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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Grading the Caps' offseason moves: Trading for Lars Eller

Grading the Caps' offseason moves: Trading for Lars Eller

The quest for the Stanley Cup doesn't begin on the ice, but during the offseason as general managers build their teams for the upcoming campaign. The Caps have made a number of moves this summer to try to make their team better and get over the playoff hump.

Let's break down and grade each move the team made this offseason to help figure out whether it was the right move for the team.

RELATED: GRADING THE SIGNING OF BRETT CONNOLLY

Today's move: Trading for Lars Eller

Throughout the playoff series against Pittsburgh, one thing was abundantly clear: the Caps needed more scoring depth in the bottom six.

The Caps have the skill to match any team in the NHL on the top two lines, but it was the Penguins’ third line of Carl Hagelin, Nick Bonino and Phil Kessel that truly tipped the scales in their favor.

No other team had that kind of scoring depth.

In their never-ending quest for the Stanley Cup, the Caps needed more offense from their bottom two lines.

Jay Beagle played well last season and though he wants to play on the third line, he’s a better option on the fourth. If given the choice between an average third line center or a great fourth line center, the choice is clear. Strengthen the fourth line and bring in someone who can bolster the third.

Brian MacLellan did just that by trading for Lars Eller.

Eller’s time in Montreal got off to a rocky start as he was traded from St. Louis to the Canadiens in the deal that sent hero netminder (and Capitals' playoff nemesis) Jaroslav Halak out of Montreal. He then had to deal with a constantly changing offensive lineup that at times saw him frequently matched with different linemates.

There were even times he moved from center to wing.

Despite flashes of brilliance, Eller has tallied 30 points only once in his career and has never scored more than 16 goals in a season. Yet, his offensive production is still better than that of Beagle and it should go up with a better offensive lineup and the stability he should get in Washington. He is also a very good possession player and managed to maintain solid possession numbers in Montreal despite shuffling through linemates.

Grade: B+

Eller’s highlights and stats seem to tell two different stories.

When you watch him, he looks like a 20 goal scorer. It’s surprising that he hasn’t had more offensive production given his talent, but that may have a lot to do with the instability of Montreal’s lineup.

Washington will be different. Eller was brought in to be the third line center and, barring injury, that’s exactly what he will be. The lines will shuffle now and again with the normal ups and downs of an 82 game season, but he will see more stability in Washington than he ever had in Montreal. He will certainly not be asked to play wing any time soon.

Eller is an offensive threat with fantastic stick-handling abilities. He drives possession and has good positioning even without the puck on his stick. He checks off every box on the Caps’ wish list but two: speed and cost.

It would not be fair to call Eller slow, but no one would say that Eller has blazing speed either. Heading into the offseason, the Caps wanted to get faster in response to the speed they saw from Pittsburgh. Eller does not make them a faster team.

That’s not the end of the world. The Caps are clearly a better team offensively with Eller on the third line and Beagle on the fourth. What really bumps this grade down, however, is what it cost to get him.

Two second-round draft picks is high for a player you’re planning on plugging into the third line. Montreal didn’t help matters by trading for Andrew Shaw on the very same day for the exact same cost, two second-round draft picks.

As good as Eller is and as good as he will be with the Caps, Shaw is better and younger. Eller’s cost seemed high initially and that was confirmed by the fact that the same price netted Montreal and even better return.

No one will care about those draft picks if Eller proves to be the key piece in a Capitals Cup run, but that loss will sting the next two years come draft time.

RELATED: CSN MID-ATLANTIC NAMES NEW CAPITALS INSIDER

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Joe Flacco not concerned about injuries impacting life after football

Joe Flacco not concerned about injuries impacting life after football

Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco isn’t more concerned about his post-career health, despite suffering a season-ending knee injury last year.

A number of NFL players retired at a relatively young age during the offseason, including Flacco’s former teammate, Eugene Monroe

Flacco will obviously be set financially to retire whenever he chooses.

However, Flacco has talked about wanting to play into his 40’s, and nothing has changed.

“I’ll worry about running around with my kids when I’m 50, when I’m 50,” said Flacco, who is 31. “I don’t have to worry about it right now. The main reason I’m going to be able to enjoy running around with my kids is because of what I do. If at some point the games take that away from me, then so be it. I don’t anticipate that happening, and I’ll do everything in my power to keep that from happening. But my kids will eventually understand. I’ll get somebody to run around with them.”

Flacco said he might be looking forward to this year’s training camp more than most.

“Does it feel a little bit different?”, Flacco asked. “Yes, because I haven’t been out here for awhile.”

RELATED: BEST, WORST-CASE SCENARIOS FOR JOE FLACCO

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OPEN THREAD: Does a healthy Ryan Kerrigan make up for the loss of Junior Galette?

OPEN THREAD: Does a healthy Ryan Kerrigan make up for the loss of Junior Galette?

Most football players never publicly admit that returning from an injury limits their play. The rehab requires such a commitment, both physically and mentally, that top athletes have to believe healthy is healthy.

Ryan Kerrigan fits that mold. Last year, the Redskins linebacker had offseason knee surgery and then suffered a broken hand during the season. Despite the setbacks, Kerrigan started all 16 games for Washington. More impressively, he still logged 9.5 sacks and 33 tackles. In 2014, however, Kerrigan recorded 13.5 sacks and 51 tackles. 

A year remved from the tough 2015 offseason, Kerrigan opened up a little bit about what last season was like. 

MORE REDSKINS: COUSINS FOCUSED ON FOOTBALL, NOT CONTRACTS

"Last year, coming off an injury is a funny thing," he said Tuesday. "While I was technically healthy, you’re not as strong."

Kerrigan explained that some of his muscles atrophied after the surgery, and regaining that strength takes time. Going through that last year, and a healthy offseason this summer, leaves the veteran excited for this fall.

"I'm really excited about this season having not had any offseason surgeries," he said. "I'm hoping for bigger and better things."

With the loss of Junior Galette, better things from Kerrigan could be a big help for the Redskins. Washington's defense should be improved with the addition of cornerback Josh Norman, but much will be needed from Kerrigan and second-year man Preston Smith. If Kerrigan can get his sack total up, say to 12 or more, that would offset some of the set back from Galette's injury.

What do you think - can Kerrigan get to 10 sacks? 12 sacks? More? Let us know in the comments.