Despite a strong start, Cotto couldn’t keep up with Mayweather.
Floyd Mayweather Jr. Vs. Miguel Cotto
The sport of boxing may only have a couple of mega stars, but whenever they’re in action the sports world always takes notice. Floyd “Money” Mayweather Jr. fought Miguel Cotto for the WBA Super Welterweight title in what turned out to be a compelling fight this Saturday night.
Despite Cotto being the champion, he was a massive underdog among casual fans and Vegas odds makers. Usually, whenever any fighter faces Mayweather, he is overmatched and often embarrassed by defensive boxing skills and technique. Surprisingly, Cotto was aggressive and was able to damage Mayweather. Many experts in chat rooms and Twitter had the fight close heading into the second half of the bout. But eventually supreme conditioning and counter punches carried Mayweather into victory. While the judges scorecard of (118-110, 117-111, 117-111) for Mayweather conveyed a lopsided win, Cotto seemed to have gained more fans and respect in defeat than any of his wins. If Cotto gets a couple of high profile wins, it wouldn't be out of the question to request a rematch or face Manny Pacquiao for the second time.
As for the now 43-0 (26 KO) Mayweather, his next opponent will be a jail cell as he serves time for misdemeanor domestic violence. Once he's done serving his 87-day sentence, the pressure of putting together the super fight between himself and Pacquiao should reach its boiling point. The potential matchup would be the biggest pay-per-view attraction in the history of the sport, but fans’ patience is starting to wear thin. If Pacquiao is dominant over Timothy Bradley, hopefully the wheels will start to go into motion for Pacquiao and Mayweather to finally collide.
UFC on Fox 3
Diaz emerged victorious against Miller
It was a jam-packed weekend of sports, but lost in the shuffle was the Ultimate Fighting Championship on network television. While the card was lacking in star power, it tried to make up in exciting action. The main event featured Nate Diaz vs. Jim Miller to possibly determine the next challenger for the Lightweight title.
Before the fight, Miller had a slight edge among mixed martial arts experts, but when they squared off, Diaz used superior boxing to confuse and damage Miller. Then, in round two, Diaz used his signature Gracie Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu to gain the guillotine choke and make Miller tap for the first time in his career. Ever since Diaz moved to Lightweight, he’s looked almost unstoppable by dominating Takanori Gomi and Donald Cerrone. Now Diaz has proved he's a worthy challenger for champion, Benson Henderson. Since Henderson will face Frankie Edgar in a rematch in August, Diaz would most likely take another bout to stay active rather than take a long break. Since older brother Nick Diaz is suspended by the Nevada State Athletic Commission, Nate has gained all the attention and maybe has become a breakout star for the UFC. If Nate Diaz takes another fight and defeats Anthony Pettis, he will no doubt stand on his own as an elite fighter in MMA.
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.
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.
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.
UFC Light Heavyweight Champion Jon “Bones” Jones had one of the most memorable years in mixed martial arts. And that could be said even prior to his title defense against former champion Lyoto Machida on Saturday, Dec. 10. Jones probably could of requested to take the rest of the year off, but instead risked his championship to face a dangerous striker. Machida's unorthodox striking confused and frustrated the still-young Jones for the first time in his career. Despite two of the judges giving the first round to Jones, Lyoto staggered the champion and forced Jones to face some serious adversity. The sold-out Toronto crowd was firmly in Machida's corner, but Bones scored the takedown in the second round and caused a deep gash on Lyoto's forehead. After doctors checked the cut, Bones dropped Machida with a big punch and finished the fight with a standing guillotine choke. The 18,000-plus who booed Jones then showed respect for the Jackson’s MMA fighter and seemed to acknowledge that Jones is one of the UFC's elite champions. Other than his first round struggle with Machida, Bones has almost looked unstoppable in his career. Frankly, Jones is a fighter the sport has never seen before, with abilities that could make him the crossover athlete the UFC has been looking for.
Other action featured a Heavyweight rematch between Frank Mir and Antonio Rodrigo “Minotauro” Nogueira. Their first encounter displayed Mir's improved boxing that knocked down Nogueira several times. Mir eventually finished the fight, completing the impossible by becoming the first fighter to do so against Nogueira. In the sequel, Nogueira hit the dazed Mir and went for the finish on the ground, but Mir countered and locked in a gruesome kimura. The prideful Nogueira waited until his arm was injured to tap and gave Mir the honor of becoming the first fighter to submit him. The victory gives Mir three wins in a row and makes him a relevant contender in the division. If any Heayweight main event gets hit with the injury bug, Mir could easily become a replacement and sneak into a title shot.
Eli Manning may have a Super Bowl ring, but fans and media continue to deny him the respect he truly deserves. Maybe after engineering the New York Giants’ comeback against the Dallas Cowboys, that could change. Dallas had a 34-22 lead in the 4th quarter after the Cowboys capitalized on an Manning interception. But Manning blocked out the previous mistakes and helped the Giants score 15 unanswered points to take the lead in the final seconds. The Cowboys had a chance to take the game into overtime, but Jason Pierre-Paul blocked a game-ending field goal, saving the Giants’ playoff hopes. If the Giants can end the season with a winning streak, they can be a legitimate threat come mid-January.
Holly Holm hadn't lost since 2004 and was finally starting to get the attention of the casual fight community. With her successful debut in mixed martial arts in 2011, a win over top contender Anne Sophie Mathis could have broken Holm onto the mainstream sports radar. The two fighters met Friday night at Route 66 Casino in front of a raucous crowd of Holm supporters. What started out as a back and forth war, turned into Mathis hitting Holm with heavy shots that left the crowd in stunned silence. Despite Holm taking a extreme amount of damage in round six, the referee refused to stop the fight and left Mathis to finish Holm off with a brutal knockout. With the loss, Holm's MMA career may take a backseat as she is most likely to seek a rematch. With trainer Mike Winklejohn backing her, this loss shouldn't define her career as Holm processes the ability to rebound and continue her success in whatever combat sport she chooses.
Two Team Jackson Fighters fought on the national stage on “The Ultimate Fighter” season finale. Bantamweight John Dodson has been on the radar of MMA fans with his appearance on the Tapout reality series. Since his run to the finals, Dodson has showed superstar potential with his fighting style and personality. Team Alpha Male's T.J. Dillashaw posed a tough challenge, but Dodson’s punching power proved to be the difference. Despite the early stoppage, Dodson looked impressive and may turn into a future title contender. Diego Brandao looked to upstage his teammate when he fought Dennis Bermudez in the Featherweight final. They delivered perhaps one of the best rounds of the year in a down-to-the-wire fight, Then, during the closing seconds, Brandao nailed a textbook perfect armbar which forced Bermundez to tap immediately. Brandao earned the contract, but Bermundez’ performance shoul guarantee him a spot in the UFC. Brandao proved he's more than one-dimensional with submission skills but will need to improve his conditioning to evolve into a top fighter.
Tebow bested rookie QB counterpart Christian Ponder
Tim Tebow may be the sports media’s darling, but he's also turning out to be a legitimate quarterback. Since Tebow has taken the starting quarterback position, every sports talk show has ran the Tebow topic into the ground. The constant discussion has overshadowed Tebow’s story of overcoming many critics’ doubts about his ability and unconventional style. Despite facing another mediocre opponent, the Minnesota Vikings, Tebow had the best performance of his young career. Two touchdowns and 202 yards passing fueled another 4th quarter game-winning victory. The 35-32 win gives the Denver Broncos a share of the division with the Oakland Raiders. Whether Tebow turns into an elite quarterback really doesn't matter—his grit and ability to win prove he belongs in the NFL.
When the Ultimate Fighting Championship finally got its television deal with FOX, UFC put all its effort into making the Heavyweight championship a major event. So when UFC 139 aired a week later, most of the fighters on the card fell under the radar. Despite the lack of hype and promotion, the fighters delivered some awesome bouts for those who ordered the pay-per-view event. Dan Henderson vs. Shogun Rua was expected to end in a knockout, but instead it resulted in one of the greatest fights in MMA history. Henderson almost finished Rua several times with his signature right hand but Rua managed to survive. Shogun was bloodied and exhausted but had his moments over the former Strikeforce champion. When both men came out for the fifth round, Rua controlled Henderson with dominant positions and ground-and-pound. So when the judges rendered their verdict, most thought the epic war would result in a draw. Instead, they awarded Dan Henderson the victory and, he’s now earned a title-shot against either the Middleweight or Light Heavyweight champion. Shogun is looking for a rematch and may fight on UFC's Japan show in February. Regardless of the future, both men put on a performance that will be remembered forever in the MMA history books.
It went down to the wire with the Boys and the Skins.
The Dallas Cowboys have looked like a roller coaster ride more than a Super Bowl contender this season. But with Tony Romo regaining his confidence, “America's Team” might have their swagger back. Whenever the Redskins and Cowboys face off, records usually go out the window and the rivalry takes over. Washington had their chances to spring the upset, but when the game went to OT, a missed field goal by Graham Gano gave Dallas new life. Cowboys kicker Dan Bailey hit a 39-yard field goal and gave Dallas the 27-24 victory. With the Giants and Eagles appearing mediocre every week, the Cowboys are poised to make a run towards a division title.
Dos Santos pummels Velasquez in a quick, one-sided victory.
After all the controversy this past week, Saturday delivered an action-packed night of combat sports action. First up was the Ultimate Fighting Championship’s debut on regular TV, which featured a bout for the UFC Heavyweight Title. Along with the fight, hardcore MMA fans were curious about how FOX would introduce new viewers to the sport. For the most part, they delivered a professional broadcast, treating the fight as a legit sporting event instead of a punk rock show. Gone were the “gladiator intro” and generic rock music and in its place were highlights of both fighters and analysis from UFC personalities. As for the fight, reigning champion Cain Velasquez was rumored to be battling some nagging injuries headed into his bout with Junior Dos Santos. With Dos Santos’ KO of Velasquez taking only 64 seconds, it was hard to tell if injuries affected the former champ. Dos Santos has one-punch knockout power and can finish any heavyweight in mixed martial arts. The victory was impressive considering Dos Santos had a meniscus tear a week before and couldn't walk. Despite the short fight, fans should be happy with a knockout as a first impression to casual viewers rather than a boring five round decision. But FOX's choice to not air the Clay Guida / Ben Henderson fight was the obvious major misstep of the night. Henderson and Guida put on a fight-of-the-year-candidate that only aired on Facebook and FOX Desportes. They showed all the different aspects of MMA that makes the sport captivating and intriguing to watch. But as time moves on Henderson's victory will eventually be shown on television and Dos Santos had a star making performance, so the UFC’s first test run on FOX was a successful one, but not spectacular.
Manny Pacquiao vs. Juan Manuel Marquez
Manny Pacquiao won a controversial decision.
Next up was the conclusion of the epic trilogy between Manny Pacquiao and Juan Manuel Marquez. Their first two matchups were controversial but thrilling fights that displayed what truly makes the sport of boxing special. After Pacquiao’s victory over Marquez in their second fight, Pacman's career skyrocketed into mainstream America while Marquez campaigned for another shot at Pacquiao. So after three years, Marquez got his wish and on Saturday took advantage of the opportunity. The first half of the fight was razor close with both fighters throwing punches with caution. But then Marquez started outboxing Pacquiao by landing crisp, hard punches. Pacquiao was shockingly tentative and couldn't let his hands go. With the momentum swinging to Marquez' favor, Pacquiao trainer Freddy Roach knew his fighter was behind and pushed Pacman to pick up the action. Pacquiao’s punch output increased and grew even stronger towards the end of the bout. When the fight concluded, most fans and experts had Marquez winning a close decision victory. But when the judges gave the result, one judge scored a draw, while the other two scored the fight for Pacquiao. Fans in the arena and Twitter users were outraged over the decision. Marquez clearly deserved the victory but in the judges’ perspective he didn't have a defining moment that made a case for him getting the win. As for Pacman, he escaped with the win and is unlikely to grant Marquez another fight and will now try to await a possible fight with Floyd Mayweather Jr.
Despite the struggles of Lobo Football, it’s been a landmark year for Lobo sports. Both cross-country teams earned bids for the NCAA championships and the men’s soccer team has had a dream season going undefeated and winning the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation title. So on senior night, the football team finally enjoyed the taste of victory with their win over the UNLV Rebels . For the first time this season the Lobos kept a lead for the majority of the game. Their 14-7 lead disappeared early in the fourth quarter but Lobo senior Carmen Messina caused a fumble and the Lobos recovered. Then quarterback B.R. Holbrook drove the Lobos down the field setting up a Demarcus Rogers touchdown. The New Mexico defense held steady and got the 21-14 victory. Despite having only two games left in the season, getting its first win will improve the team's confidence and could lead to the Lobos ending the season on a high note.
Despite the UFC 137 main event changes, BJ Penn and Nick Diaz delivered an exciting bout featuring a back and forth, crowd-pleasing battle. In the first round, Penn was very aggressive by getting the better of the striking and momentarily taking Diaz' back. But in the second and third rounds Diaz' conditioning enabled him to give Penn the worst beating of his career. Diaz demonstrated pinpoint accuracy by nailing Penn with lethal combinations to the head and body. Despite Penn bleeding for the first time in his career, he still showed fighting spirit by not allowing the former Strikeforce champion to finish him. But getting beat up by Diaz forced BJ Penn to unexpectedly retire from the sport. No one knows for certain if Penn has truly retired, but if he has, Penn doesn't have anything to be ashamed about. Meanwhile Diaz’ performance was enough to convince UFC President Dana White to grant him a title shot against George St. Pierre. While GSP vs. Diaz will be a money maker for the UFC, Albuquerque fighter Carlos Condit lost his title shot and will be forced to climb the ladder again to regain his spot.
It wasn't all bad news for Albuquerque fighters as Lightweight contender Donald Cerrone destroyed Dennis Siver on the Spike TV prelims. Cerrone has gone 4-0 this year and can make a case to fight for the title. But his main goal is to stay active and now is rumored to face Nate Diaz at UFC 141.
Ray Rice had three TD’s.
Last Monday night, the Baltimore Ravens went through a nightmare when they got embarrassed by the Jacksonville Jaguars. So when the Ravens welcomed the Arizona Cardinals, many thought Joe Flacco and Ray Lewis would take out their anger on one of the worst teams in the league. Instead, the Cardinals humbled the Ravens defense by taking a 24-6 lead into halftime. But Ravens receiver Anquan Boldin’s seven receptions for 145 yards and running back Ray Rice’s three touchdowns helped fuel a 21-point comeback. The Cardinals tied up the game in the fourth quarter but Flacco’s pass to rookie Torrey Smith set up a Ravens game winning field goal.
Steelers vs. Pats
It's rare to see the New England Patriots get bullied by any team in the NFL. Often Patriots quarterback Tom Brady and head coach Bill Belichick push around and frustrate their rivals. But when New England traveled to Pittsburgh, the Steelers turned the tables and dominated the Patriots defense. Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger made Belichick’s defense look amateur by going 36-50 in the air with two touchdowns. Despite having long offensive drives, New England was unable to finish off their longtime AFC foe. Brady threw a red zone touchdown late in the fourth quarter to cut the lad to six. But a botched onside kick and a safety sealed Pittsburgh's 25-17 victory. With Roethlisberger finally finding his rhythm, the Steelers have recovered from their opening day disaster against the Ravens and look primed for a deep playoff run.
I was recently contacted by a publicist for UFC ENCYCLOPEDIA: The Definitive Guide to The Ultimate Fighting Championship (October 2011), by DK publishing.
She told me that UFC stars Donald Cerrone and Leonard Garcia will be at Hastings Westside location (6051 Winter Haven Road, near Montaño Plaza on Coors), to promote and sign the book.
The book, by Thomas Gerabasi, came out early this week and has already garnered high praise, even from the ever finicky MMA blogosphere.
When I ran into Cerrone at Jackson-Winkeljohn MMA last week, he said he knew nothing of the book signing. He’s due to fight Dennis Siver at UFC 137 a week later, and might have other things on his mind. Garcia, on the other hand, just fought (a decision loss to Nam Phan at UFC 136), so he has no excuse.
Cerrone and Garcia are scheduled to be there at Hastings from 1-3 pm, Saturday October 22.
And both Cerrone and Garcie might be at the Jackson’s MMA Series VI fight card at the Hard Rock Café that night as well. They both cheer hard for their teammates.
Fielder and Betancourt celebrate Betancourt’s two-run shot
There's no love lost between the Milwaukee Brewers and St. Louis Cardinals. Both teams engaged in trash talk throughout the season, which came to a boiling point in Game 1 of the National League Championship Series. St. Louis controlled the tempo with David Freese’s three-run homer in the top of the fourth inning. But the Brewers went into their signature “beast mode” and delivered a six-run fifth inning. Prince Fielder's two-run homer, Ryan Braun’s two-run RBI double, along with a Yuniesky Betancourt two-run homer gave the Cardinals pitching nightmares. The 9-6 win was huge for Milwaukee, but the series is far from over as the teams split their season series. Despite barely making the playoffs, the Cardinals still have the pitching advantage and could easily win their home games. But they'll have to find a way to win Game 2 without their best pitcher, Chris Carpenter.
Whoever said real life couldn't mimic Rocky movies has obviously never seen UFC Lightweight Champion Frankie Edgar fight before. Edgar fought Grey Maynard on Saturday night for the third time to settle their rivalry. On New Year’s Day of this year, both men fought to a controversial draw that saw Maynard almost knock out Edgar in the first round. Edgar recovered and did enough to convince the judges to rule the fight a draw. Their third encounter shockingly resembled their second fight with Maynard nailing Edgar with a huge uppercut in the first round. Edgar survived and Maynard failed to take advantage. During rounds two and three, Maynard was conservative, allowing Edgar to pull even in the fight. Then during round four, Edgar made Maynard pay for a takedown attempt and finished the fight with a dramatic knockout to retain the title. After two failed attempts, Maynard will have to climb back up the difficult rankings to get another shot at the title. Edgar may get matched up with Strikeforce Lightweight Champion Gilbert Melendez or fight the Ben Henderson-Clay Guida winner.
Also in MMA, it looks like Anderson Silva maybe seeing Chael Sonnen back in the octagon sooner rather than later. Brian Stann was poised to become breakout fighter of the year with a win over Sonnen. But the 14-month layoff did not bother Sonnen as he dominated Stann with his wrestling, eventually submitting him with an arm-triangle choke. However, the impressive victory was not enough as Sonnen insulted Silva and challenged him to a fight during Super Bowl weekend. Sonnen even put his career on the line if he lost, but with a victory told Silva he had to leave the Middleweight division.
BenJarvus Green-Ellis runs all over the Jets
The New York Jets struggles continue as the New England Patriots used their running game to frustrate the Jets defense. Patriots running back BenJarvus Green-Ellis had a breakout performance with a career best 136 yards and two touchdowns to lead his team to the 30-21 victory. The Jets were down most of the game but managed to make a compelling comeback from 13 points down in the fourth quarter. But the Patriots used good clock management and sealed the game with a field goal with 1:03 remaining. Jets coach Rex Ryan shouldn't panic, despite losing his third game in a row; but losing one more could send the locker room into disarray.
When Jon Jones defeated former UFC Light Heavyweight Champion Shogun Rua, many fans declared Jones the leader of the new generation of mixed martial arts. Jones’ physical characteristics and unorthodox fighting style has created signature highlight knockouts and submissions. MMA may be seen as a complicated science but Jones has passed all his tests flying colors. But on September 24th, he faces the most difficult test of his career when he defends the title against Quinton “Rampage” Jackson.
Lately Jackson has been known more for intimating reporters and lackluster fights than his punching power and vicious takedowns. But Rampage claims he's in the best shape of his career after moving his training camp to Denver, Colo. Even his weight cut has gone smoother than normal by making weight a week early. Jackson has even gone so far as to use psychological warfare by claiming Jones has a spy in his camp. Jones denies the accusation, but based on fan uproar and unwarranted media attention, this story could work to Rampage's advantage.
Despite Jones destroying his competition, critics and fans question if he can fulfill his title as the future of MMA. Bones' ability to take a punch has never been tested and despite the submission victories, its unknown what ability Jones has when he's put on his back. Also since capturing the belt, Jones has attracted more mainstream spotlight by appearing in Bud Light and K-Swiss commercials as well as late night talk shows. Meanwhile, Jackson knows the pressure of becoming champion and losing luxuries such as privacy and anonymity. It's hard to predict if Jones can excel under the magnified spotlight or crumble under the pressure.
But Jones remains a 5 to 1 favorite for a reason and should win a decision victory. Rampage has more than a 'puncher chance' but Jones' natural gifts along with his conditioning will be too much for Jackson to overcome.
Co-Main Event: Josh Koscheck vs Matt Hughes
UFC 135 also has a co-main event featuring one of the greatest welterweight fighters ever against a top welterweight contender. Former UFC welterweight champion Matt Hughes was set to face Albuquerque's own Diego Sanchez, but a hand injury forced Sanchez to withdraw from the fight. Josh Koscheck had planned to move to the middleweight division, but when hearing of the open slot, he jumped on the opportunity. Both men are looking to rebound off bad losses and Hughes faces a must-win situation. Hughes looked terrible against B.J. Penn and needs a win to keep his career alive. Meanwhile Koscheck looks to overcome his failure to capture the welterweight title from George St. Pierre and prove he's fully recovered from his eye injury. Koscheck has youth on his side and should smother Hughes with constant double leg takedowns en route to a decision win.
2011 Gold Cup Soccer has gained more mainstream coverage within American sports the last couple of years—Team U.S.A. had relative success in the 2010 World Cup and there's been a growing interest in Major League Soccer. So when the United States faced Mexico in the finals of the Gold Cup, the U.S. was poised to give American soccer some much needed creditability. 93,420 fans filled the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Calif., to witness the U.S gain a quick two goal lead. But Mexico turned up the pressure and overwhelmed the U.S with four unanswered goals to capture the title, 4-2. Along with the loss, many of the fans were rooting for Mexico, jeering the Americans with insults throughout the match. While Mexico earned a birth in the 2013 Confederations Cup, the U.S will look for answers to improve in time for the 2012 Olympic Games.
UFC on Versus There was little excitement surrounding the original main event of Nate Marquardt versus Rick Story. And on Saturday afternoon the main event fell apart after Maquardt failed his medical tests. Then UFC President Dana White fired him and named Charlie Brenneman as the last second replacement. Despite all the troubles with this card, the fights delivered some awesome finishes. Former NFL standout Matt Mitrione KO'd Christian Morecraft and Brenneman pulled off the upset by earning the decision against Story. Pat Berry and Cheick Kongo moved into the main event and delivered one of the best comebacks in the history of MMA. Berry caught Kongo with a series of punches and almost finished him, but the referee didn't stop the fight. Eventually Kongo gained his composure just enough to nail Berry and win the fight. The comeback victory could give Kongo some momentum to make one more run at the heavyweight title.