Mahomes v Jackson: How the MVPs compare ahead of MNF showdown

By Sports Desk September 28, 2020

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  • UFC 254: Khabib Nurmagomedov v Justin Gaethje - the big fight focus UFC 254: Khabib Nurmagomedov v Justin Gaethje - the big fight focus

    Khabib Nurmagomedov and Justin Gaethje will put it all on the line in a mouth-watering lightweight unification bout that has undoubted fight-of-the-year potential at UFC 254.

    Fearsome undefeated Russian Khabib puts up his title against interim champion Gaethje in Abu Dhabi in an intriguing fight between two contrasting styles.

    Just five months ago, the prospect of these two mixing it to decide who the main man of the lightweight division is seemed pretty fanciful.

    And then the course of history in arguably the most stacked category in UFC was altered dramatically in Jacksonville.

    Journey with us as we recall how we got here and look at Khabib and Gaethje in profile ahead of Saturday's super showdown.


    An enthralling tale begins with a curse that has starved hungry UFC fans of a fight so many have wanted to see for so long.

    Back in April, Khabib was supposed to face Tony Ferguson, only for the coronavirus pandemic to prevent the former from travelling to the United States. Incredibly, it was the fifth time a scheduled contest between the two legends of the game was kiboshed.

    Instead, Gaethje stepped in to face Ferguson behind-closed-doors in May at a UFC 249 event that was moved from Brooklyn to Jacksonville.

    It was supposed to be a formality. Ferguson was meant to come through an admittedly tricky challenge and then finally face Khabib later in 2020.

    But Gaethje had not read the script and instead forged a path towards a shot at ultimate lightweight supremacy by stopping Ferguson with a brutal clinic to win the interim belt and immediately call out Khabib.

    Rumours of retirement following the sad death of his father and coach Abdulmanap Nurmagomedov were denied by Khabib, who will now be back in the Octagon for the first time in over a year.


    Submission specialist Khabib is a hall-of-fame shoo-in and had already beaten notable names Rafael dos Anjos and Edson Barbosa by the time he defeated Al Iaquinta to capture the strap.

    An infamous defence against Conor McGregor followed before his latest win over Dustin Poirier which means he remains undefeated in 28 professional MMA bouts.

    The only two blots on Gaethje's impressive record are certainly no cause for shame, with Eddie Alvarez and Poirier the men to have defeated him.

    Since that latter defeat, Gaethje has responded with four straight wins against James Vick, Barbosa, Donald Cerrone and Ferguson – the last of which of course saw him become interim champ.


    Khabib: 28-0-0

    Gaethje: 22-2-0



    Age: 32
    Height: 5' 10" (177cm)
    Weight: 155 lbs (70 kg)
    Reach: 70"
    Leg Reach: 40"


    Age: 31
    Height: 5' 11" (180cm)
    Weight: 155 lbs (70 kg)
    Reach: 70"
    Leg Reach: 40"


    Khabib: "I'm focused on Justin Gaethje on Saturday night. What the UFC has after this fight you'd be better to ask this guy [Dana White], because he calls us and then we talk about fights. What's going to happen after I don't know. Right now, I'm focused on Justin Gaethje."

    Gaethje: "I know he's confident in what he does. He's done it 28 times. I expect him to believe that's what's going to happen. I've been telling myself that's what's going to happen, as a matter of fact. That's what drives me every single day. I'm a performer, I always show up under the lights, that's what I do. I've been doing this as long as he has."



    - Khabib has an average fight time of 13 minutes and 56 seconds, with 36 per cent of his victories coming via submission.

    - He has landed 49 per cent of significant strikes and lands 4.29 significant strikers per minute on average.

    - In terms of grappling, Khabib has a takedown average of 5.09 per 15 minutes and a takedown success rate of 44 per cent.

    - Khabib has defended against 66 per cent of significant strikes and 84 per cent of takedowns.


    - Gaethje connects on average with 7.74 significant strikes per minute and has a success rate of 59 per cent with such strikes.

    - The American has won 86 per cent of his fights via way of KO/TKO, with five per cent via submission and nine per cent from a decision.

    - The average fight time for Gaethje stands at 10 minutes and 11 seconds.

    - He has guarded against 54 per cent of significant strikes and has a takedown defence of 80 per cent.

  • Talking Point: How does crazy Premier League start compare to other 'big five' divisions? Talking Point: How does crazy Premier League start compare to other 'big five' divisions?

    A pause for October's international break did nothing to check the riotous start to the Premier League season.

    From the action-packed and controversy-laden 2-2 draw between table-topping Everton and champions Liverpool at Goodison Park to West Ham's late comeback from 3-0 down to draw 3-3 at Tottenham, last weekend was another to baffle and excite.

    England's top flight has long trumpeted a reputation for being the most exciting league in the world.

    Right now, it seems difficult to argue against that viewpoint, but how does the Premier League compare to its other major counterparts in Europe at this unusual time for elite football?

    Goals, goals, goals

    As you might expect from a season that has already seen the champions beaten 7-2 by a team that only escaped relegation on the final day last term and their expected main challengers lose 5-2 at home, the Premier League stands above the other "big five" leagues in terms of goals per game.

    There have been 172 goals in 48 Premier League matches so far, an average of 3.6 every 90 minutes.

    That outstrips the returns so far from LaLiga (2.2), the Bundesliga (3.1) and Ligue 1 (2.8) fairly comfortably, although Serie A runs its English counterpart close with 136 goals in 39 matches for 3.5 per game. We'll take a closer look at Italy's great entertainers later.

    The Premier League is averaging almost a goal more per game than over the entirety of last season, when 1,034 in 380 matches amounted to 2.7 per ninety minutes.

    That edged slightly ahead of Ligue 1 and LaLiga (both 2.5), with Serie A (3.0) and the Bundesliga (3.2) weighing in with more goals, pound for pound.


    Paying the penalty

    One notable feature over the opening weeks of the season has been VAR-emboldened referees pointing at the penalty spot as if it's going out of fashion. Leicester City won and converted three in their 5-2 rout of Manchester City.

    The 29 spot-kicks awarded amounts to 0.6 per game and leads the way among the big five leagues, as does the average of 0.5 penalty goals after 25 found the back of the net.

    Last season, there were only 92 awarded and 72 scored in the Premier League – each an average 0.2 per game.

    Should the current trend continue, the division will far outstrip those numbers and might end up somewhere close to Serie A in 2019-20, where 187 awards and 152 goals amounted to 0.5 and 0.4 per game respectively.

    Errors are fun!

    Of course, the Gunfight at the O.K Corral nature of some Premier League games this season has left a handful of purists bemoaning a lack of quality sometimes underpinning the soaring entertainment.

    There have been more errors leading to shots per game (0.8) in the Premier League than any of the other major divisions this season. However, it's not just defenders getting things wrong. Those mistakes have only yielded 0.3 goals from errors per match – the same as Ligue 1.

    But hang on, before you start to dismiss the Premier League's finest as uncultured, gaffe-prone oafs, consider Opta's numbers on build-up attacks.

    Build-up attacks are open play sequences that contain 10 or more passes and either end in a shot or a touch in the opposition box.

    There have been 208 of these in the Premier League so far this season, averaging 4.3 every 90 minutes. All the other divisions are below four.

    This adeptness when it comes to crafting patiently built attacks also comes with a risk. Teams doing so will generally play out from the back, where any errors have more chance of hitting those shots and goals against numbers.


    Serie A? The defensive masters? Not really

    That's right, the land of Catenaccio is completely giddy on Golazos. Atalanta scored four, four and five in their opening three wins, before shipping four at Napoli. They've netted 14 times overall and sit third.

    Second-placed Sassuolo are only one goal behind Gian Piero Gasperini's freewheelers with 13 goals.

    In terms of shots (25.7), shots on target (9.2), big chances (4.6), big chances scored (2.1) and errors leading to goals (0.4) per game, Serie A comes out on top of the pile in the early days of this raucous, surreal season.

  • Bell excited to reinvent himself after teaming up with Mahomes and Chiefs Bell excited to reinvent himself after teaming up with Mahomes and Chiefs

    Kansas City Chiefs recruit Le'Veon Bell said he is excited about the opportunity to reinvent himself with the NFL Super Bowl champions.

    Bell was cut by the New York Jets last week – less than halfway through the four-year, $52.5million contract he signed as a marquee free agent in 2019.

    The three-time Pro Bowler and running back is now a member of the Chiefs after signing a one-year deal in Kansas City, where he will team up with former MVP and Super Bowl MVP Patrick Mahomes.

    Bell is determined to return to his best, having averaged 3.3 yards per carry and four total touchdowns in 17 games for the Jets following his arrival at the end of 2018.

    "I played at a high level for so long," Bell said on Wednesday. "I had two years [with the Jets] where it has not been a high level, and people kind of look at it like that.

    "So I wanted to get here, get my feet back under me, get in a good offense, get the ball when I can [and] not have too much pressure on me, just play football.

    "I think coming here will give me the opportunity to do that. There are a lot of [good] players. I don't necessarily have to worry about how many times I'm touching it."

    After sitting out the 2018 season due to a contract dispute with the Pittsburgh Steelers, Bell moved to the Jets and struggled to reach his lofty heights.

    Bell was reportedly unhappy about his usage in the Jets' offense and, following the 30-10 loss to the Arizona Cardinals in Week 5, liked tweets suggesting he be traded.

    The All-Pro spent three weeks on injured reserve after suffering a hamstring injury in the Jets' opening loss at the Buffalo Bills.

    Bell added: "I never played with a player MVP-wise."

    "It was just undeniable to try to come here to help this team any way I can help them out," Bell said. "When I decided to come here, I already knew the weapons, and there's only one football to kind of go around.

    "I think there's going to be a lot of opportunity to kind of show what I can do in space, running routes. I think this offense is a good fit for my skill set. I think coach [Andy] Reid does a good job of getting backs the ball in space. I'm glad I've got this opportunity."

    Bell has had over 1,200 rushing yards in three separate seasons, but the last of those was in 2017.

    Since entering the league as the 48th pick in the 2013 NFL Draft, Bell has rushed for 6,199 yards and 38 touchdowns, while receiving for 3,160 yards and eight TDs.

    Chiefs quarterback Mahomes – preparing for Sunday's clash against the Denver Broncos – said: "He's a mismatch coming out of the backfield. The way he's able to run routes, the way he's able to split out and basically be a receiver out there is pretty special.

    "He's going to get a lot of matchups I don't think he's had recently with a lot of linebackers on him, and I'm sure he's pretty excited about that."

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