Tagged in: fifth round

Rafael Fiziev continues hot run in fifth-round KO of ex-champ Rafael dos Anjos

Rafael Fiziev proved to be one step ahead of Rafael dos Anjos over the course of four lightweight rounds on Saturday. And then in the fifth, he put the former champion away for good measure.

Fiziev (12-1) kept his ascent of the UFC’s lightweight rankings with a blistering, left hook knockout 18 seconds into the final round. The victory, which headlined UFC Fight Night inside the Apex, extended Fiziev’s win streak to six. After the fight, Fiziev, who is notorious for his refusal of calling out any future champion, called for tennis’ superstar Rafael Nadal.

“Now we know who the best Rafael is in the UFC,” Fiziev said. “Now we know, and now I want to make a challenge: Who is the best Rafael in the sport? Rafael Nadal, come here.”

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Fiziev, 29, might not be comfortable calling other fighters out, but he has no issue when it comes to facing them in the cage.

His performance on Saturday was efficient and violent, as it has been throughout his career.

Representing the country of Azerbaijan, Fiziev worked dos Anjos’ body with kicks and boxing combinations throughout all five rounds. Dos Anjos came out aggressive in the fifth, which played directly into Fiziev’s hands. Referee Mark Smith stopped the fight as soon as Fiziev connected the left.

In addition to landing the harder strikes on the feet, Fiziev showcased tremendous takedown defense. Dos Anjos, who had been 2-0 since returning to lightweight from welterweight, has shown in his career he will exploit an opponent’s weakness on the ground if there is one.

The Brazilian veteran tried to get Fiziev to the floor, but converted just 2-of-16 takedown attempts, according to UFC Stats.

“I looked at a finish all rounds,” Fiziev said. “Who said he would take me down and submit me? How many times he take me down? One time? No problem. I stand up.”

Fiziev has now recorded knockouts in three of his six UFC wins, including three of his last four. His victims include very respected names in the division: dos Anjos, Brad Riddell and Renato Moicano. According to the UFC’s official rankings, dos Anjos went into Saturday as the No. 7 ranked lightweight. Fiziev was ranked No. 10.

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Las Vegas Raiders trade WR Bryan Edwards, 7th-rounder to Atlanta Falcons for fifth-round pick in 2023 NFL draft

The Las Vegas Raiders have traded wide receiver Bryan Edwards and a conditional seventh-round pick in the 2023 draft to the Atlanta Falcons for their fifth-round selection next year, the teams revealed Friday.

Edwards, 23, has 45 catches for 764 yards and four touchdowns in 28 career games (15 starts) since being selected by the Raiders in the third round of the 2020 NFL draft.

Las Vegas, under the direction of new general manager Dave Ziegler and new coach Josh McDaniels, saw Edwards as expendable after getting two-time All-Pro wideout Davante Adams in March to join Pro Bowler Hunter Renfrow.

The team also signed Mack Hollins, Demarcus Robinson and Keelan Cole in free agency as part of the overhaul of the wide receiver room.

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Cole on Thursday signed a one-year, $1.2675 million deal with Las Vegas that included a $150,000 signing bonus, a source told ESPN’s Field Yates.

With the departure of Edwards, the Raiders now have just two of their seven picks from the 2020 draft still on the roster:

Offensive lineman John Simpson, a fourth-round pick who started all 17 games at left guard last season, and cornerback Amik Robertson, who was taken 30 picks after Simpson and has started two of 18 career games.

First-rounders Henry Ruggs III and Damon Arnette were both cut. Lynn Bowden, who was taken one spot after Edwards, was traded before playing in a regular-season game, and Tanner Muse, drafted 19 picks after Bowden, spent his rookie campaign on injured reserve and was released before playing a match.

The Falcons, meanwhile, needed to add to their receiving depth after drafting Drake London with the No. 8 pick last month. Edwards could end up being No. 2 on the depth chart, as Auden Tate and Olamide Zaccheaus are their most experienced receivers.

Atlanta, in the past two years, traded Julio Jones to Tennessee, had Calvin Ridley suspended indefinitely for gambling and lost Russell Gage in free agency to Tampa Bay.

The Falcons also have one of the tallest group of pass-catchers in the NFL. Tight end Kyle Pitts is 6-foot-6, London is 6-5, running back Cordarrelle Patterson is 6-2, Tate is 6-5, and Edwards is 6-3.

In corresponding roster moves, the Falcons released cornerback Kendall Sheffield and tight end Ryan Becker

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Gaethje batters Ferguson to win UFC interim title

Two months ago, Justin Gaethje was training and waiting for the UFC to find his next rival.

On Saturday night, after accepting a short notice opportunity to compete in the UFC 249 main event, he stopped Tony Ferguson by TKO in the fifth round to become interim lightweight champion, setting up an inevitable showdown with Khabib Nurmagomedov later this year.

It was a jaw-dropping show, as Gaethje punished Ferguson round after round before finally putting him away with less than two minutes remaining in the combat.

“I knew I was a killer stepping in here,” Gaethje said about his performance. “No better drug on Earth. Adrenaline coursing through my veins.”

Following two consecutive losses, Gaethje started making noticeable changes to his strategy and approach to fighting without sacrificing any of his highlight-reel finishes.

It was more of the same at UFC 249 as he attacked Ferguson with devastating power behind his punches while refusing to engage in the wild exchanges that cost him so dearly in many past fights.

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“I had to lose to change,” Gaethje stated. “Can’t fix what’s not broken. I was getting hit too much, and I was having too much fun. At this level you absolutely cannot do that.”

While Ferguson did manage to put Gaethje down briefly at the end of the second round with a staggering uppercut, the former Ultimate Fighter winner failed to mount much offense over 25 minutes. He did display incredible durability, though, as he absorbed punches that would have likely knocked out every other lightweight on the roster.

Gaethje’s controlled aggression continued to add to his significant strike total as he cut up Ferguson’s face and left him a bloody mess by the fifth round. It was a stiff jab late in the fight that rattled Ferguson for the final time, and as he wobbled backwards toward the cage shaking his head, that forced referee Herb Dean to stop the fight.

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