FALCON POINTS

UFC provides blueprint for what sports might look like this year

Photo by Getty Images

The UFC 249 card is in the books, and we learned a lot about how sports will look this year if it exists.

There we no fans, nor will there likely be for a long time. But it was the process leading up to it that should provide some confidence for other events going forward.

The UFC tested over 1,200 times with 300 people. One fighter, Ronaldo Souza, tested positive, and his fight was called off. The rest, however, went off and watching it on TV, it looked like a normal card.

Dana White said the testing worked.

"It's not unexpected one person would test positive," he said. "The system works. And what's good about this is now we know Jacare tested positive, he's doing what he needs to do, and we're in a position to help him if he needs it."

The other sports where physical contact is necessary now have a blueprint: No fans, constant testing and as few people in the building as possible.

Sports like football, basketball and hockey are similar in that there is physical contact. But fighting limits it to the two combatants and the referee; that is impossible in the other sports.

Still, if they follow the UFC's example, games could conceivably be played. The real issue is what happens if several players on one team test positive? Is the entire team quarantined? Is the opponent they just played? The other issue is should tests be used for this when many people still don't have access?

Having said all that, the fights were a nice escape, something many of us could use right now.

White, for his part, has offered to share how they did things with other sports leaders. "We're willing to share our information with anybody," he told TMZ.

More sports will roll out over the next few weeks. NASCAR, Bundesliga soccer in Germany. The EPL could be back on June 1, but the league is still weighing whether or not it will. The choice is the same all of them will face - safety versus the need for normalcy.

"We want to get the seasons back going for the commercial reasons, for the moral reasons, for people to enjoy it," the head of the UK football police unit, Deputy Chief Constable Mark Roberts, told Sky Sports.

"But we have to remind ourselves that cannot be at the risk of putting a single further life at jeopardy."

The UFC has taken the first step. Now, others will follow. Let's hope it all works out.

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The Astros suffered a heartbreaking loss to the Yankees Thursday. Composite image by Brandon Strange.

After an impressive two-game sweep of the NL-best Mets at home earlier in the week, the Astros took to the road to begin a four-game series with the league-best Yankees on Thursday night. To little surprise, the series started with a bang (no, not a trash can bang) in more ways than one, confirming that this series should be a must-watch this weekend.

New York's comeback proves no lead will be safe

Right from the get-go, the loud Yankee Stadium faithful had their chance to rain boos down on Jose Altuve before showing some pleasure as he led off the series by being hit by a pitch. They were quickly, though only temporarily, quieted as Altuve would come in to score two batters later on a three-run blast by Alex Bregman.

Three-run homers seemed to be a theme, as New York would get one of their own to tie the game off the bat of Giancarlo Stanton to tie the game, then Yordan Alvarez continued his dominant June by pushing the Astros back in front by three with another three-run bomb in the third, making it 6-3. That lead held through to the bottom of the ninth, where instead of holding it, Ryan Pressly issued two walks to set up the fourth homer of the game to tie things again before Aaron Judge would get a walk-off single to complete the impressive comeback.

Not only will we get to sit back and watch the slug-fest between Yordan and Judge this weekend, but it looks like with Alex Bregman swinging well again to round out the top of Houston's order, the Astros may be getting closer to their full power. So far in June, these two teams sit third and fourth in on-base percentage, with the Astros at .351 and the Yankees right behind at .350. That means we should continue to see scoring opportunities on both sides that can tilt momentum one way or the other as these lineups try to battle against the opposing pitcher.

How will the aces fare

Verlander vs. Judge, and Cole vs. Alvarez, need I say more? Although we won't see Justin Verlander go up against Gerrit Cole in the same game in this series (they should go head to head next Thursday, however), they will pitch on back-to-back days, with Houston's ace going Friday night and New York's on Saturday afternoon. Verlander is coming off his worst start of the year, a three and two-thirds inning outing where the White Sox put up seven runs, four earned, against him and knocked him out early to give him his third loss and increased his ERA from 1.94 to 2.30.

The last time he faced the Yankees was in the Bronx in the 2019 playoffs, in ALCS Game 5, where he went seven frames while allowing four runs, all on two homers in the first inning, which is all New York needed to grab the 4-1 victory to make it a 3-2 Houston lead in the series, which the Astros would go on to clinch in Game 6. So, with the double dose of bad taste in his mouth, it will be interesting to see if he can use that as the fuel to get back to the phenomenal form he's had this year or if the Yankees try to jump on him early like they did nearly three years ago.

Cole, meanwhile, is fresh off of two quality starts in a row against the Rays, where he allowed just one run on six hits with nineteen strikeouts over 13.1 innings of work. He's had his share of strife this season, though, including a seven-run shelling by the Twins earlier this month, along with a start in April where he couldn't make it through two innings against the Tigers. He's had success against his former club, most notably a complete-game shutout in Houston last July with twelve K's and holding the Astros to just three hits.

If the series opener was any indication, we are in for the treat of a playoff-caliber matchup, if not a potential ALCS preview that we may see in October. The Yankees showed why they have the best record and are the hottest team in baseball on Thursday night, but the Astros were only a good outing from their closer away from having a relatively lopsided win. The rivalry is real; the competition is close, and we get to enjoy the show.

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