Sean O’Malley – Pedro Munhoz added to UFC 276

Sean O'Malley

The Suga Show is heading to UFC 276 and a top ten opponent is finally on the docket. ESPN’s Brett Okamoto was the first to report this evening that the promotion has finalized a bantamweight fight between Sean O’Malley (15-1) and Pedro Munhoz (19-7).

As mentioned, the fight will take place at UFC 276 on July 2nd. For Munhoz, he’s going to be looking to snap a two-fight losing streak. The last time we saw him was back in December when he fought former bantamweight champion Dominick Cruz.

After rocking Cruz in the first round and hurting him, Munhoz was a step behind in the second and third rounds. As a result, Cruz would go on to win a decision. That loss came on the heels of another loss to former UFC champion Jose Aldo.

Overall, Munhoz is just 1-4 in his last five UFC fights. However, all four of the men he’s lost to were champions so it’s not like he’s losing to terrible competition. Now, he gets a big opportunity on a huge stage against a guy with a ton of hype.

Suga Show at UFC 276

People have been asking for Sean O’Malley to fight a top ten guy in the UFC and he’s finally doing that in fighting Pedro Munhoz. O’Malley will come into UFC 276 riding a three-fight winning streak.

Back at UFC 252, O’Malley lost his first career fight to Chito Vera. Since that loss, O’Malley has looked sensational, but the competition hasn’t been great. He’s fought the likes of Thomas Almeida, Kris Moutinho, and Raulian Paiva.

None of those names scream out top contender in today’s UFC. That being said, it’s very clear that O’Malley has top level skill. However, we haven’t seen him tested against really high quality guys outside of Chito Vera.

Pedro Munhoz is going to push O’Malley and he’s going to make it a fight. This should be a tremendous contest in July.

What’s next for Chito Vera after big win at UFC Vegas 53?

This past Saturday in the main event of UFC Vegas 53, we saw a pivotal matchup in the bantamweight division. Marlon “Chito” Vera (21-7-1) was looking for his third straight win as he took on Rob Font (19-6).

The last time Chito Vera was in the octagon, he was taking on former lightweight champion Frankie Edgar. After a slow start in the first couple of rounds, Vera was able to knockout Edgar with a big front kick.

This fight started out similar. Through the first couple of rounds, Font was able to get out ahead on the scorecards. Font was able to use his volume to rack up the points, but Vera was just biting his time.

Late in the second round, Vera was able to land some huge shots that hurt Font badly. From that point on, the fight was all about Chito Vera and his power advantage.

Font kept landing shots, but nothing like the shots that Chito was landing. Chito brutalized the face of Font and went on to pickup the huge decision win in the UFC Vegas 53 main event.

What’s next after UFC Vegas 53?

With his latest win, Chito Vera has moved up into the top five in the UFC’s bantamweight division. He’s now, only perhaps a win or two away from challenge for the bantamweight title.

So, with this win, who should be next for Vera? Well, there are a few options, but the fight I like the most is a fight with “The Sandman” Cory Sandhagen.

The last time we saw Sandhagen he was challenging for the interim bantamweight title against Petr Yan. Sandhagen came up short, but make no mistake about it, he’s one of the best in the promotion.

Speaking of the former UFC champion Petr Yan, this could be another fight for Vera. If Vera wants to prove how good he is, there’s no one better to face than the former champion. There are plenty of good options for the UFC, but these are the two I like the best for Chito Vera.

After another loss at UFC Vegas 53, what’s next for Rob Font?

This past Saturday in the main event of UFC Vegas 53, we saw a big time matchup in the bantamweight division. Marlon “Chito” Vera (21-7-1) was looking for the biggest win of his career as he took on Rob Font (19-6).

The last time either man lost in the UFC prior to Saturday, it was to Jose Aldo. Font looked really good against Aldo in spots late last year, but Aldo’s power was just too much for him.

In fact, Font outlanded Aldo, but was dropped multiple times and took the worse damage. That is something that actually played out in a big way at UFC Vegas 53.

Font started out really strong against Chito Vera using his jab and rangey strikes. However, late in the second round, Vera blasted Font and dropped him to the ground. From that point, the entire fight changed.

Font was still landing big shots throughout, but nothing that would get Chito Vera off of him. Throughout the main event rounds, Chito was landing shots that would hurt and seriously damage the face of Font.

When the scorecards were read, it was a unanimous decision win for Chito Vera. Font dropped his second straight in the UFC after having gone on a big winning streak.

What’s next after UFC Vegas 53?

As mentioned above, Rob Font was on a four-fight winning streak prior to his last two fights. Now, he’s lost back-to-back headliners against Jose Aldo and Chito Vera.

Despite the two straight losses, Font is still ranked seventh in the UFC’s welterweight division. With this latest loss, what should the promotion do with Font next?

There are a couple of really solid fights out there for Rob Font. First and foremost, he’s going to need to take some time off after the beating that he took at the hands of Chito Vera.

However, I think he’ll come back stronger than ever for his next one. In terms of next opponents, a fight with Pedro Munhoz or Frankie Edgar could be something to watch out for.

Another potential fight would be one with Sean O’Malley. I would love that fight, but not sure O’Malley would take that one for his next UFC bout. It’ll be interesting, but Font will still get a quality opponent in his next one.

Nets star Kyrie Irving wondered about his future after refusing COVID-19 vaccine

Brooklyn Nets, Kyrie Irving

After the Brooklyn Nets‘ turbulent season ended in a first-round sweep at the hands of his former team, the Boston Celtics, Kyrie Irving was so sure about his future.

“I don’t really plan on going anywhere,” Irving told reporters.

It was not the case when Irving was asked to stay away from the team after he refused to take the COVID-19 vaccine.

The Nets came into the season as the title favorites. But Irving nor the Nets did not expect the curveball that torpedoed their best shot to win the elusive NBA crown finally.

“When we got to the training camp in San Diego, I wasn’t expecting a mandate to be brought down that it was not gonna allow me to play at all,” Irving said on Boardroom’s The ETCs.

Irving wondered about his future with his team and his career as days turned into weeks, weeks into months, waiting for the New York City to lift the vaccine mandate that kept him from playing in their home games and at Madison Square Garden.

“I was wondering at home what my future was going to look like, whether I was going to be traded, whether I was going to be released, or whether I would get the opportunity to be on another team. How was I going to spin this for myself in a positive way? I kept affirming to myself that things are going to change,” Irving said on Boardroom’s The ETCs. “I have people around me, and I’m grateful for them for affirming things are going to change.”

The Nets were able to survive the early months of the season without Irving until a knee injury to Kevin Durant and a wave of COVID-19 infections caused the team to fall from the top of the Eastern Conference. It was the opening Irving needed to get back on the court.

The Nets eventually relented and took Irving back as a part-time player for their away games.

“But I never felt like myself throughout the season because I’m usually sustaining a level of growth instead of trying to catch up with everybody that’s been playing for four to five months. They’ve been at it since October. I was at it, maybe September or October. I was healing from my ankle injury and still dealing with that,” Irving said.

Irving tried his best to catch up since his return in January and peaked in March when he scored 50, 60, and 43 points in three of a four-game stretch in a span of two weeks. But despite returning to the lineup, the damage has been done. James Harden eventually asked out, in part, due to Irving’s messy situation.

“I had the opportunity to play away games still, but there was no plan in place or vision of how it’s going to work for our team. I think that really impacted not just me but a lot of people. So I just had to sit on the hot seat for a little bit and handle it,” Irving said.

It was a little too late when newly-elected New York City Mayor Eric Adams lifted the mandate for Irving and other athletes. With Ben Simmons, the headliner in their Harden trade haul, unavailable, the Nets folded up quickly with little chemistry in the playoffs.

The good news is they will have Irving to run it back with Durant and, hopefully, a healthy Simmons and Joe Harris. But it comes with a heavy price tag for another championship-or-bust season that keeps on digging Joe Tsai’s pocket, which also lost between $50 million and $100 million combined in the 2021-22 season.

Irving is expected to decline his $36.5 million player option next season and sign an extension for up to four years, $183.6 million or for five years, $247.6 million.

As Irving wondered about his future early in the season, the Nets were left wondering at the end of another lost season what could have been if only their superstar guard adhered to the city mandate.

Follow this writer on Twitter: @alderalmo

Mets make the “baseball decision” regarding Robinson Cano

The New York Mets had to bring their roster down to 26 players on Monday, just like every other MLB franchise. Many teams opted to demote prospects for the most part, but there was a difficult decision to make in Queens.

The 39-year-old Robinson Cano failed to get going at the plate: in 43 plate appearances, he slashed .195/.233/.268 with a homer and a 54 wRC+. He is owed roughly $37.5 million through next year, but the Mets are on the hook for that money either way.

General manager Billy Eppler told owner Steve Cohen that the baseball operations department’s recommendation would be designating Cano for assignment. Of course, it would mean they need to pay someone who isn’t even playing for the Mets.

Cohen, according to MLB.com, processed the information and told his GM: “Make the baseball decision.”

The Mets kept more deserving players

That’s what happened: the Mets designated Cano for assignment, and he was immediately removed from the 40-man roster.

DFA’ing Cano means that more deserving players like Dom Smith, Luis Guillorme, JD Davis, and Travis Jankowski get to remain in the roster.

“You couldn’t ask for a better support than Steve’s given us,” Mets manager Buck Showalter said. “You can tell how much he loves the Mets and the fans. He trusts the decisions being made.”

Cano was a beloved figure in the Mets’ clubhouse. “Especially Robbie Canó — he’s been around for so long in this game,” Davis said. “He’s been an icon here in New York. And he’s been a centerpiece in this clubhouse. He’s been a leader. To lose him definitely takes a little bit of wind out of our sails.”

It wasn’t an easy decision for Eppler. “I’m sure he’s somebody that five years, 10 years from now, I’m going to run into him on the island, or run into him in Florida or New York or somewhere, and we’ll share in some good memories together,” Eppler said. “But last night wasn’t one of them.”

He will be free to sign with any team in the upcoming days.

The Yankees may have found their long-term 2nd baseman

New York Yankees, Gleyber Torres

Going into the 2022 season, the New York Yankees were unsure who their starting second baseman would be. Of course, DJ LeMahieu makes the most sense given his large sample size of adequate defensive play, but field manager Aaron Boone committed to Gleyber Torres after Brian Cashman acquired Isiah Kiner-Falefa from the Minnesota Twins.

Kiner-Falefa has performed extremely well after a tough first week wearing pinstripes, but he has played sufficiently despite a few errors. Torres has taken over full-time at second base, given a few days off here and there to maintain his stamina and health.

On Monday, the Yankees saw why Torres is an essential piece to their strategy, coming in clutch at the top of the 9th inning to slap an opposite-field single to right field, driving in speedster Tim Locastro for the leading run.

“It’s special,” Torres said. “Every time when I do my little things and help my team to win, that is great to me. I just grab every opportunity I have and try to do the best I can for the team.”

Torres has elevated his batting average significantly over the past few weeks, sitting at .239 with a 17.1% strikeout rate and 4.3% walk rate. Showing a bit more patience at the plate will be a priority moving forward, but he’s finally hitting his stride and seeing the ball more efficiently. In the past four games, Torres has recorded five hits and six RBIs, including two homers over 15 at-bats.

Defensively, Torres hosts a perfect feeling percentage, posting 24 putouts and 34 assists over 128 innings this year. If Torres can continue to improve and show production over the entire season, the Yankees can confidently commit to him as a long-term solution at second base.

It wasn’t too long ago when Gleyber hit .278 with 38 homers back in 2019, establishing himself as a premier hitter in the MLB. His fall-off has been polarizing, but that talent simply doesn’t disappear, it has remained dormant. If he can tap into that level of production and find his groove once again, the Yankees will be in great shape, especially at the bottom of their order with Torres, Kiner-Falefa, and the catching duo of Kyle Higashioka and Jose Trevino.

Giants’ new star pass rusher Kayvon Thubodeaux opens up about what he’s bringing to New York

kayvon thibodeaux, new york giants

New York Giants 5th overall pick Kayvon Thibodeaux has been in the spotlight since his high school days. After dominating at the collegiate level during his freshman season back in 2019, Thibodeaux failed to take significant steps forward but still featured as one of the best pass rushers in the entire 2022 draft class.

At 6’4″ and 256 pounds, the outside linebacker will fit Wink Martindale’s system to perfection, offering strength and speed off the edge. With a phenomenal first step, opposing offensive linemen are always at a disadvantage, especially in 1v1 situations. Heavy-footed tackles will have a tough time securing the edge with his speed, but he easily transitions to power. Give Kayvon an NFL diet and workout plan, and we may see him blossom into an even more dominant athlete.

Thibodeaux spoke to Steve Serby of the New York Post, noting his style of play and how important the fourth quarter is.

Relentless … poise … strategic.

I just want them to know that I’m gonna play until the last … until the lady sings. I’m gonna play until the game’s over. And when the fourth quarter comes, and the game’s on the line, I’m gonna leave it all out there.

Good pash rushers set up moves for later on in the game, specifically in the fourth quarter when it’s crunch time. Disappearing when it matters most is what separates good from great. Thibodeaux is confident he will help the Giants win games with his relentless effort and skillset.

That speaks more to the fourth quarter. Because the game is about longevity, you gotta do certain moves and do certain things to set up other things for later in the game. … Trying to be a master of situations. … Fourth quarter is where in college I use to really put the moves together.

Last season, Kayvon produced 7.0 sacks, 49 tackles, and 12 tackles for a loss for Oregon. Most of his negative traits are simply technique and vision-based, all coachable issues at the next level.

The Giants hired former Minnesota Vikings defensive line coach Andre Patterson, who is considered one of the best in the NFL. He is directly responsible for the development of Everson Griffen and Danielle Hunter, meaning he has a great sample size of coaching great players, which should directly impact Thibodeaux and Azeez Ojulari.

The Giants now have a solid young duo of pass rushers on rookie contracts, opening up finances for other positions. Joe Schoen has about $80 million at his disposal next season after declining the 5th year option of Daniel Jones. With two offensive tackles and pass rushers “cost-controlled,” Schoen can start to get creative with the building of the roster.

Dan Hooker returning to UFC’s lightweight division

Back in March at UFC London, Dan Hooker (21-12) made his return to the featherweight division. Hooker started his career with the promotion at 145 pounds, but found the most success at lightweight.

However, after a stretch that saw him go 1-3, Hooker decided it was time for a change. He made a test cut to 145 pounds and then decided that he wanted to move back to the UFC’s featherweight division.

He was immediately given a top ten contender in fighting England’s Arnold Allen. However, it was not a warm welcome back to featherweight for Hooker as Allen finished him in the first round.

After the fight was over, many were wondering what was next for the former top lightweight contender. Well, Hooker appeared on Submission Radio where he talked about his UFC future.

Hooker is going to continue to fight, however, his stop at 145 was a one-time thing. He made it clear that he’s returning to the UFC’s lightweight division.

Hooker returns to UFC’s lightweight division

Hooker said, “F**k no, I couldn’t make 145 again if I wanted to.” He would also go on to say that he’s in the same spot in both divisions so why would he want to kill himself to get back to 145.

With that, Hooker returns to the UFC weight division where he saw the most success. People are quick to forget that Hooker was only one win away from a title shot back in 2020.

He was two rounds up on Dustin Poirier before Poirier turned things around and won that fight. So, who will the UFC pair Hooker with now that he’s returning to 155 pounds.

There are a couple of directions I think the promotion could go. One, they could give him a guy like Bobby Green who would give him a helluva fight and it’s a fight that makes sense for both men.

Or they could give him someone around him in the rankings like Diego Ferreira. Either way, I think it’s the best thing for Hooker that he’s returning to 155 and I’m looking forward to his next fight.

Giants have fired their Director of College Scouting and Senior Personnel Executive

new york giants, joe schoen

Following the completion of the 2022 NFL Draft, New York Giants‘ GM Joe Schoen immediately made a few personnel changes behind the scenes. Clearly, Schoen was trying to determine the value of specific front office executives, notably Director of College Scouting Chris Pettit and Senior Personnel Executive Kyle O’Brien.

Pettit was elevated to the teams Director of College Scouting during Dave Gettleman’s tenure after spending 13 seasons as an area scout. O’Brien became an executive last spring after working with the Detroit Lions.

Schoen had a few changes in mind and ultimately came to the conclusion that he would prefer to hire his own guys instead of relying on previous regime’s personnel. There was a rumor that Schoen floated out internal rumors to see which ones ultimately leaked. The report that the Giants were extremely high on Charles Cross was clearly a smokescreen and made waves during the pre-draft process. It’s possible that Schoen purposely leaked these reports to try and sway media attention away from the Giants’ plans.

Interestingly, Big Blue selected Kayvon Thibodeaux, despite stories indicating that weren’t very high on him, and jumped at the opportunity to snag Evan Neal with Cross still on the board.

The Giants, however, are well on their way to cleansing the front office and establishing a new culture behind the scenes, already hiring former Eagles director Brandon Brown to serve as Schoen’s assistant GM. After bringing in a more modernized staff to execute the draft, the Giants walked away with one of the best positional value grades of any team. Securing a tackle and edge rusher in the 1st round will help keep positions of high cost-controlled for at least four seasons of their rookie contract.

Good news and bad news as Yankees squeak by Toronto for 10th straight win

New York Yankees, Jordan Montgomery

On Monday, the New York Yankees faced off against the Toronto Blue Jays, coming off three consecutive series wins and a nine-game win streak. Toronto is a far more difficult team to beat, hosting a 15–9 record. The Yankees still sit atop the MLB at 17–6, 1.5 games above the New York Mets.

The Bombers featured Jordan Montgomery on the mound in the first game of a three games series against Toronto, and he pitched extremely well, limiting the Blue Jays to just two runs.

Good news and bad news for the Yankees after tough win over Toronto:

Montgomery pieced together another quality performance, lasting 5.0 innings and giving up two earned runs, striking five batters. He only lasted 65 pitches before the Yankees called upon Jonathan Loaisiga to take over, but Monty hosts a 2.88 ERA this season.

“We’re playing really good baseball,” Yankees starter Jordan Montgomery said. “We’re doing what it takes to win, just playing good defense, situational hitting. It’s nice to win close games.”

The bullpen was fantastic the rest of the way, limiting Toronto to three hits and four strikeouts. Clay Holmes ended up securing the win for the Yankees, who still hosts a 0.75 ERA as one of the team’s best bullpen arms with his lethal sinker.

However, it wasn’t until the 9th inning when the Yankees called upon Gleyber Torres to get the job done. Torres smacked his third home run of the season in the 4th inning, driving in Josh Donaldson, but with two outs at the top of the 9th, Torres smacked a single to right field, driving in Tim Locastro.

“In that spot right there, that’s when Gleyber is at his best,” Boone said. “Runner out there, Garcia is a tough guy, especially against right-handed hitters. Just a great approach the other way there, and game-winner.”

Torres has elevated his average to .239 with a .722 OPS. He’s been far more effective this past week, picking up five hits, two homers, and six RBIs over his last four games.

In addition to Torres, the Yankees limited their strikeouts to six, a healthy number that indicated a good presence in the batter’s box.

The primary negatives revolve around Aaron Hicks and Joey Gallo once again sitting out due to a left-groin injury. He struck out three times in the game over four at-bats, lowering his average to. 263 after hovering around .300 over the weekend. Hicks has struggled considerably to perform with runners in scoring position. He has proven to be a liability at times with his inconsistency, but he still draws a lot of pitches and forces pitchers to work.

Gallo, on the other hand, believes the injury isn’t too serious and continues to sit out as a precaution. The Yankees keep winning games, so they can take a more cautious approach with his return.