Ryan Huckabey

Business Professional & Sports/Travel Enthusiast

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I’m running a half marathon tomorrow; and I still can’t believe it

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If I’m going to cross the finish line, this is what I’ll look like doing it.

After ballooning up in weight last year, I decided I needed to do something about it. I used to go to the gym but could never really stick with it. Mostly because I was tired of how packed it gets, but in general I just made excuses. Early this year, I decided to go on short one mile walks around my apartment complex. I was a high school athlete; not a great one, but it’s not like I’ve been sedentary my whole life. I have that competitive edge in me and I started to see if I could do a little more each time, or do my walk/runs a little faster. I never knew what was going to come out of it, or what would follow.

The company I work for on the Las Vegas strip offered its’ employees a 5K run to enter for free in early February. I thought it would be interesting to try, but at the same time, I kind of dreaded it. 3.1 miles? Geez that’s a lot! I ended up running it in 41 minutes + and was pretty excited. I felt really accomplished, and it was a high I have yet to feel. Earning a finishers medal was an awesome feeling. Since then, I’ve entered and participated a few more 5Ks and have cut my time down considerably.

A few weeks ago, I saw a huge sign for the Summerlin half marathon. Summerlin is the area in which I live in, in Las Vegas. Very scenic, next to Red Rock, and a well off area. It looked like fun, but I knew I wasn’t quite near ready to participate in it. Still, I was curious. I went online to check out the info, and saw that they have a 4 hour time limit. I thought, hell, I can walk 13.1 miles in 4 hours! Suddenly, I just signed up for it instantly, so I would be forced to train for it. Granted, you can’t train for a half marathon in a few weeks; overall, it’s a relatively stupid decision, but if we waited til we were ready to do anything in life, what would get done?

I’ve ramped up my mileage the past few weeks and I feel great. No injuries, no nags, and no discomfort. I’m not going to set any records, my goal is really just to finish. Per the website, they describe the course as the following:

The Summerlin Half Marathon is a beautiful scenic loop running through the incredible parks and communities of Summerlin. The course travels through 4 of Summerlin’s best trail parks. Enjoy ‘secret’ paths filled with desert landscape. Run through tunnels and park settings nestled against the skyline of the Red Rock mountains. The course opens up to incredible views of the Las Vegas Strip then drops into lush parks filled with green.

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The total climb of the course will be 669 feet with an elevation change of 1339 feet. No easy task as the course continuously runs uphill from mile 2 to mile 7. This is where I may struggle, but I’m happy that it will be mostly during the first half, as after mile 7, the course goes downhill considerably. I’m really here to see the sights; Red Rock, the Vegas Strip, and to challenge myself. I’ve never even actually ran/walked 13.1 miles at once, so ultimately I want to see if I can do it.

I’d be a fool not to have a strategy for something like this, but I need to make it very simple. I’d like to run each mile at a pace of 14:00 per. I know that’s super slow, but I’m not going to bother pushing myself too hard at a distance I’ve never tried/completed before. The longest run/walk I’ve done prior to this is 10 miles. I’m hoping adrenaline will carry me the rest of the way. A 14 minute mile pace will land me around just over 3 hours. If I can’t do that, no biggie; like I said, my main goal is to finish the race and hopefully be able to put a finishers medal around my neck.

Running is addictive; I plan to get on the treadmill pretty soon because it gets relatively hot in Vegas, but runners high is something I can’t really describe. There’s always something new to achieve, there’s always a different trail to run, and there’s always something new you can learn about yourself. Plus, losing weight is a great side effect! I plan to continue and see where it goes from here.

 

-RH – Follow me on Twitter

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My experience on “Let’s Make a Deal”

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I was VERY surprised…and VERY ecstatic!

So as some of you may know, I was a contestant (and biggest winner) on the Let’s Make A Deal gameshow that aired yesterday. I wanted to write about my amazing experience and share it with all of those that know. Long story short, I was picked to be a contestant and won a trip to London, England, which includes two round trip tickets from LAX to London, 5 nights in a four star hotel, complimentary breakfast everyday, tickets for two to the London Eye, and tickets for two for a tour of the London Tower. Not too bad eh?

I have to be honest; I wasn’t exactly excited to head to LA with my girlfriend and her parents the day of. I know that the process is relatively long, and I’ll be the first to admit, I’m not a big fan of dressing up. My girlfriend suggested the “cowboy” theme, because it was relatively easy and painless. I remember waking up that morning and just dragging; I didn’t shave, didn’t do my non-existing hair (ha!), and overall was just really lazy. I was more than happy and down to go and spend time with my girlfriends family in parents, but overall, I was just expecting a “meh” kind of day. Besides, who really gets picked to be on these things anyway?

We left my girlfriends house in Temecula around 10-1030ish, because we had plans to go to the afternoon show. LMAD tapes twice a day and a few times a week. We had to be in line by 12PM, and we just made it in time. When you wait in line outside, the producers make you fill out paperwork. Simple stuff like name, have you ever been on a show, release forms, ID, etc. Once you pass this, you wait in another line, where your group gets interviewed by one of the producers of the show. What are they looking for? I can’t tell you exactly, but this is where they find out who they’re going to pick for the show. Contrary to popular belief, contestants aren’t chosen at random. They look for people who they think will fit their bill; good on tv, decent personality, interesting costume? They basically don’t want duds on television. When our group came up, they asked me what my name was, where I was from, what I did, and something interesting about me. I answered in a very social and excited tone, told them my name was Ryan, from Palm Springs, that I was a property investor, and that I had drove cross country to see a baseball game in all 30 stadiums. I also added that my girlfriend was going to be in France, and told them if they had a trip to Europe, to give it to me! Ironic, eh?

LMAD

After they interview you, you take a headshot. I can only assume this is for the producers again, to make sure they have a good idea of who they want on the show. You then wait in ANOTHER line to take a picture with your group, and individually, in front of a green screen (which you can see above). They want you to act excited, tell you to act like you won a car, etc. These are kind of fun and kind of get you pumped up to watch the show. You then have the option to buy the pictures, which my girlfriends dad did. He was hilariously trying to “Make a deal” and get the pictures for cheaper, and got a talking to from producers later on.

After you take photos, you sit in a waiting room. They have past LMAD shows, good moments from past shows, and try to keep everyone entertained. You can buy snacks, eat, drink etc. Everyone was also conversing with one another, talking about the show, asking where people were from, the usual. The producers then come in and talk to the crowd for a bit, mentioning that they have all been watching us to make sure we aren’t duds, essentially. They WANT you to be excited! They want you to be pumped up, because it’s good for television. More craziness = better ratings. They WANT you to win! They also gave us a few ground rules; trust me, they sound really easy, but with me going on stage, it was actually pretty difficult. One of them was to not talk like you were in character. They edited it out, but right when I came on stage, Wayne asked me where I was from, and I said I was from Palm Springs, CA, in a southern tone. Don’t know why I did it, but it just happened! Also, when you celebrate, they want you to be facing toward the camera, not towards the crowd. I started my victory dance toward the crowd, then remembered to show my dance to the cameras. Also, they did a great job of editing, but I remember watching myself on the TVs they had ABOVE the stage when I was on stage, instead of looking at the curtains. I could tell they edited a lot of this out. They basically told everyone NOT to do this if they got picked, but it obviously was a lot harder than I expected when I got called on.

At about 3PM, they finally pulled us into the studio for the game show. It’s actually very small and intimate. Again, I have no idea im going to get chosen, but the producers know at this time. We walk in, and honestly I really don’t think I have a chance at getting picked. I was there to have a good time and I wanted to have a good time, but I was trying to be active in the crowd, because the producers are definitely looking at you as you come in. They go over a few more things before the show starts, and Wayne Brady comes out! They start taping the show, and obviously Wayne Brady comes out! Here’s where the fun starts.

Wayne brings up an assistant for his first deal, and then another contestant. After that, he asks “Who wants to make a deal?” I was just jumping to have fun and have a good time, and Wayne says “I have a cowgirl, now its time for a Cowboy..YOU IN THE RED BANDANA” and points to me. I literally cant believe it and just RUN to the stage. My heart is automatically pounding and although I don’t feel nervous, I could definitely see it on tv! Some of the things they edited out were Wayne asking me where I was from, asking if I knew French, and asking my girlfriend a question or two. Here came the deal! I was offered $700, or curtain #2. I idiotically said door #2, and they edited that out. He told me that it was a curtain, not a door, and obviously that was my nervousness. He then told me that the trip could be to France, and then I went on my spiel about my girlfriend going to France. I also told Wayne that I was going with the crowd, willing to put them on my back with me (which they also edited out). The next offer was 900, which again, I had no intent of taking. The last offer was $1500, and again, money is nice, but 1500 isn’t life changing money. I was willing to get zonked just to see what was behind the curtain.

The moment of truth: Wayne tells me to look at the curtain to see what i’ve won. I was really anxious at this point, put my hands on my face in anticipation, and saw the curtain open TO SEE A TRIP TO LONDON. Right away, I just went NUTS! I couldnt even remember how I danced, but if you saw, it was definitely hilarious. I actually got some of my ideas from this guy on the price is right: Where I learned some of my moves – You’ll see that I gathered some of my inspiration from him. Again, I danced toward the crowd first, then I remembered to look at the cameras, and again, I didn’t remember anything until I saw the show yesterday except the fact that I just went absolutely nuts. It was hilarious to watch on TV and I had a great time. Again, they edited out a part where I did a do-se-do with Wayne Brady, which was definitely a highlight. I also didn’t exactly know what I had won; after I saw LONDON, I absolutely wasn’t listening and I was too excited to even realize what I had won.

I got back to my seat and couldnt believe it. Right at that point everyone around me kept asking me if I was going to go for “The Big Deal of the Day”. Honestly, the Big Deal of the Day was valued at $23,000+, but going to Europe has always been a dream of mine. I absolutely had no intent on trading my prize in. The rest of the show was extremely fun to watch now that I had known I won the trip, and I couldnt stop talking to my girlfriend and her parents. We were still in such disbelief.

After the show had aired, the winners had to stay and sign a bunch of paperwork, and W-9′s. Basically, ism going to get taxed about 10% of the trip value, which was valued at close to $10,000. That’s totally fine; I’m getting a huge discount to go to London! The paperwork took about an hour, hour and a half, but I was finally done and my girlfriend and her parents went out to dinner to celebrate.

As I type and finish this entry up, I’m still in disbelief. I remember being a kid and watching game shows thinking it’d be so cool to be on one, but c’mon, again, do you ever really think it will happen? It really is a dream come true and I can’t stress the importance of how fortunate I have been to just have the opportunity for some of the things i’ve been granted in life. I will be called by LMAD within the next three months to set up my trip, and I honestly can’t wait. A lot of people have mentioned to me how “lucky” I am, and you know what, maybe they’re right. But I will say one thing; the more I put myself out there, the luckier I am. I would have never had an opportunity to win this or that if I didn’t put myself out there and try. I would encourage all my friends to attend a taping for next season! Tickets are free and even if you don’t get picked, it’s still a fun experience (I went to a Price is Right halloween taping in 2012).

You can watch my show Here – Feel Free to ask me any questions by connecting with me on Twitter!

-RH – Follow me on Twitter

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The Ultimate Blackjack Challenge, Casino #1: Monte Carlo, Las Vegas, NV

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I got started on the right foot as I kicked off my challenge at Monte Carlo Resort & Casino.

I knew I wanted to perform this challenge, but I really had no plan of when or where. I had just gotten off work on Friday, January 17th, and took to the Las Vegas strip with a co-worker. I told him about the challenge, and mentioned that I was ready to start that night, I just didn’t know where. We ventured into Aria, but I told him about my rules; mainly, the rule about not playing a table higher than a $15 minimum bet. There were no tables at this denomination on a Friday night, and that was to be expected. Knowing that the Monte Carlo was next door, I mentioned to him that Monte Carlo sounded like a great place to start the challenge off.

We walked into Monte Carlo, and headed straight to the Blackjack tables. I didn’t want to wait long, so I found a dealer shuffling for a new shoe at a 6 deck table, and promptly sat down and bought in for my $100. There were 2 other gentlemen at the table, and the first thing they told me was “Good luck!” in a sarcastic tone. This obviously meant that the table wasn’t being too nice to them. The dealer was very monotone, and not very fun to interact with. My session did not start out great; I remember being down to as low as $40 at my lowest point. As my co-worker was watching, he made a comment that I might not survive the shoe. Soon after, one of the gentlemen at the table asked the dealer if we could all get a winning hand for once; it was at that point the tables started to turn.

The first hand after that statement was made, the 3 of us at the table won. Then I couldn’t stop winning. Again, as my rules state, I was only minimum betting, and I was slowly creeping above even. I doubled down on a hand and won, and I also split a hand, doubled one of those, and won. As the shoe was coming to an end, I was only missing one thing; a Blackjack. Unfortunately I went Blackjack-less during the shoe, but I ended up taking in a $60 win minus a one dollar tip. As I went to leave the table, the two gentlemen said “Leaving already?”. Knowing that I accomplished my goal of finishing one full six deck shoe, I simply told them I had to get going and wake up early in the morning; a true tribute to sticking to the rules of my challenge.

STATISTICS

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Money Won: $60.00

Tips: $1.00

Chips taken home: 6 – $26.00

Net cash taken home: $33.00

Double Downs Won: 2/3 – 66%

Splits Won: 1/1 – 100%

Blackjacks: 0

-RH - Follow me on Twitter

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I’m going to play Blackjack at every casino in the Las Vegas metro area

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It’s time to experience what my new city has to offer!

Sounds crazy doesn’t it? I mean sure, you can expect the typical traveler playing blackjack at a few casinos in Las Vegas, and maybe a few others during their lifetime, but ALL of them? How? Well, I’m no stranger to taking on challenges. In 2012, with only 2 months notice, I decided to quit my job and travel across the country to see not only America’s pastimes, but to see a baseball game in every stadium. Last year, I started from scratch and completely rehabilitated two houses. Since relocating to Las Vegas, i’ve found a great deal of things to do, whether it’s hiking at red rock, experiencing the Fremont Street Experience, as well as seeing a couple of shows. I enjoy my job, I enjoy the entertainment, but I’ve been thinking of something fun to do..a “challenge”, to be more exact. Then, it hit me; how interesting would it be to say I’ve played a shoe of blackjack at every casino in Clark County, Nevada?

First things first; gambling can be a scary thing. It’s not for everyone, and it definitely has many risks. However, I believe that I am smart with my money and have set a budget for many things; rent money, groceries, gas, etc. AT NO POINT during this challenge will I risk my well-being to force completing another casino to play Blackjack at. This is strictly a entertainment based challenge, and I will treat it as such. There will be no deadlines; the challenge can last as long as it needs to finish. This type of challenge isn’t for everyone. There will be strict rules, which I will go over below. They have been set to substantiate “what counts” and what I will do for each challenge. I will also go over statistics; how much money won, how much money lost, how many Blackjacks, and so on. There are 75 casinos in Las Vegas alone; this isn’t counting the metro area of Primm, Henderson, and so on. So I have my work cut out for me; it’s likely going to be more than a year-long venture.

THE RULES

1. I must play either one round of a six-deck shoe, 3 rounds of a double deck shoe, or 6 rounds of a single deck shoe. No more, no less.

2. I will search for a mixture of the smallest denomination table available and the best odds I can find.

3. I can play any type of variation of Blackjack I find to my liking.

4. I will NOT play any table with a denomination over a$10 minimum bet, unless the casino does not offer it in any capacity whatsoever.

5. I will always start a table with a $100 buy-in. If I lose the $100 before the shoe(s) are over, I will leave and book my experience as a loss.

6. I will only bet the minimum bet.

7. I will play “by the book”. This means doubling down when It’s mathematically right to do so, splitting on the same terms, etc. For more information, go here: Blackjack Odds

8. I can play whenever I feel like I am aware and can make good decisions.

9. I can tip dealers/beverage servers at my discretion.

THE FUN STUFF

I didn’t mention that I was a casino chip collector; as of today, I currently have over 75 gaming chips. I will be looking for any chips I do not have while on this challenge to add to my collection. The basic rule is I need to take at least one chip; I will take more if A. I book a win and have enough, or B. if it’s the last chip I have. I will also be running a statistic sheet for each visit I make which will include how many blackjacks I made, how much I won or lost, as well as a picture of the chips I took home with me. I’ll also give a small review of my experience. My first experience on my challenge took place on 01/17/14, so be on the lookout for a review soon!

-RH – Follow me on Twitter

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My Experience at The Ultimate Fighter 18 Finale

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It was a short night for Gray Maynard.

I had the pleasure of watching my 2nd UFC event in 3 weeks, and 3rd overall. I’m really excited about relocating to Las Vegas because I am a big sports fan, and although Las Vegas doesn’t have a professional sports team, it is the fight capital of the world (and a minor league baseball team doesn’t hurt either). I was able to get a ticket last second for only $35, instead of paying the retail $86 for the same seat, so I was pretty stoked I took the chance of waiting til literally the last minute. I sat in Sec 113, Row B, Seat 3.

Overall, I had a fun time. I had planned to go with a couple of friends, but work called them in, so I went solo. It was my first event at the Mandalay Bay Events Center, which is a bit more intimate than the MGM Grand Garden Arena, and the upper bowl was closed off. I liked it; it didn’t feel as crowded (obviously) and the arena fit what the UFC needed. I would love to go back to a smaller or bigger event in the future.

The event started at 430 and featured ten bouts, and honestly, it seemed like the longest 5.5 hours of my life. Since the event was aired on cable television, they had to hype of their pay-per-views, sponsors, etc., but the event really dragged on at times. As far as the fights go, I was happy with most of them. As I mentioned in my preview, I was not really impressed with the women (although I am a fan of WMMA), and it really just shows how much longer they need to go to become both well rounded and experts at their craft. There was also an unfortunate disqualification when Maximo Blanco illegally kneed Akira Corassani in the face while he was down. I really enjoyed the featherweight battle between Ryan Benoit and Josh Sampo, as well as the welterweight battle between Drew Dober and Sean Spencer. Young hungry fighters giving it their all is truly a sight to be seen.

Both TUF Finale fights and the main event truly delivered. Both TUF fights were fairly predictable in my opinion, as Chris Holdsworths elite training simply made Davey Grant overmatched, especially as the fight went on. I’m still scratching my head at how Jessica Rakoczy made the final bout, and she looked just terrible against the much better Julianna Pena. I am very interested in seeing both Holdsworth and Pena further their careers. For the first time in a while, it looks like these TUF winners could go far in the UFC.

The main event definitely delivered. I was thinking that Maynard was clearly going to strategize a 3 round humpfest, but he came to brawl, and he was simply outmatched on the feet. Nate Diaz truly had Maynard knocked out on his feet, if not multiple times, and to see his precise striking was simply beautiful. I don’t watch MMA to see the brutality; I watch it to see the “beautiful destruction” as Cub Swanson would say. When you see a fighter performing their craft at 100%, it’s a wonderful thing to see.

PICKS: 6-4. I truly thought Yahya beat Niinimaki due to his constant submission attempts from the ground, but Nevada judges think simply being on top of someone, regardless of being nearly submitted multiple times, means your winning. I missed pretty bad on the first 2 fights, and obviously on Maynard.

OVERALL: 6-4.

UP NEXT: 12/7/13 – UFC Fight Night: Hunt vs. Bigfoot. I obviously won’t be making this out in Brisbane, but it makes for a good fight night card with 12 bouts. I’ll be doing my preview on Thursday night.

-RH – Follow me on Twitter

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The Ultimate Fighter 18 Finale Preview

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Maynard vs. Diaz…but not much else.

The Ultimate Fighter season 18 Finale takes place tomorrow, Saturday 11/29/13, at the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas, NV. This will be the culmination of the season between the teams of Women’s UFC Bantamweight Champion Ronda Rousey and her challenger, Miesha Tate. This is the first season to feature women in the bantamweight division, as well as men in the bantamweight division. I watched most of the episodes, and I have to say it was interesting seeing women battle it out on a bi-weekly basis. However, I must say I was very underwhelmed. I’m all for women entering and competing in the octagon. Hell, they would probably teach me a lesson. Although there were sparks of good fighting, It’s very obvious to see that they are light years behind the men. Regardless, they have to start somewhere, and the UFC is giving them that chance. Props to them. As for the men, there were not very many impressive fighters. I think maybe one or two last in the UFC, and honestly the UFC was really doing this season to put the women in the spotlight, not the men.

I’m not really sure if I’m going to attend this event. I can afford it monetarily, and tickets are relatively cheap, but the only fight I’m really interested in watching is the main event. I’m fairly positive many of these fighters won’t be in the UFC for long. I’m calling it a 50/50 decision as of right now. Could just as well enjoy this one at home, but we’ll see. Either way, i’ll have a recap up on Sunday!

THE FIGHTS AND PREDICTIONS

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One of these women will make UFC history tomorrow night.

MAIN EVENT: MEN’S LIGHTWEIGHT BOUT (155): Gray Maynard (11-2-1) vs. Nate Diaz (16-9) – Maynard and Diaz hook up for the 3rd time unofficially as they had met in an exhibition bout previous to their first official fight. Maynard seems to be improving, whereas Diaz is stagnant, but gets a push due to his aggressive nature. I see this bout being one sided, and Maynard trying to control the fight on the ground, and therefore frustrating Diaz. He must be careful though, as Diaz has exceptional jiu jitsu and can easily put on the submission to end the night early. Prediction: Maynard via decision

TUF WOMEN’S BANTAMWEIGHT (135) FINALE: Julianna Pena (4-2) vs. Jessica Rakoczy (1-3) – As I mentioned previously, the women, in my opinion, were very underwhelming. However, I think a star is being born in Julianna Pena. Although she is coming off a two fight losing streak, she looked very impressive during her fights in the house and doesn’t seem to have much quit in her. I really was not impressed with Rakoczy at all. Although shes a former boxer, it didn’t seem like her hands were really heavy. With an easy win over a gassed Roxanne Modafferi and a relatively boring fight against the injured Raquel Pennington, there was really nothing I saw from her that would coax me into thinking she has an advantage over Pena. Prediction: Pena via 2nd round submission

TUF MEN’S BANTAMWEIGHT (135) FINALE: Chris Holdsworth (4-0) vs. Davey Grant (8-1) – I believe that the UFC and the producers decided to put less emphasis on the men this season and put most of the focus on the women. The result of this is obviously a somewhat less than stellar cast of male fighters. However, just like the women, I see a star in the making in Chris Holdsworth. He’s a bit rough around the edges, but being in the Team Alpha Male camp with veterans Urijah Faber, Duane Ludwig, Joseph Benavidez, among others, will really help in grooming his success. On the other side we have Davey Grant, which honestly, I only saw fight once due to Anthony Gutierrez not making weight for his fight. He’s a submission artist, and it seems like he fights dirty…that’s all I could really make of him. Tough to really judge these guys based on a fight or two, but I think this one is Holdsworth’s for the taking. PREDICTION: Holdsworth via 2nd round submission

WOMEN’S BANTAMWEIGHT (135) BOUT: Jessamyn Duke (2-0) vs. Peggy Morgan (2-0) – Toss up, but I like Duke here. She can finish fights. PREDICTION: Duke via 1st round KO/TKO

WOMEN’S BANTAMWEIGHT (135) BOUT: Roxanne Modafferi (15-10) vs. Raquel Pennington – The lovable Modaferri is a true vet of the sport, but is coming off a TUF bout where she looked just terrible. She’s lost five in a row as well. Pennington is younger, hungrier, and will get the job done. PREDICTION: Pennington via 1st round KO/TKO

MEN’S FEATHERWEIGHT (145) BOUT:  Akira Corassani (11-3) vs. Maximo Blanco (9-4-1) – This is another toss-up for me. Neither fighter has really faced any competition as of yet. I’ve seen both fighters in the octagon and will give Corassani the edge due to his power. PREDICTION: Corassani via decision

MEN’S FEATHERWEIGHT (145) BOUT: Rani Yahya (19-7) vs. Tom Niinimaki (20-5-1) – This should be a good featherweight bout. Yahya, the Zuffa vet will look to continue his way up the featherweight ladder by taking on european boxing specialist Niinimaki, who is making his promotional debut. I’m taking Yahya in this one due to his Octagon experience. PREDICTION: Yahya via decision

MEN’S HEAVYWEIGHT (206-265) BOUT: Jared Rosholt (8-1) vs. Walter Harris (4-1) – Both of these men make their promotional debuts. Have heard a lot of good things about Jared Rosholt, and look for him to make a splash in his promotional debut. PREDICTION: Rosholt via 1st round TKO/KO

MEN’S WELTERWEIGHT (170) BOUT: Drew Dober (13-4) vs. Sean Spencer (10-2) – Dober makes his promotional debut against Spencer, who recently won his promotional debut in a split decision win over Yuri Villefort. I think Dober makes a successful debut here. PREDICTION: Dober via 2nd round submission

MEN’S CATCHWEIGHT (127.5) BOUT: Ryan Benoit (7-2) vs. Joshua Sampo (10-2) – The UFC continues to add flyweight talent into the fold, and these fighters will attempt to show what they have. Sampo failed to make weight, and the nerves may be getting to him. Benoit is a knockout artist who I think will  start his career in the UFC on the right foot. PREDICTION: Benoit via 1st round TKO/KO

-RH – Follow me on Twitter

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My experience at UFC 167

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Johny Hendricks shocked the world…Almost.

On Saturday, November 16th I was lucky enough to be able to attend my second UFC event (first was UFC 162). I had circled this date on my calendar shortly after the main event was announced, as I had always wanted to see Georges St. Pierre live and I had been following Johny Hendricks since his first fight in the UFC. It was my personal opinion that Hendricks always got a bad wrap, but was easily one of the best welterweights in the UFC for quite some time. The 2nd reason I had circled this on my calendar was because I figured I’d have to choose UFC 167 and UFC 168, and I’d rather see another big draw other than Anderson Silva for a 2nd time. Funnily enough, it wouldn’t have been fiscally responsible for me to buy tickets for this fight, as an unexpected move to Las Vegas pretty much wiped out a lot of my disposable income. I had decided that I’d do the smart thing and not buy tickets. How was I able to go you ask? Well….

Since I moved to Nevada, I realized that online poker is now a viable option for a Nevada resident. Again, as I don’t have much disposable income at this point due to the recent move, I haven’t bothered, plus, I am trying to get used to my new surroundings, job, and trying to discover my new city. I’ve dabbled in a couple of freerolls at Ultimate Poker, which is run by Station Casinos. Lorenzo Fertita, part owner of the UFC, owns Station Casinos. I started following them on Twitter, and found out they had a Hall of Fame Poker game with UFC Hall of Famers Royce Gracie, Chuck Liddell, Matt Hughes, Forrest Griffin, and announcer extraordinaire, Bruce Buffer. Also found out they were going to give out some tickets to UFC 167, so why not right? Well, long story short, I went, and I won. I was a bit overly ecstatic because come on, do you ever expect to win these kind of things? Much appreciation to Ultimate Poker and the UFC for the complimentary tickets. So that’s how!

Anyway, the seats were amazing, as I sat in section 22 and Row J. Closer than my other two visits at the MGM Grand Garden Arena. The card was stacked with a ton of names, and even though there were a lot of decisions, many of them turned out to be very technical and fun to watch. The main card stole the show, which featured an exciting flyweight bout between Ali Bagautinov and Tim Elliott, an amazing knockout of Josh Koscheck by Tyron Woodley, as well as a nice back and forth matchup and upset between Robbie Lawler and Rory MacDonald.

I (obviously) was looking forward to both the co-main event and main event the most. I’ve been a huge Chael Sonnen fan, prior to him opening his mouth against Anderson Silva, and was excited to see him fight live. Rashad Evans just completely overmatched him with a first round TKO, which was disappointing, but I thought Rashad would use his will to overpower Chael anyway. After the fight, Chael announced he would drop back down to Middleweight, which I think is a smart choice for him.

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Was Johny robbed?

I was pumped for the main event. I didn’t know who would win, but I was bracing myself for an out of this world moment happening, exactly what I saw at UFC 162. What I did get, was an amazing technical back and forth matchup between two of the best fighters in the world. I’m definitely a fight fan; I have my favorites, but at the end of the day, I like to see good fights over seeing my favorite fighters win. This was a good fight. I scored the bout 48-47 for Hendricks, but honestly could have easily saw it for Georges the other way around. Was he robbed? Not completely, but I have seen fights that have been judged much worse. If anything, this fight definitely put Johny Hendricks on the map, and it should have.

As far as all of the weird things Georges said at the post fight presser, it’s really his business and time will only tell what’s going to happen. I do think Johny deserves another title shot to really settle the score. Usually the 2nd time around, the better fighter typically comes out on top. Overall, I really enjoyed UFC 167. Lots of big names, lots of good fights, and lots of stories after the fact to keep fans motivated. I ended up taking one of my fraternity brothers from San Jose State, which was nice since he also lives out here. Always willing to meet new fight fans and talk UFC or boxing, and now that I’m out here in Vegas, I’ll definitely be going to some more fights.

-RH – Follow me on Twitter

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Opinions on the Dodgers-Padres Brawl on 4/12/13

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Carlos Quentin takes out his frustrations out on Zack Greinke

By now, many people have been exposed to the brawl between the Dodgers and Padres that took place on 4/12/13 at Petco Park. In the 6th inning, during a 3-2 count, Zack Greinke threw a high pitch that hit the Carlos Quentin in the shoulder. Quentin and Greinke had a few choice words to say, and Quentin rushed the mound to attack Greinke. Things got out of hand as both benches and bullpens cleared. As everything seemed to ease down, Jerry Hairston Jr. of the Dodgers started running towards the Padres dugout and a second ruckus almost began. During all this, the Dodgers Matt Kemp kept jawing at Padres Manager Bud Black, as well as his own teammates. He wasn’t cooling down, and he was furious. Before I go in depth with my opinion on all these events, I want to make a few things clear:

1. I do not believe Zack Greinke threw at Carlos Quentin on purpose
2. This was the 3rd time Greinke has hit Quentin in his career
3. Quentin has a history of crowding the plate
4. While batting in the second inning, Matt Kemp took a ball high and inside
5. At the time of the Hit-By-Pitch, it was the bottom of the 6th inning with no men on base, full count, and the Dodgers were leading a close game, 2-1.
6. Everyone seemed to have a cool head during the brawl, except for Greinke, Quentin, Hairston, and Kemp. All other players looked to be peacemakers.

THE INCIDENT:

While I don’t condone violence, I think that Quentin needed to come out and do something when he got hit. The Padres have been near the doorstep of the NL West the past few years, and with all of the hoopla surrounding the Dodgers this season, I think he wanted to make it known that he, nor the Padres, weren’t just going to be stepped on this year. Also, regardless if you crowd the plate or not, getting hit the third time by a division rival is going to start some fire, whether if it was intentional or not. I applpaud Greinke for being a man and willing to get dirty after beaning Quentin. They had what seemed to be a football clash as they bumped into each other at full speed, then AJ Ellis of the Dodgers tried to get Quentin away by tackling him down to the ground. Throughout all of this, Matt Kemp was jawing, some of it appeared to be towards Bud Black, Andre Ethier, and the umpires. As soon as everything seemed to have died down and Greinke and Quentin left the field, Hairston started running towards the Padres dugout, and quite frankly, Matt Kemp kept having to be restrained and wouldn’t shut his mouth. I can only assume Kemp was irritated because of the high inside pitch earlier in the game, but I thought it was extremely unneccasarry for him to freak out like he did.

THE AFTERMATH:

Greinke ended up breaking his collarbone, which was a terrible consequence of the whole ordeal. Kemp, Hairston, and Quentin ended up getting ejected from the game. No word on possible suspensions. Kemp overreacted in my opinion, and I really don’t know what Hairston’s deal was in trying to ignite a second brawl. I didn’t hear any words exchanged, but it was pretty obvious that 90-95% of the players were trying to be peacemakers and not ignite the fire. It’s unfortunate that Greinke will be lost; both for the Dodgers, and for the game of baseball. A good scrum could be fun to watch, but you never want it to end with an injury, especially with all of the expectations the Dodgers have this season. This should have been between Greinke and Quentin, and I honestly think Kemp and Hairston should have stayed out of it. Kemp and Quentin reportedly almost got into it again after the game outside in the parking lot. Again, Kemp should have stayed away from the whole thing. Thumbs up to Greinke and Quentin for settling their score, but thumbs down to Kemp and Hairston for getting into business that clearly wasn’t theirs.

HOW THIS WILL AFFECT BOTH TEAMS:

It’s easy to see this hurts the Dodgers much more than it hurts the Padres. I assume Quentin, the Padres best power hitter, should get a week long suspension or so. Kemp and Hairston likely to get small suspensions. Greinke will be out due to injury anywhere from 6-8 weeks, and that isn’t final. Greinke is the Dodgers #2 starter, and although the Dodgers have depth in starting pitching, the only guy they could really count on for a dominant performance is Clayton Kershaw. The rest of the Dodgers rotation has clear weaknesses and will need to dig deep while Greinke is out. In a tough NL West with competition coming from the Giants and Diamondbacks, they need to hope that the rotation can come together and keep the ship at bay while Greinke is out. The Padres lose a power prescence with Quentin, but aren’t expected to do much this year. If anything, they may have shown the Dodgers that they won’t lay down for them in the future, which only helps them in future games against the Dodgers.

MEDIA AND PR PERSPECTIVE:

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This was posted by the Dodgers official Twitter account. It’s clear the Dodgers wanted to play the victim.

Most of the media noises has been coming from the Dodgers side. I have yet to really see anything from the Padres social media accounts. Quentin gave an interview and said he was tired of being hit by Greinke. Understandable. Don Mattingly, Manager of the Los Angeles Dodgers, said that Quentin shouldn’t be allowed to play until Greinke can pitch again, and that it was a stupid move. Understandable coming from a manager of the injured #2 pitcher. But knowing this is Donny Baseball we’re talking about, he should understand that it’s just hard nosed baseball at it’s finest. Sure, Quentin crowds the plate, but if you get hit a third time by the same guy, tempers will eventually flare. If not now, then Im sure it would be the next time. Mattingly in my opinion is much more worried about his job, which is why his comments seemed very defensive. The Dodgers twitter account appears to be on the defensive, only showing one side of the story, as well as the image you see above. It really doesn’t make any sense. I see the Anchorman image as a sign of retaliation, and the comments and one-sidedness they show on Twitter makes them out to be the one everyone should feel sorry for. In an attempt to be unbiased, I would probably link to post game interviews from both teams, to allow the fans the most information to make their decision. I know they aren’t trying to appeal to Padre fans, but this story obviously got attention of baseball fans worldwide. Passive-agressiveness doesn’t work, and I feel it’s a terrible, and childish move by the Dodgers to act in such a way. Regardless, I’m sure everyone will be tuning in next week when the Padres head to Los Angeles.

-RH

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2013 MLB Playoff Predictions

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I know, wrong sport, but who doesn’t love Jim Mora’s playoffs rant?

The other day, I listed my predictions for the season standings. More than likely they’ll be wrong, but I’m bound to get a few of them right. Here’s a review:

AL WEST
Oakland A’s
Texas Rangers (WC)
Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
Seattle Mariners
Houston Astros

AL CENTRAL
Detroit Tigers
Chicago White Sox
Kansas City Royals
Cleveland Indians
Minnesota Twins

AL EAST
Tampa Bay Rays
Toronto Blue Jays (WC)
Boston Red Sox
New York Yankees
Baltimore Orioles

NL WEST
Los Angeles Dodgers
San Francisco Giants
Arizona Diamondbacks
San Diego Padres
Colorado Rockies

NL CENTRAL
Cincinnati Reds
St. Louis Cardinals (WC)
Milwaukee Brewers
Pittsburgh Pirates
Chicago Cubs

NL EAST
Washington Nationals
Atlanta Braves (WC)
Philadelphia Phillies
New York Mets
Miami Marlins

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Okay, Now, for the good stuff:

AMERICAN LEAGUE:
Blue Jays Def. Rangers (WC)
Tigers Def. Rays
Blue Jays Def. Athletics
Tigers Def. Blue Jays

NATIONAL LEAGUE:
Braves Def. Cardinals (WC)
Nationals Def. Braves
Reds Def. Dodgers
Nationals Def. Reds

World Series: Nationals Def. Tigers

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So there you have it. I, like many others, are believing in the Nationals this season. I think they’re the most complete team in the Majors, and they have a rotation that is ideally built for playoff series. However, I know that there may be a few surprise teams hiding in the woods. What are your playoff picks?

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4/1/13 Game of the Day – San Francisco Giants at Los Angeles Dodgers

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Best Rivalry in baseball right now? I think so.

*Game of the Day*

4/1/13 – San Francisco Giants (0-0, 0-0 Away) at Los Angeles Dodgers (0-0, 0-0 Home)

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Starting Pitchers

San Francisco: Matt Cain (0-0, 0.00 ERA)

Los Angeles: Clayton Kershaw (0-0, 0.00 ERA)

GAME DISCUSSION: The World Series Champion San Francisco Giants open their year against their rival Los Angeles Dodgers for the 2nd time in 3 years, and the rivalry is set to become the most intense it ever has. The Dodgers have stocked up on free agents in attempt to contend quickly for a World Series Championship, whereas the Giants will battle them with a more homegrown approach. The games between these two will certainly be quite the dogfight the later we go into the season, and should gain national media attention if both teams continue to be successful, as they should. Today’s matchup features two of the games best, former Cy-Young winner Clayton Kershaw against the only pitcher in Giants history to throw a perfect game, Matt Cain. Both pitchers have extensive experience against each others team, and I’m expecting a quick game with runs coming at a premium. However, I’m going to go with the Dodgers today primarily because of matchups; Kershaw has held the Giants hitting under .200 lifetime, whereas Cain is allowing the Dodgers to hit roughly .300 against him lifetime. I think the blue comes out with the victory today, but the rivalry this season shouldn’t be one-sided; I’m expecting a full out war.

FUN FACTS:

San Francisco and Los Angeles have played each other on opening day 4 out of the last 6 years

Clayton Kershaw went 2-3 against the Giants in 2013

Matt Cain was unbeaten against the Dodgers last season, winning one with three no decisions

My GOTD Pick: Los Angeles Dodgers

Yesterdays Result: Houston Astros 8 vs. Texas Rangers 2

GOTD Record: 0-1

Overall Record: 0-1

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OTHER GAME PREDICTIONS:

NYY over BOS
CWS over KCR
WAS over MIA
DET over MIN
NYM over SDG
SEA over OAK
PIT over CHC
MIL over COL
ATL over PHI
STL over ARZ
CIN over LAA

***Playoff predictions to come later today!***