s a big-time scorer,” Thibodeau said.

“When the two of them are on the floor, you got two guys that you really got put two on to, which will spread you out, and that probably hurt us some with the rebounding because you’re in rotation. It requires high energy, and I felt like, as a team, we were behind tonight.”

The Filipino-American guard Clarkson added 23 points, 18 in the first half, off the bench.

The loss snapped the Knicks’ two-game win streak and kept them five games behind the 10th seed Atlanta Hawks with 11 games left. The Knicks will host the Hawks Tuesday in a match that could seal their inevitable fate this season.

Follow this writer on Twitter: @alderalmo

Yankees preparing to be outed for sign-stealing with Rob Manfred’s findings going public

brian cashman, yankees

With New York Yankees general manager Brian Cashman taking a conservative approach this off-season, the team still has ways to go before they are considered a World Series contender. However, things are about to get a bit more tumultuous for the organization as the 2017 sign-stealing letters from commissioner Rob Manfred are about to go public.

Manfred shared the findings from the MLB investigators privately with the Yankees, but the public hasn’t been made aware of the differences between what was initially uncovered and what Manfred told teams behind the scenes.

Of course, the Yankees want to stop the letter from being exposed to the public. The harm and the negative attention it will bring as the information is falsely broken down could have a lasting impression on the organization.

“The Yankees argue that the harm from the unsealing of the Yankees Letter will rise because its content ‘would be distorted to falsely and unfairly generate the confusing scenario that the Yankees had somehow violated MLB’s sign stealing rules, when in fact the Yankees did not,” the court wrote, per ESPN. “That argument, however, carries little weight. Disclosure of the document will allow the public to independently assess MLB’s conclusion regarding the internal investigation (as articulated to the Yankees) and the Yankees are fully capable of disseminating their own views regarding the actual content of the Yankees letter.”

The Yankees feel as though they didn’t do anything wrong but got wrapped up in the sign-stealing debacle along with the Houston Astros and Boston Red Sox.

Giants sign new running back and pass rusher to deals, filling roster holes

matt breida, giants

The New York Giants have been rather conservative with their spending this off-season due to significant salary restraints. Bringing in Mark Glowinski, formally of the Indianapolis Colts, and backup quarterback Tyrod Taylor, mark the team’s two most lucrative signings, despite both of them being efficient contracts.

However, new general manager Joe Schoen and head coach Brian Daboll are slowly piecing together the roster, making two more signings on Monday to bolster both sides of the football.

The New York Giants made two signings on Monday:

RB: Matt Breida

Schoen signed veteran running back Matt Breida to a contract. The 27-year-old, five-year NFL veteran has come a long way from his 2018 season, where he recorded 814 yards and three scores. Since then, Breida has dealt with significant injuries, making his way to the Buffalo Bills last season when he served as a reserve option behind Devin Singletary and Zack Moss.

At this point in his career, Breida isn’t exactly considered an impact player, but he’s a capable reserve that can fill a specific role and support Saquon Barkley, given he isn’t traded this off-season. The expectation is that Big Blue will also draft a running back in the middle rounds, having attendant Georiga’s pro day to take a good look at James Cook and his versatility out of the backfield.

EDGE: Jihad Ward

The Giants also signed former Baltimore Raven and Jacksonville Jaguars defensive end Jahid Ward, who played in all 17 games last year.

Ward, who stands at 6’5″ and 285 pounds, is preparing to turn 28 years old this year. Last season with Jacksonville, he tallied 32 combined tackles, three tackles for loss, seven quarterback hits, and two sacks.

Given Wink Martindale’s familiarity with Ward during his time in Baltimore, the connection was obvious. The deal is likely a one-year contract for minimum money, adding a bit of veteran experience to a position that just lost Lorenzo Carter on Monday, signing a contract with the Atlanta Falcons for one season.

Yankees Mock Trade: Landing one of Oakland’s starting pitchers on the market

sean manaea, yankees, a's

The New York Yankees have several holes on the roster left to fill, one of them being the starting pitching rotation. Relying consistently on Jameson Taillon, Luis Severino, Domingo German, and Nestor Cortes to fill spots may be overly optimistic.

All four of these players are either coming off injury or haven’t sustained prolonged success to justify unwavering confidence. General manager Brian Cashman has failed to add significant talent this off-season, but that doesn’t mean he’s wrapped up negotiations, and he’s willing to let things play out.

The Oakland Athletics are reportedly shopping two starting pitchers, Sean Manaea and Frankie Montas, but the former may fit the bill for the Yankees considering his reliability over the past few seasons and solid stuff.

Let’s take a look at a mock trade that could work out well for the Yankees.

New York Yankees trade prospects:

2B: Oswald Cabrera

RHP: Clarke Schmidt

Oakland trades:

SP: Sean Manaea

In this scenario, the Bombers trade away Oswaldo Cabrera and Clarke Schmidt, a young infielder climbing the farm system and a 26-year-old relief pitcher who has struggled when called upon in the MLB the last two seasons.

Cabrera spent last year with Somerset and Scranton, hitting a combined .272 with 29 homers and 89 RBIs. At 22 years old, Cabrera is an exciting prospect with plenty of potential, but unless the Yankees are looking to trade Gleyber Torres, they already have the second base position filled for the foreseeable future. If they want to commit fully to Anthony Volpe and Oswald Peraza, they can afford to leverage one of their prospects, and Cabrera, unfortunately, may be the odd man out.

In addition, Schmidt, who made two appearances last year, is also included in the trade. Schmidt only has 12 innings of major-league play, but at 26 years old, the Yankees may look to take advantage of his value, especially if they feel he’s plateauing. He did record a 2.10 ERA last year in AAA but was batted around when called up by the Yankees. He could still have tremendous value for a team looking to develop him and have the reps to offer, especially since he has five years left of service time before hitting free agency.

In return for Cabrera and Schmidt, the Yankees would get Sean Manaea, who posted a 3.91 ERA last season over 179 innings. At 29 years old, Manaea has one year of service time before becoming a free agent, but the Yankees could extend him quickly and keep him as the No. 2 starter behind Gerrit Cole.

Manaea’s best season came back in 2018 with Oakland, posting a 3.59 ERA, 4.46 SIERA, and 4.32 xFIP. Manaea features a fastball, changeup, and slider. He transitioned from his fastball to a sinker last year, throwing it 60.1% of the time at 92.2 mph.

The Yankees traded for Clay Holmes, who also features a lethal sinker, extracting tremendous success out of him after disappointing with Pittsburgh. If they can do the same with Manaea, he could be a home run addition this off-season, injecting much-needed talent into the rotation.

Boone discusses the tough AL East, says the Yankees have ‘a chance’ to be great

New York Yankees, Aaron Boone

The New York Yankees finished tied with the Boston Red Sox for second place in the American League East division last year, behind the Tampa Bay Rays and just one game ahead of the Toronto Blue Jays.

Boston then knocked the Yankees out of the playoffs with a convincing win in the Wild Card game at Fenway Park. The AL East is not what it used to be, during the days in which the Yanks easily dominated: New York could very well be the third or fourth-best team of the lot.

The Toronto Blue Jays have brought Matt Chapman, Kevin Gausman, Yusei Kikuchi, and extended Jose Berrios in a very successful offseason. The Red Sox signed shortstop Trevor Story, while the Rays brought in former Yankees pitcher Corey Kluber and extended Wander Franco.

The Yankees traded for Josh Donaldson, Isiah Kiner-Falefa, and catcher Ben Rortvedt, but didn’t move the needle much in the pitching side and traded away their starting catcher. They aren’t worse than 2021, but are they better? Have they done enough to keep up as the rest of the division improved?

The Yankees are in a tough spot

Manager Aaron Boone certainly “hopes” the Yankees can secure a spot in the postseason, or at least that’s what he implied in a recent interview.

“Aaron Boone on the belief his Yanks aren’t favorites in AL East while acknowledging rivals’ improvements: ‘I feel like we have a chance to be great … Our hope and expectation is to be at the top of the heap come season’s end, and that’s what we’re working toward,” he said on MLB Network, according to insider Jon Heyman.

The Yankees are a good baseball team, but there is a case to be made that both the Rays and Jays are slightly better, and they have a comparable roster to the Red Sox. That could be enough to make the playoffs thanks to MLB’s new expanded format, but it’s not a guarantee.

The Yankees still have time to trade for a pitcher to fortify their rotation and give it more depth, which seems necessary. The Oakland Athletics are selling Sean Manaea and Frankie Montas, though New York so far hasn’t been willing to meet their price.

That has been a constant in trade negotiations: the Yankees aren’t in a good spot because they need talent, but don’t want to surrender their prospects.

Is there time for the Yankees to improve? Bringing in one of the A’s pitchers could be a nice step forward. But even Boone doesn’t sound fully convinced the Yanks are a force in the East.

After devastating finish at UFC London, what’s next for Arnold Allen?

This past weekend in the co-main event of UFC London, we saw a pivotal matchup in the featherweight division. Former top lightweight contender Dan Hooker (21-12) was returning to featherweight to take on the surging English contender Arnold Allen (18-1).

Arnold Allen has been looked at as a top prospect in the UFC for some time. However, he hasn’t been the most active featherweight in the world and that has limited his shine thus far. UFC London was his chance to really show the world just how good he is.

Dan Hooker was returning to featherweight and was figuring to go right into the title mix after a nice run at lightweight. However, Arnold Allen wasn’t going to let him have a comfortable debut. In fact, Hooker never even got a chance to get comfortable inside the octagon.

From the opening bell at UFC London, Arnold Allen furiously attacked Dan Hooker. Hooker tried to fight back, but Allen was all over him. Hooker did land one good counter, but that was about it. The fight was completely one-sided and Allen got the standing TKO finish halfway through the first round.

What’s next after UFC London?

This was a huge fight for Arnold Allen and it showed UFC fans just how good he is. There’s no doubt about it that Arnold Allen in squarely in the title conversation at 145 pounds. After the fight was over, there was one man that Allen was interested in fighting and it’s a fight that makes sense.

Allen called for a fight with “The Boston Finisher” Calvin Kattar. Kattar is coming off of a dominant main event win over Giga Chikadze back in January. Kattar and his camp have told the UFC that they are wanting to return over the summer and they’ve already expressed interest in fighting Allen.

If Allen is willing to fight again over the summer, it’s time to strike while the iron is hot. The UFC should absolutely book Kattar and Allen with the winner potentially getting a shot at the featherweight title. Allen proved he’s special on Saturday, now it’s time to see if he’s title-ready.

New York Yankee Legends Series: Gil McDougald, “The Yankee’s glue”

When you think of the New York Yankee teams of the 1950’s you think of Yogi Berra, Mikey Mantle, Whitey Ford, and the like, but many don’t remember Gil McDougald and the fact that he was the glue that held those teams together, especially in the infield where he played second short and third base. He was quiet, religious, charitable long before most baseball players were. He was loved by the fans and his teammates and was, above all highly competitive.

His name will always be tied to the Indians pitcher Herb Score’s death spiral through no fault of his own. McDougald hit a line drive that would hit score, a tremendous pitching prospect. The ball struck him directly in the right eye and then caromed to third baseman Al Smith, who made the play to first. By then, McDougald was no longer running, having veered off the base path to join those gathered around Score, crumpled on the mound, his glove covering a bloodied face.

Removed to a Cleveland hospital, Score had numerous facial bone fractures, and the sight of his right eye was in jeopardy. McDougald was not to be consoled. He would later learn that Score would never fully recover and would be demoted to the minors.
Gilbert James McDougald was born in San Francisco on May 19, 1928. This six-foot-one, the skinny kid went to Commerce High School in San Francisco. He was an All-American basketball player there. He didn’t play baseball until his senior year. When attending college after graduating high school in 1946, he would play semi-pro ball with the Bayside Braves. Gil would develop a very strange stance in the hitter’s box. He would stand with legs splayed open to the pitcher and the bat cocked at waist level. This odd stance turned off most baseball scouts. However, Gil impressed Yankees West Coast scout Joe Devine. He saw something in the young Gil and signed him to a $200 a month contract with the Yankees.

Gil would speed through the minors in 1948 and advance to the majors in 1951. McDougald played his first major league game on April 20, 1951. A few days later, he would have the major league record for batting in 6 runners in one inning. He further cemented his popularity by being the first rookie to hit a grand slam in a World Series. This would be the beginning of a 10-year career, spent entirely with the New York Yankees.

During the 1951 season, Billy Martin, Bobby Brown, and Jerry Coleman had all been called into the Korean War. McDougald basically held the team together by being the ultimate utility player, playing all infield positions. Manager Casey Stengel loved Gil as he could use him anywhere necessary. Casey would say of his hitting style, “Maybe McDougald does hold the bat cockeyed, but there ain’t anything wrong with the way he swings it.”

However, with players returning from the military, Gil would spend a lot of time on the bench. Nonetheless, he was an All-Star, MVP candidate and would win Rookie of the Year. The next year Gil’s salary would be doubled to $12,000. He and his family would move to New Jersey, where they would spend the rest of their lives.

In 1952 he would again be an All-Star and further endear himself with fans as in Game One of the World Series he would homer as the Yanks bested the Brooklyn Dodgers in seven games for another World Series crown. 1953 was no different he batted .285, with a career-best 83 RBIs, and the Yankees would go on to beat the Brooklyn Dodgers again in World Series that would include two homers by McDougald. All this at the same time that he was being an outstanding second baseman.

But the best was yet to come for the 25-year-old baseball star. But at the same time, he knew his playing days would last forever, and with the Yankee’s permission, he and a friend would found the Yankees Building Maintenance Company. The enterprise would flourish and provide the McDougald family a reliable income for the next 30 years.

In the next four years, Gil would be an MVP nominee and an All-Star from 56 to 1959. During this time, the aging veteran shortstop Phil Rizzuto would be in decline, and Gil would start to play again at short. In 1959 he would be an All-Star at second and at short. In 1956 Gil would be hit in the ear, in what was originally thought to be a concussion, which it wasn’t, but he would lose his hearing in his left ear, which never affected his game.

At the beginning of the 57 seasons, the Herb Score hitting incident would happen when Gil hit the pitcher with a line drive that nearly killed him but did ruin his career, something Gil would carry with him for the rest of his life. In 1958 would be named the Yankee’s most popular player by the CYO of the Archdiocese of New York. He was also the recipient of the Lou Gehrig Award, the first Yankees player ever to receive the prestigious honor.

Although McDougald was relatively young, he began to realize his baseball days might be coming to an end. He hit .250 in 1958 and .251 in 1959. During 1960 the next batch of Yankee stars would be found on the field, Clete Boyer and Bobby Richardson, and Gil’s time on the field would be reduced. McDougald, sensing he might be traded informed the Yankees that 1960 might be his last year in baseball. He loved metro New York and didn’t want to leave the area where he had prepared for his retirement. The 1960 season was dominated by the Mantle Maris phenomenon.

In the 1960 World Series, Gil would play in every game but one. In game seven with Gil at third base, Pirates Bill Mazeroski’s famous drive over the left-field wall brought the Series to an end and also the end of Gil’s baseball career.
During his 10 year career, he would be one of the impactful players that led to the Yankees’ successes. He compiled more than respectable stats: a .276 batting average, with 112 homers and 576 RBIs. More important had been his defensive versatility.

He would be one of Casey Stengel’s favorite players. After his playing days, he would become head baseball coach at Fordham University, but in 1976 he would resign due to his increasing hearing loss. He would have a Cochlear implant to improve his hearing. He and his wife adopted unwanted children and did charitable work with impoverished youth. Gil would pass away from prostate cancer on November 28, 2010.

. He was 82 and was survived by wife Lucy, seven children, 14 grandchildren, and seven great-grandchildren. He would be remembered as the glue that held the teams of the 50s together. He was a great baseball player, but all that knew him recognized him as an even better human being. Gil McDougald was a cross between today’s Gleyber Torres and DJ LaMahieu.

After dominating at UFC London, what’s next for Tom Aspinall?

This past weekend at UFC London, the main event featured a battle of top heavyweights. England’s own Tom Aspinall (12-2) was looking to continue his surge towards the top as he took on the very tough veteran Alexander Volkov (34-10).

Many people, for obvious reasons, are very high on Tom Aspinall. However, this was going to be the fight where we really learned a lot about how good Tom Aspinall was. He came into UFC London 4-0 inside the octagon and he finished all four of those opponents.

Immediately when the fight started on Saturday, you could see Aspinall’s speed advantage on the feet. His hands looked loose and he landed some good shots on Volkov. However, the thing that makes Aspinall so good is how well-rounded he is.

Aspinall timed a takedown beautifully early on and got Volkov to the ground. Once the fight was there, he opened up Volkov with some brutal elbows. Volkov was able to get back to his feet, but Aspinall got him right back down. This time, he didn’t let him back up.

Aspinall was able to secure an arm-lock from side control and Volkov was forced to tap. A perfect ending for UFC fans who were rooting for their hometown guy.

What’s next after UFC London?

Make no mistake about it, Tom Aspinall is a serious contender in the UFC’s heavyweight division. After his win on Saturday, he’s only fighting top contenders from here on out. After the fight was over, he had a top contender on his mind and that top contender was Tai Tuivasa.

Personally, I love the idea of the UFC making a fight between Tuivasa and Aspinall. However, there’s another fight that also really interest me for Aspinall that would be a big fight for Europe. That fight would be pairing Aspinall up against former interim heavyweight champion Ciryl Gane.

This could be a massive fight and Dana White already said the UFC is planning on coming to France in 2022. It would be huge for Europe to have a fight in Paris headlined by the two best European heavyweights on the roster. This is the direction I would go in depending on the timing.

Dana White open to UFC return down the line for Greg Hardy

Earlier this month at UFC 272, Greg Hardy (7-5, 1 NC) fought out his current contract with the world’s premier mixed martial arts organization. Hardy’s tenure ended with a TKO loss to Sergey Spivak which was his third straight loss. He was stopped in all three of those fights.

When Greg Hardy first started his MMA career, he looked like he was going to be a problem. The former All-Pro defensive lineman was knocking people out and knocking them out quickly. He had speed and he had a ton of power in his hands.

The UFC was interested from the jump and gave Hardy a developmental contact after he won his first two professional fights on The Contender Series. Hardy made his official UFC debut in 2019 when the promotion had their debut on ESPN+.

He lost that fight by DQ after his his opponent with an illegal knee. However, after that fight, he went 4-1, 1 NC over his next six fights. The one NC would have been a win. However, Hardy’s corner let him use his asthma inhaler in between rounds which is against the rules.

Hardy’s UFC future

After his fourth win inside the octagon, everything started to go down hill for Hardy. That is when this losing streak started. During this stretch, Hardy’s grappling looked bad and his cardio looked even worse. Somehow, it had looked like he regressed during this stretch.

When he was stopped at UFC 272, everyone was wondering what the future held for Hardy. Dana White was interviewed last week ahead of UFC London where he was asked about Hardy. White confirmed that Hardy would not be returning to the UFC, but he left the door open for him down the line.

He told MMA Fighting that he loved working with Greg Hardy while he was with the UFC. White also said that if Hardy can put together a winning streak in some smaller shows that he would welcome him back to the octagon down the line.

It’ll be very interesting to see who signs Hardy now that he’s a free agent. While not being the best fighter in the world, Hardy has some name recognition and I could see one of the other big promotion’s bringing him in to bolster their heavyweight roster.