Rua, Machida post big UFC wins in Fox show

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Rua, Machida post big UFC wins in Fox show

LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Former champion Lyoto Machida stopped Ryan Bader with one punch midway through the second round of the UFC's latest prime-time network show Saturday night, getting a knockout that might have earned him a chance to reclaim his title. Mauricio "Shogun" Rua stopped Brandon Vera in the main event with a flurry of strikes with 50 seconds left in the fourth round for another dramatic finish. After the fights, UFC President Dana White said Machida had earned another light heavyweight title shot with his sudden victory. White promised a shot at the winner of champion Jon "Bones" Jones' bout with veteran Dan Henderson next month to the fighter who was most impressive at Staples Center, although the date could be tough to keep immediately. Machida (18-3) had the light heavyweight belt until Rua took it from him with a first-round knockout in May 2010. Machida failed to reclaim the belt last December from Jones, who stopped him with a standing guillotine choke in Toronto for the formerly formidable Brazilian's third loss in four fights.

Machida looked impressive again in flattening Bader (14-3), who also has lost to Jones. "I think it was a great performance, and I want to say, the Dragon is back," Machida shouted, citing his own nickname. Machida needed just one big right hand 90 seconds into the second round to knock out Bader, who spent the first round warily staying outside Machida's dangerous karate-based style. Machida picked apart Bader to win the opening round, and when Bader attempted to close the distance, the Brazilian star ducked slightly and apparently rendered Bader unconscious with a punch square to his face. White hyped up interest in the Los Angeles show by claiming he would choose the next title contender from this bunch of fighters with significant recent defeats on their records. The UFC could be more interested in matching Jones against welterweight star Georges St. Pierre next year, but Machida did everything possible to get back on a title track. Earlier, Joe Lauzon ended a thrilling bout with veteran Jamie Varner by securing a triangle choke midway through the third round. Mike Swick also returned from a 30-month octagon absence for a second-round knockout of DaMarques Johnson. Rua (21-6) survived a grueling fight with the veteran Vera (12-6), bouncing back from multiple spots of trouble and pushing through fatigue that slowed both fighters midway through the scheduled five-round bout. Rua finally got rid of Vera with a series of strikes that began with a precise right hook to Vera's jaw. Vera's mouthpiece apparently came loose, distracting him moments before Rua finished him with a few more strikes to celebrate his first victory in nearly a year. "I'll improve, but you'll see my best for sure in the future," Rua said. "The most important thing is a victory. I respect Brandon a lot. It was a good fight. I was a little tired from the second to the third round, more than I expected." Rua lost his light heavyweight title to Jones in his first defense in March 2011, and Rua lost again to Henderson last November in a five-round brawl. Varner was a last-minute replacement opponent for Lauzon, a reliably entertaining Massachusetts fighter who still had lost three of his past six bouts. Varner is a former WEC champion who returned to the UFC with an upset victory over Edson Barboza in May. Although Varner controlled the entertaining first round, he couldn't keep up later with Lauzon, who rallied with strikes that set up superb ground work ending with his legs cinched around Varner's neck.

Ward: Retirement of O'Ree's number a 'no-brainer'

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Ward: Retirement of O'Ree's number a 'no-brainer'

It is not Joel Ward’s nature to use his first-ever appearance in the Stanley Cup Final as a civil rights platform. That’s not who he is or what he’s about.

But when ESPN.com’s Joe McDonald asked Ward over the weekend if he believes the NHL should consider retiring Willie O’Ree’s No. 22 in recognition of him breaking the league’s color barrier on Jan. 18, 1958, he was quick to jump on board with the idea.

"That's something to definitely talk about for sure,” said Ward, who upon becoming a member of the Capitals in 2011 requested to wear No. 42 in honor of Jackie Robinson. “It would be great if they did. … With the amount of respect Willie has around the league, it would definitely be something special if that did come up."

Currently, there is only one jersey number retired by every team in the NHL – Wayne Gretzky’s No. 99.

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O’Ree, 80, played in only 45 NHL games with the Boston Bruins (two games in 1957-58 and 43 games in 1960-61), but he paved the way for other black players to follow.  

“It's a no-brainer,” said Ward, whose San Jose Sharks will face the Pittsburgh Penguins tonight in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final. “Without Willie, it would be tough for me to be sitting here today.”

O’Ree has been an ambassador for the NHL for several years. In April he visited Washington to attend a private screening of the movie “Soul on Ice: Past, Present and Future,” and spoke passionately about the racism he faced as a young player who hid from the Bruins organization that he was blind in one eye.

“I was faced with racism, bigotry, prejudice and ignorance and discrimination,” O’Ree recently told a group of students at the Anti-Defamation League Youth Congress in Boston.

“Every time I went to the ice I was faced with racial slurs because of my color and my brother taught me names will never hurt you unless you let them. I had black cats thrown on the ice and told to go back to the cotton fields and pick cotton.”

Ward, 35, faced a different kind of racism after he scored the series-clinching goal for the Capitals in the first round of the 2012 Stanley Cup playoffs. In the hours after netting the overtime goal in Game 7 in Boston, Bruins fans tweeted racist remarks about Ward, whose parents were born in Barbados and raised their three sons in the Scarborough neighborhood of Toronto.

“I don't let it bother me at all,” Ward told reporters after the incident in Boston. “It's a few people that just made a couple of terrible comments, and what can you do? I know what I signed up for. I'm a black guy playing a predominantly white sport. It's just going to come with the territory. I'd feel naive or foolish to think that it doesn't exist. It's a battle I think will always be there.”

While he was a member of the Capitals, Ward was invited to throw out the first pitch on Jackie Robinson Day at Nats Park, telling the Washington Times about his deep appreciation and respect for what Robinson faced nearly 70 years ago.

“I always question myself whether would I ever be strong enough to go through something like that,” Ward said. “And the fact that he excelled hitting over .300 and knowing that he could be shot at any minute, every time he stepped up to the plate. He just seemed to tune that out in some miraculous way, so for somebody to pave the way like that and open doors for guys like myself is unbelievable."

It took Major League Baseball 50 years after Robinson’s first game to retire his No. 42 forever.  It’s been more than 58 years since O’Ree broke the NHL’s color barrier and Ward believes it’s time to at least start a similar discussion to honor the man whom many describe as the Jackie Robinson of hockey.

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Stanley Cup Finals simulated on NHL 94 and Caps fans will like the results

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USA TODAY Sports

Stanley Cup Finals simulated on NHL 94 and Caps fans will like the results

Whenever a big sports event is about to take place, people go to great lengths to try to figure out what will happen. Some people use animals to make predictions (remember Paul the octopus?) while others use simulations.

What better way to simulate this year's Stanley Cup Final than with the classic video game NHL 94?

The description of the video says the simulation was done with an updated version of NHL 94 from NHL94.com.

Las Vegas may have the Penguins as the favorites in the series, but clearly the wise guys did not do their research. This foolproof simulation has the Sharks sweeping the Penguins in four games. Sidney Crosby also manages just one goal and one assist in the series.

Call your bookie, you've got the inside scoop on what's going to happen in the Finals.

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Showalter reiterates that Jimenez gets next start

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Showalter reiterates that Jimenez gets next start

BALTIMORE—Ubaldo Jimenez will be the Orioles starter on Thursday, Buck Showalter said. 

“He’s had some really good bullpen sessions that don’t transfer to game day,” Showalter said. 

“The bullpen sessions are fine and dandy. It’s about the game.” 

Showalter thinks that mechanics are at the root of Jimenez’s problems.

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“The same reason why he has a deceptive delivery is why he has trouble staying in sync with it. Very frustrating for him and the pitching coach. It’s part of why he’s in the zone that he’s effective,” Showalter said.

Jimenez has had trouble keeping runners on base. On Saturday, he allowed four stolen bases.

“Sometimes he loses focus or concentration,” Showalter said. 

If Jimenez didn’t start, the logical choice to replace him would Vance Worley, who worked 4 1/3 innings in relief of Jimenez when he was knocked out in the second inning on Saturday. 

“How do you know what he’s going to do as a starter?” Showalter asked about Worley, who started twice last month.

“[Worley is] one of the reasons why our bullpen has been healthy and stays intact,” Showalter said. 

He would prefer having Worley and T.J. McFarland as long relievers. 

“It’s hard to relate to a lot of people how important the job that Vance and Mac have done for us,” Showalter said.

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