Carlos Vela Remains Major League Soccer’s Highest-Paid Player

Carlos Vela is a major league money-maker…

The 32-year-old Mexican professional footballer and Los Angeles FC star remains Major League Soccer‘s highest-paid player with a guaranteed compensation of $6.3 million, according to the latest round of salary data published by the MLS Players Association.

Carlos Vela

The latest disclosure included players signed during the summer transfer window.

As such the top four wage earners remained the same, with LA Galaxy‘s Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez checking in at $6m, Inter Miami CF‘s Gonzalo Higuain earning $5.79m, and Toronto FC‘s Alejandro Pozuelo taking in $4.69m.

Atlanta United FCLuiz Araujo was the only recent signing to crack the top 10, with his guaranteed compensation of $3.94m ranking him fifth. Other notable newcomers were Austin FC‘s Sebastian Driussi, whose guaranteed compensation of $2.69m ranked 15th, while the Vancouver Whitecaps‘ Ryan Gauld came in at 26th in the league with guaranteed compensation of 2.03m.

The average guaranteed compensation for the entire player pool is $418,048 — down slightly from the mark of $423,232 recorded last May, but up 1.5% from the September 2019 mark of $411,996.

The median guaranteed compensation is $200,000, down slightly from the May mark of $210,000. But thanks to the new Collective Bargaining Agreement negotiated earlier this year, the latest mark is still up 11.4% from the September 2019 figure of $179,498.

In terms of team payroll based on guaranteed base compensation, there was some movement. The Galaxy moved up from fourth last May to take the top spot with a total guaranteed compensation of $20.32m. The top three were rounded out by Atlanta United ($20.06m) and Toronto FC ($19.27m).

Inter Miami, which had been highest back in May, fell to fourth with a total guaranteed compensation of $17.55m. LAFC was fifth at $15.88m.

The Colorado Rapids, in third place in the Western Conference, had the lowest guaranteed compensation at $9.89m. This was followed by the New York Red Bulls ($9.98m), the Philadelphia Union ($10.57m), the Vancouver Whitecaps ($10.96m) and the San Jose Earthquakes ($11.04m).

The New England Revolution, runaway leaders for the Supporters Shield, had the 20th-highest total guaranteed compensation at $11.68m. FC Cincinnati, set to finish in last place in the league-wide table for the third year running, had the 10th-highest mark at $13.11m.

Paula Badosa Edges Past Victoria Azarenka to Win First-Ever WTA 1000 Title at Indian Wells Masters

It’s a debut for books for Paula Badosa

The 23-year-old Spanish tennis player outlasted former World No. 1 Victoria Azarenka 7-6 (5), 2-6, 7-6 (2) at the BNP Paribas Open, becoming just the third woman to win in her Indian Wells Masters debut and the tournament’s first Spanish champion.

Paula BadosaIn claiming her first WTA 1000 title, Badosa earned $1.2 million.

Badosa joined Bianca Andreescu in 2019 and Serena Williams in 1999 in winning the title in her first appearance. It was Badosa’s second title of her career, having won in Belgrade earlier this year.

Badosa and Azarenka struggled for more than three hours, trading back-to-back service breaks five times. The last time Azarenka broke for a 5-4 lead in the third, and Badosa broke right back for a 5-all tie.

Paula Badosa

“We were both going for our shots, really pushing each other to the max,” Azarenka said.

Badosa missed a backhand that allowed Azarenka to hold at 6-all.

Badosa dominated the tiebreaker, racing to a 6-2 lead. Azarenka dumped a forehand into the net to give Badosa match point.

Paula Badosa

Badosa cracked a forehand winner, then collapsed at the baseline. She lay face down, crying and shaking, before getting up. Azarenka came around the net and hugged the 23-year-old Spaniard.

Azarenka, the two-time major champion and former top-ranked player, was seeking just her second title since 2016. She last won in 2020 at Cincinnati. The 32-year-old from Belarus came up short in her bid to become the first woman to win Indian Wells three times, having taken the title in 2012 and 2016.

Azarenka’s season was interrupted by injuries and she made early exits in the Grand Slam events. Her best result was making the fourth round at the French Open.

“This year has been challenging a bit,” she said, “but finishing on a strong note, not necessarily with the result I wanted but with the progress I wanted to seek, that’s really positive.”

In the first-set tiebreaker, Badosa had leads of 4-0 and 5-3. Azarenka tied it 5-all on Badosa’s netted forehand. Azarenka missed a backhand to give Badosa a set point and the Spaniard cashed in with a backhand winner to take the set.

She beat fifth-seeded Barbora Krejcikova in the fourth round, No. 15 Angelique Kerber in the quarterfinals and No. 14 Ons Jabeur in the semifinals — all in straight sets — to reach the final.

“The first thing I learned this week is that nothing is impossible,” Badosa said.

Badosa earned $1.2 million, more than her previous prize money for the year of just over $1 million.

She came into the tournament ranked 27th in the world; a year ago, she was 87th. Badosa is projected to rise to a career-best 13th in Monday’s WTA Tour rankings.

The combined ATP and WTA tour event was one of the first major sporting events canceled in March 2020 when the coronavirus took hold in the U.S. It will return to its usual March slot next year.

Emanuel Navarrete Outlasts Joet Gonzalez to Retain WBO Featherweight Title

Emanuel Navarrete is keeping his title…

The 26-year-old Mexican professional boxer successfully defended his WBO featherweight title with a 118-110, 116-112, 116-112 unanimous decision over Joet Gonzalez, it was a constant action bout that could end up being a candidate for fight of the year.

Emanuel Navarrete

Neither fighter went down — although Navarrete (35-1, 29 KO) fell multiple times during the fight due to tripping. Both fighters threw a massive number of punches instead of being more patient in what they tried to land.

“The difference was the conditioning,” Navarrete said through an interpreter after the fight on ESPN. “It was a pretty close fight, but I think the conditioning was the difference.”

Navarrete won the fight, but Gonzalez showed how good of a fighter he can be. The 28-year-old Gonzalez (24-2, 14 KO) did what many other fighters cannot do — seemingly handle Navarrete’s high work rate well. At times, Gonzalez matched Navarrete’s constant flurries of punches with combinations of his own. It helped keep the fight competitive, even as Gonzalez’s face continued to get cut.

“It was a close fight. I thought I had the win,” Gonzalez said. “I hurt him, I believe, in the third or fourth round with a right hand. He buckled. Yeah, I thought I had the fight, man. I honestly did. I thought I had it seven rounds to five, eight rounds to four.

“I was really surprised by that score, 118-110, I believe. But it is what it is, man. I came, and I did my best.”

This, though, was the type of fight Navarrete wanted. After the victory, he said he wants to be in big fights in the future and would be open to a rematch against Gonzalez — a fight Navarrete said he would win again.

Navarrete’s power started to show in the second round, when he first cut Gonzalez with a gash under the right eye that became even bigger in the third round and appeared to reopen multiple times. After the cut was initially created by a left from Navarrete, Gonzalez’s cut man, Mike Bazzel, told ringside reporter Mark Kriegel that he was more concerned about the swelling underneath Gonzalez’s eye — swelling he worked on between almost every round.

“I felt good,” Gonzalez said. “He did catch me with a punch.”

Gonzalez said the swelling didn’t bother him much throughout the remainder of the fight. By the eighth round, Gonzalez’s white trunks had become partially pink and red. But Gonzalez, despite the cuts and the plethora of punches from Navarrete, continued to throw and land combinations, handling whatever hard power punches Navarrete threw.

Despite the champion’s power, Gonzalez rarely appeared in real trouble of being knocked down.

“Without a doubt I hurt him, but every single time he came back,” Navarrete said. “And he hurt me. A couple shots landed, hurt me during the fight.”

Navarrete threw 979 punches during the fight — an average of 81.6 per round. Almost half those punches — 406 of them — were jabs, a career high. He landed 272 punches (27.8%). Gonzalez threw 667 punches in the fight, an average of 55.6 per round, landing 169 (25.3%).

It was a work rate typical of a Navarrete fight, but something difficult to prepare for or truly understand due to the angles he throws punches from and the style he fights with. Gonzalez, in his second attempt at claiming a title, showed he can handle that — even if he didn’t win a belt.

Paula Badosa Defeats Ons Jabeur to Reach BNP Paribas Open Final at Indian Wells

Paula Badosa is thisclose to a career first…

The 23-year-old Spanish professional tennis player has earned a spot in the biggest final of her career, after defeating Ons Jabeur, 6-3, 6-3 o Friday to secure her 40th win of the season and advance to Sunday’s BNP Paribas Open final.

Paula Badosa

Badosa, the World No.27 will face two-time champion and former No.1 Victoria Azarenka for the first time for the title.

With wins against Barbora Krejcikova and Angelique Kerber this week, Badosa is looking to beat a third major champion en route to a second WTA title.

Badosa is the first Spanish woman to make the Indian Wells final since Conchita Martinez finished runner-up in 1996 and 1992, and she has done so in her main-draw debut. Seeded No.21, she has lost just one set en route to her second final of the season. Before her win versus Jabeur, Badosa defeated Dayana Yastremska, Coco Gauff, Krejcikova and Kerber.

Badosa’s win over French Open champion Krejcikova in the fourth round was her fourth Top 10 win of what has been a breakout season. She began the season ranked No.70, and Monday, she is projected to make her Top 20 debut.

“Mentally I think I’m very confident,” Badosa said. “I’m believing every point. Every day I’m working very hard as well. I think I’m progressing on a little bit of everything and that’s what is making my level going up. That’s why I’m in a final and playing against the best of the world.”

Carlos Moya Nominated for International Tennis Hall of Fame’s Class of 2022

Carlos Moya is one step closer to reaching tennis elite status…

The 45-year-old Spanish former world No. 1 tennis player is one of the new nominees on the International Tennis Hall of Fame ballot for the class of 2022.

Carlos Moya

Moya, the French Open singles champion in 1998, is joined by fellow Grand Slam title winners Ana IvanovicFlavia Pennetta and Cara Black, who join holdovers Lisa Raymond and Juan Carlos Ferrero.

The Hall announced the candidates on Thursday. The half-dozen nominees all are in the player category; there is no one in the contributor or wheelchair categories, which only come every four years.

In addition to his Grand Slam title and former No. 1 ranking, Moya was part of his country’s successful Davis Cup team in 2004. He has been Rafael Nadal‘s primary coach since 2016,

Ivanovic won the 2008 French Open singles championship and reached No. 1 in the rankings. Pennetta was the 2015 US Open singles champion and made it to No. 1 in doubles. Black collected 10 major trophies in doubles or mixed doubles and was ranked No. 1 in doubles.

Raymond and Ferrero were first nominated for the class of 2021; players are eligible for three years before being dropped from the ballot. She won 11 Grand Slam trophies in doubles or mixed doubles and reached No. 1; he was the 2003 French Open singles champ and got to No. 1.

Fan voting begins Friday at vote.tennisfame.com and ends on Oct. 31. The top three finishers will receive bonus percentage points for their total count. Balloting by journalists, historians and members of the Hall of Fame will happen in the coming months.

The inductees will be announced early next year. The Hall ceremony is scheduled for July 16.

Pedri Signs New Deal with FC Barcelona That Includes Record-Setting $1.16 Billion Clause

Pedri has a record-setting clause for applause… 

The 18-year-old Spanish professional footballer and midfielder has signed a new contract with FC Barcelona through 2026 with a release clause rising to $1.16 billion, the Catalan club has confirmed.

PerdiPedri’s previous deal was due to expire at the end of the season, and once the transfer window closed in the summer, Barca made tying him down to new terms a priority.

The Spain international’s release clause has more than doubled in the process (it was previously €400 million) to set a new club record.

Antoine Griezmann‘s contract, signed in 2019, included an €800m buyout option, which was the previous record. Lionel Messi‘s clause reached €700m during his time at Camp Nou.

Pedri, who will turn 19 in November, has enjoyed a breakout 14 months since joining Barca from Las Palmas in 2020 for an initial fee of around €5m. With add-ons, the deal could potentially be worth €25m to the Canary Islanders.

In his first season at Barcelona, he made 52 appearances for the senior team, becoming a regular in midfield alongside Sergio Busquets and Frenkie de Jong.

His performances also earned him international recognition. Spain coach Luis Enrique called him up for his first cap in March and he went on to be a key player for La Roja at the Euro 2020.

He was named the Young Player of the Tournament and was the only Spanish player in the Team of the Tournament after a semifinal exit to eventual winners Italy.

Pedri was also part of the Spain side that travelled to Japan for the 2020 Tokyo Games, winning a silver medal after an extra-time defeat to Brazil in the final.

As a result, he’s among the 30 nominees for the Ballon d’Or this year, the only Barca player on the shortlist, and is also in the running for the Kopa Trophy and the Golden Boy award, prizes for the game’s best young player.

Justin Gonzales to Fight Aaron Pico at Bellator’s Bellator 271 in November

Justin Gonzales is readying for battle…

The 30-year-old Latino mixed martial artist and Aaron Pico, two of Bellator MMA‘s top featherweight prospects, have agreed to meet at Bellator 271 on November 12, according to ESPN.

Justin GonzalesThe promotion is finalizing the details for the bout between Gonzales and Pico, which will take place at Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Hollywood, Florida. The event will air on Showtime. Tickets are expected to go on sale next week.

Pico (8-3) will be seeking his second win of 2021 and fifth consecutive overall. The 25-year-old Latino featherweight made his pro debut in 2017 under extremely high expectations, and got off to a somewhat disappointing 4-3 record. Fighting out of JacksonWink MMA in Albuquerque, New Mexico, he has looked phenomenal during this win streak with four straight finishes.

Gonzales (12-0), of Greeley, Colorado, picked up a split decision win against Tywan Claxton in his Bellator debut in June. Gonzalez, 30, is undefeated since turning pro in 2016. He enjoyed a successful amateur career prior to that dating back to 2012.

Junior dos Santos to Make Wrestling Debut This Week for All Elite Wrestling

Junior dos Santos is movin’ from the Octagon to the ring…

The 37-year-old Brazilian mixed martial artist and former UFC light heavyweight champion will make his professional wrestling match debut on Friday for All Elite Wrestling (AEW).

Junior Dos Santos

The news comes after his release from the UFC earlier this year.

And dos Santos told ESPN on Wednesday that he is also in talks about making his debut in boxing.

“Let’s see,” dos Santos said. “I’ve been having some good conversations, even on boxing. Boxing, I think, would be the perfect way for me to go. I’m a boxing guy, everybody knows that. I’ve never had an official pro boxing fight. Maybe this is the time.”

Dos Santos didn’t go into detail about when he might fight in boxing or who the opponent could be, because he said he’s focusing right now on his work with AEW.

On Friday, “Cigano” will team with wrestlers Ethan Page and Scorpio Sky in a tag-team match against wrestling legend Chris JerichoJake Hager (who also fights for Bellator) and Sammy Guevara.

The match is part of an AEW storyline that involves dos Santos’ American Top Team MMA team backing up Page and Sky with American Top Team owner Dan Lambert as their on-screen manager.

Dos Santos and several other ATT fighters — including UFC veteran Paige VanZant, former UFC heavyweight champion Andrei Arlovski and PFL champion Kayla Harrison — made their first AEW appearances as part of this storyline in August and September. Some have gotten physical in segments, but dos Santos will be the first one to actually wrestle in a match.

“I wasn’t really a big fan of it [before],” dos Santos said. “But this thing changed a lot. After Dan Lambert invited me to go there and see how hard it is. It’s not a joke, man. Those guys, they go hard. And they have to be very well-prepared for that. So, then when I saw all of it, I got very interested in it. And then I said, ‘Man, I want to do it.’ Ask Dan Lambert. I was saying, ‘Man, I need to be in that ring.'”

dos Santos said the most “amazing” thing for him was the loud, raucous pro wrestling crowds and how they interacted with the show.

“That type of energy was amazing to feel,” dos Santos said. “A long time, I don’t feel this way. Long time, I don’t feel this excited to go in the ring and perform and give the best of me and my performance. Man, I’m looking forward to Friday night.

“Back in the day, in the UFC and MMA itself, I was feeling kind of pressure all the time. I wasn’t being appreciated to be there. Now, it’s different. People love me to be there, even if they don’t like me. They are showing that.”

dos Santos was released by the UFC in March following four straight losses, though they all came against elite heavyweights.

dos Santos held the UFC heavyweight title in 2011 and 2012. He owns MMA victories over former UFC champions Stipe MiocicCain VelasquezFabricio Werdum and Frank Mir.

This weekend, dos Santos will be in a pro wrestling ring. But don’t be surprised to see him in a boxing ring at some point in the future, either.

“Let’s see what’s gonna happen next, but the boxing thing would be amazing,” dos Santos said. “As you guys know, I love knocking people out. I love punching people in the face. That would be a good way to go.”

Jorge Masvidal to Fight Leon Edwards at UFC 269 in December

Jorge Masvidal is preparing for a grudge match

One of the most infamous backstage scuffles in UFC history will be revisited in December, when the 36-year-old Cuban and Peruvian American mixed martial artist and fellow UFC welterweight Leon Edwards have agreed to meet inside the Octagon.

Jorge Masvidal

Edwards and Masvidal will square off at UFC 269 on December 11, UFC chief business officer Hunter Campbell told ESPN. Contracts have not yet been signed, but bout agreements have been sent to both parties.

This fight has held personal implications since March 2019, when Edwards and Masvidal were involved in a backstage incident at a UFC Fight Night event in London. Masvidal struck Edwards in the face after Edwards interrupted him during a postfight interview.

Later in the night, Masvidal would infamously describe the punches he landed on Edwards as a “three-piece and soda.”

Masvidal wrote in a tweet Monday: “You’re welcome #supernecessary”

In addition to settling a long-standing grudge, the matchup will have major implications on the welterweight division. Edwards (19-3) is riding a nine-fight win streak and is a strong candidate for a title shot in 2022. Masvidal (35-15) is coming off back-to-back failed title bids against Kamaru Usman in 2020 and 2021 but has said his goal is still to claim the UFC championship.

“Despite earning the next title shot, [Edwards] has always been willing to fight Jorge first, provided the terms were correct,” Edwards’ manager, Tim Simpson, told ESPN. “We are very happy with the deal, and excited to compete in December, and then for a world title thereafter.”

As a result of the UFC adding this high-profile bout to the card, a trilogy flyweight title fight between Brandon Moreno and Deiveson Figueiredo has been moved to UFC 270 on January 22, according to the UFC.

UFC 270 on January 22 does not have an official location yet, but sources told ESPN the promotion is looking at Anaheim, which is only about 100 miles north of Moreno’s hometown of Tijuana, Mexico.

Rafa Cabrera Bello Outlasts Adri Arnaus to Claim Spanish Open

Rafa Cabrera Bello is finally back on top…

The 37-year-old Spanish professional golfer sank a birdie putt on the first playoff hole to seal a dramatic victory on Sunday over compatriot Adri Arnaus, giving him his first tournament win in over four years at the Spanish Open.

Rafa Cabrera Bello

Cabrero Bello and Arnaus were neck and neck for much of the day and ended it at 19-under for the tournament. Cabrera Bello then held his nerve after a fine approach shot on the first playoff hole — the par-four 18th — to make birdie as Arnaus could only manage par.

Frenchman Julien Guerrier, India’s Shubhankar Sharma and Scot Grant Forrest were all two shots back at 17-under, finishing tied for third.

World No. 1 and home favorite Jon Rahm, who was chasing a hat trick of titles at the event, endured another frustrating day as he carded a two-under 69 and 13-under overall that gave him a share of 17th place.

Cabrera Bello, the overnight leader, began the round with a double-bogey on the par-four first but found his touch on the back nine, making three straight birdies starting with the 13th that gave him a two-under 69.

Arnaus, on the other hand, made eagle on the 14th but could only par his last four holes to end with a round of 67.

The title was Cabrera Bello’s fourth overall on the European Tour while it left Arnaus still searching for his maiden win.