Giants could pair Andrew Thomas with former Georgia teammate, childhood friend in the draft

Jamaree Salyer

The New York Giants are placing an emphasis on the offensive line this offseason. The Giants are expected to draft numerous offensive linemen with their nine picks in the 2022 NFL Draft. Many predict that the Giants will take an offensive tackle in the first round, but the Giants should not cease their search for upgrades after day one. There are plenty of mid-round offensive line prospects that the Giants should consider targeting like Georgia left guard Jamaree Salyer.

Jamaree Salyer makes sense for the Giants for a few reasons. Firstly, he was an exceptional left tackle for the Georgia Bulldogs that is expected to switch to left guard in the pros, a position of need for Big Blue. Secondly, Jamaree Salyer already has a connection to the Giants via left tackle Andrew Thomas. Salyer and Thomas were not only teammates at Georgia for a brief moment, but they are also childhood friends. The Giants could pair Andrew Thomas with his childhood friend and former college teammate Jamaree Salyer in the 2022 NFL Draft.

What could Jamaree Salyer bring to the Giants?

The New York Giants could target Georgia left tackle Jamaree Salyer in the 2022 NFL Draft. Salyer played tackle in college but seems primed for a position switch in the pros. Salyer is projected as a starter at left guard in the NFL, a position the Giants could be looking to upgrade.

The Giants’ left tackle position is solidified by Andrew Thomas. Thomas, another Georgia product, was drafted in the first round of the 2020 NFL Draft and developed into a stud this past year. Jamaree Salyer and Andrew Thomas are childhood friends, which could bode well for Salyer’s potential development playing alongside his buddy Thomas with the Giants.

Jamaree Salyer is a dependable offensive lineman. He has strong hands and only allowed four pressures in 2021 (PFF). Salyer is really strong and powerful and excels in pass protection. Being a solid pass-blocker is a key trait in new head coach Brian Daboll’s offensive scheme, making Salyer a good fit with Big Blue.

Jamaree Salyer could also provide the Giants with versatility on the offensive line. He primarily played left tackle in college and is expected to be a left guard in the NFL. But Salyer was used as a utility man in the first year of his collegiate career. Jamaree has experience playing minimal snaps at center, right guard, and right tackle.

The Giants should target Jamaree Salyer in the third round of the 2022 NFL Draft as a developmental starter at left guard. He has the potential to start and play at a high level in the NFL. Salyer has some things to clean up in his pass-protection technique, and he needs to improve all around as a run-blocker. But starter-potential is there and Jamaree’s connection with Andrew Thomas makes him a perfect fit with the New York Giants.

Why the Yankees must remain patient with one of their top sluggers

joey gallo, yankees

I know there are many Yankees fans that are very adamant that Joey Gallo is not a good baseball player. While his style of play certainly doesn’t suit everyone, there should be no cry for concern just yet when it comes to one of the towers in the outfield. Gallo’s batted ball profile and expected metrics are all saying that Gallo is getting robbed blindly. Taking a look at just his BaseballSavant profile, we can see that Gallo is still putting together excellent at-bats resulting in tons of hard contact.

Gallo is already one of the unluckiest players in the league, and the metrics all back it up. Below I put together a chart showing the discrepancy between his “Actual Slash” and his “Expected Slash.”

Actual Slash xSlash Discrepancy
AVG .158 .265 -.107
SLG .158 .828 -.670
wOBA .257 .494 -.237

I know with Gallo, it seems even more brutal to watch his lows, given his true three outcome approach, but he’ll help carry this offense at times when he’s locked in. We aren’t even a twentieth of the way into the season yet, patience is a virtue. Gallo’s Hard Hit % to start the year sits at 72.7%, and his Sweet Spot % — AKA, if he’s hitting the best part of the bat — is at 54.5%. Sure, those numbers will balance out and come down, but that means that his other results will have to come up. Gallo is too proven of a player to be a season-long sub .500 OPS player.

His .494 xwOBA alone suggests that the tide will be turning in only a matter of time, as if one were to take a gander at the T10 in xwOBA in the league, Gallo, who sits ninth on the list, is the only player in that group with a wRC+ under 158. Some guys in the top 10: Steven Kwan (2nd in xwOBA with .577 xwOBA, but boasting a 287 wRC+), and Seiya Suzuki (10th in xWOBA at .490, but a 262 wRC+). Some Yankees fans may be fed up with it at this point, as it seems like last year’s hitting struggles are already carrying over into this season. However, it truly makes you feel for Gallo. Even his hard-hit single off the rightfield wall that he got thrown out stretching into a double is pure unluckiness. A few inches higher, and that was a line-drive home run. Gallo’s misfortunes should turn around unless the Law of Averages is nothing more than a fool’s fallacy.

Remember everyone, this season is a marathon, not a sprint. Joey Gallo will turn a lot of these demolished baseballs into huge hits and mammoth home runs for the Yanks. There are very few players that have tormented the league with the elite HH% and Exit Velocity that Gallo has posted, and I am a firm believer he’ll turn the corner.

Giants could find their new left guard in the 2nd round of the 2022 NFL Draft

kenyon green, giants

There has been plenty of talk regarding the New York Giants and drafting an offensive tackle, but they still have a major void at left guard, despite signing Max Garcia, formerly of the Arizona Cardinals. Garcia is a serviceable guard with starting experience, but the Giants would be smart to invest a bit more capital to replace Will Hernandez.

General manager Joe Schoen has already locked up the right guard spot with Mark Glowinski, formerly of the Indianapolis Colts, but they could develop a nice pairing with Andrew Thomas to finally help him reach his potential. Thomas was a borderline Pro Bowl-caliber left tackle last season, but giving him a quality left guard might propel him to an All-Pro level quickly.

It is possible the Giants look to the 2022 NFL draft to find their new left guard, and Kenyon Green out of Texas A&M might be a perfect Day 2 snag. Green was once projected as one of the top tackles in the draft class, but his versatility ultimately dampened his stock a bit, showcasing his best position is left guard.

Last season, Green recorded 408 total snaps at left guard, 106 at right guard, and 142 at right tackle. Green possesses unparalleled explosiveness and power, making him a perfect run-blocking OG to pair with Thomas.

NFL.com raved about Green’s ability as a run-blocker, noting his explosive power:

Guard prospect with NFL-ready frame who plays with an impressive level of consistency as a run blocker. Green moves defenders from Point A to Boint B against their will, using hand technique and road-grading leg drive. He possesses adequate foot quickness to operate in a variety of run schemes, but needs to eliminate his tendency to grab when his opponent is slipping away from the block. He has pop and anchor in pass protection, but lacks recognition and mirror technique needed to be at his best against athletic interior rushers. While green has some areas to improve, his run blocking can be dominant, which gives him a chance to become a good starter very quickly.
There will be a minor learning curve for Green in terms of pass blocking sets, given one of his cons is wide hand usage. However, he has all the tangible traits to be a phenomenal interior lineman. Green posted underwhelming athleticism scores during the NFL Combine, but his weight, arm length, and hand size were all above average.
There’s also value in being a versatile lineman, given his experience at tackle and both guard spots. If the Giants wanted to move him around at some point in time, they could do it knowing he has a foundation built at each position.
If Green is available with the 36th overall pick, the Giants could rebuild their offensive line entirely with young talent and a few experienced players mixed in.

Good news and bad news as Yankees drop a dud against Orioles

josh donaldson, yankees

Beating the Baltimore Orioles should be as easy as stealing candy from a baby, but the Yankees turn it into astrophysics without fail, every time. Last season, the Bombers hosted the worst record of any AL East team against Baltimore, and they’ve proven to be their kryptonite once again to start the 2022 season.

If the Yankees would’ve sweeped the Orioles to end the 2021 season, they could’ve skipped out on a hostile Wild Card game against the Red Sox at Fenway. Nonetheless, we know how that panned out.

On Friday afternoon, the Yankees fell 2–1 to Baltimore, failing to get the job done in extra innings.

Good news:

There were a few quality individual performances from the Yankees in the defeat, notably Giancarlo Stanton and Miguel Castro, who worked his way out of a tough 7th inning where he walked two batters but struck out three. Castro currently hosts a 0.00 ERA on the season and has been one of the Yankees’ best middle relief pitchers.

On the other hand, Stanton was the only Yankee batter to get things going offensively, recording three hits and an RBI, raising his average to .300 on the year. However, only four other Yankees recorded hits on the day, including Josh Donaldson, Joey Gallo, DJ LeMahieu, and Kyle Higashioka.

Against a pitcher who gave up five earned runs and seven hits against the Rays in his first start of the year, the Yankees couldn’t get anything going offensively, which is simply inexcusable given the tremendous bats they have.

Bad news:

As a whole, the team recorded seven hits but struck out 13 times. The bats were simply quiet against Baltimore, and once again, the bottom of the order plagued the team with runners in scoring position. Aaron Hicks grounded into a double-play with the bases loaded in the 6th inning, and management pulled Isiah Kiner-Falefa with the game on the line instead, giving Marwin Gonzalez a chance at the plate.

As for the team’s pitching, the Bombers relied on Clarke Schmidt to try and close the game, loading the bases before they called upon Aroldis Chapman to try and get them out of trouble. Chapman struck out the first batter but walked the second, driving in the winning run for Baltimore, who picked up their second win of the season.

Overall, Aaron Boone faces a tremendous problem with his offense failing to open up early in the year and his closing pitchers struggling to get the job done.

Pelicans play-in win increases Knicks’ NBA Draft Lottery odds

Thanks to the New Orleans Pelicans, the New York Knicks moved one spot up in the NBA Draft Lottery.

The Pelicans beat the depleted Los Angeles Clippers, 105-101, to sneak into the playoffs as the Western Conference’s eighth seed. Friday night’s result gave the Knicks the 11th best odds in the NBA Draft Lottery.

The Knicks appeared headed into the lottery with the 12th best odds when the Clippers erected a 13-point lead in the second half. But the Pelicans, behind Brandon Ingram, Larry Nance, and rookie Trey Murphy made a scintillating fourth-quarter run to send their franchise to a surprising playoff run even without their top star Zion Williamson.

Now, the Knicks have a 9.4 percent chance (from 7.1 percent) to land in the top four and 2.0 percent odds (from 1.5 percent) to hit the No. 1 overall pick.

Over the last four NBA Draft Lottery, only once did the 11th-ranked team move up from that spot.

In 2019, the Lakers jumped from No. 11 to No. 4 (De’Andre Hunter), part of the Pelican’s haul from the Anthony Davis blockbuster trade. In the previous year, the Charlotte Hornets remained at no. 11 and drafted Shai-Gilgeous Alexander. Alexander was quickly traded to the Clippers for the 12th overall pick (Miles Bridges) and two future second-round picks. In 2020, the San Antonio Spurs also didn’t move from 11th and used it to pick Devin Vassell. Last year, the Hornets got stuck again at 11th and selected James Bouknight.

With nine players aged 24 and under already on the Knicks’ roster, there’s a good chance they would use this year’s lottery pick as a trade chip unless they hit the jackpot.

This year’s NBA Draft is top-heavy, with Gonzaga’s Chet Holmgren, Auburn’s Jabari Smith, Duke’s Paolo Banchero, and Purdue’s Jaden Ivey all having a strong case to be the top overall pick.

The NBA Draft Lottery will take place on May 17 in Chicago.

Follow this writer on Twitter: @alderalmo

Report: The Giants apparently “love” one of the top 3 offensive tackle prospects

charles cross, giants

The New York Giants have done a stellar job creating confusion around their first-round draft picks this year. In the past, general manager Dave Gettleman would’ve given major hints away, giving the media far too much information and losing all leverage behind the scenes with trade negotiations.

However, there is plenty of smoke entering the atmosphere for Big Blue, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s all false. According to Matt Miller of ESPN, the Giants reportedly “love” Mississippi State offensive tackle, Charles Cross.

Cross is an incredibly exciting prospect who is considered the best pass protector of any offensive tackle in this year’s draft class. In fact, all three of his highest-rated games came in 2021 against Vanderbilt, Tennessee State, and Memphis.

The stand-out OT earned his best overall grade at 86.7, according to PFF, who graded him at 64.4 in 2020. Cross enjoyed 919 snaps of action last season, including 719 pass-blocking snaps and 200 run-blocking snaps. He allowed two sacks and 14 hurries, but didn’t give up a single quarterback hit.

There are a few concerns regarding Cross, notably his lack of experience at right tackle and sometimes inconsistent footwork. With solid length and athleticism, Cross has the tangible traits to become a phenomenal tackle at the NFL level, and he graded out quite well with his position traits. His above-average combined metrics include the 40-yard dash (4.95), 20-yard shuttle (4.61), and broad jump (9’4″).

The primary issue for the Giants will be transitioning him to the right side, but OL coach Bobby Johnson worked him out with specific RT drills during his Pro Day. The consensus was that Cross performed extremely well at his Pro Day, and even showed the versatility the Giants wanted to see on the right side.

If the Giants want to utilize a pass-heavy scheme in 2022 and beyond, Cross is undoubtedly their guy. Utilizing him in a run-heavy scheme would likely be an inefficient way to get him started, but he has all the tools to develop nicely in most categories.

Cross has improved year after year during his three years with Mississippi State, which suggests he’s just realizing his true potential. His run blocking did improve significantly last season, but he has the raw traits to become a bookend right tackle for the Giants.

However, that is not to say the Giants won’t consider other tackles in the draft, especially with the 5th overall pick. Either Ikem Ekwonu or Evan Neal could fit the bill better, especially with the ladder having experience at right tackle already.

Yankees might be facing a closing pitching problem

aroldis chapman, yankees

The New York Yankees are facing a number of issues to open to the 2022 season, ranging from the offense’s overall production to the team’s ability to close out games. Against an abysmal Baltimore Orioles team on Friday, the Yankees scored just one lone run, failing miserably to drive in runners in scoring position.

The team squandered a chance with the bases loaded in the 6th inning, but outfielder Aaron Hicks grounded into a double play, bringing even more negativity regarding his overall value. However, Hicks is hitting .300 on the season, far better than the majority of the team at this point in time, especially the back-end of the batting order.

The Yankees face another pressing issue:

The closing pitching has been just as problematic, or specifically, Aroldis Chapman, who walked in the winning run for Baltimore on a high breaking ball that just missed the upper left corner of the zone.

After Clarke Schmidt struggled in the 11th inning to give the Yankees an opportunity to score another run, he walked two batters, putting Chapman in a tough spot, to begin with. However, the day before, Chapman loaded the bases with three consecutive walks against Toronto, forcing Aaron Boone to pull him and give Michael King an opportunity to save the day.

Luckily, King escaped in just five pitches, curating a strikeout and double play line drive to shortstop. If Chapman continues to struggle, there’s an argument to be made the King should get the first crack at closing games. Last year, Chapman experienced his fair share of struggles after the league cracked down on spider-tack.

In fact, Chapman recorded his highest ERA since 2011 with the Cincinnati Reds. He posted a 3.36 ERA over 56 innings and saw his velocity drop considerably during the 2nd half of the season.

With left-handed closers Zack Britton recovering from Tommy John surgery, the Yankees need Chapman to be at the top of his game, and while it is early on in the season, he experienced similar issues last year at the midway point, which could be concerning for management.

Islanders remember late franchise legend Mike Bossy

A moment of silence in Bossy’s memory was observed before the Islanders topped Montreal in a shutout effort.

The New York Islanders announced the passing of franchise legend Mike Bossy on Friday at the age of 65. Bossy, one of the most renowned names in Islander history, had been battling lung cancer, previously diagnosed in October 2021.

“The New York Islanders organization mourns the loss of Mike Bossy, an icon not only on Long Island but across the entire hockey world,” Islanders President and General Manager Lou Lamoriello said in a team statement. “His drive to be the best every time he stepped on the ice was second to none. Along with his teammates, he helped win four straight Stanley Cup championships, shaping the history of this franchise forever. On behalf of the entire organization, we send our deepest condolences to the entire Bossy family and all those who grieve this tragic loss.”

Bossy remains the Islanders’ all-time leading goal scorer with 573 and also ranks third and second respectively in assists (553) and points (1,126). He trails only linemate Bryan Trottier in the franchise ranks for points after beginning his career as the Islanders’ top draft pick in the 1977 draft. Chosen in the 15th overall slot after making a name for himself in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, Bossy’s services were twice denied by the New York Rangers prior to the Islanders’ selection.

Paired on the Islanders’ top line with Trottier and Clark Gillies (who passed away from cancer in January), Bossy immediately burst onto the scene with 53 goals during the 1977-78 season, setting a rookie record that stood until Winnipeg’s Teemu Selanne earned 76 in 1992-93. That kicked off a streak of nine consecutive seasons with 50-plus goals, his best output being 69 in his sophomore season. Though the nine seasons with at least 50 are tied for Wayne Gretzky for the most all-time, he’s the sole owner of the consecutive nature of the accomplishment. Bossy also shares the record for most 60-plus goal seasons with Gretzky (5) and also became the first player to match Maurice “Rocket” Richard’s legendary accomplishment of scoring 50 goals in 50 games, doing so in 1980-81.

Bossy then went on to play a vital role in the Islanders’ famed championship runs of the early-1980s, which saw him earn a majority of his franchise-record 85 playoff goals. His efforts brought the Stanley Cup to Long Island on four occasions and he also earned the Conn Smythe Trophy as the postseason’s MVP in the penultimate effort in 1982. Bossy scored seven goals in the four-game sweep of the Vancouver Canucks, tying a Stanley Cup Final record set by Jean Beliveau 26 years prior. Another rare SCF feat came in the following campaign when Bossy earned the series-winning goal for the second consecutive year (sweeping Gretzky and the Edmonton Oilers), becoming the first to do so since Jack Darragh of the original Ottawa Senators (1920-21).

Back and knee injuries forced Bossy into an early retirement at the age of 30. In addition to the Conn Smythe, other individual awards included three Lady Byng Memorial Trophies for his gentlemanly play (charged with only 210 penalty minutes over his 10 seasons) and seven invitations to the NHL All-Star Game (winning the MVP Award in the 1982 edition in Washington D.C.). Bossy was elected to Toronto’s Hockey Hall of Fame in 1991, one year before the Islanders permanently his No. 22 (the second Islanders to receive such an honor after his teammate Dennis Potvin).

Bossy spent the remainder of his career in a variety of roles both in and out of the hockey realm, which included a brief stint as an analyst for MSG Networks’ coverage of the Islanders, who also brought him aboard to help in the sponsorship, fan development, and community relations departments. He is survived by his wife Lucie (to whom he’d been married since 1977) and his daughters Josiane and Tanya.

Tributes throughout the hockey world have poured in for Bossy. NHL commissioner Gary Bettman mentioned that Bossy “thrilled fans like few others” in a statement released on the league website. Current Rangers head coach Gerard Gallant declared that he idolized Bossy and his Islander teams while growing up in Prince Edward Island and later got to work with him while he served as an assistant in Union for two seasons.

Appropriately, the modern Islanders did battle in Bossy’s homeland of Montreal on Friday night, taking on the Canadiens at Bell Centre. With their jerseys bearing a memorial patch showcasing Bossy’s famous number (next to the similarly-styled No. 9 patch in Gillies’ memory), the Islanders earned a 3-0 win behind a 44-save shutout for Ilya Sorokin. A moment of silence was dedicated to Bossy prior to the opening faceoff.

“(He was) a great ambassador for the Islanders, but a greater ambassador for the game of hockey,” head coach Barry Trotz said during his pregame availability in video from SNY. “One of the great scorers in the league, one of the great people in the league, and he’ll be missed…He’s just everything everybody ever said about him exactly and more. Just a quality person.”

Forward Anthony Beauvillier acknowledged that 2022 has been a “hard year” for the Islanders organization, which also bid farewell to Jean Potvin, Dennis’ older brother and championship defenseman who passed away in March. Teammate Brock Nelson was appreciative of the efforts the Islanders have made to connect current players to their champions of the past, which afforded him an opportunity to meet Bossy and other team legends.

“Any time I ever ran into Mike, he was always so gracious, very nice to talk to,” Nelson, who had a goal and an assist in Montreal, said. “He was such a phenomenal player, he made goal-scoring look easy. So for the career he had and the person that he was, the time he gave back to the Islanders, it meant a lot to us young players, anyone in the organization to get to know someone like that, learn from them, even in those small conversations. It’s a sad day to lose Mike and our prayers are with him and his family, everyone that was close with him.

The Islanders will round out a three-game road trip on Sunday night in Toronto (7:30 p.m. ET, MSG+).

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags

Patricio Pitbull hands AJ McKee his first loss at Bellator 277

Patricio Pitbull Freire

In the main event of Bellator 277, arguably the two best fighters in the promotion battled for the second time. The featherweight title was on the line as AJ McKee (18-0) took on the former champion Patricio Pitbull (32-5).

These two men previously fought back at Bellator 263 last July. That night, McKee rocked Pitbull on the feet before submitting him with a standing guillotine. It was a crowning moment for the biggest superstar in Bellator.

McKee made his professional debut with Bellator but it took him 17 fights to get a title shot. However, he didn’t waste that opportunity when he got it. When he won, he shook up Bellator and knocked off the winniest fighter in the promotion’s history.

Prior to the loss to McKee, Pitbull hadn’t lost at 145 since 2015. He was a dominant champion who held the lightweight and the featherweight titles. However, he’s vacated the lightweight title and made defeating McKee at Bellator 277 his primary focus.

Bellator 277 Recap

Round 1

The Bellator 277 main event with a touch of the gloves and here we go. McKee runs at Pitbull and he lands a side kick to the body. Pitbull looks composed and McKee lands a nice body kick. Solid right hand lands for Pitbull and McKee circles.

Lead right hook for McKee. Another body kick from McKee and he’s taunting Pitbull here trying to get him emotional. Pitbull looks very focused as he holds the center but he eats another body kick from the champion. Low kick lands for Pitbull.

Another nice leg kick from Pitbull and he just misses a left hook. McKee bouncing on the outside here trying to hold the range. Nice body shot lands for McKee. Left straight and a solid right hand behind it lands for the champion.

Body shot lands for Pitbull and then he lands a low kick. Pitbull is going a good job of holding the center here in the first round. Another powerful leg kick lands for Pitbull and McKee looks to counter.

Back to the leg kick again for Pitbull. Left straight glances for McKee, but he eats two big leg kicks from Pitbull. Stiff jab from the champion and then Pitbull blasts him with another leg kick. The first round comes to a close at Bellator 277 and the former champion might’ve taken that one.

Round 2

Entering the second at Bellator 277 and this is a much more competitive fight than the first one. Both men meet in the center to start the second round. Head kick attempt misses for Pitbull but he lands a nice calf kick after the miss.

Big 1-2 just misses for McKee. Takedown attempt from McKee easily defended by Pitbull. Pitbull holding the center again and he lands two big calf kicks. Those kicks are starting to add up for the former champion.

Body kick from Pitbull and McKee tries to counter with a left but misses. Another nice leg kick from Pitbull lands. Leg kick from Pitbull and then he blitzes with a combination. McKee tries to counter but nothing is home.

Spinning attack from McKee and Pitbull gets his back. McKee rolls to get the fight to the ground, but Pitbull stands back and gets the fight back standing. 1-2 from McKee finds the mark. Now it’s McKee trying to push the pace but he’s not landing anything big.

Body kick from McKee but Pitbull counters with a big counter calf kick. McKee pushes forward but it’s Pitbull that lands the cleaner shots. Huge right to the body from Pitbull lands. McKee shoots for a takedown and it’s defended well. Two rounds in the books at Bellator 277 and it’s 2-0 Pitbull.

Round 3

Entering the third at Bellator 277 and AJ McKee really needs to get going here. Pitbull immediately takes the center again to start the third round. McKee taunting Pitbull but he’s not really throwing. Big low kick lands for Pitbull.

Spinning back kick just misses for the champion. Another nice leg kick lands for Pitbull. McKee lands an outside leg kick of his own. Left straight lands for McKee and then Pitbull blasts him with two straight leg kicks.

Big right hand lands for Pitbull and that hurt McKee. McKee is wobbled but he goes for a takedown. He’s desperate and he gets the takedown. Half of the round is left so there’s plenty of time for the champion to work if he can keep Pitbull down.

Two nice elbows land for McKee. Really good short shots landing for McKee and Pitbull explodes up to his feet using the fence. McKee shoots for a takedown and Pitbull jumps on the guillotine choke. It’s really deep and McKee is in all kinds of trouble.

Pitbull is squeezing and McKee is trying to get his head free. It’s so tight but McKee pops his head free. McKee goes right back on the attack at the end of the round. The bell sounds and that’s a tough one to score, but regardless, Pitbull is still ahead at Bellator 277.

Round 4

Entering the championship rounds at Bellator 277 and McKee might need a finish in these last couple of rounds. Not a lot of action here in the first 30 seconds as McKee lands a low kick and the crowd is getting restless. Leg kick lands for Pitbull.

Straight left to the body lands for McKee. Head kick attempt from Pitbull is blocked. Neither man doing a ton as we are two minutes into the fourth round. Body kick from McKee and he lands a nice straight left behind it.

Lead right hook for McKee who seems to be opening up a bit more. Another nice shot down the middle lands for the champion. Pitbull presses forward but it’s throwing much. Jab lands for McKee. Left hook to the body for Pitbull.

McKee throws a couple of combinations but nothing lands clean. Right hand lands for Pitbull. Check right hook for McKee and a counter left hook lands for Pitbull. Left hand lands for McKee. Body shot for McKee.

Right straight lands for Pitbull then he accidentally pokes McKee in the eye. McKee complains but no stop in the action. Pitbull trying to attack but can’t land the big shot. McKee holding his own. Sloppy takedown attempt from McKee is easily defended by Pitbull. The round comes to a close and it’s a close one at Bellator 277.

Round 5

Entering the final round at Bellator 277 and AJ McKee very well might need a finish in this final round to retain his title. They touch gloves and here we go. McKee throws a jab then shoots for a takedown. Pitbull defends, but McKee is able to keep a body lock.

McKee pushes Pitbull to the fence and he drags him down to the ground. Big moment for the champion, but Pitbull has the fence that he can use to get back to his feet. Nice elbow lands for McKee. Pitbull gets to his feet, but McKee drags him right back down to the ground.

McKee gets the back of Pitbull but he only has one hook in. Pitbull scrambles and they are back to striking. Nice elbow on the break lands for the champion. Lead left lands for McKee. Low kick lands for AJ McKee and he’s definitely winning this final frame thus far.

Nice left straight lands for the champion. Another 1-2 for McKee and he goes for a takedown, but Pitbull shrugs him off. Now it’s Pitbull coming forward with two minutes left. Big combination from McKee and he lands a body kick on the exit.

Pitbull answers with a nice combination of his own. One minute left here at Bellator 277. Uppercut from Pitbull and McKee lands a 1-2. Back-to-back 1-2’s land for McKee and he’s trying to come on strong here.

Now it’s Pitbull that charges, but McKee gets a takedown. The round comes to a close and the final round definitely goes to the champion. This is going to be a very close decision.

Patricio Pitbull def. AJ McKee by Unanimous Decision (49-46, 48-47, 48-47)