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ICYMI: Bears take down 49ers, Markkanen has big weekend for Bulls, Blackhawks streak ends

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USA TODAY

ICYMI: Bears take down 49ers, Markkanen has big weekend for Bulls, Blackhawks streak ends

The Bears clinched at least the No. 3 seed in the NFC Playoffs, Lauri Markkanen had a big weekend for the Bulls and the Blackhawks' winning streak ended at three games. Here's what you may have missed from Chicago sports over the weekend:

Bears

The Bears were tested by the relentless 49ers, though the former still came out of San Francisco with a 14-9 victory. With the win, the Bears still have a chance at a first round bye in the playoffs, though they need a win and a Rams loss in Week 17 for it to happen.

Sunday's game did not end without controversy, however. A fight broke out on the Bears' sideline following a late hit by the 49ers on Mitchell Trubisky. Twitter naturally had something to say afterward.

Despite being ejected for his actions in the fight, the Bears view Josh Bellamy as the "perfect fit" for a championship culture.

While Eddie Jackson and Aaron Lynch missed Sunday's game with injuries, Kyle Long returned to practice and is getting closer to re-joining the Bears following his own injury.

Outside of Chicago, Christian McCaffrey broke Matt Forte's single-season record for receptions by a running back. Forte had an instant-reaction to the news.

Bulls

Lauri Markkanen had a huge weekend for the Bulls, posting consecutive 30-point games for the first time in his career. Markkanen's performance Friday led coach Jim Boylen to call him "special."

Two of Markkanen's points Friday came on a nasty poster slam dunk over Magic center Nikola Vucevic. The dunk is a must-watch play.

Unfortunately, the injury bug bit the Bulls again, a common sight this season. Forward Bobby Portis sprained his right ankle, though he is upbeat after his second major injury of the season.

With Zach LaVine out, Kris Dunn has been taking command of the offense, averaging 18.0 points in the four games LaVine has missed.

Blackhawks

With wins over the Stars on Thursday and the Avalanche on Friday, the Blackhawks extended their longest winning-streak under head coach Jeremy Colliton to three games. Collin Delia performed admirably for the Blackhawks in place of the injured Corey Crawford, stopping 35-of-36 Avalanche shots.

The Blackhawks' winning streak, however, ended Sunday following a 6-3 loss to the Panthers.

On the latest Hawks Talk Podcast, Pat Boyle and Jamal Mayers discuss the challenges the Blackhawks and Bruins might face playing in the elements outdoors for the 2019 Winter Classic at Notre Dame Stadium. 

Cubs 

The Cubs made a minor move in signing starting pitcher Kendall Graveman. Graveman is recovering from Tommy John Surgery, so how much he pitches for the Cubs in 2019 is in question.

Meanwhile, the NL Central got even better, as the Reds acquired Matt Kemp, Yasiel Puig and Alex Wood from the Dodgers. 

Could the Cubs be in on Bryce Harper? A recent report said that the Cubs told Harper's agent to wait before signing with another team.

On the latest Cubs Talk Podcast, Luke Stuckmeyer and Kelly Crull take one last look back on the 2018 season.

White Sox

According to a report, the White Sox or any team won't know Manny Machado's free agency decision until 2019. Whether they get him or not, here are three reasons why the White Sox need Machado or Harper, and three reasons why they'd be fine without them.

Machado supposedly prefers the Yankees; what can trump his interest in New York?

ICYMI: Cubs' plan for Craig Kimbrel; Lucas Giolito continues dominance; Virginia McCaskey Q&A

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NBC SPORTS CHICAGO

ICYMI: Cubs' plan for Craig Kimbrel; Lucas Giolito continues dominance; Virginia McCaskey Q&A

The Cubs revealed their plan for closer Craig Kimbrel, Lucas Giolito continued his brilliance on the mound and NBC Sports Chicago sat down with Virginia McCaskey, who offered insight and stories from 100 years of football. Here's what you may have missed from the weekend in Chicago sports:

Cubs

The Cubs officially announced the signing of Craig Kimbrel on Friday, revealing their plan for him moving forward at his introductory press conference. The entire press conference is available on this episode of the Cubs Talk Podcast.

Two interesting points from the press conference include: how Jason Heyward and David Ross helped convince Kimbrel to sign with the Cubs and the importance of Cubs fans in his decision. And while Kimbrel is terrific, there are some concerns that come with signing him.

According to Joe Maddon, the Cubs starting rotation "is the engine that's gonna drive the vehicle." Maddon also discussed how the team plans to manage the second base rotation. 

A locked-in Kyle Schwarber has locked down the Cubs' leadoff spot.

The Cubs reportedly agreed to terms with first round draft pick Ryan Jensen. Plus, the team held a Jon Lester themed flight to the west coast.

On the latest Cubs Talk Podcast, Kelly Crull caught up with David Bote and Carlos Gonzalez, while Leila Rahimi talked to Peter Gammons about the tough NL Central.

White Sox

Lucas Giolito continued his dominance for the White Sox, throwing 7 1/3 scoreless innings on Saturday in a 2-0 win over the Royals. The White Sox won the rubber match against the Royals on Sunday, highlighted by a long home run by Eloy Jimenez.

James McCann has been raking at the plate for the White Sox, putting him amongst the best catchers in the American League. In less positive news, Dylan Covey hit the injured list on Sunday, opening up a spot in the team's starting rotation.

Bears

NBC Sports Chicago had a chance to sit down with Bears matriarch Virginia McCaskey at this weekend's Bears100 Celebration. McCaskey shared a number of memories, stories and insight from 100 years of Bears football.

McCaskey is still eminently capable of charing a mass audience, which she did as part of a panel at the convention. Also from the convention: the five best things heard on Friday, why Gary Fencik appreciates Matt Nagy and an inside look at how the Bears came to acquire Khalil Mack.

Friday, the Bears officially unveiled a new throwback uniform that they will wear in 2019. Saturday, the "Punky QB" met the "Pretty Boy Assassin." 

Will Devin Hester be the next Bears legend to make the Hall of Fame? And could one of the largest tight ends in NFL history be a solution to the Bears' depth issues?

Other

NBC Sports Chicago's Blackhawks beat writer Charlie Roumeliotis answers fan questions in the latest Blackhawks mailbag.

NBA mock draft: If the Bulls trade back with the Hawks, who might they target?

Rajon Rondo opened up on his Bulls tenure and getting benched by Fred Hoiberg.

UFC 238: Henry Cejudo defeats Marlon Moraes, becomes fourth simlutaneous two-weight champion in UFC history

UFC 238: Henry Cejudo defeats Marlon Moraes, becomes fourth simlutaneous two-weight champion in UFC history

Simultaneous two-weight champions are all the rage in the UFC right now, and Henry Cejudo joined the exclusive - and growing - group of fighters on Saturday night at UFC 238 in Chicago.

After Marlon Moraes controlled the first round, Cejudo fought back with heavy knees from the clinch in the second and third rounds. In the final seconds of the third round, Cejudo had Moraes on the mat and was dropping heavy punches, forcing the referee to stop the fight seconds before the final horn to win the vacant bantamweight championship.

Cejudo is the reigning flyweight champion and with the 135-pound strap in his possession, Cejudo becomes the fourth fighter to be a simultaneous two-weight champion, joining Conor McGregor, Daniel Cormier and Amanda Nunes. The list of fighters who have won belts in two different UFC weight classes has grown to seven, with Randy Couture, BJ Penn and Georges St. Pierre.

McGregor, the founding member of the simultaneous two-weight champion club, congratulated Cejudo on Twitter.

Nunes is currently the only other fighter to currently be holding two belts. Cormier vacated the light heavyweight title and remains the heavyweight champion.

Cejudo also took exception to being labeled a champ-champ, noting that he also is an Olympic gold medalist making him a triple champion and in his words, "the greatest combat sports athlete of all time."

“I’m not a double champion, I’m a triple champion: Olympic champion, flyweight champion and now bantamweight champion of the UFC, Cejudo said. "I’m the only person in the world who has all these titles, nobody else.

"Whether you hate me or you love me, I’m the pound-for-pound king." 

Now the focus turns to the flyweight division. Will Cejudo defend the flyweight belt? Will the UFC dissolve the flyweight division and Cejudo will just carry on as the bantamweight champion?

"I want to rest and I’ll be ready to fight in the end of the year, in 'Cejudo’s division,'" Cejudo said. "I can fight at 125, 135 or 145. I’m ready for any of those.“