–If these charges aren’t dropped and this legal situation sidelines Ole Miss OLB Sam Williams for an extended period of time, it’ll be a big loss for Lane Kiffin‘s defense:
–Three Illinois football players won’t play for Lovie Smith‘s squad in 2020, according to the Champaign News-Gazette. The biggest loss is Ricky Smalling, who is no longer with the program for reasons that haven’t been revealed. If he’s going into the transfer portal, that’s a talented wide receiver who should draw plenty of interest from top programs. Smalling was the Illini’s leading receiver in 2017 and 2018, and he was on pace again in 2019 before sustaining a season-ending knee injury in his team’s upset win over Wisconsin on Oct. 19. Smalling had 31 catches for 501 yards and two TDs as a freshman. As a sophomore in 2018, he hauled in 33 receptions for 406 yards and five TDs. The other players who won’t play in 2020 for personal reasons are senior RB Ra’Von Bonner and fifth-year senior OL Jake Cerny, who has started once in 25 career games at Illinois. Bonner had 822 rushing yards and 10 TDs in three seasons for the Illini. His loss will make it even more important that talented but oft-injured RB Mike Epstein stays healthy.
–In recent days, 14 Miami Marlins (mostly players and a few coaches) have tested positive for COVID-19. The Fish’s home opener against Baltimore tonight has been cancelled, as the club remains in Philadelphia undergoing more testing.
—ESPN’s David Purdum on the boom in baseball betting in the first three days of the season.
—A William Hill bettor won $150,000 by backing Robert Whittaker in his unanimous-decision win over Darren Till in Saturday’s UFC Fight Island 3 headliner.
–After the loss to Whittaker, Till said he’s going to need knee surgery.
–After UFC color analysts Paul Felder and Dan Hardy (mostly Hardy, to be fair) raised hell at referee Herb Dean for what appeared to be a late stoppage in Francisco Trinaldo‘s third-round knockout win over Jai Herbert on Fight Island this past Saturday night, Dean took to Instagram to explain what happened and to take issue with Hardy (and/or Felder, although he didn’t mention either by name). Hat Tip to MMAFighting’s Damon Martin with the scoop here.
–By the way, the 41-year-old Trinaldo has won three fights in a row and is 12-3 in his last 15 UFC scraps dating back to September of 2014.
–I’ve gone back and forth so many times in my opinion on Dana White over the last two decades. I love a lot of things about him, but he certainly has his moments where he loses me. Whatever the case, the dude hasn’t been given nearly enough credit for the spectacular job he and his staff have done since the start of this global pandemic. He has kept his business running smoothly against all sorts of challenges from people that have a lot of power. Many people hate the UFC’s policy for most fighter contracts where they are paid a certain amount to show, and they get that same amount to win. But losers basically only get 50% of their pay, which sucks when fighters don’t get their hand raised. The fight-night bonus system also comes under a lot of fire. But this past Saturday, the UFC decided to give out six bonuses at $50,000 apiece. The normal bonus system awards two fighters with $50,000 for Fight of the Night honors. Then two fighters that have the best showings get 50K for Performance of the Night honors. There was no FOTN for UFC Fight Island 3. Instead, six fighters (two extra) garnered POTN bonuses. They included Tom Aspinall, Khamzat Chimaev, Paul Craig, Fabricio Werdum, Tanner Boser and Jesse Ronson.
–Chimaev is pronounced “Chee-My-Of.” He became the first fighter in UFC history to win twice in a 10-day span. He improved to 8-0 overall and 2-0 in the UFC with Saturday’s first-round KO win over promotional newcomer Rhys McKee. Chimaev has finishes in all eight of his career wins, with five coming in the opening frame and three in the second round. He outlanded John Phillips and McKee by a combined 192-2 in strikes landed. Chimaev took both opponents down within 3-4 seconds at the start of each round, and then rag-dolled them all the way to the fence before beginning an onslaught of ground-and-pound strikes. Like I’ve been saying for the last 12 days, he’s a superstar who will be the welterweight champion at some point in 2021. Check out the poll question I submitted on Twitter this morning (and by all means, vote).
–Chimaev is calling out Conor McGregor this morning. (I think? He’s still working on his English.)
–Yahoo’s Kevin Iole reported Saturday night that White wants to book Chimaev again quickly and is looking to do so on the UFC 252 card.
–My nomination for Tweet of the Week from my buddy, GambLou:
—My story on the Jamal Adams trade from the Jets to the Seahawks.
—Our story from Blake Von Hagen on Lou Williams being out of he Clippers’ first two games of the NBA restart. He’s in quarantine for the next 10 days. On the bright side for the Clippers, Patrick Beverley returned to the NBA bubble from his excused absence to deal with a family matter. He might be able to play Thursday vs. the Lakers.
–Indiana star power forward Domantas Sabonis has left the NBA bubble due to plantar fasciitis. There’s concern Sabonis could be out for the rest of the season. He was averaging 18.5 points and 12.4 rebounds per games for the Pacers.
—Denver’s Bol ‘Baby Manute’ Bol continues to impress in scrimmages in Orlando.
–This tweet from ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski is good news for gamblers:
–Judging by WOJ’s absence and return to Twitter three days ago, his suspension from ESPN was for two weeks.
–How about a double dose of Instagram sensation Anna Katharina as Monday’s Nuggette?