Josh Emmett edges Calvin Kattar at UFC Austin

In the main event of UFC Austin, we saw a massive matchup in the featherweight division. Top seven contenders battled it out as Calvin Kattar (23-5) took on arguably the guy with the most power in the division Josh Emmett (17-2).

Entering UFC Austin, Emmett was riding four-fight winning streak that dates back to 2018. Overall, Emmett was 6-1 in his last seven fights. The last time we saw him was at UFC 269 when he defeated Dan Ige.

Calvin Kattar was obliterated by Max Holloway in January of 2021. It was a performance that could have changed Kattar’s career forever in a negative sense. He took some time away and then returned to the UFC in January.

He took on the tough test of Giga Chikadze who was trying to fight for a title shot. Kattar did to Chikadze what Holloway did to him. It was a beautifully violent performance that showed the world that ‘The Boston Finisher’ is still one of the best at 145. He was looking to show that again tonight.

Round 1

The UFC Austin event kicked off with a touch of the gloves. Kattar immediately takes the center as Emmett circles on the outside. Lots of feints from Kattar as Emmett tries to gauge the range in the opening minute.

Double jab falls just short for Kattar. Crowd becoming restless as Kattar lands a jab. Power jab from Emmett. Kattar is now circling on the outside and Emmett throws a power right hand.

Emmett tries to throw a big power combination but doesn’t land. Sweet 1-2 lands for Calvin Kattar. Another stiff jab lands for Kattar who is starting to open up here. Powerful low kick lands for Emmett and he tries to throw power shots behind it, but nothing lands there.

Another lengthy jab lands for Kattar. Emmett seems to be struggling a bit with the range here in the first. Another jab from Kattar and Emmett has a small cut above the eye. 1-2 from Kattar lands and he’s building some solid momentum. Emmett with some big shots near the end of the close first round. Close round but I lean Kattar at UFC Austin.

Round 2

Entering the second at UFC Austin and I think we should see more action here. Kattar opens the second looking for his jab. Emmett lands a big right hand and he tries to double it up. Big power coming from Josh Emmett here in the second.

1-2 from Emmett and then he doubles up the right hand. Kattar looking for his jab, but he’s not landing much here. There’s a nice jab from Kattar and he lands a right hand behind it. Power hook to the body lands for Emmett.

Double jab from Kattar and that cut is back open on Emmett. Another double jab from Kattar who is really connecting here now. Deep breaths from Emmett who circles. Another stiff jab with a 1-2 behind it. Kattar is really opening up now.

Step-in elbow lands for Kattar. Emmett responds with a left to the body and a right hook up top. Big power shots from Emmett but nothing lands clean there. Kattar continues looking for the jab, but Emmett’s head movement is looking better here.

Big right over the top lands for Emmett. The striking numbers are very close as we are close to the end of round two. Right hand over the top for Kattar. Emmett comes forward with a big combination. Now it’s Kattar that follows up with a big knee and combination.

Emmett with a big flurry near the end of the round. Really close round and it honestly could have gone either way at UFC Austin, but I lean toward Josh Emmett.

Round 3

Entering the third at UFC Austin and the scorecards could be all over the place here. Kattar opens up throwing lots of jabs. Emmett tries to back him up with a big right over the top that just misses. Big jab from Kattar and Emmett lands two big rights.

Another big right hand from Emmett backs Kattar up. More big power shots from Emmett and he’s controlling the third round with his power. Nice elbow lands for Calvin Kattar. Both men trade jabs in the center.

Jab for Kattar and a powerful low kick from Emmett. Big right hand from Emmett and Kattar lands a elbow. Beautiful uppercut from Kattar lands and then he follows it up with a jab. 1-2 lands for Kattar and it’s Kattar who is fighting with forward pressure.

However, he’s back up from a big shot from Emmett. Jab from Kattar and Emmett tries to come back with power but nothing lands. Kattar comes forward and Emmett lands a blistering combination on Kattar. Both trade jabs in the center.

Huge left to the body from Emmett and he lands a nice left up top that stiffens up Kattar. The third comes to a close at UFC Austin and I give that one to Josh Emmett.

Round 4

Entering the fourth at UFC Austin and this has been a close fight, but it feels like all the momentum is with Josh Emmett. Kattar opens up with lots of jab volume but nothing really landing here.

Emmett loads up on a huge right hand that just misses the mark. Nice jab and a left hand lands for Kattar. 1-2 for Kattar and then he doubles up the jab. Lead left hook from Kattar and then he looks for a shovel hook.

Double jab from Kattar and a right hand over the top. Emmett not throwing much here in the first couple of minutes. There he throws a right but he’s way out of range. Now Emmett pushes forward and he tries for a takedown but Kattar shrugs him off.

Right over the top from Kattar. They trade jabs in the center and then Kattar lands a left. Kattar is constantly throwing that left jab out there. Big rip to the body from Emmett and then he lands a clean right over the top. Biggest shots of the round there.

Spinning elbow from Kattar lands flush but Emmett just eats it. Right hand from Kattar and Emmett got wobbled and that really opened up Emmett’s cut even more. Lots of damage under the left eye for Emmett now.

Emmett shoots for a takedown but can’t get it. Stiff jab from Kattar snaps the head back of Emmett. The round comes to a close with big heat from Emmett. Strong close for Emmett, but this is Kattar’s round. I have it tied at UFC Austin.

Round 5

Entering the final round at UFC Austin and I think whoever wins this round wins the fight. Both men trade jabs immediately to start the final round. Big jab from Kattar snaps the head back of Emmett. Knee up the middle for Kattar.

Kattar throws a right and Emmett comes back with a big combination. Nice power shots land for Emmett. Big uppercut lands for Kattar and then he lands a nice long right hand. Emmett tries for a takedown and can’t get it.

Leg kick from Emmett lands. Big check left hook lands flush for Kattar. Jab lands for Kattar and now Emmett lands with his jab. Big combination from Emmett and Kattar lands a right.

Two minutes to go and this is still anyone’s fight. Emmett pushes forward and tries to land a head kick. Double jab from Kattar lands. Emmett tries to answer with big power but only connects on the arms. Nice right hook from Kattar and Emmett throws back.

Big left hook lands for Emmett. Both men trade big shots in the center. Emmett is now coming forward with major heat in the final minute. Big combination from Emmett lands. Twenty seconds left in Austin.

Both men try to land big spinning elbows but neither lands. The final bell sounds and an excellent main event comes to a close. Razor close fight that I lean towards Kattar given the round-by-round scores, but I wouldn’t be shocked to see Emmett get the nod at UFC Austin.

Josh Emmett def. Calvin Kattar by Split Decision (48-47, 47-48, 48-47)

Good news and bad news as Yankees overcome Toronto’s top pitcher (6/18/22)

New York Yankees, Jameson Taillon

The New York Yankees faced off against the Toronto Blue Jays on Saturday afternoon. With Jameson Taillon on the mound, the Yankees extracted another victory, extending their streak to nine games.

Taillon performed valiantly, lasting 5.2 innings and allowing four hits, striking out eight batters over 88 pitches. The bullpen was magnificent as well, with Michael King lasting 2.0 innings and striking out three batters. Of course, Clay Holmes was dominant, striking out one batter over 1.1 innings.

The Yankees have been near unstoppable the past few weeks, with their most recent defeat coming on June 8 against Minnesota Twins.

Good news and bad news as Yankees blank Toronto in easy win:

The Yankees feature one of the league’s best starting pitching rotations, and they showed their flash against Toronto on Saturday. Taillon was lights out once again, putting together a resurgent season with a 2.70 ERA. Over his last three games, Taillon has given up eight earned runs in 17 innings of action. It was nice to see him blank Toronto after a few tumultuous starts, but the Yankees’ run production has been so lethal that even a spotty pitching performance is easily supplemented. In Jameson’s last two starts, the Yankees have combined for 28 total runs (prior to today’s game).

Offensively on Saturday, the Bombers recorded eight hits and three walks, striking out six times. Aaron Judge has been quiet over the past few games in the home run category. He has hit just one homer in his last six contests, which is unusual for the league’s leader in the category. However, he’s still contributing nicely, earning two hits and a walk in the Yankees 12–3 went on Friday night.

It was great to see the Yankees take advantage of one of the best pitchers in Major League Baseball currently, Alek Manoah. Manoah featured a 1.67 ERA heading into the game, but the Bombers posted four runs on him. He had been dominant against the Yanks previously but lost control of his fastball after the 3rd inning.

The Yankees’ hottest player at the moment is first baseman Anthony Rizzo, who picked up a hit and run in the win. In the month of June, Rizzo is hitting .271 with a 34.8% on base rate and a .576 slugging percentage. He’s posted 16 hits and six homers with just 12 strikeouts over 59 at-bats. There’s an argument to be made that Rizzo has been one of the team’s more underrated players, but he’s finally getting the attention he deserves after a grand slam on Friday and inspiring speech after sweeping the Tampa Bay Rays this past week.

The Yankees will look ahead to Sunday afternoon with Gerrit Cole on the mound. Toronto will feature Yusei Kikuchi, who hosts a 4.80 ERA this season with just 56 strikeouts and 32 walks allowed over 50.2 innings. This is a favorable matchup for the Bombers, providing an opportunity to sweep both AL East opponents. The Yanks currently have a nice 11-game cushion over Toronto.

Former NFL DT Gerald McCoy has lofty expectations for the 2022 New York Jets

garrett wilson, jets

Even following a potential franchise-changing NFL draft for the New York Jets, some media analysts are still skeptical about the win total for the team in 2022. It makes sense given the fact that the Jets have not made the playoffs since the 2010 season. The team will have to go out and prove themselves. However, a fast turnaround from any team in the NFL can never come as a complete surprise.

Recently retired long-time NFL defensive tackle Gerald McCoy had quite the bold yet exciting take on the 2022 Jets win total. When speaking about the Jets on NFL Network, McCoy spoke highly of Zach Wilson, his arm strength, as well as the Jets’ offense and defense with the offseason acquisitions.

McCoy thinks it is unlikely that the Jets can win the division but can compete. He ended up with a projection of 10 wins for the Jets this year. It concluded with him being asked who would win more games between the Jets and Dolphins. McCoy went with the Jets.

It is promising for Jets fans to hear recent former great, respected players say good things about the team. Ultimately, the Jets’ talent on paper is significantly better.

Reasonable expectations

Throughout this offseason, the organization has made it known publicly that the expectation is to be in the mix come December. When considering all the new talent with the year of experience gained together by most of this core last year, being competitive late in the season should be the goal.

With it now being year two of the rebuild led by Robert Saleh, Mike LaFleur, Wilson, and the rest of the thrilling 2021 draft class, progress must be shown in the win column. In most games, even against stellar competition, this team should be keeping games tight late. To be in the playoff hunt in late November, early December would indicate progress. Whether it is progress in the form of 7-8 wins or 10 and a playoff appearance, the Jets should be a substantially better football team in 2022.

Knicks size up Duke’s Mark Williams; Nerlens Noel on trade block anew

nerlens noel, new york knicks

The uncertainty of the New York Knicks center rotation may lead them to take a flier on Duke’s Mark Williams.

Williams has visited five lottery teams, including the Knicks.

The 7-foot-2 Williams is the reigning ACC Defensive Player of the Year after swatting 2.8 shots per game and altering countless rim attempts. He is one of the five Duke players expected to get drafted and could be the third Blue Devil behind presumptive top-3 pick Paolo Banchero and AJ Griffin to be called in Thursday’s NBA Draft.

His combination of size (nearly 7-foot-7 wingspan and 9-foot-9 standing reach), motor, and mobility have made him a projected late lottery pick. What’s stopping Williams from vaulting to the top of the draft is his limited range. But he’s almost automatic inside the paint (83.4 percent conversion rate at the rim, per Hoop-Math).

Overall, Williams shot 72.1 percent from the field, becoming the first Duke player to hit better than 70 percent on more than 100 field-goal attempts in a season since 1992, per Sports Reference’s men’s college basketball Play Index.

Both ESPN and Bleacher Report predict he would go to the Hornets either at No. 13 or No. 15. But with Mitchell Robinson’s looming free agency and the murky status of Nerlens Noel, it’s not far-fetched that the Knicks would take a hard look at Williams when they are on the clock on Thursday night.

Noel, limited to only 25 games due to an assortment of injuries, is reportedly on the trade block again.

“I have heard that Nerlens Noel is one of the players that the Knicks are the most active in discussing right now,” Bleacher Report’s Jake Fischer said on his podcast.

Noel was almost dealt at the February trade deadline in a scuttled three-team trade with the Toronto Raptors and Los Angeles Lakers. Jericho Sims’ emergence in the second half of last season had made Noel expendable.

If the Knicks could offload Noel, the Knicks will likely convert Sims’ two-way deal into a traditional contract to make him eligible beyond 50 regular-season games.

It could also mean the Knicks are likely to retain Robinson especially after the Dallas Mavericks have scooped up their starting center in Christian Wood and the Detroit Pistons reportedly eyeing Phoenix Suns’ disgruntled center Deandre Ayton.

If Ayton lands elsewhere, the Pistons, along with the Chicago Bulls, are expected to pursue Robinson. The Knicks have until June 30 to strike an extension with Robinson.

Williams, who has a similar skill set and a better offensive upside on a rookie deal, is a good fallback option for the Knicks.

Follow this writer on Twitter: @alderalmo

New York Rangers: Who should replace Alexandar Georgiev in 2022?

The New York Rangers will be replacing Alexandar Georgiev this offseason. Georgiev is a restricted free agent this offseason and it has been reported that the Rangers do not intend to extend a qualifying offer. The likely outcome is that New York trades Alexandar Georgiev’s right to another team. The Rangers will then be in need of a new backup goalie, but who could fulfill that position? Jaroslav Halak, Eric Comrie, and Scott Wedgewood are some players for them to consider.

What Jaroslav Halak could bring to the Rangers:

Jaroslav Halak has been a goalie in the NHL for an impressive 16 years. The 37-year-old goalie spent the 2021 season with the Vancouver Canucks on a one-year deal worth $3 million. Halak played in 17 games for the Canucks, starting 14 of those contests. Jaroslav Halak posted a .903 save percentage in 2021 as Vancouver’s backup goalie.

Jaroslav Halak is a veteran goalie who is best remembered for a legendary 53-save playoff performance with the Montreal Canadiens in 2010. Halak would provide the Blueshirts with veteran leadership and quality performance as a backup goalie. A contract to acquire Jaroslav Halak would be affordable, something necessary for the cap-strapped Rangers. In his 16-year career, Halak has recorded a .916 save percentage and 2.49 goals-against average. Jaroslav Halak could be identified as a prime candidate to play backup for Igor Shesterkin in 2022.

What Eric Comrie could bring to the Rangers:

Eric Comrie is a younger option for the Rangers to consider as Igor Shesterkin’s backup this offseason. Comrie played the 2021 season on a one-year contract with the Winnipeg Jets worth $750k. He played started 16 games for the Jets and played in a total of 19 games. Comrie boasted an impressive .920 save percentage this season with a 2.58 goals-against average.

Eric Comrie is entering his seventh season in the NHL. He has been a consistent presence on the waiver wire throughout his career, having four separate stints with the Jets and also spending time with Arizona, Detroit, and New Jersey. The New York Rangers could make sense as Eric Comrie’s fourth team in his career.

Also, the 6’1? netminder posted a .955 save percentage on unblocked shot attempts and a .944 expected save percentage during those same situations. That’s a difference of .011 points. The only other goaltender in the league that featured a higher differential was New York’s Igor Shesterkin (.012). – via Jets Nation

Comrie played on the league minimum salary last season and far exceeded all expectations. This offseason, Eric Comrie could be getting a salary worth around $1.5M AAV. His SV% for the season was 6th best among all NHL goaltenders, yet he played in only 19 games (64th in the NHL). Eric Comrie’s solid performance in limited playing time during the 2021 season could earn him a pay bump and even potentially a starting job this offseason. If the Rangers do pursue Eric Comrie this offseason, they will be looking to add a premium backup goalie for the 2022 season.

What Scott Wedgewood could bring to the Rangers:

Scott Wedgewood is a goalie that moved all around the league during the 2021 season. He played 3 games for the New Jersey Devils, 26 games for the Arizona Coyotes, and 8 games for the Dallas Stars. Wedgewood is another veteran goalie that will enter the 2022 season at 30 years old.

Scott Wedgewood played the 2021-2022 season on a one-year, $800k contract that he signed last July with the New Jersey Devils. In his 8 games with the Dallas Stars this season, Wedgewood was solid, posting a .915 save percentage (SV%) down the stretch. Wedgewood’s career SV% is a respectable .906 with a 3.10 goals-against average. Scott Wedgewood would be an affordable option for the Rangers this offseason.

The New York Giants have a position battle brewing at safety

New York Giants, Julian Love

The New York Giants have a few position battles brewing in the secondary, notably at strong safety and cornerback. With James Bradberry being released and signing with the Philadelphia Eagles, the CB2 position opposite Adoree Jackson is up for grabs. In addition, with the release of Logan Ryan, strong safety has an opening that could be filled by veteran Julian Love or rookie Dane Belton.

So far this off-season, Love has been getting the majority of reps with the first team given his experience, but Belton fits Wink Martindale’s defensive strategy to perfection. Belton is an aggressive safety who plays shallow zone coverage in the nickel role but also blitzes the quarterback and delivers hard hits at the second level.

Love, though, understands exactly what Wink is looking for, a reflection of himself.

“This defense is going to reflect who Wink is as a person,” Love told The Post. “He really doesn’t care what people think of him. He’s going to do it his way, but not in an in-your-face, my-way-or-the-highway way. He lets guys be creative and have the keys to the defense. But our mindset and mentality will be that we’re going to go out on our terms and make these dudes feel it. So far, it’s been really fun.”

Love enjoyed 612 total snaps last season, posting great tackling metrics and good coverage capabilities. He allowed 352 yards and three scores, which isn’t awe-inspiring. At the very least, Love isn’t a liability in coverage and can play multiple positions, including strong safety, free safety, slot corner, and boundary corner. That type of versatility is extremely valuable for a coordinator, but this might be his first opportunity to start at the NFL level if he can fend off Belton.

“I keep thinking about what my role and responsibility is. I’m a big proponent that everything happens for a reason. That resiliency I’ve had to have the past few years is only going to make me a better player this year. I’m trying to raise my game a lot this year by still letting the game to me, most importantly. But you know where I’m coming from: I have to keep that chip on my shoulder.”

Dane Belton has a chance at landing a starting safety role:

The Giants drafted Dane Belton in the 4th round of the 2022 NFL draft. Out of Iowa, Belton produced great turnover numbers, tallying five interceptions last season in a hybrid “cash” role.

“In our base defense [at Iowa], I played a 2-high safety but any time the offense came out in 11 personnel, 10 personnel, basically passing formation, I went down to a nickel what we call cash, and really just a versatile player that has to guard slot receivers and play in the box, blitz off the edge, doing multiple things,” Belton said.

That type of versatility is why Martindale and the Giants decided to draft him with one of their mid-round picks. In addition, he’s a hard-hitting safety with plenty of upside at 6’1″ and 205 pounds. Posting a 4.43 40-yard dash, he has solid straight line speed. He needs to refine his instincts in the safety position, but the Giants have him playing in the strong safety role. They can mitigate a lot of his coverage flaws to start his career.

Yankees News: Domingo German’s impact upon return, Aaron Judge’s position change

aaron judge, yankees

The New York Yankees have dealt with some adversity over the past few weeks in the injury category but have been unstoppable nonetheless. Despite having bullpen issues and relying on younger arms to supplement deficiencies, the Yankees have been destroying every opponent in their path. It’s crazy to think that reinforcements are on the way to help. That should be a scary reality for the rest of Major League Baseball.

One pitcher on the comeback trail is Domingo German, who’s been battling shoulder issues for quite a while. German threw three innings of live batting practice on Wednesday and has been cleared to begin a minor league rehab assignment. It seems as if the Yankees are preparing him to return as a starter, potentially warming up in Triple-A and waiting for an opportunity for the Yankees to utilize him to mitigate fatigue down the road.

“Possibly,” manager Aaron Boone told reporters last week. “We’ll see as we get that plan going after this next live.”

For example, the Yankees had to scratch Luis Severino on Thursday after he experienced symptoms of a virus. In the future, German could be that spot starter they need driving over from Scranton on the same day. Alternatively, they could utilize him in a middle inning relief role, maximizing his value as a starting pitcher.

Aaron Judge’s position change:

One of the Yankees’ biggest defensive position changes this year has been Aaron Judge moving to centerfield. Judge, who’s having an MVP-caliber season, has locked down the middle of the outfield with ease, utilizing his big strides and incredible arm talent to mitigate runners in scoring position. This year, he’s only played 226.2 innings in right field, enjoying 248 innings in center. He has a perfect fielding percentage, including 52 putouts.

“I’ve always felt like I’m the center fielder,” Judge said on Friday, via the NY Post. “Even when they keep putting me in right field, I always treat everything like I’m the center fielder. But it’s good. Honestly, whatever the team needs. If this gives us the best lineup and gets the guys that we need out there every single day — I’ll play left field, I’ll play wherever they need me. It’s been fun.”

Making the transition to center should help Judge in the future, considering it is a far more valuable defensive spot. There is no doubt that betting on himself regarding his big contract extension is going to pay off.

Judge turned down a seven-year deal that would’ve paid him $30.5 million per season. That number is skyrocketing past $35 million with every passing day, leading the MLB with 25 homers this season and getting on base at a 38.8% clip.

The Yankees’ best free agent signing is providing insane value

anthony rizzo, yankees

The New York Yankees didn’t make any significant splashes in free agency this past off-season, rather depending on some familiar faces. General manager Brian Cashman has looked to the trade market as a supplement for positions rather than signing big-money players, especially with Aaron Judge’s monster deal waiting in the wings.

Acquiring Clay Holmes and Jamison Taillon from the Pittsburgh Pirates, Jose Trevino from Texas, and a bevy of starters for the Minnesota Twins, the Yankees get most of their value in trades.

However, their most productive free-agent signing is proving to be Anthony Rizzo at first base.

The Yankees were reportedly intrigued by Freddie Freeman, formerly of the Atlanta Braves, and potentially trading for Matt Olson from Oakland.

The Yankees are getting the absolute most out of Rizzo:

However, Rizzo is having a dominant season at 32 years old. The veteran infielder is hitting .228 with a 33% on-base rate and .500 slugging percentage. His 17 homers over 63 games would put him on pace for over 40 this season, smashing his personal best of 32.

Against the Toronto Blue Jays on Friday night, Rizzo was electric, recording two hits and four RBIs, all coming off a Grand Slam in the 5th inning. Rizzo’s homer brought the Yankees’ run total to 10. They ended up winning 12–3.

This season, Anthony hosts a 38.6% hard-hit rate and a career-best 11.1% barrel rate. His 18.1° of launch angle is the highest in his career, producing fewer line drives and more fly balls, which is equating to more homers.

Interestingly, pitchers aren’t throwing fastballs as much to Rizzo this season, seeing an 8% decrease in the category. They’re leaning more toward breaking balls and offspeed pitches, which he’s raking. Against fastballs, Rizzo is hitting .215, but on offspeed pitches, he’s hitting .264 with four homers. This might suggest that pitchers start throwing him more fastballs since he’s absolutely demolishing offspeed pitches.

Defensively, Rizzo has been stout, despite a few errors this season. Scooping the ball out of the dirt has become a daily occurrence for the veteran first baseman, posting a .992 fielding percentage over 429 innings.

After years of tumultuous play at first base, including Greg Bird and Luke Voit, the Yankees have found a long-term solution, at least over the next two years. Rizzo isn’t only a valuable piece on the baseball diamond, he’s also a strong leader in the clubhouse, delivering inspiring words. If he can continue to play at this rate and lead this team, the sky is the limit for the New York Yankees.