Happy Friday, ya’ll!
–Saturday’s ‘UFC Fight Island 2’ main event is official, as Joseph Benavidez and Deiveson Figueiredo both tipped the scales at 125 pounds this morning. They’ll battle for the vacant flyweight title in a rematch to cap the 12-fight card. The seven fights on the Prelims will be televised on ESPN starting at 5:00 p.m. Eastern. The five main-card bouts will begin at 8:00 p.m. ET, but they’re available only on ESPN+. As of late this afternoon, FanDuel had Figueiredo installed as a -225 favorite, leaving Benavidez as a +188 underdog.
–I like Kelvin Gastelum to knock off Jack Hermansson at a -112 price (from DraftKings) in the co-main event.
–Tennessee senior defensive lineman Emmit Gooden was dismissed from the program last night after being arrested Thursday morning for felony domestic assault. WBIR in Knoxville was the first to report the news Thursday night. WBIR reported that the female victim accused Gooden of smashing a glass-jar candle into her head while arguing with her and her boyfriend. The alleged victim had to go to the hospital to get stitches after the incident that occurred within 24 hours of the arrest. Gooden was a likely starter in 2020 after missing the 2019 season due to a torn ACL sustained in preseason practice. In 2018, he recorded 33 tackles, one sack and six tackles for loss.
—Tony Poljan won’t be playing #MACtion football anymore. The 2019 second-team All-MAC selection has left Central Michigan and landed at Virginia. The departure of the tight end is Jim McElwain’s loss and Bronco Mendenhall’s gain. Poljan had 33 receptions for 496 yards and four TDs last season. He played some QB for the Chippewas in 2018, so he can serve as an emergency QB as well.
–We pointed out yesterday that Utah QB Jason Shelley is transferring to Utah State. Well, that has apparently led Jordan Love’s backup in 2019, Henry Colombi, to enter the transfer portal.
–I absolutely LOVE ESPN’s Kendrick Perkins as an NBA analyst! Dude just tells it like it is and puts the younger (dumber) cats on blast when need be. And how good was his response on the air to Kevin Durant calling him a sellout several weeks back? (How ironic is that, by the way? You know, seeing how Durant was one of the top 2-3 players in the NBA but, after he couldn’t help the Thunder polish off the Warriors even though they had a 3-1 series lead in the Western Conference finals, he sold out and went and joined the enemy. And then he bolted on them because he wasn’t the main alpha in that organization.) Anyway….back to KP’s outstanding retort: Perkins told Durant something like this, “I still got love for you the same as I did when you used to come to my house when we played in OKC and my wife made you them oxtails and that macaroni and cheese you like so much.” Seriously, that left me really wanting some of Mrs. Perkins’s mac & cheese!
–With Trevor Ariza not joining Portland in the bubble for the NBA restart, ESPN’s Royce Young reports that ‘Slim Melo’ has arrived in Orlando to play small forward when the games begin in two weeks. With Jusuf Nurkic and Zach Collins returning from injuries, Carmelo Anthony will play the three a bunch. The Trail Blazers are going to be an interesting team to watch in this race for the West’s No. 8 seed.
–Zion Williamson had to leave the bubble to tend to an urgent family matter. Best wishes to him and his family for whatever crisis they’re dealing with. The star rookie for the Pelicans will have to quarantine upon his return for at least four days and pass several COVID-19 tests before he can rejoin the club.
–In her first interview since this past Saturday’s UFC 251 loss to Amanda Ribas, Paige VanZant reacted to Dana White’s postfight remarks in a conversation with MMAFighting’s Damon Martin.
–So there was this today…
Like we touched on Thursday, Khamzat Chimaev is going to be a superstar in the UFC. Let’s hope Dana finds him an opponent for next Saturday, so Chiaev can run through him, win another Performance of the Night bonus and then call out a name we’re familiar with for his next opponent. There’s no reason to slow build this kid — he’s ready to beat some ass on ranked foes right this second!
–Have a great weekend and best of luck with your bets! I’ll check out here by introducing (Fishing With…) Louiza: