Tom Brady, Patrick Mahomes share the cover for Madden NFL 22

The latest version of Madden is almost here, but the biggest changes are reserved for next-gen consoles.

Tom Brady and Patrick Mahomes are the cover stars for Madden 22.

Madden NFL 22 marks the first time in over a decade that two people were featured on the same cover. Troy Polamalu and Larry Fitzgerald previously were the dual-cover stars for Madden NFL 10.

Moving beyond the cover, EA is touting a few improvements to differentiate this year’s edition from prior games. All versions of Madden 22 will be seeing improvements to Franchise mode to enable more detailed staffing and strategy control, as well as new cinematics. EA says it will continue to expand the franchise mode after launch, with a September update promised to provide improvements to scouting.

The biggest changes, however, will be in a new “dynamic gameday” experience that is exclusive to next-gen consoles like the PS5 and Xbox Series X. EA says these changes will be impacting all modes throughout the game, from local games against the computer and online versus friends to franchise modes.

There will be new sideline animations in Madden 22.

As part of the “gameday” adjustments, the company has boosted the crowd and presentation elements of Madden 22 while adding additional localized changes to the on-field game, such as increasing passing and kick distance in Denver to account for the altitude while lowering short-term stamina for the visiting team.

A new “momentum” function has also been added to the next-gen versions that can impact the players on the field based on how the game is going and better imitate the pressure of NFL gamedays.

Away teams will have two of these momentum perks, what EA calls “M-Factors,” while home teams will get three as a bit of a home-field advantage. The home-specific perks will vary for each of the NFL’s 32 teams and can provide boosts for your team or disruptions to an opponent when triggered. Playing at home with the Minnesota Vikings, for instance, will get you a small speed boost in the red zone when the fans are doing their “Skol” chant. Visitors to Chicago will have a harder time kicking, while preplay play art on third and fourth down will be difficult to see in Seattle if momentum is on the Seahawks side.

The modifiers will vary based on each game and the situation you find yourselves in. Clint Oldenburg, gameplay producer for Madden 22, says there are roughly “40 plus” M-Factors in the game with more coming post-launch.

No player, not even cover stars Brady and Mahomes, will be immune to the impacts of the “M-Factors.” Games at neutral locations, like a Super Bowl, will not have extra perks for the home team.

In an expansion of an idea first introduced in the next-gen editions of Madden 21, EA says it will also be updating team and player tendencies throughout the season using the NFL’s Next Gen Stats. In Madden 22, this feature will also appear in the game as a way to make game plan decisions pregame and adjustments at halftime by pulling data from how your opponent has played or is playing.

For next-gen consoles, Madden 22 will retail for $70. Older consoles, PC and Stadia players will be able to get the game for $60.

Tokyo Olympics to be held under state of emergency, won’t allow spectators

Rising COVID-19 cases in Japan’s capital have led to a third state of emergency for the city, one that will last throughout the Olympic Games.

The Olympics were postponed from 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic.

“New cases in the greater Tokyo metropolitan area have been rising since June,” Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga was reported as saying in the Japan Times. “Stronger measures have become necessary in those areas, but could be lifted early if we see evidence of the positive impact of the vaccine rollout.”

Tokyo’s COVID-19 cases peaked with the new year, with over 2,392 new cases on Jan. 8. Numbers have fallen since, but they’ve been rising since the middle of June. Tokyo recorded 337 new COVID-19 cases on June 15, but July has seen new cases fluctuate between 500 and 920. It’s the third state of emergency the city has endured since the pandemic’s onset, following similar precautions in April and January.

Around 15% of Japan’s 126 million citizens have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

A worldwide death toll from the virus had risen to more than 4 million as of Thursday, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. In Japan, nearly 15,000 people have died of the virus.

After being postponed more than a year due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Olympics are scheduled to begin July 23 in Tokyo. They’ll run through to Aug. 8. Though many experts cautioned against holding the games, Japan’s government has pressed on — albeit with increasing restrictions as the games approached.

Officials last month said local fans would be allowed to physically attend the games, but with venues limited to 50% capacity or up to 10,000 spectators max. In March, officials banned overseas spectators from the Olympics.

MLB streaming 2021: Watch baseball’s pennant races live without cable

From DirecTV Stream to Bally Sports to MLB.TV to YouTube, there are plenty of ways to watch the last weeks of the Major League baseball season.

With about 15 games left in the season, MLB has again dropped the price of its MLB.TV season subscription, and there are also a few free ways to watch live baseball in September. You don’t need cable to watch your favorite team’s games, but your options depend on which team you follow and where you live.

Vladimir Guerrero Jr. has led the Toronto Blue Jays back into playoff contention, where they are fighting with the Yankees and Red Sox for a Wild Card spot.

There are two major ways to stream MLB games day in, day out without a cable or satellite TV subscription:

Depending on where you live, one of the major live TV streaming services could carry the channel that has your favorite team. Those channels, called regional sports networks, deliver almost all of the regular-season games live.

Most such services, however, carry only a handful of the 30 RSNs that show MLB games — and they’re typically the most expensive. DirecTV Stream carries the most RSNs, but you’ll need to spring for its $85-a-month plan; its basic $70-a-month plan doesn’t include RSNs. Sling TV, a service that costs $35 per month, doesn’t have any RSNs for baseball. If you’re a baseball fan who needs your team’s RSN, a cable subscription might actually be cheaper than streaming.

The other option is MLB.TV, a separate service that carries every game played by every team live. It’s great for hard-core fans in general. MLB.TV costs $27 for the remainder of the season.

The big catch with MLB.TV is the local blackout restriction: You can’t watch your local team’s games live. Instead, they become available about 90 minutes after the game ends. If you’re a Yankees fan in the New York area, for example, you can’t start to watch the Yankees game until an hour and a half after the final out. Other teams’ games aren’t blacked out live, which makes MLB.TV ideal for fans who want to follow one or more of the 28 or 29 teams based in other cities, aka out-of-market teams.

Due to MLB.TV’s blackout restriction, a live TV streaming service is the best bet for following your local team. Many services carry the RSN that has exclusive rights to every regular season game, but availability varies by location and service.

In addition to the RSNs listed below, live TV services carry most if not all of the major national networks — ESPN, Fox, FS1, MLB Network and TBS — that regularly televise matchups from different teams around the league. Details are at the top of this article.

Here’s how the RSNs stack up on each service.

Some key takeaways:

One other note: Fox Sports RSNs have been rebranded as Bally Sports, because the channels are no longer owned by Fox but Sinclair, which has since partnered with casino group Bally’s to rename them. So, Fox Sports Ohio is now called Bally Sports Ohio and so on.

If you are looking to watch your local team night in and night out, DirecTV Stream is your best bet. It offers by far the most RSNs of the live TV streaming services. Philadelphia and Toronto are the only MLB cities whose RSN is not offered on DirecTV Stream. FuboTV is second with 10 RSNs, giving you only a one-in-three chance of getting your local RSN to watch baseball.

DirecTV Stream is the priciest of the five major live TV streaming services, but it’s also the one with the most RSNs. Its cheapest, $70-a-month Plus package includes ESPN, Fox, FS1 and TBS. You’ll need to move up to the $85-a-month Choice plan to get MLB Network and any available RSN. You can use its channel lookup tool to see which local channels and RSNs are available in your area.

Major League Baseball’s official streaming service is great for following your favorite team if you live outside its TV market. Because of the 90-minute blackout described above, however, it’s much less useful for following your local home team.

MLB.TV subscribers also miss games that are broadcast nationally on ESPN, Fox, FS1, MLB Network and TBS. Those games are blacked out on MLB.TV, which can be particularly irksome for fans of the Yankees, Red Sox, Dodgers and other big-market teams that are frequently selected for national broadcasts.

The price of MLB.TV at the start of the season was $130. With only two weeks left, that has dropped to $27. As a subscriber, you can watch out-of-market games live or on demand, and the in-market (home) team with a 90-minute delay from the end of the game.

With MLB.TV, you can also listen to home and away radio broadcasts. The radio broadcasts aren’t subject to the blackout rule, so you can listen to home team games live. MLB.TV also includes a ton of video content, including classic games, baseball documentaries and old This Week in Baseball episodes.

Even if you don’t subscribe, you can still watch baseball with the MLB app. It offers one Free Game of the Day that anyone can stream live for free.

Read our MLB.TV review.

ESPN’s stand-alone streaming service costs $6 a month or $60 a year and shows one game nearly every day of the six-month MLB season. The catch is that your local team’s games are blacked out when they appear on ESPN Plus, similar to MLB.TV. Also, the games shown on ESPN Plus are not exclusive to ESPN Plus and are also available on MLB.TV.

Aside from DirecTV Stream, the odds are long that a live TV streaming service carries the RSN for your local team’s games, which makes the other four services better bets for watching nationally televised games. YouTube also shows a game a week for free.

FuboTV costs $65 per month and offers 10 RSNs for baseball. It also includes ESPN, Fox and FS1 but not TBS. You can add MLB Network for an extra $11 a month with the Sports Plus with NFL RedZone add-on. Check out which local networks and RSNs it offers here.

YouTube TV costs $65 a month and offers five RSNs for baseball, along with all five channels for national broadcasts. Plug in your ZIP code on its welcome page to see which local networks and RSNs are available in your area.

Hulu with Live TV costs $65 a month and carries five RSNs for baseball along with ESPN, Fox, FS1 and TBS, but not MLB Network. Click the “View all channels in your area” link at the bottom of its welcome page to see which local networks and RSNs are available where you live.

Sling Blue currently lacks a single RSN to watch baseball. You can, however, use Sling to watch national baseball broadcasts. Sling TV’s Orange plan includes ESPN, and the Blue plan includes Fox and FS1. Both plans offer TBS. The MLB Network is available as part of the Sports Extra add-on, which costs $11 a month for either the Blue or Orange plan or $15 for the combined Orange-and-Blue plan. The individual plans cost $35 a month each, and the Orange-and-Blue plan costs $50 a month. You can see which local channels you get here.

Each live TV streaming service offers a free trial, allows you to cancel anytime and requires a solid internet connection. Looking for more information? Check out our live TV streaming services guide.

For the third year, YouTube streams some MLB games for free. For the 2021 season, 21 games will be shown as the MLB Game of the Week Live on YouTube. Two games remain on the schedule

For Yankees fans in the team’s market, Amazon will stream 21 Yankees games on Prime Video this season. While you don’t need to live in the Bronx to stream these games, the area where they’re available is limited — New York state, Connecticut, northeast Pennsylvania, and north and central New Jersey. You’ll need to be a Prime member, too.

Three Prime Video games remain:

The MLB At Bat app is great on phones and even better on tablets. If you bought an MLB.TV subscription (as outlined above), you can log in to your account and watch games live in the app. There is a cheaper subscription option for use with the mobile app only, but it’s limited in what it lets you watch.

You can buy an At Bat subscription via the MLB At Bat app. It costs $20 a year (or $3 a month) and lets you listen to the home or away radio broadcasts — baseball is the only sport I can listen to on the radio — and watch one game per day during the season. You can’t choose which game you want to watch; you’re stuck with the MLB.TV Free Game of the Day.

Watch Steph Curry break the NBA 3-point record — and see the crowd go wild

Ray Allen’s 10-year-old NBA record was no match for Curry.

“The way he changed the game, it’s almost like how Babe Ruth changed baseball with the long ball,” said TNT announcer and former player Reggie Miller, who is now third on the three-pointer list behind Curry and Allen. “He has changed the game with the three-point ball. How all 30 teams approach the game is because of Number 30.”

Reaction? Oh, there was a little bit.

“Just landed in Dallas to see Stephen Curry broke the record and to make it even doper he did it in the GARDEN!!” tweeted NBA legend LeBron James, who was born in the same Akron, Ohio, hospital as Curry, though four years apart. “WOW CONGRATS BROTHER!! INCREDIBLE.”

NBA star Kevin Durant is already looking to Curry’s future, tweeting, “2974…more on the way. Congrats to the God Stephen Curry.”

Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson joined in too, writing, “Congrats legend!”

On Wednesday, Curry himself thanked his fans. “Dream come true,” he said in a tweet. “In the Garden too. Thank you everybody for reaching out and showing love. This means so much to me and my family.”

CDC eases travel restriction on Japan and other countries ahead of the Olympics

The agency says people should be fully vaccinated before traveling.

The CDC’s Level 4 risk assessment advises against all travel to a country and recommends being vaccinated if you must go there. Level 3 is more forgiving. The risk is still high, but the CDC doesn’t strictly recommend against it for vaccinated people.

The State Department has updated its travel recommendations to match.

Xbox Game Pass Ultimate adds FIFA 21, completing the sports gamer’s dream

If you want to play a sports game on your Xbox, Game Pass is increasingly looking like the way to go.

FIFA 21 is hitting Game Pass Ultimate on Thursday.

FIFA 21, which is part of EA Play, which Microsoft bundled into its Game Pass Ultimate service last year, will follow the lead of titles like Madden 21 and MLB The Show 21 with versions available for the Xbox One as well as next-gen optimized editions for those with an Xbox Series X or Series S.

The inclusion of a next-gen version of FIFA 21 is a nice win for owners of Microsoft’s latest consoles, something not all publishers have done. 2K’s NBA 2K21, for example, has made the Xbox One version of its basketball game available as part of Game Pass but not the next-gen upgrade. Instead, those looking for that edition will still need to buy their own copy (currently $40 at a host of retailers after being $70 at launch).

And while the addition of more major titles is always welcome, to be truly perfect Microsoft still has work to do in adding games closer to their release dates. The company was surprisingly able to get Sony’s MLB The Show on its service in time for its launch in April, but FIFA’s arrival comes seven months after the title was first made available last October.

It makes sense that publishers will want to keep titles available for purchase at launch to get money from diehard fans, using services like Game Pass as a way to boost the tail end of a life cycle and hold interest until the next iteration. The good news for sports gamers who aren’t in a rush to play the latest season, however, is that Game Pass is increasingly becoming a better option for getting all the action.

UFC 263 Adesanya vs. Vettori: Start time, how to watch, predictions, full fight card

We’re just hours away from UFC 263.

Nate Diaz returns at UFC 263.

But in terms of mainstream interest, UFC 263 heralds the return of one of the UFC’s biggest drawcards: Nate Diaz.

Nate Diaz is fighting Leon Edwards in a fight where the odds are stacked against him. To begin with, the contest is at Welterweight. Diaz is strongest in the Lightweight division where his reach and size often drowns opponents. Previous fights at Welterweight have involved other opponents who normally fight at Lightweight, like Conor McGregor and Anthony Pettis. This time he’s fighting a true Welterweight in Leon Edwards, a fighter who has dominated in that weight class. He hasn’t lost in almost six years.

In short, it could be a rough night for Diaz.

The UFC 263 main card starts at 10 p.m ET (7 p.m. PT) but here are all the details…

This year the UFC entered into a new partnership with ESPN. That’s great news for the UFC and the expansion of the sport of MMA, but bad news for consumer choice. Especially if you’re one of the UFC fans who want to watch UFC live in the US.

In the US, if you want to know how to watch UFC 263, you’ll only find the fight night on PPV through ESPN Plus. The cost structure is a bit confusing, but here are the options to watch UFC on ESPN, according to ESPN’s site:

You can do all of the above at the link below.

MMA fans in the UK can watch UFC 263 exclusively through BT Sport. There are more options if you live in Australia. You can watch UFC 263 through Main Event on Foxtel. You can also watch on the UFC website or using its app. You can even order using your PlayStation or using the UFC app on your Xbox.

Need more international viewing options? Try a VPN to change your IP address to access those US, UK or Australian options listed above. See the best VPNs currently recommended by CNET editors.

As always, these cards tend to change and evolve. We’ll keep this updated.

Let’s do a couple of quick predictions for a change!

Returning from a failed sojourn at Light Heavyweight, you could assume Adesanya is vulnerable. But the fact is he’s yet to lose at Middleweight and Marvin Vettori presents nothing new for Adesanya.

In addition: Adesanya and Vettori have already fought once before in 2018, which resulted in a split decision victory for Adesanya. It was close but, score cards aside, Adesanya was the clear victor.

Who has improved most since that contest? Adesanya, clearly. His wrestling defence and jiu-jitsu have improved markedly since that fight. This fight will almost certainly stay standing. Expect a similar contest to Adesanya’s last Middleweight defence against Paulo Costa.

Our prediction: Adesanya by TKO.

This fight is another rematch. Figueiredo and Moreno locked horns in a fight that was ruled a draw in December 2020.

That draw was the result of docked points on Figueiredo’s part after a brutal low blow. If not for those docked points, Figueiredo would have won the fight, fairly clearly.

It was a close contest, but I expect this one to be far more decisive in Figueiredo’s favor. His punching power, his size — Figueiredo has been an absolute mauler in his UFC career. This could potentially go the distance (Moreno can really take a shot) but I expect Figueiredo to win.

Our prediction: Figueiredo by decision

People have been quick to write off Nate Diaz in this fight, mainly because he’s not had much success at Welterweight in the past and Leon Edwards is a strong Welterweight.

I expect Edwards to beat Diaz, by mixing up his wrestling, striking and cage work, but I wouldn’t be surprised if Diaz took a round or two, particularly since this is a five round fight.

This should be a fun fight.

Our prediction: Edwards by decision

AEW Full Gear 2021: Results, new AEW Champion, full recap and analysis

Hangman Adam Page won the AEW Championship to finish an excellent pay-per-view.

All Elite Wrestling has a new top man. “Hangman” Adam Page pinned Kenny Omega in the middle of the ring to win the AEW Championship in the main event of Full Gear 2021. It was the culmination of AEW’s longest-running storyline, and the end to one of AEW’s best pay-per-view events.

While the main event produced a new champion, perhaps the best match of the night was that between CM Punk and Eddie Kingston. They had a gruff fight that stood out from the rest of the card, and it’s arguably what the crowd was most into on the show. Other highlights include the opening bout between MJF and Darby Allin, Bryan Danielson defeating Miro to become the number one contender for Page’s AEW Championship and the AEW Tag Team Championship bout between The Lucha Brothers and FTR.

Scroll below for a full recap and match analysis for Full Gear 2021.

The fourth ever AEW Champion has been crowned. Hangman Adam Page pinned Kenny Omega in the main event of Full Gear to win the AEW Championship.

The crowd was alive as the bell rang, moreso than anything else on the show with the exception of Punk versus Kingston. Omega got the advantage with the help of Don Callis, who tripped Page and later attacked multiple times when the ref’s back was turned.

There were many big spots, including a sick springboard Liger Bomb that Omega planted Page with when Page was perched on the top rope. Mostly, though, this was a back-and-forth action match with little in the way of psychology until the final minutes.

We got a ref bump about 16 minutes into the match, with Page attempting a Buckshot Lariat but Omega pulling the referee into the clash instead. Callis tried to smash Page with the AEW Championship belt, but Hangman knocked him out. Omega then took a swing with the belt, but Hangman countered and hit his Deadeye signature move. A new referee slid in and we got our first great nearfall of the match.

After another exchange between Page and Omega, which saw Omega land many V-Triggers and Page counter with a huge clothesline, The Young Bucks limped to the ring.

Page attempted a Buckshot Lariat but Omega countered with a huge V-Trigger. Omega attempted a One Winged Angel but Page reversed it into a One Winged Angel of his own for a two count. Page then barraged Omega with two Buckshot Lariats — one from behind and a second from the front — to win the match. The Bucks didn’t interfere, but rather nodded in approvement as Page struck his winning blow.

After the match, The Dark Order came to the ring to celebrate with the new champ.

Rating: 4 stars. A good main event with a great final few minutes.

Before the main event, we got news that former Ring of Honor champion has joined All Elite Wrestling. He issued a challenge to Sammy Guevara for the TNT Championship, which Guevara accepted.

The Inner Circle (Chris Jericho, Jake Hager, Sammy Guevara, Santana and Ortiz) were victorious in their Minneapolis Street Fight against Men of the Year (Scorpio Sky and Ethan Page) and American Top Team (Junior dos Santos, Andrei Arlovski and Dan Lambert).

The culmination of the match was Jericho landing a Frog Splash on Dan Lambert, in a tribute to Eddie Guerrero, who died on Nov. 13 in 2005,  to win the match for his team.

It’s hard to fairly appraise this Street Fight. If you watch it in isolation, it would be a bunch of fun. The problem is that it was another car-crash match, similar in spirit to the Young Bucks falls count anywhere bout earlier in the night. That problem recurred with the ending. Jericho and Guerrero were great friends, but we saw Guerrero tribute spots in multiple matches tonight, so Jericho’s Frog Splash felt less special than it should have.

Still, there were many crazy spots to keep you entertained — the craziest of which was Guevara chanelling Jeff Hardy with a Swanton off the top of a huge ladder.

Rating: 3 stars.

This. Was. Awesome.

Eddie Kingston and CM Punk beat the hell out of each other. This felt completely different from anything else on the show. At 11 minutes, it was shorter than the other marquee matches. There wasn’t any flips or acrobatics. It was gritty, and it felt like a fight.

The crowd was split, and mega, mega into this. It began with Eddie Kingston surprising Punk with a spinning backfist before the match started. The crowd popped huge, cheering for Eddie, but as Punks stirred we got defeaning duelling chants. Throughout the bout the crowd was 65-35 in Eddie’s favor, which was surprising.

Kingston threw Eddie into the turnbuckle on the outside early, which cut Punk open — he bled profusely. The dynamic of the match was that Punk was the big star, and Kingston was the scrappy underdog. In essence, a reversal of Punk’s famous match against John Cena at Money in the Bank 2011. That was best exemplified when Punk did Cena’s shoulder blocks and teased doing a “You can’t see me” taunt, which got heat from the crowd.

At the end of the match, Kingston taunted Punk with the “Go to sleep” sign Punk does. Punk surprised Kingston with a GTS, but Punk was too beaten down to capitalize. Both men got back to their feet, Kingston attempted a wild spinning backfist but Punk ducked and hit a second GTS for the win.

Rating: 4.5 stars. Best thing on the show.

Britt Baker.

Britt Baker defeated Tai Conti with a cradle pin to retain her AEW Women’s Championship.

These women were put in a tough spot. They were on late in the show, and the audience has seen several amazing matches. Further, Britt Baker is a heel, but she’s one of the most popular stars on the roster. That puts Tai Conti in a hard spot — she’s meant to be the hero, but she’s going up against a bigger and more popular performer.

With that said, this ended up above average. The crowd was largely not interested until about 8 or 9 minutes in, when Britt Baker landed an Air Raid Crash to Conti on the apron. After Conti kicked out, she managed to turn the tide by planting Baker with a Gotch Piledriver. That caused the hitherto apathetic crowd to get into a duelling chant, one side for Baker and one side for Conti.

Jaimie Hayter and Rebel ran interference for Baker, but Conti took them out with a huge moonsault. Back in the ring, Conti hit a DDTay for a two count. She attempted another, but Baker countered into a Lockjaw attempted. Conti turned that into a cradle, but Baker reversed that into a cradle of her own for the win.

Rating: 3.25 stars.

Cody Rhodes and Pac managed to team together and not implode for long enough to defeat Malakai Black and Andrade El Idolo. The victory came when Pac landed a Black Arrow on Andrade.

It was a bit of a sloppy match, with some noticeable awkwardness, but these four are so talented that even on their worst day they’d put on a solid performance. The story going into it was that Cody and Pac distrusted each other, which shone through when Pac would repeatedly tag himself in, to Cody’s frustration.

Early into the bout, on one such occassion, Cody was distracted by Pac’s tag for long enough for Malakai Black to surprise Cody with a Black Mass kick. That put Cody out, and allowed Black and Andrade to work over Pac. Eventually he was able to tag Cody back in. Cody ran wild, which annoyed the notably anti-Cody crowd, and eventually Pac and Andrade were the legal men.

Black and Cody brawled to the outside, with Black kicking Cody over the barricades, which left Andrade and Pac to decide the match. Pac hit his Black Arrow for the win.

Rating: 3 stars. It was good, but was disadvantaged by following the car-crash match that came before. It also had essentially no stakes, which is an issue at this stage of the show.

This was just bananas. It reminded me in a lot of ways of the TLC matches that made Christian Cage — alongside Edge, The Hardys and The Dudleys — so famous. Not because there were crazy ladder spots, but because it was just a nonstop car crash.

It would be pointless for me to try and recap everything that happened. Here are a few snippets:

After much chaos, the end began when The Young Bucks stuffed thumbtacks inside Jungle Boy’s mouth then clocked him with a double superkick as Adam Cole held him in a Camel Clutch. Christian interrupted the pin to save the match.

A creative sequence followed, where Matt Jackson aggrevated Luchasaurus with a superkick, leading to Luchasaurus chasing Matt up the rampway. Matt was cutoff by a recovered Jungle Boy on the ramp, where Jungle Boy put him in a Snare Trap. The six men then exchanged big moves up by the entranceway. It culminated with Cole and the Bucks putting thumbtack-studded straps around their knees to hit a three-way BTE Trigger on Luchasaurus. Jungle Boy broke up the pin, and then his team fought back against the SuperKliq.

After Luchasaurus chokelammed Adam Cole off the ramp onto Nick Jackson and stooge Brandon Cutler, he took them all out for good with an impressive Shooting Star Press. Jungle Boy landed a Conchairto on Matt Jackson for the win.

Rating: 3.75 stars. A lot of chaos and excitement, but with some ridiculousness too. The thumbtack spots were unbelievable and really broke the suspension of disbelief — stuffing thumbtacks in someone’s mouth and kicking them twice led to no bleeding, and Luchasaurus popped up fine mere moments after getting triple BTE Triggered with thumbtack kneepads. Still, it was undoubtedly crazy.

In what was guaranteed to be a strong match, Bryan Danielson beat Miro in… a strong match. Danielson and Miro played their parts perfectly: Miro is a beast of a man, and Danielson is the plucky wrestler that fights from below.

After the opening minutes where Danielson hit Miro with some stiff-looking uppercuts and kicks, there was a great sequence where Danielson stacked Miro for a pin attempt. Miro kicked out and Danielson transitioned into a nice kneebar. After a dramatic few moments in the submission, Miro rolled onto his side and muscled Danielson with a gutwrench throw. This essentially exemplified the dynamic: Danielson is technically proficient, and Miro is the brute that repeatedly knocked him back.

Miro would get a solid submission in of his own when he locked Danielson into the Game Over, his version of the Camel Clutch. Danielson got to the ropes, and when Miro tried to put it on again, Danielson countered into a Labelle Lock. Danielson’s integration of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu into his wrestling style is fantastic. Miro managed to break Danielson’s hold, then Danielson transitioned into a Triangle Choke, a throwback to how he beat Eddie Kingston a few weeks ago, but Miro was able to break out again.

After a strike exchange where Miro absorbed all of Danielson’s kicks, the two found themselves atop the turnbuckle. Danielson landed a top-rope DDT and then locked on a guillotine choke. Miro passed out.

Rating: 4.25 stars. Snug strikes, believable wrestling. Great stuff.

The Lucha Brothers won the AEW Tag Team Championships at All Out.

In the second match of the night, The Lucha Brothers defeated FTR in an unsurprisingly exciting bout. Like the opener though, there was some unnecessary funny business towards the end.

Watching The Lucha Brothers wrestle is just so fun. Their offense is so explosive and acrobatic. I can’t do it justice via description, so here are some examples.

The flow of the match was essentially that Fenix and Penta would do crazy fun stuff, but then Cash Wheeler and Dax Harwood would cut them off, often with underhanded tactics. It’s a great dynamic, one familiar to FTR matches, that lets both teams shine. Lucha Brothers got to look like superheroes, FTR looked shrewd and expert in tag team tactics.

There was a great nearfall where Fenix was running wild but was cut off by Cash, who hit him with one of the AAA Tag Title belts when the ref wasn’t looking. Fenix kicked out at two, but the crowd bought it as a finish.

Dax got megaheat moments later when he mimicked Eddie Guerrero’s taunt and attempted the Three Amigos. Penta countered at number three and did his own Three Amigos, which got a huge applause from the crowd. Fenix then landed a Frogsplash, which lit the crowd alight with “Eddie!” chants and got another awesome nearfall.

The finish brought the bout down a bit. FTR put on their Lucha masks, which they’ve taken to doing to mock the Lucha Bros, and Cash Wheeler tried to cheat a victory by rolling up Penta and putting his legs on the rope. The ref stopped caught him, then Penta hit him with a superkick and Lucha Brothers planted him with their Magic Killer tandem finish. The whole mask spot slowed the pace down, and felt completely superfluous.

Rating: 4.25 stars. Like the opening match, this featured excellent action and an overbooked finish.

The clash between two of AEW’s biggest stars of tomorrow kicked off the main show. After a terrific bout, MJF hit Allin with brass knucks and then pinned him with a side headlock, as he said he would. It was a so-so- finish to an outstanding match.

It began as a wrestling contest, with Allin and MJF trying to prove who the better professional wrestler is. As noted, the story going into the contest was that MJF said he could beat Allin with a side headlock. Though it grew into a dynamic match with wild moves, the two started out with chain wrestling and fun athletics. MJF would tweak his knee early on, and would sell said knee throughout after Allin exacerbated the injury with a chop block and a brief Figure Four.

The Minnesota crowd was very into this match. MJF is a dastardly villain but, as often happens with charismatic bad guys, a lot of the audience loved him. The match opened to an even split, with dueling chants for Darby and MJF. Towards the end we got a “fight forever!” chant.

As you’d expect with a Darby Allin match, there were several wince-inducing moments. Early on, with MJF splayed across the apron, Allin attempted a Coffin Drop. MJF moved, and Allin crashed his spine into the apron. It was brutal. Later, MJF caught Allin in midair and did a modifed Atomic Drop: Imagine a Powerbomb into MJF’s knees. Maybe the most gnarly one was MJF’s Tombstone Piledriver onto the apron. It was a great spot, as MJF did huge damage to Allin but couldn’t capitalize due to his knee issues.

The match was looking like an instant classic, but then we got to the finish.

Wardlow and Shawn Spears tried to come interfere on MJF’s behalf, but Sting made the save. In the middle of it all,  MJF brought Allin’s skateboard into the ring and dared Allin to hit him with it. The announcer’s played it up as mindgames, that MJF was trying to get Allin disqualified. Allin was tempted, but gently gave the ref the skateboard. While the ref was distracted, MJF pulled brass knucks out of his tights, clocked Allin with them and then pinned him with a side headlock takedown.

Rating: 4 stars. The ending was a bit silly and contrived, which was disappointing because these two did such a great job at making this feel like a serious athletic contest. Still, the action leading up to it was stellar. The future is bright.

UFC 268 Usman vs. Covington: Results and reactions

All the results and round by round reactions.

Usman defeats Covington for the second time.

UFC 268 was an incredible card top to bottom, headlined by two title fights that lived up to the hype and more. In the main event, Kamaru Usman edged Colby Covington in another gruelling war. The co-main between Rose Namajunas and Zhang Weili was another banger, with Namajunas defeating Weili via razor thin split decision.

Elsewhere on the card, Marlon Vera defeated the legendary Frankie Edgar via a crushing front kick. Justin Gaethje defeated Michael Chandler in an unforgettable fight of the year candidate.

You can find our live, blow-by-blow reactions to UFC 268 below.

Usman is fast becoming one of the best fighters on the planet.

Usman has looked unstoppable in the UFC, but the closest he ever looked to being vulnerable was against Colby Covington. This is a rematch and, in their first fight, the scorecards were incredibly close until Usman knocked Covington out in the fifth and final round.

Usman has looked much improved since that fight. Covington has been a little less active and it’s for that reason that I’m picking Usman in this rematch. Can’t wait to see how this plays out.

Quick note — regardless of your thoughts on Covington, you can’t deny coming out to Kurt Angle’s music is an all-time perfect heel move. I love it so much.

Alright… here we go!

Covington isn’t throwing much early, which is strange, because his best shot with this fight is volume. Maybe wrestling is the plan for him this time round and YEP! He goes for the shot, which is defended.

Covington looks a little shook by that exchange to be honest. Usman is pressuring and cutting the cage well here.

And whoa… Usman gets a quick takedown, but Covington gets up quickly.

I score this round 10-9 for Usman.

I think the power difference could be a huge factor here. Usman doesn’t really have to respect Covington’s shots, but the reverse isn’t true.

The pace of this fight is much slower which, again, suits Usman. This isn’t looking great for Covington and you can see the confidence draining. The body shots are big for Usman as well.

Already we’re seeing Covington running out of options here.

Whoa! Usman catches Covington clean and drops him! Then clips him straight away dropping him twice. Somehow Covington survives the round. That’s very close to a 10-8 round. One more minute in that round and Covington would have been toast.

I score this round 10-9 for Usman.

Covington seems to have recovered and actually lands a big shot on Usman. Still, he’s being stalked and pressured by Usman, who is landing his jab at will.

Colby shoots, but Usman is extremely wise to it. I don’t think a welterweight alive could take Usman down at this point.

This is easily Covington’s best round though. At the end of the round he lands some big shots and potentially steals the round. I’m still scoring it for Usman.

I score this round 10-9 for Usman.

Colby is switching up to the strategy he used in the first fight. Throwing more volume, throwing with mean intentions. He’s finding more success!

He is landing hard and clean here, but Usman seems unphased.

This fourth round looks a LOT like the first fight, which is good for Covington. He’s coming on strong here. This is getting really interesting.

I score this round 10-9 for Covington.

Oh man, Covington is landing here, but he shoots and has it stuffed, which may have actually saved Usman.

Usman now back in control it seems but this is a tight round. I think Covington really wants to secure this fight with a takedown, but it’s not there. He still hasn’t really hurt Usman yet.

Ah damn, there’s an eye poke right at the end there. That really takes the sting out of the last 30 seconds of the fight. Which is super weird.

Very tight round but…

I score this round 10-9 for Usman. (49-46 for Usman overall).

The judges have 48-47, 48-47 and 49-46 for Usman.

Yes, that is Halle Berry in there. Randomly!

I think this is, personally, my most anticipated fight on the card. Mainly because I don’t feel like we really got to see this match-up play out in the first fight. It’s a real toss-up for me. Namajunas is the slickest striker in her division, but Weili has incredible power and physicality. Traditionally, that’s been tricky for Namajunas to navigate — and when you consider Weili seems to have been training her wrestling for this contest, we could have a real fight on our hands here.

I’m picking Weili. Just have a wee feeling she’ll take it. I’m so hyped for this one.

Loved Namajunas walking to the cage with the “I’m the best” mantra. Big Diego Sachez vibes there.

The crown booing Weili heavy. We know she doesn’t like that.

Let’s goooooooo!

Weili opens with three leg kicks. Bouncing on her toes. Weili seems tentative, but gets a takedown. Had a feeling this might happen since she’s been training with Henry Cejudo. Weili now on top and in control. She’s landing big shots from on top here.

Rose scrambles back to her feet. Weili lands a good headkick but Weili seems tentative in there.

I score it 10-9 for Weili.

Namajunas’ corner want her to wait for Weili to come to here, which is great advice to be honest. I get the feeling the Weili could potentially take Namajunas down at will with the strength advantage. Have to see how this plays out.

This is a tentative round for both fighters. Weili is throwing that leg kick a lot, Namajunas can’t take too many of those. Ooft, Weili cracks Namajunas clean and now she’s on her back after a takedown. Namajunas lands an upkick, but Weili is on top now and she’s — again — winning this round.

Now Rose gets the takedown! Fascinating contest.

I score it 10-9 for Weili.

Not much happening here, but Rose just looks much calmer in there. Tough to score this round, but the leg kicks are money for Weili. I think Rose should throw some her own. I think Weili slipped, but the crowd sold it. They’re in the clinch now.

They break and Namajunas is much more aggressive now but Weili cracks her with a left hook. Now she lands a takedown that’ll probably steal the round. She finishes in full mount.

I score it 10-9 for Weili.

Both fighters are opening up now, landing shots. Great start to the round for both fighters.

Now Weili has her back, trying to get hooks in for a rear naked choke. Namajunas reverses! Now she’s in Weili’s guard. Crazy scrambles here. This is the fight I was hoping to see. Amazing stuff.

Rose finishes the round on top. It’ll be interesting to see who comes out with more energy in the fifth and final round.

I score it 10-9 for Namajunas.

I have it 3-1 Weili, but there’s a real chance it’s 2-2. This is a high stakes round.

This is down to who wants it more. Cliche, but true in this case.

MASSSIIVE TAKEDOWN from Rose. With both fighters tired, Rose might be able to keep the fight here for the whole round. Weili absolutely needs to get up, she can’t accept this position.

But Weili looks like she doesn’t have the energy to get back up. The fight ends with Rose on top.

I score it 10-9 for Namajunas. (48-47 for Weili).

I reckon the judges will score this differently. Keen to see the cards…

The judges scored it 49-46, 48-47, 47-48.

Edgar vs. Vera is gonna be a great one.

This one is just great matchmaking. Former UFC lightweight champ Edgar is a legend of MMA and Vera is a star on the rise. This one is a real clash of styles: Vera is a technical slugger with an iron chin, Edgar is the type to mix slick takedowns in with his striking.

The safe money is on Edgar grinding this one out over three rounds, but we have seen Edgar suffer devastating knockouts in recent fights. This one’s a bit of a toss-up. I’m picking Edgar.

A stat popped up showing that Edgar has the most fight time of anyone in UFC history — almost 8 hours. Wild.

Being 40 years old in the lighter weight division is just such an achievement. What a legend Edgar is.

Good sign for Vera, who stuffs the first shot from Frankie. Wild that Edgar used to the champ two weight classes above, but looks so much smaller than Vera.

Edgar gets him down with a blast double, into a choke from Vera, but Edgar gets out quick. This is how he wins this fight, with top control and pressure. This could be bad for Vera. He’s bang in the middle of the cage and could be here for the rest of the round.

Vera is defending well from the bottom here, and lands a few nice upkicks, but he’s losing this round.

I score this 10-9 for Edgar.

The fight starts standing obviously, which favors Vera, but Edgar gets him down early. We’ve already seen he doesn’t have much for Edgar on the ground. He could — again — very well grind this round out from this position.

This is vintage Edgar here. You love to see it.

But wait — Vera scrambles to his feet. Great work by Vera. He’s marching forward now desperate to land shots and win this round. He lands a huge knee of Edgar. He lands another that has Edgar stumbling. Remember it was a knee from Cory Sandhagen that took Edgar clean out in his last fight. 

Vera is gathering confidence here. He’s winning this round.

Edgar looks in bad shape as he goes back to his corner.

I score this 10-9 for Vera

You get the sense that a takedown is very important for Edgar here. Vera has the advantage on the feet here, and Edgar’s chin isn’t what it used to be.

Edgar’s shots just aren’t hitting hard enough to earn respect here. He needs a shot ASAP. He almost gets him down at some point and then bam, Vera is straight back up.

Then BAM. A massive Anderson Silva-esque front kick straight up the middle takes Edgar out clean. This fight is over. Edgar is protesting the stoppage, but no way — he was out 100%. Incredible shot by Vera.

Vera wins by TKO.

This has to be a tough one for Edgar to take. At 40 years old, you have to imagine there’s not too many fights left for this guy. The chin isn’t what it used to be and it’s tough to keep facing down these young killers.

Alright, time to take a breather.

Lol whatever, Shane Burgos is fighting.

This is the lowest profile fight on this stacked card, but both Shane Burgos and Billy Quarantillo are known for all action fights. Hard to expect this playing out any other way. This one is a real coin toss, but I’m taking Burgos. He hits harder and maintains a powerful pace.

Quarantillo comes out pressuring, trying to make this ugly with dirty boxing and tight uppercuts.

Burgos wrestles him to the cage, attempting to wear Quarantillo out.

On the feet this feels even, but Burgos is landing harder shots. They’re slugging it out in the pocket now and Quarantillo shoots for the takedown. Great round of action here. Everything pales in comparison to Gaethje vs. Chandler, but this is good stuff.

I score it 10-9 for Quarantillo

Both fighters come out trading big shots. Quarantillo will not stop marching forward. It’s clearly the gameplan to keep Burgos on the backfoot.

Quarantillo could very well win the fight on volume alone.

This round is so hard to score, they’re just landing on one another and not stopping. The leg kicks are starting to add up.

But Quarantillo gets hurt by a clean right hand shot by Burgos and now he’s getting swarmed. He makes it to the end, but that’s definitely a Burgos round.

I score it 10-9 for Burgos

As the commentary mentioned, Quarantillo’s leg is in bad shape. That’s making it easier for Burgos to land shots.

Damn the leg is worse than I thought. This could be bad for Quarantillo. He goes to the clinch to try and negate it, but  a couple of clean leg kicks and this fight could be over.

Quarantillo is surviving, trying to get close Burgos is fatiguing. This has been another tremendous fight.

I score it 10-9 for Burgos (29-28 Burgos overall)

Let’s see how the judges have it…

Yep, all three judges agree with me. Incredible fight with a ridiculous output from both men.

This one’s gonna be a banger, folks.

Apparently this fight was bumped to the card opener because Gaethje’s coach Trevor Wittman needed time between this fight and the fight of his other student Rose Namajunas.

Either way, what a way to open this card. I am beyond hyped for this fight. Two massive hitters who like to go forward. I favour Gaethje because he’s arguably the most effective leg kicker in MMA and Chandler has struggled historically with leg kicks. That said — Chandler can put your lights out anytime with that huge overhand he likes to wing.

Can’t wait for this one. The only guarantee is one of these guys is doing a backflip off the cage when they win. Chandler and Gaethje always do that!

Man, what a fight to open with. I am so ridiculously hyped for this. This is absolute car crash territory. The New York crowd is incredibly hot also. Let’s goooo.

Man, Chandler is marching forward with bombs here. Gaethje opened with that calf kick. These guys are winging with no defence to speak of and Chandler seems to be getting the best of it. Leg kicks are already appearing to compromise both fighters.

PHEW. Okay pace has slowed down. Breathe.

But Chandler lands HUGE and Gaethje staggers back. Somehow Gaethje recovers and starts throwing back. Now Chandler is struggling. These guys throwing nothing but huge loopy shots trying to kill one another. Wow this fight is exactly as advertised.

These guys are already exhausted but Gaethje looks like he could be fresher going into the 2nd round.

Wow. Just wow.

I score this 10-9 for Chandler

Slower pace here. Obviously. Chandler is fighting smart here with the jab and throwing out kicks. But Gaethje is marching forward now and has lost a bit of pop.

OOOFT. Gaethje lands a HUGE righty hand and Chandler is on his butt. He somehow survives, but Gaethje is on top landing shots from a headlock position. Chandler has survived this onslaught though. Incredible. They’re back on their feet. Wow.

How?

Chandler shoots for a takedown — can you blame him? He lands a big shot but Gaethje just smiles. Gaethje is taking over now.

Weird ending to the round where Chandler lands a huge shot but rakes Gaethje in the eyes.

I score this 10-9 for Gaethje

Those Gaethje leg kicks man. Chandler can’t take much more of them. But Chandler has caught a second wind here, he’s on his toes and landing shots to the body.

Chandler lands a HUGE takedown, but somehow in the scramble Gaethje got in the better position, landing shots. I cannot tell who is winning here, but in these exchanges Chandler is starting to wilt a little, but who’s landed the most shots? How are they scoring this? WHO KNOWS?

What an incredible fight.

I score this 10-9 for Gaethje (29-28 Gaethje overall)

Let’s see what the judges have to say…

Justin Gaethje takes it 29-28, 29-28 and 30-27.

Facebook eyes sports for its next push in online events

A pay-per-view-like option for sports leagues wouldn’t be out of the question, apparently.

The next sports event you watch may be on Facebook.

The social network launched its paid online events product last summer, inviting some people running Facebook pages to use tools designed to create, promote, host and monetize virtual live events. Since launch, event hosts have received 100% of revenue from ticket sales through Facebook Pay. However, that is set to expire in August, after which Facebook may take a cut.

Facebook is reportedly targeting smaller leagues and sports events since the top sports leagues — such as the National Football League and National Basketball Association — are restricted by broadcast media rights. The social network sees potential for monetizing things outside of games, such as team practices or behind-the-scenes videos, Shaw told CNBC.

A Facebook spokesperson on Wednesday said the company’s paid online events feature is available to all publishers, and sports is one area where it’s being adopted.