Marina Rodriguez to Fight Michelle Waterson in Saturday’s UFC Fight Night

Marina Rodriguez is heading to the Octagon

The 34-year-old Brazilian mixed martial artist will face off against Michelle Waterson in the UFC Fight Night headliner on Saturday in Las Vegas.

Marina Rodriguez

The originally scheduled main event between former bantamweight champion TJ Dillashaw and top contender Cory Sandhagen was postponed last week due to a Dillashaw injury.

Rodriguez and Waterson are both top strawweights, but the bout will be contested a division up at flyweight due to the short-notice nature of the situation. The bout will still be five rounds, like typical UFC main events.

ESPN has Rodriguez ranked No. 6 in the world at strawweight; Waterson comes in at No. 9.

Rodriguez (13-1-2) has just one loss in six UFC appearances. She is coming off a second-round TKO win over prospect Amanda Ribas in January.

Rodriguez has lost just once in her career, to former UFC women’s strawweight champion Carla Esparza in a split decision last July.

Waterson (18-8) is one of the most well-known women’s fighters in mixed martial arts. Nicknamed “The Karate Hottie,” the New Mexico resident is coming off a split decision win over Angela Hill last September. Waterson has won four of her past six bouts with the only losses coming against Esparza and Joanna Jedrzejczyk, another former UFC champion.

Carmelo Anthony Moves Into Top 10 on NBA All-Time Scoring List

Carmelo Anthony is movin’ on up…

The 36-year-old Puerto Rican professional basketball player, who plays for the Portland Trail Blazers, has moved into the top 10 all time in NBA scoring, passing Elvin Hayes.

Carmelo Anthony

With 11:09 left in the second quarter against the Atlanta Hawks on Monday, Anthony isolated on the right wing and pulled up from 3, plus the foul. After his trademark move of hitting the side of his head with three fingers, Anthony raised both arms in the air as a quick acknowledgement of the accomplishment.

It was his third 3 of the first half, giving him 12 points. Anthony entered Monday’s game against the Hawks nine points behind Hayes’ career total of 27,313.

He finished the night with 14 points overall — and 27,318 for his career — as Portland fell to Atlanta, 123-114.

“I think after it’s done, whenever it happens, I think I’ll be more in awe of it,” Anthony told ESPN by phone last week. “This is something I never, ever thought about. When you’re young you look up at that list and you’re like, ‘Damn, so-and-so has that many points? I’ll never be able to do that.’ I’m more just in awe of it.”

Moses Malone is next up on the all-time list at 27,409, a reachable number this season if Anthony maintains his current scoring pace.

Anthony’s journey to the top 10 comes with context, with him away from the NBA for a season after being cut by the Houston Rockets after just 10 games early in the 2018-19 season. Anthony continued working out and signed with the Trail Blazers in November 2019, starting all 58 games last season. He agreed to a bench role this season with Portland and entered Monday averaging 13.6 points as a sixth man.

A 10-time NBA All-Star, Anthony is in his 18th NBA season. He won the scoring title with the New York Knicks in 2012-13, averaging 28.7 points. Anthony spent 10 consecutive seasons in the top 10 in scoring and finished as a runner-up for the scoring title twice in that stretch.

Anthony’s point distribution is 13,970 in eight seasons with the Denver Nuggets, 10,186 in seven seasons with the Knicks, 1,261 in one season with the Oklahoma City Thunder, 134 with the Rockets and now 1,754 in two seasons with the Blazers.

This season, Anthony has moved past Tim DuncanDominique Wilkins, Oscar Robertson and Hakeem Olajuwon in scoring.

Alex Rodriguez Finalizing Deal to Buy the Minnesota Timberwolves

It looks like Alex Rodriguez is ready to get in the basketball business…

The 45-year-old Dominican American former MLB slugger Alex Rodriguez and billionaire Marc Lore are finalizing a deal to purchase the Minnesota Timberwolves from majority owner Glen Taylor, according to ESPN.

Alex Rodriguez

The purchase price in the deal is expected to be in the $1.5 billion range, sources said.

Taylor will continue to hold full control of the team for two years before Rodriguez and Lore take over in 2023.

“We look forward to entering this phase of the process with Glen Taylor,” Rodriguez and Lore said in a joint statement on Saturday. “Our respect for him and the legacy he has built lays an amazing foundation for what is to come. We are excited by the prospect of getting to know the Timberwolves organization.”

Taylor announced in July 2020 that he was looking for a buyer. The terms of the sale are similar to talks Taylor had in the past year with billionaire Ryan Smith, who walked away from a potential deal to ultimately purchase the Utah Jazz for $1.66 billion in October.

Taylor, 79, saved basketball in Minnesota when he bought the team for $88 million in 1994 after it nearly moved to New Orleans. But he has had an unspectacular ownership run in the 16 years since, reaching the playoffs only once.

Taylor has discussed keeping the Timberwolves in Minnesota with new ownership, but Rodriguez’s ties to Seattle and that city’s desire for a return of an NBA franchise could become an issue in the long term.

Rodriguez was also part of a group that bid unsuccessfully for the New York Mets.

Patricio “Pitbull” Freire Defeats Emmanuel Sanchez to Defend Bellator Featherweight Title

Patricio “Pitbull” Freire proves once again why he’s considered the best fighter in Bellator

The 33-year-old Brazilian mixed martial artist and two-division champion, perhaps the top featherweight in all of MMA, handed Emmanuel Sanchez his first stoppage loss with a technical submission by guillotine choke in Round 1 to successfully defend his 145-pound title in the main event of Bellator 255 in Uncasville, Connecticut.

Patricio "Pitbull" Freire

The fight, which took place at Mohegan Sun Arena in front of no fans because of the coronavirus pandemic, was a semifinal in the Bellator Featherweight World Grand Prix.

Freire (32-4), who also reigns at lightweight, will take on unbeaten A.J. McKee in the final on a date to be determined.

Freire has won seven straight fights and has 20 wins overall in Bellator, the most ever in the promotion. He is one of only two fighters to become a Bellator double champion, along with heavyweight champ Ryan Bader, who used to also reign at light heavyweight. Freire is No. 4 in the ESPN men’s featherweight rankings.

Juan Manuel Marquez to Fight Miguel Cotto in Exhibition Match

Juan Manuel Marquez is heading back to the ring…

The 47-year-old Mexican former professional boxer and former four-division world champion is planning to fight against fellow former four-division champ Miguel Cotto in an exhibition match on June 12 in Miami, according to ESPN.

Juan Manuel Marquez

Even as an exhibition, Cotto-Marquez will add to the rich boxing rivalry between Puerto Rico and Mexico.

Marquez (56-7-1, 40 KOs) has not fought since May 2014, when he got off the canvas to beat Mike Alvarado in his 64th professional fight.

Marquez has won titles at featherweight, junior lightweight, lightweight and junior welterweight. Marquez was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 2019.

Cotto (41-6, 33 KOs), of Caguas, Puerto Rico, last fought on December 2, 2017, in a unanimous decision loss to Sadam Ali.

He has won world titles at junior welterweight, welterweight, junior middleweight and middleweight.

The source added that a fight between WBC flyweight interim titlist McWilliams Arroyo and Francisco Rodríguez could be part of the undercard. An official announcement is expected to be made on April 12.

El Nuevo Día was first to report the fight.

Alfredo Morales In Talks to Join New York City FC

Alfredo Morales is thisclose to a Big (Apple) move…

New York City FC is in talks to acquire the 30-year-old Peruvian United States international and Fortuna Dusseldorf midfielder, according to ESPN.

Alfredo Morales

Dusseldorf tweeted earlier on Tuesday that Morales was in talks with a Major League Soccer side, with German outlet Bild first reporting that the team in question was NYCFC.

Morales has spent the entirety of his career in Germany, rising through the ranks of Hertha Berlin before making his debut with the first team in 2010. Morales then moved to FC Ingolstadt in 2013, where he spent five seasons before signing with Dusseldorf ahead of the 2018-19 campaign. All told, Morales has made over 320 professional appearances, scoring 24 goals.

The Berlin-born Morales was able to represent the U.S. through his father, who served in the U.S. military. The holding midfielder has played 16 times for the U.S., with his last appearance coming in a 4-0 CONCACAF Nations League victory over Cuba on November 19, 2019.

Oscar de la Hoya to Return to the Ring in July

Oscar de la Hoya is officially coming out of retirement…

The 48-year-old Mexican American former professional boxer and boxing legend has a date in mind for his previously stated plan to return to the ring.

Oscar De La Hoya

At a news conference for the upstart promoter Triller Fight Club, de la Hoya took the stage alongside Snoop Dogg at the Venetian and suddenly announced that he’d be making his boxing comeback on July 3.

De La Hoya said last August that he would be coming out of retirement, but now there is a date for his return. And he will be promoted by the new fight promotion launched by Triller, the social media app.

Ryan Kavanaugh, the CEO of Triller parent company Proxima Media, told ESPN that he and de la Hoya are “dear friends” and the two have been discussing his return for “a long time.” Kavanaugh said the card will take place in Texas — possibly AT&T Stadium — and the promotion is targeting a “big” UFC name for de la Hoya’s opponent.

“He has been [training] and in his own words, he’s stronger and better than ever,” Kavanaugh said of De La Hoya.

Sources told ESPN that de la Hoya has a multifight deal with Triller and this will not be a one-off bout.

de la Hoya, a former six-division boxing champion and Olympic gold medalist, has not fought since a 2008 loss to Manny Pacquiao. He’s one of the best drawing boxers in the sport’s history. The news conference was held Friday to promote Triller Fight Club’s April 17 card, which is headlined by YouTube star Jake Paul and former UFC fighter and wrestling Olympian Ben Askren.

Salvador Pérez Lands Richest Deal in Kansas City Royals History

Salvador Pérez has landed a Royal(s) deal…

The 30-year-old Venezuelan professional baseball catcher has agreed to a four-year extension with the Kansas City Royals worth $82 million, according to ESPN, which makes it the richest deal in Royals history.

Salvador Perez

The Kansas City Star first reported the financial aspect of Perez’s extension.

The value of the new deal surpasses the four-year, $72 million contract the Royals gave outfielder Alex Gordon in 2016.

Perez’s extension, which begins with the 2022 season, comes after a 2020 season in which the six-time MLB All-Star was named the AL Comeback Player of the Year.

“It’s hard to believe where I’m coming from, where I grew up, to see the situation I have right now, it makes me feel super happy,” Pérez said from the Royals’ spring training home in Surprise, Arizona. “My mother is going to be happy. I know my grandma is going to be happy. I know they’re excited for me to be here for four more years, maybe five.”

“Nobody loves to play baseball more than Salvador Pérez. There are players that like it just as much but nobody loves it more,” Royals general manager Dayton Moore said. “Nobody can imagine him not being here.”

Pérez, who turns 31 in May, has not only established himself as one of the game’s premier catchers but also one of the most beloved players in Royals history. He was World Series MVP in 2015, when the club broke its 30-year title drought, and is coming off a season in which he hit .333 with 11 homers and 32 RBIs to win his third Silver Slugger.

He also has five Gold Gloves to his name, and the Royals are counting on his ability to bring out the best in their pitchers to help a young and promising starting rotation that they hope will lead them back to the playoffs.

“I mean, the catching position is without a doubt the most demanding position in our game,” Moore said. “It’s hard, I think almost impossible, to win championships unless you have somebody behind the plate, somebody at the catcher position, that’s a leader — that brings out the confidence in your pitching staff. And Salvy does all that.”

Indeed, Pérez also has proven to be durable behind the plate. He appeared in at least 129 games six consecutive seasons, often arguing against getting days off, until missing the entire 2019 season due to Tommy John surgery.

He returned to have one of the best seasons of his career during the pandemic-shortened 2020 season.

“It’s the same with everybody: You trust your medical people,” Moore said. “Of course we talked about Salvy, but at the end of the day, they all signed off on it because they believe in his work ethic. They believe in the condition of his body. They believe in his heart and mind to play. He puts himself in a position to go out there every single day.”

Pérez also happens to be a personal favorite of John Sherman, the former part-owner of the AL Central rival Cleveland Indians, who leads the ownership group that purchased the Royals from the late David Glass prior to last season.

Sherman called a summit in Florida in January that included Moore, Pérez and several other executives, and it was during that meeting that they began hashing out the framework for the new contract. It wound up getting done just weeks before Opening Day, when the Royals hope to welcome about 10,000 fans back to Kauffman Stadium for each game.

“You know, they believe in me and what I do on the field,” Pérez said, “and all the fans in Kansas City, you know?”

The small-market Royals have long had a reputation for being stingy with contracts, but Pérez’s new deal is the latest sign that Sherman and the new owners are willing to open the checkbook to put a winner on the field.

“I want to stay here,” he said simply. “I want to finish my career here.”

Miguel Avalos Signs Professional Contract with LA Galaxy II

Miguel Avalos is looking forward to officially playing pro soccer…

The Mexican-American soccer player and Mexico Under-17 international has signed a professional contract with LA Galaxy II of the USL Championship, according to ESPN.

Miguel Avalos

After attending a showcase held in 2018 by Alianza de Futbol, Avalos was signed by Liga MX side Pachuca. But Avalos, a native of Santa Rosa, California, was unable to play in games due to FIFA rules prohibiting players under the age of 18 from moving to a different country purely for soccer purposes. Now another door to professional soccer has opened with the Galaxy II.

“It’s very exciting, because I was in Pachuca for about a year and unfortunately, I wasn’t able to play because of the FIFA rule,” Avalos said in an exclusive interview with ESPN. “So, moving out here to LA, it’s amazing being able to play, and I’m excited to play this season.”

Avalos, who projects as a two-way midfielder, has been training with Los Dos [LA Galaxy II] since last July, giving him some time to adapt to the increased physicality that comes with playing against older players. The presence of Galaxy director of methodology Juan Carlos Ortega, who was previously involved with Mexico’s youth national teams, provided an additional boost.

“It hasn’t been easy, but at the same time it’s also really good playing with older players, a lot more experienced players,” Avalos said. “It’s gonna help me develop as a player, not only on the field, off the field as well.”

Avalos’ move to the Galaxy organization was hampered by the fact that Sacramento Republic held the player’s MLS Homegrown rights. But with Sacramento’s expansion bid on indefinite hold following the withdrawal of lead investor Ron Burkle, as well as the fact that LA Galaxy II is technically under the auspices of the USL, allowed the player to move under the Galaxy umbrella.

As a dual national, Avalos has the chance to represent either Mexico or the U.S., but at the moment he’s firmly in the Mexico camp.

“It’s not an easy decision,” he said of his international future. “The U.S., they haven’t reached out to me, not yet. But if it comes down to it, and I had to make a decision, I’d have to talk to my family about that.”

Antonio Carlos Junior Signs with Professional Fighters League

Antonio Carlos Junior is going Professional

The Professional Fighters League has signed the 30-year-old Brazilian mixed martial artist and former UFC veteran, known as Cara de Sapato, to a contract this week, according to ESPN.

Antonio Carlos Junior

Carlos Junior fought at middleweight in the UFC, but Abdelaziz said he would be competing as part of PFL‘s light heavyweight season this year.

“This guy should have never been fighting at middleweight,” Abdelaziz said. “He should have been fighting all along at light heavyweight. I think he’s going to be very good at light heavyweight.”

Carlos Junior (10-5, 1 NC) won The Ultimate Fighter: Brazil at heavyweight in 2014. The Brazilian jiu-jitsu specialist had a respectable 7-5 (1 NC) record in the UFC. Carlos Junior was on a three-fight losing streak before the UFC released him last month.

PFL, which has a season and playoffs structure, did not run any events in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Carlos Junior will join the likes of UFC veterans Tom Lawlor, Cezar Ferreira and Jordan Johnson in the PFL light heavyweight season. Emiliano Sordi, the 2019 PFL light heavyweight champion, returns this year as well.