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Falcons’ Todd Gurley breaks free for longest TD run since 2017



Just call Todd Gurley the touchdown maker.

The Atlanta Falcons running back scored his fifth rushing touchdown of the season with a 35-yard touchdown run on his team’s first possession against the Carolina Panthers. No Falcons player had more than four rushing touchdowns all of last season.

Gurley took the third-down handoff from Matt Ryan, followed the hole cleared by left guard James Carpenter, and exploded down the left sideline, outrunning the Panthers secondary to the end zone.

It was Gurley’s 75th career touchdown in his 78th game, allowing Gurley to join Ladainian Tomlinson, Jim Brown, and Emmitt Smith on an exclusive list of players with 75 touchdowns in 78 or fewer games. Gurley is the fourth-fastest to score 75 touchdowns.

The 35-yard touchdown was his longest score since Week 16 of the 2017 season, and the fifth-longest of his career, according to ESPN Stats & Information.


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Driving force: DeChambeau claims 400-yard carry



THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. — While most of the top players are preparing for the Masters by playing in this weekend’s Zozo Championship, Bryson DeChambeau is at home in his Dallas laboratory, concocting ways to tackle Augusta National Golf Club.

On Friday, DeChambeau, known as “the golf scientist,” unveiled a little bit of his methodology, disclosing via Instagram story that he had achieved 401.3 yards of carry with the driver he is working with and “not even the 48-inch driver.”

The device he showed to monitor his progress also showed a ball speed of 211 mph and a hang time of 8.2 seconds.

Count to eight and consider how long his golf ball stayed in the air.

DeChambeau, who won the U.S. Open last month by 6 strokes, said two weeks ago at the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open that he planned to spend the month prior to the Masters hitting “2,000 drivers” and experimenting with a 48-inch shaft, the longest allowed by the Rules of Golf.

Most players use a driver length of 44 to 45 inches.

There are a lot of variables, including elevation changes and wind, and a driver might not be the proper play off every tee for DeChambeau, while some shots require a draw or a fade.

DeChambeau led the PGA Tour in 2020 with a driving distance of 322.1 yards. The tour average for the season was 296.4 yards.


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Alabama WR Waddle (ankle) out for season



Alabama wideout and return specialist Jaylen Waddle is out for the season after suffering what coach Nick Saban called a combination of a high-ankle sprain and a fracture during the opening kickoff of Saturday’s 48-17 win over Tennessee.

Saban said the injury is similar to the one former Alabama running back Kenyan Drake suffered in 2014, which caused him to miss most of that season.

“He’s out for the year,” Saban said of Waddle. “And it’s a shame because the guy’s a great player. It’s exciting for college football to see a guy play like that. I hate it that he gets hurt on a play like that. You’re not supposed to bring a ball out when you’re that deep in the end zone. But he’s a great player, so you’ve got to let him use his judgment.”

Waddle, an ESPN preseason All-America selection, limped off the field while favoring his right ankle and was taken to the locker room on a cart.

According to Saban, Waddle was being flown back to Alabama and will go directly to a hospital in Birmingham to have surgery.

The junior from Houston caught 25 passes for 557 yards and four touchdowns through four games this season. He is No. 12 on Mel Kiper’s Big Board of NFL draft prospects.

With Waddle sidelined, Alabama turned to Slade Bolden as the team’s third receiver.

Bolden, who hadn’t caught a pass this season, had receptions on each of Alabama’s first two drives against Tennessee. He finished the game with six catches for 94 yards.


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Is Israel Adesanya next for Robert Whittaker? Who’s next for Justin Gaethje?



Saturday’s UFC main event was predictable in a way, in that the undefeated champion Khabib Nurmagomedov won. What happened next was not as predictable.

Nurmagomedov (29-0) announced his official retirement from mixed martial arts, following the death of his father Abdulmanap in July. He revealed his mother did not even want him to compete at UFC 254, but he promised her it would be the final bout of his career.

The Dagestani legend retires as arguably the greatest fighter of all time. And he departs a lightweight division that is now full of uncertainty. UFC president Dana White admitted he does not know what he’ll do in the aftermath of Nurmagomedov’s retirement. There is a massive fight between Conor McGregor and Dustin Poirier tentatively scheduled for January, but not official. Will there a title on the line in that bout or will Justin Gaethje get his chance against the winner?

Robert Whittaker also made his case to be next up for Israel Adesanya with a strong performance over Jared Cannonier, but will he get the rematch he believes he should get? Will he get jumped by another surging middleweight or will he take another fight in the interim?

Brett Okamoto plays matchmaker after UFC 254 and lays out the course for the lightweight title and other standouts from Fight Island.

Justin Gaethje, lightweight (lost to Khabib Nurmagomedov by second-round submission)

Who’s next: Winner of Conor McGregor vs. Dustin Poirier on Jan. 23

Assuming the McGregor-Poirier rematch goes ahead on Jan. 23, Gaethje fighting the winner makes a ton of sense to me. He has history with both. After Gaethje beat Tony Ferguson back in May to capture the interim title, McGregor came out publicly saying he wanted to fight him. Gaethje wasn’t interested, as he was to fight Nurmagomedov and Nurmagomedov only. Well, it would seem a perfect time to book that fight now. If Poirier wins, a second fight between Gaethje and Poirier would be as fantastic as their first meeting in 2018, which Poirier won via TKO, was spectacular.

Wild card: Nate Diaz

Look, I have no idea if Diaz is interested in this fight. He hasn’t shown much interest in Gaethje previously … although he did Tweet a little trash talk in his direction the second Saturday’s fight ended. Would this not be an incredible matchup? And now that it appears, for now, that Diaz will not get that Jorge Masvidal rematch he truly wanted, what’s a big fight out there for him? He’s been hinting at a fight against Dan Hooker, but with all respect to Hooker, isn’t Diaz vs. Gaethje a much bigger fight? I’ll answer that. Yes. It’s massive. Look into this one, UFC.

Robert Whittaker, middleweight (defeated Jared Cannonier by unanimous decision)

Who’s next: Israel Adesanya

Prior to his recent title defense against Paulo Costa, Adesanya was singing Cannonier’s praises and even predicted he would “destroy” Whittaker in this fight. Well, Whittaker proved that prediction wrong, and now he should get a chance to make Adesanya eat his words even further.

Yes, these two just fought in 2019, and Adesanya won. Handedly. He knocked Whittaker out inside two rounds, and it’s quite possible the rematch would go the same way. But consider the following:

A) That loss almost doesn’t matter. Whittaker is clearly the No. 1 contender. So, even if he falls to Adesanya again, he’s earned the right at a second shot. That’s how sports work.

B) Whittaker said he was burned out from MMA ahead of the first fight against Adesanya. Again, that might mean nothing in terms of the rematch, but I believe Whittaker is telling the truth about it.

C) Whittaker is an intelligent fighter and lest we forget, he’s won 11 of his last 12 fights. He’s still one of the best fighters in the world!

This is a rematch I actually very much want to see.

Wild card: Paulo Costa

I don’t see this happening, and I don’t particularly think it should happen, but if Adesanya defends his title against someone else before Whittaker — well, what does that mean for Whittaker? Is he gonna wait? That’s potentially a very long time to wait.

So in that scenario, would he take a fight against Costa to even further prove he’s the rightful No. 1 contender? Say it were to play out that way, I mean, no one could deny Whittaker a title shot if he were to go out and beat Costa, on the heels of beating Darren Till and Jared Cannonier.

Jared Cannonier, middleweight (lost to Robert Whittaker by unanimous decision)

Who’s next: Kelvin Gastelum

I really love the idea of this fight. I must admit, I haven’t really thought about this matchup before now, because there was never an obvious time for it. But this is the fight right here. Stylistically, this is a barn-burner. Two very quick, explosive guys on the feet with well-rounded games. Gastelum was very nearly an interim champion 18 months ago. I know he’s on a three-fight skid, but he’s capable of competing with the best on any given night. And Cannonier is still a contender. One loss to a former champ in Whittaker doesn’t change that. Yes, put me down for this one.

Wild card: Uriah Hall

If Hall beats Anderson Silva at UFC Fight Night on Oct. 31 in Las Vegas, his stock will be on the rise. And as I always point out, the UFC doesn’t typically like pairing a fighter coming off a loss with one coming off a win — and I get that — but I also think it’s not a necessary rule to follow all the time and this matchup would certainly make sense despite that. It’s also a very fun stylistic matchup, although granted, most of the fights at middleweight right now are.

There are a lot of entertaining middleweights at the moment, and these are definitely two of them. If Hall wins on Halloween, there’s a strong case for him getting Cannonier next.

Magomed Ankalaev, light heavyweight (defeated Ion Cuțelaba by first-round KO)

Who’s next: Johnny Walker

Ankalaev is good. Really good. That first fight against Ion Cutelaba, the one that didn’t last a minute and ended in controversy, you couldn’t take much from it because it was basically 38 seconds of chaos. But this second fight, we really got a great look at how fantastic of a counter striker Ankalaev truly is. He believes in his speed and his ability to see punches, which results in very, very confident counters. He’s probably one of the fastest guys in this division. Similarly, Walker is considered one of the better athletes at 205 pounds. I’d be very intrigued by this matchup, and even though Walker is only 1-2 in his last three, it makes sense from a rankings perspective.

Wild card: Jiri Prochazka

Prochazka is just 1-0 in the UFC, but I’m hearing whispers about them having a hard time finding him an opponent. He’s unorthodox on the feet, and it would be fascinating to see Ankalaev try to counter that unpredictability. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Prochazka booked against more of a household name than Ankalaev, something that might help turn him into an attractive title challenger, but if that’s an option, I could see the UFC going this route. It’d be a great clash of styles.

Lauren Murphy, flyweight (defeated Liliya Shakirova by second-round rear-naked choke)

Who’s next: Cynthia Calvillo

Great result for Murphy as she notched the first submission win of her career. She handled the late change in opponent beautifully and she gave a great post-fight interview, in which she stated her next fight would be for the title. I respect the call for a title shot, but I don’t think it’s realistic.

Valentina Shevchenko has Jennifer Maia lined up in November, and I think Jessica Andrade will be (and should be) after that. So, in the meantime? Go back to the original fight, the one that always made sense. Murphy was supposed to fight Calvillo at UFC 254, but Calvillo was pulled due to a positive COVID-19 test. Murphy is in shape, and prepared for Calvillo. It appeared she took no damage in this fight.

Book that matchup again, before the end of the year. And if she wins that, I think. she’ll get her title shot.

Wild card: Jessica Andrade

Conceivably, Andrade could be next for Murphy. If Andrade’s next fight isn’t for a title, there are only a couple options that would even make sense for her and Murphy is one of them. I only think this would happen if Andrade is bullish on fighting soon though. She’s already, very clearly, the most attractive option for a title shot after Maia in November. There’s no need to book her another non-title fight.


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