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UFC 145 Jones vs. Evans preview

A family feud concludes tonight

Whenever a feud between two celebrities takes place, it’s rare that the public gets to see a satisfying conclusion. But when former teammates and friends Jon Jones and Rashad Evans step into the Octagon tonight, MMA fans should finally get to see the most personal grudge match in UFC history reach its climax. Despite being good friends and loyal teammates, a collision course between these two men was inevitable.

Evans has been in the media spotlight for the majority of his career. By winning the second season of “The Ultimate Fighter,” expectations were already sky high. But along with dealing with the pressure of being a new star in the UFC, Evans also had to battle the negative stigma of being cocky and arrogant. His coach on the reality show, Matt Hughes, labeled Evans as a “showboat,” which gave detractors plenty of ammo to constantly criticize him.

Add a conservative fighting style and it’s has been an uphill battle for Evans to gain respect. But with each victory came the eventual realization that Evans could become a championship-level fighter. Victories over Michael Bisping and Chuck Liddell catapulted his name into title contention. Despite heading into his title fight against Forrest Griffin undefeated, nearly no one gave the Michigan State standout any chance at victory. An Evans takedown and ground and pound of Griffin made him a champion and a elite-level fighter. But soon after accomplishing his defining moment, Evans lost the championship to a devastating knockout against Lyoto Machida.

Meanwhile, Evans’ training camp, Jackson’s MMA, was grooming another Light Heavyweight, Jon Jones. Evans had reservations about a potential contender competing in the same weight class but soon took a liking to him. While Jones embarked on his UFC journey, Evans encountered some roadblocks such as injuries, lackluster performances and the ugly divorce from this team that would lead to the rise of Bones Jones era.

Jon “Bones” Jones’ debut into the UFC was given little fanfare. Having under two weeks to prepare, Jones battered veteran Andre Gusmão with a variety of takedowns and striking en route to an upset victory. The impressive performance resulted in marginal attention but earned him a bout against Stephan Bonnar. When Jones surprised Bonnar with German suplexes and spinning back elbows, the hype machine officially began.

Other than the disqualification lost to Matt Hamill for illegal elbows, Bones destroyed every opponent he faced and earned himself a fight against Ryan Bader. Jones took advantage of the opportunity by defeating Bader via guillotine choke. The victory also delivered an unexpected surprise after it was announced Evans suffered a knee injury in training and Jones would take his place as the No. 1 contender.

As Jones gained the title shot, the media spotlight descended upon him. During a Feb. 2011 interview, he was asked if he would ever fight Evans. Jones said the fight would only take place if UFC President Dana White forced the fight to happen. Bones' comments angered Evans and started the rift between them. When Greg Jackson refused to take sides, Evans felt betrayed and soon moved his training camp from New Mexico to Florida. Meanwhile the MMA world pushed the “Bones” hype machine into overdrive. Some questioned whether or not Jones could live up to his full potential against champion “Shogun” Rua, but many odds makers had the challenger as the favorite. It took only a Jones knee to the gut to start the offensive assault and easily defeat Rua for the title. Once Jones became champion, he also became a target to his former friend.

After the Rua fight, Jones defeated former champions Quinton Jackson and Lyoto Machida, while Evans recovered from injuries to dominate Tito Ortiz and Phil Davis. While the trash talk between Jones and Evans lacks the expletives of a typical grudge match, its still one of the most personal fights in the history of UFC. When both men are paired together, Evans' demeanor displays anger and disgust against his former friend. Jones tries to stay composed but happily shows off his confidence in his ability become the greatest fighter in the world.

When both men step into the cage, Jones and Evans get to secretly fulfill the dream to see which man is truly the better fighter.

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    Early NBA Playoff preview

    With college basketball over, it’s time for the NBA to take the hoops spotlight. Even though everyone picked the Miami Heat to finally capture the title, the playoff field is wide open for any team to become champion. Here’s a breakdown by conference:

    Eastern Conference

    On Fire:

    The Big Three might have one last championship push left.
    The Big Three might have one last championship push left.
    Both the Chicago Bulls and Miami Heat have been fighting injuries since the All-Star break and have been mediocre in the month of April. And the struggles of the Eastern Conference’s best have opened the door for an old favorite to have one more run at the title.

    When the boston Celtics put together its Big Three of Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen, it was with the expectation that the group wouldn't last forever. But along with Rajon Rondo, the Celtics have captured an NBA championship and have become a tough defensive opponent for any league team. So it was puzzling when the organization was aggressively trying shop Rondo around the league. Luckily for the Celtics, it kept him and the result has been Rondo quietly putting together a 17-game streak of 10-plus assists. His point guard play has turned into victories with the Celtics going 7-3 in their last ten, including a dominant performance against the Philadelphia 76ers. Despite having four superstars (albeit a few of them dwindling), the Celtics have dodged additional pressure from the national media. If the playoffs started today, Boston would face the dangerous Atlanta Hawks in the first round. Even though it’s not considered one of the league top contenders, the Celtics bench and veteran leadership could lead them to a surprise playoff run.

    In Trouble:

    Dwight Howard—a hard guy to get along with.
    Dwight Howard—a hard guy to get along with.
    What would be the equivalent of oil and water in the NBA? It would probably be the Orlando Magic’s Dwight Howard and head coach Stan Van Gundy. They've never had the best relationship and now it’s reached a boiling point with Van Gundy confirming rumors he heard Howard requested he be fired. It's unfortunate the Magic are falling apart because they have one of the most effective offenses in the league. Its three point shooting combined with Howard dominating the paint should have made Orlando a lock for the conference finals. Instead, trade rumors, injuries and the turmoil of Howard and Van Gundy have turned the Magic into the most disappointing team in the association. Despite Orlando Magic General Manager Otis Smith publicly denying the rumors about Van Gundy, he has to determine either to fire his coach now and please Howard or keep Van Gundy and salvage the remainder of the season. If the Magic continues to side down the playoff ladder, it may be best to cut ties with Van Gundy and convince Howard to sign a long term extension with free agents and a big name head coach.

    Under the Radar:

    When Reggie Miller retired, the Indiana Pacers had to begin a search of a new identity to ensure the future of the franchise. It's been a long rebuilding process, but the Pacers have finally returned to respectability and have quietly made its way into the third seed in the East. Former-Lobo Danny Granger has been the star for the majority of his tenure in Indiana, but now he doesn't have to bare the burden alone with the additions of Roy Hibbert, David West and Tyler Hansbrough. Last year the Pacers pushed the Chicago Bulls to the limit in the first round with their lockdown defense on Derrick Rose. Now if Indiana can hang onto the third seed, they're most likely to receive a favorable first round matchup.

    Western Conference

    On Fire:

    Tim Duncan and the aging Spurs are still sharp.
    Tim Duncan and the aging Spurs are still sharp.
    From 1999 to 2007 the San Antonio Spurs won four NBA title titles, but got little love from media or fans. Even though they have arguably the greatest power forward ever in Tim Duncan and consistent All-Star players with Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili, they are always overlooked. Granted last year the Spurs performed well in the regular season but suffered an early elimination by the Memphis Grizzlies. In 2012 the Spurs have managed to earn the best record in the Western Conference without attracting scrutiny from the mainstream media. Head coach Greg Popovich has managed to keep his four main stars and surround them with quality roles players who are non-selfish and focused on winning. With the OKC Thunder barely behind the Spurs for the top seed, San Antonio cannot afford any injuries. The Western Conference is now going through a transition of younger teams dominating the playoff picture, but if the Spurs are healthy, it can use its experience to make a run to the conference finals.

    In Trouble:

    Before Blake Griffin, the L.A. Clippers were considered the laughing stock of the league. Whenever the Clippers would be lucky enough to gain any talent, they would trade it away in order to make the organization profitable. Finally for Clippers fans,the organization has renewed focus on winning and playing exciting basketball. The acquisition of Chris Paul has enabled the Lakers’ 'little brother' to be fan pleasing while moving towards the top half of the playoff picture. But its loss against the Lakers should be a red flag for “Lop City” fans. Blake Griffin has morphed into a human highlight reel but fails to play consistent defense or make mid-range jumpers. The Clippers currently hold the fourth seed and would face the underrated Memphis Grizzles in the first round. If the Clippers plan on purely outscoring its opponents en route to an NBA title, the only thing the Clippers would be lobbing is their heads against the wall.

    Under the Radar:

    Yao Ming's sudden retirement from the NBA left the Houston Rockets reeling. But, like the Indiana Pacers, the Rockets have quietly formed an effective combination of veterans and newcomers to currently gain the sixth seed. Head coach Kevin McHale has turned a potential bottom feeder into a respectable playoff team. The major Achilles heel of the Rockets is its ability to win games on the road. Its 11-17 road record will not translate into success in the playoffs. But the Rockets recent victory over the Lakers in the Staples Center should give them a much needed confidence boost. If the playoffs started today, the Rockets would face the troubled Lakers. The Rockets are unlikely to win the series, but considering the recurring Laker drama, Houston has the ability frustrate the Lakers into a long seven game series.

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      Hangover Sports Roundup

      Payton pleads case to Goodell, Jayhawks and Wildcats battle for the title

      Sean Payton
      Photo by Cary Edmondson
      Sean Payton
      Looks like New Orleans Saints Head Coach Sean Payton isn’t quietly accepting his year-long suspension. Payton, along with general manager Mickey Loomis, have filed an appeal for their participation in a three-year bounty system and will fly to New York on Tuesday to give their side of the story. According to the latest ESPN.com article, Payton hopes NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell will reevaluate his decision to give the harshest punishment in league history. But Payton shouldn’t be too optimistic. Not only did he know about Saints' Defensive Coordinator Gregg Williams’ bounty system, but he also lied to league officials when directly questioned. Payton's motivation for appeal seems puzzling as Goodell is unlikely to change his decision. The investigation warranted the tough suspension to send a stern message to the rest of the league of zero tolerance toward injuring opposing players on purpose. Payton should be thanking Goodell his punishment wasn't worse and instead should disappear from the spotlight.

      NCAA Men's National Championship

      Self and Calipari will butt heads tonight.
      Self and Calipari will butt heads tonight.
      Tonight's March Madness conclusion between the Kansas Jayhawks and Kentucky Wildcats provides a must-see matchup hoops fans have been dreaming about. Both teams are coached by two of the premier coaches in college basketball, but their reputations couldn't be more different.

      Jayhawks head coach Bill Self has transformed his program into a dominant force while avoiding any major NCAA rules violations. Along with winning the 2012 Naismith Men's College Basketball Coach of the Year, he can finish off his great season with his second ever national title. But if you talk to Self he would probably deflect any compliments and attention onto his squad. Kansas was considered an afterthought before the season started but have morphed into one of college basketball’s surprise stories. Its come-from-behind victory over Ohio State should only give it a minor psychological edge. Regardless of the outcome, in the midst of a blatant disrespect of rules and structure in college sports, the Jayhawks have remained one of the last examples of a clean sports program.

      The same could not be said for the Jayhawks’ opponent. Kentucky Wildcats head coach John Calipari uses swagger and charisma to keep media and fans glued to every word he says. Calipari has been to two previous Final Fours that were erased because of rules violations. By winning the national title he can finally begin to regain the respect of the basketball community. The Wildcats have the size and skill advantage and are lead by freshman big man Anthony Davis. If the Naismith College Player of the Year can produce another dominant performance in the title game, the Wildcats will be celebrating their first national title since 1998. If Calipari achieves his lifelong dream, hopefully this team will be devoid of any controversy.

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        Hangover Sports Roundup

        Lobo Tournament curse continues, Sweet Sixteen preview

        The Lobos came up short.
        Photo by Ross William Hamilton
        The Lobos came up short.

        Lobo Basketball

        There's no doubt the University of New Mexico basketball team has had great success throughout its history. From conference championships to 30-win seasons, the Lobos have an impressive résumé. But when it comes to the NCAA Tournament, true prosperity has always been out of reach for New Mexico.

        It looked like this might finally be the year that curse would be broken. In Thursday's Second Round matchup, the Lobos held off a tough Long Beach State 75-68 to face Louisville on Saturday night.

        The first half featured a defensive battle with New Mexico only behind 33-31 and carrying momentum headed into halftime. Despite Drew Gordon injuring his knee early in the game, he returned and had a standout performance with 21 points and 14 rebounds. With Gordon's leadership, New Mexico seemed primed for their its first-ever appearance in the Sweet Sixteen, but when the second half started, the pressure finally got to the young and inexperienced Lobo backcourt. The Louisville Cardinals capitalized on Lobo turnovers and bad offensive execution to gain a 15-point lead. When the Lobos actually ran plays on the offensive end, they were successful and eventually closed the gap to 53-51 with 1:48 remaining. Louisville's star player Peyton Siva was contained by the Lobo defense but he proved to be the difference by hitting a pass to Gorgui Dieng to extended the Cardinal’s lead by four. Siva also nailed some free throws to give Louisville a conformable 59-53 lead headed into the closing seconds. Gordon did give Lobo fans some hope by hitting a three with 2.9 seconds left, but it was too late as Louisville advanced with the 59-56 victory.

        While the Lobos have a lot to be proud of this season, head coach Steve Alford and his team have to feel they let a great opportunity slip away. Alford has lots of young talent to find a true leader to guide the Lobos out of the round of 32 and into competing with top basketball powerhouses. This loss with hurt in the short term, but Lobo fans should feel excitement for a promising future.

        March Madness Sweet Sixteen Preview

        As usual, this year's tournament has produced many upsets and busted brackets. With No. 2 seeds Duke and Missouri taking an early plane ride home, there are some refreshing matchups in the Sweet Sixteen.

        Kentucky vs. Indiana has the potential to be one of the most memorable games in this year’s tournament. Marquis Teague hasn't let his inexperience affect his performance in the dance so far by having 24 points and 7 assists against Iowa State. Teague's lead the Wildcats to an impressive 87-71 victory and now will face a hot Hoosiers squad. Indiana had an easy time with New Mexico State but faced the dreaded VCU Rams in the second round. The Hoosiers’ Cody Zeller had 16 points and 13 rebounds to help his team survive VCU’s attempt at another run to the Final Four. Many experts and fans probably have Kentucky advancing, but Indiana has been the more battle-tested squad. If Kentucky doesn't bring the intensity, Indiana can spring the upset.

        Despite winning back-to-back national titles, Florida doesn't get much national creditability compared to traditional basketball powers. The Gators haven't had the best season and their seven seed proves it, but they have improved their play and even took Kentucky to the limit in the SEC tournament. They handled their first two tournament games with ease but now will face their toughest test against Marquette.

        The Golden Eagles have bounced back from their disappointing loss to Louisville with two wins over BYU and the Cinderella story of the regular season, Murray State. Now Marquette must battle a Florida team with a successful tournament track record.

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          Hangover Sports Roundup

          Lobos win conference tournament and get the No. 5 seed, March Madness apps

          UNM coach Steve Alford cuts down the net after the Lobos win the MWC tournament.
          Photo by Sam Morris for the Las Vegas Sun
          UNM coach Steve Alford cuts down the net after the Lobos win the MWC tournament.

          Lobo Basketball

          After this weekend, it’s understandable why the Lobos are on cloud nine. They beat their conference archrivals UNLV and San Diego State en route to a Mountain West Conference Tournament Championship. UNM was also awarded a fifth seed in the NCAA Tournament.

          And after winning a share of the regular season title, the Lobos must feel they've accomplished most of their goals they set in the preseason. But if they want to achieve the ultimate goal of advancing to the Sweet 16, they must battle an enemy that almost ruined their season: complacency.

          The team was full of swagger and confidence after they beat San Diego State and UNLV in the regular season and were ranked in the Top 25. But then they let their guard down and lost two consecutive road games. Since that time, the Lobos are on a five-game winning streak and seem to have a renewed focus on defense.

          Long Beach State has played one of the toughest schedules in the nation and will face the Lobos in the second round in Portland, Ore. If they advance, a potential match up against the Big East champion, Louisville, awaits.

          March Madness apps

          For most people, it’s almost impossible to sit on the couch and watch the entire tournament. However, that doesn't mean you have to miss out on all the action. Here are a few mobile applications that will ensure you never miss any possession or buzzer beater:

          The NCAA has their official March Madness Live mobile app for iOS and Android that should satisfy any basketball junkie. Fans will be able to fill out a bracket, get live updates on their favorite teams and even watch every game for a one-time fee of $3.99. So far usability has been pretty seamless, so hopefully it delivers at game time.

          ESPN also has its Bracket Bound mobile app which offers in-depth opinions and analysis on the tournament. It’s available for for iOS and Android and offers up-to-date Twitter feeds of ESPN personalities, video analysis and the ability to follow your team’s progress in the big dance. The only negative is the app still lists the projected field of the tournament and hides the real bracket in the top corner of the application. Despite the drawback, the app is free and offers users the ability to win $100,000 for the winner of the Tournament Challenge.

          With these two apps, there's zero excuse why you shouldn't be the smartest fan in the room.

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            Hangover Sports Roundup

            Henderson edges Edgar, West takes All-Star honors

            Henderson nails Edgar with a hard right
            Esther Lin
            Henderson nails Edgar with a hard right

            UFC Japan

            The Ultimate Fighting Championship made its return to the land of the rising sun this past Saturday and delivered an entertaining night of fights featuring knockouts and comebacks. Despite having the shadow of Japanese MMA looming over the event, most fans will have fond memories over the potential fight-of-the-year featuring Frankie Edgar v. Benson Henderson for the Lightweight title.

            Edgar has put on many exciting performances as champion but is considered undersized, while Henderson has been on a huge role since his loss against Anthony Pettis in 2010. Once the cage door shut, both men engaged in nonstop action with neither able to have a clear advantage in the first round. Round two featured Henderson scoring a huge up-kick which immediately drew blood on the champion, but like many times before Edgar continued to press forward.

            When the final round started many experts and fans had the fight dead even. Henderson may have finished landing punches in the dominate position when the bout ended, but the round was still razor close. Surprisingly, all three judges scored the bout for Henderson and ended the “Edgar Era” in the Lightweight division.

            Also shocking has been the support for Edgar to move to the Featherweight division and for Pettis to receive the next title opportunity. While Pettis is an exciting fighter with lots of potential, Edgar deserves his rematch, especially since B.J. Penn and Grey Maynard got their second chance. Other than Edgar no one in the UFC Lightweight division stands out as an immediate title contender. The current Strikeforce Lightweight Champion Gilbert Melendez is the only other fighter deserving as he has been the second-ranked fighter in the division for years. Hopefully UFC President Dana White will see the light and grant Melendez a chance to prove he belongs in the elite tier.

            2012 NBA All-Star Game

            No doubt this year’s edition of the NBA All-Star Game was somewhat overshadowed by the lackluster Slam Dunk Contest and Dwight Howard trade rumors. But the actual game still provided some noteworthy-enough moments to prevent fans from changing the channel to the Oscars. Los Angeles Laker Kobe Bryant was the focal point for his quest to become the all-time leading scorer in All-Star games. Bryant's 27 points helped the West dominate the East for most of the game until LeBron James caught fire in the fourth. James had 36 points and hit two huge threes to bring his squad within striking distance. But costly turnovers and bad execution in the final minutes allowed the West to escape with a 152-149 victory. Kevin Durant captured the game's MVP with 36 points and seven rebounds.

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              Hangover Sports Roundup

              Lobos make loud statement against UNLV, Linsanity continues

              Drew Gordon
              Photo by Jake Schoellkopf
              Drew Gordon
              Lobo Basketball

              Fans of Lobo basketball have experienced the full gambit of emotions this season; from the overconfidence of destroying inferior non-conference opponents to feeling the despair and fear from two early losses to the UNLV Rebels and San Diego State Aztecs. The end result seemed very much in question but now that New Mexico has avenged both defeats convincingly, the Lobos should be in good shape to try on their dancing shoes come March. This past Wednesday, New Mexico put themselves in position to take firm control of the Mountain West Conference by upsetting No. 15 San Diego 77-67. With the victory, UNM had a chance to prove through a nationally televised game why they belong in the NCAA tournament. UNM only had a single-point lead at half time, but then turned to Lobo senior Drew Gordon to dominate and bully the Rebels in the paint. Along with Gordon's 27 points and 20 rebounds, a suffocating defense allowed the Lobos to outplay and outclass UNLV to a 65-45 victory. For doubters and nonbelievers, perhaps these two wins over nationally ranked opponents will change their minds. While it was a great week for New Mexico, the job is not over as they must finish the season out strong to win the conference. If Gordon’s production remains at this level, look for the Lobos to be a massive favorite in the conference tournament.

              NBA

              Lin went off for 28 points and 14 dimes
              Lin went off for 28 points and 14 dimes
              Two weeks ago Jeremy Lin was an afterthought in many basketball circles and was about to be cut by the New York Knicks. But with Baron Davis unavailable and Amar'e Stoudemire and Carmelo Anthony hurt, the Knicks were looking deep into the abyss. Fortunately for New York, Lin wasn't just a spark off the bench, he was the missing piece of the puzzle they've been searching for, and the team is playing it’s best ball in years. Along with his scoring, Lin has finally provided leadership and direction to the Knicks offense. His latest test was against the defending NBA champion Dallas Mavericks and he passed mostly with flying colors. Despite another game with 7 turnovers, Lin continued his hot shooting with 28 points and added a career-high 14 assists. New Knicks J.R. Smith and Steve Novak teamed up for 29 bench points to defeat Dallas 104-97. New York may have tons of flaws, but with Anthony returning from injury, it might just have the most dangerous offense in the Eastern Conference.

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              Hangover Sports Roundup

              Lobos get back on track, Evans and Sonnen victorious

              Evans pounded Davis
              Evans pounded Davis

              Lobo Basketball

              After suffering difficult losses to league leaders San Diego State and UNLV, New Mexico needed a confidence boost to regain their momentum in the Mountain West Conference. A 85-52 beatdown of Colorado State on Wednesday confirmed the Lobos are still a force to be reckoned with. On Saturday afternoon, UNM continued to beat up on teams they were favored against by cruising to a 71-54 victory over the TCU Horned Frogs. Tony Snell's team leading 18 points and Kendall Williams’ 14 points contributed to a solid 48.3 field goal percentage. The Lobos also receive some good news in the form of Colorado State pulling the 17-point upset over No.12 San Diego State. Head coach Steve Alford has to be happy his team's stretch of 2-2 has put UNM only a game back from the league lead. If New Mexico can split the season series against Aztecs and Rebels, the league championship is within reach.

              UFC on Fox 2

              With no college football and average basketball teams on television, the Ultimate Fighting Championship had a chance to gain the eye of the causal sports fan. Hardcore mixed martial fans may have overacted in describing the bouts as terrible, but new viewers of the sport may need another couple of shows before they get hooked.

              Phil Davis thought he was ready for the big-time but got humbled for five rounds by Rashad Evans. While Davis showed improved standup, he was unable to cause any significant damage—allowing Evans to score constant takedowns. Round after round Evans passed Davis’ guard and gain dominate positions to land hard shots. Even though Evans was aggressive, the fight lacked highlight reel moments or constant back and forth action. The judges reflected Evans’ dominance by scoring all the rounds (50-45, 50-45, 50-45) in a unanimous decision. While some may have changed the channel during the main event, Evans earned a title shot and opportunity to fight rival Jon Jones. Once April comes around, the hype machine will guarantee media buzz and a good PPV buy rate for the UFC.

              Once Mark Muñoz went down to injury, Chael Sonnen and Michael Bisping garnered all the attention from media and fans. Some thought the fight was slow and boring, but instead it should be remembered for as an exciting bout. Sonnen tried to bully Bisping with takedowns and ground and pound, but Bisping stood up and landed hard shots. Rounds one and two were close but Sonnen gained some extra energy in the final round and dominated the action. Opinions differed on Twitter but leaned toward Bisping getting the decision. But the judges saw Sonnen's takdowns being the difference and scored the fight (30-27, 29-28, 29-28). His pro wrestling promo after the fight should add some additional interest in a rematch against Middleweight champion Anderson Silva. Let’s hope Silva finally agrees to the bout, because it could be the most watched title fight in UFC history.

              In the opening bout, Chris Weidman ground out a spilt decision victory (29-28, 29-28, 29-28) over Demian Maia. Both men looked gassed throughout the bout but Weidman had a decent excuse, taking the fight under 11 days notice. Maia knew about the fight months in advance and put on an awful performance. Weidman's victory establishes him as a top-10 Middleweight while Maia goes to 1-2 and may be on the verge of being cut.

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                A Newbie's Guide to UFC on Fox 2

                With the Ultimate Fighting Championship making its second debut on network TV, there's still those who are going to be exposed to mixed martial arts for the first time. The three fights featured on the main card have exciting potential, but lack the name recognition to draw causal fan interest. But have no fear, as reading this preview should make you the smartest UFC fan in the room on Saturday night.

                The first bout on Fox features top Middleweight contender Demian Maia against late minute replacement Chris Weidman. Because Mark Munoz suffered an elbow injury, Maia's old opponent Michael Bisping got moved up the card to face Chael Sonnen. Despite the change, this bout will answer the question whether or not Weidman can compete with the elite of the Middleweight division. Weidman has great credentials as he is a two-time Division I All-American and has competed at the highest level of submission grappling tournaments. After becoming a high-rated Middleweight prospect on many MMA blog sites, Weidman has gone 3-0 in the UFC, including two 1st round submissions. Meanwhile, Demian Maia has several more fights than Weidman and has fought against the Middleweight champion, Anderson Silva. Maia started out winning five straight UFC matches by submission, but since his lost to Silva, has failed to finish his last four opponents. The experience and striking edge lies with Maia, but Weidman has a style that could carry him toward the upset. Look for Maia to show some improved striking, and for Weidman to surprise Maia with multiple submission attempts.

                It's a sham Michael “The Count” Bisping and Chael Sonnen only had a week and half to promote their fight, because the trash talk would have legendary. Known as one of the hated fighters in the UFC, Bisping has had some most noteworthy moments in UFC history. From suffering one of its most brutal knockouts, from Dan Henderson, to most multiple appearances on “The Ultimate Fighter” reality show, now is the time to determine if “The Count” can truly deliver. As for Sonnen, he's the only man to make Anderson Silva look human. He was within seconds of getting a unanimous decision but got caught by a last minute triangle choke. Prior to fighting in the UFC, Sonnen was best known for his bizarre fights with Paulo Filho in the WEC. Since then, Sonnen has mastered the ability to sell every fight he's in and still beat up top fighters in the cage. In order to capitalize on his highly anticipated rematch against Anderson Silva, he can't afford to overlook Bisping. The Count has great takedown defense, but not enough to defend the constant pressure and should be finished by the signature ground and pound of Sonnen.

                Rashad Evans has a chance to finally gain his long awaited title shot if he defeats Phil “Mr. Wonderful” Davis. After multiple injuries and questionable decisions, Evans has a chance to display his new skills earned with his new team, the Blackzilians, while generating buzz for a grudge match against former friend and champion Jon Jones. Because of the backstory and animosity between Evans and Jones, Davis has been completely ignored. Despite that Davis has an undefeated record and tons of potential with his wrestling and athleticism, many fans and critics don't think he's worthy to be an elite fighter. While Davis' weakness is his striking, he's shown the ability to improve every time he's in the octagon. In order to beat Evans, Davis will have to be able to hang and even threaten Evans on the feet. If he's tentative or hesitant, Evans should cruise to a easy victory, but if Davis can display improvement similar to Jon Jones, maybe it's a “Wonderful” upset for Davis. It all starts at 6 p.m. MST on Fox.

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                  Hangover Sports Roundup

                  Lobos rolling into conference play, Giants bury Falcons, Tebow pulls off another miracle

                  Lobo Basketball

                  Before the season started, fans and critics questioned the potential of this year's Lobos. Head coach Steve Alford imposed multiple non-conference tournaments into the schedule to test his team’s mental toughness. Based on its 14-2 record, it seems this team has answered the challenge. The Lobos concluded non-conference play last Saturday at home against North Dakota. Despite having starting freshman point guard Hugh Greenwood recovering from an ankle sprain, the team didn't miss a beat, with six Lobos scoring in double figures. UNM only had a 10-point lead at half time, but turned up the pressure and blew out North Dakota 85-57. Now riding a 12-game winning streak, the Lobos have an extended break before facing the Wyoming Cowboys, Jan. 14 at Laramie. Alford has his team performing extremely well, but there's no denying some of its opponents have been subpar. Only time will tell if this could come back and haunt New Mexico when facing the top Mountain West Conference teams.

                  NFL Playoffs

                  Tebow celebrates after an OT victory over the Steelers
                  Chris Schnedier/AP photo
                  Tebow celebrates after an OT victory over the Steelers
                  The New York Giants may be experiencing deja vu during their attempt at another Super Bowl run. An underrated Eli Manning, an average regular season, great unknown wide receivers and a furious pass rush are creating a lethal combination that could lead the Giants to the promised land. But first they had to take care of the Atlanta Falcons. The Giants defense tormented Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan, enabling Giants QB Eli Manning to have good field position and throw for 277 yards and 3 touchdowns. New York only allowed a safety and dominated the Falcons, 24-2. Now the Giants must face the defending Super Bowl champion Green Bay Packers for a spot in the NFC Championship. The Packers will be the favorite, but to count out Manning and the Giants would be a mistake.

                  For those hoping the hype surrounding Tim Tebow would eventually disappear, they’ll have to wait at least another week. Besides Denver Broncos fans, anyone who says they picked the Donkeys to beat the Pittsburgh Steelers is probably lying. The Steelers were fighting injuries to key defensive stars and Ben Roethlisberger was hampered by a leg injury. But going into the game Denver was given little chance to pull the upset, considering they lost three in a row prior to Sunday. The unsung Broncos defense stopped the Steelers in the fourth quarter to force the first new playoff overtime. That set the stage for another Tebow miracle. It only took a coin flip and one play and Tebow delivered another miraculous victory. His 80-yard touchdown pass to Demaryius Thomas not only gave the Broncos the 29-23 win but also should guaranteed Tebow's job for next season. His stats aren’t always impressive, but there's no doubt when it's crunchtime, he delivers. Tebow has to prove he can put a full game together before he can be worthy of all the media attention. Keep in mind this is Tebow’s first season as a starter. If he can improve, it wouldn't be surprising if he rises to be an elite quarterback in the NFL.

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                      Bob Log III7.22.2014