NFR 2018

2018 NFR Las Vegas schedule — Dec. 8.Shane O’Connell of Rapid City, S.D. rides “Night Fist” while competing in bareback riding during the opening night of the National Finals Rodeo at the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas on Thursday, Dec. 6, 2018. Chase Stevens Las Vegas Review-Journal @csstevensphoto

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— 9 a.m.-5 p.m.: Cowboy Christmas – It’s All Here. Las Vegas Convention Center, South Halls. Free admission, open to the public. Co-located with the RMEF Hunter & Outdoor Christmas Expo.

— 9 a.m.-5 p.m.: Junior NFR presented by YETI. Las Vegas Convention Center, South Halls, at Wrangler Rodeo Arena within the RMEF Hunter & Outdoor Christmas Expo. Bull riding, bareback riding, saddle bronc riding.

— 9 a.m.-6 p.m.: South Point Western Gift Show, South Point Exhibit Hall. Free admission, open to the public.

— 10 a.m.-2 p.m.: Bob Tallman Wrangler NFR Charity Bowling Tournament. Gold Coast Hotel & Casino, bowling center. To support the Justin Cowboy Crisis Fund and Speedway Children’s Charities. Bowling, silent auction and more. Free admission, fee required to bowl; teams and individuals welcome. For more information, contact Paulette Anderson, 702-632-8242.

— 10 a.m.-5 p.m.: Cowboy Marketplace Gift Show, Mandalay Bay Hotel & Casino. Free admission, open to the public.

— 10 a.m.-5 p.m.: Country Christmas, Sands Expo. Free admission, open to the public.

— Noon: All In Barrel Race, Race 1 Showdown Round, Orleans Arena. Free admission, open to the public. For more information, visit www.LVBarrelRace.com.

— Noon-1 p.m.: Outside the Barrel with Flint Rasmussen. Cowboy Christmas, Las Vegas Convention Center, South Halls. Rodeo Live presented by RODEOHOUSTON. Free admission, open to the public.

— Noon-2 p.m.: Wrangler NFR Autograph Session, Tie-Down Ropers. MGM Grand, main lobby. Free admission, open to the public. First come, first served; contestants depart at 2 p.m.

— 1:15-2 p.m.: Daryle Singletary’s Keepin’ It Country, hosted by Andy Griggs. Cowboy Christmas, Las Vegas Convention Center, South Halls. Rodeo Live presented by RODEOHOUSTON. Free admission, open to the public.

— 2 p.m.: World Series of Team Roping, South Point Arena & Equestrian Center. Free admission, open to the public.

— 2:15-3 p.m.: Rodeo Recess with Andy Seiler. Cowboy Christmas, Las Vegas Convention Center, South Halls. Rodeo Live Presented by RODEOHOUSTON. Free admission, open to the public.

— 2:30-3 p.m.: Miss Rodeo America Justin Boot Parade. Cowboy Christmas, Las Vegas Convention Center, South Halls. MRA Contestants to showcase new trends in Western fashion. For more information, visit www.missrodeoamerica.com.

— 3-5 p.m.: Miss Rodeo America Scholarship Foundation Auction. Cowboy Christmas, Las Vegas Convention Center, South Halls. For more information, visit www.missrodeoamerica.com

— 5 p.m.: Rump’s Rodeo Party hosted by Justin Rumford. The Orleans Hotel & Casino, Honky Tonk Saloon. Free admission, open to the public, 21 and older. For more information, visit www.BoydEvents.com/WNFR.

— 6-10 p.m.: South Point Presents Ram Rodeo Tailgate Party. South Point Convention Center. Free admission, open to the public.

— 6 p.m.-midnight: Silverton Casino Presents Cowboys & Indians After Parties, hosted by Justin Frazell. Veil Pavilion, inside Silverton Casino Hotel. All-ages viewing party, followed by live band. Free admission, open to the public. For more information, visit www.silvertoncasino.com/entertainment/nfr.

— 6:30 p.m.: Gary Leffew’s Bucking Ball, Tropicana Las Vegas Conference Center. Live viewing party, followed by Gary Leffew’s Bucking Ball. Free admission, open to the public.

— 6:30 p.m.-4 a.m.: The Mirage Presents Rodeo Vegas 2018, at The Mirage Race & Sports Book. Official Wrangler NFR After-Party of the PRCA. Free concerts nightly. For more information, visit www.Mirage.com/NFR.

— 7 p.m.-2 a.m.: Gilley’s Saloon at Treasure Island. Live entertainment and drink specials nightly. Free admission, open to the public. For more information, visit www.TreasureIsland.com.

— 8 p.m.-2 a.m.: MGM Grand Gold Buckle Zone, The Central at MGM Grand, near the sports book. Live entertainment, featuring free concerts nightly. Free admission, open to the public. For more information, visit www.mgmgrand.com/NFR.

— 9 p.m.-2 a.m.: Buckin’ Bash hosted by Justin Rumford. The Orleans Hotel & Casino, Bourbon Street Lounge. Live music, dancing, special guests and prizes nightly. Free admission, open to the public, 21 and older. For more information, visit www.BoydEvents.com/WNFR.

— 10:30-11:30 p.m.: National Finals Tonight Show, hosted by Don Gay, Joe Beaver and Dan Miller. The Orleans Hotel & Casino, Honky Tonk Saloon. Recap the NFR with the best crew in town, and win prizes nightly. Free admission, open to the public. For more information, visit www.BoydEvents.com/WNFR.

— 11 p.m.: Wrangler NFR Go Round Buckle Presentations, hosted by Flint Rasmussen and Randy Corley. South Point Showroom. Free admission, open to the public. Free concerts each night, following the presentations: Aaron Watson (tonight-Tuesday); Cody Johnson (Wednesday-Dec. 14); Sierra Black (Dec. 15).

CONCERTS

— Florida Georgia Line, Planet Hollywood, Zappos Theater, 866-919-7472, caesars.com/planet-hollywood

— Reba, Brooks & Dunn, Caesars Palace, The Colosseum, 888-929-7849, www.caesarspalace.com

— Britt Stokes, The Mirage, Parlor Room, 800-374-9000, mirage.com/NFR

— Aaron Watson, South Point, 866-791-7626, southpointcasino.com

— Casey Donahew, The Mirage Race & Sports Book, 800-374-9000, mirage.com/NFR

— John Michael Montgomery, Golden Nugget, The Showroom, 866.946.5336, goldennugget.com

— Chris Heers, Silverton, Veil Pavilion, 702-263-7777, silvertoncasino.com

— Rob Staley Band, Treasure Island, Gilley’s, 702-894-7111, treasureisland.com

— George Strait, T-Mobile Arena, 702-692-1600, t-mobilearena.com

— Ron White, The Mirage, Terry Fator Theatre, 800-963-9634, Mirage.com

Brett Rigby Band, Sam’s Town, Roxy’s Honky Tonk, 702-456-7777, samstownlv.com

Doublewide, MGM Grand, Gold Buckle Zone, 877-880-0880, mgmgrand.com/NFRRodney Carrington, MGM Grand, David Copperfield Theatre, 877-880-0880, mgmgrand.com/NFR

Lomachenko vs Pedraza

Vasiliy Lomachenko vs Jose Pedraza fight predictions, card, odds, date, undercard.The lightweight champion is looking to unify the division’s crown on Saturday night in New York.

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For the second straight year, pound-for-pound king Vasiliy Lomachenko of Ukraine will get the benefit of what should be a large platform in front of a huge audience when he returns to the Theater at Madison Square Garden in New York to defend his title.

Lomachenko (11-1, 9 KOs), who forced Guillermo Rigondeaux to quit last December in their 130-pound title bout, will defend his WBA lightweight title this time around in a unification against WBO champion Jose Pedraza (25-1, 12 KOs). The placement and timing of the broadcast is significant (ESPN, 9 p.m. ET) because it immediately follows the Heisman Trophy ceremony, giving promoter Top Rank another opportunity to showcase Lomachenko’s wizardry to the masses.

The 30-year-old two-time Olympic gold medalist is expected to face a decent challenge against Pedraza, a native of Puerto Rico and former 130-pound titleholder who moved up to outpoint Rey Beltran in August. You wouldn’t necessarily know that, however, looking at the betting odds where Lomachenko stands as an overwhelmingly massive favorite.

Still, Lomachenko enters fresh off of shoulder surgery in his first fight since claiming his lightweight belt in a spectacular May knockout of Jorge Linares when Lomachenko, in his first fight headlining the big arena at MSG, was forced to get up off the canvas to win.

One thing that fight seemed to do for Lomachenko is let him realize that his ceiling in weight after claiming three titles in as many weight classes through just 12 pro fights might be where he stands now at 135 pounds.

“It was the first time I was knocked down as a pro,” Lomachenko said. “After the knockdown, I came back and finished the fight. It was a tough fight, but I showed the heart of a champion.

“I believe I’ll stay at 135 and focus on 135 because when I fought against Linares, I felt like he was bigger than me. In my weight class and closer to my weight class, we don’t have a big superstar. Yes, we have big names at 147, but I can’t move up to 147 now because it’s too much [weight], I think.”

Lomachenko shot down any further talk that he was still interested in a catchweight bout of some sort against secondary welterweight titleholder Manny Pacquiao, who returns Jan. 19 on PPV against Adrien Broner.

“I’m not disrespecting Pacquiao, but I don’t want to make my name bigger because I beat an old legend,” Lomachenko said. “I have my own road. There are a lot of good fighters to fight who are comparable to me. He’s old. I think his career is done. I don’t want to become a legend in boxing because of him.”

Lomachenko’s ideal opponent at lightweight continues to be Mikey Garcia, who recently gave up his lightweight title in order to secure a challenge two divisions north against IBF welterweight champion Errol Spence Jr. to headline a March 16 pay-per-view card. Yet Pedraza still brings danger as a crafty counter puncher who goes by the nickname “Sniper.”

“His style is not very interesting and not comfortable for all boxers because he’s always on defense and waiting for a mistake,” Lomachenkon said. “If you’ve seen my fights, it will be similar to the [Miguel] Marriaga fight. They have the same style.”

Favorite Underdog Weightclass
Vasiliy Lomachenko (c) -3500 Jose Pedraza (c) +1200 Lightweight titles
Isaac Dogboe (c) -800 Emanuel Navarrete +500 Junior featherweight title
Teofimo Lopez Jr. N/A  Mason Menard N/A Lightweight

Marriaga was dropped twice by Lomachenko in 2017 before his corner ended the fight after seven rounds in a one-sided affair. Pedraza’s lone loss also came by knockout in 2017 against current junior lightweight champion Gervonta Davis.

Still, Pedraza believes he will be able to show Lomachenko something different.

“Technically speaking, he has never faced a fighter like me,” Pedraza said. “I had a great training camp for this fight. Lomachenko is a great fighter, a complete fighter, and I know that I will have to be at my best. I am prepared to put on a good fight.”

Prediction

Pedraza is a very good fighter but the fact that Linares showed that you can be a great fighter and still get stopped by Lomachenko despite knocking him down doesn’t bode well for his chances. Not only will Pedraza need to be sharp in his counter shots early to dissuade Lomachenko from showing his full arsenal, at some point he will have to seriously hurt him in order to win.

Successfully doing so is easier said than done, of course, because of Lomachenko’s brilliant footwork and the awkward angles with which he throws punches from. Unless Pedraza rolls the dice by trying to rough Lomachenko up in hopes of luring him into a brawl, this could be a long night.

UFC 231

UFC 231 start time — Holloway vs. Ortega: Live stream, fight card, watch online, PPV price.Here’s everything you need to know to catch the UFC 231 event on Saturday in Toronto.

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UFC will make its return to Toronto on Saturday by presenting the UFC 231 event, the first of the final two pay-per-views scheduled for 2018. The UFC 231 card this weekend is headlined by two major championship bouts that fans have been looking forward to for quite some time.

In the main event of the evening, featherweight king Max Holloway returns to the Octagon to defend his 145-pound title against undefeated sensation Brian Ortega. This fight was originally slated to happen back in July on the UFC 226 card, but Holloway was forced to pull out of the bout just days prior with what was believed to be concussion-like symptoms. The co-main event will see a new women’s flyweight champion crowned as Valentina Shevchenko takes on former women’s strawweight champion Joanna Jedrzejczyk. Inaugural champion Nicco Montano was recently forced to vacate the title, and honestly, you could not have picked two better fighters to do battle in crowning a new champion on Saturday.

Below is all the information you need to catch the UFC 231 event in Toronto.

How to watch UFC 231 prelims

Date: Saturday, Dec. 8 | Location: Scotiabank Arena — Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Time: 8 p.m. ET
Channel: FS1 | Stream: fuboTV (Try for free)

How to watch UFC 231 main card

Date: Saturday, Dec. 8 | Location: Scotiabank Arena — Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Time: 10 p.m. ET
Stream: UFC.TV or Amazon | Channel: PPV (check your local provider)
Price: $64.99 (HD), $54.99 (SD)

Now, here’s a look at the UFC 231 main fight card and betting odds.

Army vs Navy

Army vs Navy odds, line: 2018 college football picks, predictions from advanced computer model on 45-25 run.SportsLine’s model has simulated Saturday’s Army vs. Navy game 10,000 times.

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The Army vs. Navy game is arguably the most historically significant sporting event in the history of our nation and the rivalry will be played for the 119th time on Saturday on CBS. Ranked No. 22, Army will be looking to make history of its own against its arch-rivals, with a win giving them the Commander-in-Chief’s Trophy in back-to-back seasons for the first time ever. Kickoff from Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia, home of the NFL’s Eagles, is set for 3 p.m. ET. Kelvin Hopkins Jr. will lead the Black Knights at quarterback, and his team is favored by a touchdown in the latest Army vs. Navy odds over Zach Abey and the Midshipmen. The Over-Under, or total number of points Vegas thinks will be scored, has dropped steadily to 39.5 after opening at 42. But before you lock in your selections, be sure to check out the top Army vs. Navy game picks from SportsLine’s Projection Model.

The SportsLine Projection Model simulates every FBS college football game 10,000 times, and those who have followed it have seen massive returns. Over the past three years, this proprietary computer model has generated a jaw-dropping $4,210 profit for $100 bettors on its top-rated point-spread picks.

The model made some huge calls during Championship Week, including nailing Ohio State (-16.5) against Northwestern and Oklahoma (-9.5) against Texas. And when it comes to all top-rated picks, the model has been red-hot, entering the 2018 college football bowl season on a blistering 45-25 run. Anybody who has followed it is way, way up.

The model has simulated every possible play for Army vs. Navy (stream live on fuboTV) 10,000 times. We can tell you it is leaning toward the over, but it has also locked in a strong against the spread pick that you can bank on well over 50 percent of the time. You can only see it at SportsLine.

The model knows that one huge advantage for Army will be the Black Knights’ play on both sides of the ball on third down.

Both teams run offenses designed to control the football, but Army’s excellence defending on third downs could throw a wrench into Navy’s plans. The Black Knights rank third in the nation, allowing conversions on just 27.2 percent of third-down chances, and a three-and-out might as well be a turnover if you’re a ground-and-pound offense like Navy’s or Army’s.

Army’s ability to extend drives on third down is just as important. The Black Knights lead the nation by converting an astonishing 57.1 percent of their third-down attempts, while Navy is 65th with a 39.2 percent conversion rate. Army is 6-3 against the spread this season and has a point differential of plus-11.2.

But just because Army can move the ball doesn’t mean it can cover a touchdown spread.

Even though Army will retain the Commander-in-Chief’s Trophy in a tie, the Black Knights have never won it in back-to-back years (Air Force won the trophy in 2016). As if this game needed any extra incentive, that should help make sure Navy is sharp.

Despite their lack of victories this season, the Midshipmen are still averaging 289 yards rushing per game and have found an explosive playmaker in Zach Abey. He’s accounted for six total touchdowns (four rushing, one receiving and one passing) in the last three weeks.

Navy has covered the spread in three straight games against Tulane, Tulsa, and Central Florida. They’re 4-3 against the spread as underdogs.

So, which side of the Army vs. Navy spread hits in well over 50 percent of simulations? Visit SportsLine now to see which side you need to be all over, all from the incredible computer model that’s up more than $4,200 over the past three years, and find out.

National Finals Rodeo

National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas officially underway.LAS VEGAS — The 60th annual National Finals Rodeo is this month at the Thomas & Mack Center on the UNLV campus.The $10 million Wrangler NFR, which was scheduled for Dec. 6-15, will help determine the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association and the Women’s Professional Rodeo Association 2018 world champions.

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Defending world all-around champion Tuf Cooper, who has residences in the North Texas communities of Decatur and Weatherford, entered the NFR ranked No.1 in the 2018 world all-around title race with $239,857. Brazile, a 23-time world champion, is ranked No. 2 with $234,154. Both Cooper and Brazile have qualified for the WNFR in tie-down roping.

Brazile said he will attempt to rope solid throughout the NFR. In other words, if Brazile draws a difficult calf, he will not take too big of a risk, which could result in a no time or a very sluggish time that could be detrimental in the long run. But if he draws a calf that apparently can help him place in a round, he will aggressively attempt to take advantage of the situation.

“I’m not going to try to win day monies, but I’m not going to miss an opportunity to win that much money every night either,” he said. “It will be whatever the situation allows me to do.”

Each of 10 rounds will offer competitors in every event $26,231 for a first place finish. The average winner in each event, the competitor who finishes with the best aggregate time or score after competing in 10 rounds, will earn $67,269.

For Cooper and Brazile, rodeo is a family affair. Cooper is the son of Hobbs, N.M., native Roy Cooper, an eight-time world champion, lives in Decatur. His mother is Shari Cooper who is a daughter of Clifton Smith of Childress who qualified for the National Finals in tie-down roping in 1960 and 1962, and is the father of 2008 PRCA world champion tie-down roper Stran Smith of Childress.Tuf Cooper and Brazile have a brother-in-law relationship. Brazile is married to Cooper’s sister, Shada Brazile, who qualified for the 2013 National Finals in barrel racing.

Trevor Brazile announced he will semi-retire from pro rodeo and will greatly reduce his traveling schedule next year, according to a Dec. 4 news story on prorodeo.com.

Trevor and Shada Brazile have three children (Treston, 11, and daughters, Style, 8, and Swayi, 3). Brazile said a much lighter rodeo schedule will allow him to spend more time with his family.

Jeff Askey of Athens has earned his second NFR berth in bull riding. He also qualified in 2016. Askey entered the NFR ranked No. 6 in the PRCA’s title race with $117,387. Defending PRCA champion Sage Kimzey entered the WNFR ranked No. 1 in the title race with $307,026.

Eli Vastbinder, a former Athens resident who lives in Union Grove, N.C., has earned his first NFR berth in bull riding. He entered the Las Vegas championships ranked No. 14 in the PRCA title race with $105,114.

Hashtags, a blue roan colored stallion, became a big hit last year on the National Cutting Horse Association’s aged event circuit, which features horses ages three through six.

Hashtags grabbed attention when he and rider Tatum Rice won the NCHA Super Stakes open division title in April 2017 and other aged events last year. When horses are on the aged event circuit, they might compete only once a month and make three or four runs during a show.

But this year, Hashtags has won big on another important NCHA circuit: weekend shows. On the weekend circuit, world title contenders compete more frequently and Hashtags was up for the challenge.  The stallion was crowned as the NCHA’s 2018 open division world champion horse on Saturday, Dec. 1, at Fort Worth’s W.R. Watt Arena after competing in the NCHA World Finals, the sport’s equivalent of the World Series for weekend warriors.

Rice said he began showing Hashtags at numerous weekend shows last spring in addition to aged events. He said the stallion fared so well on the weekend circuit that the decision was made to make a run for the world title.

Rice and Hashtags clinched the world title after earning $134,960 throughout 2018. Hashtags earned $21,967 after competing in four World Finals performances. Dont Stopp Believin and rider Phil Rapp of Weatherford finished second in the open division world race with $81,214 after earning $19,553 at the World Finals.

In the non-pro division, Elizabeth Quirk, who rode a horse named Cat Sheree during the World Finals, clinched the world title after earning $100,551 throughout 2018.

Hashtags competed in the open division, which mostly is comprised of pro riders. Rice said Hashtags consistently wins because he’s so determined.He’s just so strong and so cowy and tries so hard every single time,” Rice said. “He’s got a lot of endurance and he’s extremely athletic.”

On the Professional Bull Riders circuit, 2008 world champion Guilherme Marchi, a Brazilian who lives in the Decatur area, is entering into retirement after winning the 2018 PBR Brazil Monster Energy Tour event in Goiania, Brazil, on Saturday night (Dec. 1), according to pbr.com. The 36-year-old cowboy stayed on all three bulls he faced in Goiania and turned in a commendable score of 87 during the final round.

Brett Hoffman, a Texas Cowboy Hall of Fame member, has reported on rodeos and horse shows for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram for more than three decades. Email him at bchoffman777@earthlink.net.