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Aspen Ladd is finding her UFC happy place after frightening weigh-in drama

Angelo Moretti



Aspen Ladd is finding her UFC happy place after frightening weigh-in drama

Aspen Ladd is giving it a go 10 pounds up.

The 26-year-old enters her UFC Fight Night headliner against Norma Dumont at featherweight putting aside years of struggles to stay under the bantamweight maximum of 135 pounds.

“It’s almost bizarre to actually walk around feeling good [for] fight week,” Ladd told The Post in a phone interview ahead of the Saturday fight at UFC Apex in Las Vegas (7 p.m. ET, ESPN+). “We’re training normal, eating good. It’s like, alright, I could get used to this.”

The bout marks the return of the 26-year-old Ladd (9-1, seven finishes) to the octagon after a nearly two-year layoff caused by a torn ACL and MCL last year.

It could have been sooner, since a rescheduled fight against Macy Chiasson never materialized on Oct. 2 when Ladd, who has long struggled with making weight, came in heavy at 137 pounds, one pound over the non-title limit.

The weigh-in drew attention due to Ladd displaying some distressing body language on the scale. With sucked-in cheeks, the UFC utilized its 360-degree curtain to allow Ladd to weigh in privately without her clothes in an effort to reach the mark. Her hands visibly shook as she raised them over her head while officials calmly urged her to “stay still.”

Aspen Ladd’s UFC Fight Night weigh-in in October was her latest struggle to make bantamweight.Getty Images

Ultimately, the fight was called off as Ladd accepted full responsibility for her latest failed attempt to reach the contracted weight, also pointing to having “started my period 2 days back and made this cut absolutely miserable.” According to the California native, Chiasson opted not to take the bout in light of the missed weight. 

Difficulty making weight and late-notice cancellations are nothing new for Ladd. They’ve been routine throughout her young fight career:

After turning pro in February 2015 as a flyweight (125 lbs. max.) with all-women promotion Invicta FC, she told The Post her successful cut to the contracted weight for the follow-up in September was “horrendous.” Having added muscle as she left her teens, she moved up to 135 for her third pro bout on short notice.By her fourth pro bout in July 2016, she weighed in at 138.1 for a bantamweight bout but still managed to win via second-round TKO. Her scheduled UFC debut against Jessica Eye in July 2017 was scrapped the day of the fight due to what UFC officials termed an “illness.” In April 2018, she weighed 137.8 pounds for a fight against Leslie Smith, who refused to accept the fight at a catchweight.A year later, in July 2019, she displayed troubling body language similar to that of earlier this month but managed to weigh in at 135 even. She lost by TKO the following night to former featherweight champion Germaine de Randamie in 16 seconds. The California State Athletic Commission issued her a temporarily-suspended fight license shortly thereafter but lifted it a few months later.

According to CSAC, which makes public its fight-night weights, Ladd was able to rehydrate from 135 one day to 159 the following evening for the loss to de Randamie, a 17.8 percent increase in mass. Ladd told The Post that she doesn’t typically get so close to 160 pounds so quickly before a fight and is more often in the 155-pound range.

“When I fought at [125], it was the same. I was up around 145,” Ladd said. “I’ve always put on 18 to 20 [pounds].”

Aspen Ladd was able to celebrate a TKO win over Yana Kunitskaya in Dec. 2019.Getty Images

She referred to “a horrendous cut” as the reason for ballooning so high for her first career defeat.

“That was six weeks after the previous one,” Ladd said with a regretful laugh, “and I won’t do that again. That was very, very hard.”

But even with that in mind, Ladd isn’t ready to close the book on 135 pounds. With so little time between the scrapped bout and this one, her and her team have yet to formulate plans to help ease her down in weight more healthily.

But, she says, that is the plan, with the caveat that she’s open to being a tweener who competes both at 135 and 145 — two divisions with the same champion: Amanda Nunes. 

Ladd points to “body type” as a challenge in reaching 135 pounds. She said she can do so but requires a long time “and everything’s gotta be perfect.”

The idea of cutting such a steep amount of weight is nothing new in MMA, especially at the lower weight classes — which encompasses virtually all of women’s MMA as no major organization holds fights above 155 pounds. At this point, it’s ingrained in the culture.

Ladd, for one, would be thrilled to see “the water cut” eliminated from the sport. 

“Everybody in the UFC would be a weight class up,” she says. “But in the current culture of the sport, that’s not gonna happen. We’ll see in a few years. I think it’s gonna take something very drastic for it to take out the water cut.”

Ladd sounded more optimistic about what lies ahead this week in preparation for Dumont (6-1, two finishes). She said she won’t be cutting weight as she competes closer to her more natural weight for the short-notice bout, for which she stepped into a week ago for the ex-bantamweight champ Holly Holm due to a cited injury.

“We’ve been planning on going to featherweight — at least visiting the weight class and going back and forth — for a long time, and this is kind of the catalyst,” Ladd told The Post over the phone Wednesday. “And the fact that it’s such a short notice fight is perfect.”

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Pathetic state of Jets deserving of Richard Seymour ‘homecoming’ dig

Angelo Moretti



Pathetic state of Jets deserving of Richard Seymour ‘homecoming’ dig

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — On a day when the Jets were hurt, humiliated and humbled, it was a voice from the past that really drove home how pathetic the 2021 Jets are.

The Patriots honored former defensive lineman Richard Seymour at halftime on Sunday, and Seymour recounted when coach Bill Belichick called him to tell him he was being inducted into the team’s Hall of Fame. Seymour said Belichick asked him which game he would like to be honored at.

“I told him I wanted to come to our homecoming game against the Jets,” Seymour said to the delight of the Gillette Stadium crowd.

The worst part of the slight was the Jets deserved it.

Patriots rookie quarterback Mac Jones made it look like he was back at Alabama and the Jets were Vanderbilt as New England dismantled the Jets 54-13, handing the team one of its worst losses ever — and that is saying something.

Adding injury to insult, Jets rookie quarterback Zach Wilson exited the game in the second quarter with a right knee injury. The belief is Wilson has a PCL sprain, according to a source, and will only be out for a few weeks.

Patriots great Richard Seymour called playing the Jets, the Patriots’ “homecoming game.”AP (2)

Wilson’s status is a concern, but so is how pitiful these Jets looked on Sunday. Coming off of a bye, the Jets were outcoached by Belichick and friends in a way that was stunning.

“They punched us in the freaking mouth and scored points, so credit to them,” Saleh said. “That’s it. I mean, I’ve been in part of some of those in my life. They just don’t feel good.”

The loss dropped the Jets to 1-5 and it was their 12th straight loss to the Patriots. New England entered the game with questions about how it was playing, but used the Jets as a “get right” game and looked just fine, scoring on its first six possessions. The victory moved the Pats to 3-4 this season.

It was a humiliating defeat for the Jets, who gave up 50 points for the first time since 1995. The 54 points were the most the Jets have allowed since Sept. 9, 1979, when the Patriots beat them 56-3. The 54 points allowed is the fourth-most in franchise history. The 41-point loss is the biggest loss by the Jets since their 45-3 loss to the Patriots on Dec. 6, 2010. It is tied for the ninth-largest loss in team history.

“This is the NFL,” Saleh said. “You give up 50 points, it’s embarrassing. … A helpless feeling where you’re just watching, you’re trying to figure something out. I’ll be honest. We talk about adversity. Everyone was asking. You can chalk this one up, it’s here. This is from coaches all the way down. NFL doesn’t really give a flying [expletive] — excuse my language — in terms of scheduling. We got to line up the next week and for the 11 or 12, whatever we got left. I know we got the right men in that locker room. I know we got the right people in that locker room. I know we’ll come back strong. But we got to get it going.”

One of those men that Saleh likely will be without when the Jets face the Bengals and beyond is Wilson, the rookie the Jets hope is the answer to their decades-long search for a quarterback. Wilson made his best throw of the game, a bullet to tight end Ryan Griffin, just before he was injured.

After he uncorked a deep pass intended for Keelan Cole early in the second quarter, Wilson was hit by Patriots linebacker Matthew Judon and his right knee was driven into the ground. Wilson stayed down for several minutes before walking off and then heading to the locker room, where he remained for the rest of the game.

“I threw the ball and I think my front toe, foot kind of just got stuck in the ground,” Wilson said. “The dude just kind of fell on it with all of his weight. I kind of felt like it twisted and I felt a pop in there.”

Mac Jones is all smiles after a Patriots touchdown against the Jets.AP

Wilson will undergo an MRI exam on Monday to determine the extent of the damage to his knee, but he and Saleh both sounded optimistic that it won’t be a long absence.

“The pain really isn’t there,” Wilson said. “It just kind of feels like something’s off as far as just being loose or unstable a little bit.”

Mike White replaced Wilson and threw his first NFL pass for a touchdown to Corey Davis. White made some nice throws but also threw two interceptions as he appeared in a regular-season game for the first time. White was not the reason the Jets lost, though. The game felt over before he even entered it.

The members of the offense spent the bye week talking about how they could start faster, but opened the game with a three-and-out that showed no creativity in play-calling from coordinator Mike LaFleur. The Jets had a better second drive, but kicker Matt Ammendola missed a 48-yard field-goal attempt.

The Jets have now gone six games without scoring a point in the first quarter. The last team to do that was the 2008 Lions, who went 0-16. The Jets have been outscored 44-0 in the first quarter and 106-20 in the first half.

As bad as the offense looked, the defense matched it. The Patriots scored on their first six drives and led 31-7 at halftime and New England finished with 551 total yards.

The Jets now face a red-hot Bengals team on Sunday and travel to play the Colts four days later on “Thursday Night Football” and likely will be without Wilson in both.

The Jets are the opponent every team wants to see right now. Just ask Richard Seymour.

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Ohio State has best chance to spoil SEC’s national championship party

Angelo Moretti



Ohio State has best chance to spoil SEC’s national championship party

It lost to the best team it faced. Its last three league wins have come over teams with a combined one conference victory. Its defense was shredded for 66 points by the two best offenses it has seen.

And, yet, Ohio State has looked every bit the way Ohio State is supposed to look over the past month, scoring 231 points and holding its last four opponents to 44. Freshman C.J. Stroud has emerged as a Heisman Trophy contender, the latest quarterback that coach Ryan Day has molded into an elite playmaker. The previously suspect defense has found its swagger, producing seven turnovers in the last four games. The skill positions are loaded with future pros such as Chris Olave, Garrett Wilson, Jaxon Smith Njigba and TreVeyon Henderson.

It gives me reason to believe the national champion isn’t a lock to come out of the SEC. Georgia is the clear-cut favorite and Alabama is the team many have pointed to as giving the Bulldogs the most trouble.

Ohio State, though, has played better over the last month than the Crimson Tide. It certainly has been more consistent than Nick Saban’s team, which lost to Texas A&M and struggled at home against mediocre Tennessee on Saturday.

We’ll learn more about the Buckeyes in the coming weeks, with games still remaining against the two undefeated Michigan teams, the Wolverines and Spartans, and a potential Big Ten title game with one-loss Iowa.

Steele Chambers dives for a fumble in the second quarter against Indiana.Getty Images

Since losing to Oregon on Sept. 11, Ohio State has reeled off five straight wins over Tulsa, Akron, Rutgers, Maryland and Indiana. It has put up at least 41 points in all of those games. Now the caveat: Of those five, only Maryland, at 4-3, has a winning record. Its best win was the 45-31 season opener at Minnesota, which is tied with Iowa for the Big Ten West lead.

Day’s team still has a lot of proving to do. The résumé needs work. Plenty of questions remain. But the pieces are clearly there to make another national championship game run. Supposed top teams have struggled against the kind of weak opponents Ohio State has destroyed in recent weeks.

The Buckeyes are college football’s X factor — the team standing in the way of an all-SEC party in the College Football Playoff.

Over it

College football’s new overtime rules, intended to prevent extra-long games, is so poorly designed MLB commissioner Rob Manfred is in favor of it.

It gave us nine overtime sessions in the disaster that was Illinois’ 20-18 upset of Penn State. Of course, it wasn’t a true nine overtimes. The rules have changed that. After the first two overtime periods, instead of each team starting at the other’s 25-yard-line, we go right into two-point conversions.

Penn State and Illinois combined to miss on their first 10 two-point tries before both converting in the eighth overtime. Illinois mercifully ended it on Brandon Peters’ scoring strike to Casey Washington in the following stanza.

It made a mockery of the sport and gave extra attention to a game that really didn’t deserve it. I’m praying college basketball doesn’t get any ideas from this.

Eyes on the prize

The College Football Playoff may come down to Oklahoma or Cincinnati, one team leaving the Big 12 and another joining it. You’re going to hear so much about Cincinnati’s strength of schedule, the level of opponent it faces in the AAC. On social media, there was plenty of criticism of the Bearcats’ underwhelming victory over one-win Navy this weekend.

But let’s not forget how badly Oklahoma struggled with Big 12 punching bag Kansas. How underwhelming it has been all year against inferior opponents, beating the likes of Tulane, West Virginia, Nebraska and Kansas State by a single score. Cincinnati, meanwhile, has won six of its seven games by at least 11 points, including a road victory over Notre Dame. The AAC program wins the eye test and game-control comparison, which you hear so much about from the playoff committee every year. Hopefully, they remember that if it comes down to these two schools.

Top 10

1. Georgia (7-0) (Last week: 1)

Florida is the last roadblock between Georgia and a perfect regular season. The Gators may have three losses, but they are capable, particularly if Dan Mullen finally gives the ball to fantastic freshman quarterback Anthony Richardson.

2. Alabama (7-1) (3)

The Crimson Tide defense has alternated between stifling and porous. It dominated Ole Miss and Mississippi State, and was lit up by Texas A&M and Tennessee.

3. Ohio State (6-1) (5)

Ohio State’s last four wins, over Akron, Rutgers, Maryland and Indiana, have come by an aggregate of 231-44. It’s not elite competition, but it is certainly elite results.

4. Cincinnati (7-0) (2)

Yes, it was just one poor performance, an ugly showing in a narrow victory over one-win Navy. but Cincinnati really can’t afford any more of these.

Lincoln RileyGetty Images

5. Oklahoma (8-0) (4)

The Sooners held a five-point lead over Kansas with 3:20 remaining, and the ball was at the Oklahoma 46-yard line. Instead of punting on fourth-and-1, Lincoln Riley went for it, which says all you need to know about what he thinks of his defense.

6. Michigan (7-0) (7)

Now we finally start to see what this Michigan team is made of, beginning Saturday in East Lansing against Michigan State. The Wolverines have beaten the teams on their schedule, but don’t have a single win that really stands out.

7. Michigan State (7-0) (8)

The last time Michigan State and Michigan were both ranked in the top 10 entering their annual showdown was 1964. The atmosphere at Spartan Stadium will be electric.

8. Ole Miss (6-1) (NR)

Lane Kiffin’s team has responded to the ugly loss at Alabama by beating Arkansas, Tennessee and LSU, keeping itself alive in the SEC West race.

9. Kentucky (6-1) (9)

Prior to Mark Stoops’ arrival, Kentucky had won double-digit games just twice in program history. It is on pace to do that for a second time in five seasons this year. He’s a name you don’t hear enough during the coaching carousel.

10. Oregon (6-1) (NR)

The Ducks’ playoff dream isn’t dead, but it has come close to being extinguished in nail-biting victories over Cal and UCLA the last two weeks.

Dropped out: Penn State (5-2) and Oklahoma State (6-1)

Heisman Watch

(in alphabetical order)

QB Matt Corral, Ole Miss

Playing through injuries, the junior produced two touchdowns in a win over LSU, extending his streak of at least two scores to 17 consecutive games.

QB Kenny Pickett, Pittsburgh

Two games up on Virginia, Pitt is in position to win the ACC Coastal division with Pickett leading the way. He’s thrown 23 touchdown passes and just one interception, emerging as one of the premier quarterbacks in the country.

Kenny PickettGetty Images

QB C.J. Stroud, Ohio State

It’s getting harder to imagine Stroud not getting a New York City invite as he stacks one eye-popping performance upon another, now with 14 touchdowns over his last three games without an interception and a 73.8 completion percentage.

RB Kenneth Walker III, Michigan State

This week Walker can make a statement by lighting up Michigan’s second-ranked scoring defense which has allowed just one 100-yard rusher in seven games.

QB Bryce Young, Alabama

The Heisman remains Young’s to lose, as he continues to pile up huge numbers. He had his best day yet on Saturday, producing four touchdowns and 413 total yards.

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Jets destroyed by Patriots amid Zach Wilson injury worry

Angelo Moretti



Jets destroyed by Patriots amid Zach Wilson injury worry

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — The Jets suffered a humiliating loss and lost their quarterback on a brutal Sunday afternoon in New England.

The Patriots embarrassed the Jets 54-13 at Gillette Stadium and rookie quarterback Zach Wilson exited the game in the second quarter with a knee injury.

The extent of Wilson’s injury was not immediately known, but he left the game with 12:31 left in the first half after Patriots linebacker Matthew Judon hit him. It was not clear if the injury occurred on the Judon hit or two plays earlier when Lawrence Guy hit Wilson along the sideline, which prompted some complaints to the officials from coach Robert Saleh.

Wilson walked off the field on his own, spent some time in the medical blue tent on the sideline and then limped to the locker room. It looked like it was his right knee that was injured.

The beat-down was already on by the time Wilson exited the game. The Patriots were up 17-0 when he was injured.

The loss dropped the Jets to 1-5 and it was their 12th straight loss to the Patriots, who entered the game with questions about how they were playing, but used the Jets as a “get right” game and looked just fine, scoring on their first six possessions. The victory moved them to 3-4 this season.

Jets quarterback Zach Wilson left Sunday’s loss to the Patriots with a knee injury.USA TODAY Sports

It was a humiliating defeat for the Jets, who gave up 50 points for the first time since 1995. The 54 points is the most the Jets have allowed since Sept. 9, 1979, when the Patriots beat them 56-3. The 54 points allowed is the fourth-most in franchise history.

The Jets spent the last two weeks talking about how they would address their slow starts coming out of their bye week. But their first series looked familiar as they went three-and-out with Wilson getting sacked on third down after two short runs. They moved the ball better on their second drive and made it to the Patriots 30 on 12 plays, but Matt Ammendola missed a 48-yard field goal that left the Jets still looking for their first points in the first quarter this season. The 2008 Lions are the last team to go without a first-quarter point in their first six games. Those Lions went 0-16.

The Jets have been outscored 106-20 in the first half this season.

As bad as the offense looked, the defense matched it on this day. The Patriots made it look easy, going 70 yards on four plays on their first drive. The Jets allowed a 28-yard screen pass on the drive that ended with a 25-yard touchdown pass from wide receiver Kendrick Bourne to Nelson Agholor on a well-designed gadget play.

Robert Saleh and the Jets gave up at least 50 points for the first time since 1995.Getty Images

They made it 14-0 on their next drive, marching right down the field again with Damien Harris scoring a 1-yard touchdown.

The Jets were without C.J. Mosley in the middle of their defense and it showed. The Patriots ran it down their throats and continually threw to running backs out of the backfield.

Mike White replaced Wilson in the second quarter, seeing his first NFL action. The Jets drew a pass interference penalty on the play that Wilson was injured on and it put the ball at the Patriots’ 2. White’s first career pass was a 3-yard touchdown pass to Corey Davis that cut the Patriots’ lead to 17-7. White made some nice throws in relief of Wilson and led them on another touchdown drive to open the second half that made it 31-13. Rookie receiver Elijah Moore scored his first career touchdown, a 19-yard run on a reverse for the score.

After some initial success, though, White threw two interceptions and looked like he was playing in his first career game.

Wilson’s availability will now become the story of the week as the Jets prepare to play the Bengals at MetLife Stadium and then travel to Indianapolis to play the Colts on “Thursday Night Football” the following week.

One of the main storylines of summer was the Jets’ decision not to sign a veteran backup behind Wilson. That decision will now be front and center if White has to play for an extended period of time.

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