Dos Santos stops Mir at UFC 146

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Dos Santos stops Mir at UFC 146

By GREG BEACHAM
, AP Sports Writer LAS VEGAS (AP) -- When a state athletic commission official asked Frank Mir where he was between rounds, he named the wrong casino. That's a pretty good indication Junior Dos Santos' punches already were doing their job. The UFC's heavyweight champion knew exactly where he was and what he was doing -- and Dos Santos swiftly showed Mir the door. Dos Santos flattened Mir with a huge right hand and finished him on the ground at 3:04 of the second round Saturday night, emphatically defending his belt at UFC 146 on Saturday night. Dos Santos (15-1) picked apart the two-time ex-champion with superior boxing throughout the fight, eventually sending Mir stumbling onto his back before finishing him with one last blow to the head. Dos Santos then wrapped himself in the Brazilian flag while celebrating his first title defense since taking the belt from Cain Velasquez last fall.

"I'm feeling awesome!" the ever-smiling Dos Santos shouted to the pro-Brazilian crowd. "It's not bad for a nice guy, huh? ... Frank Mir is a really good fighter, too. I came here to defend my belt, and I did it." Mir was staggered by multiple blows, including a big body shot, late in the first round, and he barely made it to the bell. After declaring he was at the Mandalay Bay instead of the MGM Grand Garden, Mir was allowed to keep fighting -- but the beating didn't go on much longer. "My game plan is always to keep the fight on my feet and go for the knockout," Dos Santos said. "I tried to get him a little tired in the first round, and then go for it. When you believe so much in your performance and yourself, it happens." Velasquez stopped Antonio "Bigfoot" Silva late in the first round after administering a bloody beating that both thrilled and horrified fans. Roy Nelson, Stipe Miocic and Stefan Struve also won on a pay-per-view card topped with five heavyweight fights, a first in UFC history. Dos Santos never faced trouble in the fight's eight minutes after easily avoiding an opening-minute takedown attempt by Mir, who hoped his superior jiu-jitsu skills would allow him to avoid Dos Santos' unparalleled striking ability. Mir, who turned 33 on Thursday, has the most heavyweight victories in UFC history, but he couldn't match Dos Santos' skills. "He's a champ," Mir said. "He's fast. I couldn't get out of the way. He hit me hard. There were just too many of them, and they were hard shots. I couldn't do anything about it." Mir stumbled back several steps after Dos Santos' decisive right hand. Dos Santos followed him and added one last head shot before referee Herb Dean saved Mir. "That surprised me a lot," Dos Santos said. "Man, this guy can take a punch. My hand is hurt." Dos Santos downplayed the revenge element of beating Mir, who broke the arm of Dos Santos' mentor, Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, in a fight last December. Mir (16-6) had won three straight fights since losing a title shot to Shane Carwin in March 2010, but couldn't reclaim the belt he held in 2004 before getting into a serious motorcycle accident and again in early 2009 before losing to Brock Lesnar. Velasquez (10-1) finished Silva at 3:36 of the first round, but only after pulverizing the 6-foot-4 Brazilian with a relentless series of blows after an early takedown. Silva (16-4) was cut on his face early in the beating, sending streams of blood down his face and onto the canvas, eventually coating both fighters' torsos. "I knew he was going to be a tough guy to finish, and he posed certain threats," Velasquez said. "But I'm happy I was able to go in there and perform. I took my time and waited to get good position to turn it on and finish the fight." The fight was stopped once to allow Silva's corner to clear the blood from his eyes, but Velasquez promptly resumed the beating until the fight was finished. The former Arizona State wrestler was ferociously impressive in his first bout since losing the belt to Dos Santos in just 64 seconds during the UFC's first prime-time Fox show. "What you've done in the past, you've got to get over that," Velasquez said. "This is a step in the right direction." The 32-year-old Silva appeared to be outmatched in his UFC debut after a lengthy MMA career highlighted by his dominant Strikeforce victory over Fedor Emelianenko in February 2011. Nelson (18-7) added another impressive stoppage victory to his list, catching Dave Herman (21-4) with an overhand right that sent him sprawling backward onto the canvas. Nelson landed one more shot before the fight was stopped, and then climbed onto the cage to rub his ample belly while his hometown crowd cheered. "My plan was to wrestle, (but) my coaches had a different game plan, which was, Hit him in the face,'" Nelson said. "Guess it worked. Clearly my hands have dynamite in them, or small rocks or whatever." Nelson had lost three of his previous four fights, including decisions to Dos Santos and Mir. But the portly, heavily bearded heavyweight -- who bills himself as a kung fu fighter -- is consistently popular and entertaining. Miocic (9-0), a firefighter and EMT from Cleveland, remained unbeaten after surviving a back-and-forth first round with fellow heralded prospect Shane Del Rosario. He took control in the second, taking down the previously unbeaten Del Rosario and finishing him off with ground-and-pound elbows. Del Rosario (11-1) had a severe cut over his right eye and a bloody face after his UFC debut and his first fight in 15 months. The Orange County fighter recovered from a back injury sustained when his car was hit by a drunk driver last year. Struve finished Lavar Johnson with an armbar just 1:05 into their bout. The 6-foot-11 Dutchman who has lost to Dos Santos and Nelson celebrated his third straight win, while Johnson, the veteran Strikeforce fighter who beat Pat Barry just three weeks earlier, struggled after stepping in as an injury replacement for Australia's Mark Hunt. Earlier, veteran lightweight Jamie Varner upset previously unbeaten Edson Barboza, stopping the touted Brazilian prospect with a long series of blows to the head. Varner, the former WEC lightweight champion who was released from that promotion after an 0-3-1 skid, made the most of his chance to be an injury replacement for Evan Dunham in his first UFC fight since March 2007. Jason "Mayhem" Miller lost a lackluster decision to middleweight C.B. Dollaway, possibly ending the television host's MMA career. Miller (24-10), who has won just three of his last eight fights, previously said he would retire if he didn't beat Dollaway. Dan Hardy, the popular English welterweight, also ended a four-fight skid, stopping Duane Ludwig in the first round. A collection of celebrities including Charlize Theron, MC Hammer and many NFL players, including Cardinals receiver Larry Fitzgerald, attended the show in the UFC's hometown.

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Need to Know:Redskins faced one of the toughest schedules in NFL in 2016

Need to Know:Redskins faced one of the toughest schedules in NFL in 2016

Here is what you need to know on this Sunday, May 28, 16 days before the Washington Redskins start their mandatory minicamp on June 13.

Timeline

Days until:

—Training camp starts (7/27) 60
—Preseason opener @ Ravens (8/10) 74
—Season opener Eagles @ Redskins (9/10) 105

Note: I am on vacation this week in the Outer Banks. Need to Know will be a mix of new content and some of the most popular posts of 2017.

Redskins faced one of NFL’s toughest slates in 2016

(originally posted January 28)

As the Redskins came off their 2015 playoff season and looked towards 2016, one thing jumped out. Even before any games were played it looked like their path to a repeat playoff appearance would be difficult, more so than it was when they went 9-7 and took the NFC East title.

The 2015 schedule looked fairly easy when applying the eyeball test. They played just two games against teams that made the playoffs and those teams, the Patriots and Panthers, plus the Jets were the only teams they faced that finished the season with winning records.

The eyeball test was borne out by the numbers. According to the stat gurus at Football Outsiders the Redskins faced the 28th toughest schedule in terms of the DVOA of opposing defenses and the opposing offenses added up to the 24th most difficult.

The going was considerably tougher in 2016. The Redskins played seven games against teams that were in the playoff field. The defenses they faced stacked up as the toughest group of any NFL team. They played nine games against teams that finished in the top 11 in defensive DVOA. The offenses they faced were a little better than average, ranking 13th as a group.

While the Redskins’ season was widely regarded as a disappointment, it would be reasonable to say that given vastly improved quality of the competition that they did well in only having their record drop by half a game.

Of course, the goal is to be good enough to prosper and make the playoffs no matter what mix of teams the luck of the draw happens to put on the schedule. They will need to get there in a hurry. Awaiting the Redskins on their 2017 schedule are seven 2016 playoff teams plus one more that finished the year with a winning record.

The fortunes of NFL teams can’t always be predicted in advance, especially more than seven months before the season kicks off. But it’s safe to say that the 2017 slate will be challenging. If they are going to improve their record they are going to have to improve their level of play dramatically.

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page Facebook.com/TandlerCSN and follow him on Twitter @Rich_TandlerCSN.

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Nationals' Joe Ross to start against team that drafted him

Nationals' Joe Ross to start against team that drafted him

WASHINGTON -- On Dec. 19, 2014, the San Diego Padres traded pitcher Joe Ross and a player to be named later -- it would be Trea Turner -- to the Washington Nationals in a three-team deal that included the Tampa Bay Rays.

Since that trade, the Padres have posted a record of 160-215 while the Nationals are 208-166 after they won 3-0 Saturday as Stephen Strasburg struck out a career-high 15 batters in seven innings and the Washington staff fanned 17.

As a reminder of what could have been, Ross (2-0, 5.32) makes the start Sunday against San Diego right-hander Jhoulys Chacin (4-4, 5.74) in the finale of the three-game series at Nationals Park.

First-place Washington is 30-18 while last-place San Diego is 18-33.

Ross was drafted by the Padres in the first round out of his California high school in 2011. Ross is 2-0 in his career against San Diego with a 2.25 ERA in two starts. Last year, he went six innings and allowed six hits and three earned runs in a win against the Padres.

"I was not around Joe at all," said Andy Green, in his second year as the San Diego manager. "We saw him last year; he is a sinkerballer."

The Padres did acquire All-Star first baseman Wil Myers in the trade.

The Nationals have scored a record 62 runs in the four starts made this year by Ross, more than any other pitcher has received in his first four starts of a season. That included a 23-5 victory at home April 30 against the New York Mets and a 10-1 win Tuesday against the Seattle Mariners.

Ross, who broke into the majors with the Nationals in 2015, was in the rotation last season and made 19 starts before going on the disabled list. He was in line to be the No. 5 starter, but began the season at Triple-A Syracuse.

Chacin is 3-2 in six starts against Washington and has a 3.09 ERA. He has made three career starts at Nationals Park and is 1-1 with a 0.45 ERA while allowing only one run in 20 innings.

The Nationals played their second game in a row Saturday without second baseman Daniel Murphy, who was ill.

Nationals bench coach Chris Speier, filling in for manager Dusty Baker, said before the game that Murphy was ill. Murphy entered the day hitting .316 with nine homers and 33 RBIs.

"He's available. This is Dusty's theory: Usually when somebody comes in and says, 'I'm ready,' then he usually gives him one more day. But he's available," Speier told reporters before the game.

Murphy entered Saturday seventh in the National League in hits with 56, just ahead of teammate Bryce Harper (55). Murphy was also among the league leaders in multi-hit games and road batting average.

Washington shortstop Turner, drafted by the Padres in the first round out of North Carolina State, had two hits, including a homer, Friday and was 1-for-4 Saturday.

Another hot hitter for Washington is center fielder Michael A. Taylor, who hit a homer for the second day in a row Saturday and has four homers in his last 14 games.

"I'm looking for my pitch and staying in my zone," Taylor said. "I'm not trying to do too much."

MORE NATIONALS: Stephen Strasburg has career-high 15 strikeouts in Nationals win over Padres