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Dustin Poirier explains game plan for Conor McGregor rematch: ‘He was in bad position early’ – MMA Fighting

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Dustin Poirier handed Conor McGregor the first knockout loss of his career at UFC 257, stopping the former two-division UFC champion in round two of their lightweight contest in Abu Dhabi on Saturday. Six years after their first match, one pivotal part of his strategy was attacking the legs.

“The Diamond” spoke with the media after his big win on Fight Island and explained that his game plan was “not to be heavy on my feet and throw power shots and box early,” mixing it up with kicks, wrestling and boxing.

Mike Brown was real big on me throwing calf kicks in this fight,” Poirier said at the post-fight press conference. “Really big on it, and it worked. We compromised his leg and he was in bad position early, just from the repeated leg kicks.

“Even when he started checking, he wasn’t contacting with the shin, like a small rotation more, I would’ve been paying for those kicks, but I was still getting the muscle of his leg and that part of your leg and muscle is so small and thin that you can’t take many shots there. After the second leg kick, I knew he was hurting.”

McGregor weighed in on the effect of the strikes during his post-fight interview, saying his leg was “completely dead” and “badly compromised,” like “an American football in my shoe at the minute.”

“I just know from experience how bad those things hurt,” Poirier said. “And I knew it was a five-round fight so it would only get worse. He started catching it and trying to counter it with his left hand towards the end, but I knew they were still landing. He was catching it after they were making contact. I knew that was still hurting him.”

Not being afraid of takedowns made Poirier more confident on the feet, also.

“And if he did catch it and take me down, then I was gonna – it’s a five-round fight,” he said. “Of course you never wanna give up a round, but I’d to throw some submissions up and see what happens, you know? I’m a black belt in jiu-jitsu and I’m very confident in my jiu-jitsu, but I knew the leg kicks would be a problem because Jim Miller tore my leg up and that was a three-round fight, and I just know how painful it is.”

The UFC has yet to determine where Poirier goes from here. On a two-fight winning streak since his attempt to unify the UFC lightweight titles against Khabib Nurmagomedov in 2019, “The Diamond” is likely the next in line for the undisputed gold, whether it is against “The Eagle” himself or for a vacant throne.

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Resolute despite injuries, distractions Leafs winning with consistency – Sportsnet.ca

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The commute across the pedway connecting the JW Marriott to Rogers Place is familiar for anyone who spent time in Edmonton during the NHL’s western bubble last summer.

Heck, it’s already a well-worn path for a group of Toronto Maple Leafs players that have kept things pretty locked down despite the unseasonably warm weather they’ve found on their second business trip through this season.

“For the most part you’re just at the rink and your hotel room,” said Leafs defenceman T.J. Brodie, with a sense of deja vu after spending a chunk of August doing that very same thing in the very same place with the Calgary Flames.

“It’s pretty much the same (as the summer), I guess. Obviously, you can go outside if you want to, but other than that it’s the same.”

Add it to the list of things that made Monday’s 3-0 victory over the Edmonton Oilers so impressive.

In substance and in style, it looked like a reasonable copy of the game they played in the same building 48 hours earlier, right down to the fact they emphatically grabbed another two points with Auston Matthews and Frederik Andersen watching injured from the stands.

In this second of a three-game set, the Maple Leafs were also down goaltender Jack Campbell after he tweaked a previous leg injury while delivering a shutout on Saturday night. No bother. Michael Hutchinson, No. 4 on the team’s depth chart in January, stepped up with another strong performance and stopped 31 shots to make it two Leafs doughnuts in a row.

“I just want to open it up with comments about our goalies. I think the past two nights they’ve been outstanding and I don’t think they get enough credit,” Morgan Rielly said before taking any questions on his post-game Zoom call.

That the backups blanked Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl is a testament to their performance, but also a level of connected play the Leafs struggled to reach last season. They are really settling into a groove and sit at an absurd 17-4-2 — good for an eight-point advantage over Edmonton, head-and-shoulders above the rest in the North Division.

Just as importantly, they are slowly putting to rest some former demons. They have been prone to distractions in years gone by. And this season played amid a pandemic is full of plenty of those for everyone involved.

Yet the Leafs didn’t get satisfied after Saturday’s big win, or get rattled by another night without key contributors, or get knocked off course while spending 72 hours walking back and forth indoors between the hotel and rink.

“That’s been a big area of growth for us,” said Rielly.

“We had a lot of games last year that we were completely dominant, but I think we also had games where we were completely falling apart,” noted Travis Dermott. “I think this year we’re really focused on being consistent and showing up every day — whether we’re playing, whether we’re practising, or whether it’s an off-day and we have to be taking care of ourselves at home — I think everyone is just buying into a team plan that we’re going to be ready to go every day.”

After arguably their most complete win of the season on Saturday, head coach Sheldon Keefe ran an animated practice Sunday afternoon. He believes his team has reached the point where it’s proven that it can defend well, and the decline in high-danger rushes and chances against is a testament to that.

On Monday, they gave up a few more of those than they’d like, but some early saves on McDavid and Dominik Kahun set the table for a 3-0 lead by the first intermission. Zach Hyman and William Nylander continued hot streaks — Hyman with a goal in his second straight game, and Nylander with his fourth in the last three — before Rielly trickled one through Mikko Koskinen on the power play.

That gave Toronto its third win of the season with Matthews out of the lineup, and all three have come against Edmonton. The first, at Scotiabank Arena on Jan. 22, instilled some confidence.

They’ve been winning consistently no matter who goes down.

“We’ve been without Wayne Simmonds for a good period of time here now. We’ve played without Joe (Thornton), now we’re playing without Auston,” said Keefe. “We’ve been playing without (Frederik Andersen), we played without (Jake Muzzin).

“It really forces you to fall back on your structure, play as a team, get guys to step up at key moments.”

There’s no guarantee any of the injured players will be back to close this series out against Edmonton on Wednesday night.

So the challenge may remain constant: Prepare for the NHL’s top two scorers, find a way to compensate for your own lineup losses and keep the mind fresh while walking back and forth on the most boring pedway in hockey.

Oh, and maybe find some time for a socially distant conversation with Zach Bogosian, who lifted the Stanley Cup in Edmonton just over five months ago. He’s got a great bubble story to tell.

“I mean obviously we were here for quite a while. Our meal room at the hotel, that was a little bit of a different scene the night that we won,” said Bogosian. “It’s just cool to be back. Obviously, it’s something I’ll remember forever so, yeah, it’s nice.”

Sometimes there’s a little excitement to be found on the other side of the monotony.

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After another loss to Senators, Flames’ season may hinge on next three games – Sportsnet.ca

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Here’s the thing about Bingo.

If you don’t take advantage of the free space in the middle of the card, you’re increasing the odds of everyone else around you.

The Calgary Flames’ dobbers went dry again Monday, becoming the first Canadian club to post two regulation losses against an Ottawa Senators team everyone else in Canada has feasted on.

To simply keep pace with division rivals, wins over the last-place Senators are a must, which is why the Flames’ season may very well hang in the balance over their next three games.

A Saturday matchup against the Edmonton Oilers is bookended by visits from a Senators team that just took the Flames’ lunch money once again.

A 5-1 loss Monday, combined with a 6-1 defeat Thursday, saw the rebuilding Senators outscore the Flames 14-8 over three games.

Sure the Senators are a hard-working squad that has improved steadily of late, winning six of their last nine.

But they’re still the Senators, a team the Oilers beat all four meetings, the Vancouver Canucks beat all three meetings and the Jets topped in four of five.

The Toronto Maple Leafs are 3-1-1 against their provincial rivals, leaving the sinking Montreal Canadiens as the only team that has played them to a draw at 1-1-2.

Then there are the sad-sack Flames, who lead the league in losses to last-place teams, giveaways and consecutive defeats while scoring just a single goal.

They increased that last dubious record to seven games Monday.

“All the teams in this division are good — there’s not much of a difference from the top teams to the bottom,” said Elias Lindholm, whose club escaped the first period with a scoreless draw before being outshot 22-6 in the second.

“Today, our first period was pretty solid and everything we did good in the first we did the opposite in the second and third. I think our patience out there was pretty bad and we started making some tough plays and turning pucks over — the kind of things we need to stop doing.”

The Senators opened the scoring after Sam Bennett was unable to handle a bad pass in the neutral zone from Milan Lucic.

Drake Batherson’s first of two goals put the Senators up 2-0 before a Lucic power-play marker lifted the Flames’ hopes. Briefly.

Eighty-four seconds later David Rittich got in on the giveaway game by mishandling a dump-in he promptly batted to Batherson, whose shot deflected in off of Mark Giordano as the Flames netminder tried scrambling back into the net.

It was another in the growing collection of moments that deflated the Flames’ bench and made it tough to create any offence as Ottawa sat on the lead and padded the humiliation with an empty-netter and a late deflection.

“We’ve got to come up with the solutions ourselves,” said coach Geoff Ward, whose team now sits closer to last place than it does to second-place Edmonton.

“As a team, we’ve got to be more committed to playing the game the right way. We’ve got to make sure we don’t let things compound. When something happens that’s not the way we want it to be we can’t fall back — we have to get a push in the right direction. Right now, when things are rolling the way they are for us, I think the confidence gets a little fragile and things start to compound, and we’ve got to find a way to make it turn the corner the other way.”

The Flames finish their gruelling, six-game roadie 2-3-1 and return to host Ottawa on Thursday having lost seven of their last 10.

Moral and consistency issues abound.

The players are struggling to come up with answers to the same old questions, and Matthew Tkachuk was so despondent after the latest setback he couldn’t muster up any of the fury you’d expect to hear from a leader on a team slipping closer and closer to losing control on the season.

“The easy answer is we’re at 10-11-2,” said Tkachuk when asked where his team was at.

“We’ve got to figure this out in the next two days before we play them again. We’re getting way too used to games where we’re down a couple in the third.”

Especially against teams previously considered the free spot on the Bingo card.

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ATP roundup: Andy Murray rallies for win in Rotterdam

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Qualifier Andy Murray rallied from three games down in the third set to defeat Dutchman Robin Haase 2-6, 7-6 (2), 6-3 on Monday at the ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournament in Rotterdam, Netherlands.

The former world No. 1 of England needed nearly 2 1/2 hours to secure his first tour-level victory since the 2020 U.S. Open.

In other action, Japan’s Kei Nishikori upset No. 7 seed Felix Auger-Aliassime of Canada in straight sets, qualifier Marton Fucsovics of Hungary needed three sets to defeat American Reilly Opelka, and England’s Cameron Norrie toppled Georgian Nikoloz Basilashvili in straight sets.

Argentina Open

Seeded players ruled the day in Buenos Aires as No. 6 Pablo Andujar and No. 7 Laslo Djere advanced in the Argentina Open.

Spain’s Andujar defeated Argentine Juan Ignacio Londero 6-3, 6-0 and Djere of Serbia needed three sets to hold off Italy’s Marcus Cecchinato 6-7 (4), 6-2, 6-3.

In other action, Brazil’s Thiago Monteiro toppled Roberto Carballes Baena of Spain in straight sets and Germany’s Dominik Koepfer outlasted Argentinian qualifier Thiago Agustin Tirante 2-6, 6-3, 6-4.

 

–Field Level Media

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