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MMA star thinks Jake Paul will ‘no doubt’ win fight with Ben Askren

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MMA star thinks Jake Paul will ‘no doubt’ win fight with Ben Askren

Ben Askren has no chance of being victorious in his showdown with Jake Paul, according to Titan FC lightweight Raush Manfio.

The former UFC welterweight is set to throw down with the YouTuber in a boxing match on April 17.

Askren’s chances of beating the former Disney star have been written off by many, with several fight fans predicting he’ll suffer a brutal knockout loss.

And Manfio, who has been helping Paul prepare for his latest outing to the ring, only sees the fight going one way.

The Brazilian told MMA Fighting: “I believe Ben Askren can take a punch, but Jake Paul has knockout power.

“If Askren goes in there to trade hands, he’s going down. No doubt. He’s going down.

“[Paul] has a powerful right hand, and he’s getting smarter in the ring, not getting scared or stuff like that, things you learn with time.

“I’m a professional MMA fighter since 2011 and I get mature as time goes by, you understand the sport, but [Paul] has firepower and that’s crucial.

“In my opinion, what is Askren going to do? For him to win, only if he gets Jake Paul tired.

“But how is he going to get him tired if he doesn’t have heavy hands? How is he going to hurt him? What is he going to do?

“I can only see Jake Paul winning by knockout or points, Jake Paul is far superior. I can’t see one weapon [Askren] can use.

“If he was like a Dan Henderson type of fighter with a powerful overhand, that would be a different conversation.

“[Paul] has knockout power and cardio. Meanwhile, [Askren] might have a chin but doesn’t have firepower to drop him, so I don’t see how Askren wins this match.”

Paul, 23, is brimming with confidence ahead of his meeting with the former Bellator and ONE Championship welterweight king, so much so he reckons the MMA vet won’t lay a glove on him.

He told ESPN: “Go Google Ben Askren’s striking. Hahaha. It’s not going to go that long, it’s not going to go that long.

“I don’t even think he’ll hit me. I haven’t been hit one time in the face in my past two fights.

“So I haven’t even been punched as pro boxer one time. Nate Robinson landed one body shot in a clinch.

“I don’t think Ben Askren will even hit me. That’s my prediction.”

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Nuggets’ Nikola Jokic ejected for Flagrant 2 foul in Game 4 vs. Suns

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When was Nikola Jokic drafted? How the Nuggets landed the future MVP in a draft day steal

Nikola Jokic’s MVP season may have ended a few minutes earlier than the rest of his Nuggets teammates Sunday night.

The big man was ejected from Game 4 of Denver’s playoff series with Phoenix for a Flagrant 2 foul with 3:52 remaining in the third quarter. Jokic hit Cameron Payne across the face while trying to swat the ball out of Payne’s hands.

MORE: CP3 egged on refs to T up Jokic in Game 3

Officials determined that Jokic met the criteria for a Flagrant 2, deeming the contact “unnecessary and excessive.” The action consisted of “windup, impact and follow-through.”

Before learning his fate, Jokic went nose to nose with Suns guard Devin Booker, who was assessed a technical foul for the encounter. Jokic exited after scoring 22 points and grabbing 11 rebounds.

Denver trailed 83-75 at the time as it tried to stave off a sweep attempt by Phoenix in the Western Conference semifinals.

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Islanders vs. Lightning: Three takeaways from New York’s Game 1 win

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Islanders vs. Lightning: Three takeaways from New York's Game 1 win

It has been a long time since the Islanders and Lightning have faced off in any kind of game, let alone a postseason clash. To be exact, it has been 265 days. That was when they met in the 2020 Eastern Conference finals. Because of COVID-19 restrictions, they did not go toe-to-toe in the regular season this year.

And while the score was exactly the same as the final in Game 6 of last year’s battle, the result was different in Game 1 of the 2021 Stanley Cup semifinal series. In this one, the Islanders were the victorious squad, skating away with a 2-1 win.

Here are three takeaways from New York’s Game 1 win:

Mat Barzal delivered

As mentioned in Sporting News’ series preview, Barzal’s play is critical to getting New York into the Stanley Cup Final. The Isles need him to be at his best. He struggled at the start of the playoffs, collecting just three points against the Penguins and going goalless in his first eight games. Then, he flipped the switch and has had six points — three of them goals — in the last six games.

Barzal continued to roll Sunday. He notched the critical first goal with an outracing-the-defender, net-crashing, five-hole effort. After receiving a stretch pass from Josh Bailey, he got past 2021 Norris Trophy finalist Victor Hedman and buried the puck behind netminder Andrei Vasilevskiy.

“I’d say it’s more so, just, I’m actually putting the puck in the net,” Barzal said when asked what has changed in the last few games. “I think my chances throughout the whole season, in the playoffs, are always there. It’s just a matter of beating a goalie. . . . This is the playoffs, so sometimes, in some games we’ve played, I don’t need to get the fifth goal in when we’re up 4-1. So, it’s just a matter of trying to be there for the boys when they need me and just doing the right things.”

Tampa Bay’s power play is lethal

The Lightning entered the semis with a 41.7 percent effectiveness on the power play. 

“Anytime you play a team like Tampa or Boston or anyone with a lethal power play, you don’t want to be in the box all night, ’cause that’s just, you’re just asking for a loss,” Barzal noted.

New York did a good job of playing a hard game while not taking too many penalties — one in the last minute of the middle frame (interference on Kyle Palmieri) that it killed off, and a high-sticking by Brock Nelson with 98 seconds left. Brayden Point did get the Lightning’s lone tally on that last man advantage, which was effectively a 6-on-4 with Vasilevskiy pulled. 

After going 1 for 2 on the power play, the Lightning are now at 42.1 effectiveness. Needless to say, the Islanders need to remain disciplined. 

Game 2 will be interesting

It’s obvious that the Islanders walked into Amalie Arena with a game plan, and they executed it to perfection. Last year in the conference finals, they were blown out 8-2 in Game 1. Things were definitely not the same in this year’s opener. 

“No. 1 is just managing a puck,” Islanders coach Barry Trotz said when asked what the keys were Sunday. “Two, we were disciplined. Three, we didn’t take a lot of risk, unnecessary risk. . . . I thought we made pretty good decisions.”

On the Lightning’s bench, Jon Cooper was anything but happy with his team’s decision-making. 

“Our work ethic was there, our compete was there, our minds weren’t there,” he said. “Some of our decisions were poor. That’s what happens when you get this deep into the playoffs. There are only four teams left and you have to have everything working in unison. We just weren’t quite there tonight.”

New York did a good job of keeping the Lightning away from the front of the net as goalie Semyon Varlamov only faced three high-danger shots at 5v5 and stopped 8 of 9 overall (per Natural Stat Trick). Varlamov made 30 saves while Vasilevskiy turned aside 29 shots.

There’s nothing more the Islanders would like than going wheels up back to New York with a 2-0 series lead, but there’s a reason the Lightning are the defending Cup champions. While this may be the first time it has trailed in a series in 2021, Tampa Bay has a skilled squad that will not go quietly into the night.

“We knew it was going to be extremely tough,” captain Steven Stamkos said. “We’ve been in this position before, so there’s definitely no panic in this room. But we do realize that it’s going to be an extremely tight series and we just have to expect that going forward.”

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Glen Davis implies Kyrie Irving’s ankle injury a result of Celtics basketball karma

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Glen Davis implies Kyrie Irving's ankle injury a result of Celtics basketball karma

Glen Davis clearly believes in basketball karma.

Nets guard Kyrie Irving exited Sunday’s playoff game vs. the Bucks after spraining his right ankle. Irving would later be ruled out of the game with the injury. The Nets would fall to the Bucks in Game 4 107-96, sending the Eastern Conference semifinal series back to Barclays Center even at 2-2. 

Davis, a member of the Celtics’ 2008 championship-winning squad, had some thoughts on the injury. In an Instagram reply, Davis seemed to imply that it was a result of basketball karma after Irving stomped on Boston’s center court logo earlier in the playoffs.

“Karma is real. Energy is real no matter what you guys say,” Davis said in another IG comment. “That logo means something negative or positive. Ky wished that on hisself (sic). Energy is real, always have respect for other no matter if its (sic) a logo are (sic) not.”

MORE: Kyrie crossover sends Thanasis into another galaxy 

After the Nets’ Game 4 victory over the Celtics in the first round, Irving greeted teammates at center court and stomped on the drawing of Lucky the Leprechaun, the team’s mascot. A fan was ejected from TD Garden, arrested and charged with felony assault for allegedly throwing a water bottle at Irving following the stomp.

Davis’ comments are pretty baseless, all things considered. Karma isn’t a tangible effect, after all. What is tangible is that the Nets and Bucks head back to Brooklyn with the series tied and both Irving and James Harden’s status for Game 5 uncertain.

By the way, it wasn’t the same ankle that stomped on Lucky, just to fact check. That was Irving’s left one. The injury was to Irving’s right one.

Think before you comment, folks.

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