Frankie Edgar – Pedro Munhoz moved to UFC 252 main card

Over the weekend, the main card was officially announced for UFC 252. A couple of exciting bantamweight fights will be on the main card. One featuring the Suga Show, the other featuring the bantamweight debut of Frankie Edgar (23-8-1).

From Fight Island to the UFC APEX

Edgar was scheduled to make his bantamweight debut this week on Fight Island. The former lightweight champ just signed a new deal ahead of this fight.

This is the third weight class that Edgar will have competed in during his UFC run. This also might be the first time that Edgar is fighting at his natural weight.

The UFC didn’t give him an easy first fight pairing him with Pedro Munhoz (18-1, 1 NC). Their fight was scheduled to be the co-main event this week, but a positive COVID-19 test nixed the fight.

Edgar was offered a few replacements, but he seemed content with waiting for Munhoz. Munhoz will have been cleared by the time August rolls around, so the the fight was shifted to the main card of UFC 252.

The bantamweight division is quickly turning into the most dynamic and deep division in the UFC. This is such an exciting matchup, and you have the company’s future superstar also competing on the same card.

UFC: Did Joanna Jedrzejczyk retire?

You cannot mention the greatest female fighters in UFC history without considering former strawweight queen Joanna Jedrzejczyk (16-4). Before the strawweight division really took off, Jedrzejczyk built the division and reined supreme for years.

Jedrzejczyk has gone 0-4 in her last four attempts at UFC gold with her last chance coming against Weili Zhang (21-1). Their fight at UFC 248 is likely the fight of the year and was razor close. It’s clear Jedrzejczyk is still one of the best, but has she hung up her gloves?

Former UFC Champ – “33 and Retired”

Jedrzejczyk took to Instagram over the weekend and posted a photo of her on vacation in Bulgaria. An interesting read is the first hashtage where the former champion stated that she was, “33 and retired.”

Obviously we haven’t heard any confirmation on this as of now. Jedrzejczyk could walk away from the sport now with nothing to prove.

Jedrzejczyk is a hall of famer in my book. After becoming the second ever UFC strawweight champion, Jedrzejczyk defended the title successfully five times over the course of two years.

Jedrzejczyk was an active and dominant champion before losing to the title to “Thug” Rose Namajunas at UFC 217. I think that Jedrzejczyk still has plenty of fight left in her, but again, there’s nothing left for her to prove.

I think her fight in February shows that she’s still at the top of the sport. Zhang is considered on the Nunes/Shevchenko level by most. But, Jedrzejczyk is right there with a lot of people thinking she won that split decision over Zhang.

It’ll be something to pay attention to in the next few weeks to see if we get any confirmation on the topic. Jedrzejczyk has given us great fights over the last five years, and maybe she’s just ready to enjoy life outside the cage.

UFC 251 Recap: Kamaru Usman smothers Gamebred to retain his title

UFC 251 marked the first event on the infamous Fight Island. The first our four cards in just two weeks on Yas Island in Abu Dhabi. The main event of the evening featured the much anticipated UFC welterweight title fight between Kamaru Usman (16-1) and Jorge Masvidal (35-13). The UFC‘s debut on Fight Island did not disappoint.

Kamaru Usman suffocates the BMF

The main event of the evening featured the most anticipated matchup of the year. The UFC champ, Usman, taking on the BMF himself, Jorge “Gamebred” Masvidal. A little over a week ago, Usman thought he’d be making the walk to fight his former teammate Gilbert Burns. However, a positive COVID-19 test led to the fight the fans have been waiting for all year long.

As the fight started, Masvidal landed some massive leg kicks. However, Usman immediately caught one and took Masvidal down. Usman was able to land some good elbows from the top position. Two minutes in Masvidal was able to get back to his feet. On the feet, Masvidal had the clear advantage landing some big shots.

Usman shot in and immediately pushed Masvidal up against the fence. Masvidal was able to break with about a minute left. Masvidal was clearly superior on the feet dominating the striking exchanges. Despite a takedown the challenger takes round one.

Early on in the second, Usman seemed desperate to take the fight to the ground. Masvidal defended well, but used a ton of energy to stay on his feet. Usman seemed content with just leaning on Masvidal against the cage early in the second. Masvidal had two cuts that developed from accidental headbutts.

Usman landed a good right during a break, but immediately shot back in for the clinch. The second round lacked in action, but Usman controlled position the entire time. Late in the second, Masvidal was able to get away and land some big shots. However, Usman’s control gives him the second.

In the third round, Usman seemed more content to strike early. However, after Masvidal landed some clean shots, Usman immediately engaged in another clinch. About a minute in, Masvidal broke and again landed some big shots. Usman immediately shot back in for another clinch.

A low shot caused a break in the action about halfway through the round. After Masvidal took some time to recover, action resumed. The two men started striking for a second, but Usman timed a double leg and got Masvidal to the ground. Masvidal got up but was taken right back down. Another slow round for the champion.

As the fourth round began, Usman was able to land a good body kick. He transitioned that into a takedown. Masvidal got back to his feet, but Usman held the clinch position. Halfway through the round, Masvidal broke free landing some really clean shots. However, Usman landed a couple good shots of his own and re-engaged the clinch. Nothing else happened in the fourth which translated to another slow round for Usman.

The final round began and Usman seemed content to strike with Masvidal. However, after Masvidal landed a clean counter shot, Usman shot in for another takedown. After no action, Masvidal tried to get back to his feet with two minutes left, but Usman gained side control.

Masvidal tried a scramble to get back up with a minute left. He was able to get to his feet, but Usman held him against the fence. Masvidal was able to separate and land some big shots late, but nothing that put Usman in danger. Masvidal brought the fight to Usman, but the champion wins this one 4-1 on my scorecard. The judges agreed giving Usman the unanimous decision as he retained his UFC welterweight title.

Volkanovski edges Holloway by Split Decision

The co-main event of the evening featured a featherweight title fight between UFC featherweight champ, Alexander Volkanovski (21-1), and former champion, Max Holloway (21-5). Holloway was considered to be the greatest featherweight of all time before Volkanovski defeated him in January. Many were considering this fight to be the fight that determined who is the real featherweight GOAT.

Early on in the first round, Holloway put pressure on Volkanovski. Both men took the first couple of minutes just feeling each other out, neither throwing anything serious. Halfway through, both men seemed to open up. Holloway did a really good job of landing some decent shots on Volkanovski coming in.

Holloway seemed to land a clean 1-2 that possibly wobbled Volkanovski late in the round. Max was looking a lot better in the first round than he did in the first fight. Volkanovski stayed patient and landed some good leg kicks. Holloway dropped Volkanovski late in round one. Great first round for the former champion.

Volkanovski seemed to be wearing it a little on his face to start the second round. Holloway landed a massive combination about a minute in that stunned Volkanovski again. Volkanovski threw some leg kicks, but in this fight, Holloway would follow with his own. Holloway just looked incredibly loose in this one. Right before the end of the second, Holloway drops Volkanovski for the second time. Clearly 2-0 for Holloway after two.

Volkanovski came right out in the third with heavy leg kicks, but again, Holloway countered with his own. Holloway landed a big knee about a minute in. Volkanovski just seemed to be out of reach in this one. About halfway through the third, Volkanovski did start to find his range landing some good shots.

Volkanovski shot in for a takedown, but wasn’t able to secure it. Volkanovski held onto a clinch, but Holloway was able to break free landing a couple of solid shots off the break. Holloway was getting caught a little more in the third. Volkanovski was finding a solid left hook throughout the round. Good bounce back round for the champion who takes the third in my opinion.

Both men were wearing a little damage to begin the fourth. Volkanovski seemed to be throwing much cleaner shots in the fourth. The champions confidence was definitely growing. About halfway through the round, Holloway landed a pretty good combination that backed up the champion.

With about two minutes left, Volkanovski landed a takedown, but he couldn’t keep Holloway down. Once the fight was back on the feet, Holloway seemed to get the better of the striking exchanges. However, with the takedown and more shots landed, I’ll give Volkanovski the round. I have it 2-2 going into the fifth.

Entering the fifth, this one is anyone’s fight. Holloway seemed extremely aggressive to start the fifth round. Volkanovski did a good job at countering with some big shots. These two men were so evenly matched. Volkanovski shot in for another takedown a minute into the round.

The two men landed good shots, but Volkanovski’s shots seemed to have a bit more pop on them. Both men nodded at each other and traded big combinations halfway through the round. Volkanovski secured a takedown with about two minutes left. Holloway was able to get right back up.

With a minute left both men got really aggressive. Volkanovski kept trying for takedowns, but couldn’t land them. The two men exchanged again, but Volkanovski was able to secure one more takedown at the end of the round. Razor close fight that I give to the champion 48-47. Two of the three judges ended up agreeing giving the fight to Volkanovski by split decision (48-47, 47-48, 48-47). Volkanovski retains his UFC featherweight title in a decision that will definitely be debated.

Yan becomes champ with a fifth round TKO

The third fight of the main card saw our first UFC title fight as Petr Yan (15-1) took on former featherweight champion, Jose Aldo (28-7). Yan is considered by many to be the best bantamweight in the world. Aldo was promised a shot against Henry Cujudo, but had to miss the fight in May due to travel restrictions and that is how we go to Yan/Aldo.

Both men immediately took the center to start the fight. Neither man was using a ton of footwork early. About a minute in, Aldo threw a leg kick which reminded me of his older fights, but it was countered with a massive right from Yan. Yan was taken off his feet with another powerful leg kick, but he got right back up and landed some clean shots.

Aldo was looking really good in the first round. Yan landed some decent shots, but Aldo’s leg kicks and combinations were a major factor early. With about a minute left, Yan landed a massive body kick that caused Aldo to shoot for a takedown. Yan landed some massive shots and almost finished the fight. Yan gets the first round.

Aldo came out for round two with his hands very high after the way round one ended. Yan looked extremely patient to start the round just looking for his openings. Aldo continued to land strong kicks in the second. Aldo’s combinations and kicks were really effective in the second round. Yan landed a couple of shots, but seemed to be waiting a little too much. Aldo’s consistent output and kicks gave him the second.

Aldo came right out for the third and landed some massive body kicks. Yan looked extremely tentative to start the third. Aldo continued to chop Yan down with kicks to the body and the legs. Aldo hurt Yan bad with some body hooks about halfway through the round.

Yan tried to come back strong, but Aldo continued to land the cleaner shots. With about 90 seconds left in the round, Yan seemed to come alive landing some really clean shots. Confidence really began to grow for Yan late in the third as he hurt Aldo. Extremely close round three. I lean Yan with the way the round ended.

Yan immediately came forward aggressively to start the fourth round. About a minute in both men traded massive hooks. These two seemed content with fighting in a phone booth in the fourth round. Yan and Aldo both landed some clean shots, but Yan seemed to landing just a little more. Aldo seemed to be tiring a little in the fourth round.

Yan bloodied Aldo’s nose and put a ton of pressure on Aldo late in the fourth. Yan rocked Aldo late in the fourth which led to a solid leg sweep. Once on top, Yan relaxed into Aldo’s guard. Yan stacked up Aldo and landed some big ground shots late. Definitely Yan’s round in the fourth.

Both men hugged before the start of the fifth round. Yan dropped Aldo very early in the fifth round with a couple of big shots. Aldo found himself in a crucifix position and took some massive shots from Yan. Yan was able to get Aldo’s back which allowed him to unleash massive shots. After taking unanswered shots for about two minutes, the ref finally stops the action. Petr Yan is now the undisputed UFC bantamweight champion.

Thug Rose wins a war against Andrade

The second fight on the main card featured a rematch between former UFC strawweight champions Rose Namajunas (9-4) and Jessica Andrade (20-8). The two fought for the title back in May of last year. Namajunas controlled the fight until and Andrade slam put her out.

Early on in the first, Rose did a really good job of using her footwork. Rose did a fantastic job using straight shots to catch Andrade. Every time that Andrade would come in early, she was met with crisp shots from Thug Rose. Andrade kept trying to rush in with power hooks, but she was getting touched every time. Andrade landed a couple of good shots, but round one goes to Thug Rose with her crisp boxing.

Round two started out very similar to round one with Namajunas striking from distance. Andrade was using a ton of head movement, but it didn’t stop Rose from touching her. Jessica did start finding some success with some strong leg kicks in round two. However, Rose was clearly getting the better of the striking exchanges.

Halfway through the round, Andrade landed a massive right hand which caught Rose’s attention. Namajunas kept her composure and went right back to touching Andrade up. Despite a few good shots from Andrade including a strong closing fury, I give the second round to Namajunas

Andrade took the center aggressively to start round three. Jessica was doing a good job at ripping hooks to the body. Namajunas resumed the center of the cage landing straight shots like she did in the previous two rounds. Andrade bloodied Rose’s nose with a solid shot that seemed to hurt Namajunas.

Rose got rocked with a right hand from Andrade. Jessica landed a strong hip toss putting Namajunas on her back. Namajunas was busted up from the shots from Andrade. Rose worked her way back up to her feet with about two minutes left. The rest of the round featured both ladies trading some serious shots.

I gave the third round to Andrade, which on my scorecard would give Namajunas the fight 29-28. In the end, the judges came to a split decision giving the fight to Thug Rose (29-28, 28-29, 29-28). Absolutely fantastic fight and Namajunas now will be next in line to fight the champ, Weili Zhang.

Amanda Ribas subs Paige VanZant in the first

Kicking off the main card was a women’s flyweight contest between Amanda Ribas (10-1) and Paige VanZant (8-5). Ribas normally fights at strawweight but moved up to take on VanZant. VanZant entered the octagon on the last fight of her current UFC deal which has led many to believe it’s the last time we will see her in the octagon.

Early on in the first, Ribas did a really good job of cutting off the cage. Ribas engaged in a clinch early, and landed some massive knees to the body. Following the knees, Ribas landed a massive hip toss to take the fight to the ground.

VanZant tried to escape, but Ribas caught her in an arm bar. VanZant taps and Ribas takes the first round submission. A good win for Ribas when it comes to name recognition. For VanZant, this might be the last time we see her in the UFC.

Final Takeaways from UFC 251

UFC 251 delivered when you think about the card as a whole. The main event was lackluster simply because Usman did what he had to do. Jorge Masvidal was far superior on the feet so Usman had to lean (pun intended) on his grappling. A night of three UFC title fights delivered for fight fans everywhere. The UFC has three more fights on Fight Island before they return to the US in August. It’s gonna be a fun two weeks for fight fans.

UFC: Deiveson Figueiredo tests positive for COVID-19, Fight Island title fight in trouble

It’s inevitable, but COVID-19 is rearing it’s ugly head again in the UFC world. It was reported this evening that UFC flyweight title contender, Deiveson Figueiredo (18-1), has tested positive for COVID-19.

Another UFC title fight in trouble

One week ago tonight, Gilbert Burns saw his title shot go up in flames. Now, fellow Brazilian Figueiredo could see the same happen to his. Figueiredo apparently had COVID-19 two months ago, but has since recovered. His management team is hoping that the test is a false positive. He will retake the test tomorrow with the hope that he tests negative.

If Figueiredo is able to test negative, his UFC title fight against Joseph Benavidez (28-6) will likely go on. Back in February, the two men fought for the vacant UFC flyweight championship. Figueiredo missed weight so the only person that could have walked out of the fight with the title is Benavidez. Figueiredo went on to win the fight by second round knockout. The UFC decided to move forward with rebooking the two for Fight Island. They are currently scheduled to headline the UFC‘s July 18th card next Saturday night.

Other Options?

There are other top flyweight contenders on the card that could step-up if Figueiredo tests positive again. Top Russian prospect Askar Askarov (11-0-1) and Alexandre Pantoja (22-4) are scheduled to fight on the same card. I wrote about this being an under the radar matchup for fight fans on Fight Island. If Figueiredo cannot make the fight, look for the UFC to try to move one of these guys up the card to keep the title fight together.

Lamelo Ball reportedly wants to be a Knick, what does this mean?

New York Knicks, Lamelo Ball

The NBA Draft Lottery may not be until August 25, but that doesn’t mean we won’t see our fair share of New York Knicks draft rumors from now until then. They’ve already begun to circulate with the Knicks not participating in the Orlando NBA restart later this month, as teams speculate that top prospect LaMelo Ball and members of his circle want him to end up in New York, according to Ian Begley of SNY:

As teams do their homework on players in the draft, there’s been a consistent theme about LaMelo Ball: multiple teams believe Ball and those in his circle prefer that he lands in New York. (Those teams have picks projected later in the first round than the Knicks, for what it’s worth.)

The Knicks currently have just a 9 percent chance to get the first overall pick and 37.2 percent chance to land in the top four. If they wanted Ball, however, they would likely need to land a top-three pick at least. They do have assets to trade up if they so choose, such as the Clippers first-round pick and the Mavericks 2021 and 2023 first-round picks, but it remains to be seen if that’s what they would do.

Ball’s outspoken father, Lavar, has never been shy to express his opinion and has made it known multiple times that he wants his son on the New York Knicks. The most recent time was during an appearance on the ‘Say Less with Kaz’ podcast last month, where Lavar explained why he felt the Knicks were an ideal landing spot for not only LaMelo but all three of his sons:

They don’t have anything. The last time they won a championship was back in the 1970s. The bright lights, you need a whole new turnaround over there. The person I want to see (LaMelo) play with – he can play with anybody. I want to see him play (with), they got to know this – if you getting Melo, you getting Gelo (LiAngelo Ball). That boy shoot the heck out of that ball. Play with chemistry with (LaMelo) better than everybody ever. And after that you have a chance to get ‘Zo (Lonzo Ball). You don’t need one person to change no franchise. You need a whole culture change, and that takes all three of my boys. All three of my boys on the same team? Who ain’t going to watch that show? That would be the biggest show in the NBA ever.

Lavar’s confidence in his boys is admirable, but the prerequisites he’s demanding could give the Knicks or any team pause about drafting his son. Lavar brings with him a lot of drama and bad press if he doesn’t get what he wants, and the last thing the Knicks need is more of that. Wanting the Knicks to bring in all three of the Ball brothers is a lot to ask for and could disrupt their own plan on how to build the roster.

Lonzo Ball is a member of the New Orleans Pelicans and is in the third year of his rookie contract. He’s set to be a restricted free agent in 2021, which means the Pelicans have the right to match any offer the Knicks might make. LiAngelo Ball is a member of the Oklahoma City Blue in the G League, so he’ll be much easier to sign, but the Knicks might not see him as talented enough for the roster.

The New York Knicks would be a great fit for LeMelo Ball

However, if the Knicks are on board or work out some kind of compromise, then LaMelo Ball could be a fantastic fit. Standing at 6’8” and just over 180 lbs, Ball possesses superb size for the position. He also has excellent court vision and passing ability, as he possesses rare playmaking traits for someone his age. He’ll need to become a more consistent shooter and better defender, but the potential is there in both areas. Ball has tremendous upside and all the tools to be the franchise point guard the Knicks have been desperately lacking for a long time.

In 12 games for the Illawarra Hawks of the National Basketball League in Australia, Ball averaged about 17 points, 7 assists, 8 rebounds, and 2 steals in just over 31 minutes a game. He shot 37.5 percent from the floor and 25 percent from three.

Now, as enticing as Ball is, the Knicks still need the lottery luck in order to land him despite all the rumors. Plus, the talk of him wanting to be a Knick is nothing new for fans as similar rumors surfaced with Zion Williamson last year and with Stephen Curry back in 2009, among others. The team did reportedly have Ball ranked as their top point guard in the draft, but it remains to be seen whether or not Leon Rose and his new front office will be aggressive in getting their guy if they aren’t in position to pick him.

BREAKING: Venum to be the UFC’s new Exclusive Global Outfitting & Apparel Partner

UFC, Dana White

It has been known that the UFC‘s deal with Reebok was set to expire at the end of this year. The Reebok era ushered the UFC into more of a mainstream sport look and feel with fight kits. The deal created a lot of animosity due to sponsor money, and the deal has received criticism from many pundits. With the deal coming to an end, we’ve been wondering who would take over after the deal expires. We got our answer today.

UFC-Venum Deal starts April 2021

The UFC announced this morning that the combat sports apparel company, Venum, will be taking over for Reebok in April of next year. The Reebok deal will continue through March of 2021. Many people, including myself, figured the UFC was going to be going to one of the big dogs like Nike after the deal expired.

The Schmo was the first one to suggest Venum on his recent Schmozone Podcast with Dana White. When you think about the history of the sport, Venum is the best choice. Venum is a combat sports brand that has sponsored fighters for years. It’ll be interesting to see the numbers, but early indications are that this is a great deal for the fighters.

Fighter pay has always been a question with the UFC, and the Reebok deal didn’t help things. Fighters saw their wages slashed when they lost sponsorship money with the Reebok deal. Instead, they received a very small portion of Reebok kickbacks. With a combat sport company like Venum, one has to believe that the fighters are going to be taken care of.

UFC 251 Preview: Jorge Masvidal looks to dethrone Kamaru Usman

This Saturday night, the UFC makes it’s long anticipated debut on Fight Island in Abu Dhabi. The UFC is coming out swinging with a massive PPV card that features three title fights. The main event features a welterweight title contest between the champ, Kamaru Usman (16-1), and the BMF himself, Jorge “Gamebred” Masvidal (35-13). Two additional title fights and a stacked card make this arguably the most anticipated UFC PPV of the year. Let’s dive into the main card and preview Saturday night’s action.

Kamaru Usman vs Jorge Masvidal

The main event of the evening might be the most anticipated matchup of 2020. A fight that came together in six days after it was planned for the entire year. For the UFC‘s BMF, Jorge Masvidal, Saturday night is the culmination of his meteoric rise to stardom since the beginning of 2019. Gamebred was always considered a good fighter, but the former backyard brawler became elite in the last year and a half. 

Masvidal is extremely well-rounded, but shines when the fight is on the feet. Masvidal possesses arguably the best boxing in the UFC‘s welterweight division. He also has ruthless body kicks which he throws everything into. He’s coming into Saturday on a three fight winning streak that features two highlight reel knockouts over Darren Till and Ben Askren.

Standing across from Masvidal is the UFC welterweight champion, Usman. The Nigerian Nightmare hasn’t lost in seven years, and he’s dominated virtually every opponent he’s had since. Usman has incredible wrestling and cardio which allows him to put on an incredible pace. In his last title defense against Colby Covington, Usman also showed that he can do some serious damage on his feet.

This fight is pretty easy to preview when you think about it. Masvidal wants to keep the fight standing while Usman wants to take it to the ground. While Usman showed improved striking, he has no chance to win a stand-up fight with Gamebred. I think you’ll see Usman test the waters on the feet, but ultimately look to take the fight to the ground. If Masvidal can keep the fight standing, he can finish this fight, but I don’t think he’ll be able to over five rounds. I think Masvidal is going to find some success early, but I think as the fight goes on, Usman will be able to impose his will. I don’t see Usman getting a finish, but I think his full training camp and wrestling will give him the nod here.

Prediction: Kamaru Usman by Unanimous Decision

Alexander Volkanovski vs Max Holloway

A rematch months in the making occurs in the co-main event as former UFC featherweight champion, Max Holloway (21-5), looks to regain his title against champion, Alexander Volkanovski (21-1). Since 2017, you can make the argument that Volkanovski has been the best fighter in the UFC. He’s gone 7-0 with almost nobody giving him trouble inside the octagon.

Volkanovski is a former rugby player who at one point weighed above the light heavyweight limit and carries an extreme amount of power. Volkanovski combines that power with great accuracy and a high level Fight-IQ. He used both of those things to out-point Holloway back at UFC 245. He used his leg kicks and explosive speed to fluster the former champion. Many people have dubbed Holloway as the greatest featherweight ever. However, if Volkanovski is able to win, he’ll hold a win over Jose Aldo and two wins over Holloway which would arguably make him the best featherweight ever.

A year and a half ago, Max Holloway looked invincible. After losing to Conor McGregor in 2013, Holloway rattled off 13 consecutive wins including two over former featherweight king, Jose Aldo. Holloway is as tough as they come, and he’s a sniper on the feet. Holloway’s precision striking is what carried him to the title. However, the last three fights have shown a vulnerable Holloway.

Holloway has gone 1-2 in his last three fights losing to Volkanovski and Dustin Poirier. In those fights, Holloway struggled to be first. He seemed to be fighting more off of his backfoot which gave him issues. For Holloway to be successful against Volkanovski, he has to be more aggressive in this fight. If he sits back too much, he’s going to lose another decision.

This fight is going to be razor close. I will not be shocked by whoever wins in this one. Both men will have their moments, but I’m not hopping off the Blessed Express just yet. I think Volkanovski will have big moments in the fight, but I expect to see a much more aggressive Max Holloway. I think Holloway’s aggressive but precise attack will be just enough to get a close decision in this one. However, if he doesn’t go first in this one, expect Volkanovski to keep the title.

Prediction: Max Holloway by Split Decision

Petr Yan vs Jose Aldo

The first of three title fights features former featherweight king, Jose Aldo (28-6), and Russian star, Petr Yan (14-1). For Aldo, you might be looking at his last chance at UFC gold. The former champ hasn’t been the same guy that was once ranked as the pound-for-pound best fighter in the world just a few years ago. Aldo is coming into this fight on a two-fight losing streak, although most people believe he won his last fight.

When he’s on, Aldo has elite all-around skills. Aldo is incredibly fast and powerful with his striking. He’s also got some of the best takedown defense in the sport. Aldo is at his best when he immediately is aggressive. His best chance in this fight is to come at Yan fast and hard.

For Petr Yan, he’s looking to become the UFC‘s second Russian champion alongside Khabib Nurmagomedov. Since joining the UFC back in 2018, Yan has looked sensational. Yan does not have a weakness in his game. He’s got good grappling and elite striking. He might have the cleanest boxing and the most power out of anyone in the bantamweight division.

That power was on full display in his last fight against Urijah Faber at UFC 245. “No Mercy” completely dismantled the hall of famer, dropping him multiple times. Yan picked up the third round knockout in that one. Yan is the type of fighter who will likely take the first round to gauge Aldo’s gameplan. Look for Yan to really start getting aggressive towards the end of round one or early round two.

I think this fight is going to play out a lot like Max Holloway-Jose Aldo 1. I think Aldo is going to find some good success early being aggressive. However, as the fight goes on, I think Yan is going to start taking over. By the third round, I think Yan is going to find his groove and he’s going to land something that hurts Aldo bad. Yan will follow-up heavy and get the stoppage setting up the anticipated fight with Aljamain Sterling.

Prediction: Petr Yan by TKO – Round 3

Rose Namajunas vs Jessica Andrade

The second fight on the main card features a strawweight rematch between former champions Rose Namajunas (8-4) and Jessica Andrade (20-7). These two ladies met just over a year ago at UFC 237 and Andrade took that fight by a knockout slam. Andrade is one of the most powerful women in the world at 115 pounds. Andrade has crazy power, good leg kicks, and slams that can knock anybody out.

In this fight, Andrade is going to have to utilize her leg kicks early. In the first fight, Namajunas was having her way with the stand-up. Andrade started finding some success when attacking Namajunas’ legs. Andrade cannot be too patient or she could get touched up early and often by “Thug” Rose.

Namajunas was a budding star in 2019, but she was facing some serious demons. The weight of being UFC champion was a lot on her shoulders. When she lost the title, she looked more relieved than anything else. She admittedly said she wasn’t sure she was going to fight again after she lost the title.

However, recently Namajunas found the love for the sport again. Namajunas has elite footwork for the division. Her striking is quick and precise thanks to her training with Trevor Wittman and Pat Berry. Namajunas was controlling the first fight before she was caught up in that slam. If she doesn’t get slammed, it’s hard to imagine Andrade winning that fight.

In all transparency, it’s hard for me to see Andrade winning this fight unless she gets a flukey knockout. I think Namajunas is so much better on the feet and she’s much faster. I think she’s going to put on a clinic at UFC 251 which will setup a title fight with Weili Zhang down the line.

Prediction: Rose Namajunas by Unanimous Decision

Amanda Ribas vs Paige VanZant

The opening fight of the main card also features the most lopsided odds as Amanda Ribas (9-1) takes on Paige VanZant (8-4). Ribas comes into this fight as a -900 favorite on most betting lines. The Brazilian has a very impressive overall game and she’s been dominant since joining the UFC with wins over Mackenzie Dern and Randa Markos. Ribas has good striking, and she’s very good on the ground. She’s being touted as a potential title contender down the road.

VanZant is on the last fight of her current UFC deal. She burst onto the scene back in 2014 as the next big-time female UFC star. She’s extremely marketable, but she’s struggled against top competition. VanZant has a solid overall game, but against top-tier UFC fighters, she hasn’t found success. She has a 5-3 record in the octagon, but all three of those losses were against top-ten opponents. While VanZant has shown flashes, I’m struggling to see her having much success in this one.

I think this is a brilliant booking decision by the UFC. Ribas has the potential to become a very popular strawweight, and they’ve pitted her against a well-known fighter that is clearly inferior. I think Ribas will control this fight from the opening bell to the end of the fight. I think this will be the last time that we see VanZant inside the octagon.

Prediction: Amanda Ribas by Unanimous Decision

UFC 251 Outlook

UFC 251 is going to be absolutely insane. The card is stacked with so many interesting fights and story lines. I do not think that the fans are going to be disappointed with this card. The UFC is about to kickoff a furious stretch where they have four fight cards in the span of two weeks. Buckle up fight fans, because it’s going to be a fun ride on Fight Island.

New York Giants: ESPN top 10 running back rankings have Saquon first

New York Giants, Saquon Barkley

New York Giants running back Saquon Barkley ranks atop the list of RBs:

As a preview of the 2020 NFL season, ESPN is releasing the top 10 players at every position, according to a group of over 50 league personnel members. This includes NFL executives, coaches, scouts, and players. On Thursday they tackled the running back position, and the list turned out differently than you might anticipate:

That’s right, Giants fans! Saquon lands at the number one slot, which is a little surprising considering the slightly underwhelming season he had. The fact that he’s recognized as the best in the league, even with a lackluster offensive line over his first two seasons, is a testament to how special of a talent Saquon is.

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While almost everyone can agree that Saquon is at the very least a top-three running back, it was still a little odd seeing him ranked ahead of guys like Christian McCaffrey, Ezekiel Elliott, and Derrick Henry going into the season considering the fantastic seasons they each are coming off of. McCaffrey had an MVP-level year and was arguably the best offensive player in the game, totaling 2392 yards from scrimmage, nearly 1400 rushing on 287 carries, and just over 1000 receiving on 116 receptions. He added 15 rushing touchdowns and four receiving touchdowns, earning Pro Bowl and First-Team All-Pro honors for his dominance in both the running and passing game.

Elliott maintained his steady and consistent production last season as a leader in one of the league’s best offenses as he ran for 1357 yards and 12 touchdowns on 301 carries, adding over 400 yards receiving and two touchdowns on 54 receptions en route to his third Pro Bowl in four seasons.

Henry had an extremely dominant year, as he was arguably the best running back in the league during the second half of the season and in the playoffs as well. He ended the year first in rushing attempts with 303, first in yards with 1540, and tied for first in touchdowns with 16. He didn’t do much in the receiving game, managing only 206 yards and two touchdowns on 18 receptions, but his video-game production on the ground was phenomenal. He made it to his first Pro Bowl and carried the Tennessee Titans to the AFC Championship game.

Saquon had much less in terms of stats compared to those three due to him battling a high ankle sprain for much of the season, which cost him three games, and the poor offensive line he had blocking for him. He still managed to rack up over 1000 yards and six touchdowns on 217 rushing attempts to go along with 438 yards and two touchdowns on 52 receptions.

This season projects to be a huge one for Saquon, however, as he is fully healthy and the Giants offensive line should be much improved. The team also has a new offensive coordinator in longtime Dallas Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett, and the offensive system he’s bringing is supposed to revolve around Saquon, which bodes well for his production.

It remains to be seen how well Saquon and the Giants will do if and when the season gets underway, but these rankings seem to indicate that people around the NFL seem to share the sentiment that year number three will indeed be a big one for Saquon.

UFC: Dana White on Conor McGregor: “He’s got a few fights left”

Conor McGregor, UFC

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you have heard that the UFC‘s biggest star, Conor McGregor (22-4), retired just over a month ago. Most, if not all, people believe that this will be another short-term retirement for the former two division champion. UFC President Dana White appeared on The Herd with Colin Cowherd where he was simply asked if McGregor will fight again.

“What’s going on with Conor McGregor is what goes on with all professional fighters when they become extremely wealthy…he gets to pick and choose what he wants to do. He’s got a few fights left, I wouldn’t be surprised if he came out and wanted to fight somebody next year after all these fights play out,” White told Cowherd.

Does the UFC need Conor McGregor?

Let’s be clear about something, the UFC has never needed Conor McGregor. Yes, McGregor is the biggest star the sports history by a long shot. However, the UFC was successful before McGregor, and they will be successful after McGregor is officially retired.

On the other hand, the UFC really wants McGregor to fight a few more times. He generates more money than the next two biggest draws combined. He transcends the standard MMA fan and his reach stretches around the globe. That’s how big of a star the Irishman is in the UFC.

Conor McGregor hasn’t stopped training since he announced that he was retired. He’s constantly staying sharp in the gym. If you see Jorge Masvidal win this weekend at UFC 251, I wouldn’t be shocked if you see McGregor make a play to fight Masvidal for the welterweight title. Imagine McGregor coming back to become the first fighter in UFC history to hold a belt in three weight classes.

I think in the next couple of months you’re going to see momentum towards another Conor McGregor fight. There is no way that he’s done fighting. I think there are a couple of more things he wants to accomplish before he hangs it up for good.

Colby Covington on the UFC 251 headliners: “Dirty, cheating fighters”

UFC, Colby Covington

UFC‘s first event on Fight Island features the highly anticipated welterweight title fight between Kamaru Usman (16-1) and Jorge Masvidal (35-13). Top contender and former interim champion, Colby Covington (15-2), has come out with his thoughts on the two men that will be squaring off for the UFC welterweight title.

“Load the house on Usman. That’s the easiest bet of all time…There’s nothing that excites me about this fight, these aren’t two good fighters. You have one dirty cheating fighter then you have another dirty cheating fighter,” Covington told MMA Fighting.

“Chaos” believes he’s the best in the UFC

When it comes to Saturday night, there is no questioning that Covington believes Usman is the better fighter. He doesn’t seem to think Masvidal has a chance to dethrone the welterweight king. Covington said in the interview that he has unfinished business to attend to with the welterweight king.

Covington believes that he was not given a fair shake in his first fight with Usman that came back at UFC 245. “Chaos” has gone on record saying that the stoppage was early, and alluded to multiple Usman fouls in his interview with MMA Fighting. Covington had thrown his name out there to replace Burns at UFC 251 before the UFC gave the shot to Masvidal.

Covington is currently sitting with no opponents lined up. It’s very clear that he wants to get back to the welterweight title. Him and Usman put on one of the best fights of 2019. The two men are razor close in their skills, but Usman was the better man at UFC 245. After UFC 251, expect “Donald Trump’s Favorite Fighter” to voice his opinion on getting the next shot at the title. You can see Covington’s full interview below.Colby Covington on the UFC 251 headliners: “Dirty, cheating fighters”