Tagged in: preview

Super Bowl preview: Rams-Bengals

When you think of a classic Super Bowl matchup, you think of two teams that have dominated their competition and run rampant through the playoffs. 

Rams vs. Bengals is not that matchup.

Both teams trailed in their respective conference championship matches as the fourth quarter started.

The Bengals needed a dramatic comeback and a spectacular self-destruction from the Chiefs to move on. The Rams blew a 24-point lead in the divisional round versus the Bucs and needed Jaquiski Tartt to drop a gift-wrapped interception to spur their win over the 49ers.

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And yet, both teams are here because their stars did star things. Cooper Kupp and Ja’Marr Chase made huge catches to set up game-winning field goals. 

Jessie Bates started the Titans game with an interception and sent the Chiefs’ offense to the sideline for the winter by creating another. Aaron Donald finished Jimmy Garoppolo’s 49ers career with a pressure to force a pick. Joe Burrow ducked through a sure sack to scramble for a critical first down.

These two teams have weapons on both sides of the ball that can single-handedly decide games. Winning this game, then, might come down to whichever team can diminish or even eliminate as many of those mismatches as possible.

The Bengals, helpless for most of the first half in the AFC title game, shut down Tyreek Hill, Travis Kelce and the entire Chiefs offense after the break.

The Rams limited the vaunted 49ers rushing attack to 50 yards on 20 carries. We know what these teams and their stars are capable of doing.

Whichever team stops more of those stars wins this game.

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Brandon Moreno vs. Deiveson Figueiredo 3 preview

Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Flyweight elites Brandon Moreno and Deiveson Figueiredo will collide for the third time this weekend at UFC 270 inside Honda Center in Anaheim, California.

Though the record heading into their rubber match stands only slightly in favor of Moreno at 1-0-1, it’s impossible to deny that he has all the momentum. After all, the rematch saw the Mexican athlete put on a masterclass, a dominant showing in all areas of martial arts that seemingly sent Figueiredo packing to Bantamweight.

Instead, “Daico” stuck around, and when Alexandre Pantoja was unable to accept a title shot due to injury, Figueiredo was in prime position for a shot at retaking the belt.

Could this be his last fight at Flyweight one way or another? Perhaps, and Friday’s weigh-ins may be a spectacle to keep an eye on.

Moreno has been very good since he first joined the UFC roster, but his skills and confidence has exploded in the last 1.5 years.

The Flyweight king now possesses arguably the division’s sharpest jab, slick counter combinations, and his wrestling/grappling remain quite potent.

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Is there really any room for improvement based on the rematch?

In their second battle, Moreno immediately jabbed his adversary up, kept him swinging at air, and landed punishing shots from his back foot. He took him down, dropped him and choked him out.

The same tools Moreno found success with last time are likely to be available again here, as Figueiredo is 34 years old, deep into his professional career, and unlikely to full revamp his game in half a year. As such, it would be wise for Moreno to start quickly and keep momentum in his corner.

If Moreno starts the fight by blasting Figueiredo’s nose with stiff jabs and making him miss, it’ll really damage his opponent’s confidence, and the fight likely looks like a continuation of the rematch.

Figueiredo got beat up last time out, but that doesn’t mean the Brazilian sucks now. “Deus da Guerra” remains one of the division’s heaviest hitters, an all-offense fighter known for brutalizing opponents.

Seventeen finishes in 20 wins as a Flyweight is massive.

For as great as Moreno’s performance was in the rematch, Figueiredo’s was equally flat. The Brazilian never found his timing, tried to force exchanges, and ultimately didn’t look that upset when he lost. In short, it wasn’t his night, and “Daico” definitely has more to offer than he showed at UFC 263.

For Figueiredo, not chasing Moreno is the key. Due to the power in his hands, Figueiredo has grown accustomed to swinging big, and if he misses, most opponents pulled too far away to answer back.

Instead of hunting the knockout from the first bell, Figueiredo has to take his time and attack easier targets, notably the lead calf and torso.

If Figueiredo is cutting off the cage and looking to slow Moreno down with attritional damage, he’ll eventually get the brawl he wants.

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UFC Edgar vs Munhoz preview

Frankie Edgar believes his edge in high-level experience will make the difference on Saturday versus Pedro Munhoz in the main event of UFC Fight Night: Munhoz vs. Edgar. The future Hall of Famer gets an opportunity to prove it when he makes his bantamweight debut versus the division’s fifth-ranked contender.

Their fight headlines the marquee at the Apex facility in Las Vegas, with the main UFC Fight Night card slated for 8:30 p.m. ET. Edgar, the former lightweight champion, remains confident he has another title run left in him at UFC on ESPN.

However, the motivated Munhoz seeks a victory to bolster the pursuit of his first title. Munhoz is a -240 favorite (risk $240 to win $100), while Edgar is a +200 underdog in the latest Edgar vs. Munhoz odds from William Hill.

The 33-year-old Munhoz (18-4-1) has been considered a potential title-contender since his UFC debut in February 2014.

All four of his UFC losses have come against fighters who are still ranked, with three of them in the top 10. 

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The Brazil-born Californian had perhaps the biggest win of his career when he knocked out former titleholder and third-ranked Cody Garbrandt in March of last year. But he was outclassed three months later by the second-ranked Sterling, who now seems to be in line for a title fight versus new champion Petr Yan.

Edgar (23-8-1) is widely regarded as a UFC legend who has been involved in numerous memorable bouts. He won the lightweight championship in 2010 versus fellow icon B.J. Penn and made three successful defenses before dropping a pair of bouts against Benson Henderson, who is now in Bellator.

But the New Jersey native is just 1-3 in his last four appearances, with the lone victory coming against fading former contender Cub Swanson. He was stopped by Chan Sung Jung in the first round of their December bout and also suffered a first-round knockout loss in 2018 against Brian Ortega, who is ranked No. 2 at featherweight.

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Andy Ruiz vs Anthony Joshua rematch preview

Three of the four recognized heavyweight titles will be at stake on Saturday when Andy Ruiz Jr. looks for a second straight upset of former unified champion Anthony Joshua.

Eight months after Ruiz’s epic knockout at New York’s Madison Square Garden in Joshua’s U.S. debut, the stage shifts to Diriyah, Saudi Arabia, and the makeshift outdoor Diriyah Arena as the British superstar looks to regain his WBA, IBF and WBO titles.

The 30-year-old Ruiz (33-1, 22 KOs), a native of California, became the first heavyweight champion in boxing history of Mexican descent when he floored Joshua (22-1, 21 KOs), 30, three times en route to a seventh-round TKO in April.

“I’m confident about the rematch, but I don’t underestimate any fighter. I know AJ’s going to come stronger and more focused but inside the gym, like Mike Tyson says, everyone has a plan until they get hit.”

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“I’m sure everybody was trying to look for an excuse and reason why he didn’t perform and why he lost. I think it was down to the style. Styles make fights and I’ve been calling AJ out for a while. I knew his style was perfect for me and that’s why I plan to do the same thing.” Stated Ruiz.

“It’s about how you come back. I have a different challenge in my head. When you’ve walked the road once, you can do it again.”​ 

“I am looking at myself in the mirror and saying I know I’m better than that [losing last time round]. Andy is still the same person. He will come game and I’ve got to change some of my bits and bobs.”​ Stated Joshua when asked about fighting Ruiz for the second time.

Both boxers’ game plans could be significantly different for the rematch, though, Ruiz said. And despite his increased prominence in the boxing world as a result of his victory, Ruiz said he hasn’t lost his fire.

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