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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Wizards take stock of good and bad at midpoint of season

Wizards take stock of good and bad at midpoint of season

With their 104-101 victory over the Memphis Grizzlies on Wednesday night, the Wizards improved to 22-19 overall through 41 games, the exact midpoint of the 2016-17 season. They play again the next night in New York, so there will be little time for reflection of how they got here. But after beating the Grizzlies, head coach Scott Brooks and several of his players took a look back and a look ahead.

After beginning the season 2-8, they are now three games over .500. What have they liked about their season so far, and what do they still believe can be improved?

Brooks went into extensive detail.

“I didn’t like our start; I liked the last part of the first half, where we’ve played a much better since December. The thing I liked about the start [is that] we didn’t give in to a tough start, we kept battling and figuring out ways to get better – we’re tweaking and tinkering with the lineup, the starters mixing with some of the guys coming off of the bench. Some of our younger players have really done a good job of developing and staying with it when they’re not playing. It can be tough on you mentally, but I think our staff has done a good job to keep them engaged and keep them developing.

"I think Kelly [Oubre] has made some strides. He’s taken a few steps forward [and] taken a step back, but the step back he takes, he doesn’t get frustrated and takes another step. He always seems to bounce back and come back. Otto [Porter] has, I think, developed into the most consistent shooter in the league from the three. Every night it seems like he has it. And John [Wall] and Brad [Beal], I like the way they’re playing and leading. March [Marcin Gortat] has done a good job. I think we’re playing much better because we’re really buying into each other, and I think when you do that, teams have trouble beating us. I think at home, we’ve figured that out, but we have to figure out how to do it on the road.”

Guard Bradley Beal agreed with Brooks, that he was most pleased with how the Wizards rebounded from their dreadful start. 

“I like how we fought through adversity. I think we didn't give up on our slow start. We battled back and now we're over .500 now but just imagine if we were playing the way we were supposed to the first couple of games, our record would probably be a lot different. Definitely proud of the way we've been playing, the way we bounced back. We definitely can get better at playing great defense for 48 minutes, being locked in for 48 minutes. Just making sure we continue to respect our opponents and be prepared for every game moving forward.” 

[RELATED: CMills asks why Wall, Beal don't get more national attention]

Otto Porter gave a few reasons why he thinks they are playing better now than before.

“Back then it was early. We were still figuring each other out. New coaches, new players. Right now, we are starting to figure things out. We are confident in ourselves, playing for each other, playing hard and just rolling with it... Just, I guess figuring out things defensively. Everybody is on the same page. Offensively, just letting the game come to us. Moving the ball, and knowing that we want to be a defensive team," he said.

Improving away from the Verizon Center was a common theme in the answers from players. The Wizards are now 18-6 at home, while only the Golden State Warriors have more home wins. On the road, the Wizards are only 4-13 with the Nets the only NBA team featuring less road victories.

That's enough to give them the fifth seed in the East, but they know they still have plenty of work to do.

“We have a lot we can improve on: just closing out games, playing for a full 48-minutes, moving the ball at times when we get stagnant, but I like the effort that we gave," guard John Wall said of the first half of the season. "The way that we started the season, the way we had a great month of December, and we're playing well right now. It's great to take care of home court, just want to for the second half of the season improve on the road. If we can find a way to improve on the road I feel like we could have a better record. To be in the situation we are now, the way that we started the season, you can't ask for more.”

The Wizards were in a reflective mood, but Marcin Gortat put it bluntly where he thinks the Wizards are currently at.

“[The 22-19 record means] nothing. We have to continue to do what we do. We aren’t getting excited. We’ve been in this situation where we’ve been minus-five, under .500. We just have to focus and play and now we have to get some wins on the road," he said.

[RELATED: Grizzlies pay for ignoring Otto Porter]

Last-second layup secures Virginia Tech win over Georgia Tech

Last-second layup secures Virginia Tech win over Georgia Tech

BLACKSBURG, Va. — Seth Allen scored the final two of his 17 points on a layup with 15 seconds left to lift Virginia Tech to a 62-61 victory over Georgia Tech on Wednesday.

It was a game the Hokies needed after losing three of their past four games. Allen hit 6 of 9 from the floor, including three 3-pointers, and Zach LeDay added 17 points.

Virginia Tech (14-4 overall, 3-3 ACC) led by as many as nine in the second half, but couldn't put away the Yellow Jackets (11-7, 3-3), who had two chances in the final seconds to take the lead. Georgia Tech turned the ball over with :09 left, and then fouled Virginia Tech's Justin Robinson, who missed the front end of a one-and-one.

Quinton Stephens missed a contested jumper at the buzzer that would have won the game for Georgia Tech.

Stephens paced the Yellow Jackets with 18 points.

MORE NCAA: Should Georgetown consider parting ways with John Thompson III?