Vegas veteran Benjamin Eckstein, author of America’s Line, brings three decades of experience to make weekly picks in his “Ecks & Bacon” column.
LAS VEGAS — Looking ahead to the Octagon tomorrow night and gonna dissect Dustin (The Diamond) Poirier vs Dan (The Hangman) Hooker.
Right off the top, lemme be the first to ask Hooker to change his nickname. Yo Dan, you CAN NOT go with Hangman anymore. Got a few choices. Tell me which one you like best. Actually gonna open it up to the Ecks & Bacon Nation and see if they have something tasty. I will try and get to Hooker’s camp and see if he will accept our new nickname.
Here are a few of my choices:
Mrs. Ecks & Bacon is looking over my shoulder, so you KNOW what time it is. Ladies & Gentlemen, The Tale of the Tape.
The Diamond is 31 years old from Lafayette, Louisiana. The Ragin’ Cajun tips the scale at a buck 55, is five-foot-nine and has a 72-inch reach. His MMA record is 25-6 with one no contest. Dustin has recorded 12 wins by KO, six by decision and seven by submission.
In case you’re interested, his chest and arms are covered in tattoos, including three Japanese characters on his chest that say bushido, which means the way of the warrior. The only reason I mention this is because my current read is “The Book of Five Rings,” by Miyamoto Musashi, which is about the way of the sword. Just sayin’.
More importantly, Poirier and his wife set up the Good Fight Foundation back in 2019. They have given away a TON of stuff including 500 backpacks for schoolchildren and 1,000 meals to the employees of the three major hospitals in his hometown of Lafayette. Right now, I’m giving Dustin and his wife a STANDING O!!!!!!
Hooker is 30 years old from Auckland, New Zealand, tips the scale at a buck 56, is six feet tall and has a 75-inch reach. His MMA record is 20-8, with 10 wins coming by KO, three by decision and seven by submission. Dan the Man comes in on a three-fight winning streak and has won six of the last seven with the only loss coming from an Edson Barboza body punch TKO.
A few geek stats that might help you handicap this match. Poirier lands an average of 5.51 and absorbs an average of 3.97 significant strikes per minute. Hooker lands an average of 4.76 and absorbs an average of 4.67 strikes per minute. Poirier averages 1.55 takedowns per 15 minutes, while Hooker averages 0.43 takedowns per 15.
Don’t actually own any diamonds, but gonna roll with THE Diamond in this fight.
English Premier League Pick
Jumping over to England, and gonna look at the FA Cup match between Manchester United and Norwich City tomorrow. Fun fact. The FA Cup is the oldest club competition in the world dating back to 1871, and with 736 teams, the most crowded.
If you wanna talk UGLY, the place to start is Norwich City. The Canaries, yeah, Canaries, are sitting in the basement of the Premier League with just 21 points on five wins, 20 losses and six draws. More UGLY? They’ve scored only 25 goals, WORST in the league, allowing 56, for an UGLIFIED -31 goal differential. Again, WORST in the league.
Since coming back, they have swallowed two bagels, a 3-0 loss at home to Southampton, and a 1-0 loss at home to Everton. Even more UGLY? They’ve played Man U twice, losing 3-1 at home on Carrow Road, and eating a 4-0 bagel at Manchester.
Gotta rock a full Benjamin on the Red Devils, maybe even go a Benj & a half!
English Premier League Pick #2
Also looking ahead to the Manchester City vs Newcastle United tilt on Sunday, and jumping ALL OVER the visiting Citizens. Why? As we already know, City can’t win the league crown, and will most likely finish in second place, but they could be banned from the UEFA Champions League.
So, they’ll be rolling EXTRA hard to grab some glory and some hardware with an FA Cup title. Manager Pep Guardiola admitted during the week that he had “one eye” on their quarterfinal clash with Newcastle and described it as a “final,” even before they played Chelsea on Thursday. Thank you Pep!
City’s a little TOO rich for my blood, not gonna wager $550 to win back $100, but will drop another full Benjamin, and play the Manchester parlay, both City and United to win.
Last fun fact. On October 15, 1887, Preston North End defeated Hyde 26–0, which remains the record score in an FA Cup match. I think my great-great-great-grandfather had the OVER!!!
Benjamin Eckstein is a nationally syndicated sportswriter/oddsmaker. His column, America’s Line, with the Ecks & Bacon appetizer, has run in the New York Daily News and over 100 other papers since 1988. You can follow him online at www.americasline.com. He is beloved by most, when he picks winners, and detested by others, when he picks the occasional loser. If you wanna piece of Eck, hit his email...email@example.com.