No one loves to celebrate his teammates more than Kyle Lowry, and that continued on Monday night.
“When @anunoby got paid and offered to pay the tab,” Lowry wrote, captioning a photo of him hugging Anunoby. “Congrats to another one of my young pups getting paid!! Love kid!!”
The Raptors have been busy this off-season, signing Fred VanVleet to a new long-term contract last month and adding Aron Baynes and Alex Len in free agency. Lowry and his “young pups” return to the court Wednesday as the new NBA regular season tips off this week.
After UFC 257 triumph, Dustin Poirier guarantees ‘I won’t be fighting Michael Chandler’ next – MMA Fighting
“I can guarantee I won’t be fighting Michael Chandler,” Poirier told reporters, including MMA Fighting, at the UFC 257 post-fight press conference. “They can do whatever they want with the division. I don’t really care. If something makes sense, then we’ll do it.”
UFC 257 was initially framed by UFC President Dana White as something of an audition for the top lightweights, with Poirier vs. McGregor and Chandler vs. Dan Hooker competing to impress current UFC lightweight champ Khabib Nurmagomedov.
Chandler certainly did his part, stopping Hooker in the first round with a ferocious display of striking. But with Nurmagomedov looking less and less likely to reverse a decision to retire from the sport, Poirier thinks he should be considered the champ.
Of course, Poirier doesn’t actually hold the belt. But he should be fighting for it very soon, and if the UFC is doing things the way he believes they should be done, he said, then the person standing across from him next will be someone who’s earned the opportunity.
“I’ve just been putting in work,” he said. “That’s why I’m sitting here feeling like I can talk about it, because I’ve been in the division and the UFC for a long time, fighting the best of the best of the best.
“No disrespect to [Chandler], he seems like a good husband, a good father, he speaks well, has a lot of respect, carries himself very well. It’s not a knock against him. It’s just my feelings toward the division and the sport. I lost to Khabib, I came out and put on a ‘Fight of the Year’ for you guys, got my hand raised against a top-five opponent after that. Then I come in there and Khabib doesn’t want to come back, then I knock out one of the biggest fights you can get. I knock this guy out, too.
“Khabib reiterates he doesn’t want to fight any more – dude, I’m the champ. I’m not going to fight, some – and like I said, respect to Chandler – a new guy to the UFC who just beat a guy that’s coming off a loss that I just beat for the belt. That’s not exciting to me.”
This past June, Poirier bested Hooker by decision to rebound after a loss to Nurmagomedov in a title-unifier. A candidate more appealing to him was Charles Oliveira, who’s won his past eight fights and most recently outpointed ex-interim champ Tony Ferguson in a commanding performance.
“I think he has more [of a case for the title shot],” Poirier said. “I’ve been watching that guy for 10 years in the UFC, two different weight classes. He’s fought the best of the best, over and over again. And, he’s been knocked down and gotten up, and he’s proven what MMA and perseverance is. I respect that. Not that I don’t respect Michael Chandler. I just think there’s more work for him to do than beat a guy I just beat.”
Oliveira was one of two names broached for the title shot, the other being Justin Gaethje, who, like Poirier, lost a bid to unify the belts. Before that, however, Gaethje was stopped by “The Diamond” in a brutal bout.
Asked whether Oliveira or Gaethje had a better claim to the title shot, Poirier chose the Brazilian.
“Just because he’s never had the opportunity,” Poirier said. “Gaethje just came out here and got beat, as I did. Not a knock on Gaethje, but he lost. I think Oliviera, probably, or let them fight to see who gets it.”
Poirier will ultimately see what the UFC has in store for him after getting some rest and relaxation. He put a huge feather in his cap by beating McGregor, the UFC’s biggest box office star and a former two-division champion. The next fight he takes has to be one he can justify as a veteran who’s earned his keep.
UFC 257 results: Biggest winners, loser for ‘McGregor vs Poirier 2’ on Fight Island – MMA Mania
Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) staged its first pay-per-view (PPV) offering of 2021 with UFC 257 going down inside Etihad Arena on “Fight Island” yesterday (Sat., Jan. 23) in Abu Dhabi. In the main event of the evening, Dustin Poirier stunned Conor McGregor by stopping him via strikes in the second round (see it again here). In the co-headlining act, Michael Chandler made an explosive UFC debut by knocking out Dan Hooker in the very first round (recap here).
Biggest Winner: Dustin Poirier
Poirier got some much-desired revenge against McGregor by stopping him via strikes in the second round in a highly-impressive showing. In doing so, Poirier tied the series up at one a piece, which means he likely set himself up for another big pay day should a trilogy fight come around. For now, “The Diamond” put himself in great position to fight for what one can only assume will be the soon-to-be vacated Lightweight strap since Khabib Nurmagomedov doesn’t seem to have any plans to fight anytime soon, if ever again. It is without a doubt Poirier’s biggest win, which can only be outdone if he claims the official 155-pound strap in his next outing.
Runner Up: Michael Chandler
Chandler silenced all of the naysayers and critics who said he didn’t have what it takes to hang with the big boys of UFC by absolutely obliterating Dan Hooker in the very first round, putting the entire Lightweight division on notice. The former Bellator MMA 155-pound champion took his time early on, waiting for the right opportunity to unload his power. And he did just that halfway through the opening frame, tagging “The Hangman” with a sneaky left hook that floored him. From there, the wrestling powerhouse pounced on Hooker and unleashed a series of strikes that forced the stoppage. In taking out Hooker in that fashion, Chandler did something Al Iaquinta, Poirier and Felder couldn’t do. He also went home with an extra $50K in his pockets. A great debut all the way around.
Biggest Loser: Conor McGregor
McGregor’s highly-anticipated comeback didn’t pan out the way he would have hoped, losing to Poirier via technical knockout (TKO). While “Notorious” did look good early on, Poirier made the adjustments and the calf kicks were just too much for “Notorious,” who eventually wound up on the receiving end of “The Diamond’s” devastating strikes. The loss is McGregor’s second in last two outings, with his lone win during that span coming against Donald Cerrone at Welterweight. Is “Notorious” done? Highly-unlikely. He will, however, have to go back to the drawing board and figure out what his next move is. Thankfully for the fiery Irishman he has several options as the promotion’s biggest star. Still, the loss — which is the first KO/TKO of his career — will be a tough one for him to swallow and there is no telling where his mind will be in the coming weeks.
For complete UFC 257 results and coverage click here.
Canadiens’ dominant win vs. Canucks another reassuring sign for GM Bergevin – Sportsnet.ca
Marc Bergevin, in one of his dapper suits, stretching out a mask with a smile so wide his face must be sore. That’s what we’re picturing right now as the Canadiens pack their bags and prepare to return to Montreal with 10 points banked in the standings following this season-opening, cross-country, six-game road trip.
He had a vision for this team, one he outlined before training camp got underway when he said, “We mean business, we’re here to win, and we can play any way you want,” and it’s come to life immediately—with an easy-on-the-eyes, 5-2 win over the Vancouver Canucks on Saturday providing more vivid confirmation.
Still, the Canadiens’ general manager couldn’t have expected this right off the bat. No matter how excited he was about adding Jake Allen, Joel Edmundson, Alex Romanov, Tyler Toffoli, Josh Anderson, Corey Perry and Michael Frolik to a team that proved to him, in the 2020 Stanley Cup playoff bubble, it was much further along than a 24th-placed finish in the regular season would’ve indicated. He had to be concerned about this all coming together quickly after an abbreviated and exhibition-less camp.
But the GM must be elated now.
Allen went 2-for-2 behind Carey Price, Edmundson gradually found his place and offered precisely what was expected of him, Romanov entered the NHL in an eye-opening, “Hello, world” kind of way, Toffoli recorded seven of his eight points on the season in three games against the Vancouver team he left to join Montreal, Anderson tripled his goal output and equaled his point total from an injury-riddled and forgettable 26-game 2019-20 campaign, and Perry made his Canadiens debut with a goal on his very first shot and offered a performance reminiscent of most of the 1,045 games he’s played in this league.
Poor Frolik is still waiting for his chance, stuck behind a deep crop of forwards playing faultless hockey.
It’s a full-team story so far. The Canadiens lead the NHL with 29 goals, with 16 of 20 skaters filling the net. The defence has produced more points than any other group of six in the league. The power play has cashed in on more than a quarter of its opportunities, the penalty kill has allowed six goals and scored four, and the team has ravaged its opponents at 5-on-5.
As coach Claude Julien said after Saturday’s convincing win, “It’s what we hoped for when we made all these acquisitions.”
In his wildest dreams, he couldn’t have seen it going quite this well this soon.
“We’ve found a better balance, and we wanted to assure ourselves that we had that,” Julien said. “We have 56 games and we’re playing almost every two days, so it’s important to have that balance and that depth. We have it in front of the net, we have it at every position, and it showed again tonight … These things have already revealed themselves.”
Other things have been revealed, too.
When we interviewed Bergevin just before the Canadiens left for Toronto to start this road trip, he told us his team’s defence was “not going to be fun to play against,” and so far that’s clear.
The evidence mounted from city to city, with Toronto’s Auston Matthews wearing the marks of Shea Weber and Ben Chiarot crosschecks, with Edmonton super-scorers Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl combining for just one assist between them through two games, and with Vancouver star Elias Pettersson—desperate to snap a miserable early-season funk—being held to just one goal in three games.
And then there was what the Canadiens did to everybody else. It just seemed like everywhere the Leafs, Oilers and Canucks turned, those bleu, blanc et rouge sweaters were right in their faces.
“The pace hasn’t changed,” Bergevin told us after watching training camp. “What made us a fast team in the past is still available to our team.”
That’s undeniable now.
And the variety Bergevin hoped the Canadiens would offer was featured throughout this trip, with a 55 per-cent share of the 5-on-5 shot attempts and 137 hits thrown.
Are these Canadiens tough? Like an Edmundson left hook to Tyler Myers’s cheek.
Seeing the six-foot-four defenceman give up more than a couple of inches to avenge the Myers hit that concussed Joel Armia was a sign of how well him and the other new guys have integrated.
“Just awesome for a guy to step up like that,” Jonathan Drouin said of Edmundson’s decision to fight Myers. “When we saw (Myers) didn’t get suspended, we knew it was going to happen; somebody was going to fight Myers, and just for him to step in like that—he had a great fight, too—it’s just huge leadership.”
Drouin loved what he saw from Perry, too.
Perry had to wait five games on the taxi squad to take Armia’s place in the lineup. He’s a Stanley Cup-winning, gold-medal-wearing legend of the game, and he’s willing to push his ego aside for one significant reason.
“I’m here to win,” he said. “I believe in this group, and you can see through the first six games and (you saw) through training camp everyone’s here to win and show everybody that we mean business.”
Nick Suzuki means business. He has vaulted his way to top-line centre status with at least a point in every game and with the type of defensive commitment that had Drouin refer to him on Saturday as “a mini Patrice Bergeron.”
Centre Jesperi Kotkaniemi, at 20 years old, has Perry impressed.
And both Suzuki and Kotkaniemi are probably making Bergevin feel good about the fact that he didn’t give either one of them up to get a six-foot-three, 218-pound, 22-year-old, established Francophone centre who reportedly wanted to join this Canadiens team but ended up being traded to Winnipeg on Saturday.
The GM doesn’t have Pierre-Luc Dubois, but he’s got the team he hoped he had before things got started on Jan. 13.
“All four lines are firing and we’re playing solid defensively on the back end,” said Edmundson. “So, it’s been good. It’s nice to see everybody contributing. Just gotta continue that.”
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