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Brian Ortega impresses in return, wins unanimous decision over Chan Sung Jung

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Jessica Andrade was a powerful force in the UFC strawweight division, where she was champion less than 16 months ago. She opted to move up to flyweight, and on Saturday she showed that she did not leave her power behind.

Andrade, No. 4 in ESPN’s 115-pound rankings, took out the 125-pound division’s third-ranked fighter, Katlyn Chookagian, with a body-shot TKO in the first round of the co-main event of UFC Fight Night: Ortega vs. Zombie in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.

Andrade (21-8) showed off her strength earlier in the round with a slam takedown that was reminiscent of the maneuver that finished Rose Namajunas on the May 2019 night when the 29-year-old Brazilian won her championship.

Then, out of a clinch against the cage, Andrade landed a right hand to the body that sent Chookagian (14-4) scurrying backward, holding her rib cage and wincing in pain. Andrade went in pursuit and landed a second right hand to the same spot, which dropped Chookagian to the canvas. The referee jumped in at 4:55 of Round 1.

“When you fight with happiness, like I’m having tonight, there’s only one result you can have,” Andrade said through a translator. “Now I’m No. 1, and let’s see if I can get a chance at fighting Valentina.”

She was referring to flyweight champ Valentina Shevchenko.

With the win, Andrade becomes the first woman in UFC history to win in three weight classes. Earlier in her career, when there was no strawweight or flyweight division, she campaigned as a bantamweight.

— Jeff Wagenheim

Watch this fight on ESPN+.


Fight in progress:

Men’s featherweight: Brian Ortega (14-1 1 NC, 7-1 1 NC UFC, +175) vs. Chan Sung Jung (16-5, 6-2 UFC, -200)


Light heavyweight: Jimmy Crute (12-1, 4-1 UFC) defeats Modestas Bukauskas (11-3, 1-1 UFC) by first-round KO

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Jimmy Crute drops Modestas Bukauskas with a huge right hook and a follow-up uppercut at UFC Fight Night.

Jimmy Crute‘s highlight reel got a major upgrade on Saturday, as he absolutely flattened UFC newcomer Modestas Bukauskas in just over two minutes of their light heavyweight bout.

Crute (12-1) looked sharp and confident from the opening bell. He knocked Bukauskas (11-3) backwards with a stiff right hand in the opening seconds of the bout, and went to work with kicks on his lead leg. He attempted one takedown early in the fight, but Bukauskas defended the shot well and forced Crute to reset. The failed takedown did little to dampen Crute’s confidence, as he landed a beautiful counter right and left hook to finish the bout moments later.

“He’s hard to take down,” Crute said. “The old me, in that position, would have lost a bit of control after the first takedown didn’t go to plan. But I just went back to the game plan.”

The finishing sequence was a work of art. Bukauskas hit the deck after the initial right hand, but instinctually jumped right back to his feet. Crute immediately tagged him with the left hook, which sent him violently crashing to the ground again near the fence, and brought in the referee to wave it off. It marks Crute’s fourth finish since he signed with the UFC in 2018, which is tied for the most during that stretch in the light heavyweight division.

After the result, Crute called for another young promising light heavyweight in Nikita Krylov, who was supposed to face Volkan Oezdemir on Saturday, before Oezdemir withdrew due to injury.

— Okamoto

Watch this fight on ESPN+.


Welterweight: James Krause (28-9, 9-4 UFC) defeats Cláudio Silva (14-2, 5-1 UFC) by unanimous decision

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James Krause tells his coach he tore his knee in Round 1 but continues to fight anyway.

Krause handed Silva his first defeat in 13 years by fending off the Brazilian’s grappling game and totally outclassing him on the feet — basically operating on one leg for much of the way.

After outlanding Silva by 33-19 in the first round and stuffing five of his seven takedown tries in those opening five minutes, Krause told his cornermen between rounds that he’d injured his knee. It showed in his movement the rest of the way, but he still managed to pepper Silva with straight punches while avoiding most of the wild, looping punches thrown his way.

The awkward striking of Silva landed at a meager clip of 29%, while Krause was accurate on 59% of his strikes.

All three judges scored it 30-27.

With the victory, the 34-year-old from Lee’s Summit, Missouri, got back on track after seeing his six-fight winning streak end with a split-decision loss to Trevin Giles in February.

Silva, 38 and from Brazil, had won 14 in a row after dropping his pro debut in 2007.

Wagenheim

Watch this fight on ESPN+.


Men’s featherweight: Jonathan Martinez (13-3, 4-2 UFC) defeats Thomas Almeida (22-4, 5-4 UFC) by unanimous decision

A featherweight affair between Jonathan Martinez and Thomas Almeida produced one of the better fights of the evening, as Martinez defeated Almeida in an exciting three-round decision.

Martinez (13-3) took the nod via judges’ scores of 30-27 in a fight that never saw the floor. Martinez looked very comfortable in the pocket, and repeatedly caught Almeida (22-4) with the jab and slick counterpunches. Almeida took the shots well, although he was visibly wobbled by a hard left hook at the end of a Martinez combination in the third round.

Fighting out of Denver, Martinez set the tone early with his jab. Almeida had some success with leg kicks and his right hand, but Martinez’s counter work was clearly more effective. He cut Almeida under the left eye with a punch in the first round and landed a huge knee up the middle from a clinch position in the second.

Almeida responded at times to make the fight competitive, including a blistering one-two combination that sent Martinez on his heels in the third round, but he was clearly a step behind for much of the fight. The bout was contested at 145 pounds even though both Almeida and Martinez traditionally compete at 135.

Martinez, 26, is now 4-2 in the UFC. Many observers felt he actually won a split-decision loss to Andre Ewell back in February. That controversial loss is the only blemish in Martinez’s past five appearances.

“It was pretty fun, on my Instagram in 2015, I put, ‘Almeida is going to be a world champion one day,’ and I fought him, so it’s pretty good,” Martinez said. “I started seeing how he was throwing just hooks, straight hook, straight hook. I knew I was going to be a lot faster than him, and I’ve seen a couple of his fights, so I just started throwing my jab more and more.

“I took this fight on eight days’ notice, so I feel good, really good. I just want people to know who I am. A lot of people don’t even know who I am, I am here to make statements and climb up the rankings. I just beat Almeida, so hopefully that clicks.”

— Okamoto

Watch this fight on ESPN+.


Lightweight: Guram Kutateladze (12-2, 1-0 UFC) defeats Mateusz Gamrot (17-1, 0-1 UFC) by split decision

Kutateladze handed the former KSW champion his first career defeat by attacking him with body kicks and fending off his grappling game in the UFC debut for both fighters.

It was the ninth straight victory for the 28-year-old, who was born in the Republic of Georgia and is based in Sweden.

He got the job done by landing hard kicks early and defending well whenever Gamrot was able to close distance on him. Through two rounds, Kutateladze had successfully fended off seven of nine takedown attempts.

All three judges scored the bout 29-28, but afterward, Kutateladze said he didn’t think he won. “I’m an honest man,” Kutateladze said. “It wasn’t my fight.”

Gamrot, who is 29 and from Poland, came in 17-0 with a no-contest, which was the third best record on the UFC roster, behind only the 28-0 of the champion in his division, Khabib Nurmagomedov, and middleweight champ Israel Adesanya‘s 20-0.

Wagenheim

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Women’s flyweight: Gillian Robertson (9-4, 6-2 UFC) defeats Poliana Botelho (8-3, 3-2 UFC) by unanimous decision

Gillian Robertson clearly wanted to get Poliana Botelho to the floor in their flyweight bout. Once she was successful getting her there, it was obvious why.

Robertson (9-4) improved to 6-2 in the UFC with a dominant decision over Botelho (8-3). Judges scored the bout for Robertson 29-28, 29-27 and 29-27. The 25-year-old Canadian was far too much for Botelho on the ground, as she consistently improved position and worked her ground and pound. Robertson admitted she was disappointed by the lack of a finish, but it was a very strong performance otherwise.

“[Getting her to the ground] was the plan, but the plan was also to finish her, so I’m not happy,” Robertson said. “I’m trying to get that 100% finish rate and ruined it tonight, so I’m not happy.”

Robertson shot a single-leg attempt on Botelho within the first three seconds of the bout. She struggled to get the Brazilian down in the first round, but had no trouble doing so in the second and third. She moved to full mount on multiple occasions, and caused some nasty facial swelling by the end of the fight with her strikes.

The win actually moves Robertson to No. 1 on the flyweight division’s all-time wins list. She’s been very active, as this was her fifth fight since the start of 2019. Her only losses in the UFC have been to Maycee Barber and Mayra Bueno Silva. After the win, she called for Antonina Shevchenko next, or “anyone ranked in the Top 14.”

Okamoto

Watch this fight on ESPN+.


Middleweight: Jun Yong Park (12-4, 2-1 UFC) defeats John Phillips (22-11, 1-5 UFC) by unanimous decision

Park must have been watching phenom Khamzat Chimaev‘s UFC debut in July, because he knew exactly what to do against Phillips. And then he outdid Chimaev, at least in terms of record-breaking numbers.

Park, who typically is a stand-up fighter, took Phillips to the canvas in the first minute of each round and kept him there until the horn, peppering him with short punches in a dominant performance for which all three judges awarded him 30-25 scorecards.

Whereas Chimaev submitted Phillips after outlanding him 43-1, Park amassed striking numbers that dwarfed that output, finishing with 260 total strikes, which according to ESPN Stats & Information is tied for the sixth-most in a three-round fight in UFC history.

Much of what Park landed was not damaging. For example, he outlanded Phillips 53-1 in Round 1, but it was only a 3-0 margin in significant strikes. But Phillips had no answers.

Park, a 29-year-old teammate of main eventer Chan Sung Jung at Korea Top Team, has won nine of his past 10 fights.

Phillips, a 35-year-old Welshman, has lost four of five.

— Wagenheim

Watch this fight on ESPN+.


Lightweight: Fares Ziam (11-3, 1-1 UFC) defeats Jamie Mullarkey (12-4, 0-2 UFC) via unanimous decision

French lightweight Fares Ziam (11-4) squeaked out a unanimous decision win over Jamie Mullarkey (12-4), in a closely contested fight that some certainly scored for Mullarkey.

The 155-pound matchup showcased a difference in styles, as Ziam appeared happy to stay on the outside and use his length, while Mullarkey constantly looked to close the distance and get the fight to the ground. Both had success, as UFC Stats showed a close tally in overall strikes. Ziam landed 54 to Mullarkey’s 29, although Mullarkey added five successful takedowns.

Mullarkey, of Australia, appeared stunned as unanimous 29-28 judges’ scores were read in Ziam’s favor. He did his best work in the second round, landing several solid elbows from top position and nearly taking Ziam’s back. He had some success in the third round on the floor as well, although he allowed Ziam to sweep him and move into a favorable position in the final moments of the fight.

It drops Mullarkey to 0-2 in the UFC. This was his first appearance of 2020. Ziam picks up his first win inside the Octagon in two tries. He suffered a decision loss to Don Madge in his UFC debut in September 2019.

“Jamie is really strong, but I’m better, my technique is better,” Ziam said. “Hey, Bobby Green, take the fight. I’m angry, I’m young, I’m a lion, the Smile Killer is here.”

— Okamoto

Watch this fight on ESPN+.


Light heavyweight: Maxim Grishin (31-8-2, 1-1 UFC) defeats Gadzhimurad Antigulov (20-8, 2-4 UFC) by second-round TKO

Once his opponent engaged in a fight, Grishin ended it, using a barrage of punches as Round 2 was winding down to get the finish at 4:58 for his first UFC win.

These veteran Russian light heavyweights had trained together at American Top Team in Florida, so Grishin was well aware of Antigulov’s reputation as a fast starter. But on this night, Antigulov did not come out firing, so much of the first round played out as a staring contest.

But when Antigulov, a 33-year-old from Dagestan, came out aggressively for the second, and even took the fight to the canvas, Grishin responded, getting out of a submission attempt by reversing position, then getting back to his feet and going on attack. As Grishin fired away with punches against the cage, Antigulov did no more than cover up. The referee twice asked Antigulov to fight back before stepping in.

Grishin, 36, is a former PFL fighter who saw a nine-fight winning streak end in July in his UFC debut, a decision loss to Marcin Tybura.

For Antigulov, this was his fourth UFC loss in a row, although in the others he had been finished in the first round.

— Wagenheim

Watch this fight on ESPN+.


Men’s bantamweight: Said Nurmagomedov (14-2, 3-1 UFC) defeats Mark Striegl (18-3, 0-1 UFC) via first-round KO

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Said Nurmagomdeov, with no relation to Khabib, makes quick work of Mark Striegl at UFC Fight Night in Abu Dhabi.

UFC bantamweight Said Nurmagomedov does not need much of an opportunity in order to knock an opponent out. That much was on full display on Saturday.

Nurmagomedov recorded his third win in the UFC in emphatic fashion as he knocked out Mark Striegl with ground-and-pound just 51 seconds into their bantamweight contest. Nurmagomedov (14-2) dropped Striegl with a counter left hand that didn’t even appear to have much on it. Nurmagomedov was stepping backwards and looked off-balance as he threw the punch, but it was a perfect shot to Striegl’s temple.

After Striegl (18-3) went down, Nurmagomedov jumped on him with follow-up strikes that quickly ended the fight. It’s his second knockout in the UFC, and seventh career finish overall.

Nurmagomedov fights out of Russia but is not related to undefeated lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov. He is now 3-1 in the UFC. His loss came via unanimous decision to Raoni Barcelos in December.

— Okamoto

Watch this fight on ESPN+.

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Liverpool’s win over Ajax steadied Klopp’s side after a rocky week

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It wasn’t pretty, but Liverpool will care not one bit. Their 1-0 win at Ajax Amsterdam can be marked down as job done for Jurgen Klopp’s side as they navigated a tricky opening Champions League tie and took a firm step forward in a season where they will be forever reminded of the players they have injured.

Stream LIVE games and replays on ESPN+ (U.S. only)

Klopp has grown increasingly exasperated this week at the narrative around Virgil van Dijk‘s potentially season-ending injury. He was tetchy in the pre-match news conference when asked about the sheer magnitude of Van Dijk’s absence; Liverpool have been, understandably, aggrieved at the manner in which it happened, but Klopp emphasised the need to focus on solutions rather than excuses.

And as the rain poured down in Amsterdam, Klopp’s Liverpool rode their luck at times and needed some heroic last-gasp defending from Fabinho but ground out a 1-0 win over Ajax that was as much about concentration and character as it was a tactical victory.

“It was not the most easy on the eye performance — both teams can play much better football,” Klopp said after the match. “We were pretty dominant. Ajax is usually a brilliant football team, but it was tricky tonight.”

With Van Dijk and Joel Matip absent — and an eyebrow raised at suggestions they should’ve or need to strengthen at the back — Klopp partnered Joe Gomez with midfielder-cum-centre back Fabinho in the middle of their defence.

“I don’t think they’ve [Gomez and Fabinho] played before together [at the back]. It was good, but even [Fabinho] can play better. They need to get used to each other — get used to the verbal demands of that position. It was a good performance, but there’s a lot to improve, that’s good! How high or low the last line in the moment — it was absolutely good,” added Klopp.

With Alisson also recovering from injury, Adrian deputised in goal and the trio stood resolute to Ajax’s trickery and attempts to pull them out of position, or exploit any space from Liverpool’s high press.

Liverpool actually sat deeper than we’re used to seeing, and Ajax’s lack of width, or use of overlapping fullbacks, meant they could largely cope with the elusive Dusan Tadic and the pace of David Neres and Quincy Promes. But fortune smiled on them. Adrian saved well from a close-range Promes effort — standing tall to block from five metres out — while Tadic managed to breach the high-press and lobbed a stranded Adrian only to see Fabinho acrobatically clear off the line.

“He’s a top player, so top players can adapt,” was James Milner‘s post-match assessment of Fabinho’s clearance.

Davy Klassen hit the inside of the post and had another effort well saved, while Ryan Gravenberch put a half-chance wide, but the clean sheet will come as a welcome fillip after Liverpool’s turbulent week. Liverpool were still publicly aggrieved at the rough justice they perceived to be subject to against Everton last Saturday whenwhen they arrived in Amsterdam. But privately you can picture Klopp ensuring his side were focused on what they could control, and not the absent personnel with six first-teamers unable to face Ajax (Alisson, Van Dijk, Matip, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Thiago Alcantara and Naby Keita).

“We are not dumb enough to think we did not need a bit of luck for the clean sheet. We could’ve done better. We don’t hang the clean sheet too high as there were two situations [Klassan’s attempt and Fabinho’s late clearance] where we were far from perfect,” Klopp said.

Klopp gave a Champions League debut to Curtis Jones in Liverpool’s midfield, as he started alongside Milner and Georgino Wijnaldum. But the ball was largely played over or around them, rather than through them. They looked dangerous on the counter attack and Mohamed Salah had an effort well blocked by Noussair Mazraoui, while Roberto Firmino again went without a goal as he looks to get off the mark this season.

But after a weekend where Liverpool went without any good fortune, they will have gladly accepted the gift offered to them for what proved to be their winning goal. Sadio Mane neatly cut inside Perr Schuurs and then hit turf-before-ball as he scuffed his shot into Nicolas Tagliafico, who failed to shift his position and diverted the ball past his goalkeeper Andre Onana.

It was a scrappy, ugly goal but Liverpool will take that gift. And in a week where Liverpool’s depth was questioned, Klopp’s trio of substitutions on the hour mark as he took off their high profile attacking line up of Salah, Firmino and Mane — who had his leg iced after coming off — was further proof of the trust the manager has in the options at his disposal.

Liverpool will face sterner tasks this season, and will need to play better against more adventurous opposition. Ajax were disappointing. Even after a summer where they their talent pool further plundered with Donny van de Beek, Sergino Dest and Hakim Ziyech all moving on, they lined up in an uncustomary 4-4-2 formation, rather than their usual 4-3-3. It’s in Ajax’s DNA they never fear the opposition, nor adjust for them.

Perhaps Erik Ten Heg took note of how Leeds United had managed to get under Liverpool’s skin earlier in the season with a similar outlook, but they looked like a side still familiarising themselves with their new signings and going through the post-transfer window evolutionary period.

“We did a fantastic job against a very good team. The plan and implementation were excellent, only the goal was missing,” Ten Heg said after the match. “We created opportunities, but we have to pull the trigger.”

The last time Ajax played Liverpool in Amsterdam was back in 1966. Ajax won 5-1 that evening in a game that signalled the European awakening to Total Football. It was played out in thick mist; reports state that those at the wrong end of the stadium missed most of the second half. But on Wednesday night, Liverpool got some clarity, the skies lightened a little and they got an indication of what life looks like without their star centre back.

Liverpool weren’t at their best, but they ground this out. Klopp will be delighted as they got off to the solid start after a rocky week.

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Politics Podcast: How Voting Is Going So Far In 2020

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Voting laws and procedures around the country have changed to accommodate mail voting and safe in-person voting during the coronavirus pandemic. As a result, Americans are voting early and by mail more than ever before. The changes have also been accompanied by hundreds of lawsuits on both the state and federal level. In this installment of the FiveThirtyEight Politics podcast, Amelia Thomson-DeVeaux and Nathaniel Rakich break down how the rules have changed, how it’s affecting Americans ability to vote and what kinds of arguments are still being hashed out in court.

You can listen to the episode by clicking the “play” button in the audio player above or by downloading it in iTunes, the ESPN App or your favorite podcast platform. If you are new to podcasts, learn how to listen.

The FiveThirtyEight Politics podcast is recorded Mondays and Thursdays. Help new listeners discover the show by leaving us a rating and review on iTunes. Have a comment, question or suggestion for “good polling vs. bad polling”? Get in touch by email, on Twitter or in the comments.

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PSU’s Chambers quits after internal investigation

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Penn State head coach Pat Chambers resigned Wednesday following an investigation into inappropriate conduct that stemmed from a former player saying Chambers made a reference to a noose around the player’s neck.

Chambers said in a statement provided to ESPN that he made the decision to take “a break to re-set and chart our path forward,” but the school announced it accepted his resignation following an “internal investigation of new allegations of inappropriate conduct by Chambers.”

In July, Iowa State guard Rasir Bolton — who transferred from Penn State in the summer of 2019 — said he made the decision to leave the Nittany Lions because Chambers made a reference to a noose around Bolton’s neck.

Bolton told The Undefeated in July that he recalls Chambers saying, “I want to be a stress reliever for you. You can talk to me about anything. I need to get some of this pressure off you. I want to loosen the noose that’s around your neck.”

“The new allegations surfaced shortly after The Undefeated’s article and a review was conducted jointly by Penn State’s Affirmative Action and Athletics Integrity offices,” Penn State said in its statement.

Chambers had been the head coach at Penn State since 2011, leading the Nittany Lions to a 26-win season in 2018 and was poised for an NCAA tournament appearance in 2020 before the coronavirus pandemic canceled the NCAA tournament. It would have been the school’s first NCAA tournament appearance since 2011 and fifth since 1965.

“I am so proud of all our program has accomplished these past nine years, and I will be forever grateful to the Penn State community for its ongoing support,” Chambers said in his statement. “Anyone who has ever coached — especially at this level — knows the exceptional amount of energy and focus it takes to deliver each and every day. This has been an incredibly difficult year for me and my family, and we are in need of a break to re-set and chart our path forward. So, I’m taking a step back to prepare myself for the next 20 years.”

Assistant coach Jim Ferry will serve as Penn State’s interim head coach for the 2020-21 season.

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