Tagged in: victory

Adesanya still champ with TKO of Costa

Israel Adesanya once again proved his power in the middleweight division with a second-round TKO victory over Paulo Costa in the main event of UFC 253 on Saturday.

The champion was in the driver’s seat for the first round. Costa showed some patience in waiting to commit to an attack but Adesanya took advantage of that wait-and-see approach by peppering him with leg kicks. 

Costa was more interested in goading Adesanya into throwing more than actually throwing much himself. The second round featured a more aggressive Adesanya and that was all kinds of bad news for the Eraser.

The Last Stylebender opened up, continued to mercilessly attack the lead leg while also throwing head kicks. When he targeted the head with punches Costa quickly buckled and the champion added another successful title defense to his name. 

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It was as baffling a presentation for Paulo Costa as it was a great performance for Adesanya.

The champion was certainly dominant but Costa’s lack of activity and inability to mount any offense had analysts wondering what happened to the Borrachina that mowed over each of his opponents to this point. 

Adesanya has already made quick work of a loaded middleweight division. His list of victories includes Anderson Silva (albeit an older version of The Spider), Robert Whittaker and Yoel Romero. There are some highly ranked contenders out there, but only one has the champion’s eye right now.

“There’s one more I’m really interested in and that’s Jared Cannonier,” Adesanya stated, per Thomas Gerbasi of UFC.com. Cannonier has put together three consecutive wins by TKO and has a fight calendared with former champion Whittaker in October.

Adesanya will be watching that matchup very carefully, but at this point, it’s hard to find someone in the division he won’t be favored against.

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Los Angeles Dodgers clinch NL’s top seed, 8th straight division title

Wrapping up an NL West title has become routine for the Los Angeles Dodgers, but in a year in which no one was sure three months ago if there would be a baseball season, manager Dave Roberts wanted his team to savor the moment.

The Dodgers clinched the NL’s top postseason seed and eighth consecutive division title with a 7-2 triumph over the Oakland Athletics on Tuesday. They are the third team to win at least eight consecutive division titles, joining the Atlanta Braves (14 straight from 1991 to 2005) and New York Yankees (nine straight from 1998 to 2006).

“To fast-forward a couple months and be crowned NL West champs is a credit to everyone. It should never be taken for granted,” Roberts said.

“Truth be told, a lot of guys didn’t know we could clinch. We were responsible, but I let it know that it has to be appreciated.”

The Dodgers, who own the best record in the majors at 39-16, were the first team in baseball to clinch a playoff berth on Sept. 16. They will open postseason play on Sept. 30 by hosting every match in a best-of-three series versus the No. 8 seed.

Los Angeles came into the day with a magic number of two and got help with the Angels’ 4-2 triumph over the San Diego Padres. Instead of a wild celebration on the mound after Jake McGee struck out Sean Murphy for the final out, players briskly walked out of the dugout to celebrate with teammates.

Everyone grabbed a division clinching shirt and cap before heading to the mound for a group photo.

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The clubhouse celebration was also muted.

Champagne was involved, but it was players toasting one another with a glass instead of being showered in it.

“We talked about it — instead of dumping stuff on people. It’s a moment you need to celebrate, and we did,” said Corey Seager, who had three hits and one of Los Angeles’ four home runs Tuesday. “It stinks not being able to do champagne and beer showers because some of the younger guys haven’t been able to experience that.”

Max Muncy, Chris Taylor and A.J. Pollock also went deep for Los Angeles, which leads the majors with 104 home runs.

“This whole year has been weird. There’s no other way to describe it,” Muncy said. “It’s sad not to be celebrate as usual, but we know there is a lot more at stake.”

Dustin May went five innings and permitted two runs on three hits. The 22-year-old righty set a team record by not allowing more than three earned runs in any of his first 13 career starts, which includes 10 this season.

Seager tied it 1-1 in the first with an RBI single and led off the fifth with a drive to center off T.J. McFarland to extend L.A.’s lead to 6-2.

Muncy gave the Dodgers a 3-2 lead in the third inning with a two-run homer. Taylor and Pollock extended it with solo shots in the fourth off Oakland starter Frankie Montas.

Cody Bellinger added two hits for the Dodgers, including an RBI single with the bases loaded in the seventh.

Dodgers third baseman Justin Turner was scratched from the lineup less than an hour before first pitch because of left hamstring discomfort. He came off the injured list on Sept. 15 and has not played in the field since Aug. 28.

Joc Pederson was in the lineup at DH after missing five games while on the family emergency medical list. Roberts said before the game that he wasn’t sure if Pederson will stay with the team for the entire postseason.

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Gordon Hayward limps off court after right ankle sprain in Celtics’ Game 1 victory over 76ers

The Boston Celtics lost forward Gordon Hayward to a right ankle sprain in the fourth quarter of their 109-101 triumph over the Philadelphia 76ers on Monday.

“Sprained ankle,” Celtics coach Brad Stevens stated after Game 1 of this East first-round series.

“Don’t know the severity, but he’s clearly in pain, and it looked like it had some swelling already. That’s my medical review.”

Sources told ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski and Malika Andrews after the game that Hayward would be getting an MRI on his ankle later Monday to determine the gravity of the injury.

Hayward, who scored 12 points on 5-for-13 shooting with 4 rebounds, 3 assists and 4 steals in 34 minutes, was trying to box out Sixers star Joel Embiid inside with about 3½ minutes to go in the fourth quarter when his right foot got twisted and he went down to the floor in a heap.

Boston eventually had to commit a take foul and then call a timeout with 3:08 left in the fourth to permit Hayward, who never got off the ground, to slowly limp along the sideline and directly back to Boston’s locker room.

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Already a thin team as it is, the Celtics will struggle to substitute Hayward if he has to miss a significant amount of time.

While Boston played 11 players Monday, five of them — Hayward, Jaylen Brown, Jayson Tatum, Kemba Walker and Marcus Smart — played more than 30 minutes, and center Daniel Theis (25 minutes) was the only other Celtic who played more than 13.

If Hayward does have to miss time, Smart would all but certainly slide into his place in the starting lineup.

This ankle is the opposite one from when Hayward suffered a gruesome leg and ankle injury in the opening minutes of his first match as a member of the Celtics in 2017, forcing him to miss the remainder of that season.

This season, Hayward bounced back to the form he showed before the injury as a member of the Utah Jazz, averaging 17.5 points, 6.7 rebounds and 4.1 assists while shooting 50% from the field and 38% from 3-point range. Hayward has a player option on his contract for next season.

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Aaron Judge first Yankee in 13 years to homer in 5 straight

Aaron Judge homered for the fifth straight game Sunday, becoming the first New York Yankees player in 13 years to accomplish the feat.

The big slugger connected off left-handed reliever Matt Hall in the second inning, sending a three-run drive off the second deck in left field at Yankee Stadium to give New York a 3-2 lead over the Boston Red Sox. Judge went deep again in the eighth, blasting a two-run shot off Matt Barnes to give the Yankees their final two runs in a 9-7 victory.

“I really think he’s on a mission right now,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone said. The previous Yankees hitter to go deep in five consecutive games was Alex Rodriguez in September 2007.

Judge joined A-Rod as the only players in club history to hit five home runs in the first eight games of a season. Rodriguez also did that in 2007.

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With no fans allowed at Yankee Stadium because of the coronavirus pandemic, teammates in the dugout were easily heard bellowing in excitement when Judge connected.

“Not locked in yet. Still trying to find it,” Judge said. “I’m feeling good.”

Judge, who used the coronavirus hiatus to rehab a fractured first right rib and subsequent punctured lung, entered the shortened season with a clean bill of health. 

“He’s healthy, man. He’s a stud,” Yankees first baseman Luke Voit said. “He’s in a groove right now. It’s a guy that you don’t want to take your eyes off when he’s hitting.”

Judge had never homered in four games in a row until he connected during Saturday’s 5-2 triumph over Boston. The two-time All-Star led the American League with 52 home runs in 2017, when he was the AL Rookie of the Year and runner-up for MVP. Limited by injuries the past two years, Judge hit 27 homers each campaign.

The home runs Sunday gave Judge six homers and 14 RBIs in eight games this year.

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Rendon homers in debut, Angels rout Mariners 10-2

Anthony Rendon hit a two-run homer and reached base three times in his Angels debut, and Albert Pujols added his 657th career homer in Los Angeles’ 10-2 win over the Seattle Mariners on Tuesday night.

Rendon’s homer to left field in the eighth inning brought home Mike Trout and capped an encouraging home opener for the Angels, who got their second victory after losing three of four in Oakland to start the shortened campaign.

”Whenever you have a game like we just had where the offense is clicking, everyone says that hitting is contagious, and it really is,” Rendon said. ”Once you get that one guy going … it just had that tumbleweed effect tonight.”

The Angels’ new $245 million third baseman went 1 for 3 with two walks, two runs and an error. He sat out the Halos’ season-opening series with an oblique muscle injury, but was ready in Anaheim for his first match since leaving Washington for the West Coast.

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”It felt good to be out there and actually be a contributor for the team,” Rendon said. ”It felt good to get that first one out of the way.”

Max Stassi hit a three-run homer, Shohei Ohtani had a long RBI double and Justin Upton drove in two runs as the Halos won their home opener for only the second time in eight years.

The Angels scored 11 runs over four games at the Coliseum, but nearly matched that total in one night at the Big A.

”It’s kind of a tough way to start it on the road with all the day games in Oakland, so it’s nice to get into your own bed,” Angels manager Joe Maddon said. ”In spite of no fans, our guys really played that game as though the place is packed, and I love that. It was nice to put up those runs tonight.”

Pujols’ solo homer to left in the fifth – his first since turning 40 last winter – pulled him within three of Willie Mays (660) for fifth place in baseball history.

Tim Lopes went deep for the Mariners, who lost three of four in Houston to start the season. Lopes went to high school 15 miles from Angel Stadium in Huntington Beach.

Justus Sheffield (0-1) didn’t get an out in the fourth inning of his eighth career start for the Mariners, yielding four hits and four runs.

”Certainly the common theme for us here with our starters is running into that one inning where the pitch count’s getting up there, and tonight was no different,” Seattle manager Scott Servais said. ”He was able to get through the third inning and trying to get back out there for the fourth, and he just wasn’t able to get much going there, either. Rough night there.”

Patrick Sandoval pitched four-hit ball into the fifth for the Angels, but the Orange County native couldn’t stick around long enough for his first career triumph. Ryan Buchter (1-0) worked a perfect sixth inning to earn his first win with Los Angeles.

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Thompson wins 3M Open, 2nd Tour win in 7 years

American Michael Thompson obtained the 3M Open in Blaine, Minnesota on Sunday by two strokes to claim his second career PGA Tour triumph and his first in seven years.

The 35-year-old was solid throughout the tournament and didn’t buckle under pressure, sinking a 12-foot putt on the par-five 18th to seal the win under sunny skies at TPC Twin Cities.

“It has been a long time,” an emotional Thompson said after his round of four-under 67.

“I’m really sad my wife and kids aren’t here to celebrate this with me. I can’t wait to see them. Babe, I love you,” he stated. Thompson, who was tied for the lead coming into Sunday’s final round, produced his best shot on the par-four 16th, where his long shot from the greenside bunker landed a couple feet from the hole.

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He made the birdie putt to retake the lead and never looked back, finishing 19-under 265 for the tournament, which was played without fans in attendance to limit the spread of the novel coronavirus.

Fellow American Adam Long finished second after carding 17-under 267 for the tournament while nine players tied for third at 16-under including Tony Finau, Max Homa and Richy Werenski.

With the victory, Thompson, who came into the tournament ranked 218 in the world, will now be qualified to compete at next month’s PGA Championship in San Francisco.

Thompson’s only other victory came at the Honda Classic in 2013. He was a runner up at the 2012 U.S. Open.

Next up for Thompson is the WGC-FedEx St. Jude Invitational in Memphis starting Thursday and then the PGA Championship at TPC Harding Park in San Francisco the following week.

“That’s what makes this game so unbelievable is that we have to play for our job every year,” he said. “To know that I have security for two more years and to get into all those tournaments … it’s just a huge bonus. I’ll have to get my mind right for sweating next week, but oh man, it’s just so exciting.”

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Gabriel Flores defeats Josec Ruiz by unanimous decision

Blue-chip lightweight prospect Gabriel Flores Jr. continued his development with a one-sided unanimous decision triumph over Josec Ruiz on Thursday at the MGM Grand Conference Center in Las Vegas.

All three judges scored it 100-89 for Flores (18-0, 6 KOs), who started quickly and outboxed Ruiz (21-3-3, 14 KOs) the rest of the way.

In the second round, Flores, 20, stunned Ruiz with a counter left hook and followed with a right cross that sent him down. It looked as though Flores might score an eye-opening knockout, but he eventually had to settle for a decision victory.

While Flores dominated every round, it was a solid learning experience for him. He got some quality rounds while facing a veteran who had never been knocked down coming into this contest.

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Flores, who recently relocated to Las Vegas from his hometown of Stockton, California, is a young fighter with a high boxing IQ and has a keen understanding of ring generalship.

Blessed with quick hands and great footwork, he is relying on his skills from the outside to win fights. Now he is waiting for some physical maturity so he can finish fights more emphatically.

After Thursday’s victory, Flores, coming off a 117-day layoff, exposed that he had suffered a lower back injury during a training session.

“It happened in my last sparring [session],” Flores said. “My lower back, it hurts severely. I feel probably 50 percent, with the punches I could’ve thrown tonight. I wasn’t tired, at all.”

Despite the victory, Flores wasn’t totally satisfied with his effort.

“Tonight was the night to show everybody what a great performance was, and I didn’t get to show them,” Flores said. “Fifty percent of me, that’s what I showed tonight.”

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Berger wins tightly contested Colonial in playoff

Daniel Berger was playing some of the best golf that no one noticed. Three months away because of the COVID-19 pandemic didn’t slow his momentum, and he made it pay off Sunday with a triumph at Colonial.

The PGA Tour made a healthy return to golf at the Charles Schwab Challenge with a somewhat sickly finish. Berger saved par from behind the 17th green on the first playoff hole and won when Collin Morikawa missed a 3-foot par putt.

Berger closed with a 4-under 66, his 28th consecutive round at par or better dating back to Oct. 11 at the Houston Open.

Even over the final hour, a half-dozen players were still in the mix. All that was missing was the sound and energy of a gallery, with the PGA Tour not allowing fans for the opening five events in its return. Berger won for the third time — all victories during this week on the calendar, just not in circumstances like this. It was the first PGA Tour event since March 12 when the spread of the new coronavirus shut down golf and other sports.

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From no positive tests to a dynamic end at history-rich Colonial, PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan sized up the week by saying, “This has been a phenomenal start to our return.”

Morikawa has been equally steady. Since graduating from Cal last year, he has won and made every cut, a streak now at 21 events, the longest streak by a newcomer since Tiger Woods.

He took a share of the lead with a 50-foot putt on the 14th hole. It was the short ones that hurt. Morikawa also missed a birdie putt from 6 feet on the 18th hole in a 67.

Berger was the only one who delivered, making a 10-foot birdie on the final hole that put him at 15-under 265. The last time Berger was in a playoff, Jordan Spieth holed a bunker shot to defeat him at the Travelers Championship. So he could feel for what Morikawa felt int he loss. “It’s going to hurt for a little while, but he’ll get over it and he’ll be winning again,” Berger said.

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Liverpool go 19 points up with win at West Ham

If Liverpool already had an ironclad grip on the Premier League table coming into Wednesday’s match versus West Ham United, it now has an almost unbreakable one.

The Reds got goals from Mohamed Salah and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain bracketing halftime to skate past the Hammers 2-0 at London Stadium to go 19 points clear at the top and deepen the hosts’ relegation worries.

West Ham looked solid on the break, but they made too many individual errors to overcome against such a dominant side. It could have been even more, but Salah hit the post with 12 minutes to go and West Ham continued to wilt as the clock continued to tick down.

The Hammers’ closest effort was a near own-goal from Trent Alexander-Arnold who luckily struck his own post in the second half. The Reds no longer have their game in hand, but it certainly feels like they no longer require it.

With 14 games remaining, Liverpool has only dropped a staggering two points all year and certainly feels poised to put forth a historic season, whether it be undefeated, a record point total, or both.

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So far Liverpool has navigated this season brilliantly despite a number of injuries and fitness concerns to various players. Alisson has missed time, numerous defenders such as Joel Matip and Alexander-Arnold have spent time on the sidelines, and the midfield has been shuffled constantly.

Yet the attacking trio of Sadio Mane, Roberto Firmino, and Mohamed Salah remained largely untouched outside of the occasional rest. So without Mane, it was interesting to see how the Reds approached a game versus a clearly inferior opponent in the absence of their most consistent attacker.

Liverpool has now beaten all 19 teams in the league at least once this season.

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Liverpool defeat Manchester United

Mohamed Salah ripped off his Liverpool jersey at a freezing Anfield after completing a 2-0 win over Manchester United in stoppage time on Monday morning and rousing fans on the Kop to sing: “We’re gonna win the league.”

It’s been a 30-year wait but there is no longer any trepidation from the Liverpool supporters as their team has moved 16 points in front at the Premier League summit.

“Now you’re gonna believe us,” they chanted.

The Reds mathematically need 30 points to secure the title but, as it stands, if they go undefeated they could clinch the Premier League with a win over defending champions Manchester City when they face off in a one-versus-two battle in early April.

It took Salah getting on the end of goalkeeper Alisson’s inspired long ball with the final whistle about to blow for the Liverpool title party to begin with four months of the season remaining.

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A 13th straight league victory since the sides last met at Old Trafford in October continues.

Liverpool’s relentless run towards a first league title in three decades, while United remain five points off the top four in fifth.

Liverpool have now taken 64 points out a possible 66 available this season, having only dropped points versus Manchester United when the teams drew in October.

Liverpool also have a match in hand to come on closest challengers Manchester City and could have been more comfortable winners after seeing two first half goals ruled out and a host of clear chances go astray.

United is the only team to take Premier League points off the European champions this season, but it rarely looked like lightning would strike twice once the hosts went in front on 14 minutes.

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