Category Archive : Sports

Tyson Fury says he was asked to fight Mike Tyson but no matchup ‘materialized’

Current WBC heavyweight champion Tyson Fury said that he was contacted to gauge his interest in fighting his namesake: Mike Tyson. In an interview given to BT Sport, Fury said that he received a call asking if he was interested in fighting Tyson, and while he responded positively to the idea, he thinks nothing will come of it.

“I had a phone call saying ‘Would you like to fight Mike Tyson in an exhibition fight?’ I said ‘hell yeah,’ but I don’t think anything’s materialized out of it,” Fury said on Tuesday.

Clips of Tyson training to compete in boxing again have made the rounds on social media. They’ve garnered so much attention that the former world champion has been contacted by not just charity promotions, but also an actual competitive promotion. Earlier this month, Tyson was reportedly offered $20 million to fight in a bare knuckle boxing promotion.

Of course, it’s worth noting that Tyson’s last sanctioned bout came in 2005 against Kevin McBride and was stopped after six rounds. Fury, meanwhile, was last seen utterly demolishing the face of Deontay Wilder as he became a world heavyweight champion. Oh and while the current WBC champ is 31 years old, “Iron Mike” is sitting at a ripe 53.

So it’s hard to imagine this kind of fight having any sort of entertainment value were to actually happen. Mildly more interesting is an old-timer’s rematch between Tyson and Evander Holyfield, a subject that Fury also dished on to BT Sport.

“They’re both old now so they’re a bit long in the teeth, but then who am I to say anything about what anyone’s capable of?” said Fury. “I wouldn’t try to kill anybody’s dreams of doing anything they want. If they’re both medically fit to fight, then let them do what they’ve got to do. It’s their life, not mine.”

If there’s anyone who knows about just how impressive professional comebacks can be in the sport, it’s Fury.

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2020 NXT TakeOver: In Your House matches, card, date, PPV predictions, location, start time, rumors

A nostalgic pay-per-view brand will be revived by WWE on Sunday, June 7 with NXT TakeOver: In Your House. The In Your House brand was utilized previously for pay-per-view events outside WWE’s traditional “Big Four” from May 1995 to February 1999. With people largely confined to their homes during the coronavirus pandemic during these times, WWE has brought back the name as NXT returns to hosting a premier event on the WWE Network. 

NXT TakeOver: In Your House will take place from the WWE Performance Center in Orlando, Florida, without fans in attendance, as has been the case for every WWE event during the pandemic era. Still, the show should be expected to bring the high drama of a standard NXT TakeOver event. The NXT TakeOver: In Your House action is expected to begin at 7 p.m. ET on WWE Network.

While the card is still being developed, there are some confirmed matches. So, let’s take a look at the matches we know — and the matches we think we know — for NXT TakeOver: In Your House.

NXT TakeOver: In Your House matches

NXT Championship — Adam Cole (c) vs. Velveteen Dream: Cole was planning to celebrate a year as NXT champion when Dream stepped in. After ruining the celebration and dropping an elbow from the top rope to the floor, Cole requested to negotiate with NXT general manager William Regal. Those negotiations secured Dream the title shot … under the condition that if he’s unsuccessful in his quest to finally capture the top prize in NXT, he cannot challenge for the championship again as long as Cole is champion. What’s more, multiple reports have surfaced that the match has already been pre-taped in Orlando, signaling that WWE will be going the cinematic route once again with one of its more prominent PPV matches during the pandemic. 

North American Championship — Keith Lee (c) vs. Johnny Gargano: Gargano and Candice LeRae have set their sights on Lee and Mia Yim, calling them little more than NXT’s latest flavors of the month. Amid this new feud sparking, it was announced that Gargano will challenge Lee for the title at NXT TakeOver. 

NXT Women’s Championship — Charlotte Flair (c) vs. Rhea Ripley vs. Io Shirai: Flair has been everywhere lately — on Raw and SmackDown more than even NXT where she reigns as champion. Shirai won a ladder match to earn her shot at the title and won the match by disqualification, allowing Flair to retain the title. Ripley involved herself and then met Shirai in a match that ended in a no contest after Flair attacked both women. On the heels of the chaos, the three will now meet in a title match at the pay-per-view.

Tommaso Ciampa vs. Karrion Kross: Kross made Ciampa his first target after Ciampa finally put his feud with Johnny Gargano behind him. Kross attacked Ciampa and left him laying prior to his in-ring debut, making an immediate statement. Ciampa returned weeks later, and despite admitting a certain level of respect for Kross’ actions, plans to prove the attack was a mistake at TakeOver.

Finn Balor vs. Damien Priest: Much like the situation between Ciampa and Kross, Balor was the victim of a backstage attack with the culprit eventually revealed to be Priest. Priest made the reveal after attacking Balor for a second time, this time during a match with Cameron Grimes. Priest said the move is about building legacy, and he’s looking to do it by taking out one of NXT’s all-time greats.

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Naomi Osaka surpasses Serena Williams as world’s highest-paid female athlete, according to Forbes

Naomi Osaka has already had quite the career for a 22-year-old tennis player, rising to stardom seemingly overnight when she beat Serena Williams at the 2018 U.S. Open final to win her first Grand Slam. Now she passes one of her idols, and one of the sport’s GOATS, as the highest-paid female athlete in the world, according to Forbes

Osaka is listed as making $37.4 million over the past 12 months from prize money and endorsements. This puts her at $1.4 million more than Williams.

Osaka’s impressive earning numbers did not just make her the highest-paid female athlete of this year, she also set an all-time earnings record for a female athlete in a single year. The previous record was held by Maria Sharapova in 2005, when she earned $29.7 million.

Osaka cashes in on her sponsorship deals. Her main deal is with Nike, which paid her over $10 million last year for an agreement that runs until 2025. This came after a bidding war over the young star with Adidas, her previous sponsor.

She has 15 total endorsements, ranging from Nissan Motor to Shiseido to Citizen Watch and Yonex, a tennis racket company she has worked with for more than a decade.

In the current list of top 100 highest-paid athletes, male or female, Osaka ranks No. 29 on Forbes’ list. Williams occupies the No. 33 spot.

This is the first time since 2016 that two women have been listed on the top 100 highest-paid athletes list, according to Forbes.

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MLS tournament in Orlando could start as early as July 9; format could split teams into six groups

Major League Soccer is still finalizing its return-to-play plans after the league and players association reached a deal on Wednesday, and details are slowly trickling in as to how the proposed tournament format in Orlando could look like. All of the dates and plans are dependent on a variety of factors, nothing more so than the safety and well being of players and others involved in the competition. 

In a proposed schedule that was sent to MLS clubs last week, the league is targeting a July 9 start date, sources tell CBS Sports. The proposed format would include six groups — three groups for the Eastern Conference and three for the Western Conference — to bring a World Cup-style group stage. With 26 teams between two conferences, we could potentially see four groups of four teams and two of five.

Players would arrive on June 24 for processing and COVID-19 testing, there would be team training from June 25 to July 8, and then action would begin. Here are some of the proposed dates obtained, according to an internal memo obtained by CBS Sports:

  • June 24: Arrival/testing for all 26 teams
  • June 25-July 8: Team training period
  • Tournament start date not confirmed, though it should start after the training period
  • July 23: Group stage ends — 10 teams eliminated and 16 remain in Orlando
  • July 24-28: Round of 16 — eight teams remain after this round 
  • July 29-Aug. 1: Quarterfinals — four teams remain after this round  
  • Aug. 2-5: Semifinals — two teams remain after this round
  • Aug. 6-9: Championship

The teams would depart at the conclusion of the round in which they are eliminated. The schedule and specific format for the initial round or group stage is not yet known. 

MLS commissioner Don Garber met with media members Wednesday on a video call to announce the new agreement between the league and the Players Association. Garber confirmed plans for a tournament in Orlando, but couldn’t share any details other than the competition lasting “a maximum of 35 days.” That would line up with the end of the proposed training period and the final.

The league and players made a significant step toward playing out the season with the deal reached on Wednesday, now it’s all about ironing out details to get play back underway in a safe environment. 

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Six early storylines to monitor as we look ahead to the 2020 Stanley Cup playoffs

The NHL is the first of the four major North American sports leagues to come to an official agreement for a return to action plan post-coronavirus outbreak, though it’ll still likely be a couple more months until we actually see meaningful games. If/when the NHL does return, it has been agreed that they’ll jump straight into an expanded 24-team playoff format. We may have to wait until August to see that get underway, but it’s not too early to start looking into and discussing some of the storylines that will come with the 2020 postseason.

From the league level, the team level and individual player level, there will be no shortage of things to monitor this playoff season. Let’s take a look at six things we’re thinking about already:

St. Louis Blues v Vegas Golden Knights

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A hard reset for all teams, for better or for worse

When the NHL does kick off its postseason, it will likely be at least four months removed from the meaningful games last played in March. Such a long layoff will essentially provide a hard reset for each of the league’s 24 still-active teams, which could be considered a positive or a negative depending on how a certain team was performing going into the pause.

Take, for example, the Boston Bruins. At the pause, they were one of the league’s hottest teams, having won 16 of their previous 20 games. They were atop the league standings, at least eight points clear of every other team in the Eastern Conference with 12 games left to play. Now, not only did Boston have that momentum halted by the pause, it also loses out on home ice due to games being played at a neutral location. And the Bruins may not even have a top seed (thanks to the round-robin format) despite the fact that they finished the season as Presidents’ Trophy winners. It’s a strange turn of events. 

Other teams that could look at the league shutdown as a negative: The Vegas Golden Knights, who were one of the most dominant teams in the West before the pause, winning 14 of 19, and the Philadelphia Flyers, who had a nine-game winning streak before losing their last game before the shutdown. Philly surged up the standings and was just one point off the Metro lead when the league shut down. 

For other teams, an opportunity for a hard reset and expanded playoff picture isn’t a bad thing when you’re trending in the wrong direction late in the season. The Dallas Stars were pushing for the Central crown but saw the wheels come loose when they lost their final six games of the regular season. Under a traditional playoff format, teams like the New York Islanders (losers of seven in a row before the pause) and the Columbus Blue Jackets (losers of 12 of 15) would have been in trouble of falling out of the postseason picture down the stretch. Not only will they hold a postseason spot thanks to the altered 24-team format, but the hiatus will give them an opportunity to stop their downward spiral, re-calibrate and start fresh again this summer. 

With momentum and a majority of injuries wiped off the table, all 24 teams in the playoff picture will have an opportunity to enter the gauntlet with somewhat even footing. 



Navigating an unprecedented postseason scenario

On top of the hiatus giving teams a clean slate heading into the restart, there will also be plenty of other unique factors to monitor in this unprecedented playoff scenario. First and foremost: the health and safety of all the players involved. Obviously, COVID-19 will be a central storyline of this postseason.

The NHL is committing to testing players on a daily basis during the playoffs. It’ll be important to know what the contingency plans are in the event that a player (or essential personnel member) tests positive for the coronavirus. Then, there’s the playoff format itself. The playoff picture will be expanded from 16 teams to 24 teams with an additional best-of-five play-in round ahead of the traditional 16-team bracket.

There’s always a significant unpredictability factor when it comes to the Stanley Cup playoffs. Last year, every wild-card team pulled an upset and advanced out of the first round — and that’s part of what makes playoff hockey so great. But a best-of-five series following a four-month layoff? That seems like it could be a recipe for randomness, and it might open up questions and debate over maximizing legitimacy and opportunity for the best team to win. If a team is slow to find its legs out of the gate or gets a few bad bounces in the first couple of games, it could have its back up against the wall almost immediately. Is that a good thing for the sport and the greater playoff picture?

You also have to consider the fact that there will be no real “home-ice advantage” during these playoffs, either. Games will be played at central hubs and without fans in attendance, and that alone will be worth keeping tabs on. Crowd atmosphere typically has a strong presence in the Stanley Cup playoffs, so how will the absence of fans affect the energy level of players or momentum of games, as well as the viewing experience for fans? 

This Stanley Cup playoffs will also likely be played in the dead heat of the summer, so ice conditions could also become a storyline if the heat/humidity ultimately has an effect on the quality of playing surface in whichever hub cities are chosen. Of course, all of the bizarre and unprecedented elements of this postseason will ultimately play into whether the Stanley Cup champion crowned at the conclusion of the playoffs is considered “legitimate” or not. Thanks to the odd circumstances that have been cast upon the league, it seems inevitable that many will be quick to attach an asterisk to whoever lifts the Cup.

Edmonton Oilers v Toronto Maple Leafs


Connor McDavid, Oilers back in the playoffs

For the first time in three seasons, the best hockey player in the world will be involved in the Stanley Cup playoffs. It has been frustrating to watch the Oilers waste prime years of Connor McDavid’s career, but Edmonton is back in the postseason picture this year and the Oilers will square up with the Blackhawks in a play-in matchup. 

The Oilers made an exciting run during McDavid’s second season, advancing to the second round before being eliminated by the Ducks in seven games, and it looked like the franchise was trending upward with McDavid leading the way. But they’ve taken a step back since and McDavid has clearly been frustrated by the lack of progress and forward momentum as he carries dead weight.

However, this year’s postseason, as strange and unprecedented as it may be, offers an opportunity for the Oilers to get back on track. And perhaps more importantly, it puts McDavid back on the biggest stage. Having the world’s most skilled and impressive players on display to represent the league’s product during the postseason is always pretty important, but it may be even more significant this year. Who knows how many sports leagues will be back in action by the time the NHL kicks off its postseason this summer? The NHL could find increased viewership and interest from peripheral fans. It’s probably for the best that a guy who’s capable of turning himself into a human highlight reel on a nightly basis is involved.

Make or break time for Maple Leafs?

Despite coming into the season with lofty expectations, the Maple Leafs had a tumultuous and frustrating campaign. They struggled with inconsistency and continue to have trouble in their own end of the ice. But this hiatus gives the Leafs a chance to start fresh with a playoff run, one that could have major implications on how they approach the coming offseason. 

The Leafs are tight against the cap and have over $40 million tied up in four key forwards that comprise their core group: John Tavares, Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner and William Nylander. That group hasn’t been able to elevate Toronto to the heights that are expected of them. The Maple Leafs have lost in the first round of the playoffs in each of the past three seasons, and the franchise hasn’t won a playoff series since 2004. 

They were still fighting for their playoff lives when the season went into shutdown, and when it returns they’ll have a play-in date with the Columbus Blue Jackets. Nobody really expected the Blue Jackets to be in the playoff picture this year, but they’ve proven to be a scrappy team and are due to get back a number of key players from injury thanks to the layoff. Columbus proved last year it shouldn’t be taken lightly, even if it is seemingly overmatched in a postseason series. Toronto looking better on paper shouldn’t mean a whole lot. 

If Toronto can’t get beat Columbus, or if it can’t move beyond the first round of the traditional 16-team bracket, then perhaps Kyle Dubas and the Maple Leafs front office decides it’s time to make a significant shakeup to that core this offseason. It’s hard to justify having that much money tied up in a few players that have helped the team accomplish very little, especially when the squad still has glaring holes (primarily on defense) and the salary cap parameters might be tightened as a result of the loss of revenue that has come with the pandemic.

Toronto may not necessarily “blow it up” if it has another disappointing playoff showing, but it’d be hard to argue staying the course if no progress is shown.

NHL: Colorado Avalanche at New York Rangers

Sarah Stier / USA TODAY Sports

New York Rangers‘ goaltending situation

The Rangers will have an interesting decision to make in net when it comes time for them to take the ice for their play-in series against the Carolina Hurricanes. They have three goalies on the roster that all have a decent case for the starting job:

  • Henrik Lundqvist: He has been the face of the franchise for years and has proven himself to be a great playoff goalie, despite the fact that he hasn’t been on a Cup-winning team yet. Over 11 playoff runs, Lundqvist has a .922 save percentage, putting him in top 15 all time. But he’s not the goalie he once was and he had a mediocre regular season, posting a .909 save percentage and saving negative-4.16 goals above average over 30 appearances. 
  • Alexandar Georgiev: Coming in as Hank’s young backup, Georgiev took on a more prominent role in net this season. The 24-year-old put up better numbers than Lundqvist but still wasn’t anything special, recording a .910 save percentage with 0.12 goals saved above average in 34 games played. 
  • Igor Shesterkin: The Russian 24-year-old is considered to be the Rangers’ goalie of the future and he’s made a great first impression in New York during his rookie campaign. He has a very limited sample size with 12 appearances, but he’s posted a .932 save percentage with an impressive 9.34 goals saved above average in that span.

So, who do the Rangers go with? Maybe they show some loyalty and give Lundqvist one more crack at carrying a playoff run. Maybe Georgiev’s larger body of work inspires more faith. Maybe they decide that they’re ready to make a strong commitment to Shesterkin and hand him the keys as the goalie of the future.

It’s not an easy call and the decision will likely be the subject of debate and scrutiny, but ultimately it’s not the worst position to be in. All three of the Rangers’ goalies are likely better options than what the Carolina Hurricanes are going to have in net for their play-in series. 

Will the Blackhawks save Stan Bowman?

Under normal circumstances, the Chicago Blackhawks were likely to miss a third straight postseason. That likely would have cost Stan Bowman his job as general manager as the team already fired team president John McDonaugh earlier this year, saying “it will take a new mindset to successfully transition the organization to win both on and off the ice.” You’d imagine that line of thinking should also apply to Bowman.

There have been rumblings that Bowman will be next on the chopping block, but what if the Blackhawks scrape together an improbable run this postseason? Does it get overlooked that they entered an unusual and unprecedented postseason picture as the 23rd of 24 seeds? Will it buy him some more time in the GM chair, or has his fate already been sealed regardless of what happens?

Chicago awaits a play-in series against the Oilers and there could be a whole lot on the line for Bowman and his future with the club.

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Saints star Michael Thomas calls out Drew Brees over his opinion on players kneeling during national anthem

It’s not often that an NFL receiver will publicly call out his quarterback for something, but that’s exactly what Michael Thomas did to Drew Brees on Wednesday. The Saints receiver clearly wasn’t happy after seeing an interview that Brees did with Yahoo Finance. During the interview, the Saints quarterback was asked what his thoughts were on the subject of players potentially kneeling again during the national anthem for the 2020 season. 

Brees then made it very clear that he’s against that form of protest because he views it as disrespectful to the American flag. 

“I will never agree with anybody disrespecting the flag of the United States of America or our country,” Brees said. “Let me just tell you what I see or what I feel when the national anthem is played, and when I look at the flag of the United States. I envision my two grandfathers, who fought for this country during World War II, one in the Army and one in the Marine Corp. Both risking their lives to protect our country and to try to make our country and this world a better place.”

Brees also added that standing with your hand over your heart is an equally good way of showing unity. 

“Every time I stand with my hand over my heart, looking at that flag, and singing the national anthem, that’s what I think about, and in many cases, it brings me to tears, thinking about all that has been sacrificed,” Brees said. “Not just those in the military, but for that matter, those throughout the civil rights movements of the ’60s, and everyone, and all that has been endured by so many people up until this point. And is everything right with our country right now? No, it’s not. We still have a long way to go, but I think what you do by standing there and showing respect to the flag with your hand over your heart, is it shows unity. It shows that we are all in this together, we can all do better and that we are all part of the solution.”

Here was Thomas’ reaction to Brees’ answer. 

Although he used one tweet to call Brees out, he also pointed out that his quarterback just doesn’t know any better. 

Brees was asked about the possibility of players kneeling because there’s a chance that some NFL players could end up making the decision to kneel during the national anthem this season as a way to protest racial injustice and police brutality against minorities.

Colin Kaepernick started the protest in 2016 and his actions by some NFL coaches and players around the league following the death of George Floyd in May. The African-American man was killed in Minnesota last week after a white police officer, Derek Chauvin, kneeled on his neck for more than eight minutes. 

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Michael Jordan, Tiger Woods, Patrick Mahomes among sports figures to speak out after George Floyd’s death

The entire nation is reeling after the death of George Floyd, an African-American man in Minneapolis killed after a police officer was caught on video kneeling on his neck for over seven minutes. Floyd’s death has sparked protests against police brutality, specifically against the African-American community, across the country. People are taking to the streets to educate others and demand an end to racism.

Those protests have featured a number of prominent members of the increasingly socially conscious sports community. Boston Celtics forward Jaylen Brown even drove 15 hours from Boston to Atlanta to participate in protests there. Trae Young spoke at a peaceful protest and many others have walked with people asking for change.

Even those who did not participate in the protests directly have used their platforms to voice their opinions. Some of the biggest names in sports including Michael Jordan, LeBron James, Derek Jeter, Tom Brady, Tiger Woods and Alex Ovechkin are using their voices to help create a necessary change. One notable group response came from the Ohio State football team:

They were far from the only prominent athletes to speak out. Below is just a sampling of the sports world’s reaction to what is happening around the country. 

Trae Young spoke at peaceful protests.

(Some language NSFW)

Toronto Raptors president Masai Ujiri penned a piece that was published in the Canadian newspaper, The Globe and Mail, in response to the protests. Ujiri acknowledged the 2019 incident when a police officer stopped him from joining the Raptors on the court following their NBA championship victory.

“If it was another team president heading for the court — a white team president — would he have been stopped by that officer? I’ve wondered that,” Ujiri wrote. “I recognize what happened in Oakland last June is very different from what happened in Minneapolis last Monday. My own experience only cost me a moment; Mr. Floyd’s experience cost him his life.”

In the NFL, San Francisco 49ers CEO Jed York announced that he is donating $1 million to “local and national organizations who are creating change” amid the protests.

Floyd was a friend of former NBA player Stephen Jackson.

(Some language NSFW)

The UFC’s Jon Jones spoke to TMZ about Floyd’s death saying, “Anyone who has practiced the very basics of jujitsu recognizes a [blood choke] when they see this. That was as clear as day murder, torture.”

“What that man went through was worse than drowning,” Jones added. “I wouldn’t wish the way George Floyd was murdered on my worst enemy. That officer applied just enough pressure to keep him alive for almost six minutes in that chokehold. In all my years of fighting I can honestly say I’ve never experienced anything close to that level of torture.”

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Jon Jones’ complex beef with Dana White stands to serve as potential tipping point for UFC fighters

Attempting to define UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones has never been an easy process. 

A walking contradiction of greatness and trouble, the 32-year-old Jones is somehow both the sport’s greatest fighter in history and its biggest cautionary tale at the same time. Even Jones’ public persona is polarizing given how regularly his behavior floats between hero and villain. 

So it should come as no shock, following a pair of disputed decisions inside the cage over his last two fights against Thiago Santos and Dominick Reyes, that Jones’ most recent battle — verbally sparring on social media over money with UFC president Dana White — would leave quite a gray area when trying to determine who is right. 

The most recent beef between star fighter and promoter began when Jones (26-1, 1 NC) shared interest on social media in moving up to heavyweight to face feared slugger Francis Ngannou. “Bones” then blasted the UFC over a series of ranting tweets following a failed negotiation that led to a lengthy “he said, he said” battle between Jones and White. 

While there’s plenty of reason to debate many of the “facts” shared by both sides, the core of the argument settles on Jones. The light heavyweight champ publicly revealed that he took home around $5 million per fight in recent years, while at the same time, the UFC president claims he was asking for “Deontay Wilder money” to take on such a dangerous challenge in Ngannou. White then countered that Jones isn’t a big enough star to demand such a price, and Jones followed by threatening to vacate his 205-pound title and sit out the rest of 2020. 

The debate between right and wrong only gets grayer from here thanks to Jones’ behavior. During the same week he’s entrenched in a highly-publicized financial squabble with his boss, the Albuquerque, New Mexico, resident was also captured on video physically disarming protesters of spray paint in a forceful attempt at maintaining peace. 

The positive incident took place on the same Albuquerque streets in which Jones, who is already no stranger to felony arrest and failed drug tests, was pulled over in March and charged with DWI after firing a weapon in a public place. The UFC only complicated matters when White chose not to punish Jones nor strip him of his title. That decision not only enables Jones to keep fighting so the company can cash in, it contradicts White’s recent comeback that Jones has “tarnished his own name” enough to devalue its worth.

Can’t get enough UFC? Subscribe to my podcast — State of Combat with Brian Campbell — where I break down everything you need to know in the Octagon. 

Jones could certainly be criticized by presenting the right message at precisely the wrong time given the current global coronavirus pandemic which prevents UFC from promoting fights in front of paying crowds and, according to White, will cost the company $100 million in 2020 due to the absence of live gates. 

Yet the very spirit of what Jones is fighting for, even if the motive is more selfish than for the longterm gain of his fellow fighters, isn’t wrong. And it makes Jones a potentially interesting martyr of sorts should other fighters follow suit and help build momentum. 

Because of the manner in which White and the Fertitta brothers rescued UFC from certain death when Zuffa purchased the promotion in 2001, fighters have rarely held much leverage. The UFC has held firm control in everything from matchmaking to payouts. Outside of former two-division champion Randy Couture, the idea of big names being willing to risk all they have for better treatment has largely been a novel concept. 

But Jones has always been different in ways that go beyond his greatness inside the Octagon or troubles outside of it. He famously went to war with the promotion in 2012 when he refused to face Chael Sonnen on short notice after Dan Henderson withdrew with an injury, which led to the unprecedented cancelling of UFC 151. 

The two sides repaired their issues over the years, even to the level of the UFC moving Jones’ return from a lengthy USADA suspension on six days’ notice in December 2018 from Las Vegas to Los Angeles when the Nevada State Athletic Commission wouldn’t clear him due to an irregular drug-test finding. Still, Jones remains such a wild card that recent developments are far from a surprise. 

Long-criticized for underpaying fighters commensurate to what the promotion pulls in financially, UFC effectively created a landscape of haves and have nots when it comes to fight purses. Becoming a marketable star and championship contender often lifts fighters out of the latter, which means public complaints are almost non-existent due to how much of a struggle it was to reach that point. 

The UFC also goes to the lengths of purposely underreporting payouts to state commissions, which prevents fighters from knowing what each other takes home and limits their bargaining leverage. Detailed financial reporting from multiple websites have exposed that the UFC paid only 16% of 2019 revenue — a year which White bragged was the best in company history — to the fighters, which compares negatively to the nearly 50% paid by pro sports leagues such as MLB and the NFL

White, during an interview with ESPN’s Dan Le Batard last week, angrily said that fighters are free to share their total earnings but choose not to. It’s an assertion that was challenged on Twitter by Bloody Elbow’s John S. Nash, who shared language in a fighter contract which expressively bans such a practice. 

Should a company which sold to Endeavor in 2016 for a whopping $4.2 billion be able to afford paying one of its top fighters more than $5 million for a super fight? The answer, it seems, should be yes, especially considering the physical dangers of the sport and White’s assertion that Endeavor’s reported financial problems have “nothing at all” to do with the UFCs bold effort to return last month amid the COVID-19 outbreak. 

Although Jones’ reported claim of desiring “Deontay Wilder money” might not be a perfect comparison considering the heavyweight boxer had a number of suitors (including DAZN) driving up his market value in a disorganized sport with a far different structure than MMA, the top stars in the UFC are continually paid far less than top boxers. Some of that could be argued against by mentioning how much more expensive the UFC undercards are than most boxing pay-per-view cards where promoters largely mail things in, but it does nothing to justify the UFC’s larger issue with underpaying top talent. 

The only way things will ever change for UFC fighters is through some form of organizing, whether that comes in the form of a fighter union or a similar unified stance. While it would certainly take more than one big name in Jones, his current holdout could be a tipping point in more fighters stepping up to take control of their futures. 

One such recent example of a marquee fighter seemingly knowing his worth comes from Henry Cejudo, who retired last month at the peak of his physical prime at age 33 with many pondering whether it was a sly power move to give himself more financial leverage upon a potential return. Cejudo, in theory, could’ve continued to defend his bantamweight title for the same money he was making against a long line of dangerous opponents, or he could wait for live gates to return and call his own shots better by only seeking super fights. 

Jones believes he was the victim of public smearing from White and outright lying about the nature of the negotiations he had in trying to get paid more for facing Ngannou. Whether this was Jones beginning a smart exit strategy of big-money fights to retire on or White holding firm in belief that Jones is no longer the same fighter he once was, the UFC president’s disingenuous response only reinforces the negative stereotype of poor fighter treatment.

How can Jones, in one breath, be called the greatest fighter of all time by his promoter and, in the next, dismissed as not being a big enough draw? How can White, even with the lack of a live gate, be so quick to shoot down Jones’ dare-to-be-great hopes by attempting to make the kind of power move against Ngannou that the promotion regularly encourages? 

Jones is no angel. We’ve established that. He’s also not in the same atmosphere of being the type of draw that Conor McGregor, Brock Lesnar and Ronda Rousey once were. But for as inconsistent as he has been outside of the cage, both his drawing power and his success have been anything but inside of the Octagon. 

That’s why Jones’ current soap opera with White and whether he can force his promoter’s hand by asking to be let go could be the unlikely opening fighters have needed to get closer to earning what they feel they are really worth. 

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Chris Archer to miss 2020 season after undergoing surgery to relieve thoracic outlet syndrome

Whether or not Major League Baseball and the Players Association can reach an agreement on a modified 2020 season, Pittsburgh Pirates right-hander Chris Archer won’t be making an appearance. That’s because the team announced on Wednesday that Archer will miss the year after undergoing surgery to relieve symptoms of neurogenic thoracic outlet syndrome.

Here’s the team’s release on the matter:

The Pittsburgh Pirates today announced that right-handed pitcher Chris Archer underwent surgery to relieve symptoms of neurogenic thoracic outlet syndrome (TOS) on Tuesday, June 2. The procedure was performed by Dr. Robert Thompson at Washington University in St. Louis. 

After consulting with several leading vascular and orthopedic surgeons in recent weeks, the decision was made to undergo the procedure. 

Archer is projected to return to full competition for the 2021 season.

Archer, 31, has not performed as well as the Pirates hoped he would when they traded Austin Meadows, Tyler Glasnow, and Shane Baz to acquire him at the 2018 deadline. In 33 starts with the Pirates, he’s posted a 4.92 ERA (85 ERA+) and a 2.78 strikeout-to-walk ratio. His biggest issue has been his proneness to the long ball: in 172 innings he has yielded 32 home runs, or nearly two every nine innings.

Prior to being traded to the Pirates, Archer had established himself as an above-average starter with the Tampa Bay Rays. In 179 career appearances with Tampa Bay, he held marks that included a 107 ERA+ and 3.30 strikeout-to-walk ratio. Archer at his best had one of the league’s top sliders.

A return to old form seemed unlikely for Archer regardless, but recovering from thoracic outlet syndrome-related surgery has proven to be a challenge for a number of pitchers, including Matt Harvey. In 2018, Jay Jaffe found that “the average total of post-surgery innings for the group is just 218, compared to an average of 657 innings prior.” 

The Pirates hold an option on Archer for the 2021 season that would pay him $11 million. Given Pittsburgh’s notoriously parsimonious ways, it seems more likely that they will buy him out for $250,000. As such, he could well hit the market this winter at an uncertain time for him and, possibly, the league.

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Masters 2018 odds: Complete list, Tiger Woods no longer betting favorite at Augusta

It was not that long ago that, following a wild few months, Tiger Woods went from a 100-1 underdog to win the 2018 Masters to the favorite. With the 2018 Masters just a day away, Tiger has settled behind the true Las Vegas favorites this year: Rory McIlroy, Dustin Johnson, Justin Thomas and Bubba Watson. 

Woods still slides in at fifth behind that quartet and has better odds to win his first major since 2014 than Jordan Spieth, Phil Mickelson, Rickie Fowler and Justin Rose, according to BetDSI. Woods only playing once at this tournament since 2014 is certainly not keeping folks from putting money on him, either.

Here’s a look at the top favorites.

  • Rory McIlroy: 19-2
  • Bubba Watson: 10-1
  • Dustin Johnson: 11-1
  • Justin Thomas: 11-1
  • Tiger Woods: 12-1
  • Jordan Spieth: 13-1
  • Phil Mickelson: 15-1
  • Rickie Fowler: 35-2
  • Justin Rose: 25-1
  • Alex Noren: 25-1
  • Paul Casey: 27-1
  • Hideki Matsuyama: 27-1
  • Jason Day: 30-1
  • Jon Rahm: 30-1
  • Sergio Garcia: 31-1
  • Tommy Fleetwood: 38-1
  • Henrik Stenson: 38-1

Visit SportsLine now to see who you can bank on to win the 2018 Masters and which long shots will make a run. Plus, we predict Tiger Woods’ exact finish. All from the model that nailed three 2017 majors heading into the weekend.     

There is a ton of value there for somebody like Day or Rahm, both of whom are really good high ball hitters and who should probably be among the 10 favorites for this week. I don’t love Tiger at 12-1 or any of the guys above him, but I do love Spieth at 13-1, and I really love Adam Scott at 55-1 and Louis Oosthuizen at 125-2.

Rose is wildly undervalued at 25-1 considering he’s he’s averaging a top 10 finish over the last five years and cruises around here like he owns the place (see below). Garcia is probably not going to defend, but he’s certainly better value than Noren (who has never made the cut here). Casey (thee straight top-six finishes) and Fleetwood (at that number) are also spicy.

Sleepers below Scott and Oosthuizen I love include Matt Kuchar (131-2), Thomas Pieters (70-1), Patrick Cantlay (85-1), Tony Finau (185-2), Charl Schwartzel (105-1) and Kevin Chappell (120-1).

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