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Los Angeles Dodgers' Cody Bellinger to DH in Game 4 due to back stiffness - ESPN
Dodgers star Cody Bellinger will serve as the team's designated hitter in Saturday's Game 4 because of stiffness in his lower back.
ARLINGTON, Texas -- Cody Bellinger was moved to designated hitter a little more than an hour before Game 4 of the World Series on Saturday because of stiffness in his lower back. A.J. Pollock replaced Bellinger in center field against the Tampa Bay Rays. Los Angeles Dodgers manager Dave Roberts, speaking to local reporters, said Bellinger received treatment at the ballpark and tried to move around but his back did not cooperate. Roberts called Bellinger's back issue "a day-to-day thing" and said Bellinger would return to the outfield for Sunday's Game 5 if his back loosens up properly. Bellinger is one of the best defensive center fielders in the game, a major benefit given the expansive outfield at Globe Life Field. Pollock came up as a center fielder but does not cover as much ground. Roberts told reporters he considered moving Mookie Betts from right to center but decided otherwise because it would put multiple players out of position.
Graham Mertz rewrites Wisconsin football record book in debut as starter - ESPN
Graham Mertz, a redshirt freshman named the starter after Jack Coan was injured in practice, broke the Wisconsin program record for completion percentage in a 45-7 win over Illinois.
Wisconsin Badgers quarterback Graham Mertz broke the program record for completion percentage in a game on Friday, completing 20 of 21 passes for 248 yards and five touchdowns in the Badgers' 45-7 win over visiting Illinois in Madison. "It was definitely fun," Mertz said afterward. "I owe it to Coach [Jon] Budmayr and Coach [Paul] Chryst, we took a ton of time, one-on-one meetings and really just sorted the game plan out and we knew what we were doing and I felt confident in my ability to go execute and I think there's definitely some stuff we need to clean up. A lot more stuff we can clean up." Mertz, a redshirt freshman, was moved up to the starting role after Jack Coan suffered a non-contact injury to his foot in practice and underwent surgery. This was the first career start for Mertz, and his five touchdown passes tied the program record for most in a game along with Jim Sorgi in 2003 and Darrell Bevell in 1993. "I thought he had good poise, thought he saw the field well. You never know quite how someone's going to react in their first start," Chryst said. "I thought he was himself and that you appreciate. I thought there was a good plan by the offensive coaches and he was able to execute it." Wisconsin didn't get its usual dominant performance from its run game, with Garrett Groshek as the leading rusher for the Badgers with 70 yards but no touchdown runs. But Mertz picked up that slack, opening the game by completing his first 17 passes. His one incompletion was a dropped pass by Groshek in the third quarter on third-and-19. Mertz said the failed pass was his fault, that he needed to get the ball to his running back faster and the two joked about it after the game. Tight end Jake Ferguson was his favorite target on the night with seven receptions for 72 yards and three of the five touchdowns. Ferguson was second in receiving yards last season with 407, behind Quintez Cephus, who is now in the NFL. Those three receiving touchdowns are also tied for the most in a game by a Wisconsin tight end, matching Owen Daniels in 2005 and Garrett Graham in 2009. "The kid's smooth, the kid's definitely smooth," Ferguson said. "He was smiling cheek to cheek after that first touchdown. He knew, and everyone in that huddle knew, that we were rolling. It's just awesome to see that out of him." Ferguson said at one point in the game Wisconsin ran the same four plays with success against Illinois, and Mertz showed some of that confidence on the sideline, making jokes and keeping his teammates focused. The performance from Mertz drew the attention from quite a few people, including Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes, who tweeted "That man @GrahamMertz5 going crazy tonight!" Despite that national attention and a breakout game, Mertz isn't celebrating just yet, knowing it's only one game and there's still a lot of football left. "I haven't checked my phone yet, but it's great to hear from those guys and it means a ton," Mertz said. "But I'm just happy the guys in the locker room are pumped right now and we gotta keep building on that."
Tampa Bay Buccaneers adding Antonio Brown all about maximizing Tom Brady's window - ESPN
Signing Brown is risky, but the person who can make it work is Brady, who lobbied to add the receiver and has shown he can keep teammates in check.
TAMPA, Fla. -- Nearly seven months to the day after Tampa Bay Buccaneers coach Bruce Arians said "it's not gonna happen" with Antonio Brown, the Bucs have agreed to a deal with the controversial, but highly talented wide receiver who last played for Arians in 2011 with the Pittsburgh Steelers. Editor's Picks It wasn't coach-speak, Arians is a straight shooter. He called Brown "too much of a diva" and said he wasn't a fit for the Bucs' locker room, even with quarterback Tom Brady campaigning for him behind closed doors. But that was before injuries began to mount in the Bucs' receiving corps. Pro Bowl wide receiver Mike Evans has been hobbled by an ankle injury since Week 4 and has barely been able to practice. Their other Pro Bowl receiver, Chris Godwin, has missed three games because of a concussion and a hamstring strain. Their speedy deep threat Scotty Miller has been hampered by a hip/groin injury. And tight end O.J. Howard -- who had become a big part of the screen game -- went to injured reserve because of a ruptured Achilles. Antonio Brown caught four passes for 56 yards and a touchdown in his lone game with Tom Brady in New England. Now the two will be together again. AP Photo/Lynne Sladky The result? Brady's top receiver against the Chicago Bears was rookie Tyler Johnson, whom he'd never completed a pass to prior to Week 5. And if the Bucs want to not only make the postseason but make a run at a Super Bowl with Brady, they realize that their window is tight and, they need reinforcements at a position that has been hit hard by injuries. It's the same reason they signed A.Q. Shipley as a backup center, so that if something happened to Ryan Jensen, Brady could take snaps from an experienced center. It's the same reason they signed running backs Leonard Fournette and LeSean McCoy -- to ensure Brady had experienced running backs to pair with Ronald Jones and Ke'Shawn Vaughn -- who could help in the passing game. Bucs coverage on ESPN.com » How Brady has meshed with teammates» Ronald Jones believes in himself again» Gronk's ultimate Florida road trip» How Arians can 'reignite' Brady's fire» Bucs to get 'Jordan-like' will to win from Brady» Lessons on how to treat Tom Brady So how will Arians handle Brown, whom he has publicly traded barbs with, had a tryout with the New Orleans Saints that included a camera crew entourage that infuriated members of the Saints' coaching staff, once cursed out former Steelers defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau and arrived to Oakland Raiders camp in a hot air balloon? The feeling inside the organization is Arians' personality is strong enough to handle him. Arians has never had a problem giving anyone a piece of his mind -- as seen by his expletive-filled tirades in practice -- and he coached Brown with the Steelers. Brown also has ties to several members of Arians' coaching staff: offensive assistant Antwaan Randle-El was his teammate in 2010; Harold Goodwin was an offensive assistant with the Steelers for two years when Brown was there; offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich played with Brown for three seasons in Pittsburgh as the backup quarterback; outside linebackers coach Larry Foote was Brown's teammate in Pittsburgh for four seasons. Newly acquired defensive tackle Steve McLendon played with Brown in Pittsburgh for six seasons. But the person who can make the biggest impact of all, and who can hold Brown in check, is Brady, whom Brown developed an immediate connection with while in New England. Brady invited Brown to stay at his home when he signed with the Patriots. In their one and only game together with the Patriots, Brown had four catches for 56 yards and a touchdown in a 43-0 win over the Miami Dolphins. The Patriots released Brown less than two weeks after signing him. Brady has had success keeping troubled teammates in check when others have failed. Examples include LeGarrette Blount, Martellus Bennett, Corey Dillon, Randy Moss and Aqib Talib. But Brown's off-the-field issues are serious -- two cases where he was accused of sexual misconduct and a felony charge of battery and burglary. He will need to be held in check at all times. This move signifies just how much influence Brady has on this organization. Brown's personality is in contrast to Evans, Godwin, Miller, Johnson, Justin Watson, Jaydon Mickens and Cyril Grayson -- players who don't complain when the ball doesn't get thrown their way and lead relatively quiet lives off the field. Brown won't be eligible to play until Week 9, but it's an important rematch against the Saints, whom the Bucs have a half-game lead on in the NFC South but lost to in Week 1.
New Orleans Saints receiver Emmanuel Sanders out after testing positive for COVID-19 - ESPN
Saints receiver Emmanuel Sanders will miss Sunday's game against the Panthers after testing positive for COVID-19, coach Sean Payton said Friday. Receiver Michael Thomas has been ruled out due to a hamstring injury.
METAIRIE, La. -- The New Orleans Saints will be without both of their top receivers Sunday against the Carolina Panthers. Michael Thomas has been ruled out with a hamstring injury that crept up this week. in addition to his pre-existing ankle injury. And Emmanuel Sanders will miss the game after testing positive for COVID-19 on Thursday, coach Sean Payton told reporters Friday. Sanders practiced Wednesday and Thursday. But Payton said he began experiencing symptoms of the virus on Thursday afternoon, so the Saints sent him to their doctors for an additional test, which turned up positive. He will now be placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list. Payton, who spoke after Friday's practice, said the team also tested about 20 other people who might have been near Sanders, and all of them tested negative. However, Payton said reserve cornerback Ken Crawley will be added to the reserve/COVID-19 list as a precaution because of their close contact. Payton said Sanders "got this at home" and "knows exactly how he got it," though he didn't offer any specific details beyond that. Sanders is now the second Saints player to test positive this season after reserve running back Dwayne Washington spent time on the reserve/COVID-19 list in training camp and early in the season. The Saints also had a false-positive test on the Saturday night before their Week 4 win at Detroit, which led to a need for backup tests at their team hotel late into the night before their game. "It's part of the deal this year. We've talked about the distractions and focusing on the things you can control," Payton said. "That's just 2020 right now." Payton declined to offer any specifics on Thomas' status before the team released its updated injury report listing him as out, other than to say that the hamstring injury is "something he's working through." Thomas was absent from the early portion of Friday's practice that was open to the media, after he did not practice Thursday and was limited on Wednesday. Sanders, an 11-year veteran who signed with the Saints in free agency, had really started to develop a connection with quarterback Drew Brees in recent weeks after a slow start to the season. Sanders caught a career-high 12 passes for 122 yards in Week 5. The Saints had a bye in Week 6. This will now be the fifth consecutive game that Thomas has missed after he suffered a high ankle sprain in Week 1 and was benched for team disciplinary reasons in Week 5 after a practice altercation that included him punching teammate C.J. Gardner-Johnson. Thomas appeared likely to return from the ankle injury before that incident in Week 5. And he was definitely expected back after the Week 6 bye. But the hamstring injury was a new ailment that showed up for the first time on Wednesday's injury report. New Orleans also placed backup receiver Bennie Fowler on injured reserve with a shoulder injury Friday, which means he won't be part of the solution. The Saints will likely rely heavily on running back Alvin Kamara, tight end Jared Cook and receiver Tre'Quan Smith in their passing game. Other options could include receivers Deonte Harris, Marquez Callaway, Austin Carr and Juwan Johnson; running back Latavius Murray; quarterback/runner/receiver Taysom Hill and tight ends Josh Hill and Adam Trautman.
Seattle Seahawks' Russell Wilson says 'humbled' Antonio Brown deserves another chance - ESPN
Russell Wilson says Antonio Brown deserves another chance to play in the NFL.The Seattle Seahawks quarterback is still hoping it's with his team.
RENTON, Wash. -- Russell Wilson says he believes Antonio Brown deserves another chance to play in the NFL. The Seattle Seahawks quarterback is hoping it's with his team. "I think Antonio definitely has taken those steps [in the right direction], and like I said, nobody's perfect," Wilson said Thursday. "From the conversations I've had with him, he's really been remorseful and he's been humbled along the way. Like I said, I pray that he can continue to grow, just like anybody." Wilson has lobbied for the Seahawks to sign the suspended wide receiver, both in public and directly to the organization. That led to a handful of Brown-related questions when Wilson met with reporters a day after ESPN's Adam Schefter reported that the Seahawks are positioned to make a push to sign Brown with his suspension eligible to end after Week 8. Wilson said he has gotten to know Brown over the past four or five years. The two worked out together this summer at Wilson's San Diego-area home. Brown also is close with Wilson's backup, Geno Smith. "I think the reality about Antonio is he is one of the best players to play this game obviously," Wilson said. "I think that he has always been a special player in terms of [on] the field. The reality with Antonio is, he's had some tough moments in his life, especially as of late. I think he's gone through a lot of things he wishes he could take back and do, and just not say, whatever it might be. But I think he is a special player, for sure. I don't know what's going to happen with him or not. I don't know how serious it is us getting him or not. But I do know that obviously he can play some football. I think that's the thing. I've developed a personal relationship with him, and not everybody is perfect. And I think that's the reality, none of us are. So hopefully he gets to play football again." Brown, 32, is serving an eight-game suspension that was announced in July and stems from multiple violations of the league's personal conduct policy. He had been the subject of an NFL investigation after an accusation of sexual misconduct at his home by an artist who was working there in 2017. He also pleaded no contest in June to a felony burglary with battery charge and two lesser misdemeanor charges related to a January incident with a moving truck company outside his home in Hollywood, Florida. The NFL also continues to investigate a lawsuit filed by Brown's former athletic trainer, alleging that she was sexually assaulted by him. A source told ESPN that the Seahawks are still gathering information about that situation and the potential for further NFL discipline. Wilson was asked if there was a limit to what he'll accept from a potential teammate in terms of past transgressions, or if he was concerned only about winning. "You guys know me better than that," he said. "I think you know me better than that. I think that he's obviously made some mistakes along the way. There's been a process for that and he's had to deal with it and go through it. I pray for anybody, honestly, that goes through anything. That's just me, that's my nature personally. I never wish anything bad on anybody." Wilson said he doesn't know all the specifics of the allegations against Brown. Asked about Brown falling out of favor in his previous stops -- he was traded by the Pittsburgh Steelers last March then released by both the Oakland Raiders and New England Patriots in September -- Wilson said he has tried to learn about Brown by talking to his former teammates. Most of them vouched for the receiver's work ethic and preparation, Wilson said. "I think with Coach [Pete] Carroll, I think with the teammates that we have, the men that we have and the growth, I think if he does play football, I think this is a great place if he does play again," Wilson said. "I think this is a place where he'll grow a lot as a man too, as well. And I think that we're going to continue to try to help anybody who walks in this locker room as you guys know. ... That's just part of our culture is trying to help people. ... "So I think it's not just about the games, it's not just about winning and stuff like that. It's also developing and talking and growing as men and just learning from our previous experiences and everything else, too. ... If he does come here, hopefully he could be a great teammate with us and for us and be along the way. If not, then we've got a lot of great players and we've got some guys that can really make some great plays too as well. We've been doing that all year." Wilson is leading the MVP race with 19 touchdown passes through five games. The Seahawks (5-0) have the NFL's highest-scoring offense and an already strong cast of players that includes DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett both producing like No. 1 wide receivers. Asked about the Seahawks pursuing Brown even though they're not lacking offensive firepower, Wilson likened it to the Kansas City Chiefs adding Le'Veon Bell to their backfield. "I think we've been great all year," he said. "I think you're always trying to look to see, how can we get better, how can we get better in every way?"
New York Giants activate WR Sterling Shepard for Eagles game - ESPN
The Giants are activating wide receiver Sterling Shepard for their Thursday game against the Eagles.
New York Giants wide receiver Sterling Shepard was activated from injured reserve for Thursday night's game against the Philadelphia Eagles. Shepard is expected to play a limited number of snaps if he passes a pre-game test. The veteran receiver has missed the previous four games with turf toe. The Giants also elevated wide receiver Alex Bachman and linebacker Trent Harris for Thursday night. The expectation is that Shepard will return in a limited role, perhaps logging 10-20 snaps against the rival Eagles. New York was short on receivers prior to the moves, having already ruled out wide receiver C.J. Board earlier this week with a concussion. Leading receiver Darius Slayton has also been dealing with a foot injury. Shepard's presence will be a welcome addition to a Giants offense that is 31st in the NFL, averaging 16.8 points per game, a figure that includes two defensive touchdowns. They have managed just three passing touchdowns in six games. "It would be great [to have him back Thursday]," quarterback Daniel Jones said earlier this week. "He's obviously a special player and can do a lot of different things. It would be great to have him back. But we've had guys step up and play really well in that spot. Regardless of who's out there, it's up to us to execute." Shepard worked on the side with trainers last week and was on the field in uniform and a helmet Monday for the first time since the injury. That started the clock on a 21-day window to activate him from injured reserve. The Giants' hope has always been that it would be much sooner. Shepard was injured during a Week 2 loss to the Chicago Bears. He tried to play through the injury but was unsuccessful. He tried to return to the game in the second half but lasted just one play. The Giants (1-5) took a major hit when they lost Shepard and star running back Saquon Barkley in that game. Shepard was placed on injured reserve later that week, meaning he would have to miss at least three games. He had eight receptions for 76 yards prior to the injury, including six catches on six targets in the opener. Shepard, 27, has 255 career catches for 2,938 yards and 17 touchdowns, all with the Giants.
Baltimore Ravens trade for Minnesota Vikings DE Yannick Ngakoue - ESPN
The Ravens have traded for Vikings defensive end Yannick Ngakoue, with sources telling ESPN that Minnesota is getting a 2021 third-round draft pick and a 2022 conditional fifth-round pick.
OWINGS MILLS, Md. -- The Baltimore Ravens have traded for Minnesota Vikings pass-rusher Yannick Ngakoue, adding a critical component to the NFL's stingiest defense. The Ravens will send a 2021 third-round pick and a 2022 conditional fifth-round pick to the Vikings for Ngakoue, sources told ESPN's Adam Schefter. Ngakoue will fly to Baltimore in the next 24 hours to go through COVID-19 testing so he can be ready to join his new team next week, after the Ravens come off a bye and start preparations for its Week 8 game against the Pittsburgh Steelers. Baltimore, which leads the NFL in fewest points allowed per game (17.3), had long been long been pursuing a pass-rusher. The Ravens had attempted to acquire Ngakoue in recent months, according to sources, and tried to work a deal for Jadeveon Clowney before the start of the season. Ngakoue had hoped to land in Baltimore all along. He grew up in Bowie, Maryland, and starred at Maryland before being drafted by the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2016. The Ravens now can add pressure off the edge by pairing Ngakoue with Matthew Judon, who received the team's franchise tag. This continues an aggressive approach by Ravens general manager Eric DeCosta to add playmakers to the defense. "We are excited to add Yannick Ngakoue to our football team," DeCosta said. "Yannick is someone who we are very familiar with going back to the draft process years ago. He is an exciting player and a dangerous pass-rusher who makes us better. Yannick grew up here. He's the type of person we welcome in our building. Finally, we are not finished building this team, as we continue to chase our ultimate goals." Ravens Flock Yannick Ngakoue (@YannickNgakoue) October 22, 2020 Before the trade deadline last year, Baltimore acquired cornerback Marcus Peters from the Los Angeles Rams for a fifth-round pick and linebacker Kenny Young. Thursday's trade reunites former Jaguars teammates Ngakoue and Calais Campbell, whom the Ravens brought in this offseason for a fifth-round selection. They were on the field together for 1,829 snaps over three seasons in Jacksonville (2017 to 2019) and were the starting defensive ends for the Jaguars in the 2017 AFC Championship Game. "Dope, man. That's crazy," Campbell said of his reaction to Ngakoue joining the Ravens. "I know he's pretty ecstatic. I'm surprised he didn't blow my phone up." Campbell added, after checking his phone: "He did hit me up a couple times." The Vikings acquired Ngakoue on Aug. 30 by trading a 2021 second-round pick and 2022 conditional fifth-round pick to the Jaguars. Ngakoue, who had been given the franchise tag by the Jaguars in the offseason, agreed to a one-year, $12 million deal with the Vikings -- instead of his franchise tender of $17.8 million -- to complete the trade. Ngakoue had five sacks, two forced fumbles, seven quarterback hits and 12 tackles (five for losses) in six games this season for Minnesota, but the Vikings have stumbled to a 1-5 start, their worst under coach Mike Zimmer. The Vikings initially traded for Ngakoue under the guise that they would have two premier Pro Bowl edge rushers, Danielle Hunter and Ngakoue. Hunter, whose last practice was Aug. 14, suffered a herniated disk in his neck and was placed on injured reserve Sept. 9. Hunter recently traveled to New York to receive a second opinion on his neck injury, but the visit did not provide the Vikings with any further clarity about when he would return. According to Spotrac, the Vikings will take a $6.8 million cap hit for six games of work from Ngakoue. ESPN's Courtney Cronin contributed to this report.
UFC 254 - Daniel Cormier -- This is the Khabib Nurmagomedov I know - ESPN
Cormier recalls Khabib evolving from a humble young man to a star proud to have floored Conor McGregor and wanting to fight GSP.
Editor's note: Daniel Cormier discussed his American Kickboxing Academy teammate and friend Khabib Nurmagomedov with ESPN's Brett Okamoto earlier this year. Nurmagomedov will defend his UFC lightweight belt against Justin Gaethje on Saturday in the main event of UFC 254 on Fight Island in Abu Dhabi.Some content has been edited for clarity and brevity. More than anything, Khabib Nurmagomedov and I are friends. I've watched this guy grow from a young, Russian kid who didn't speak English to a global superstar. He came with a dream, not much money. American Kickboxing Academy teammate Shawn Bunch picked him up at the airport, took him to McDonald's and fed him because he was hungry. And then he took him to the gym. Khabib was undefeated at the time (18-0) and we would talk to him a little bit, because he couldn't really speak much English. You saw how intent on getting better he was. You watch the kid, and then you see Luke Rockhold showing him something. And then Cain Velasquez would be showing him something. And then I would be showing him something. Everybody drew to him because he was different, like a kid who wanted to learn and was going to do whatever you told him. He never questioned anything. UFC 254 coverage The UFC 254 main event will feature one of the most highly anticipated fights of the year, with interim lightweight champion Justin Gaethje meeting world champ Khabib Nurmagomedov. Gaethje has won four straight, including three first-round finishes, while Nurmagomedov (28-0) looks to remain undefeated. Middleweights Robert Whittaker and Jared Cannonier will square off in the co-main event. Purchase UFC 254 here UFC 254: Khabib vs. GaethjeSaturday, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates11 a.m. ET on ESPN2 and ESPN+ PPV Even today as the global superstar that he is, you're a coach, he will not question anything you tell him to do. He will not question the way you tell him to do it. He's a sponge for knowledge. I just remember him always being in there, trying to learn and everybody being drawn to him because of that real key part of his personality that made him want to learn. One thing that I used to always enjoy was originally, he was called "The Eagle of Dagestan," he wasn't just "The Eagle," and he fought in the UFC, and he somehow copied the audio of Bruce Buffer introducing him, so he would just play that all the time. Go up to the locker room, and you'd hear "Eagle of Dagestan, Nurmagomedov," and that was some of the first English the dude learned, was how to repeat Bruce introducing him in the Octagon. 'Brother, I'm going to be world champion' You know what he told me one time, years ago, "Brother, I'm going to be world champion, and I'm going to fight for $10 million every fight." I promise you. Years ago, and we all go, "No chance." Because nobody was making $10 million at the time. And I'm sure right now Khabib is fighting as the world champion at 28-0 for $10 million, straight. He sure doesn't need the money, but he told me that, because he said it was going to change. He was going to be so big that things would change. And now, it has happened. He has done all the stuff he said he would do. Daniel Cormier has been many things to Khabib Nurmagomedov, including mentor and training partner, but most of all, they are friends. Brandon Magnus/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images Living in Dagestan, he doesn't need much. It doesn't cost much over there. We sent some kids to wrestle there in January, and Khabib paid for their hotels. He took care of them, because they were my little wrestlers. Hotels weren't very expensive. He doesn't need much, he does it because he loves it. I think a lot of stuff about his background is very guarded, and it's guarded purposely. He's a guy who's a bit of a mystery, and I think part of the intrigue to him is the mystery. So I'm not going to blow the top off that. If I'm going to share anything, I think about his father, Abdulmanap, and the intensity his dad lived with. I could only imagine little Khabib growing up as that kid in that house. When I was light heavyweight champ of the world, one day I was cutting weight, Khabib's dad jumped on me to grapple with me and the dude was actually trying to win. He was wrestling, trying to win. Just an intense man, very knowledgeable man. I know that he raised Khabib pretty hard. 'I'm so nervous, I've never done an English interview' Around 2015, 2016, Khabib came to Fox to do an interview. And I was doing "UFC Tonight," and I was like, ''You can do it. Just try it.'' He was like, "I'm so nervous, I've never done an English interview." I thought he did well, but I remember, he would talk, but he would only talk s---. It was like all he did was talk trash, because we made fun of him all the time. We made fun of him for his little widow's peak, we used to call him Eddie Munster. And he hated it. And he just learned to talk trash back. And now, that's all he does is talk s--- the whole time. Editor's Picks There have been times when Khabib was short on training partners, and I'll go in there and spar him, light, I'm not going hard. I'm just kind of working, but honestly, you can't go as light with Khabib as you'd want. He's not the normal 155-pounder. He's big and he's strong. He can wrestle, so you kind of have to give him a little bit more than you would generally give a little guy, but that's what makes him so special. He can be standing across the Octagon from me, and that's when I was the heavyweight champion of the world, and I would go in there and spar with him a little and that dude had no fear. I kind of have to give up a little bit more than I would normally give a little dude, because this dude's actually trying to win. He's like his dad. He grapples so much, it's wild. He grapples more than anybody I've ever seen. He's getting better at controlling, which is absurd, because I don't think I've ever seen a guy better at top control in my life. He's better at chasing the finishes once he gets on top, because for a while, he was just beating up guys. He wasn't finishing them as much as he wanted to. But now he's getting finishes. All that control that Khabib does with his legs now, it wasn't like that before. He was a wrestling guy, like me, and we were trying to control everything with our arms and squeezing, and over the years he developed the ability to control with his legs, and it completely changed the game. It was supposed to be Conor McGregor's striking vs. Khabib Nurmagomedov's wrestling, but it was Nurmagomedov who scored the knockdown on Oct. 6, 2018. Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports Khabib takes a lot of pride in the fact that he knocked down Conor McGregor. It was supposed to be the wrestler vs. the striker, and for him to be the one who scored the knockdown, was a big deal for him. He doesn't really say Conor's name, though. I don't ever think I've ever heard him say Conor's name. It's always "this guy," which I think tells you how he feels about him. And I try to trick him into saying it. He won't do it. I don't think he'll be around very much longer. I think you have to take it in right now. Obviously, he doesn't need to fight. I'm sure he has enough money, living in Dagestan, for the rest of his life. I think he'll fight for maybe a year or two, max. And then move on, spend time with his family. I know he does not like whenever he comes to camp because he misses his kids and his wife. "I went into the locker room before he fought Conor and I couldn't believe the stillness of the room. The room wasn't filled with nervous energy. We walked in there, me and my son, and he started wrestling with my son, before the match." Daniel Cormier I think part of Khabib going away sooner rather than later is part of the reason we all love him so much. It's that he understands that as long as he's champion, his teammate Islam Makhachev can't be. And he feels like Islam is the champ if he's not fighting. Even if it's for that, to give Islam that, he won't be that long. And it's going to suck. It's going to be a terrible day for all of us at AKA when Khabib walks away, because he brings a different vibe to the gym, a different feel. And he always has. Not just as the champion now. When he was a kid who didn't know anything, everybody liked Khabib, because he just brought something different to our gym. He was like our Russian little brother who had a ton of potential. Now he's our Russian little brother who's a global superstar. Cormier said there was a stillness in Nurmagomedov's locker room before he fought McGregor. There was no nervous energy. Brandon Magnus/Zuffa LLC/Getty Images When he's done, I think it will be over. I think you'll see him on social media occasionally. But I think he'll be gone. I don't know if he's one of those guys who loves fame. Some guys love fame. Maybe he will. I think he'll be around with his teammates. But I don't know if he'll be a guy you see him randomly. He loves the competition. He loves the ability to go out there and do something special, leave people talking. I think fight week, to him, means getting in there and being able to do something. I don't know about all the interviews, and everything that leads up to it, but he has gotten really good at it. I went into the locker room before he fought Conor and I couldn't believe the stillness of the room. The room wasn't filled with nervous energy. It wasn't like I walked into a room with people so nervous because a guy was getting walked out to lose. It was still. We walked in there, me and my son, and he started wrestling with my son, before the match. I think he lives for those moments, to go out there and compete. GSP will be the one he leaves on. If Khabib ever gets scheduled to fight GSP, know that will probably be the last time you see him. Because I know how much he respects him. He respects Georges, and wants to fight Georges for all the right reasons.
Tony Ferguson on Khabib Nurmagomedov -- We'll fight 'before he retires' - ESPN
Tony Ferguson guaranteed that the long-awaited fight with Khabib Nurmagomedov will happen, saying, "He will see me before he retires. We'll make that a point."
It's the most cursed fight in UFC history, but former interim lightweight champion Tony Ferguson swears the world will see him fight Khabib Nurmagomedov one day. Ferguson (25-4) was supposed to challenge Nurmagomedov (28-0) for the 155-pound championship in April, but the event was canceled because of the COVID-19 pandemic. That marked the fifth time in five years that a matchup between the two fell through because of various circumstances. Ferguson ultimately lost to Justin Gaethje by fifth-round TKO in May, and Gaethje is set to face Nurmagomedov this weekend at UFC 254. Last week, Nurmagomedov told ESPN that he doesn't believe Ferguson, 36, will ever be the same after the damage he endured in his loss to Gaethje. Ferguson responded by guaranteeing that the two will still fight. "I see fear in his voice if he thinks he has to talk bad about people," Ferguson told ESPN. "He can't put that s--- in my head. I will fight Khabib at one point or another. He will see me before he retires. We'll make that a point. "I think everybody is writing me off after one loss, and f--- them. The casual fan base is trying to, but my hard-core fans are too much. They know too much. My value is way too much." In the meantime, Ferguson, of Oxnard, California, says he is training consistently and keeping his weight down in anticipation of a fight in December. He confirmed that former Bellator MMA champion Michael Chandler appears to be whom UFC president Dana White "wants me to fight," but Ferguson said he wants the UFC to renegotiate his contract. Ferguson strongly implied that Chandler (21-5), who has never fought in the UFC, would make more than him if they fought, based on their current contracts. When asked how he knows what Chandler's pay would be, Ferguson responded, "I don't know, but it sounds interesting, right?" Ferguson believes he was a "company man" in May, when he agreed to face Gaethje in the main event of UFC 249, the first event held after the UFC was forced to cancel five events because of COVID-19. That decision, and the result of the fight, cost Ferguson a title shot in 2020, and he says he should be compensated fairly for taking on an opponent new to the organization. "Michael Chandler hasn't earned his way to the top," Ferguson said. "But if that's who Dana White wants me to fight, you know me: I put my boots on, and I go to work. When it came to COVID, I made weight, and I went to work. There was a point, 72 hours, it was myself, Dana, [UFC matchmaker] Sean Shelby and my wife, just trying to make that s--- happen. If I hadn't taken that fight, how many people would not have gotten paid? "Do I want to fight? Yes. I want to fight in December. I'm f---ing training. Let's go. But I don't think somebody who doesn't even belong here should be paid more than me. That's what I'm saying." Ferguson emphasized that he and White are in a healthy place, adding that the two exchanged text messages on Tuesday. Ferguson said he is optimistic that he will fight in December -- against Chandler or someone else -- and said he will return from his first loss since 2012 a better lightweight. "I learned a lot about myself in that fight," Ferguson said. "I learned I'm not going to put myself in that position again, to take damage like that. I wanted to see how tough I was, and now I've found out. That scares people to do that, so I've learned how to work much better and more efficiently."
Los Angeles Dodgers' Game 1 win of World Series draws record-low viewers - ESPN
Los Angeles' 8-3 win over Tampa Bay received a 5.1 rating and was seen by an average of 9,195,000 viewers on Fox Tuesday night, according to Nielsen Media Research. The previous low was also a Rays game, in 2008 against the Phillies.
ARLINGTON, Texas -- The Los Angeles Dodgers' victory over the Tampa Bay Rays in Game 1 drew a record-low audience of television viewers for a World Series game. Los Angeles' 8-3 win received a 5.1 rating and was seen by an average of 9,195,000 viewers on Fox from 8:06 p.m. to 11:41 p.m. EDT on Tuesday night, Nielsen Media Research said Wednesday. The previous low had been set the only other time the Rays were in the World Series, when their 5-4 loss to Philadelphia in Game 3 in 2008 was viewed by an average of 9,836,000 that Oct. 25, a Saturday night. Until now, the low for a Game 1 had been San Francisco's 7-1 win over Kansas City on Oct. 21, 2012, viewed by an average of 12,191,000 on a Tuesday night. Washington's 5-4 victory over Houston in last year's opener was seen by an average of 12,283,000 on Oct. 22, also a Tuesday night. Still, Fox won the prime-time evening with its best performance on a Tuesday night since Game 6 of last year's World Series. The rating is the percentage of television households tuned in to a broadcast.