Bellator to host first major MMA event in France

Over the past few years, it’s been a battle for all MMA promotions to get the sport legalized in France. Bellator currently has one of the most popular fighters in the history of French MMA, Cheick Kongo. Kongo was one of the first really popular fighters from France.

Earlier this year, France finally pulled the trigger on legalizing MMA. All of the major promotions were trying to build up a big card for debuts in France before COVID shut things down. The UFC wanted to have a card headlined by superstar Francis Ngannou.

However, yesterday, ESPN’s Ariel Helwani was reporting that Bellator would become the first promotion to host a major event in France. They were targeting October, and this morning, Bellator confirmed the news announcing two fights for October 10th.

Bellator’s Card

Bellator Paris will in fact be headlined by heavyweight Cheick Kongo (30-10-2, 1 NC). He will be taking on Timothy Johnson (14-6) in a rematch from Bellator 208. Nobody should be surprised by the fact that Kongo is headlining this historic card in Paris.

Kongo has been a face for French MMA for years. I’m happy that he’s getting this spot. The 45 year old Kongo is a veteran of the game who is coming off of a NC with heavyweight champion Ryan Bader. If Kongo is able to knockout Johnson again, he’s likely going to get a rematch.

Johnson has put together back-to-back first round finishes since his two fight losing streak to start his Bellator career. Johnson knocked out heavyweight prospect Tyrell Fortune, then he became fortunate when an accidental headbutt lead to a TKO over Matt Mitrione. This should be a solid main event.

If you haven’t seen Michael Venom Page (17-1) fight before, you could be in for a treat. MVP is extremely creative inside the cage and he’s a ton of fun to watch. He welcomes undefeated Scottish prospect Ross Houston (8-0, 1 NC) to Bellator in Paris.

MVP has won three straight fights by knockout after his loss to Douglas Lima. That is a fight I want to see ran back in the future. If MVP is able to defeat Houston, you might see that fight setup. Houston is a top prospect, but this is a lot to ask for in his Bellator debut

Way Too Early MLB Award Predictions

With the MLB season less than a month away, there is a lot of buzz over who will be most successful in what is a most unusual season as it’s only going to be 60 games. This means a hot start out of the gate is crucial, and could screw up some numbers this year. Guys like Giancarlo Stanton have slugged over .800 in a 60 game stretch and while I don’t think we will see that, you never know when the game is so different this time around.

This definitely will play some factor in my choosing of awards but not too much, as I believe these guys were candidates for said awards even before this reduced size of games.

With that being said, let’s get to the awards:

AL MVP: Mike Trout

Why don’t people talk enough about Mike Trout being robbed of the MVP in 2012, 2013, and 2015? He had the better fWAR by nearly 3 wins in 2012 than Miggy with better defense AND a better wRC+. In 2013? The fWAR gap is still massive, and while the offense was pretty close, the defense was obviously in Trout’s favor, plus in both years Trout had baserunning value with 40 and then 33 stolen bases. Then in 2015 the same deal, better fWAR, better wRC+, better baserunning, but this time the defense was comparable.

Thank god Trout won it last year, because he was definitely the best player in baseball last year (again), and yes he deserved it WAY more than DJ. There’s no indication besides his potential to opt-out that gives me any reason to believe anyone in the AL is on his level, especially since Betts just got traded to the NL. The only guy who’s going to give Trout a run for his money is Aaron Judge, but I have to hand the 3x MVP and arguably best CF of all time this one. He’s got the wRC+, the fWAR, the wOBA, the OBP, and he’s a solid defender, so this is a no-brainer (Unless the voters screw him over again, like they always do).

NL MVP: Mookie Betts

Look I love Christian Yelich but Betts can do one thing that will make him the MVP; he can field at an elite level. Yes Yelich is the better hitter but they are comparable in offense but Betts is an elite glove, being a top 10 defensive outfielder in the sport. Yelich could win his 2nd in 3 years but I have more faith in the recently acquired superstar who’s going to be the best player in the National League.

AL Cy Young: Gerrit Cole

The BEST pitcher in baseball, with the best xFIP and best SIERA (excluding Chris Sale who’s hurt) and who will finally win the Cy Young. He was ROBBED last year by voters who clearly don’t know how to select award winners. Gerrit Cole will have to just come to NY and win the Cy Young in “deGrom’s town” and I can sit back and bask in the glory of having the best pitcher in the sport (until Chris Sale comes back, seriously that dude is special) and enjoy a nice Cy Young from our latest investment in talent.

NL Cy Young: Max Scherzer

Let’s be VERY clear about this, Jacob deGrom is an elite pitcher and a future HOFer and was incredible in 2018 and 2019. That being said, the most important pitching stat is SIERA for showing sustainability of performance that we record in ERA and FIP, and Max Scherzer in 2019 had a better season with a better FIP, xFIP, and SIERA, and people will scream about ERA but if that was the case then Hyun-Jin Ryu should’ve won the NL Cy Young right? ERA is not a stat that shows sustainability rather it shows results, results that can vary and change depending on the peripheral stats I just mentioned.

Max Scherzer had a stronger 2019 and Jacob deGrom regressed enough from 2018 for me not to feel like I’m doing deGrom a disservice, as he can still win the award, but I just find Scherzer to be the better pitcher RIGHT NOW.

AL Rookie of the Year: Jesus Luzardo

This hard throwing lefty will get a lot of time out the gate to pitch for the A’s and I think he will flourish, as he is one of the best pitching prospects in baseball. In his MiLB career, he has a 2.53 ERA and 1.04 WHIP with 234 strikeouts in only 195.2 innings. He had a short 12 inning stint in the MLB last year and had a 1.50 ERA with a 3.37 xFIP and 2.77 SIERA and 16 strikeouts. I think he will log around 50 innings which will be enough for him to be in that ALROY race and, in my opinion, win it.

NL Rookie of the Year: Gavin Lux

I wanted to put Dylan Carlson out of St. Louis however I believe Lux is the more talented player. He had performed okay for the Dodgers in 2019 in his short stint but he underperfomed his .343 xwOBA, .288 xBA, and his .455 xSLG. The reason I not his xBA is because his BB% is around average and so with his batting average being around .288 it would give him an OBP around .350. I think he will have an even higher BB% as in the MiLB it’s always been pretty high. Lux also is a good defender at 2B with a 2 OAA in a small amount of attempts, so he will probably be the most complete rookie in the NL.

AL Reliever of the Year: Nick Anderson

I think Nick Anderson is a VERY underrated reliever, as in his first full season he had a 2.21 SIERA and a 2.44 xFIP while whiffing 110 batters in 65 innings. It was even better once he got to Tampa, as after being dealt there he pitched 21.1 innings, struck out 41 batters, had a 1.19 xFIP and 1.03 SIERA which is just INCREDIBLE. He also owned a 0.60 WHIP and will make a case for the best reliever in the sport after this season.

NL Reliever of the Year: Josh Hader

Josh Hader is a high usage reliever with great peripherals and results. He’s been the anchor of the Brewers bullpen and will be the best reliever in the NL again. Hader is a special arm talent and is probably the best strikeout reliever in the sport right now, and has a 1.73 SIERA since 2018, the best out of all relievers in the sport. He’s elite and will remain king of the NL bullpens.

AL Platnium Glove: Matt Chapman

I would give this to Andrelton Simmons but his health concerns have made him lose both the 2018 and 2019 Platnium Glove to the A’s star 3rd baseman Matt Chapman. With Chapman’s DRS being impeccable at 64 since 2019 and his 14 OAA shows his defensive dominance. He’s the best defensive 3rd baseman in the sport, and he’s going to win his 3rd straight Platnium Glove to show us why.

NL Platnium Glove: Nick Ahmed

I think that Nick is the best defensive infielder in the NL (even better than Nolan Arenado), as he plays the hardest defensive position besides catcher in the infield which does affect how good I think he is AND his DRS, OAA, and his Success Rate metrics in the last two years make him a prime candidate for this award. I think Harrison Bader is another player with a great shot at this award but for now, I’ll go with Nick Ahmed.

AL Silver Sluggers

C: Mitch Garver
1B: Matt Olson
2B: DJ LeMahieu
3B: Anthony Rendon
SS: Carlos Correa
OF: Aaron Judge
OF: Mike Trout
OF: George Springer
DH: Yordan Alvarez

NL Silver Sluggers

C: JT Realmuto
1B: Max Muncy
2B: Ketel Marte
3B: Justin Turner
SS: Trevor Story
OF: Juan Soto
OF: Mookie Betts
OF: Christian Yelich
DH: JD Davis (if he is the DH)

AL Gold Glove Picks

C: Yasmani Grandal
1B: Matt Olson
2B: DJ LeMahieu
3B: Matt Chapman
SS: Andrelton Simmons
OF: Aaron Judge
OF: Kevin Kiermaier
OF: Byron Buxton
P: Zack Grienke

NL Gold Glove Picks

C: JT Realmuto
1B: Christian Walker
2B: Kolten Wong
3B: Nolan Arenado
SS: Nick Ahmed
OF: Mookie Betts
OF: Harrison Bader
OF: Cody Bellinger

Those are my picks for the 2020 MLB awards, let me know what you would change or if anyone was snubbed out of an award, this season’s going to be crazy, so I expect to get a lot wrong.

 

 

New York Yankees: Aaron Judge should have won the 2017 AL MVP over Altuve

New York Yankees, Aaron Judge, Jose Altuve

NEW YORK YANKEES – It came out today that the Houston Astros are a bunch of cheaters. They have all the talent in the world but still had to have a bigger advantage – using a camera to steal signs and relay them to their hitters.

This controversy made me think about the whole 2017 season. Besides the New York Yankees losing every game at Minute Maid Park (wonder why), Jose Altuve also won the American League MVP that season over Aaron Judge.

Would Altuve still be crowned the MVP if he played the game right and didn’t cheat? I don’t think so.

Let’s take a look at the numbers between Judge and Altuve that season.

Judge: .284/.422/.627 with 52 home runs and 114 runs batted in.

Altuve: .346/.410/.547 with 24 home runs and 81 runs batted in.

Even though Altuve significantly beat Judge in terms of batting average, it’s much easier to hit when you know what pitch is coming at you. Even though squaring up a 95MPH fastball isn’t easy in its self, it’s sure a lot easier than guessing at a breaking ball along with the high-heat.

Judge played that season the way it was supposed to. Also, keep in mind, it was his rookie year playing in New York City as a young player. That’s hard, to begin with. He beat Altuve in every other major offensive category that season.

Aaron Judge is the rightful 2017 American League MVP and AL Rookie of the Year. It’s a shame there’s nothing that can be done about it, but Judge sure had something to say about the news:

Looking back, everything the Houston Astros accomplished that season is a sham. Had they not had the advantage of stealing signs, would they have won the World Series? I mean, they have the talent to do so, but a team with that much talent and then a major advantage literally sets them up for massive success.