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Exclusive Darren Till interview: Ngannou right to leave UFC; Andrew Tate inspired my UFC music, I’m a fan; Dana not right for saying “you need me”; I respect what Jake Paul is doing in boxing & PFL – Basketball Insiders

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In an exclusive interview with Basketball Insiders, UFC fighter Darren Till gives his picks on UFC 283, he also talks about Ngannou’s shock UFC exit and mentions how Andrew Tate has inspired his UFC walk ins.

If you would like to use any quotes from the exclusive interview with Darren Till, you must credit and link to Basketball Insiders.

Interview highlights:

Question: UFC 283 takes place in your adopted nation of Brazil, what makes Brazilian UFC events different to others?

Darren Till: “The people mainly. Brazilians are so passionate about UFC and sport in general it’s incredible. Football is huge in Brazil as well of course. I went to a couple of games and they’re such chaotic, passionate fans. They’re lovely people but the two main things in Brazil are Brazilian jiu-jitsu and football. On carnival days when the beers are flowing you can see the passion for MMA everywhere. I’m one of the co-founders of BlockAsset and we have a few Brazilian athletes like Glover Teixeira working for us and it was honestly manic when it was announced that UFC 283 will be in Rio.”

Q: What fights on the UFC 283 card have really caught your eye?

DT: “Firstly I just want to say I’m disappointed that the Gregory Rodrigues vs Brad Tavares match isn’t going ahead because that would’ve been great (due to an injury suffered by Tavares in training. He will be replaced by Brunno Ferreira). Also a great friend of mine, Mounir Lazzez, who is fighting on the preliminary card. I can’t wait for that one, he’s got a tough fight against Gabriel Bonfim but I’m sure he’ll pull through. Obviously the two main matches Deiveson Figueiredo vs Brandon Moreno and Glover Teixeira vs Jamahal Hill have the potential to be epic. Big shout out as well to Jessica Andrade. She’s been in the UFC for eight years and she’s a beast so I’m really looking forward to her fight too. And also a big shout out to Gilbert because Khamzhat’s going to beat him again (laughs).”

Q: Do you foresee any big shocks at the weekend?

DT: “For people who want to know my insight, I feel like in Brazil the crowd can be such an important factor that they can even influence a match. They can get into a fighter’s head. They’ll chant phrases like ‘você vai morrer’ which means ‘you’re going to die’. I know it sounds bad but it sounds different in Portuguese (laughs). So some fighters that me and you think are going to win could potentially lose if the crowd goes against them. Wait until they do a camera live on the crowd! I promise you it’s going to be absolutely epic.”

Q: Which of your UFC victories stands out in your mind as the best so far?

DT: “It’s crazy because I’ve been in the game a long time but I’ve only just hit 30 and they say your 30s are your prime years. So I’ve had great moments when I burst onto the scene when I beat Cowboy Cerrone and when I headlined the Echo Arena in Liverpool. When I fought a co-main event against Kelvin Gastelum and then as well headlining with Robert Whitakker was memorable. Even some of my losses have been memorable too and I’m coming into my prime now so if I can knuckle down and focus properly then I’m sure I’ll move even further up the ladder in the future.”

Q: UFC 286 will be held in London. Are you hoping to be a part of that event?

DT: “I did yeah but I’ve been back home for a few weeks now and I’m sort of in a bit of limbo. I’m not entirely sure what my plans are and it might be a bit too soon if I’m completely honest. I’m not injured or anything but I just want to make sure I’m in a good frame of mind. Even in that last fight I felt in a good state of mind but there’s a few little factors I just want to work on. So I might not be involved but I am very happy for Leon Edwards who is headlining UFC 286. I feel like he deserves all the credit he’s getting because I feel it’s a bit overdue over the last few years. Tom Aspinall might be fighting too and it’s good to see all these British fighters doing their thing.”

Q: You’ve had a few tough consecutive losses now. Is there anything specific you’re looking to improve on?

DT: “The aggression factor. In the gym I’m so aggressive. When I got into the Du Plesis fight I had him flinching a lot in the second round and I could see he was terrified. I really should’ve stopped him there and then with the power I carry. But for whatever reason I couldn’t pull the trigger and really let it go. So in my mind there’s got to be some mental things I’ve got to work on and tweak a bit. Not massively but also on the grappling side of things, I didn’t do enough of that and I don’t know why. There’s a few aspects I want to talk about with my team as well. But there’s plenty of time to learn and strive for the greatness that I’m hoping for. I’ve just got to live a clean life and keep working hard.”

Q: In that fight with Du Plesis, you came to the octagon to the song Tourner Dans Le Vide, synonymous with Andrew Tate’s viral videos. Is that a happy coincidence or are you a fan? 

DT: “I know he’s probably the most controversial person out there at the moment but I’ve actually known Andrew for many years because he was a fighter himself previously. I’ll say this to Andrew’s face. There’s a lot of things he says that I agree with and a few that I disagree with but I like him and I like some of the things he stands for. I know he’s very controversial but I don’t think he’s a bad person and that theme tune for me is just sick. When I’ve seen some of the viral videos I’ve just thought yeah that’s a bit of me. You could be caught on video giving a million pounds away and someone would still criticise you. It’s like sometimes nothing’s ever good enough. I used to host a youtube channel called ‘Opinions and Arseholes’ and I used to say it’s because everyone’s got one. You can’t please everyone. I’m a fan of his but not of all his views and that’s just the way the world works.”

Q: What do you think of Andrew Tate’s recent arrest in Romania?

DT: “It’s tough for me to comment because I’m not a guy who watches a lot of TV or a lot of news and politics, so I don’t know who’s lying and who’s not these days. I think your average person is getting more familiar with how the world works thanks to social media. But as the phrase goes you’re innocent until proven guilty aren’t you? I haven’t looked into it too much. I’ve been thinking about giving my opinion on Twitter but I’ve got half a million followers and as soon as I give my opinion you never know what the reaction might be so I’ve stepped back. If he is guilty then obviously that’s not good but equally he might be innocent.”

Q: What were the main differences between training in Brazil compared to training here?

DT: “ Obviously the weather was very different to start with, it’s amazing out there. Actually I will get political for a minute. You know when we buy a pair of trainers here they’ll cost say £100 but out in Brazil I remember being shocked because they were like triple the price! That’s because it’s all imported but on the other hand, the food and fruit is so cheap and that’s because they are self-sufficient in terms of farming. It’s all so fresh and the quality is fantastic. In terms of training it was incredible too. Everyday on the mat there were literally 20 black belts all gunning for you. It’s very sick over there. Brazil is such a huge country. It’s more like a continent in my eyes.”

Q: Where is tougher to grow up – Brazil or Liverpool? 

DT: “I lived in the favelas of Brazil and life there is totally different. When I ventured through Sao Paulo and Rio de Janiro it’s very eye opening. I’ve got a close friend who’s from the Amazon Rainforest and his mum doesn’t even have windows. You don’t know about poverty until you’ve been to a place like that. It’s a tough country to grow up in and that’s probably why they’re so good at fighting. It makes the skin tough, it really does.”

Q: How did you avoid getting into sticky situations while you were living out there?

DT: “I was always in sticky situations! I remember one time when I was walking through an unknown favela in another city after I’d just fought and this group of guys collared me and they were like ‘oi whiteboy’ and I was thinking ‘I really don’t need this s**t now!’ It’s not like here where there’s serious consequences for serious crimes. If you kill someone here you’re going to jail for 20 years but over there life is different in terms of the way things are resolved. You have to be careful. I’d always try to walk with a crowd and of course the lads from the gym were all from the favelas and they had my back.”

Q: What can you share about being stabbed? Did it change your perspective on life?

DT: “I’ve been in some situations in my life. There was a time when I was training at my gym in Liverpool when I was struggling to make money and I was sort of on both sides of the law you could say. It was not a good place to be but I was a terrific fighter and my coach always knew that. I got into a situation in a nightclub where a fight broke out and I got stabbed twice in my ribs. I think the blade was centimetres from a major artery and if it had hit that it would’ve seen me bleeding out and dying. To cut a long story short I remember sitting outside the club and seeing a light. I’m not a big believer in God but in that moment I remember thinking it must be my time to go. But a security guard from the club stuck his fingers in the wound and he brought me back. It was a brutal moment but it changed my life for the better in the long term. I’ve got a beautiful family now and a house and everything I could wish for really.”

Q: Are there any up and coming Brazilian fighters you have high hopes for?

DT: “I Want to give a shout out to Caio Borralho, he’s one of BlockAsset’s athletes and I think he’s a terrific fighter. I love him and I think he’s going to make it to the top. Before he got into the UFC he used to send me messages and I helped him get involved with us. He’s going to take the game by storm.”

Q: Who do you want to see Khamzat fight next? Colby?

DT: “I would love to see him get the belt at welterweight. I think he’s destined to get that. But at the same time I don’t want to see him risk deteriorating his health by doing so. He’s already a big guy if he sticks to a strong diet and regime then he can make it. I would love to see the Colby fight but also I would love to see him fight Leon Edwards and I think he gets to win on both. I think Colby is great but Khamzat just carries too much striking power for him.”

Q: What do you think of Francis Ngannou leaving the UFC? Was it a shock?

DT: “If he’s not happy, he’s not happy and if he’s been able to negotiate a deal to get out of his contract then fair dos. If he feels like he’s not getting paid what he’s worth then that’s on him isn’t it. I’ve got a good relationship with Dana (White) and Hunter (Campbell) and the guys but obviously I’d like to get paid more too. I always said to Dana if I have a problem with the money I’ll come to you direct. I’m not one of those guys who will hold court in public and diss him after saying something like that.”

Q: In terms of Dana, and the media storm surrounding him right now, what’s best for him? Does he need to step away from the forefront of UFC events for a bit? 

DT: “Dana’s always been a big advocate against abuse and the ‘woke brigade’ for lack of a better term. I’m trying to give a solid opinion. The one thing I really don’t agree with is him saying ‘you need me’. There’s always got to be consequences and punishments when you do something wrong. It’s just the way the world works. What he was filmed doing in the club obviously can’t be condoned in any way.”

Q: Do you think Ciryl Gane is a difficult style fight for Jon Jones? Who wins for you?

DT: “What a fight! Wow! It’s interesting because Francis Ngannou took Gane down and Jones is the best wrestler in the heavyweight division and that speaks volumes for me. Jones is not a stupid fighter who’ll go striking with Gane, he’ll mix it up. Jones has been out for a hell of a long time but I still think he’ll prove too strong. But it will be great viewing.”

Q: What are the chances of the Jack Hermansson fight being made again?

DT: “There’s always a chance but MMA is moving so fast these days you just can never be sure. One or two losses will see you fall down the rankings just as fast as a couple of wins will bump you up. Boxing is different but MMA is evolving so quickly. I’ve been hearing that Ryan Garcia and Gervonta Davis are going to fight for the last 20 years! Are you going to fight or not? Same as Joshua vs Fury. Just get on and fight each other.”

Q: Thoughts on Conor McGregor? Should he retire? Is he still a huge draw or past his best?

DT: “I think Conor has been there and done it, made his money and now he’s happy. I’m sure he probably wants to come back but deep down he knows life’s different now. I think it’s probably the end for Conor but he’s still the biggest name in the sport.”

Q: What are your thoughts on the new generation of British talent currently on the books in the UFC? Paddy Pimblett and Meatball Molly etc.

DT: “MMA is on the rise in Liverpool. There’s so much raw talent coming through now in the UK as a whole but Liverpool seems to be the heart right now. They’re looking to us for inspiration and it’s going to be scary in 10 years what these kids are going to be up to.”

Q: Is there a ‘Team Liverpool’ connection with Paddy?

DT: “Yeah there has to be doesn’t there. We have to stick together because it’s only a small city.”

Q: “What are your thoughts on his £1m Barstool contract?”

DT: “He’s a kid from Huyton making a million quid! Who would’ve thought that was possible? It’s the best thing you can do in this sport and he’s showing there’s no limits. It can be achieved and anything is possible.”

Q: Rumour has it that headline MMA fighters operating under Jake Paul’s PFL banner will earn up to 50% of PPV revenue! Thoughts on this? 

DT: “If they’re getting the cheddar then fair play to them! He’s got everyone talking about him and you’ve got to respect it whether he can really fight or not.”

Q: Any interest in fighting in the PFL in the future?

DT: “Maybe yeah. It’s absolutely growing so big right now. Brendan Loughnane obviously just won a million dollars and the PFL World Championship. They’re getting to sign some big names right now even from the UFC. So that could happen yeah. I could go and make some money there.”

Q: Would you ever fight a YouTuber?

DT: ”I’d have to say yes. That’s where the money is. Even if maybe I didn’t really want to, because it’s tough to turn it down financially. Close your eyes and say yes and sign on the dotted line!”

Q: Do you respect Jake Paul for what he’s done in the boxing ring so far? 

DT: “I think he’s training really hard and putting 100% into it now. Again we have to respect it but let’s wait and see when he gets some tougher fights against more accomplished opponents. He’s kept proving the doubters wrong so yeah, keep making the money and doing what you’re doing.”



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With Lakers Having Interest, Fred VanVleet Is Expected To Sign With Klutch Sports

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Despite some bumps along the road so far for the Laker, they are still in solid contention to have a nice second half of the season. Anthony Davis has finally returned to the lineup and the Lakers are only 2.5 games out of eighth in the West. They made the first big trade of the offseason signing Rui Hachimura from the Wizards and they might not be done just yet. Raptors guard Fred VanVleet is expected to sign with Klutch Sports and that brings along interest from the LA Lakers. 

VanVleet halted offseason negotiations with the Raptors and did not sign and extension. With the way the season is going for the Raptors, almost all of their star players are up for grabs if the trade is right. That includes one-time all-star Fred VanVleet.

California Sports Betting sites have the Lakers at (+2000) to win the Finals this season.

Fred VanVleet could gain interest from the Lakers if he signs with Klutch Sports

According to NBA insider Marc Stein, VanVleet is reportedly going to sign with Klutch Sports. Which also happens to be LeBron James’ agency. Easy to connect the dots there. Here’s what Stein had to say about the Lakers potentially trading for the Raptors SG.

 “My pal and podcast partner Mr. Haynes reported earlier this week via Bleacher Report that VanVleet was in the process of hiring new agents in advance of free agency, with the seventh-year guard poised to become an unrestricted free agent unless he and the Raptors hash out a contract extension.” – Marc Stein

In 40 games played this season, VanVleet is averaging (19.1) points, (4.3) rebounds, (6.3) assists, and (1.6) steals per game. The NBA champ knows what he can do well in this league and that is score. He hasn’t averaged less than 19 points in a season over the last three years.

One thing the Lakers are in need of is a consistent shooter and VanVleet could easily fill that role. Besides Lonnie Walker IV or Austin Reaves, VanVleet would possibly be in contention for the best shooter on the team. His field-goal and three-point percentage are down this season, but that doesn’t mean that he can’t be effective in other ways.





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Kyrie Irving first Nets player with 30 points, five assists in five straight games in NBA season

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Kyrie Irving is the first Brooklyn Nets player with 30 points and five assists in five straight games in a single NBA season. The eight-time All-Star is the first Net with such a streak since Stephon Marbury accomplished the same feat while playing for the New Jersey Nets from April 30 to Nov. 2, 1999.

Irving set this record in Brooklyn’s 130-122 loss against the Detroit Pistons on Thursday night. The 12-year veteran ended his outing with 40 points, five rebounds, six assists, two steals, and two blocks in 39 minutes of action. Plus, he shot 14-of-27 (51.9%) from the floor and 6-of-12 (50%) outside the arc.

Per a few NBA betting sites, Kyrie Irving and the Nets have third-shortest odds to win the championship. Some sportsbooks are giving the Boston Celtics and Milwaukee Bucks better odds.

Additionally, Kyrie Irving joined Marbury, John Williamson, and Kevin Durant as the only Nets players to record 30-plus points in five consecutive games in franchise history. Durant logged 30 or more points in five straight contests from Dec. 10 to Dec. 30, 2021.

However, Brooklyn’s loss overshadowed Irving’s historical night. Detroit outscored the Nets 43-31 on 65% shooting in the third quarter. Saddiq Bey led the Pistons in scoring with 25 points. It was Detroit’s first win in Brooklyn since April 1, 2018. Brooklyn has now lost back-to-back games. The Nets are 4-6 in their last 10 contests.

Kyrie Irving joins Stephon Marbury, John Williamson, and Kevin Durant as the only Nets players to record 30 or more points in five consecutive games in franchise history

“They have a tendency to come out in the third quarter and try to win that,” the Nets guard said afterwards. “We came out and we were flat. When you do that and you are reacting to everything, every possession, it makes it difficult.”

Moreover, Kyrie Irving logged 30-plus points in five straight games with the Celtics in March 2019. Through 37 starts this season, the Nets guard is averaging 27.2 points, 5.1 boards, 5.2 assists, and 1.0 steal per game. He’s also shooting 48.8% from the field and 37.6% from 3-point range.

In other news, Kyrie Irving was named starter for the 2023 NBA All-Star Game on Friday. “I’m just grateful for the people at home. I would not be here without y’all. Y’all voted me in, and I’m ready to give a show,” the 30-year-old said.

Last Friday, Brooklyn’s 117-106 win versus the Utah Jazz, the 2016 NBA champ scored a season-high 48 points in 39 minutes played. Along with amassing 11 rebounds, six assists, and four steals, Irving 18-of-29 (62.1%) from the floor and 8-of-15 (53.3%) beyond the arc.





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LeBron James earns 19th straight All-Star selection, breaks tie with Kobe Bryant for longest streak

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LeBron James of the Los Angeles Lakers earned his 19th straight All-Star selection in his 20th season, breaking a tie with Kobe Bryant for the longest streak in NBA history. Of course, the four-time MVP did not receive an All-Star selection in his 2003-04 rookie season.

Not many players were selected to the All-Star Game in their first season. However, names that come to mind include Michael Jordan (1985), Hakeen Olajuwon (1985), Patrick Ewing (1986), David Robinson (1990), Shaquille O’Neal (1993), Tim Duncan (1998), Yao Ming (2003), and Blake Griffin (2011).

According to a few NBA betting sites, LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers possess 10th-best odds to win the championship. Multiple sportsbooks are showing greater odds for the Los Angeles Clippers and Memphis Grizzlies.

Additionally, with a 19th selection, LeBron James has now matched Kareem Abdul-Jabbar for most All-Star appearances. James also has 38,230 career points, ranking second all time. The Lakers superstar needs 158 points to pass Abdul-Jabbar (38,387) to become the NBA’s all-time scoring leader.

On Friday, James and Giannis Antetokounmpo were named captains for next month’s 2023 NBA All-Star Game at Vivint Arena in Salt Lake City, Utah. The four-time NBA champ has now been a captain each of the six years the league has allowed captains to draft their individual teams.

LeBron James receives 19th straight All-Star selection, ties Kareem Abdul-Jabbar for most appearances and breaks a tie with Kobe Bryant for the longest streak in NBA history

For the first time, the NBA All-Star Draft will take place right before the game. TNT will air the 2023 NBA All-Star Game Draft as a new, live pregame segment on Sunday, Feb. 19 at 7:30 p.m. ET.

Will LeBron James win his third All-Star Game MVP award next month? While with the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2006, he won his first All-Star Game MVP award after recording 29 points, six boards, two assists, and two steals in 31 minutes played. James then went on to win two more awards in 2008 and 2018.

Through 39 starts this season, LeBron James is averaging 29.9 points, 8.5 rebounds, 7.0 assists, and 1.0 steal per game. Plus, he’s shooting 50.7% from the floor and 30.4% beyond the arc.

Furthermore, in the Lakers’ 140-132 win over the Houston Rockets on Jan. 16, the 18-time All-NBA member logged a season-high 48 points in 36 minutes of action. He finished 16-of-26 (61.5%) shooting from the field and knocked down five 3-pointers.





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