UFC 249 is about to get another premiere matchup.
The April card, which is scheduled to take place in Brooklyn, will reportedly pit Massachusetts native Calvin Kattar against veteran Jeremy Stephens in a key featherweight bout.
The two sides had verbally come to an agreement for UFC 248, but an injury to Stephens reportedly made timing an issue. As of now, the UFC hasn’t made an announcement and the fight won’t be official until a bout agreement is signed.
Kattar last fought at UFC Fight Night Moscow and lost to Zabit Magomedsharipov via unanimous decision. Stephens hasn’t won in four fights and last fought Yair Rodriguez in an all-out brawl in Boston. He lost the fight via unanimous decision.
Khabib Nurmogomedov and Tony Ferguson will headline UFC 249 in the lightweight title fight.
It might just be a matter of time before Jayson Tatum follows in Jaylen Brown’s footsteps and lands a lucrative contract extension with the Boston Celtics.
Celtics legend Cedric Maxwell, now the team’s radio color analyst, dropped a tweet Wednesday night that seemingly reaffirmed how highly Boston’s front office thinks of Tatum, who continues to flash superstar potential in his third NBA season.
Here’s what Maxwell wrote of an interaction he had with Celtics president Rich Gotham during Boston’s 119-95 win over the Memphis Grizzlies at TD Garden:
“After watching Tatum’s 1st half vs the #Grizzlies, I Whispered in Rich Gotham’s (#Celtics president)
“that’s going big check to write…” to which he replied
Tatum dropped 23 points, grabbed seven rebounds and dished out four assists in Wednesday’s victory. He’s now averaging 21.5 points, 6.9 rebounds and 2.9 assists in 34 minutes per game across 42 contests.
The Celtics already exercised Tatum’s fourth-year option back in October, meaning he’s signed through the 2020-21 season, after which he can become a restricted free agent. But it wouldn’t be surprising if Boston locked up Tatum to a new contract before that point, much like the C’s did earlier this season when they signed Jaylen Brown to a four-year extension reportedly worth $115 million.
Tatum, the third overall pick in 2017, turns 22 in March. The sky is the limit for the Duke product, and that certainly isn’t lost on the Celtics, who at times have looked like a legitimate NBA Finals contender in the Eastern Conference this season.
Terrence Clarke will follow in the footsteps of alumni LeBron James ’03, Kobe Bryant ’96 and Michael Jordan ’81.
The University of Kentucky commit, who is a 5-star recruit from Boston, will play in the 2020 McDonald’s All-American basketball game in Houston. Rosters for the contest, which includes the best high school talent from around the country, were released Thursday.
The @McDAAG rosters are out
Congrats to everyone who made the teams. pic.twitter.com/MCYYpGIbiH
— BallerTV (@BallerTV) January 23, 2020
The 6-foot-7, 185-pound senior shooting guard currently plays for Brewster Academy in New Hampshire. He was the third-ranked high school player in the country and No. 1 in Massachusetts, according to 247Sports.
Clarke is hoping to put Boston “on the map” when it comes to younger hoop prospects.
“Boston is a great basketball city,” Clarke told Boston.com. “I really want to do this for myself, but I also want to do this for my community because (Boston) has never been on the map. Nobody would ever say, ‘Oh, (top) basketball players come from Boston.’ I want to be the person to make that happen.”
Clarke received offers from some of the best college basketball programs in the country including Duke, Memphis, UCLA, Texas Tech and Connecticut before signing with Kentucky.
The McDonald’s All-American game will be held on April 1.
The Boston Red Sox haven’t necessarily removed their cakes from the hot stove.
MLB.com’s Anthony Castrovince on Wednesday included the Red Sox on his list of seven teams that might “make some sort of splash” before spring training. Boston’s 40-man roster looks all but set, with pitchers and catchers due to report to spring training Feb. 12 and other players due five days later. However, Castrovince believes plenty of time exists for Boston to make a surprising transaction in the next two-plus weeks.
“Well, now they need a manager,” Castrovince wrote. “So if nothing else, that’s coming. But what about the player roster?
“… team owner John Henry has walked back his previous public stance that the Red Sox plan to get under the $208 million Competitive Balance Tax threshold. So maybe we won’t see the big (Mookie Betts and/or David Price) or medium-sized (Jackie Bradley Jr.) trade that felt like a foregone conclusion back in December.
“Still, given all the trade conversation in the air — and the reality that resetting the tax penalty in 2020 would aid any effort to extend Betts past this season and/or keep the younger core players together in the coming years without a huge tax hit — we’ve got to include Boston on this list, just in case a deal goes down.”
Most of the roster moves Boston’s new chief baseball officer, Chaim Bloom, has made this offseason appear aimed at adding depth and versatility to the roster through minor moves. He also expects Betts to be in Boston’s opening day lineup, so it seems likely the Red Sox won’t make that big splash.
Nevertheless, baseball plots twist eternally, so we have to join MLB.com in not ruling out the Red Sox having “moves up their sleeve.”
David Pastrnak is ready for the 2020 NHL All-Star Game — are you?
The Boston Bruins forward has arrived in St. Louis ahead of the festivities, which kick off Thursday with Media Day at Stifel Theatre. Pastrnak is the only member of the Bruins that will participate in the events, but he seems excited to participate.
The 23-year-old even shared a quick message for his fans after his arrival.
Check it out, via the team:
#[email protected] | #NHLBruins pic.twitter.com/3td3EAWZZY
— Boston Bruins (@NHLBruins) January 23, 2020
All-Star Weekend officially kicks off Saturday.
Turns out, Enes Kanter might not actually be totally fine.
The Boston Celtics center left Wednesday’s win over the Memphis Grizzlies early after stiffening up from diving for a loose ball. Kanter actually made light of the ailment, saying he got hurt because he’s not used to diving for around.
Nevertheless, Kanter indicated that he was fine following the game and said to call him “questionable” for Friday’s meeting with the Orlando Magic.
Well, when the Celtics released their injury report Thursday evening, Kanter already had been ruled out for the Orlando game.
A double-double machine, Kanter has been a key part of the Celtics’ frontcourt this season. With Kanter and Robert Williams out, the Celtics will be left with just Daniel Theis — who showed off some nice shooting ability against Memphis — and Vincent Poirier.
Jimmy Garoppolo saw firsthand how to quarterback a Super Bowl-winning team twice while backing up Tom Brady with the New England Patriots.
Now Garoppolo will attempt to do the same with the San Francisco 49ers as they take on the Kansas City Chiefs in Super Bowl LIV. Garoppolo is looking to channel Brady on Feb. 2.
“Everyone says it should be like another game, but just the way that he actually did it,” Garoppolo said, per the San Jose Mercury News. “Up close and personal, picking up everything I could and seeing how he went about his business, obviously it worked out the two times that I was there with him. I’ll try to transfer that over to my game.”
Garoppolo said he might reach out to Brady for advice before the big game. The two were teammates from 2014 to 2017, when the Patriots traded Garoppolo to the 49ers for a second-round pick.
Roberto Firmino lashed home a late winner to earn Liverpool a dramatic 2-1 victory over Wolverhampton Wanderers on Thursday.
— Liverpool FC (@LFC) January 23, 2020
A hard-fought contest appeared to be heading for a draw after Raul Jimenez had equalized Jordan Henderson’s early opener — a fine header from Trent Alexander-Arnold’s corner — in the early stages of the second half at Molineux.
A powerful header from Jordan Henderson gives Liverpool an early lead! pic.twitter.com/hUnTXpYPAG
— NBC Sports Soccer (@NBCSportsSoccer) January 23, 2020
A beautiful goal from @Raul_Jimenez9 and Wolverhampton! pic.twitter.com/MNiKyP1qGt
— NBC Sports Soccer (@NBCSportsSoccer) January 23, 2020
But the Premier League leaders regrouped and once again dipped into their seemingly boundless reserves of resolve, registering a 22nd win from 23 Premier League games this season through Firmino’s emphatic left-footed finish in the 84th minute.
IT HAD TO BE BOBBY
Liverpool find a way back into the lead! pic.twitter.com/0XbF2ApZVr
— NBC Sports Soccer (@NBCSportsSoccer) January 23, 2020
The Reds sit 16 points clear of second-placed Manchester City in the Premier League standings, with a game in hand on their nearest rivals.
Click to read more about Wolves vs. Liverpool >>
Quarterbacks in the NFL are a bit different now than they were back in Brett Favre’s day, and he knows it.
But the Hall of Fame QB still sees some of himself in one of the league’s top signal callers.
Love him or hate him, Patrick Mahomes has impressed NFL fans in his first two seasons as the Kansas City Chiefs’ quarterback. The 24-year-old has 9,412 yards and 76 touchdowns with a 65.9 percent completion rate in 31 games played and was named NFL MVP and NFL Offensive Player of the Year in 2018.
And there’s one particular thing Mahomes does on the field that reminds Favre of himself.
“I see the comparison,” Favre said Thursday on SiriusXM NFL Radio, as transcribed by the Associated Press. “He may not admit this but he probably feels there is no throw he can’t make or no angle he can’t make it from. Whether he’s flushed left or to the right, his vision always is down the field. I was always looking for the big play first and knew I could always react underneath if I needed, too. You have to have a certain confidence or air about you that you can make any throw, and it has been proven he can make any throw. I always felt like, yeah.”
Boston Celtics coach Brad Stevens doesn’t see it as much of a coincidence.
Stevens said after each of the Celtics two latest decisive wins, the most recent a 119-95 victory over the Memphis Grizzlies on Wednesday, he believes the team is “fresher.” That’s led to better play on both ends of the floor, but specifically on the defense.
“We’e pressured the ball better the last couple of games,” Stevens said postgame Wednesday at the TD Garden. “I do think we look a little fresher, I think that’s part of it, but I think that we’re not allowing the ball to get to the paint before you feel pressure.”
The Celtics held Memphis guard Ja Morant to just two points on 1-for-5 from the floor in 24 minutes. Morant averages 17.5 points this season.
“I’ve said this all year, if they (opponents) catch it on the block without any resistance, if they catch inside the three or at the 3-point line without resistance then we’re in trouble,” Stevens said. “Our best rim defense is keeping the ball away from it. We have to be able to push things out with our pressure.”
That defensive pressure, both creating turnovers in transition and in the full court, helped hold Memphis to just 42.4 percent from the floor (36-for-85) with 16 turnovers. It was the 12th time Boston held an opponent to fewer than 100 points this season.
Celtics forward Gordon Hayward agreed with Stevens’ assessment. He credited the team defense as a major reason behind a 23-0 second-quarter run, which took just shy of seven minutes and ultimately put the game away. Over the final 6:53 of the second period, Memphis shot 1-for-12 from the field with six turnovers (two shot clock violations) all while the Celtics had four blocks on those 12 shot attempts.
“I think that we got a lot of deflections,” Hayward said postgame. “I think that we were active defensively. We were in the right spots. Because of that, we were able to get out and run, and then get some easy ones.”
Celtics guard Marcus Smart has been a leader on the defensive end. And while he’s happy with the recent performances, he also knows what it’s going to take moving forward.
“It’s going to take everybody on the same page,” Smart said Wednesday. “Everybody out there can guard multiple positions. That’s what makes it so hard. But (if) one guy is off not doing his job, or one guy is slacking or one guy is not going as hard, it affects the whole group. So, for us, it’s just staying focused and all on the same page.”
The Celtics will look to their defense to play a role in the team’s third straight win as Boston travels to Orlando on Friday.