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Ben Henderson retains title at UFC 150

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Ben Henderson retains title at UFC 150

DENVER (AP) -- Another five-round battle, another controversial decision for Benson Henderson and Frankie Edgar. Henderson retained his lightweight title at UFC 150 on Saturday night, doing just enough to outpoint Frankie Edgar in a split decision. Henderson, born in Colorado Springs, received winning scores of 48-47 from two of the judges, while the third scored it 49-46 for Edgar. Henderson took the belt from Edgar on Feb. 25. Boos rained down on Henderson after the decision was announced to the crowd that increasingly gravitated to Edgar's corner as the 155-pound fight progressed. "I definitely thought I did enough to earn the victory," Henderson said. "Frankie has the heart of a champion and is a great fighter." The bout was action-packed, with both fighters landing damaging punches and kicks and nearly submitting each other with choke holds. The difference likely came because of Henderson's 89-62 advantage in significant punches landed. Despite earning the decision, Henderson believed there was more he could have done in the fight.

"The biggest thing I was disappointed in myself with is that I didn't push the pace enough," Henderson said. "I didn't do a good enough job of capitalizing and getting on top of him when he was off balance. My coaches were yelling at me to push the pace, but I was lethargic and didn't push it as much as I should have." UFC President Dana White declined to say how he would've scored the bout. "I'm not a judge," said White, who said he had the fight even going into the final round. "Ben Henderson won the fight, he retained his title, and that's the end of it. That's why I always say, if you don't want to be sitting in here going, I think I won that fight,' you cannot leave it in the hands of the judges." Henderson (17-2) will defend his title against Nate Diaz (16-7). Amid alternating chants of "Frankie!" and "Benson!" at Pepsi Center, the fighters exchanged right hands and leg kicks, with Edgar scoring a number of takedowns and dropping Henderson with a right hand in the second. Edgar bled from the nose after a Henderson right hand in the second, but never appeared to be affected by the blood. Edgar was visibly upset after the decision dropped him to 14-3-1. "I felt I improved from last time, and I think I did enough to win," Edgar said. "A lot of people told me they thought I'd won, but it doesn't matter. The judges didn't. The decision is not going to change, and it is what it is." Edgar said he isn't interested in asking for another shot at Henderson. "I'm moving on," Edgar said. "Dana's not going to give me another title shot, I know that much." The co-main event lasted only 1:16, but provided more action than most of the night's other bouts. Denver native Donald Cerrone recovered from a left hook from Melvin Guillard (47-12-3) that floored him early in the round and improved to 19-4 after connecting on a left kick to the head and a right hook that sealed the deal. Guillard's shot rocked Cerrone in the fight's opening seconds, but he was unable to connect with a flurry of knee strikes and punch combinations to end the matchup between the 29-year-old lightweights. Cerrone landed what initially appeared to be a glancing left kick to the top of Guillard's head, but the New Orleans fighter was virtually out on his feet and defenseless to Cerrone's finishing right hand. "Frankly, I thought I just grazed the top of him," said Cerrone, who earned 120,000 in bonuses for the knockout and fight of the night. "I didn't realize I connected as well as I did. Thankfully I did, and I followed it with a right hand." Cerrone, a Denver native who attended Air Academy High School in Colorado Springs, is 8-1 in his last nine fights. Two of the 155-pounder's losses have come at the hands of Henderson. Cerrone knew he was in big trouble early in the fight.
<A href="http:msn.foxsports.comvideo?videoid=6c500686-039f-410c-b349-9af306686e94... target="_new" title="Highlights - UFC 150: Cerrone vs. Guillard">Video: Highlights - UFC 150: Cerrone vs. Guillard<A>
"I was extremely hurt, especially the knee to the body," said Cerrone, who likely will next face Anthony Pettis (13-2) in a key lightweight bout. "It took everything in me to fight through it and keep going. It was probably the worst I've ever been injured in a fight." Guillard, who missed weight at Friday's weigh-in by 2 1-2 pounds, will be fined a portion of his purse. He is 6-3 in his last nine fights.

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JJ vs. the fans: Offense should be easy to come by on Tuesday

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USA TODAY Sports

JJ vs. the fans: Offense should be easy to come by on Tuesday

Have you read my three bold predictions and thought to yourself, “I could do better than that guy?” Well, here’s your chance.

Rather than just embarrass myself with how bad my predictions are, I will be going up against the fans to see how you guys stack up!

Let’s take a look at what the fans think will happen Tuesday’s game between the Capitals and the Toronto Maple Leafs (7 p.m., NBC Sports Washington).

RELATED: HOW TO WATCH CAPS-LEAFS

Fan predictions:

Auston Mathews has five goals in five games. If he keeps that pace up, this seems like a safe bet.

He needs to. Andre Burakovsky has only two points this season which is not what Barry Trotz was hoping for when he gave him the promotion to the top line.

Now this is bold. Tip of the cap to you, sir.

Bonus:

MORE CAPITALS: HOW CAN THE CAPS FIX THEIR 'SWISS CHEESE' DEFENSE?

JJ’s predictions:

Both teams will combine for at least 10 goals

Toronto leads the league with a whopping 5.20 goals per game. The Capitals are not quite that high, but they are in the top ten at 3.67. Oh, and in case you forgot, the Caps just gave up eight goals to a Philadelphia team that does not boast an offense as good as Toronto’s.

Evgeny Kuznetsov will score a goal

Kuznetsov is tied for the league lead in points at 11 (tied with Nicklas Backstrom). What is interesting about those 11 points? None of them are goals. As I am expecting a big night of offense, I expect Kuznetsov to finally call his own number and get one in the back of the net.

Toronto will outshoot Washington by at least 10 shots

The Capitals are last in the NHL in shots per game at 25. Dead last. The Leafs, meanwhile, average 37.4. Braden Holtby is going to have a very busy night.

Want to see your tweet among the fan predictions for the next game? Tweet your prediction to @JJReganNBCS every game day! Remember, we don’t just want to know who will win or the score, we want to see specifics. Be bold!

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Fixing their 'Swiss cheese' defense now a top priority for the Caps

Fixing their 'Swiss cheese' defense now a top priority for the Caps

Heading into the 2017-18 season, defense was a question mark for the Capitals. That question mark grew even bigger with Matt Niskanen on LTIR. Now, in the wake of an 8-2 loss to the Philadelphia Flyers and with Niskanen out until at least early November, Barry Trotz knows the team needs to fix the blue line and they need to do it fast.

“We've got to be better,” Trotz told reporters after Tuesday’s morning skate. “But there’s areas of our game that we can be better. We can be better in our own zone. We can take care of business defensively. That’s got to be our security blanket. We had too many holes in our d-zone. It was like Swiss cheese.”

RELATED: TROTZ HAS SHUFFLED THE DEFENSIVE PAIRS. WHAT DO THEY LOOK LIKE NOW?

The team’s first response to Niskanen’s injury was to recall Madison Bowey, a player who impressed in training camp and who likely would have started the season on the team if not for a salary cap crunch and his waiver exempt status.

Bowey’s first game did not go well with the lasting memory being a highlight reel deke Jakub Voracek delivered to turn Bowey around before setting up another Philadelphia goal.

Trotz took ownership of Saturday’s game saying the team did not “insulate” Bowey very well in his NHL debut.

The problem is that it will difficult to insulate him or anyone on the Caps’ defense given how thin the blue line currently is. Washington’s defense currently features two rookies in Bowey and Christian Djoos and Bowey is only one of three right-handed shots. Plus, both Bowey and Djoos are likely better options than either Taylor Chorney or Aaron Ness so it will be tough to take either rookie out of the lineup.

MORE CAPITALS: HOW TO WATCH CAPS-LEAFS

Given Washington’s salary cap constraints as they are right back up against the cap when Niskanen returns from injury and his salary is back on the books, it will be difficult for the Caps to make any sort of trade to bring in outside help. Many may point to goalie Philipp Grubauer as a trade chip, but his salary cap hit is only $1.5 million and you can subtract $650,000 from that as the team would have to recall Pheonix Copley to serve as backup. What kind of help can you really get with less than $1 million to play with?

If the team is going to turn things around and shore up its defense, it will mean improving from within.

Said Trotz, “We're in this for the long haul with our defense.”