Taking too long? Close loading screen.
Connect with us


UFC Fight Night viewers guide: Will smaller be better for Frankie Edgar?



It took more than 13 years, but Frankie Edgar has finally lost his battle with the people who want him to cut weight.

My opinion: No one has fought the good fight against weight cutting as much (or as well) as Edgar. In a sport in which the majority of athletes cut at least 8% of their body weight right before competition, Edgar has had a Hall of Fame-worthy career without doing it once.

Even when Edgar was a champion at 155 pounds, UFC president Dana White couldn’t help but talk about what “a beast” Edgar would be at 145. And when he did move down after losing the title to Benson Henderson and failing to regain the belt in a rematch — in a pair of controversial decisions — Edgar’s own coach still said he’d look great at 135.

Well, the time has come to finally see it. Edgar, 38, will make his bantamweight debut in the main event of UFC Fight Night on Saturday in Las Vegas, against top-10 opponent Pedro Munhoz. And if Edgar stays in this weight class, it will be the first time he consistently fights opponents his size.

The question of “How will Edgar look at bantamweight?” isn’t the only uncertainty going into this weekend, though. Unfortunately for him, it has become attached to “How much does Edgar have left?” Everyone I talked to about this fight — other fighters, coaches, etc. — said they were curious to see how Edgar’s style fares at a lower weight, but also added something to the effect of “He’s looked vulnerable in his last few fights.”

Edgar did not suffer a single knockout loss in his first 28 pro fights. Now it has happened twice in his past four, both times in the first round. Few fighters are as beloved by their peers as Edgar, so it all comes from respect, but questions about his durability are widespread going into this fight.

And in a way, maybe that’s poetic. Edgar has been routinely counted out, or at least perceived to be vulnerable, because of his size throughout his career. Now we can’t say he’s fighting out of his weight class, so we say he waited too long to move down.

People have waited a long time for Edgar at 135 pounds. And now that he’s here, it almost feels like we’re not expecting much to come out of it. For a guy who won the lightweight championship against BJ Penn as a 5-to-1 underdog, maybe that’s how he likes it.

By the numbers

11: UFC fighters who have won in three weight classes in the modern era. Edgar, a former lightweight champion who in recent years has competed at featherweight and now is making his debut at bantamweight, is seeking to become the 12th. The others: Ildemar Alcantara, Jared Cannonier, Kenny Florian, Manvel Gamburyan, Erik Koch, Lucas Martins, Conor McGregor, Anthony Pettis, George Roop, Diego Sanchez and Paul Taylor.

441: Days since Munhoz’s last fight, a decision loss to Aljamain Sterling. It is the longest layoff in the UFC career of Munhoz, who previously sat out 399 and 243 days between bouts.

7:15:51: Total UFC fight time for Edgar, in hours, minutes and seconds. It is the most in UFC history, far ahead of second-place Rafael Dos Anjos‘ 6:43:11. In his 26 appearances for the promotion, Edgar has fought a record 89 rounds.

13: Finishes by Munhoz among his 18 career wins (eight submissions, five knockouts). His six bantamweight finishes are the fourth most in division history.

9: UFC championship fights for Edgar, including one for an interim belt.

Sources: ESPN Stats & Information and UFC Stats

A look back

Five vs. five

Pedro Munhoz’s most recent results
Loss: Aljamain Sterling (UD, June 8, 2019; watch on ESPN+)
Win: Cody Garbrandt (KO1, March 2, 2019; watch on ESPN+)
Win: Bryan Caraway (TKO1, Nov. 30, 2018)
Win: Brett Johns (UD, Aug. 4, 2018)
Loss: John Dodson (SD, March 3, 2018)

Frankie Edgar’s most recent results
Loss: Chan Sung Jung (TKO1, Dec. 21, 2019; watch on ESPN+)
Loss: Max Holloway (UD, July 27, 2019; watch on ESPN+)
Win: Cub Swanson (UD, April 21, 2018)
Loss: Brian Ortega (KO1, March 3, 2018)
Win: Yair Rodriguez (TKO2, May 13, 2017)

COVID-19 nearly snatched opportunity away from Pedro Munhoz

Last month, Pedro Munhoz thought he had lost out on one of the biggest opportunities of his career. On July 6, just hours before he was set to fly to Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, for UFC 251, Munhoz was told that he had tested positive for COVID-19. His bout with legend Frankie Edgar was off.

“It was kind of like a shock,” Munhoz told ESPN. “But at the same time, it’s not. Because literally everybody is free and open to get that s—. The thing that I got worried [about] was not fighting Frankie. That was a fight I was looking forward to — sharing the Octagon with him.”

Luckily for Munhoz, the fight was rebooked for this weekend.

Conan Silveira, Munhoz’s coach at American Top Team, said Edgar is the “biggest fight” for Munhoz right now. Edgar is a former UFC lightweight champion and longtime featherweight making his debut at bantamweight. Munhoz is ranked No. 7 by ESPN in that division, and a win over a big name like Edgar would get Munhoz back on track after a loss in his last fight to Aljamain Sterling over a year ago.

Munhoz has lauded Edgar as a legend, someone whom he has watched compete since even before Edgar won the UFC lightweight title in 2011. But Munhoz’s coach doesn’t believe that deep respect will get in the way of his fighter performing at his best.

“He’s a lovable guy,” Silveira said. “He’s funny. But when it gets to the cage time …”

Munhoz has two vicious knockout finishes in his past three wins. His single-minded focus now is on a move toward title contention.

–Marc Raimondi

And the winner is …

The biggest curiosity I have about Edgar at 135 is how effective his wrestling will be. There were times at 145, and especially at 155, when I thought his wrestling could have made a difference in a fight but the size of his opponent was just too great. Edgar’s size deficit had an impact. In those tight moments in which Edgar really needs a takedown, will it be different at this weight? I’m going to take a leap of faith and say yes, and predict Edgar still has more than what we’re giving him at the moment. Edgar via decision.

Saturday’s fight schedule

ESPN/ESPN+, 8:30 p.m. ET
Pedro Munhoz vs. Frankie Edgar | Men’s bantamweight
Ovince Saint Preux vs. Alonzo Menifield | Light heavyweight
Marcin Prachnio vs. Mike Rodriguez | Light heavyweight
Mariya Agapova vs. Shana Dobson | Women’s flyweight
Daniel Rodriguez vs. Takashi Sato | Welterweight
ESPN/ESPN+, 6 p.m. ET
Amanda Lemos vs. Mizuki Inoue | Strawweight
Austin Hubbard vs. Joe Solecki | Lightweight
Dwight Grant vs. Calen Born | Welterweight
Jorge Gonzalez vs. Ike Villanueva | Light heavyweight
Matthew Semelsberger vs. Carlton Minus | Welterweight
Timur Valiev vs. Mark Striegl | Men’s bantamweight

Don’t have ESPN? Get instant access.

What else to look for … beyond the main event

Ovince Saint Preux set to add to light heavyweight longevity

Ovince Saint Preux is closing in on light heavyweight history.

His co-main event against Alonzo Menifield will be OSP’s 22nd UFC fight and 21st at light heavyweight. The latter of those numbers will be the second most in division history behind only the 22 of Jon Jones. And with Jones vacating his championship this week and saying that if he can come to agreement with the UFC he will move up to heavyweight, that should leave the 205-pound longevity distinction within reach of Saint Preux.

Saint Preux also has 10 finishes at 205 pounds, second only to Glover Teixeira, who has 11. Menifield has not been finished in his 10 pro fights.

Four more things to know (from ESPN Stats & Information)

1. Mariya Agapova made a strong impression in her UFC debut in June, submitting Hannah Cifers in less than three minutes. That made her the first fighter representing Kazakhstan to win in the UFC. Agapova enters her strawweight bout with Shana Dobson on a three-fight winning streak, all by stoppage.

2. Daniel Rodriguez, who faces Takashi Sato at welterweight, is looking to extend his winning streaks to three fights in the UFC and eight overall. Rodriguez is unbeaten since February 2018.

3. Japanese strawweight Mizuki Inoue makes her second UFC appearance, facing 7-1-1 Amanda Lemos. Since losing to Virna Jandiroba in March 2018, Mizuki has won back-to-back fights by decision.

4. Dana White’s Contender Series contract winner Joe Solecki makes his second UFC appearance, taking on lightweight Austin Hubbard, who is coming off a victory over Max Rohskopf. Solecki has won four consecutive fights and last year was part of the first instance of White giving out contracts to every winner on that week’s show, which the UFC president repeated last week.

Jeff Wagenheim contributed to this fight card preview.

Source : ESPNRead More

Continue Reading
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Toronto FC hoping to make MLS Cup run having spent much of 2020 far from home



On a recent Thursday in Hartford, Conn., Toronto FC goalkeeper Quentin Westberg pondered the dichotomy of wanting to reach MLS Cup on Dec. 12, but also desiring to see his family again. Meanwhile, Jim Liston, the team’s director of sports science, was planning a trip to Lowe’s to buy 15 garbage cans so players could have an ice bath after training. As for manager Greg Vanney, he was fretting about his team’s health and the lack of practice time their schedule was affording.

Such is the life of a team as it attempts to not only navigate its way through the COVID-19 pandemic, but has been forced to do it away from home.

Due to travel restrictions between the U.S. and Canada, TFC — like the league’s other two Canadian teams, Montreal Impact and Vancouver Whitecaps — set up a “home” base in the U.S. for the remainder of the season; Toronto were stationed in Hartford. (Vancouver Whitecaps took roost in Portland, ground-sharing with Timbers, while Montreal Impact split use of New York Red Bulls’ facilities in Harrison, N.J.) This was on top of nearly every team spending nearly a month inside a bubble back in July at the MLS is Back Tournament outside Orlando, Florida.

The Reds spent about seven weeks back in Toronto as they played a series of matches against Canadian teams. In mid-September, the remainder of the regular season — and the temporary move to Hartford — beckoned. The vagabond nature of the campaign is what led Liston to joke that he was willing to discuss “whatever five seasons” the team has been through so far. But for Vanney and the players, the campaign has required a special kind of focus.

“A lot of what we’ve done here, and what we try to preach here is just control the controllables, and don’t get too drawn into the things you can’t,” Vanney told ESPN. “Roll with it, and make the best out of whatever the situation is.”

Stream FC Daily on ESPN+
– 2020 MLS Playoffs: Who’s in, schedule and more
– MLS on ESPN+: Stream LIVE games and replays (U.S. only)

Toronto has largely succeeded in spite of its odyssey. While there was disappointment at missing out on the Supporters’ Shield to the Philadelphia Union, TFC went 7-3-2 during its Hartford sojourn and finished with the second-best record in the league. But the challenges have still been immense. Simply being out of one’s home environment is difficult enough, but the time spent away from family and loved ones weighs heavy on the psyche, even as Vanney has given players the occasional trip back to Toronto — under quarantine — to reconnect with loved ones.

“It’s just very different, very challenging and emotionally exhausting,” Westberg said of his experience while based in Hartford.

Westberg has arguably had it tougher than most. The TFC goalkeeper is married with four children, including a baby girl who was born in June. For that reason, Westberg and his wife, Ania, made the decision at the end of September that it would be better for her and their kids to head back to his native France so they could be surrounded by family. Westberg called it “the least bad decision,” but there are difficulties nonetheless.

“I’m a very even person, and this year has challenged me a lot,” he said. “I’m still pretty even, but I keep a lot to myself and for sure there’s some difficult days, seeing your family [struggle] from your absence.”

The inability to be home has affected the players and staff in other ways. In Toronto, there are ways of disengaging from the game. Being with friends, loved ones or even in familiar surroundings can be the best medicine in terms of forgetting a bad game or training session. But in Hartford, at the team’s hotel, that escape is nearly impossible even as players try to distract themselves by reading or taking online classes.

“You don’t really unplug,” Westberg said. “You FaceTime family, or this or that, but it’s too short. You’re 100 percent focused on your soccer, and your whole day basically relies on being ready for whatever soccer activity that you have next, whether it’s practice or game. It’s good for your physique, it’s optimal for the way you eat and the way you [train]. But mentally, you’re not as fresh as your body.”

That isn’t to say there are only negatives to the separation. There is also an us-against-the-world mentality that Toronto has adopted, given that their players and personnel are experiencing the season in a way that is vastly different than most other teams. The team staff has done what it can to make their surroundings a home away from home, whether it’s personalizing the locker rooms at Rentschler Field or having hotel staff brand the surroundings in TFC colors. The hotel went so far as to bring in a barista who could consistently give the players their coffee fix. Supporters groups have even sent down banners in a bid to convey the fact that the players are remembered.

The care that TFC takes for players has extended to families back home, with the club supplying meals to loved ones three times a week.

On the logistical side, Liston made sure that one of the gyms used at MLS is Back was brought to TFC’s hotel in Hartford, and he remarked that the food at the hotel is “arguably the best we’ve ever had on the road.”

There have also been efforts to create new routines. Assistant coach Jason Bent, aka DJ Soops, has been in charge of the pregame music selection for the past 18 months — no easy feat for a squad that has a considerable international presence. In Hartford, Bent has set aside Thursday nights to spin music in one area of the hotel. He’ll even go live on Instagram or Twitch for those who prefer to relax in their rooms.

“[We] opened it to players and staff and basically anyone that’s part of our bubble to come relax, listen to music and just enjoy each other’s company,” Bent said. “I enjoy making people happy so if it’s helping everyone even in the slightest, I have no problem arranging the set and spinning.”

For Vanney, the pandemic and operating outside of the team’s home market has meant any number of challenges. He said the team has used three different training facilities in Hartford, with varying field conditions. He recognizes that the trips home are vital for the mental health of his players and staff, but any breaks also mean less time spent on the practice field. The compressed schedule, which at times involved games every three or four days, has had an impact as well. Even the best-laid plans in terms of squad rotation were impacted as minor injuries began popping up.

“We end up with a lot of guys in different positions because they need special kinds of treatment or care to help them get fit and back to health,” Vanney said. “So it ends up being a lot of different things kind of going on all at once, and that’s been the challenge of it.”

Recovery from matches has been complicated by the fact that TFC doesn’t have access to the same level of facilities that it does at home — hence Liston’s emergency trip to Lowe’s to fashion impromptu ice baths for the players. Then there are the different ways the players occupy themselves on the road as compared to home, especially amid the pandemic.

“There’s really no life outside of the hotel,” Liston said. “[At home], you may go walk the dog in the afternoon or go for a walk with your wife or friend or girlfriend or family and you’re out and about. The recommendation [here] is to kind of stay put. So you’ve got a really active population and pro athletes, who we’re asking them to be sedentary the rest of the time, kind of stay in the hotel from a COVID and safety standpoint. That’s not optimal for recovery either.”

There are also the creature comforts of home that are no longer available on the road, which can impact sleep.

“Sleep is the number one tool for recovery, and that’s definitely been a challenge,” Liston said. “We do well-being questionnaires and the scores on quality of sleep, and hours of sleep, just drop.”



Tom Barlow and Brian White seal Toronto’s fate in a 2-1 win for New York Red Bulls. Watch MLS on ESPN+.

Another change has been same-day travel, which has drawn mixed reactions from the TFC players and staff. Vanney and Westberg are generally in favor, saying it reminds them of when they each played in France. Flying back the same night also means a training day isn’t lost. Liston has a different perspective in that he prefers arriving the day before, and then leaving the same day.

“I think [same-day travel] makes for a really long day,” he said. “And there’s definitely a negative impact on performance, taking three bus rides and a plane ride before your game. You’re getting home — it can be 12:30, but it could also be 1:30 in the morning, and that’s where you know our well-being scores and sleep hours and quality just disappear. When you have so many games in succession, you can’t make up the sleep.”

With the playoffs set to begin for TFC on Nov. 24, the end is in sight, even as it makes for a complex — and even conflicting — set of emotions.

“This is the tricky part. I miss them a lot,” Westberg said of his family. “But in a way I want to see them as [late] as possible in December, because obviously, there’s this idea that we want to do well in the playoffs and we want to keep going. TFC has a history of setting high standards and high expectations. It’s a heavy load to carry but also an exciting one.”

Win or lose, it’s a season they’ll never forget.


Continue Reading


Bettman: NHL is mulling temporary realignment



The NHL is considering a temporary realignment of its teams for the 2020-21 season due to COVID-19 travel restrictions, according to commissioner Gary Bettman.

Bettman said Tuesday that restrictions on travel across the Canadian border, as well as “limitations in terms of quarantining when you go from certain states to other states” within the United States, could mean the NHL creates a more regionalized alignment for its upcoming season.

“As it relates to the travel issue, which is obviously the great unknown, we may have to temporarily realign to deal with geography, because having some of our teams travel from Florida to California may not make sense. It may be that we’re better off — particularly if we’re playing a reduced schedule, which we’re contemplating — keeping it geographically centric and more divisional-based; and realigning, again on a temporary basis, to deal with the travel issues,” Bettman said during a 2020 Paley International Council Summit panel with fellow commissioners Adam Silver of the NBA and Rob Manfred of MLB.

The NHL board of governors has a meeting scheduled for Thursday which will provide a progress report and possible recommendations for a season format, based on talks between the league and the NHL Players’ Association. The target date for starting next season remains Jan. 1.

Bettman said the league is considering a few scheduling options for the 2020-21 season. Something that’s off the table: playing the entire season in the kind of bubbles the NHL had in Toronto and Edmonton, Alberta, to complete last season. But Bettman said teams opening in their own arenas is a possibility, along with a modified bubble.

“We are exploring the possibility of playing in our own buildings without fans [or] fans where you can, which is going to be an arena-by-arena issue. But we’re also exploring the possibility of a hub. You’ll come in. You’ll play for 10 to 12 days. You’ll play a bunch of games without traveling. You’ll go back, go home for a week, be with your family. We’ll have our testing protocols and all the other things you need,” he said.

Bettman also indicated that the NHL is exploring “a hybrid, where some teams are in a bubble, some teams play at home and you move in and out.”

The NBA’s board of governors unanimously approved a deal with the players’ union that sets the stage for a season that will open on Dec. 22 and with a reduced schedule of 72 games. Silver said that the commissioners are in communication on COVID-19-related issues, especially the NBA and the NHL, since the two leagues’ teams share arenas and, in some cases, team owners.

Silver said he senses that the NBA will have fans in many of its buildings this season.

“We’re probably going to start one way, where we’re maybe a little bit more conservative than many of the jurisdictions allow,” he said. “What we’ve said to our teams is that we’ll continue to work with public health authorities. Arena issues are different than outdoor stadium issues. There will be certain standards for air filtration and air circulation. There may be a different standard for a suite than there will be for fans spaced in seats.”

Silver said there will be standardized protocols that are consistent from arena to arena, such as proximity between players and fans: “In certain cases, for seats near the floor, we’re going to be putting in testing programs, where fans will certify that they’ve been tested — some within 48 hours, some within day of game.” While Silver supported a continued expansion of the NBA postseason through its play-in tournament, Bettman said that he’s not in favor of expanded playoffs or “playing with the fundamentals of the game.” The NHL had 24 teams in its postseason last summer.


Continue Reading


The Battleground States Where We’ve Seen Some Movement In The Polls



With apologies to The Raconteurs, the presidential race continues to be “steady as she goes,” with little sign of tightening despite a plethora of new polls. FiveThirtyEight’s presidential forecast gives Joe Biden an 89 in 100 shot at winning the election, while President Trump has just an 11 in 100 chance. This makes Biden the favorite, but still leaves open a narrow path to victory for Trump, for whom a reelection win would be surprising — but not utterly shocking.

At the same time, we also have fewer polls from live-caller surveys, which have historically been more accurate and have shown slightly better numbers for Biden, than polls that use other methodologies, such as polls conducted primarily online or through automated telephone calls. Nevertheless, while the overall picture has shifted only a little in recent days, a few battleground states have seen at least some movement in their polls, which has slightly altered the odds Biden or Trump wins in each of those places.

What election stories need to get more coverage | FiveThirtyEight Politics Podcast


Continue Reading