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These Are The 20 Best AEW Matches, According to The Wrestling Classic

It’s The Wrestling Classic here with another list for ONE37pm. This time, I’ll be listing the 20 Best Matches AEW ever, in my opinion. All Elite Wrestling has been around for a little over a year now but still feels like a fresh alternative in the wrestling world. It definitely is a show I look forward to every week considering all the wrestling we get these days.

AEW provides an entire buffet for wrestling styles, and their roster is only growing every week. They provide us with great matches regularly on their PPVs and on Dynamite, therefore making this list was pretty difficult. I also tried to consider the significance of the stories being told and the significance of the matches themselves instead of just the in-ring action so that this list could be more for everyone. Let me know what you think about my list and if I forgot any memorable matches.

Honorable Mentions

Fight For The Fallen – 07/13/19

The Young Bucks vs. Dustin Rhodes and Cody Rhodes

 All Out – 08/31/19

Kenny Omega vs. PAC

Full Gear – 11/09/19

AEW World Championship

Chris Jericho w/ Jake Hager vs. Cody Rhodes w/ MJF

Dynamite – 02/19/20

Steel Cage Match

Cody Rhodes vs Wardlow

Revolution – 02/29/20

Darby Allin vs Sammy Guevara

Double or Nothing – 05/23/20

MJF vs Jungle Boy

Dark – 09/22/20

Benjamin Carter vs. Lee Johnson

Full Gear – 11/07/20

World Title Eliminator Finals

Kenny Omega vs. “Hangman” Adam Page

Full Gear – 11/07/20

AEW World Championship

Jon Moxley vs. Eddie Kingston

Dynamite – 01/27/21

Dax Harwood vs. Jungle Boy

20. Chris Jericho vs. “Hangman” Adam Page (All Out – 08/31/19)
AEW

This match mainly holds historical significance because it was to crown the first-ever AEW Champion. The veteran Chris Jericho faced off against the young rising star “Hangman” Adam Page. It was a seasoned pro facing off against the future of wrestling inside of an All Elite Wrestling ring to find out who would represent the company in its inaugural year. The match was competitive, with Chris Jericho coming out on top in the end. I thought this was a great call to have a wrestling legend like Chris Jericho be the first champion since AEW was a new company premiering on network television. However, it also put a great spotlight on Adam Page, who remains a fan favorite moving forward. I think we’re all waiting for the day Adam Page does eventually become champion.

19. Jon Moxley vs. Brodie Lee (Double or Nothing – 05/23/20)
AEW

It was inevitable that the recently revealed Exalted One of the Dark Order would set his eyes on the AEW Championship to make the Dark Order the most dominant faction in AEW. Brodie Lee made sure we weren’t going to have to wait long as he made his presence felt attacking Moxley, stating his intentions. Jon Moxley was the champion and was not backing down from any challenges, and Brodie was a familiar foe from their days in the WWE, so both guys knew each other very well. The match felt like a fight from bell to bell. Br0die Lee really got to show us what he could do in a big match situation and that he belonged in the main event. Moxley had to get violent and vicious to defeat Lee. Brodie never lost but rather passed out in a submission. The only issue with this match was that the referee seemed to be too lenient with the rules since this regular match felt more like a street fight. Overall, it was a great match.

18. Chris Jericho vs. Jon Moxley (Revolution – 02/29/20)
AEW

Jon Moxley had a long road before facing Chris Jericho for the AEW World Championship. Jericho tried to avoid having to have the match by inviting Moxley to join his Inner Circle faction, but Moxley wasn’t interested. Following that, Jericho stabbed Moxley in the eye with one of the spikes from his jacket. This still didn’t stop Moxley from showing up for a fight; instead, it ignited his ambitions even more. They told a great story wherein the end, the good guy Moxley outsmarted the bad guy Jericho when Moxley revealed that his eye had healed, catching Jericho off guard before hitting his finisher for the victory. This was great because Moxley even wore an eye patch the entire time he was on Jericho cruise weeks before the show and sell the angle. Moxley becoming the new and second-ever AEW Champion is another reason this match will always stand out.

17. PAC vs. Orange Cassidy (Revolution – 05/23/20)
AEW

It was Orange Cassidy’s singles in-ring debut, and it was against none other than “The Bastard” PAC. The contrast in styles really created the anticipation for this match as Orange Cassidy is the “King of Sloth Style.” It’s a style in which he does the bare minimum and even throws kicks with his hands in his pockets. PAC is a serious competitor who doesn’t have time for any shenanigans. The match was entertaining as hell, and the crowd was really behind Orange Cassidy. Cassidy even got some believable near falls after showcasing some of his bursts of athleticism throughout the match, but in the end, the right man went over in PAC. The Bastard made the Freshly Squeezed on tap out to the brutalizer. The Lucha Brothers and The Best Friends got involved too during the match. Overall this is a must-watch for anyone who enjoys the entertainment side of professional wrestling.

16. Jon Moxley vs. Kenny Omega (Dynamite – 12/02/20)
AEW

Kenny Omega defeated “Hangman” Adam Page in another awesome match at Full Gear, which was the World Title Eliminator Tournament’s finals to become the new number one contender for the AEW Championship. Omega spent most of the year as one-half of the tag team champions with Page, so it was exciting to see that he would finally be in the main championship picture. In the final months of their tag title reign and especially after they lost the tag team titles, Omega started to show some heel-like tendencies. He became more selfish, arrogant, frustrated, and unpredictable. Therefore, we were getting a more motivated Omega facing off against the reigning and defending confident champion Jon Moxley. It was a PPV-worthy competitive main event that ended with Impact Wrestling’s Don Callis helping Kenny Omega win the AEW Championship. Although the ending came with interference, Jon Moxley still looked strong. Kenny Omega confirmed his heel turn, and the finish really set the tone for 2021.

15. Cody Rhodes w/ Arn Anderson vs. Darby Allin (Full Gear – 11/07/20)
AEW

The TNT Championship was introduced to All Elite Wrestling as the secondary championship for the workhorses to great fanfare. As the first champion, Cody Rhodes built up the title’s prestige by defending it every week in open challenges allowing any comers to fight for the championship. He briefly lost it to Brodie Lee in dominating fashion but eventually won it back. After defeating Orange Cassidy a couple of times, it was Darby Allin’s turn to step up for the TNT Championship. Cody cut a promo on Darby the week before the match stating how he vouched for Darby when the company was looking for talent, and he wanted Darby to prove to him that he wasn’t wrong. This was a close match between the two which results in both wrestlers looking strong. Cody was even kicked out of a coffin drop when everyone thought the match was finished. The thing that really made this match significant was the aftermath, where Cody knelt down on one knee to present Allin with the TNT Championship passing the torch from one workhorse to another.

14. Rey Fenix vs. Penta El Zero M (Dynamite 10/21/20)
AEW

 The Lucha Brothers are one of the most talented and popular tag teams in All Elite Wrestling. However, every time we have seen them face off against each other, it’s been something special. They don’t only know each other better than anyone else because they’re a team-team but also because they are real-life brothers. This was the first round of the world title eliminator tournament, and it took place on Dynamite. Eddie Kingston was on commentary f0r the match as he was friends with both competitors. These two put on an absolute banger for Dynamite, and I don’t think the fans expected anything less. Rey Fenix picked up the victory after a competitive match against his brother after catching Penta with a destroyer. It was nice to see a destroyer actually finish the match as it’s become a transitional move these days. This match further showcased that Fenix has a bright future ahead of him as a singles star one day and that Penta is still one of the best today with “cero miedo.”

13. Cody Rhodes w/ Brandi Rhodes and Arn Anderson vs. MJF w/ Wardlow (Revolution – 02/29/20)
AEW

The friendship between Cody Rhodes and MJF was questionable to everyone but Cody, who always saw MJF as the salt of the earth and his protege. No matter what MJF’s reputation was or if anyone tried to warn Cody about Max’s true intentions, Cody refused to believe that MJF didn’t have his back. MJF’s attitude around Cody was so different to the point where you really questioned if Max did have a different level of respect for Cody. There were times that we thought MJF was going to turn on Cody, but he never did. When Rhodes faced off against Jericho for the AEW Title at Full Gear 2019, where the stipulation was that if Rhodes lost, he wouldn’t be able to challenge for the championship ever again, it was MJF who threw in the towel to forfeit the match for Rhodes. Following the match, MJF finally showed his true colors and attacked Cody. For months Rhodes tried to get MJF to fight him, and when he eventually did, they had a banger of a match. In the end, a bloody MJF picked up the victory to stay undefeated when he used his Dynamite Diamond Ring to his advantage. This match stands out because of the anticipation the fans had to see these two finally go toe to toe, and they were able to tell a great story in the ring off the long build-up.

12. Kenny Omega and “Hangman” Adam Page vs. FTR w/ Tully Blanchard (All Out – 09/05/20)
AEW

Kenny Omega and “Hangman” Adam Page were an unlikely tag team that showed cracks along the way during their championship run but continued to find ways to work together successfully to hold on to the tag team titles. However, when Dax Harwood and Cash Wheeler made their presence known in All Elite Wrestling, you knew Omega and Page’s days as tag team champions were numbered. FTR is considered to be one of the best tag teams of the modern area, and them securing Tully Blanchard as their manager just made them even more dangerous. FTR became the number one contender after winning a tag team gauntlet in which Page assisted in getting the Young Bucks eliminated. This led to Page leaving “The Elite” and had everyone question his loyalty to Kenny Omega. This was a great match with multiple layers of storytelling happening. Omega was concerned about where Page’s head was at, but he ended up hitting Page with a V-trigger by accident which was the beginning of the end for their team. FTR picked up the victory, became tag team champions, and remained undefeated while Omega was the one who walked out.

11. The Young Bucks vs. The Lucha Brothers (Double or Nothing – 05/20/19)
AEW

Those who were fans of both teams before All Elite Wrestling took off all knew this match would be a spectacle. It was nothing less than that. It was an awesome match from two of the best teams in the world. It was brothers versus brothers for the Triple AAA Tag Team Championships. It was a match sparked from the Las Vegas Rally when the Lucha Brothers attacked The Young Bucks. They went back and forth for a few months until their first match at a Triple-A event where The Young Bucks defeated The Lucha Brothers for the Triple AAA tag titles. A rematch was booked for AEW’s inaugural Double or Nothing event with the tag titles on the line again. It was an extremely fast pace, balls to wall and competitive match between two great teams. In the end, The Young Bucks picked up the victory to retain the tag titles, but this wouldn’t be the final match of this feud. This match definitely was a prime preview of what tag team wrestling in AEW would be like.

10. Kenny Omega vs. Jon Moxley – Lights Out Match (Full Gear – 11/09/19)
AEW

When Jon Moxley made his surprising All Elite Wrestling debut at Double or Nothing, one of the first people he targeted was Kenny Omega. They had a match scheduled for All Out, but it was postponed due to Moxley having an elbow injury. Therefore, the match was moved to Full Gear when Moxley was cleared to compete. The road to Full Gear showed Kenny Omega trying to play Moxley’s game in getting extreme, even confronting Moxley with a barbwire broom. Their match at Full Gear was then booked to be a “Lights Out Match” which basically meant it was unsanctioned by AEW. This basically meant it could get as hardcore and violent as they wanted without AEW suffering any consequences from what happens by not officially recognizing the match. The match was violent and as hardcore, as it gets, a throwback to Moxley’s days in CZWand the independents prior to WWE. The match included several weapons, including glass, anchor chains, trash cans, a screwdriver, a barbed wire bat, a barbed-wire broom, and even a platform covered in barbed wire. These two beat the crap out of each other with many near falls, but in the end, Moxley reigned supreme with a Paradigm Shift.

9. Brodie Lee vs. Cody Rhodes – Dog Collar Match (Dynamite – 10/07/20)
AEW

If the last match on this list was an example of a modern-day violent match then the Dog Collar Match is an example of an old-school violent wrestling match. Cody Rhodes returned looking to get his TNT Championship back that he lost to Brodie Lee weeks before in a devastating fashion. Brodie Lee was on a reign of terror after beating Cody while Rhodes left for a brief period for television obligations outside of AEW. Cody returned with dark hair and looking more serious about attacking Brodie and the Dark Order. Cody Rhodes was not just returning to regain the championship but also redeem his pride. This was an old-school fight that was both professional and personal. It was reminiscent of the classic dog collar match between “Rowdy” Roddy Piper and Greg “The Hammer” Valentine from the 1983 Starrcade. Greg Valentine was also in the crowd for the match. The match finished with a Cross Rhodes onto Brodie for Cody to once again become the TNT Champion. This match will also always be memorable because it was Brodie Lee’s final match before he, unfortunately, passed away.

8. Proud and Powerful vs. The Best Friends – Parking Lot Brawl (Dynamite – 09/16/20)
AEW

These two teams were feuding with each other for quite some time, but things really picked up when Ortiz and Santana destroyed Trent’s mom’s van. That was truly the final straw, and it led to a parking lot brawl match to be booked between the two teams. Regardless, how silly the build-up was, the match was really fun and memorable.

It initially reminded me of the parking lot brawl that Eddie Guerrero had with John Cena in 2004. They were outside in the parking lot as they fought on the concrete with cars and trucks surrounding them. There were also wrestlers standing around to cheer them on. It was enjoyable to watch and very hard-hitting the whole way. I give them a lot of credit for taking some big bumps throughout the match and making this fight feel personal. There were a ton of cars damaged during this match.

In the end, with the help of Orange Cassidy, the Best Friends picked up the win. Dynamite’s final moments ended with Trent’s mom Sue picking up the Best Friends and Orange Cassidy. As Sue drove the guys away in her white van, she stopped to give the middle finger to the opponents, who were quite amusing.

7. Jon Moxley vs. MJF w/ Wardlow (All Out – 09/05/20)
AEW

This is personally my favorite Jon Moxley match in AEW for so many different reasons. MJF was on a roll and finally receiving an AEW Championship title opportunity. However, it was against someone who had a completely different personality and wrestling style than him in Jon Moxley. Both Moxley and MJF came into this match with undefeated streaks, so there was something else on the line other than just the championship. Leading up the match, MJF began a mock political campaign focused on taking down “Dictator John” and tried to gain the advantage by getting Moxley’s Paradigm Shift to finish banned for this match. MJF brought the fight to Moxley, but the champion would not stay down. This was more of a wrestling match compared to other Moxley matches, which is why I think I preferred it. The ending did come with shenanigans as MJF did try using a thumb to the eye and even a low-blow for near falls. In the end, while Wardlow had the referee distracted in an attempt to help Max, Moxley hit the banned Paradigm Shift to retain his championship. It was a great way for Moxley to show blatant disrespect to MJF, but it also allowed Max to stay arrogant about Moxley having to break the rules to defeat him. There needed to be justice for MJF.

6. The Lucha Brothers vs. The Young Bucks – Ladder Match (All Out 08/31/19)
AEW

When two of the most popular and creative high-flying tag teams have to out-do their last match at Double or Nothing to blow off their feud, there aren’t many better options than a ladder match or an “Escalera De La Muerte ”as they called it here. This was a feud that started back at the AEW Las Vegas Rally when the Lucha Brothers attacked The Young Bucks. Following that, the Young Bucks defeated The Lucha Bros for the Triple AAA tag team titles in Mexico and retained the titles again at Double or Nothing. The Lucha Brothers challenged The Young Bucks one more time, but this time under ladder match rules. The match was everything you expected and more but also didn’t overstay its welcome. It was fast-paced with creative spots, and both teams felt extremely competitive to out-do the other team. The destroyer from the ladder through the table will always be a memorable spot from All Elite Wrestling’s early years. This insane match came to a finish when the Lucha Brothers regained the Triple AAA tag team titles by climbing the ladder and retrieving the belts. This would be the last time we would see the Triple AAA tag team titles on AEW, as they would create their own tag team titles shortly after this event. This match was fantastic, though.

5. Kenny Omega vs. PAC (Dynamite – 02/26/20)
AEW

The fact that this match was given to us on live network television and not saved for a PPV was shocking. However, it let wrestling fans know not to miss out on the weekly Dynamite as there would be big-ticket matches on the show they could miss if they didn’t tune in. The feud between PAC and Omega began when The Bastard replaced Moxley at All Out 2019 only to defeat Omega in dominating fashion, making him pass out in the Brutalizer. Kenny Omega would pick up the win in their rematch in late November, which did not sit well with PAC. The Bastard continuously called out Kenny Omega for a rubber match until he actually got one. This match would be a 30 minute Iron Man Match. In case you don’t know, the rules for an Ironman Match are that the winner will be the man to get the most falls over the 30 minutes time limit. This was a personal and competitive match. PAC used a chair early on to give Omega the 1-0 lead. The second fall came after PAC hit a Black Arrow, thus tying up the match 1-1. There were referee bumps and more, but the time ran out. Justin Roberts announced that the match would go into Sudden Death overtime. One minute into overtime, Omega hit the One-Winged Angel for the victory at 2-1. There were several believable near-falls for both guys; the crowd was hot for all of it, both guys looked strong, and this match was outstanding from start to finish.

4. The Elite and Matt Hardy vs. The Inner Circle (Double or Nothing – 05/23/20)
AEW

If this list is based on matches that are memorable, more so than them being five-star classics, then the Stadium Stampede match definitely left an impression on everyone, whether it was good or bad. As we were deep into the no live audience pandemic era of wrestling, both WWE and AEW took advantage of there being no fans by producing cinematic matches. The match between The Inner Circle and The Elite was originally supposed to take place in a “Blood and Guts” match, which many of us assumed would be something similar to the classic War Games matches.

Instead, the match continued to get postponed due to the pandemic until the Stadium Stampede was booked for Double or Nothing. It was Kenny Omega, “Hangman” Page, Matt Hardy, and The Young Bucks facing off against Chris Jericho, Jake Hager, Sammy Guevara, Santana, and Ortiz. This match was extremely entertaining and special. It felt more like a fight scene from a movie than a wrestling show, but that was the entire point. There were so many memorable, hilarious and entertaining moments in this match that me listing them out wouldn’t do it justice. Please trust me when I say take your time to watch this if you’re one of those who doesn’t take everything so seriously and enjoys being entertained. The Elite went over in the end, but at the end of this match, both teams were over with me.

3. FTR w/ Tully Blanchard vs. The Young Bucks (Full Gear – 11/07/20)
AEW

It’s always special when a match that is considered a dream match becomes a reality. The Young Bucks were considered to be one of the greatest tag teams outside of the WWE for years, whereas many would consider The Revival to be one of the greatest tag teams in WWE even though they felt underappreciated at times. Regardless if wrestling fans felt like the Revival were misused in the WWE, they won every major tag team title in the company when it came to their American programs. The Young Bucks had won tag team gold from all around the world from various promotions. There was also a long period where it was a running joke on the “Being the Elite” series that the Elite would say “F the Revival,” getting fans more excited for the potential match. Both teams even tweeted out that one day they would wrestle each other and that everyone would rejoice.

Therefore, when the news broke that The Revival were finally leaving WWE, the wrestling world was ecstatic. The first night Dax Harwood and Cash Wheeler appeared on Dynamite, they had a face-to-face with the Young Bucks to get things started. FTR aligned themselves with Tully Blanchard and won the tag team titles in the months leading to the match. The match between FTR and the Young Bucks lived up to expectations and was definitely one to remember. The only thing missing was the presence of a large audience, but that was out of their control. The Young Bucks defeated FTR to win the tag team titles when Cash Wheeler tried a 450 splash that didn’t connect, which is against their “no flips, just fists” style. It gave them a good reason why they lost instead of just losing clean to the Young Bucks. I am definitely looking forward to when they meet again, and hopefully, it’s soon.

2. Kenny Omega and “Hangman” Adam Page vs. The Young Bucks (Revolution – 02/29/20)
AEW

The Young Bucks won a battle royal on Dynamite to secure a title shot against Kenny Omega and “Hangman” Adam Page. It was going to be a battle between The Elite for the tag team titles. There was already some tension between Page and the rest of The Elite, so The Young Bucks were the odds on favorites here. People were really curious to see if Omega and Page could stay on the same page as Hangman started questioning his place in the friend group. This match was incredible from start to finish. They kept a great pace by picking it up as the match went along, which made the final minutes fantastic. They had the confused Hangman story to play off of, but in the end, he played his role as a compromising tag team partner to Kenny Omega. Kenny Omega was also playing the weak link in this match since it followed his Iron Man Match against PAC. The live crowd also brought a lot of energy to this match since they were super invested. The fans were indecisive with where they stood with The Young Back as Hangman was really over at this point with the fans. The work was top-notch, there were great, believable near falls, and the Bucks had to fall into a heel role in desperation. They really had us on the edge of our seat, but in the end, it was a Buckshot Lariat from Hangman that allowed Omega and Page to retain their tag team titles. This was definitely a phenomenal showcase of modern-day tag team wrestling.

1. Cody Rhodes vs. Dustin Rhodes (Double or Nothing – 05/25/19)
AEW

This one was for Dusty Rhodes. This one was for their dad. The story was simple yet significant. It was a generational clash between two brothers with a substantial age difference fighting to prove different things to each other. Cody wanted to beat Dustin to kill off the “Attitude Era” to allow wrestling to move forward from a beloved era his older brother was a big part of.  He was done with past legends taking spots from current talent, the fans being obsessed with a specific era, and professional wrestling as a whole relying on its history to carry the business in the present. Dustin was wrestling to prove that he could still go, hang with his much younger brother and that he still had a lot to offer to professional wrestling. Dustin did, however, say he just wanted to prove himself and that this would be his final match. It was really believable that it could be his last match considering the match was against his brother. This match is the perfect example of why I call professional wrestling the greatest form of art and athleticism. 

They were able to tell us a great emotional story through wrestling, and it was followed up with a memorable moment between brothers. The fans were into the match from the start, and it was an old-school fight where the blood pouring from Dustin’s head added so much to the story of the match. Dustin put on one of his greatest performances at the age of 50 and proved he could hang with his younger brother. Although Dustin got some near falls, Cody Rhodes picked up the victory after a Cross Rhodes. This match was beautiful and a reminder of how great professional wrestling can be. Following the match, Cody tells Dustin that he can’t retire because he needed a tag team partner for the upcoming “Fight for the Fallen” event. Cody told his bloody brother that he doesn’t need a partner or a friend, he needs his brother, and they shared a hug to a huge ovation. It was truly something special and added to the entire presentation. Check it out if you haven’t already.

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Sports Strength

I’m Matt Sponhour, Here Are 4 NBA Trades I’d Like to See

This has been an already turbulent NBA season for trades, so I wanted to take a stab at a few potential options that we might see some time this year. I followed a few criteria for making this list. First, I wanted to make sure these were trades that were beneficial to both teams and actually made sense. Bradley Beal to the Nuggets for Bol Bol is a fun idea but certainly wouldn’t happen. Second, I used ESPN’s trade machine to calculate the financial aspect of the trades, confirming that they’re actually possible from a logistical perspective. 

I’m not saying that these trades will happen, but these are some well-calculated possibilities that could make the league even more competitive. The season is just starting to really heat up, and a boon to, say, the 76ers or Nuggets roster could absolutely change the playoffs landscape. So, without further ado, here are four potential trades for this NBA season.

1. Kyle Lowry to the 76ers
Mike Ehrmann / Getty Images

For Tyrese Maxey, Danny Green, Matisse Thybulle, and one 1st round pick

The Raptor’s 2019 Finals victory cemented Lowry as a player who could play a key role for a championship team. There are rumors floating around that there’s a decent possibility that the Raps might be looking to move on from him. Personally, I want Lowry to stay on the Raptors and end his career there. On top of that, the Raptors have already started to turn their season around, which might mean that they chose not to blow their roster up. That being said, if they do move him, this is what I’d want to see. 

Going to the 76ers would make sense for a few reasons. One, this would give Philly another shot creator on the perimeter, something they definitely could use. This would give them the option to put out an unreal starting five with Simmons, Embiid, Harris, Curry, and Lowry all on the floor. However, it might be in their best interest to have Lowry run the bench unit instead, which I think could also work well. The flaw of this trade would be that it would leave the 76ers very shallow on the bench, but I think they can swing deals to help their 2nd unit out and make this work. Simply put, this is a win-now move for a team that should be serious contenders

As far as the Raptors go, if they make this move, they’re going to be in a period of rebuilding. The reason why I think this trade works is because I seriously believe in Maxey as a player. Frankly, I’m higher on him than I should be, but he has the potential to turn himself into a serious offensive threat. That means that if the Raptors are trying to reset, I’d love for them to pick Tyrese up. Danny Green is a veteran who can space the floor. He’s pretty much just in this trade to make the money match, but I could see a scenario where the Raps involve a 3rd team to flip him for another pick (probably a 2nd). Even if they can’t, he’s on an expiring deal, so it’s not going to affect them long term. This trade would give the Raptors a very solid young core and an extra pick which is about the best they could do in a Lowry trade.

Overall, I think this trade would benefit the Sixers hugely for this season and the Raps down the line. It works for both teams if the Raptors decide to go this route. 

2. Bradley Beal to the Nuggets
Patrick Smith / Getty Images

For Michael porter Jr, Gary Harris, R.J. Hampton and two 1st round picks

Truth be told, Beal probably won’t get traded.  The Wizards have been bad this year, but they’re on a nice winning streak right now, so they might be turning the corner. Nonetheless, this would be a good possibility for him if that ever seems to no longer be the case. The Wizards totally botched this offseason. Westbrook isn’t necessarily better than Wall, and they’re the ones who gave up the pick to make the swap. They’ve had major defensive problems up to this point, and their salary cap isn’t due to clear up any time soon. It’s hard to imagine this team could put the pieces around Beal to make the Wizards contenders.

I think if they do decide to blow it up and start over, this trade will give the Wizards a good start, netting them a young star in the making with MPJ. on top of that, you’ve got some solid prospects and FRPs to make a reasonable package. I thought about giving Washington an AD/Harden level return for Beal, but I don’t know if he’s quite at that level, even with the season he’s having.

The Nuggets’ side is simple; they add a 3rd star. I understand if they want to wait for MPJ to develop; in fact, I might if I were them. He’s got the potential to be a top 10 player in this league if everything goes right. That being said, there’s a real chance they get impatient and pull the trigger.

3. Khem Birch to the Nets
Jim McIsaac / Getty Images

For Landry Shamet and Timothé Luwawu-Cabarrot

If you’ve watched a Nets game since the Harden news, you know two things are clear. One, these cats aren’t playing defense, and two, they really need another center. Deandre Jordan, at this point in his career, can only do so much. Losing Allen clearly altered their roster more than they anticipated. Birch has been great rotationally for the Magic; he’s good with pick-and-rolls and doesn’t need to take a ton of shots to make an impact. The last thing the Nets need is another shot-taker. While I don’t think he would be a game-changer for them, he’s a center who can play a role and give some solid minutes, which is exactly what they need. I’m sure Drummond is their first choice but that’s gonna be hard to pull off without a buyout.

Losing a rotational big wouldn’t hurt the Magic too much, as they have Mo Bamba on their roster who has been getting very few minutes. Moving Birch not only lands them a few young players with potential but also opens up playing time for Bamba, a player who I still believe in. Shamet is the main asset they’d get back in this move. He’s been slumping recently, but a change of scenery might get him back to shooting like we know he can. The Nets could also throw in a 2nd to sweeten the deal if need be.

4. PJ Tucker to the 76ers
Kevin C. Cox / Getty Images

For two 2nd round draft picks

The NBA’s resident sneakerhead would be a great fit for the already booming 76ers for a few reasons. First, undoubtedly PJ has looked rough to start this year, but I still think that he could provide value as a 3 and D player. I’m a big believer in getting energy bench guys, and he’d be exactly that. The 76ers’ biggest need might be scoring off the bench, but because this trade is so cheap, I think they could still look into it. Tucker just seems like the type of guy who will play his best with limited minutes on a contender. 

For the Rockets, I don’t know if PJ Tucker really fits the direction of the team anymore. Two second-round draft picks might not seem like much, but Tucker isn’t clicking with the team, so offloading him for some potential benefits in the future is actually a pretty strong move. There have been rumors he could get bought out, so getting 2 picks instead would be a win for them.

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Sports Strength

Major League Soccer History: How MLS Became A Big Business

A legitimate argument can be made for Major League Soccer (MLS) potentially being one the fastest rising sports in the world in terms of success and universal popularity. Last season marked the 25th anniversary of MLS’s debut, and as the league approaches its 26th season, major plans are in the works for long-term growth and expansion. We will get into what the next 25 years are set to look like for Major League Soccer later in this article, but before we dive into the future, we have to revisit the past in order to get a firm understanding of how the MLS became a global entity.

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Alan Rothenburg, President of United States Soccer

Chapter One of the MLS’ story dates back to 1988 when the United States Soccer Federation created a Division 1 Professional Soccer League as an exchange to FIFA to award the 1994 FIFA World Cup to the United States. The MLS was officially formed seven years later in 1995 and made its national debut the following year. The ‘94 World Cup had brought a surge of interest in the sport, and the MLS was eager to take advantage of that success. Prior to the creation of the MLS, there had previously been only two professional Division 1 football leagues in the United States and Canada: The American Football Association(AFA) and the National American Soccer League (NASL), which had previously been the United States’ premier soccer organization.

Doug Logan was the league’s first commissioner, and the MLS launch came with ten U.S. teams ready for action: Tampa Bay Mutiny, Dallas Burn, Colorado Rapids, New England Revolution, D.C. United, Columbus Crew, Kansas City Wiz, NY/NJ MetroStars, Los Angeles Galaxy, and the San Jose Clash. Marquee players such as Jorge Campos and Alexi Lalas were among the faces of the league, and ESPN and ABC sports secured the broadcasting rights for the MLS in a three-year deal that included 35 games plus the MLS World Cup. The inaugural season opened on April 6th, 1996, in a D.C. United vs. San Jose Clash matchup at the then-named Spartan Stadium in San Jose, and D.C. United would go on to form the MLS’ first dynasty, winning three of the league’s first four MLS Cup titles. Despite this early success, the MLS still faced financial troubles. 

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Chris Duvall

Even with the 1994 FIFA campaign’s success, many teams still struggled to fill seats, and the league’s recurring revenue issues remained a consistent problem for its first several seasons. During this time, the MLS experimented with multiple rule changes such as the ‘shootout’ rule for tie games in an attempt to bring more interest from the American audience. In 1997, the league added two more teams, Chicago and South Florida, in the hopes of gaining the interests of their respective die-hards—but that didn’t work either.

The MLS continued to tinker with both its rules and organization, making several changes to tie game rules and replacing commissioner Doug Logan with Don Garber in the hopes that a leadership change would eventually turn the tide. The U.S. men’s national team’s first-round elimination in the 1998 World Cup certainly didn’t help matters, and the international players that had joined the league during its opening seasons eventually departed, leaving the MLS in a further damaged state.

The beginning of the 2000s still saw the MLS scrambling for solutions in order to avoid what felt like an inevitable shutdown. The league lost roughly $600 million in its first seven years of operation, and the Tampa Bay Mutiny and Miami Fusion franchises folded in 2002. The never-ending misfortunes began to slowly turn around for the better with the ‘02 World Cup when the U.S. beat Portugal and Mexico to advance to the quarterfinals. The resurgence in attention led to the record-setting 2002 MLS Cup, which saw the then-largest attendance in MLS Finals history, as the crowd watched the Los Angeles Galaxy capture their first title.

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David Beckham

As the years progressed, there were two megastars that really helped pivot the popularity of the MLS: Freddy Adu, one of the most highly-touted prospects in MLS history, and a man by the name of David Beckham. In 2007, Beckham signed a five-year $250 million deal with the Los Angeles Galaxy. From a ‘superstar’ standpoint, there are very few athletes who have been able to command the fanfare and popularity that Beckham was able to achieve (especially during the peak of his career.) Beckham’s marketability was unmatched with loads of hype (Bend It Like Beckham may ring a bell) and endorsement deals, bringing a brand new audience to the MLS.

2008 saw the debut of Arsenal’s all-time leading scorer Thierry Henry, who agreed to a five-year deal with the New York Red Bulls. That same year featured the return of the San Jose Earthquakes, while 2009 and 2011 marked the additions of the Seattle Founders, Philadelphia Union, the Vancouver Whitecaps FC, and the Portland Timbers. The Montreal Impact joined the league in 2012, and the New York City FC and Orlando City Soccer Club followed in 2013. U.S.-based international soccer stars like Clint Dempsey from the English Premier League began joining MLS teams, and the past several years have brought additional expansions and signings as league interest continues to surge.

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Tigres UANL

So what does the future look like for the MLS? Well, for starters, the league has a ‘25-year’ plan set in motion, but in order to fully work, that is going to take more general interest from fans, media deals, excellent marketing strategies, and the most important thing—expansion. David Beckham continues to be a key factor in the MLS’ maturation, being approved in 2018 for a new expansion team, Inter Miami CF, who made their debut in 2020. Nashville SC, who was granted approval in 2017, also made their team debut last season. FC Cincinnati’s West End Stadium is scheduled to open this spring, and Austin FC and Charlotte FC will make their arrivals this upcoming year as well. Sacramento and St. Louis are on track to debut in 2022, and with one of the highest average attendances in the U.S., the league is on a good path.

Like all major sports leagues, Coronavirus has had a massive impact on the MLS. The MLS is still pretty reliant on audience attendance, and as we all know, Covid can make that component (as well as the general health of players) difficult. That said, the sports world will eventually be back to normal, and while that 25-year plan might be slightly delayed, things are continuing to progress at a rapid pace. There will be brand new stadiums, partnerships, and a new broadcasting deal next year when the current one expires. If all goes well with those negotiations, we could see more of the top international players joining MLS teams and additional opportunities for fans and casual viewers to have better access to games as we continue to head towards more of a digital/linear way of media consumption.

All eyes are on the MLS, and the countdown to 2022 begins now.

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Sports Strength

Cory Sandhagen Is Coming For UFC Titles…And Scalps

28 seconds. That’s all it took. 

Moments after, he walked around the octagon, motioning that he wanted the UFC bantamweight belt around his waist. 

Fighters give their blood, sweat, and tears… they train their entire lives for a moment like this. 

UFC legend, and former Lightweight champion, Frankie Edgar was applying an immense amount of pressure, until a vicious knee found Edgar’s chin. It was a highlight that fighters can only dream of. 

But it was less than 12 months ago when Cory Sandhagen suffered the worst loss of his career and since then, his mindset has changed. 
Sandhagen  joined ONE37pm’s Bo Templin on In the Fight to recap a fight and moment he will never forget.

ONE37pm: What pushes you? 

Sandhagen: “There are a lot of different motivators that jump around in your head and it sometimes changes too. Before it was, ‘I want to show people my style of martial arts. Now, I want to collect scalps. I want the best names. I want to win championships. I want to reign as the king and I want to be known as one of the baddest dudes to ever play the game. That’s what I want to do.”

If your heart rate isn’t sky high after hearing that, then you may want to see a doctor because mine was dangerously high during the interview and skyrockets every time I hear him say it. 

And “The Sandman” wasn’t done. 

Sandhagen: “I don’t want to just beat these guys. I want to embarrass them. I want to knock them out. I want them to leave on stretchers; I want to collect as many scalps as I can.” 

ONE37pm: What was it, man? 

Sandhagen: “It was losing. I needed to be reminded how much I hate it. I needed to be reminded that what we are doing isn’t some ‘artsy’ martial arts where it looks really beautiful. Sometimes it’s really ugly. I don’t like getting choked out and embarrassed on television.” 

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Sports Strength

Who Is The Best WR in the NFL? These 17 Players Are The Best In The Business

In today’s NFL, focus more on the offense with high power units such as the Kansas City Chiefs. Along with Patrick Mahomes, the Chiefs offense features one of the most dynamic wide receivers in the NFL today, Tyreek Hill.

However, Hill is just one of the prolific playmaking wide receivers in the league. So, putting together a list of just the top wide receivers is not as easy of a task as one might think.

We did our best to create just such a list, so here our rankings of the 17 best wide receivers in the NFL. 

1. Davante Adams, Green Bay Packers

Davante Adams was both the league’s highest-ranking and most valuable receiver, and it’s not particularly close. Adams has averaged 3.59 yards per route against press coverage this season, the second-best recorded since the league started tracking press data back in 2012.

Against single overall coverage, Adams generated a target open to the league’s fifth-highest rating during the 2020 season as a Green Bay Packers member.

2. Justin Jefferson, Minnesota Vikings

Jefferson was a first-round pick, but few expected him to become one of the top receivers after just his first season in the league.

He finished the year with an elite grade of 90.5, which was slightly below the rookie record set by Odell Beckham Jr. in 2014 (91.2).

The most impressive aspect of his first year with the NFL was his performance on single coverage, a concern for him by NFL scouts after he left Louisiana  State University. But Jefferson has generated more yards per target (13.2) than any other wide in the league against single coverage this season.

3. A. J. Brown Tennessee Titans

Fifty players were picked in front of Brown in the 2019 NFL Draft.

The whole football world made a mistake when they passed on the receiver out of Ole Miss because of A. J. Brown was amongst the top 10 wide receivers in the NFL the past two seasons for the Tennessee Titans. This season, he demonstrated his ability again, averaging 6.2 yards after the catch by receptions and breaking 17 tackles out of 70 catches.

A total of 45.7% of these 70 catches occurred over at least five yards after the catch (the third-highest rate amongst pass catchers over the last two seasons).

4. Stefon Diggs, Buffalo Bills

Stefon Diggs had a decent five seasons with the Minnesota Vikings, but he never came close to having a season like he just had with the Buffalo Bills.

According to PFF, Diggs earned grades between 78.3 and 82.6 in each of his five years as a Viking and jumped to 90.1 in his first season as a Bill.

Diggs saw a single cover at one of the NFL’s highest rates this season but still generated separation at the league’s fourth-highest rate on these plays. This is why Diggs had eight more catches against a single cover than any other wide receiver (58).

5. Tyreek Hill, Kansas City Chiefs

Hill was once again one of the league’s major deep threats, teaming up with Patrick Mahomes for six deep-reception touchdowns where he had at least one step of separation on his defender.

No player in the league can match Hill’s ability to put himself behind the defense with ease.

6. DeAndre Hopkins, Arizona Cardinals

DeAndre Hopkins’s ball skills were in full swing in his first season as a Cardinal, and he was the ultimate possession receiver, as expected. He also caught 13 of his 26 challenging targets and was responsible for more initial tries and touchdowns than anyone else in the league.

This year, former NFL defensive back Robert Nelson Jr. shared that he thinks Hopkins is the best deep threat in the league.

“You have the best threat in the NFL; what else can you ask for? No cornerback in the west can guard him. Come on, man, like 6’3 or 6’4 with hands down to your calves, his visual IQ is crazy, and he is strong,” said Nelson.

“He is going to score touchdowns. It is a no brainer, and I am not saying they will go to the Super Bowl, but I think they will do better than the last couple of years.”

7. Julio Jones, Atlanta Falcons

No receiver has converted a higher rate of his targets into an explosive gain of 15 yards or more this season than Jones at 35.4%, which is the league’s highest level by more than six percentage points.

8. Michael Thomas, New Orleans Saints

Like Julio Jones, Thomas was limited this season due to injuries and saw only 54 targets in seven games. He did not separate at a high rate, and he didn’t do much after capture, but he was a monster at the point of capture on contested targets, as usual. Thomas was the fifth-highest ranked receiver on contested targets this year, and he now ranks first among contested catches (66) and contested catches (62%) in the past four years.

9. DK Metcalf, Seattle Seahawks

DKMetcalf and Russell Wilson, as well as the whole Seattle offensive attack, may have cooled off, but he nevertheless managed to lead the league in deep reception yards in the regular season with 480. 

Dropped balls were once again a problem for Metcalf this season, and he now has 20 throughout his first two years in the NFL; however, the countless victories in downfield and on the ball contested (he finished in the top-10 scoring on such targets) sees him fall into the top 20.

DK Metcalf finished his sophomore season with 83 receptions, 1303 yards, and ten touchdowns. As impressive as those numbers are, some might say the most significant highlight from last season was when he tracked down Budda Baker after a Russell Wilson interception and looked like Baker was going to score.

10. Mike Evans, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Mike Evans has been impressive since he entered the league in 2014. Last season, he captured 67 catches; however, his 67 total catches, 1,157 yards with an average of 17.3 yards/take with eight touchdowns. He ranked 24th in 2019.

At 6 feet 5 inches,  Evans ranked fourth on deep targets (30) and eighth in yards per route (2.67). Evans had one of the best quarterbacks ever to play Tom Brady’s position, and this season with Brady at the helm, Evans finished with 70 receptions, 1006 yards, and 13 touchdowns.

11. Keenan Allen, Los Angeles Chargers

Keenan Allen produced the eighth-lowest average target depth among receivers (7.3). He was an excellent receiver for the Los Angeles Chargers this season. No route runner turned more passes thrown in their direction into a first down (28); he also ranked fourth in contested catches (18) and was eighth in drop rate (1.9%).

12. Chris Godwin, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Godwin was one of the most dependable targets in the slot, where he ran 67% of his routes, generating the highest take rate (85.7%). The second-highest passing rate when the target catch rate (138.3) and the highest contested catch rate (nine out of 11).

Godwin finished this year’s Super Bowl campaign with 65 catches, 840 yards, and seven touchdowns.

13. Corey Davis, Tennessee Titans

Corey Davis had an inconsistent 2020 campaign with several dominant performances and several so-so ones, but it was definitely still the best season of his career. Davis saw a fair amount of play-action passes thanks to offensive coordinator Arthur Smith, so it’s not surprising that he tied for second with 15-plus-yard receptions stemming from play-action pass attempts this year (18).

Davis finished the season with 65 receptions, 984 yards, and five touchdowns for the Titans.

14. Cole Beasley, Buffalo Bills

Cole Beasley was an excellent addition to Stefon Diggs this year for the Bills, as he exploited the holes in the slot area coverage all year round. No wide receiver caught more targets by finding spots in the area this season than Beasley (35), a significant reason for generating the highest rate of open targets in the NFL. Last season for the Buffalo Bills, Cole Beasley had 82 receptions, 967 yards, and four touchdowns.

15. Calvin Ridley, Atlanta Falcons

Calvin Ridley led all NFL wide receivers in total explosive plays of 15-plus yards generated in 2020 (40). And as for the percentage of targets that resulted in one of those explosive receptions, Ridley was only second behind Julio Jones. 

Seven of those 40 gains of over 15 yards occurred when the defensive back forced a tight coverage, which tied for second place in the NFL. Last season for the Atlanta Falcons, Calvin Ridley had 90 receptions, 1374 yards, nine touchdowns.

16. Adam Thielen, Minnesota Vikings

Adam Thielen did not separate at the same rate as in previous years, but he was still one of the league’s best receivers. The Viking is known for his course and outings, and this year Thielen retained a place in the top five when he came to receive the ball against a single defender and a lot of press coverage. This past season for the Vikings, Thielen had 74 receptions, 925 yards, 14 touchdowns.

17. Allen Robinson, Chicago Bears

Robinson was responsible for more than half of the first downs and touchdowns produced by the Chicago Bears receiving unit this year. Robinson finished the 2000 season with 102 receptions,1250 yards, and six touchdowns for the Bears. This offseason, he is looking to cash in on his success with the Bears this season as he is looking for a big contract from Chicago or one of the 31 other teams in the league.

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Sports Strength

The 25 Best Defenders in the NBA Right Now

The responsibilities of a defender in today’s NBA are taxing. With the rise of three-point shooting and modern rules which favor offenses, NBA defenses have more responsibility than ever. Defenders have to be able to excel in different defensive schemes. Versatility is paramount, and the best defenders are the ones that show up at the most important times.

Apologies go out to Jonathan Isaac and Klay Thompson, who would probably make this list any other year, but Isaac and Thompson are out for the season due to injury. There were also other defenders worthy of recognition, but the NBA is filled with players who have a case to make this list. From Rudy Gobert to Giannis Antetokounmpo, here’s a look at the best defenders in the NBA right now.

1. Rudy Gobert

A two-time Defensive Player of the Year, Rudy Gobert has been patrolling the paint for the Utah Jazz for several years now. Teams at this point are afraid to even step in the paint with the Stifle Tower. Gobert has averaged at least two blocks per game for seven consecutive years. His mere presence alters what shots opponents take. Gobert’s ability to cover a lot of ground and to wall up the paint makes him one of the best defensive centers of all time already.

2. Anthony Davis

Davis put on a defensive showcase last season as he went on to win his first NBA championship with the Los Angeles Lakers. The ultimate weapon on both ends, Davis’s ability to guard all five positions, is the key to Los Angeles’s number-one ranked defense. The seven-time All-Star can excel in any defensive scheme, and his offensive versatility combined with his defensive capabilities makes for a lethal talent. It’s a surprise that Davis still has yet to win a Defensive Player of the Year Award.

3. Giannis Antetokounmpo

The reigning two-time MVP, Giannis Antetokounmpo, receives an exhaustive amount of attention for his rim runs and fascinating forays into the paint on offense. He is also a fearsome defender. With his 7-foot-3 wingspan and quickness, Antetokounmpo covers so much ground and is the perfect help defender. His abilities on defense led to his first Defensive Player of the Year Award this past season.

4. Myles Turner

The Indiana Pacers rely heavily on Myles Turner to protect the rim and clean up any drives from opposing offenses. A six-year vet, Turner led the NBA in blocks two seasons ago and is headed to another blocks crown this season. He’s swatting nearly four shots a game. Though Turner hasn’t been decorated with any defensive awards, he’s been consistent, blocking at least two shots a game in four of the last five seasons. With his recent block party, Turner just might get that Defensive Player of the Year award soon.

5. Ben Simmons

A 6-foot-10 point guard is an extremely unique weapon to have. Ben Simmons gets some flack for his lack of perimeter shooting, but he does everything else well. Defense is where Simmons’ is such a nightmare to deal with. He can guard all five positions and can excel in any scheme. Just recently, Simmons at the top of a 2-3 zone defense disrupted the Indiana Pacers into just six points in the final eight minutes. Just last year, Simmons led the NBA in steals and earned his first berth on the NBA’s All-Defensive First team. It probably won’t be his last.

6. Kawhi Leonard

Nicknamed “the Claw,” Kawhi Leonard’s hands and wingspan are a problem for any offensive player. A two-time Defensive Player of the Year, Leonard has never averaged less than a steal a game in a season and he’s always put on the best offensive players. As he has gained more attention for his rise as an offensive superstar, it can be easily forgotten how difficult Leonard’s made it for offensive players with his standout defense.

7. Marcus Smart

Smart is the heart and soul of the Boston Celtics. Though he’s solid on offense, Smart makes his most significant impact on the defensive end. For the Celtics, Smart usually will check the toughest perimeter assignment all while providing the proper help defense for his teammates. A notable flopper, Smart has also been able to turn that display of trickery into a work of art.

8. Bam Adebayo

The Miami Heat found a gem late in the lottery of the 2017 NBA Draft with the selection of Bam Adebayo. The former Kentucky product’s ability to switch on to smaller guards and contain larger centers makes him a unique feature piece in Miami’s defensive scheme. Adebayo made huge play after huge play in Miami’s run to the NBA Finals in the bubble. His game-saving block on Jayson Tatum is up there as one of the best moments in the playoffs from last season.

9. Joel Embiid

Joel Embiid’s seven-foot, 280-pound frame makes it nearly impossible to enter the paint as an offensive player when he’s patrolling. Embiid has made the NBA’s All-Defensive second team on two separate occasions. A dominant presence, Embiid has averaged at least 1.3 blocks per game throughout his career.

10. LeBron James

Even at the age of 36, LeBron James is still the GOAT of the league. His offensive abilities are unquestioned, but the four-time champion and three-time MVP also gets the job done on the defensive end. At 6’9”, and 250 pounds, James can guard multiple positions and create havoc.

James is the perfect example of All-Defensive teams being a regular season award. He hasn’t been named to an All-Defensive team since 2014. James routinely saves his energy for the postseason, where he dials up his defensive aggression on the biggest of stages. James’ ability to read opponents play calls and study the tendencies of opponents is bar none.

11. Jimmy Butler

Jimmy Butler is the ultimate competitor. Picking his spots on offense and worming his way to the basket stand out. On defense though, Butler’s always up for the toughest assignment. His fiery personality and two-way excellence certainly helped Miami to their NBA Finals berth in the bubble. Though Butler and the Heat have gotten off to a slow start due to injuries and a string of COVID-related absences, you can be sure that they are not going down without a fight.

12. Patrick Beverley

One of the most fiery competitors in the league right now, Patrick Beverley’s path to the NBA is one of hard work. A second round pick, Beverley played in the Ukraine and Greece before making it in the league. The guard brings it every night with elite level rebounding for a guard, hustle and that sticky defense. A three-time All-Defense player, opponents go into games concerned at the damage Beverley does as an on-ball hound.

13. Eric Bledsoe

It’s hard for any guard to shake off Eric Bledsoe’s strong defense. Bledsoe made the NBA’s All-Defensive first and second teams in the past two seasons. A part of two teams in Milwaukee that had great defenses, Bledsoe’s aggressive ability to read passing lanes, contain drives on the perimeter and gum up offenses makes him special on the defensive end.

14. Paul George

Though he might get clowned from time to time by the NBA Twitter brigade for a failed nickname (See: Playoff P), there’s no denying what Paul George brings to the table. One of the best two-way players of this current NBA generation, George’s ability to contain guards and other wings on the perimeter combined with his slithery ability on the offensive end to nail shots all over the floor has made him a six-time All-Star. George’s partnership with Kawhi Leonard in Los Angeles makes for a special combination on the defensive end.

15. Jrue Holiday

Jrue Holiday is probably your favorite player’s favorite player. Respected for his abilities on both ends of the floor, Holiday has done a great job in his first season with the Milwaukee Bucks. A one-time All-Star, Holiday is one of the best one on one defenders in the league and he’s able to get the job done. An NBA All-Defensive team member in 2018 and 2019, the crowning moment in Holiday’s defensive highlight reel was when he—and the Pelicans’ trapping scheme—held Portland’s Damian Lillard to 18.5 points and 35 percent shooting in a 2018 first round series.

16. Draymond Green

Not the same athlete he was a few years ago, Draymond Green is still one of the tougher defenders in the NBA. Arguably the smartest player in the game right now, Green has helped propel the Golden State Warriors into a top-10 defensive team this season. 

The defensive anchor of three Warrior championship teams, Green does all of the little things to help his team win. A former Defensive Player of the Year and five-time All-Defensive team member, Green might be able to earn more plaudits if he can get the Warriors to the playoffs despite being without Klay Thompson.

17. Brook Lopez

Early on in his career, Brook Lopez was known more for his offensive contributions in the low-post, but he revitalized his career through developing the long distance shot and utilizing his large stature as a deterrent at the rim. Lopez earned his first All-Defensive team nod and has been top-five in blocks the past two seasons. A former one-time All-Star, Lopez also might be on the list for biggest NBA player Disney Fan.

18. PJ Tucker

The NBA’s resident sneaker king, PJ Tucker has made a living doing the dirty work. Last year was a testament to Tucker’s sacrifice. After the Houston Rockets traded center Clint Capela for forward Robert Covington in a four-team deal, the 6-foot-5 Tucker became the team’s starting center. 

Matched up at times with behemoths like Steven Adams and Rudy Gobert, Tucker was at a height and weight disadvantage much of last year. Now, back into his regular role as power forward this season, Tucker is still making the hustle plays on defense, taking charges and diving for loose balls.

19. OG Anunoby

Though Anunoby is just 6-foot-7, he’s able to guard everyone from wings to strong centers. In his fourth NBA season, Anunoby is tied for the lead in steals in the NBA this season. Though the Raptors have had a rough start to their 2020-21 season, Anunoby’s development as a solid two-way player has been a bright spot. If he keeps it up, he might be able to make his first All-Defensive team.

20. Dejounte Murray

A long-armed guard on the perimeter for the San Antonio Spurs, Dejounte Murray is one of the brightest young defenders in the NBA. An All-Defensive team member in 2018, Murray finished top-10 in steals last season (1.9 steals). Recovered from a torn ACL suffered two years ago, Murray is a very strong defensive rebounder for a guard, and his stock is going up.

21. Luguentz Dort

A one-man wrecking crew on the perimeter, Dort emerged last year out of seemingly nowhere. He gained some notice around the league for the job he did sticking like glue to star James Harden in the Oklahoma City Thunder’s first round series against the Houston Rockets. 

Even in the series loss, Dort’s defense propelled him into a starting spot during this current season. Bolstered by an improved jump shot, Dort still has that same invasive, gnat-like defensive pressure. It’s led to a more crystallized view of what the 21-year old Dort can become in the future.

22. Jaylen Brown

Jaylen Brown is one half of the Boston Celtics’ star tandem with Jayson Tatum. A lock to make his first All-Star team this season, Brown is the complete package. Defensively, Brown is one of the better on-ball defenders and can switch and guard four different positions. Brown’s capabilities have been a huge factor in the Celtics having a top-10 defense over the past three seasons.

23. Clint Capela

A known impact player on defense from his days with the switch-heavy Houston Rockets, Clint Capela has played a part in the Atlanta Hawks’ solid start early this season. The center recently had a 10-block game and has swatted at least two shots a night on 10 different occasions. Atlanta might’ve had one of the worst center rotations last season, but Capela has provided a huge upgrade with mobility, rim protection and elite defensive rebounding.

24. Larry Nance Jr.

One of the best low key defenders in the league is the second coming of his father, Larry Nance. With his ability to switch and guard multiple positions, Nance has contributed to the Cavaliers’ rise to top-10 in defense this season. He leads the NBA in deflections so far this season and is tied for the lead in steals. Between Nance’s improved skills as a defender and his improved three-point shooting, he’s established himself as a top notch role player in the NBA.

25. Pascal Siakam

The former Most Improved Player, Siakam is able to use his length and mobility to make plays on the floor defensively. A wiry athlete, Siakam can switch on to waterbug point guards, but also mix it up in the paint. Siakam’s 7-foot-3 wingspan wrecks the schemes of opposing offenses and is a luxury for a Toronto Raptors team that plays small in the backcourt with Kyle Lowry and Fred Vanvleet.

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The 15 Longest College Football Winning Streaks of All-Time

When it comes to winning, Michael Jordan said it best: “I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I’ve been trusted to take the game-winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.”

For these college football teams, winning was their bread and butter. Many of these streaks are from as far back as the 19th century and remain untouched to this day. As connoisseurs of the art of winning, we at ONE37pm needed to examine the 15 longest winning streaks in the history of Division-I college football.

1. 1908 – 1916 University of Washington [59]
Asahel Curtis Photo Company Photographs via Wikimedia Commons

The Washington football team from 1908 to 1916 won 59 straight games over eight years under the leadership of Gil Dobie. Per Lynn Borland of the Seattle Times, Dobie accumulated  59-0-3, a record that has not been duplicated. The University of Washington was not considered a major college football team during this era.

2. 1953 – 1957 University of Oklahoma [47]

Oklahoma holds the NCAA record for most consecutive victories from an extensive collegiate program at 47-straight. Their streak spanned five seasons, from 1953 to 1957. The OU lost to Notre Dame 28-21 when the 1953 season opened and tied Pittsburgh 7-7 the following week. The Sooner’s streak began with a 19-14 victory over arch-rival Texas in the Cotton Bowl in Dallas in October of 1953.

3. 1887 – 1889 Yale University [37]
Wikimedia Commons

The Yale Bulldogs football team went 37-0 from 1887 to 1889. The first season they went 9-0. The following season, they continued their winning streak, winning 13 straight games. During the 1888 season, they did not allow a single point and beat their rivals by a total of 694 to 0. During the final season of the 37-win streak, they went 15-1, with the only loss coming to Princeton University in the season’s final game.

The Bulldogs held their opponents on goal in 12 games and beat all opponents by a total of 664 to 31.

4. 1890 – 1893 Yale University [37]
Wikimedia Commons

After losing to Princeton University 10-0 at the end of the 1889 season, Yale went on another 37-game winning streak during the next three years.  In its third year under head coach Walter Camp, the team established a 13-1 record, recorded 12 shutouts, and beat all opponents with a total of 486 to 18. Their only loss was to rival Harvard with a score of 12–6.

After their loss to Harvard, they didn’t see a loss again for the three years until they faced Princeton in the 1893 season’s final game.

5. 1969 – 1971 University of Toledo [35]

Toledo’s 1968 season ended with a three-game losing streak, but they followed it up with three perfect seasons straight. Quarterback Chuck Ealey, who threw for 5,000 yards and scored 42 touchdowns in three years with the Rockets, took the series to the field. After Lauterbur’s departure to Iowa after the 1970 season, assistant John Murphy coached the Rockets to a record-breaking 12-0 in 1971.

6. 2000 – 2003 University of Miami [34]
Eliot J. Schechter / Stringer via Getty Images

At the start of the 21st century, Miami was the first school to accumulate 30 victories in the new millennium. The winning streak started under Butch Davis, who ended his career with the Hurricanes with ten consecutive wins following a Week 2 loss to Washington in 2000. After a Sugar Bowl victory over Florida, Davis moved to the NFL, and Larry Coker took over. 

During the first year of Coker, Miami enjoyed its first perfect season since 1991. They went 12-0 and won the school’s fifth national championship with a 37-14 win over Nebraska in the Rose Bowl. This 2001 squad was propelled by a defense that included Ed Reed, Jonathan Vilma, Phillip Buchanon, and more.

7. 1894 – 1896 University of Pennsylvania [34]
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Between 1890 and 1899, Penn went 124-14-2, for a victory percentage of 89.3. This included nine consecutive seasons with no less than 11 wins. Most importantly, they ran two consecutive perfect seasons in 1894 and 1895 and a 14-1 campaign in 1896 for 34 consecutive wins.

8. 2003 – 2006 University of Southern California [34]
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This series went on from the fifth game of the 2003 season to the epic 2006 Rose Bowl. This streak is not in the record books though, because most of the wins have been canceled due to NCAA violations. Nevertheless, the win streak by USC still happened, and we were all glued to our seats.

9. 1914 – 1918 University of Pittsburgh [31]
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In its second season under head coach Joseph Duff, the team compiled an 8–1 record and outscored all opponents by a total of 207 to 38. The following season, the team went unbeaten with an 8-0 record, outscoring their opponents by a combined total of 247–19 under Pop Warner. In his second season with Pittsburgh, Pop Warner went 8-0; over the next two seasons, they went 15-1.

10. 1948 – 1950 University of Oklahoma [31]

In their second year under head coach Bud Wilkinson, the Sooners tallied a 10-1 record (5-0 against the conference opponents), winning the Big Seven Conference Championship. They beat their opponents by a combined total of 350 to 121. Two Sooners received All-American honors in 1948, Buddy Burris and Jack Mitchell.  Six Sooners were recognized at all conferences: Burris, Mitchell, Owens, Paine, Thomas, and Walker. The following season, they went undefeated with an 11-0 record, and in 1950, the Sooners finished the season with a 10-1 record.

11. 1968 – 1971 University of Texas 1968-71 [30]

Texas led its Wishbone offense into an undefeated regular season with a national championship the following year. During the 1970 regular season, they were perfect again; however, the streak ended at 30 with a loss to Notre Dame in the Cotton Bowl.

12. 2012 – 2014 Florida State University [29]
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The Seminoles series kicked off with a 21-15 win over Georgia Tech in the 2012 ACC Championship. The following year, the eventual Heisman Trophy winner, Jameis Winston, led the team towards a perfect season and the final BCS national title. Florida State was more neglected the following season but still stayed undefeated and won the ACC title again. Then in the first-ever College Football Playoff match, Oregon blew out the ‘Noles 59-20.

13. 1990 – 1993 University of Miami [29]
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The Hurricanes lost to Notre Dame in the sixth week of the 1990 season but won their final six games, including a 46-3 Texas win in the Cotton Bowl. They were perfect the following season and won the national championship. Miami subsequently went 11-0 during the 1992 regular season but was beaten by Alabama in the Sugar Bowl on New Year’s Day.

14. 1973 – 1975 University of Oklahoma [28]
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Except for a 7-7 tie with USC in the second game of the 1973 season, the Sooners win streak would actually have been 37 games.  When they were banned from bowls and television, Oklahoma went 10-0-1 in 1973 and 11-0 in 74, winning the national championship. The Sooners won their first eight games in 1975 but turned the ball over eight times against Kansas in a 23-3 loss. They bounced back to win their last three games and their second straight national championship.

15. 1978 – 1980 University of Alabama [28]
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Alabama won the final two of the seven national championships under Bear Bryant with an 11-1 season in 1978 (the only fault being a 24-14 loss to USC in Game 3) and a season of 12-0 in ‘79. The Crimson Tide won their first game of the 1980 season and took the #1 position, but were upset by Mississippi State 6-3, ending the streak at 28.

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Sports Strength

Michael Chiesa is Knocking At The Door

Michael “Maverick” Chiesa is on a four-win streak at the moment, having just defeated Neil Magny at UFC’s Fight Island in Abu Dhabi. 

For his next opponent, he doesn’t want anyone outside of the top five ranked welterweights in the UFC and if things go according to plan, he will be fighting for the UFC 170 lb. title in about 12 months. 

He joined ONE37pm’s Bo Templin on this week’s episode of In the Fight to talk about his most recent win, his immediate future, and some fun dynamics about his life outside of fighting.

Time To Make a Change

July 7th, 2018. 

“He’s got an arm too! He tapped. He tapped!” 

Anthony Pettis defeats Chiesa via triangle armbar and from that moment on, Chiesa knew he had to make a change. 

“That was a weird time for me. It was a trying year. 2018 was challenging. I missed weight for that fight… When I’m backstage, I’m very game, very sharp… I’m very focused. And I was just saying some really weird stuff. I can’t really explain it. But my cornermen said, ‘we were worried,’ I was saying some really weird stuff,” Chiesa said.

“Not to mention this is the sold-out T-Mobile Arena. Daniel Cormier vs. Stipe Miocic for the heavyweight title. The place is packed. I’m on the main card. I’m fighting Anthony ‘Showtime’ Pettis. Finally. A guy I’ve looked up to for a long time… and I just let everything get the best of me… when I went into that fight, I didn’t have my normal energy.” 

“He taught me a lot of lessons that night… I’m in the wrong weight class. I need to be more humble. Anthony served me a nice cold plate of humble pie… I wouldn’t be here if Anthony Pettis didn’t catch me in the triangle arm bar.”

Reborn

Those days of 155 pounds are long gone. ‘Maverick’ is now on a four-fight win streak. 

And he has his eyes set on UFC gold. 

ONE37pm: If you could manifest the next 12 months, what would they look like? Who do you fight? When? Where? 

Chiesa: “The next fight is a top-5 guy. I think that fight is in the summer. I win that fight…I mean this is a stacked weight class. Compete in a title eliminator in December. And then fight for the title.”

Yeah it definitely is. 

Usman, Burns, Masvidal, Covington, Wonderboy; the welterweight division is nasty. There is just no other way to put it. 

But Chiesa made it very clear: He is feeling better than ever. 

“I don’t feel like I’m slowing down… and being a veteran goes a long way in this sport.”

Recently, you’ve seen veterans continue to excel late into their 30s. Chiesa knows that and wants to capitalize on the moment. He’s taking his training to the next level and staying laser-focused. 

“It’s all about training smart… it’s all about regiment. I’m not making things up as I go.” 

Chiesa’s training can be noticed by even the most novice of fans. For a guy who just jumped up in weight, he still looks massive against his opponents. He has unlocked an absurd amount of strength and is now controlling his opponents with his superior grappling. 

Chiesa is more than just a fighter. He has passions, interests, hobbies, and daily challenges. He’s met a lot of interesting people in his life and wants to share those stories. To hear more about what he has planned next, listen to the full episode of In the Fight and check him out on Twitter and Instagram.

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Sports Strength

Who Owns AEW? What You Should Know About Wrestling’s Newest Promotion

The mainstream force known as World Wrestling Entertainment rules the current wrestling landscape. 

Vince McMahon and company regularly produce an in-ring product that’s viewed by millions of fans on a weekly basis. Plus, they deliver PPV’s and other types of grand content on their WWE Network streaming service. Thanks to the new deal that will see that very same service carry over to NBC’s Peacock streaming client, WWE will rack up even more funds than ever before and continue to stay on top from a financial standpoint.

However, an up and coming wrestling fed has done its best to change the tide of the business as a whole. That company is known as All Elite Wrestling (AEW), which is primarily owned and led by the son of a billionaire businessman and sports tycoon. AEW’s early successes have played out in an impressive fashion and paint a picture of a bright future for the fledgling wrestling company.

So who owns AEW? It’s time you all got a better idea of the movers and shakers behind the organization, its inception, its rise to fame, and how things are looking for the company’s future dealings.

The Owners

AEW’s lead investor is Shahid Khan. His strong business acumen can be seen via his ownership of American automotive company Flex-N-Gate. As for his involvement in the sports sector, Khan holds the position of owner for the National Football League’s (NFL) Jacksonville Jaguars and the English Premier League’s (EPL) Fulham F.C teams. Now that he’s dipped his toes into the sport of professional wrestling, Khan is classified as co-owner of AEW, alongside his son Tony Khan.

Tony’s co-owner position within AEW is one of many —he’s also certified as the company’s founder, president and CEO. The four main pillars that first signed on with the company as in-ring talents also act as its executive vice presidents: Cody Rhodes (the son of Hall of Fame wrestler Dusty Rhodes and half-brother of Dustin Rhodes), Matt & Nick Jackson (better known as The Young Bucks), and Kenny Omega. Rhodes’ wife Brandi Rhodes also holds an important position as AEW’s chief brand officer. She also happens to compete in the ring from time to time.

At the moment, AEW isn’t a publicly traded company. However, the huge financial backing from the Khan Family has done wonders for its first two years in business and placed it in a prominent position thus far. The four main divisions that fall under the AEW umbrella include AEW Games, AEW Heels (which is a community effort led by Brandi that’s meant to appeal to female wrestling fans), AEW Music, and Shop AEW.

Company History

The genesis of AEW can be traced back to a simple tweet posted in 2017. In response to a question from a fan, wrestling journalist Dave Meltzer noted that a wrestling promotion by the name of Ring of Honor (ROH) couldn’t sell out an arena with 10,000+ fans. Cody Rhodes got wind of that sentiment and decided to challenge Meltzer’s comment.

Cody and The Young Bucks were experiencing mega levels of popularity at the time due to their affiliation with the Bullet Club faction and group within the group known as The Elite. The event that eventually came from their combined promotional efforts was All In 2018, which surprisingly sold out in 30 minutes. The biggest claim to fame for All In was the fact that it had the largest audience for a wrestling show held in America not affiliated with WWE or WCW since 1993. All in all, 11,263 rabid wrestling fans showed up to watch the very best from ROH and beyond showcase their talents on a much larger scale.

Thanks to the overwhelmingly positive response and financial success garnered from All In, plans were put in place to expand Cody & The Young Bucks’ ambitions into a brand new wrestling promotion. Several trademarks for the company were filed on November 5, 2018, which then led to rampant speculation about its validity. Fans began looking into the rumors behind AEW as legit once Cody, The Young Bucks, Adam Page, and several other ROH wrestlers left the promotion following December 2018’s Final Battle event. Fast forward to January 2019, where an episode of Being the Elite officially announced the creation of AEW and its very first PPV extravaganza: Double or Nothing.

On the lead up to Double or Nothing 2019, AEW began finalizing its roster members and slotting in its top-level executives. On January 8, 2019, a special press conference was held for the company on the forecourt of the TIAA Bank Field. Among the names that appeared during that event were Chris Jericho, Pac, and SoCal Uncensored (Christopher Daniels, Scorpio Sky, and Frankie Kazarian). A month later on February 7, 2019, AEW held an even bigger fan gathering and released tickets for the upcoming Double or Nothing PPV. Kenny Omega, the Lucha Brothers (Pentagon Jr. and Rey Fenix), and several others staked their claim as the newest members of the AEW locker room during that event.

Another major announcement for the new wrestling fed arrived on May 15, 2019; AEW and WarnerMedia announced a deal for a weekly TV series that was eventually christened AEW Dynamite. In the months that followed, AEW shocked the world thanks to the debut of former WWE talent Jon Moxley (formerly known as Dean Ambrose) at Double or Nothing 2019. AEW went on to produce additional events that year (Fyter Fest in June and Fight for the Fallen in July) and solidify its major championships. At All Out 2019 in August, Chris Jericho defeated Adam Page in the main event to become the inaugural AEW World Champion.

AEW Dynamite made its official TV debut on TNT on October 2, 2019 and averaged a total of 1.409 million viewers. With those impressive numbers in mind, the first episode of Dynamite gave it the honor of having the biggest TV debut on TNT in five years. Since then, AEW has brought in a flood of exciting new talent and given them an exclusive YouTube series to showcase their skills on called AEW Dark. The company has put on other special PPV cards (Full Gear and Revolution), earned several match of the year accolades, entered partnerships with other wrestling feds such as AAA & Impact Wrestling, and regularly competes with NXT for Wednesday night wrestling dominance.

The Future of the Company

Wrestling fans can look forward to watching the action on AEW Dynamite unfold on TNT for the foreseeable future since the company’s domestic TV deal has been extended through 2023. That bit of good news has already been joined by an even more applause-worthy announcement: AEW will be adding a second weekly TV series to WarnerMedia’s TNT network at some point.

The most intriguing portion of AEW’s future outlook is its fruitful partnerships with other wrestling feds. Thus far, Tony Khan’s squared circle venture has utilized wrestlers from Oriental Wrestling Entertainment, Joshi feds that originate from Japan, AAA, Impact Wrestling, and the National Wrestling Alliance. And after a recent run-in from famed Bullet Club member KENTA, it looks like the forbidden door that once locked out a deal between NJPW and AEW has finally opened. Talent swaps between Japan’s biggest wrestling federation and AEW paint a very bright future for what’s to come in the proceeding years.

As far as new titles go, Tony has made it clear that AEW Trios (Six-Man) Championships are arriving sometime soon. During a media conference call, the titles were brought up as a new element that will arrive sometime in 2021. AEW’s tag team division is one of strongest in the world in comparison to its competition’s offerings, plus it plays host to an “elite” lineup of six-man stables that can vie for the newly introduced titles.

AEW regularly broadcasts its Dynamite series from the Daily’s Place amphitheater in Jacksonville, Florida due to the pandemic. But come 2022 and beyond, hopes are running high for the company heading back out on the road and presenting its brand of in-ring excellence to arenas full of thankful fans once again.

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Sports Strength

MMA Organizations: The 10 Best Promotions, Ranked

Even if you’re more than a casual MMA fan and you try to catch every UFC PPV or the main event from every card they do, there’s still a good chance you’ve never seen an MMA fight outside of the UFC umbrella. Bellator is seen as the number two to the UFC in terms of other promotions, and it’s no secret that there’s a significant gap between the two in terms of both popularity and skill, as a general rule.

While the UFC has mostly monopolized the market, it doesn’t mean that anything outside of their cards is worth keeping an eye out for. The proof is in the pudding, and if you watched the co-main on the recent Poirier vs. McGregor card, you saw former Bellator champion Michael Chandler make one of the best UFC debuts of all time when many doubted whether he could even compete at the UFC’s level or not. If you’re interested in checking out what the wider scope of MMA has to offer, we’ve compiled a list of the ten best promotions that MMA has to offer today, with a little look at their history and key players.

1. UFC
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The UFC is such a big player in MMA that people often confuse it for being the sport’s name. That kind of dominance in any space cannot be overstated. In the promotion’s history, there have been times where organizations like PRIDE and Strikeforce have been competitors, but for the last decade or so, there’s no debate about its position as the number one promotion in the sport. Pretty much every fighter who is in the conversation for being the best of all time or the best in a particular weight class has been a UFC fighter at some point or currently is – the sole exception being Fedor Emelianenko.

The company was founded in 1993 and is currently run by Dana White, who some fans will know over many of the fighters. The promotion was famously sold for just over $4 billion in 2016 and is certainly worth way more than that already. The growth has been unbelievable and there are no plans to stop, with UFC gyms and hotels being planned for different locations around the world.

2. Bellator
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Even though it’s a distant second, there’s no debate that Bellator is the second most popular/powerful MMA organization in the world. In 2008 when Scott Coker started the promotion, it began as mostly tournament-based because he saw so much success from it in Strikeforce, but it has moved away from that, mostly.

Bellator has a reputation for putting on fights with fighters from the UFC who are way past their prime. While they’ve earned that a little bit with fights between Chael Sonnen and Lyoto Machida or Rampage Jackson and Wanderlei Silva, they’ve also been the home of some genuinely great competitors that never set foot in the UFC. Diego Lima, Patrício Freire, and Juan Archuleta are three of their current champions that fans would love to see compete in the UFC one day. Plus, they just added Yoel Romero and Rumble to their roster, so 2021 should be a fun year.

3. ONE Championship
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The first time that many people would have heard of ONE Championship was when the famous, one-of-a-kind trade happened between Demetrious Johnson and Ben Askren. Askren had retired as champ, undefeated in MMA, and only willing to fight if he could prove himself as the best in the world, and DJ had just lost his belt in a close fight with Henry Cejudo and was looking for a home that was better suited to him.

Despite that, Chatri Sityodtong’s Singapore-based MMA promotion has been around since 2011. They’ve also helped dispel the myth that every organization outside of the UFC have lower-level fighters. When former UFC lightweight champion Eddie Alvarez went over to ONE, he lost his first fight devastatingly. ONE’s USP is that they’ve done away with dehydration for weight cutting, something the wider sport may look at in the future.

4. PFL
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The Professional Fighters League (PFL) was technically founded in 2018, but in reality, it’s the second carnation of the World Series of Fighting (WSOF). Its president is Ray Sefo, a name not foreign to fight fans with his own fight record.

PFL has been more popular amongst fans as of late because they’re awarding winners of their seasons with $1 million. That kind of prize money is why former UFC lightweight champion Anthony Pettis chose them over resigning with the UFC. Perhaps the biggest name there is Kayla Harrison, the woman who many think is the only test left for Women’s MMA GOAT Amanda Nunes.

5. Invicta
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Founded by Shannon Knapp and Janet Martin, Invicta Fighting Championships stands out on this list because it’s an MMA organization only for women fighters. Many of the top contenders in the UFC started there, including Michelle Waterson, Angela Hill, and Jennifer Maia, to name a few. They held their first event in April of 2012 in Kansas City, which was exclusively their home for a couple of years.

As much as the UFC gets credit for including Women’s MMA divisions in 2013, Invicta was early and deserves the props.

6. Rizin
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Based in Tokyo, Japan, Rizin Fighting Federation was launched by Nobuyuki Sakakibara, a legendary name in MMA because he was the president of Dream and Pride. Notable fighters in their history are Fedor, Shane Carwin, Shinya Aoki, and current bantamweight champion Kyoji Horiguchi.

If the name sounds familiar to you, you might recognize it as where Floyd Mayweather had his exhibition boxing bout with Tenshin Nasukawa a few years back.

7. Pancrase
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One of the older promotions on this list, Pancrase, was founded the same year as the UFC, 1993. A creation of Masakatsu Funaki and Minoru Suzuki, it has a long, decorated history and boasts fighters like Ken Shamrock, Bas Rutten, Josh Barnett, and Nate Marquardt.

Like many of the promotions on this list, you can view their entire catalogue on UFC Fight Pass.

8. Cage Warriors
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Perhaps best known for being the home of Conor McGregor before he reached the UFC, Cage Warriors is a promotion based out of London, England, that was established in 2001 by Dougie Truman, though their first event didn’t come until a year later. Cage Warriors is credited with growing the sport exponentially in the UK. In addition to Conor, Michael Bisping, Gegard Mousasi, and Dan Hardy are all international fighters that have won championships there and later had success in the UFC, so it’s worth taking a look at them for seeing what the future might look like.

9. M-1 Global
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Vadim Finkelchtein founded M-1 Global in 1997, but it took until 2009 for them to host their own major show outside of co-promotion. They are the most famous fight promotion in Russia and have been the home of names like current Bellator champion Vadim Nemkov, heavyweight GOAT Fedor, and, most notably, lightweight GOAT Khabib Nurmagomedov.

Crucially, M-1 Global has recently been serving as a scouting operation for the UFC for Russian fighters. Considering how popular Khabib has made the region in recent years, this will play a hugely important role in coming years.

10. Absolute
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Absolute Championship Akhmat is also based out of Russia and is one of the leading MMA promotions in Europe. It has been the home of current UFC bantamweight champion Petr Yan, featherweight contender Zabit Magomedsharipov and Artem Lobov, amongst others.

Mairbek Khasiev founded it in 2014 and has since hosted events all around the world. As well as MMA, they also host Kickboxing and BJJ matches, where prominent names like Gordon Ryan have taken park.