WWE Hall Of Famer Steve Austin recently participated in a fan Q&A session on The Steve Austin Show. During the podcast, Austin discussed his relationship with fellow WWE Hall Of Famer Jim Ross and the tremendous impact that Ross has had on Austin’s legendary professional wrestling career.

On the subject of Ross, Austin said he grew up a fan of ‘Good Ol’ JR’ from watching Mid-South Wrestling and NWA. Interestingly, Austin shared that Ross helped the former ‘Stunning’ Steve get signed to WCW and that the pair always got along famously.

“Now, as I am trying to recall the first time I met Jim Ross, I almost can’t remember, but you have to understand I was a huge Bill Watts Mid-South Wrestling fan, so, man, I grew up with JR.” Austin remembered, “and he’s not very much older than me, but JR was the man. And then, when he went to NWA, that’s when I was watching Jim Ross. He was the man. And all-of-a-sudden, I get a chance to be called up to WCW. He’s one of the guys that lobbied for me and we hit it off. Jim loves football. He knew that I played college football. I wasn’t at Ron Simmons’ level. I wasn’t major college good. I was just good enough to get a scholarship and be on the team. That’s as good as I was. But Jim being in Oklahoma and that Texas/Oklahoma kind of bond, relationship, rivalry, whatever it is, Jim respected and liked football players. He liked guys that were athletic, salty, easy to work with, not people that are toxic or that are trainwrecks, or divas, or hard to work with. So, man, me and Jim always hit it off and we became the best of friends.”

Austin divulged that he and Ross would travel together, drinking wine and fantasy booking the territory.

“Me and Jim would ride down the road and we’d have a bottle of wine.” Austin recalled, “I don’t know how we started drinking wine. I used to drink wine like a son of a b—h way back in the day, but we’d drink a bottle of red wine between the towns. It’s only about 120 miles. We’d book the territory, tell stories… If I ever went to a football game I would go stay with him and Jan when she was still with us. And Jim’s out doing his own thing now, but, man, nothing but respect for him.”

According to Austin, Ross is the best commentator of all time and the two are still close today. Moreover, Austin suggested that JR was important to the success of the ‘Stone Cold’ character.

“Jim Ross, to me, with his range, with his storytelling… he paid his dues. I mean, he learned from the ground up. And his inflection and his ability to watch a match, tell a story, get the talent over with the credibility that he had, he was the shining diamond on top of everyone, so always a good experience with Jim. We continue, to this day, to be the best of friends. We don’t talk as much as we used to because we’re going and blowing in different directions. But he was a key, key part of my entire [pro] wrestling career like so many people were, but as far as the recruitment to WCW, the recruitment to WWF [as WWE was known] at the time, so there’s a lot of history there.

“Again, if ‘Stone Cold’ would’ve took off like it did and Jim Ross had not been on commentary, I do believe I still would have been successful; however, I think I had the success that I did because of the work that we put into it. This is on the [WWE] end, my end, the synergy, the chemistry, the writing, Vince [McMahon] was a huge part of it, especially when we were going up against each other, but without Jim Ross calling that with the emotion and just yelling, that passion driven style that he had, I don’t think it would have been the same. He was the voice of that ‘Attitude Era’.” Austin added, “I can’t imagine my career because it is so far removed now, but I cannot imagine my career without the iconic voice of the one and only Jim Ross.”

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The Chris Jericho Cruise wasn’t just about wrestling and musical performances, there was also a story time session involving Jericho and his friends. Jericho was joined by Cody Rhodes, Kenny Omega, The Young Bucks, Marty Scurll and Adam Page during a cruise recording of his Talk is Jericho podcast in front of a live audience.

At one point the discussion shifted to locker room leaders and Jericho told a story about CM Punk asserting himself as WWE’s locker room leader.

“Cody, do you remember this weird locker room meeting in WWE once where CM Punk said that [he was the locker room leader]? Do you remember that?” asked Jericho.

“I tried not to name names,” responded Cody.

“I’ll say it because it’s my cruise,” replied Jericho. “[Punk] said, ‘As the locker room leader…’

“You don’t lead me!” Jericho responded to a chorus of applause.

Cody noted that while some people looked at Punk as the locker room leader, WWE Hall of Famer Booker T took exception it.

“It worked on a certain demo of the locker room,” said Cody. “But there was one meeting where Booker T was in the room and Punk hit the ‘As the locker room leader, I’m telling all of you guys to pick up your trash’ and Booker literally threw his trash on the floor.

“He’s not telling me to pick up my trash,” Cody said while impersonating Booker T. “They had this whole interaction.”

Cody went on to name Kane as the only “actual” locker room leader.

“Glen (Kane) is the only actual locker room leader,” Cody explained. “Absolutely, he’s the Mayor now!”

“He is somebody that you would listen to because he’s 6’9″ 350 lbs of muscle,” Jericho stated. Jericho added that if Kane told him to pick up the trash he would do it, but wouldn’t if Punk told him to do the same.

Last week’s Monday Night Raw saw Kurt Angle wrestle his latest match since returning to WWE television in April 2017, putting the fast-rising Drew McIntyre over in a successful story-based main event.

It was the Olympian’s seventh bout since his Hall Of Fame induction, but only his second singles match, with the first coming against Dolph Ziggler at Crown Jewel three days prior. Now, the former WWE Champion wants more.

Kurt said the following on his official Facebook page:-

“I do want to wrestle more. I just started wrestling again so it’s going to take a few matches before I get the kinks out, especially being older now. I’m hoping I get a little bit more consistent wrestling in the future. Either way, I love contributing. We will see.”

He went on to name a handful of preferred opponents, including NJPW’s Kenny Omega (whom he named as the man he “most wants to face”) and Velveteen Dream, though his ultimate dream match is “2014 Kurt Angle vs. 1989 Ric Flair.”

Physical concerns are the most obvious barrier to Kurt working a more regular wrestling schedule. Now 49 years old, Angle has taken exorbitant amounts of punishment through his career, with his limitations apparent every time he steps between the ropes. Still, if WWE’s medical team are happy he can go, there’ll be nothing stopping him.

Angle had been linked with a Survivor Series elimination bout against a Baron Corbin-captained team for control of Raw. This obviously didn’t come to fruition, but perhaps we’ll see him in action again soon.

Floyd Mayweather denied that he ever agreed to fight kickboxing superstar Tenshin Nasukawa in a lengthy Instagram post Wednesday.

“Now that I am back on U.S. soil after a long and disappointing trip to Tokyo, I now have the time to address you, my fans and the media in regards to the upcoming event on December 31 that was recently announced. First and foremost, I want it to be clear that I, Floyd Mayweather, never agreed to an official bout with Tenshin Nasukawa. In fact (with all due respect) I have never heard of him until this recent trip to Japan,” the boxer wrote.

The Rizin Fight Federation announced Sunday that Mayweather would fight Nasukawa on Dec. 31 in Japan.

Mayweather said he was under the impression that he would participate in a private three-round, nine-minute exhibition against an opponent of Rizin’s choosing for a “small group of wealthy spectators.” After arriving at the press conference, Mayweather said he and his team were “derailed” by the way the event was being characterized.

“For the sake of the several fans and attendees that flew in from all parts of the world to attend this past press conference, I was hesitant to create a huge disturbance by combating what was being said and for that, I am truly sorry,” Mayweather wrote. “I am a retired boxer that earns an unprecedented amount of money, globally, for appearances, speaking engagements, and occasional small exhibitions.”

Mayweather (50-0) has yet to fight since defeating Conor McGregor in an August 2017 bout that was dubbed “The Money Fight.”

Nasukawa remains unbeaten in mixed martial arts and kickboxing.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic couldn’t lead the LA Galaxy to the MLS postseason in 2018, but he seems keen to give it another go in California.

The veteran Swede racked up a mightily impressive 22 goals and 10 assists in 27 outings in his first season at StubHub Center, but a flawed Galaxy team fell short of playoff qualification on Decision Day.

It appears, though, that the 37-year-old, who is contracted in Carson until the end of next season, still intends to honor that commitment.

“I have some wishes and demands which is simple things,” Ibrahimovic said, as quoted by the Associated Press. “There is interest in Europe, but my priority is Galaxy. They have wishes, I have wishes, but I’m optimistic and I’m positive.

“If I belong to Galaxy, I am a Galaxy player. If I belong to one club, I give my attention to one club, so I am here,” he added.

Even at the age of 37, it’s no huge surprise that Ibrahimovic, who has played for JuventusInterBarcelonaAC MilanParis Saint-Germain, and Manchester United in a decorated career, is still attracting attention from Europe.

Jose Mourinho last month ruled out a move to re-sign the man who scored 28 goals in 46 games in his only full season at Old Trafford. Meanwhile, rumors of a return to Milan have persisted despite the Rossoneri’s sporting director Leonardo insisting several weeks ago that such a move “is not possible” for the club.

Though the Galaxy’s primary problems this year arguably lay away from the frontline, Ibrahimovic was near-indispensable to the franchise’s efforts. His tally of 32 direct contributions to goals was 12 higher than any of his teammates’ totals, despite the fact he missed seven of 34 games. Many in Galaxy colors will likely see his return as imperative for the club’s 2019 hopes.

Club president Chris Klein seems to think so. “What he did this year is certainly well-documented. He wants to win and we want to win with him. Hopefully, we can come to a resolution that is good for both sides.”

Ibrahimovic continued: “I think the season was like a rollercoaster. Hopefully, we make it better (next year) because that is the target … Like I said, I’m not here for a vacation, I’m here for the challenge and I want to feel my team has a chance to be the best in MLS. I am the best, but I want to feel like my team can compete against the others.”

Bobby Orr isn’t optimistic the NHL will be able to avoid a fourth lockout since 1994.

“My gut feeling is I’d be surprised if there’s not,” Orr said this week, according to The Canadian Press. “I hope there isn’t. But it’s going to be a tough one.”

After the most recent lockout in 2013, the NHL and NHLPA signed a 10-year collective bargaining agreement, but both sides own the right to opt out next September. Should that happen, a renegotiation would be required prior to the 2020-21 season, rather than before 2022-23.

Olympic participation and escrow are reportedly among the most pressing issues for the players in the current CBA.

“I think there are concerns (with the current CBA) on both sides.” Orr added. “I hope I’m wrong. We don’t need another lockout.

“We’ve got it going now. It would be a shame to put it on the back burner.”

Though his playing days are long gone, Orr remains linked to several current players as the head of Orr Hockey Group, an agency that represents superstars Connor McDavid and Auston Matthews, among others.

Stephen Curry has signed on to executive produce a documentary about the 2015 Charleston church shooting in which nine African-Americans were killed by a white supremacist.

The Golden State Warriors star and his company Unanimous Media are part of a team of producers that includes Academy Award winner Viola Davis and her husband, Julian Tennon, according to Variety’s Todd Spangler.

“Emanuel,” named after the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church where the shooting took place, features interviews with survivors and the victims’ family members. It was made in partnership with the city of Charleston and the affected families.

“‘Emanuel’ is an incredibly powerful film and we’re honored to come on board as executive producers,” Curry said in a statement. “The documentary highlights how a horrible tragedy can bring a community together, and spreads an important message about the power of forgiveness. Stories like this are the reason we created Unanimous and entered the entertainment space.”

Curry is also an executive producer on two upcoming faith-based movies, “Breakthrough” and “Church Hoppers.”

WWE are reportedly preparing to announce WrestleMania 36 as taking place in Minnesota at the US Bank Stadium, according to Joe Peisich on Barnburner’s Fired Up podcast.

Despite having never hosted ‘Mania, Peisich expects Minneapolis to be announced as the host city in the coming weeks, saying:-

“Look for in the next 3 weeks, November 27th to be exact. WWE will be having a show in Minnesota, then I hear that’s when they’re going to announce WrestleMania 36 in Minneapolis at the dome there. The Minnesota Vikings play in that stadium. Look for WrestleMania 36 to be held in Minnesota.”

A state with a rich wrestling history, Minnesota had Jesse Ventura as governor and can name the likes of Mr Perfect, Rick Rude, X-Pac and The Road Warriors as home state success stories.

Next year’s WrestleMania (35) is due to take place in East Rutherford, New Jersey at the MetLife Stadium, with tickets going on sale on Friday, November 16th.

Many cities bid for WrestleMania, but with the US Bank Stadium boasting a capacity of 66,860 (which can be expanded to 73,000), Minneapolis appears to be favourite.

While Jerry Jones appears content with his team despite its 3-5 record, former Dallas Cowboys quarterback Troy Aikman has a different perspective.

In his weekly show on 1310 The Ticket, Aikman said he believes the Cowboys need to make big changes if their struggles this season continue.

“Go through the list and this team, over a long period of time, has been what it’s been,” Aikman said Tuesday, according to ESPN’s Todd Archer. “It hasn’t always mattered who the head coach has been. So to me, if you’re asking me, I’d say there has to be a complete overhaul of the entire organization.”

The FOX color analyst did not specify what changes he would make, but he appeared to hint that Dallas’ issues begin at the top.

“I’ve heard Jerry say, ‘OK, look, we’re going to do it differently. I’m going to do it differently.’ … But it’s the same. Nothing changes,” Aikman said. “And that to me is the bigger issue. … Yes, coaching is important, personnel, all those things are important, but how are you going about evaluating how you’re going about running the organization?”

Aikman added, “I talk to people who have been inside the building and have a pretty good understanding (of) how things are run, and in a lot of ways, there’s a lot of dysfunction. And that has to change if this team is going to be able to compete on a consistent basis like the teams that you look to around the league that seemingly are in the hunt each and every year.”

After Monday’s 28-14 loss to the Tennessee Titans, Jones said he doesn’t anticipate any major changes in the near future.

The Cowboys have a tough matchup with the Philadelphia Eagles in Week 10 on Sunday Night Football.

Alexa Bliss has been open about discussing her past struggles with anorexia and how she overcame them. On a recent episode of Chasing Glory with Lilian Garcia, Bliss talked about how appreciative she is of having a platform to help others.

“It has been incredible. Actually, there was a situation at a recent Comic-Con where this little girl came up to me and I felt like it has given people the comfort to speak out,” Bliss said. “I feel like–I know I talk about it all of the time. Body issues, online bullying, it is a thing. People go through it. I am sure that people are sick of talking about it at this point but I am going to keep talking about it.”

Bliss told the story about giving advice to the girl and how important it was for her to provide a comfort level to allow the girl to open up to her. She said one of her friends was also moved by the girl’s story and continues to remain in touch with her.

“There was this girl that came up to me where I was doing this signing and this girl comes up and she says whether or not she has any advice for her because she is having trouble eating. She said that I am dealing with anorexia, and I gave her some advice about I know it is hard and tough but you have to eat. You have to, which is really the worst thing you can tell someone with an eating disorder which is to eat, but I said that I know it is scary but if you take that first step it gets easier and you have to treat your body as a temple because you only have one of them,” she said. “You need to help yourself. Nobody is going to be able to help you until you want to help yourself, and then the girl walks away and my best friend, Erin comes up to me and tells me that she really needs to go talk to her. I said to her to go talk to her and then Erin chases her down and she tells the little girl that she was best friends with Alexa [Bliss] when she was going through what she was going through and they exchanged Instagrams and told her that if you ever need any motivation or inspiration or anyone to talk to I am here to listen. That is what is so great about Erin as well where she can be that voice as well that I can’t be in that moment. I feel like she can give another perspective because it doesn’t just affect one person it affects a lot of people.”

Bliss also discussed how she deals with being anti-social even though she works in a social profession. An only child, Bliss said she has always been an introvert and she feels it’s a common trait that most creative people share.

“If I am with one person I am very talkative, and personable. I will talk your ear off, but if there is another person interjected I get so awkward. I am like the awkward one in those situations, but I feel like a lot of creative people are. I feel like a lot of creative people are socially awkward,” she said. “I always had friends over. I always had one friend over. The one thing that was nice about being an only child is that my friends’ parents would always ask me whether I would want any other brothers and sisters? My mom wasn’t able to have anymore children and they didn’t know that, but I would always say that I can have friends over and whenever I get sick of them I can just send them home.”

The crux of Nikki Bella’s feud with Ronda Rousey centers around how Rousey views the Bella Twins as being divas instead of women’s Superstars. Nikki and Brie still proud of the diva’s era even though WWE has tried to distance itself from it in recent years.

As a former diva, Nikki believes she doesn’t get enough credit for her role in starting the Women’s Revolution and she discussed that on the In This Corner podcast with Brian Campbell.

“Definitely not,” Nikki responded when asked if the Bellas get enough credit for starting the Women’s Revolution. “I guess it’s the point where I don’t feel like I need the credit, but it’s more or less been the disrespect where I have been the punching bag and I think that is hard because, as we know, especially WWE they are pros to “perception is reality.” So, however they perceive someone people tend to believe that where that person is that person, and for some reason my sister and I have been turned into the punching bags, like, oh, put them with this person and let that person talk about The Bellas and it will elevate them, and that is who we have become. We have been that for a very long time, and it gets exhausting and I’m not going to lie it gets very frustrating because for some reason we have been the women that don’t care about wrestling. But I have been here for 12 years; I have broken my neck and have come back. I absolutely love professional wrestling; I have a passion for that.”

Nikki reminds everyone that she and Brie debuted as wrestlers and not as valets or non-wrestling personalities. The Bellas also came up with the idea of being assistants to the Celebrity Hosts that Raw used to have, but Nikki thinks their crossover ability with people outside of wrestling has hurt them at times with WWE.

“My sister and I, no one will ever give us any credit because we have become the ‘no, use them for this because they have this outside success,’ or they have that, but that’s fine,” said Nikki. “But it’s just like the word “diva.” I was in so many meetings where I talked about how that word is going to be made beautiful, strong and powerful, and it also gave the SmackDown women something to compete for because we weren’t competing for anything. So, we were like, yes, let’s make this so strong and powerful, which is what we made the Divas Championship become – something beautiful like that. A lot of little girls were wearing the Divas Championship, they loved it, and I think that is what is hard about the current era now: because Triple H and that group decided to use it as a bad word, it’s like, wait, what do you mean?

“You taught us to make that word an amazing word and that is what we did. We put our blood, sweat and tears into it, and I was part of that. I saw the work that was put into that and it was beautiful. I saw the work that was put into that bridge when people wanted to see more of us, and that was beautiful, and then when it gets taken away from the diva’s era that hurts me. If you think diva is a bad word then I am going to kick your a** to show you that it is not a bad word.”

Nikki and Brie embraced the word “diva” and made it represent something meaningful in a male-dominated industry. But when WWE changed “divas” to “women’s Superstars,” the word almost seemed to become an insult. Nikki believes the women from the diva’s era, including herself, should still be held in high regard.

“When you look at those champions: Michelle McCool, Beth Phoenix, Melina, AJ Lee, Paige, Brie Bella, Eve Torres, they are strong and fierce women that cared and worked really hard, so I am here to remind people of that history. You want to praise the Attitude Era, and praise bra and bikini matches, but you want to discredit women that worked hard because there is a butterfly on a championship design? That is not okay with me, that is not empowering, so I think Evolution means a lot of things, and hopefully after Evolution we can stop talking about diva being a bad word. We get blamed for something but they tell us to be at certain places, I am here to stick up for those women, to remind people of how hard they have worked,” stated Nikki.

Charles Wright is a man who was name by many names in the WWE including Papa Shango, Kama and The Goodfather. But his most popular gimmick was The Godfather and it’s one he still uses to this day whenever he shows up on WWE programming.

The Godfather character really took off while he was in the Nation of Domination which was also the springboard for The Rock’s WWE superstardom. The Godfather talked about Vince McMahon telling him plans to make The Rock famous when he joined our WINCLY podcast.

“Vince pulled me and Ron Simmons into his office,” said The Godfather. “He says, ‘Do you guys know who Dwayne is, who Rocky is?’ I didn’t know who he was, I guess he came in as Rocky Maivia at first and Ron knew who he was. He says, ‘I’m gonna put this kid in the Nation,’ and I swear this is what Vince said, ‘I’m gonna make this kid the biggest thing wrestling has ever seen.’

“Then he says, ‘I need your help. I tried to make him one thing [Rocky Maivia] and this time I’m gonna make him something else. I’m gonna put him in the Nation and once I get people to hate this kid, when I turn him they’re gonna love him. And he was right.”

The Rock’s character was a collaboration between himself and McMahon, and the Nation of Domination provided the right platform. Godfather has nothing but praise for The Rock and says he deserves everything he’s gotten in the entertainment world.

“The Rock was a super cool dude, nothing but respect for the guy,” stated The Godfather. “If anybody ever deserved the fame that he has, it’s him because he’s actually a good dude.”

While McMahon had a vision to get The Rock hated, he didn’t let on to The Godfather exactly how he would go about in doing that.

“No, no he didn’t hit us with that. If anything he might have talked to Ron and maybe Ron and Rocky might have talked about it. But we just went with things back then. You didn’t complain. You didn’t argue. You just did your job and you did it the best you could,” said The Godfather.

Former Cleveland Browns head coach Hue Jackson seems to have a new theory behind what led to his exit.

Jackson was fired on Monday, posting a cumulative 3-36-1 record with the club through three seasons. Cleveland also dismissed offensive coordinator Todd Haley.

Less than a week after being removed as head coach, Jackson blamed his dismissal on the handling of Baker Mayfield.

“I think when you stop and look at it, it’s truly, really about Baker Mayfield,” Jackson said on ESPN’s First Take. “I think they want to do everything they can to put him in the situation … I mean, you got the first pick in the draft – who I think is going to be a franchise quarterback, who’s going to be a sensational player – and he’s not playing as well.

“So again, here is the perfect storm to move forward and move on.”

Mayfield’s rookie season has been volatile, but he has shown glimpses of future stardom, completing 58.3 percent of his passes for 1,471 yards, eight touchdowns, and six interceptions since taking over as the starter.

“I think we played a traditional style of football,” Jackson said. “And that’s OK. There’s nothing wrong with that. But again, the question that was asked of me is, ‘What would you do with Baker?’

“I think that’s where I think the rubber meets the road. You have to do everything you can to make him successful. And if you’re going to do that, then you go back and do the things that made you draft him as the first pick in the draft.”

Although Mayfield has exhibited typical rookie struggles, there’s no easy excuse for Jackson’s dismal tenure. He noted that his dismissal ultimately came down to the lack of success on the field.

“Bottom line, let’s just be clear, we didn’t win enough,” Jackson said. “At the end of the day, when you look at it, we didn’t win enough games. No matter how you cut it, regardless of what they said or how they said it, you gotta win enough games.”

We noted before how WWE has plans to use Hall of Famers Trish Stratus and Lita in the future as big pay-per-view events like the Royal Rumble or WrestleMania. Word now is that WWE is already working on plans for Team Bestie in early 2019 as we go into WrestleMania 35 season.

WWE officials are reportedly planning on using Trish and Lita at WrestleMania 35, according to PWInsider. The idea is to use the two in a major tag team match but there’s no word yet on who their opponents might be.

Trish and Lita returned to the ring together at WWE Evolution on Sunday night, defeating Mickie James and Alicia Fox. They then worked a 10-woman match on RAW the next night, teaming with Natalya, Sasha Banks and Bayley to defeat Mickie, Fox and The Riott Squad. It’s believed that they will be back around towards the end of the year.

There’s obvious speculation on Trish and Lita being involved with the planned WWE Women’s Tag Team Titles, which are expected to be revealed soon. Stephanie McMahon spoke with Sky Sports last week and said we would see the titles “sooner rather than later” but she did not elaborate.

Quarterback Deshaun Watson is excited about the Houston Texans‘ outlook for the remainder of the 2018 season following Tuesday’s trade-deadline acquisition of wide receiver Demaryius Thomas.

“Nothing, really, should stop the train,” Watson said on Wednesday, according to Brian T. Smith of the Houston Chronicle.

The Texans acquired Thomas from the Denver Broncos in exchange for a fourth-round pick and swaps of seventh-rounders. He’s expected to suit up alongside DeAndre Hopkins when the Texans face his former club on Sunday.

Thomas, a nine-year veteran who caught 36 of 56 targets for 402 yards and three touchdowns with the Broncos this season, will help fill the void Will Fuller‘s season-ending torn ACL left behind.

The Texans are 5-3 through eight weeks and occupy first place in the AFC South.

Earlier today, Cathy Kelley spoke with WWE Hall of Famer Trish Stratus, Sasha Banks, and Toni Storm in a WWE roundtable interview. All three women will be involved in Sunday’s Evolution PPV and talked about a wide range of topics, including Storm’s match against Io Shirai, Banks being an extra for WWE, and the chemistry Trish and Sasha had at this year’s Royal Rumble.

Kelley noted that Banks’ once said in an interview that her dream opponent was Stratus. Banks laughed as Stratus jokingly asked for her phone to call up Vince McMahon to ask for the match.

“You know what? We had that moment in the Rumble,” Stratus replied. “Didn’t really think that much about it, this moment is going to happen, there’s lots of people in there. And this moment was like, ‘Wow!’ The chemistry, you felt the chemistry and sometimes you just have that ‘je ne sais quoi,’ that’s French, you guys. [Laughs] … Sometimes you get in there with somebody you don’t know, ‘when so-and-so and I get in the ring, it’s just that thing,’ right? I felt it, oh man, it was delicious to me.”

Banks replied that she “wanted the match so bad.” Stratus noted that even now when she does fan conventions that’s the biggest things fans talk to her about.

“Even when I do appearances, that’s all they say, people just want to see it,” Stratus said. “So, I don’t know, it would be like ‘legit stratusfaction.'”

On Sunday, Stratus will be teaming up with Lita against Mickie James and Alicia Fox, while Banks will be with Natalya and Bayley against The Riott Squad.

As earlier reported, Hulk Hogan recently gave an interview to the Orlando Sentinel, where he spoke about possibly traveling to Saudi Arabia for the WWE Crown Jewel pay-per-view, and said that bigger things were in store for the former world champion. Hogan was recently reinstated into the WWE Hall of Fame, and reports suggest that the New World Order could be inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame soon.

During the same interview with Sentinel, Hogan was asked about the rumors of him holding down the younger talent when he was at the helm. The Hulkster said that the rumors were indeed true, and admitted that he stayed at the top for as long as he did because of those actions.

“Once I got in the spot, to keep the spot, that’s where the politics came in”, Hogan revealed. “Everybody goes, `Well, Hulk Hogan was a politician.’ Well, thank God I was. That’s why I made more money than anybody, that’s why I kept the belt longer, that’s why instead of a five or six or ten year run like The Rock or Stone Cold or different wrestlers, I had a 35 year run on top.”

Golden State Warriors head coach Steve Kerr has long been critical of president Donald Trump and his practices. With a number of improvised explosive devices having recently been sent to media, politicians, and others who have openly opposed Trump, Kerr is a tad worried for his own safety as a potential target.

“Concerned for myself? A little bit,” Kerr said prior to his Warriors taking on the New York Knicks Friday night, according to the Athletic’s Mike Vorkunov. “I think we should all be concerned. No matter who you are, you need to be concerned.

“Not just with the bombs but just somebody shooting you. The country we live in these days, innocent people get killed, innocent people get shot. It’s a dangerous time to be alive.”

Florida native Cesar Sayoc was arrested Friday and charged with five federal crimes, including illegal mailing of explosives, interstate transportation of an explosive, and threats against former presidents and others, according to CNN.

“It’s really sad,” Kerr added Friday. “It speaks to where things are in our political atmosphere, but, no, I have not [received any suspicious mail].”

When Kerr was 18 years old, his father, Malcolm Kerr, was shot twice in the head and killed by alleged members of Islamic Jihad outside of his office in Beirut in 1984.

In an interview with Sports Illustrated’s Chris Ballard last year, Kerr referred to Trump as a “blowhard” who “couldn’t be more ill-suited” to be POTUS. When Trump rescinded an invitation to the 2017 champion Warriors to attend the White House, Kerr suggested that Trump should be bringing the country together and not dividing its people.

John Cena will NOT be competing at WWE Crown Jewel on 2 November, according to a number of major wrestling news sources.

The first is Barstool Sports’ Robbie Fox, who broke the story that Cena and Daniel Bryan were refusing to work in Saudi Arabia in the first place, and tweeted that John is “100% off the show” last night. POST Wrestling’s John Pollock has since corroborated this, and Dave Meltzer covered the topic in this week’s Wrestling Observer Newsletter.

Meltzer confirms that WWE creative has been informed Cena won’t be on the show, and therefore won’t be involved in the World Cup tournament, and that the team were charged with coming up with a suitable replacement. This will likely be addressed through a TV angle next week, although WWE is yet to confirm or deny anything themselves.

There is no further information on Bryan, though Meltzer notes that if the former SmackDown General Manager doesn’t compete at Crown Jewel, WWE will hold his match with AJ Styles on a different show, hence why they’re still running angles.

Raw or SmackDown should bring news of Cena’s replacement, but Bryan’s situation is far from resolved.

John Tortorella wishes there were more animosity between opponents in today’s game, and not just from his Columbus Blue Jackets, but throughout the NHL.

“We’ve talked about it. It’s gone through the league,” Tortorella told reportersThursday. “It’s a little frustrating, quite honestly. The game has changed, and for some dinosaurs that are in it, it’s very frustrating, I have to admit.”

The Blue Jackets head coach made it clear that he wasn’t kidding; he finds the trend genuinely bothersome.

“I’m not joking about it. It’s really frustrating to me. On conversations on the ice amongst opponents on a faceoff, it’s like a big hugfest sometimes. I don’t know if they have so many meetings with the NHLPA and all that stuff that goes on, but there’s no hate, and I miss that. It frustrates the shit out of me, quite honestly.”

Tortorella added that he’s gone as far as telling his players to simulate hating the opposing players.

“I ask my guys (to) pretend sometimes. Just pretend,” Tortorella said. “I know I’m kind of beating my head against the wall as far as where I want the game … (but) I miss some of the way the game was played. I think our game has made some great changes … but damn, I miss the old school ‘I’m coming at ya’ (attitude). We’ll have a beer after, but do we have to talk about it on the ice right now? That’s sickening to me, quite honestly.”

Not that penalty minutes are the ultimate indicator of a team’s hatred for its opponent, but the Blue Jackets are the fifth-least penalized team in the league this season, averaging just over seven minutes in the sin bin through nine games.

Columbus is 5-4-0 and sits third in the Metropolitan Division.

Even during his various hiatuses from WWE, Mick Foley has never strayed far from the WWE Universe. From 2016-17 Foley’s family was depicted on the WWE Network show, Holy Foley! The show was received favorably but hasn’t had any new episodes in nearly two years. Foley joined Andy Malnoske of Wrestling Inc where he discussed the current status of Holy Foley!

“We really enjoyed doing it… But it was an expensive show for the [WWE] Network to make, and when you look at some of their other shows, it’s a GoPro on a windshield,” Foley said referring to Ride Along.

“I think if this was a show that was on USA or E!, there probably would have been a better home because you could have a big budget for it. It would have found fans who are not WWE loyalists. I think Total Bellas has probably half of their viewership who are not actively watching wrestling.

“I was glad they took a chance on it. We really enjoyed those 10 weeks together… and to get paid. But it just didn’t work out. It was the highest-rated show [on WWE Network] of all-time for a little while, but there’s only so many times people can watch 10 episodes over and over and over.”

The breakout star of Holy Foley! was Mick’s daughter, Noelle. There was even some thought that Noelle would join WWE after she expressed interest in becoming a women’s Superstar. But she opted against doing that and Foley addressed why Noelle stopped pursuing an in-ring career.

“No, she got banged up quite a bit,” Foley said of Noelle’s training. “Injured, not just banged up but injured.”

Noelle may not follow in her father’s footsteps by joining WWE, but another Foley kid has already. Mick’s oldest son, Dewey, joined WWE as a creative assistant in 2016 and was recently promoted to the writing staff.

Roman Reigns is fighting leukaemia.

The 33-year-old announced it himself in a devastating Raw opening promo, revealing that he has lived with the disease for the past 11 years. He fought it back into remission at the age of 22 (which was a revelation in itself), but it’s back, and he must now return home to focus on his family and health.

Introducing himself as Joe (Anoa’i), Reigns opened up for the crowd. On top of revealing that he was relinquishing the Universal Championship, he paid tribute to the crowd, thanked them for always reacting to him, and the company for “making [my] dreams come true.”

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“This isn’t a retirement speech,” he added. “When I beat this, I will come home and show everyone that I will stand here and swing for the fences. I will beat this, and I will be back, and you’ll see me very soon. Thank you so much, I love you, and believe that.”

Leaving his title in the ring, Reigns left to chants of “thank you Roman,” and met friends Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins in a tearful embrace.

Our thoughts and well wishes go out to Roman and his family. He has already beaten this terrible illness once, so let’s hope he’s able to do it again, and get back to doing what he does best.

The controversy surrounding WWE’s upcoming Crown Jewel pay-per-view (2 November) just won’t go away, and now, it looks like two of the company’s biggest stars are taking a stand against the Saudi Arabian show.

Per the usually reliable Robbie Fox of Barstool Sports, the duo are sticking to their principles by “refusing” to compete at the event. This comes on the back of several reports that the roster aren’t happy with the show going ahead.

This could have major ramifications on Crown Jewel. Bryan is currently scheduled to challenge WWE Champion AJ Styles after earning his title shot by defeating The Miz at Super Show-Down, while Cena was the first competitor to be announced for the night’s World Cup tournament. The PPV can go ahead without them, as Shawn Michaels and Triple H vs. Kane and The Undertaker is being sold as the night’s biggest bout, but it’ll have ramifications.

Whatever your opinion on the matter, WWE’s relationship with Saudi Arabia will remain a source of controversy for as long as it exists. Though a complete roster rebellion seems unlikely, if the Cena/Bryan story has legs, it may inspire others to make a stand themselves.

The Oakland Raiders traded wide receiver Amari Cooper to the Dallas Cowboys on Monday in exchange for a first-round pick.

ESPN’s Josina Anderson was the first to report the story.

“It’s a trade that we feel it was an opportunity that I couldn’t pass on to get a first-round pick. In this business here, I thought that was invaluable for me. It was something I felt like I had to do,” Raiders general manager Reggie McKenzie told reporters, according to Michael Gehlken of the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

Dallas has been in desperate need of a top-end wide receiver and is likely banking on Cooper to rediscover his Pro Bowl form. Cooper was named to the Pro Bowl in 2015 and ’16, but posted the worst totals of his career last season.

This year, Cooper’s recorded 22 receptions for 280 yards and a touchdown through six games.

McKenzie added that Cowboys executive vice president and CEO Stephen Jones called earlier Monday to finalize the trade.

“He wanted the player, and he gave me the pick. That’s what it came down to,” McKenzie said.

The Cowboys were reportedly doing their due diligence on Cooper throughout the weekend. Meanwhile, the Indianapolis Colts and Washington Redskins also reportedly expressed interest in the receiver.

The Philadelphia Eagles offered the Raiders a second-round pick for Cooper, Mike Silver of NFL Media reports. The defending champs were ultimately beat out by their division rivals.

Cooper was selected fourth overall by the Raiders in the 2015 draft out of Alabama. He’s currently owed $13.92 million in base salary for the 2019 season before becoming an unrestricted free agent.

McKenzie wished Cooper well and believes he has a bright future with the Cowboys.

“I think he’s a first-round player. … Has he been inconsistent? Absolutely. But has he shown greatness? Absolutely. … This guy is still a young player. I think he’s going to do well down there in Dallas,” McKenzie said.

Oakland now holds three first-round picks in the 2019 draft: their own, Chicago’s (acquired in the Khalil Mack trade), and now Dallas’. The Raiders also received Chicago’s 2020 first-rounder in the Mack deal.

Rihanna appears to be unapologetic about turning down the chance to be at the forefront of the football calendar.

The pop superstar reportedly declined an offer to headline the Super Bowl LIII halftime show in support of Colin Kaepernick, a source told Nicholas Hautman of US Weekly.

“The NFL and CBS really wanted Rihanna to be next year’s performer in Atlanta,” the source told Hautman. “They offered it to her, but she said no because of the kneeling controversy. She doesn’t agree with the NFL’s stance.”

Maroon 5 was eventually listed as the headliner for Super Bowl LIII.

Cleveland Browns defensive end Myles Garrett aired his displeasure with NFL officials on Friday.

“Do your job just like we need to do our job,” Garrett said, according to Tom Withers of The Associated Press. “If it’s holding, call holding. If it’s a false start, false start, whether it’s us or them.”

The standout sophomore feels voicing his discontent is worth any potential discipline from the league as a result.

“If I get fined, so be it,” he said. “Something needs to be said. If it keeps on going this way, this route, where it seems like we keep on getting the short stick.”

His main point of contention was a play from the Week 6 loss to the Los Angeles Chargers in which offensive tackle Russell Okung seemed to drop back into coverage prior to the ball being snapped, causing Garrett and several other Browns players to stop their rush in expectation of a whistle.

Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers threw a touchdown on the play.

“It was so obvious,” Garrett said. “To my mind, he’s moved, nobody else has moved and the ball hasn’t moved, so it’s kinda textbook. The flag should be up. I don’t understand how you don’t see it. That’s his job is to look down the line and see when people are jumping offside or false starting, but I’ve got to keep on finishing the play.”

NFL senior vice president of officiating Al Riveron later acknowledged that the crew on the field made the wrong call.

Kawhi Leonard is undefeated during his tenure with the Toronto Raptors. Hyperbole? Sure, but through two games – both at home in an arena full of raucous Canadian fans – the fact remains that neither the quiet superstar nor the Raptors’ faithful have yet to taste defeat. The times have been unequivocally good for all, without even the smallest trace of challenge, trial, or tribulation.

So while Leonard says he “definitely” heard the rousing “M-V-P” cheers from the partisan crowd, the 27-year-old forward recognizes there is still much to be done.

“It’s a little early though,” Leonard said after the game, according to TSN’s Josh Lewenberg, pumping the brakes on the fans’ affectionate chorus. “It’s only Game 2, but I appreciate the support.”

After wins over the Cleveland Cavaliers in Wednesday’s season opener and the Boston Celtics on Friday – the latter being the first of three nationally broadcast battles between the Atlantic Division heavyweights – Leonard is averaging 27.5 points, 11 rebounds, and 2.5 assists per game. His five-man lineups have outscored their opponents by 30 points so far. Numbers that would put any player in the running for Most Valuable Player honors.

The Raptors have 80 more games left on the schedule.

Still, the reputation of Toronto’s home crowd certainly precedes Leonard’s arrival.

“Coming here playing on the road in the past, I could see how live this arena is and how amped up they get for the Raptors,” Leonard continued “So (the fans’ reaction) doesn’t surprise me. The only thing that surprised me was the M-V-P chants so early, but I understand the excitement and what (the fans) expect.”

Leonard and the Raptors will put their unblemished record on the line in short order, taking on the Washington Wizards Saturday night – the team’s first road test of the 2018-19 campaign. There, presumably, Leonard won’t have to ponder the audaciousness of early-season MVP chants, with his appreciative cheering section consigned to their couches and bar stools at home north of the border.

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NFL owners and executives are concerned about the figures coming from Los Angeles Chargers home games.

At the owners meetings in New York this week, talks have centered around the Chargers’ lagging personal seat license sales at StubHub Center, ESPN’s Seth Wickersham reports.

The Chargers moved from San Diego to Los Angeles after the 2016 season, and they’ve played their last 11 homes games in a 27,000-seat soccer-specific stadium in Carson, Calif.

The Chargers rank dead last in attendance this season, averaging 25,370 fans, with fans of opposing teams filling their home games. The next lowest-ranked team in home attendance is the Oakland Raiders, a club averaging 53,622 over two home games.

The new Los Angeles stadium the Chargers will share with the Rams is scheduled to open in 2020. Though the Chargers currently boast a top-10 offense and a 4-2 record, the franchise is expected to revise its revenue goals from $400 million to $150 million before moving to the new stadium, sources told Wickersham.

The move to Carson has been tough on Chargers players as well.

“I don’t really like this area too much, to be honest,” star running back Melvin Gordon said to Sports Illustrated’s Robert Klemko. “I loved San Diego. It was my kind of energy, my kind of vibe. It was a perfect place for me. Everything was perfect.”

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Paul George says he had his mind made up before the Oklahoma City Thunder acquired him from the Indiana Pacers in the summer of 2017, shocking the NBA world.

“I wanted to play in L.A.,” George told The Undefeated’s Marc J. Spears. “That is where I wanted to go. Had that trade never went down, had I played one more year in Indy, I would have been in a Lakers uniform.”

George was dealt from the Pacers to the Thunder on July 6, 2017 for Victor Oladipo and Domantas Sabonis. At the time, the trade was seen as a panic move, with Indiana trying to recoup assets before George could leave in free agency. However, Oladipo blossomed into an All-Star, while George found a fit with Russell Westbrook‘s Thunder.

Still, for most of last season, outside speculation was rampant that George would decamp for his hometown of Los Angeles as a free agent. He credits Thunder general manager Sam Presti for having the guts to make the trade for him, despite no assurances he would stay in Oklahoma City.

“It was a hell of a gamble,” George said. “That was balls to go against L.A. They tried it, tested their luck and Sam came up lucky.”

WWE Hall of Famer Alundra Blayze (Madusa) is being brought in for the WWEEvolution pay-per-view, according to PWInsider. We noted yesterday that Molly Holly and WWE Hall of Famer Ivory were also being brought in. There’s no word yet on what their roles will be, if any.

As we’ve noted, several WWE NXT Superstars are also being brought in for the show: Kacy Catanzaro, Mia Yim, Lacey Evans Jessamyn Duke, Marina Shafir, Io Shirai, Bianca Belair, Dakota Kai and Candice LeRae.

Evolution is set to feature more than 50 former and current female talents. Other names advertised to appear include Michelle McCool, Sasha Banks, Asuka, Carmella, Brie Bella, Nia Jax and WWE Hall of Famer Beth Phoenix. Maryse is also expected to appear, among others.

The first-ever all-women’s Evolution pay-per-view takes place on October 28 in Long Island, NY at the Nassau Coliseum.

We noted earlier how RAW Women’s Champion Ronda Rousey recently spoke with TMZ and called The Bella Twins a “bunch of untrustworthy b—–s” when discussing her upcoming WWE Evolution title defense against Nikki Bella. Rousey also referred to the twins as “Do Nothing Bellas” on social media, a reference to her “Do Nothing b—–s” line.

Nikki fired back on Instagram today, which was also covered by TMZ. Nikki called Rousey the “Do Nothing b—h” and bragged on her pro wrestling career.

Nikki wrote, “In response to your post @rondarousey You may think I’m a “DNB” but that’s because you been here for what maybe 20 RAW’s? I’ve been here for almost 12 years. Since day one I have wanted change for the women at WWE. This “DNB” has been in the ring with Victoria, Natalya, Krissy Vaine, Shantelle Malawski, Taryn Terrell, Brooke Adams, Michelle McCool, Layla, Vickie Guerrero, Melina, Mickie James, Maria, Katie Lea, Jillian Hall, Maryse, Alicia Fox, Gail Kim, Candice Michelle, Beth Phoenix, Rosa Mendes, Eve Torres, Kelly Kelly, Awesome Kong, Naomi, Cameron, Eva Marie, Jojo, Summer Rae, Kaitlyn, Tamina, AJ Lee, Paige, Charlotte, Sasha Banks, Becky Lynch, Carmella, Alexa Bliss, Asuka, Riott Squad and more. I defended a championship for 301 days. I have executive produced and starred in two reality shows, one about women’s wrestling, while on the road wrestling. I even broke my neck for this business. So if you want to talk about a “DNB” look at yourself, because in this Evolution of women’s wrestling, you’re the “DNB” #bellalution #evolution”

Drew Doughty famously negotiated his eight-year, $88-million extension with the Los Angeles Kings in the offseason without the help of an agent, and he apparently picked a solid tactic to land a deal to his liking.

Last offseason, the London, Ontario native admitted his interest in signing with the nearby Maple Leafs. But ahead of Monday’s contest against Toronto, the former Norris Trophy winner admitted it was mainly a ploy to get the Kings to pay up.

“I was an L.A. Kings fan since I was a little kid, and I’ve always wanted to be here. I wanted to show my loyalty to the club and try to stay here forever,” Doughty told reporters, per Sportsnet. “I kind of always knew I was going to stay here, but I just said that (Leafs) stuff in the media just to kind of make sure (the Kings) didn’t try to screw me.”

He added: “I obviously considered (signing with Toronto), but it wasn’t like a serious consideration. I had to wait a whole another year – this whole season – before any of that stuff could start happening.

The 28-year-old defenseman and two-time Stanley Cup champion is one of the game’s top blue-liners and would have commanded significant interest had he reached free agency.

 

The first special from WWE’s new “Untold” documentary series will premiere this Sunday on YouTube. The doc will focus on WWE Hall of Famer Eddie Guerreroand his effect on the SmackDown brand.

The new documentary features interviews with John Cena, Batista, JBL, Paul Heyman, Sasha Banks, Aiden English, Vickie Guerrero and WWE Hall of Famer Kurt Angle.

Below is WWE’s announcement on the documentary:

Watch the premiere of WWE Untold: Eddie Guerrero on YouTube this SundayEddie Guerrero was one of the most beloved Superstars in WWE history, and he played a huge role in defining SmackDown as a brand. The newest edition of the documentary series “WWE Untold” explores Guerrero’s effect on the blue brand as it approaches its 1000th episode, and will stream live on WWE’s YouTube channel this Sunday at 1 p.m. ET/10 a.m. PT.

Featuring exclusive interviews with John Cena, Batista, Kurt Angle, JBL, Paul Heyman, Sasha Banks, Aiden English and Vickie Guerrero, this edition of “WWE Untold” will examine how Guerrero emerged as a leader on SmackDown in the early days of the 2002 brand split, both on-screen as a performer and behind the scenes as a locker room leader for a group of young Superstars out to prove themselves on a show that found itself competing with Monday Night Raw.

Before SmackDown’s historic 1000th episode, take an incredible behind-the-scenes look at one of the blue brand’s greatest Superstars in an all-new edition of “WWE Untold,” streaming live on WWE’s YouTube channel this Sunday at 1 p.m. ET/10 a.m. PT!

LeBron James looks back at the 2011 NBA Finals as the turning point in his career, with the Miami Heat coming up short against the Dallas Mavericks in six games despite being the heavy favorites.

“I thought it would be easy because I was teaming with some real players,” said James during Friday’s “The Shop” on HBO. “You go down there, we lose that Finals, I felt like the world had caved in. First of all, I was wearing a hat that I wasn’t accustomed to, and I bought into it because, at that point in time in my life, I was still caring about what other people thought. But that moment shaped me for who I am today.

“I’m not happy that I lost, but I left that Finals like, ‘Yo ‘Bron, what the f— was you on, man. You were overthinking everything, you didn’t show up, you didn’t do what you were supposed to do, and now you can’t even sleep at night because you didn’t give it all that you had.'”

It was evident in his numbers and on-court demeanor that James was his own worst enemy in that series. He spent the summer hyping up the number of championships the new-look Heat could potentially win, and when the opportunity presented itself to capture the title, James froze on the big stage.

He averaged 17.8 points on 15 shots and converted 32.1 percent from 3-point range while adding 7.2 rebounds, 6.8 assists, and four turnovers in 43.6 minutes. James was ripped to shreds by the media for not being aggressive, constantly deferring to his All-Star teammates, and putting up paltry offensive numbers when he was capable of so much more.

“After that Finals, I was just like, ‘That’s never happening again. I may lose again, I may not win everything, but I’ll never fail again,'” added James, who capped off his rant by saying overcoming that defeat was his “greatest achievement” after being asked if it was his greatest failure.

James and Miami bounced back by winning the next two championships. He then returned home to rejoin the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2014, hoisting the Larry O’Brien trophy once again in 2016.

This whole Khabib Nurmagomedov-UFC-Conor McGregor triangle has taken an interesting turn, as the reigning lightweight champion issued a threat to the promotion he currently competes for. On social media Thursday, Nurmagomedov let it be known that he will walk away from his contract if his teammate, Zubaira Tukhugov, is released from the contract.

Tukhugov was part of the crew that jumped McGregor after UFC 229 this past weekend inside the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. Nurmagomedov, who went after McGregor’s teammate Dillon Danis, asked for any consequences to be put on him and not Tukhugov.

“In any case, punish me, Zubaira Tukhugov has nothing to do with that,” Nurmagomedov wrote. “If you think that I’ll keep silent then you are mistaken. You canceled Zubaira’s fight and you want to dismiss him just because he hit Conor. But don’t forget that it was Conor who had hit my another Brother FIRST, just check the video.

“if you decide to fire him, you should know that you’ll lose me too. We never give up on our brothers in Russia and I will go to the end for my Brother. If you still decide to fire him, don’t forget to send me my broken contract, otherwise I’ll break it myself.”

Nurmagomedov also questioned the UFC’s decision to not punish anyone from McGregor’s team that was involved in the incident earlier this year where the former champion attacked two vehicles filled with UFC fighters in New Jersey.

“Why didn’t you fire anyone when their team attacked the bus and injured a couple of people? They could have killed someone there, why no one says anything about insulting my homeland, religion, nation, family?” he asked. “Why do you have to punish my team, when both teams fought. If you say that I started it, then I do not agree, I finished what he had started.”

Could the NHL have its sights set on a second team in Texas?

While recent expansion talk has centered on the success of the Vegas Golden Knights and the pending entry of a Seattle-based team, at least one member of the NHL’s executive committee sees unearthed value in bringing a team to Houston.

“I look at where we can make the greatest impressions and have the most effectiveness,” Boston Bruins owner and NHL executive committee chairman Jeremy Jacobs told 98.5 The Sports Hub. “Clearly the one area that is missing is Houston because that’s such a great city.”

Jacobs did not indicate whether he thinks the NHL should enter Houston through expansion or relocation, but added, “We don’t have any really poor cities anymore. They’re continuing to flourish.”

It’s not the first time Jacobs has shared his admiration for Houston, particularly when compared to another oft-discussed expansion market in Quebec City.

“You look at Houston and you look at (Quebec), it’s the fifth largest city in North America versus the 105th, let’s say, so they have a different situation there,” Jacobs said in May.

Meanwhile, Tilman Feritta, a Texas billionaire who bought the NBA’s Houston Rockets for $2.2 billion in September 2017, hasn’t been shy in expressing his interest in bringing the NHL to Houston. He’s even met with the NHL commissioner Gary Bettman to discuss Houston’s suitability as an NHL market.

“I’m very interested in the possibility of bringing the NHL to Houston, but it will have to be a deal that works for my organization, the city, fans of the NHL throughout the region, and the NHL Board of Governors,” Fertitta said in November 2017.

Houston has previously played home to two pro hockey teams: the AHL’s Aeros from 1994 to 2013 and a World Hockey Association franchise by the same moniker from 1972 to 1978.

The UFC has been criticized in many corners for the way the company chose to promote the UFC 229 main event between Khabib Nurmagomedovand Conor McGregor. And that criticism has only intensified after a near-riot occurred at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas following Nurmagomedov’s fourth-round submission victory on Saturday night.

At the heart of the critiques is the fact the UFC incorporated footage of McGregor’s April 5 attack on a van containing Nurmagomedov and several other fighters following the UFC 223 media day in Brooklyn, N.Y. That the company would use footage of a criminal act for which McGregor copped a plea deal only served to add fuel to the fire on the very real grudge between the two fighters, ultimately leading to the post-fight melee.

But UFC president Dana White is pushing back against the critics. Appearing on the ESPN show “First Take” on Monday, White was asked to respond to a USA Today quote by a cornerman (actually manager Ali Abdelaziz) for Nurmagomedov.

““Let’s be real,” Abdelaziz said to USA Today. “The UFC promoted this fight with the videos. They didn’t promote this as going to a golf tournament. They promoted this as a fight.”

White was then asked if the UFC was culpable at all for the situation by how they promoted the fight.

“Dumbest quote I have ever heard in my life. You are an idiot whoever wrote that. This is a fight. The way that we promoted this fight, was exactly the way that this thing played out,” White said. “That’s all part of the storyline.”

White said that this is far from the first time two fighters who have competed against one another have legitimately disliked each other, nor is it the first time the company has incorporated real-life hatred between opponents into their publicity building up the bout.

“Believe me, we’ve had, almost 20 years I’ve been doing this,” White said. “We’ve had plenty of fights, where there’s tons of bad blood, and all kinds of things like this happen, and, you know, we don’t have fights after the fights. We’ve had scuffles with guys in the back, I mean, this is the fight business, and a lot of people don’t like each other.”

At the end of the day, T-Mobile Arena drew a gate of nearly $17.2 million, and the bout is expected to the biggest event in UFC history. So White dismisses the idea his company crossed a line in the way it handled the fight promotion.

“That’s just, that’s a stupid opinion,” White said.

Ronald Acuna Jr. became the youngest player in Major League Baseball history to hit a grand slam during the postseason with his second-inning blast against the Los Angeles Dodgers on Sunday night.

At 20 years and 293 days old, Acuna broke a record held by Hall of Famer Mickey Mantle, who hit a playoff grand slam at the age of 21 years, 349 days, per ESPN Stats & Info.

Following the game, the Atlanta Braves phenom said he had never heard of Mantle, telling Fabian Ardaya of The Athletic, “I wasn’t even born.”

In fact, Mantle’s grand slam, which was hit in Game 5 of the 1953 World Series, happened more than 44 years and two months before Acuna was born.

Even further, Mantle’s last game, played in 1968, was played almost three full decades before Acuna’s birth.

In his rookie campaign, Acuna authored a remarkable .293/.366/.552 slash line with 26 home runs and 16 stolen bases. By comparison, Mantle’s 96-game rookie season yielded a .267/.349/.443 slash line with 13 homers and eight swiped bags.

Khabib Nurmagomedov apologized for his actions that kicked off a massive brawl at UFC 229 in his post-fight press conference, saying “this is not my best side” before turning his ire to Conor McGregor and the Irishman’s insults during the run-up to the superfight in Las Vegas.

“He (McGregor) talked about my religion, he talked about my country, he talked about my father, he come to Brooklyn and he broke bus,” said an angry Nurmagomedov. “He almost kill couple of people. What about this? What about this shit?”

Nurmagomedov also revealed that Russian president Vladimir Putin called to congratulate him after his fourth-round submission victory. McGregor was Putin’s guest at the World Cup final, and he used the connection to trash talk his opponent.

Following his statement, Nurmagomedov left without taking any questions. He later thanked fans for their support in an Instagram post.

Though her crowd reactions aren’t exactly in-line with the writers’ intentions, Becky Lynch has been one of WWE’s standout performers lately, blowing everyone away with exemplary promos and character work during the Charlotte Flair feud.

Her performances haven’t gone unnoticed by those in power, either. According to sources at WrestlingNews.co, Vince McMahon is extremely impressed with the SmackDown Women’s Champion, and has openly used her as an example of somebody who has reached up and grabbed the brass ring by making the most of the opportunities presented to her.

Not only that, but the Chairman has also told one wrestler to watch Becky’s promos and matches for pointers on how to improve their own work.

This is extremely encouraging. The idea of being held back has been a key theme in Lynch vs. Flair, and Becky is now enjoying her career’s most fruitful period. If she has Vince’s support, then she could be set for a long, prosperous reign as SmackDown’s new queen.

New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees isn’t hiding from the fact that he’ll enter Monday night’s home game against the Washington Redskins just 201 yards away from leapfrogging both Brett Favre and Peyton Manning to claim the NFL’s all-time passing yards record.

On Thursday, Brees referred to his close proximity to the mark as “crazy” and something he “never would have dreamed,” according to ESPN’s Mike Triplett.

“It speaks to the longevity,” Brees said. “And it says a lot about the teams I’ve been on, the coaches, the teammates, the players. Everyone has a hand in this, and I hope they know that.”

The 39-year-old also referenced a preseason game in Miami during his rookie season with the San Diego Chargers in 2001.

“At the time I was just hoping to solidify the backup position, and eventually maybe one day become a starter,” Brees said. “So to be sitting here 18 years later in striking distance (of the record) … it’s just kind of mind-boggling.”

Brees appeared in just one regular-season game during his rookie season, but took over the starting role as a sophomore in 2002. He left as a free agent following the 2005 campaign and settled in New Orleans, where he’s been ever since.

In four games this season, the future Hall of Famer is averaging 323 passing yards per contest with eight total touchdowns and no interceptions. Brees will face a Washington team in Week 5 that ranks third in the NFL with just 187 yards allowed through the air per game, and is coming off a Week 4 bye.

Friday night’s Golden State WarriorsSacramento Kings preseason game will be the first NBA contest in Seattle since 2008, and it may be nearly another decade before the league considers an expansion team in the Emerald City.

Prospective Seattle ownership groups that have met with NBA officials were told expansion may not happen until 2025 at the earliest, sources told ESPN’s Brian Windhorst. That could line up with the negotiation of a new league TV contract, with the current one expiring after the 2024-25 season.

The report comes days after the NHL went a step closer to placing a franchise in Seattle. That effort is being led by a group hoping to begin play in 2020 at a renovated version of the Sonics’ former home, Key Arena.

The NHL arena developments were not discussed at the fall NBA board of governors meeting, sources told Windhorst.

Beyond the expansion possibility, a franchise wishing to relocate could target Seattle. While ESPN reports that some lawyers believe there’s a lease window for the Memphis Grizzlies to leave Tennessee in 2021, owner Robert Pera has pledged to keep the team in Memphis.

The Sonics departed Seattle to become the Oklahoma City Thunder in 2008 after former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz sold the team to Clay Bennett.

The Toronto Maple Leafs played their season opener Wednesday night with one key piece missing from the lineup: William Nylander.

The forward remains in Sweden, without a contract, as he and the Maple Leafs continue to try to work out a deal that pleases both sides.

“In the end I have to take care of myself and do what I and my agent thinks is right,” he told Swedish outlet Aftonbladet, as translated by Sportsnet. “Especially if it’s about several years to come. I need to think long term. It’s my own future it’s about.”

By dragging the holdout into the regular season, Nylander is now forfeiting more than $30,000 in pay each day he remains unsigned, according to Sportsnet’s Chris Johnston.

Nylander has said he’s seeking a long-term contract rather than a bridge deal.

While Maple Leafs general manager Kyle Dubas has gone on record to say he also prefers Nylander sign a long-term deal, the team insists all of its top players take less money to keep the squad together under the salary cap, just as John Tavares did this summer, taking $11 million per year when he likely could’ve received more elsewhere.

“It wasn’t (Tavares’) responsibility to set a new bar or to please other people with other interests,” team president Brendan Shanahan said Wednesday. “He’s a hockey player. He wanted to come here and win hockey games. He wanted to be treated fairly and he is. And yes, that is what is we would hope and expect from our players as we go forward.”

Nylander said he’s been left in the dark during most of the negotiations.

“Right now, I do not know more than all the rest of you,” Nylander told Aftonbladet. “I have not received any messages and have no contact with Toronto. It’s my agent who takes care of everything.”

Johnston notes that Nylander’s eventual long-term contract is expected to compare similarly to Nikolaj Ehlers‘ seven-year, $6-million AAV with the Jets, and David Pastrnak‘s six-year, $6.67-million AAV with the Bruins.

Nylander has been working out and skating regularly in Sweden, but a return date to Toronto – where a spot on the team’s top line with Matthews and Patrick Marleau is being kept warm by Tyler Ennis – still remains unclear.

Wrestling legend Sid Eudy (aka Psycho Sid and Sid Vicious) came up through the ranks in the 1980s and he has some thoughts on today’s Superstars. In a recent interview with Hannibal TV, Sid voiced his opinion on Paige being made SmackDown GM after the embarrassment of various sex tapes and photos of her were leaked online.

“I think it’s the stupidest thing, but again, it goes to how the business is,” Sid said on Hannibal TV. “When the business is down like it is, they’ll OK things like that when this is the time you don’t OK something like that.”

“Usually it says to me that [WWE is] having a hard time business-wise. After that, I wouldn’t have her on my show. I would’ve fired her immediately… I don’t have nothing against her. I don’t have anything against any man or woman wanting to do things, but don’t do it in public like that.”

Sid then wonders if Paige has “something on someone” in WWE that enabled her to keep her job.

“If Charlie Rose gets fired [from PBS] from hanging around in his underwear, I mean we know things have been worse than that in the wrestling business,” said Sid.

When the interviewer then tells Sid that the photos of Paige, Charlotte Flair and others were hacked from their phones, Sid argues against that.

“They’re putting them out there… I don’t know. Just don’t take a picture like that… Let them do dark matches or something, but don’t make them the GM of your show.”

Erik Karlsson confirmed that he received a contract offer from the Ottawa Senators before being traded to the San Jose Sharks, but feels he would have been dealt even if he’d accepted Ottawa’s proposal.

The defenseman expressed that sentiment in an interview with Sportsnet’s Christine Simpson Wednesday, telling her that negotiations with the Senators didn’t progress to the final stages.

“I don’t think it ever got to the point where I had an option to sign anything,” Karlsson said. “It never even got close to that, and even if I would have signed, they probably would have traded me anyways, and I would have been somewhere else.”

Karlsson also revealed that, for all intents and purposes, his fate was initially sealed last winter.

“They had me traded in February already at the (trade) deadline,” he said. “We were told we were pretty much gone, and that was very tough to hear.”

The superstar blue-liner said it was Senators general manager Pierre Dorion who informed Karlsson that a trade was imminent as training camp was on the verge of opening.

“(He) called me in the morning and told me not to come into camp (on) the first day, and that’s when I probably realized that it was going to go down pretty quickly.”

Karlsson was traded to the Sharks on Sept. 13 along with forward Francis Perron for forward Chris Tierney, defenseman Dylan DeMelo, prospects Rudolfs Balcers and Josh Norris, a pair of draft picks, and another conditional pick if Karlsson re-signs with the Sharks.

The NHL is one step closer to a 32nd franchise as commissioner Gary Bettman announced that the executive committee voted unanimously to recommend Seattle for an expansion team, according to Sportsnet’s Chris Johnston.

A formal vote will take place at December’s Board of Governors meeting.

The Seattle ownership group is led by Hollywood producer Jerry Bruckheimer and Texas billionaire David Bonderman. Former Arizona Coyotes head coach Dave Tippett, who is serving as an advisor, is the group’s lone hockey-related hire.

The group is aiming to join the NHL for the 2020-21 season, playing out of the KeyArena, where an extensive renovation has been planned.

The NHL has expanded by three teams since 2000, adding the Columbus Blue JacketsMinnesota Wild, and Vegas Golden Knights.

Conor McGregor is expressing interest in a rematch with Floyd Mayweather and an eventual meeting with Georges St-Pierre once UFC 229 is in the rearview mirror.

“The Notorious” will step into the Octagon on Saturday for the first time since Nov. 2016. He’ll take on Khabib Nurmagomedov for the UFC lightweight championship, a belt McGregor was previously stripped of due to inactivity.

“I would like to box him again,” McGregor said of another matchup with Mayweather on Ariel Helwani’s MMA Show.

McGregor fought Mayweather in the ring last year, losing via TKO in the 10th round. The Irishman added he’d gladly welcome Mayweather into the Octagon, but doubts the 50-0 boxer would jump over into the MMA world.

When asked about other potential bouts, McGregor admitted he’s open to a clash with St-Pierre.

“I don’t think next though,” he said, noting that St-Pierre doesn’t have a title for him to take or a personal score with him to settle.

St-Pierre previously revealed he’s interested in fighting the winner of McGregor-Nurmagomedov. St-Pierre and McGregor represent two of the five fighters in UFC history to win a championship in multiple weight classes.

“I’m gonna do fights that interest me or that have meaning,” McGregor said.

As for a possible rubber match with Nate Diaz, the 30-year-old said a third fight will happen at some point.

“I will always give that man his rematch,” he told the show. “He gave me a rematch, I give him a rematch, that’s the way it is. When it will happen, I don’t know. … We will complete that trilogy, no doubt about it.”

McGregor holds a 10-1 record in UFC action heading into his blockbuster title fight with Nurmagomedov, who boasts a spotless 26-0 professional record.

Montreal Canadiens defenseman Shea Weber has been named the 30th captain in franchise history, the team announced Monday.

In addition, the club announced forwards Paul Byron and Brendan Gallagher will serve as alternate captains for the upcoming season.

Weber takes over for Max Pacioretty, who was dealt to the Vegas Golden Knights over the offseason. The 33-year-old blue-liner joined the Canadiens in 2016 in the trade that sent P.K. Subban to the Nashville Predators, for whom Weber formerly served as captain.

It will be a while before Weber can officially don the “C,” as he continues to recover from knee surgery.

The IIconics (Billie Kay and Peyton Royce) spoke with TV Insider about social media, who they would like to face at WWE Evolution, and women’s tag team titles. Here are some of the highlights:

Who they would like to face at WWE Evolution:

Peyton Royce: “I’m just going to speak on behalf of Billie here too, but it would be a three-way tag team match with the IIconics versus LayCool versus the Bella Twins.”

Billie Kay: “I’m going to add another team in there.”

Peyton Royce: “I already know what you’re going to say but go ahead.”

Billie Kay: “I was going to say Natalya and Beth Phoenix.”

WWE creating women’s tag titles:

Billie Kay: “One hundred percent yes.”

Peyton Royce: “That has been our dream even before we got to the Performance Center.”

Billie Kay: “We have always spoken, and quite publicly, that we want to pioneer that. We want to be part of this era of the women’s tag team division.”

Peyton Royce: “We want to have a part of it when it does happen. I feel it will happen in time, so we want to have a positive influence on that.”

If it’s tough being a public personality on social media:

Peyton Royce: “You know, if it wasn’t for Billie, I would really struggle. I’m just being completely vulnerable here. You’re right. Being on the main roster, there is a lot more talk. Sometimes I can’t even go on Twitter for days because I just feel it’s negative comment after negative comment. I understand that I put myself out there, and everyone is allowed to have their own opinion and say what they want, but Billie reminds me I have to take a step back. It’s just social media. This is the highlight reel of my life.”

Billie Kay: “Sometimes I go into mom mode. Being a little bit older, I get more protective of Peyton. I feel like I always have to watch out for that because we do have thick skin. Being in this business you have to have thick skin. But in saying that, you do get a lot of negativity. That’s just how it’s going to be. Everyone has their own opinions, and I’m not going to let someone else’s opinion affect my life or feelings because I’m in control of that. We always try to bring each other up. That’s what is important in life.”

Peyton Royce: “There is the negative aspect of social media, but there is a lot of positivity that comes from it too. Like my favorite thing in the world is seeing someone wearing our Iiconics shirt. Billie and I try to highlight that on our Instagram story. That makes me genuinely smile. That makes me so happy to see.”

Billie Kay: “Because we appreciate our fans so much. They are the best part of our careers.”

Peyton Royce: “We wouldn’t be us if we didn’t have our fans and them supporting us too. I think that is a good way of looking at it. We have so much positivity, and that definitely outweighs the negativity.”

Kay and Royce also discussed being in WWE 2K19 and Tenille Dashwood. You can check out the full interview by clicking here.

Anaheim Ducks defenseman Cam Fowler will have surgery Friday after suffering injuries to his orbital bone, cheekbone, and upper jaw bone, the team announced Wednesday.

A timetable for his return will be announced following the procedure.

Fowler suffered the injury Monday against the Nashville Predators when he was hit in the face with a puck.

He’s picked up three goals and seven assists in 19 games this season.

Center Jason Kelce, already a two-time Pro Bowler, rose to even greater fame during the Philadelphia Eagles‘ run to Super Bowl LII last season as a leader of the wholly-embraced ‘underdog’ team.

An eighth-year veteran, Kelce cites the Eagles’ loss of several experienced players in the offseason as reason for a 4-5 record through the first 10 weeks.

“Last year, it just seemed like everybody was clicking. We had guys like Brent Celek who had been here a long time who was very accountable, Torrey Smithwho had been in the league for a long time, very accountable. Mack Hollins was a guy that gave great effort. LeGarrette Blount and all of these running backs that, they had their limited amount of stuff that they had to know, but they knew what to do, and they knew how to do those things. That’s what we’re missing. We’re missing that accountability,” Kelce said Wednesday, according to Tim McManus of ESPN.

Celek retired after being released by the team. Blount joined the Detroit Lions in free agency, Smith was traded to the Carolina Panthers, and Hollins is on injured reserve due to a groin injury.

The Eagles opened the 2018 campaign as the NFL’s 11th-youngest team by average age. They ranked 23rd in that department at the beginning of the 2017 season.

Kelce says the Eagles haven’t been able to replace the value brought last season by players who had been around a long time and who knew the “ins and outs of the game.”

“This isn’t just players, this is coaches, this is everybody. Everybody takes accountability in making sure that everybody is ready to go,” Kelce said.

“(Last year) there was a much greater level of accountability from a cohesive standpoint of everybody working together.”

The Eagles are tied for second place in the NFC East heading into a Week 11 matchup against the 8-1 New Orleans Saints.

Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred will keep his current role through the 2024 season.

MLB owners voted unanimously on Thursday to approve a five-year extension for Manfred on a contract that was set to expire following the upcoming 2019 season.

Among other things, this will ensure Manfred oversees the next round of collective bargaining with the MLBPA. The current CBA is set to expire following the 2021 campaign.

As Bud Selig’s successor, Manfred became MLB commissioner prior to the 2015 season. Originally serving as outside counsel during the 1994-95 work stoppage, Manfred officially joined MLB as a full-time employee in 1998, eventually becoming Selig’s chief operating officer in 2013.

Manfred has instituted pace of play rules, including a limit on mound visits, and negotiated a new CBA with the players’ union prior to the 2016 season. He replaced the 15-day disabled list with a 10-day DL, put a cap on spending for international free agents, and added stricter penalties for exceeding the luxury tax.

Among Manfred’s other notable accomplishments, the 60-year-old is responsible for negotiating the league’s first drug testing agreement in 2002 and led the Biogenesis investigation which sought to prove that Anthony Bosch distributed performance-enhancing drugs to Alex Rodriguez, Ryan Braun, and Nelson Cruz, among others.

The news comes on the same day MLB finalized a reported $5.1-billion extension with FOX for broadcasting games through 2028, according to Eric Fisher of SportsBusiness Journal.

The Pittsburgh Penguins inked general manager Jim Rutherford to a three-year contract extension Wednesday that will keep him with the team through the 2021-22 season.

The 69-year-old is in his 25th year as an NHL general manager and his fifth with the Penguins.

During his tenure with Pittsburgh, he’s helped build the team into a perennial contender, with four 100-plus-point seasons and back-to-back Stanley Cups in 2016 and 2017.

“We think Jim Rutherford is one of the best general managers in all of sports and, during his tenure in Pittsburgh, arguably the best GM in the NHL,” Penguins co-owners Mario Lemieux and Ron Burkle said in a statement. “His goal every year is to win the Stanley Cup and that kind of commitment to excellence is what drives us all.”

Rutherford won his first Stanley Cup with the Carolina Hurricanes in 2006. Stan Bowman of the Chicago Blackhawks is the only other GM to win three championships in the salary-cap era. Rutherford ranks eighth all time among general managers in both wins (850) and games managed (1,834).

General manager John Dorsey hasn’t revealed much about the Cleveland Browns’ head coaching search, but he does have one person in mind.

Dorsey told reporters on Wednesday that Gregg Williams will be interviewed for the position, via Cleveland.com’s Mary Kay Cabot.

Williams was named the interim head coach after Hue Jackson and offensive coordinator Todd Haley were relieved of their duties on Oct. 29. Freddie Kitchens was also promoted to offensive coordinator at that time.

After raving about the job Williams and Kitchens are doing, Dorsey said he’s looking for a head coach with character and a high football acumen, and someone who can lead a young Browns team, per Cabot.

“I just want the best possible head coach to move this thing forward regardless of age. It could be a woman, too,” Dorsey said, via Tony Grossi of ESPNCleveland.com.

Dorsey declined to say if he’s been scouting any college coaches, according to the Chronicle-Telegram’s Scott Petrak. Lincoln Riley has been connected to the job, though the Oklahoma head coach said he “doesn’t have that itch” to make the jump to the NFL.

“When we had the first pick in the draft, I didn’t say much. I’m not going to say much (about the coaching search),” Dorsey said, via Cabot.

Since firing Jackson, Cleveland has gone 1-1. Currently on their bye, the Browns will look to improve their 3-6-1 record in Week 12 against the Cincinnati Bengals.

UFC fighter Paige VanZant believes there’s an opportunity for crossover with the WWE and is still interested in working there, according to MMANews.com.

VanZant, who competes in the women’s flyweight division, is one of the most popular females in MMA to have never held a belt, and has already shown mainstream appeal after finishing second on Dancing with the Stars in 2016.

Currently in Portugal attending the global tech conference Web Summit, where WWE Chief Brand Officer Stephanie McMahon is one of the main speakers, VanZant said:-

“I’m not ready to leave the UFC just yet…I also think the WWE is an amazing organisation and it’s a very athletic entertainment industry which would suit me. There’s probably huge potential for a crossover down the line and of course I’m a big fan of what they do, so it would be great to be a part of.”

Perhaps seeking a deal similar to Brock Lesnar’s which would allow her to compete in both organisations, and of course following in the footsteps of current RAW Women’s Champion Ronda Rousey, VanZant apparently spoke to McMahon at the conference regarding a potential deal.

Holding a UFC record of 4-3, VanZant is currently ranked 15th in the women’s flyweight division, and many have called for her to make the transition into professional wrestling.

Nevertheless, for now she is focused on her return to the Octagon after a year away, where she faces Rachael Ostovich on 19th January in Brooklyn for UFC’s ESPN+ debut.

Far from just acquiring a star in his prime in Jimmy ButlerPhiladelphia 76ershead coach Brett Brown believes the organization has obtained a player that fits perfectly both with the team and the city.

“I mean, where do you begin?” Brown said, according to ESPN’s Tim Bontemps. “I think that, defensively, and with the physicality that he plays with … he mirrors the spirit of Philadelphia.

“He is a fierce competitor, and there is (a) toughness that he plays with. It’s who he is. He wears it on his face. It’s seen in his game. It’s confirmed by multiple All-Defensive teams, and it’s a perfect fit for our city and our program defensively.”

The 76ers lost a couple of important pieces in the deal to acquire Butler with the Minnesota Timberwolves, trading away starting forwards Robert Covington and Dario Saric. However, Brown believes he’s now equipped with a roster that can take the next step after a second-round appearance last season and years of struggle during the “Trust the Process” era.

“Maybe (Butler is) the first move in the new reality that our goal is to build for a championship, and play in the NBA Finals, and continue to be an annual – and that’s always the hardest thing – contender,” Brown said. “I think we are building a core, truly, with their ages, that is going to have the ability to do that. We are going to have the ability to do that for a while now.

“We’ll be amongst royalty for a while now. So if you refer to that as sort of the first phase of the legitimate process, I think that’s fair.”


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