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Monday, September 8, 2008

Unheralded Evans makes quick work of Liddell's UFC return

By Beau Dure, USA TODAY

ATLANTA — Returning from a long layoff, UFC star Chuck Liddell had the crowd. He had the momentum, chasing Rashad Evans around the Octagon on Saturday.

With one punch, Evans changed all that, landing an overhand right that instantly dropped Liddell. Referee Herb Dean rushed to stop the fight, and doctors immediately jumped in the ring to tend to Liddell.

Evans, unbeaten but unheralded coming into the fight, raised his record to 17-0-1. Liddell, losing for the third time in his last four fights, dropped to 21-6.

UFC's former light heavyweight champion and breakout celebrity star stalked Evans through the first round but couldn't land a clean shot. After a rare flurry of punches, Evans danced and smiled. But the former Michigan State wrestler did little to challenge Liddell other than a couple of ineffective leg kicks.

Evans countered and opened a small cut on Liddell's cheek in the second round, but Liddell continued to press the action. Evans seemed intent on luring Liddell into a defensive mistake. He got it, then capitalized with stunning brutality. The former champion dropped with a thud, then remained in a daze for several minutes.

"I was trying to get him to come out of his comfort zone because usually he likes you to chase him," Evans said.

UFC's first fight card in Atlanta drew a near-capacity crowd to Philips Arena that loudly cheered every time Liddell appeared on the big screens throughout the evening. When the lights went out for Liddell's entrance, hundreds of cell-phone cameras lit up the arena. Evans' introduction drew loud boos.

UFC president Dana White announced a crowd of 14,736 and a gate of $2.6 million, expressing disappointment only that the card didn't beat Barbra Streisand's arena record gate.

"We want a rematch with Barbra," White said in discussing future possibilities in Atlanta.

White also said Evans would be next in line for a shot at champion Forrest Griffin.

Liddell, 38, gamely attended the postfight press conference but wouldn't address his future.

"I've always said I'm going to retire in the training room, not after a fight," he said.

In the co-main event, former middleweight champion Rich Franklin moved up to light heavyweight to face Matt Hamill, who had trained with Franklin to help develop the veteran's wrestling skills. Hamill may have taught him too well, as Franklin stopped the up-and-coming fighter's takedown attempts and wore him down with effective kicks, putting him down and forcing a stoppage with a kick early in the third round.

Both fighters seemed wary in an uneventful start, but each had drawn blood by the end of the first round. Referee Mario Yamasaki stopped the action in the second round to have a doctor check the cut over Franklin's right eye, but action resumed with Franklin escaping after a Hamill takedown.

The action stopped again when Franklin landed a kick to Hamill's groin. Upon resuming, Franklin continued to kick Hamill at will. At the 0:39 mark of the third round, Franklin (26-3) landed his cleanest shot yet to Hamill's body. Hamill (6-2) crumpled and fell, and Yamasaki waved the fight to a close.

Franklin admitted that the win over a close friend was bittersweet.

"At one point, Matt hit me with an uppercut, and I thought, "How can you do that to a friend?" Franklin joked.

Dan Henderson (23-7) came to Atlanta on a losing streak, having lost title bouts to light heavyweight Quinton Jackson and middleweight Anderson Silva since moving to UFC with the demise of PRIDE, where he was a champion.

The 38-year-old won with veteran poise and patience, fending off the takedown and submission attempts of Brazilian Rousimar Palhares (17-2) and patiently finding spots for his punches, taking a unanimous decision.

"This opponent was as tough as anybody I faced," Henderson said in his postfight interview with commentator Joe Rogan.

Henderson fought on an early UFC card, before White and his partners Frank and Lorenzo Fertitta bought the company, but spent the next several years elsewhere.

"I haven't had a win in the Octagon in about 10 years, so it feels pretty good," Henderson said. "Hopefully I don't wait that long again."

Nate Marquardt (30-8-2) made quick work of fellow middleweight Martin Kampmann (13-2), stunning the Danish-born fighter with a head kick and threading a few effective punches through Kampmann's arms. Referee Mario Yamasaki stopped the bout at the 1:22 mark.

Welterweight Matt Brown (10-7) won over the crowd with his entrance music selection of The Devil Went Down to Georgia and had the crowd chanting "U-S-A," but he never figured out the unorthodox style of Korean fighter Dong Hyun Kim (11-0-1), who took him down and bloodied the former Ultimate Fighter contender with an elbow late in the third round to seal a split decision that displeased many in the crowd.

On the preliminary card:

Lightweights: Kurt Pellegrino (18-4) dropped and bloodied Thiago Tavares (17-3) early but tired and atttacked less after taking a poke to the eye in the second round. Pellegrino held on for a unanimous decision.

Light heavyweights: Tim Boetsch (8-2), whose last fight was a loss to Hamill, floored Mike Patt (15-3) with a straight right in the first round and landed a couple of solid shots on the ground before referee Herb Dean stepped in for the stoppage.

Middleweights: Jason MacDonald (22-10) recovered from a deep choke, bailed out by the horn at the end of the first round, to submit Jason Lambert (23-9), a former light heavyweight who lost to Evans two years ago, with a choke in the second. MacDonald told Rogan in the Octagon that he could see the screen with the time remaining at the end of the first round. "I can hold my breath for six seconds," he said.

Welterweights: Brazilian fighter Roan Carneiro (12-8), a recent transplant to Atlanta, had the crowd on his side and wore an "ATL" logo along with ads for an Atlanta pizza restaurant on his shorts. He dominated the first round against Ryo Chonan (15-8), but the Japanese fighter got on top in the next two rounds and took the crowd out of it on his way to a split decision win.

A welterweight bout between Karo Parisyan and Yoshiyuki Yoshida was called off when Parisyan suffered a back injury the week before the fight.

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Evans knocks Liddell cold at UFC 88

By Kevin Iole and Dave Meltzer

ATLANTA – Complete coverage of UFC 88 from Philips Arena:

Light heavyweights: Rashad Evans (17-0-1) def. Chuck Liddell (21-6)
How: TKO, 1:51 Round 2
Key moment: Evans, after not having landed many strikes, suddenly connected with a punishing overhand right that knocked Liddell out.
Analysis: Liddell made the same mistake he made when he lost his light heavyweight belt last year to Quinton “Rampage” Jackson. He went to throw an uppercut and Evans caught him with a booming overhand right. The win will zoom Evans to the top of the division and places him squarely among the UFC’s elite at 205 pounds. Liddell has lost three of his last four and there at least has to be thought if he’s come to the end of the line of a spectacular career. – Kevin Iole

Light heavyweights: Rich Franklin (26-3) def. Matt Hamill (6-2)
How: Ref stoppage at 0:39 of Round 3
Key moment: Franklin’s ability to continually land kicks to the leg and body and keep Hamill from taking him down most of the way spelled the difference. The low kicks slowed Hamill’s movement and left him open for body kicks. In the third round, Hamill went down from a hard body kick and Franklin finished him with punches on the ground. Franklin has a nasty cut on the side of his right eye but Hamill wasn’t able to connect on it after early in the second round.
Analysis: Former middleweight champ Franklin, in his first light heavyweight fight in more than three years at light heavyweight, executed a good game plan on one of the stronger man in the division. But in moving up in weight, the question becomes how he can fare with the high-caliber strikers at the top of this division. What he showed is strong takedown defense and a good battle plan against someone is primarily a wrestler, something that was his strength as a middleweight. – Dave Meltzer

Middleweights: Dan Henderson (23-7) def. Rousimar Palhares (17-2)
Judges scores: Unanimous decision (29-28, 30-27, 30-27)
Yahoo! Sports score: Kevin Iole and Dave Meltzer each had it 29-28 for Henderson.
Key moment: Henderson used his savvy to escape a second-round leg lock from the Brazilian jiu-jitsu expert.
Analysis: Henderson got a much needed victory after losses to champions Quinton “Rampage” Jackson and Anderson Silva, but it didn’t come easy. It was clear he respected Palhares’ jiu-jitsu and wanted no part of going to the ground. Palhares had difficulty taking the fight down and the result was that Henderson’s superior striking led him to a close win and kept alive his hopes for a rematch with Silva for the middleweight title. – Kevin Iole

Middleweights: Nathan Marquardt (30-8-2) def. Martin Kampmann (13-2)
How: Ref stoppage from punches in 1:22 of the first round.
Key moment: Marquardt put Kampmann down with a right high kick and Kampmann never fully recovered. The finishing flurry saw Marquardt throw a rapid series of punches against the cage, the key blows being an uppercut and a body punch.
Analysis: Marquardt rebounded from a loss to Thales Leitis on a controversial foul for a blow behind the head back at UFC 80 and handed Kampmann his first loss in UFC competition. Marquardt, who looked at his best here, remains one of UFC’s top middleweights, but he’s still part of the pack at the top who have all been stopped by Anderson Silva. – Dave Meltzer

Welterweights: Dong Hyun Kim (11-0-1) def. Matt Brown (10-7)
Judges scores: Split decision (29-28, 29-28, 28-29)
Yahoo! Sports score: Kevin Iole and Dave Meltzer each had it 29-28 for Kim.
Key moment: Kim regained his conditioning in the third round and opened a cut under Brown’s eye with a vicious elbow that may have swung an extremely close fight his way.
Analysis: Kim is a highly regarded prospect and Brown did a good job of nullifying his offense. Brown’s Muay Thai skills are underrated and he landed a few solid knees. But Kim, who seemed to fatigue badly in the second round, appears to have more weapons and managed to pull out the win. Kim had several chokes in the first round that Brown fought out of. The loss shouldn’t hurt Brown too much, as he battled one of the UFC’s top welterweight hopes on nearly even terms. – Kevin Iole

Lightweights: Kurt Pellegrino (18-4) def. Thiago Tavares (17-3)
How: Unanimous decision on scores of 29-27, 29-27 and 29-28
Yahoo! Sports scores: Dave Meltzer and Kevin Iole each had it 29-27 for Pellegrino
Turning point: Pellegrino hurt Tavares early, stunning him with a punch and followed with two first round knockdowns and a ground-and- pound that would have finished most fighters. Tavares, who was bleeding badly from the left eye and ear, survived the round.
Analysis: In the second round, Tavares was on top most of the round but Pellegrino got an armbar and Tavares tapped, but ref Yves Lavigne missed it. Pellegrino didn’t know it either and said Tavares escaped the move rather than him letting go. In the third round, Tavares’ takedown attempts were stuffed by Pellegrino who got on top to win the round. Pellegrino’s improved striking combined with the wrestling he’s always had strengthens his standing in a deep lightweight division. The best match so far in the show. – Dave Meltzer

Welterweights: Tim Boetsch (8-2) def. Mike Patt (15-3)
How: TKO, 2:03 Round 1
Key moment: Boetsch landed a crunching right hand square on Patt’s chin.
Analysis: Boetsch is a wrestler who only recently learned to strike, but if he continues to punch like he did on Saturday, he’ll move to the upper levels of the 205-pound division. He already has excellent wrestling skills and is dangerous with his knees. His vulnerability appeared to be his standup, but that weakness seems to be dissipating. – Kevin Iole

Middleweights: Jason MacDonald (22-10) def. Jason Lambert (23-9).
How: Rear naked choke at 1:20 of the second round.
Key moment: After a double-leg takedown early in the second round, MacDonald got Lambert’s back and was able to finish him with the choke.
Analysis: MacDonald looked like he was saved at the bell as with 10 seconds left in the first round, Lambert got a tight guillotine. MacDonald after the fight admitted it was tight but he was aware there were only seconds left in the round and held his breath until time ran out. MacDonald got a takedown and was in control most of the first round until the late guillotine. Round two opened with a slugfest, at which point MacDonald went low with a strong takedown which led to the finish. – Dave Meltzer

Welterweights: Ryo Chonan (12-8) def. Roan Carneiro (14-9)
Judges scores: Split decision (29-28, 29-28, for Chonan; 29-28 for Carneiro)
Yahoo! Sports scores: Kevin Iole and Dave Meltzer each had it 29-28 for Carneiro
Key moment: Carneiro had a strong first round and nearly forced a submission when he got Chonan into an armbar along the cage.
Analysis: The crowd clearly disapproved, as the men grappled on the ground for position in the final two rounds. Carneiro, who has now lost two in a row, did little offensively after the first round, but it was a fight that didn’t help either man’s career. There are a lot of strong contenders at 170 pounds, and not many people will want to see these two after this performance as well as a recent string of up-and-down fights. – Kevin Iole

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Serena seals third US Open title

By Piers Newbery

Serena Williams
Williams did not drop a set throughout the tournament

Serena Williams saw off a valiant display from Serbia's Jelena Jankovic to win her third US Open title and regain the world number one ranking.

The American, 26, came through 6-4 7-5 in a fantastic match to secure her ninth Grand Slam title.

Jankovic, 23, was playing in her first Grand Slam final but made the better start before Williams fought back with three breaks to win the opening set.

And Williams sealed victory after saving four set points in the second.

"I'm so excited," she said. "This was magical. It was everything coming together like magic.

"I wasn't even going for number one and it's just like an added bonus. It is that special because I've been working so hard."

Williams has now won one French Open, two Wimbledon, three Australian Open and three US Open titles, adding to her victories of 1999 and 2002 in New York.

For me to be in the finals was a great achievement
Jelena Jankovic

Asked to compare this US Open to the other two, Williams said they are all special in their own way.

"Each one means a lot," she said. "The 1999 one was special because I knew I was going to win it. I just felt it.

"I wanted it so bad in 1999. It was my first Grand Slam so no one can take that away. I won doubles that year too."

The final had been rescheduled after the remnants of tropical storm Hanna forced a postponement from Saturday for the first time since 1974.

It was worth the wait, with both players lurching between world-class winners and desperately nervous errors in a matter of moments.

Grand Slam final debutante Jankovic made the more confident start, breaking as early as game three, but Williams recovered from 0-40 in the following game to level.

An ill-timed Jankovic double-fault contributed to another break of serve two games later but Williams failed to serve out at 5-3, netting a backhand on the third break point of the game.

All Jankovic's good work was undone almost immediately, however, when she fell 0-40 down in the following game and sent a forehand long on the second set point.

If the first set had been unpredictable, the second set was something else entirely.

Williams looked in charge with two break points in game two but failed to convert and it was exactly the same story in game six as the American seemed to be struggling physically.

And after the first of several Jankovic complaints to the umpire over how long her opponent was taking between points, the Serb moved 4-3 ahead with a break when Williams played a terrible drop shot at break point down.

Williams appeared to be tiring dramatically but then launched an astonishing comeback, recovering from 0-40 to save three set points when serving at 5-3 down.

The game of the match, and arguably the tournament, followed as Williams stormed 0-40 clear in game 10 before making three unforced errors.

Another Jankovic set point and a total of five break points would go begging before Williams finally levelled with a forehand winner.

A lunging backhand volley saw the former champion hold serve in the next game before Jankovic saved a first championship point with a forehand winner.

With the chance to force a tie-break in front of her, however, Jankovic double-faulted.

And when a second championship point came around moments later, her backhand error handed Williams back the title she last won six years ago, as well as the number one ranking.

"I was proud to be in the finals but I'm always disappointed when I lose," said Jankovic.

"Serena was a better player tonight. Congratulations to her for winning the whole tournament. She was just too good.

"I really had a lot of injuries and struggled throughout the year with my health. For me to be in the finals was a great achievement."

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Federer rolls into title match, but everyone else will have to wait

Perhaps Novak Djokovic's semifinal win over Roger Federer in the Australian Open gave the Swiss star extra motivation in Saturday's U.S. Open semifinal.
Perhaps Novak Djokovic's semifinal win over Roger Federer in the Australian Open gave the Swiss star extra motivation in Saturday's U.S. Open semifinal.

NEW YORK (AP) -- Ominous clouds overhead, the sort of hard court that troubled him this season underfoot, Roger Federer sensed something Saturday he hadn't in quite a while.

He was playing exactly like that guy named Roger Federer.

The Federer who has won 33 consecutive matches and four consecutive championships at the U.S. Open. The Federer closing in on his 13th Grand Slam title.

"One more match," he said, "is all I need."

Only after Federer finished restoring order to his world by dismissing Novak Djokovic 6-3, 5-7, 7-5, 6-2 did Tropical Storm Hanna carry chaos to Flushing Meadows, dumping enough rain to suspend the other men's semifinal in progress and postpone the women's final.

So Serena Williams will seek her third U.S. Open and ninth major title against first-time Grand Slam finalist Jelena Jankovic on Sunday night, the first time since 1974 the women's champion won't be crowned on a Saturday.

The men's final was delayed until Monday for the first time since 1987, giving Federer plenty of time to rest. He also was going to be able to do some scouting Sunday when his nemesis, new No. 1 Rafael Nadal, was to resume his semifinal against No. 6 Andy Murray. They stopped Saturday with Murray leading 6-2, 7-6 (5), 2-3.

The winner will face a Federer who looked confident and supremely competent against Djokovic in their rematch of the 2007 final.

"I had moments out there where I really felt, 'This is how I normally play on hard court' -- half-volleys, passing shots, good serving, putting the pressure on, playing with the wind, using it to my advantage," said Federer, who produced 20 aces and only one double-fault.

"I definitely had moments during today where I thought, 'This is how I would like to play every time.' So it was a very nice feeling, actually, to get that feeling back."

He dominated the opening set and the last 11/2 sets to reach his 13th final in the past 14 Grand Slam tournaments.

The one gap in that span was the Australian Open in January, when Djokovic upset Federer in the semifinals en route to his only major title. Perhaps that gave Federer extra motivation. This was hanging in the balance, too: Had Djokovic won Saturday and gone on to win the championship, he would have surpassed Federer in the rankings, dropping the longtime No. 1 all the way to No. 3.

"This was a big match. I knew it from when I saw the draw," said Federer, who called his pursuit of Pete Sampras' record of 14 career major championships "obviously still very much alive and everything is possible."

Also in his sights: Federer can become the first man since Bill Tilden in the 1920s to win five consecutive U.S. tennis championships.

The fans in Arthur Ashe Stadium cheered for both the second-seeded Federer of Switzerland, and the third-seeded Djokovic of Serbia, but the reigning champion got more backing.

"I feel a little bit New Yorker right now," Federer said. "I definitely appreciate the efforts from the fans, supporting me and pushing me forward."

Maybe they remembered what happened Thursday on the same court. After beating Andy Roddick in the quarterfinals, Djokovic drew merciless boos by lashing out at the American, taking him to task for making light of the Serb's series of medical issues earlier in the week.

"It's been a very exhausting tournament, mentally and physically, for me," Djokovic said Saturday, declining to discuss the Roddick matter.

Or maybe the fans simply figured Federer needed an extra push during what, by his so-special standards, has been a sub-par season.

He has 12 losses, more than in any entire year from 2004-07.

He has two titles, his lowest total entering a U.S. Open since 2002. Neither came on the surface used at Flushing Meadows, and Federer said: "I have been struggling on hard court, you know. I have no problems admitting that."

Federer, though, never doubted he could summon his skills.

Nor did Djokovic.

"Roger is still there, you know. And even though people are talking about him not playing so well this year, he's still very consistent," Djokovic said. "That's his strength, you know. Whenever he needs to play well, he plays his best."

Sure did that Saturday.

It was as though Federer knew that those gray clouds could stop things at any moment and he wanted to get as far ahead as fast as possible. As he and Djokovic played on, tournament officials concerned about the impending rain shifted Nadal-Murray to Louis Armstrong Stadium instead of having it follow the first semifinal on Ashe.

When that shift was announced, thousands of fans booed, then ran from one court to the other. They likely would be thrilled to hear the U.S. Tennis Association is revisiting the idea of spending $100 million to put a retractable roof over the main court.

Murray compiled a 44-19 edge in winners against Nadal, and it came as no surprise that the Scotsman seemed reluctant to leave when rain came. Nadal-Murray started about 11/2 hours after the other semifinal began and was to resume about 26 hours after Federer-Djokovic concluded.

"I play wherever they schedule to play. ... The decision to change courts is understandable," Nadal said. "No complaints whatsoever."

Windy as it was while he played, Federer smacked a 130 mph serve to set up a forehand winner and end the first set against a Djokovic whose demeanor and strokes were duller than usual.

The real Djokovic showed up in the second set, striking shots more crisply, pressuring Federer more consistently. When Federer served while trailing 6-5, Djokovic earned three set points. The first two were erased, reminiscent of last year's final, when Djokovic wasted seven set points.

But Djokovic is no longer as inexperienced, nor Federer, seemingly, as invincible. This time, Djokovic returned a 121 mph serve and watched Federer rush an easy forehand on the third set point.

All tied.

Looking rattled as fans harassed him while he served, Djokovic put a forehand into the net, setting up break point at 5-5 in the third set. When Djokovic missed a volley, Federer had the break, a 6-5 lead -- and a rousing chorus from the stands.

That roar grew louder a game later, when Djokovic hit a smash that would have ended the point against nearly anyone. Near a wall, Federer stretched and jumped and carved a winner that stunned Djokovic. Federer raised a fist imperiously, and five points later he danced in delight, the fourth set and momentum his.

By now, Djokovic was gasping for air between points, and when he sent a volley wide at the end of a 19-stroke point, Federer broke to a 5-2 lead in the fourth.

Moments later, the match was over, and Federer pumped both fists and bellowed.

He was back in the U.S. Open final. He was back, period.

Federer was asked whom he'd rather face next. Nadal routed him in the French Open final, edged him in the Wimbledon final and supplanted him atop the rankings last month.

"Who do I prefer?" Federer said, then smiled, knowing the words he was about to say would draw loud approval from the crowd. "I prefer the trophy. That's what I prefer."

Copyright 2008 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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Where the rich go to drive fast

MONTICELLO, New York (AP) -- Bill McMichael braked his new Ferrari F430 Scuderia into the turn, downshifting as he went into the corner. Then he punched it on the straightaway. Pedal down, engine whining an octave higher, the sleek, black car closed in on 140 mph within seconds.

Bill McMichael drives his Ferrari Scuderia at Monticello Motor Club in August.

Bill McMichael drives his Ferrari Scuderia at Monticello Motor Club in August.

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Acting like a lead-foot is OK here at the Monticello Motor Club. Actually, speeding is pretty much the reason the exclusive club opened this summer in the Catskills.

Down the road, gasoline goes for around $3.70 a gallon and drivers think twice before making errands. But at this private club, work is going ahead full throttle to transform an old airport into a playground with pit stops for people who can pony up the $125,000 entry fee. If Monticello's operators worry about launching a luxury club as the economy sputters, they don't show it.

They offer what they hope is a recession-proof offer to wealthy people with a Lamborghini or Lotus in their garage: Come and drive as fast as you can whenever you want.

"It's the most exciting thing I've ever done," said McMichael, an entrepreneur who is a partner and chief executive officer at Monticello. "I've played almost every sport you can imagine. Nothing gives me the same sensation, the excitement, the thrill of driving a really fast car on a track."

The Monticello track had a "soft" opening June 29 amid the hills and lakes of the old Borscht Belt northwest of New York City. Right now, business is conducted mostly out of an elaborate two-story tent, but the club is building a spa, condominiums and a fancy restaurant.

Monticello essentially is a high-end, for-profit country club where members tool around in performance cars instead of golf carts. The vibe here -- with its helipad and storage garage loaded with European sports cars -- is more Formula One than NASCAR, even though racer Jeff Gordon is a member.

The club's centerpiece, a 4.1-mile track that pretzels around the hilly landscape, is already in use. Chief operating officer and partner Ari Strauss said the special surface is "grippier" than normal roads, all the better for fast turns. McMichael was like a proud father as he recently gave a high-speed tour in his $290,000 Ferrari.

"This is one of the nicest turns on the whole course," he said, easing the steering wheel slightly. "It's an eight-degree bank, a very long, left-hand sweeper. It's one of our signature turns. It's like famous golf courses have signature holes."

Worried about spinning out? The club has that covered.

Onsite driving instructors have a "skid pad" to teach members what to do when their precious cars start moving sideways at 120 mph. Strauss demonstrated skid techniques in his Ford GT, calmly spinning doughnuts as his tire treads squealed and, literally, went up in smoke.

Drivers who pay the $125,000 entry fee still must pay $7,500 in annual dues. Monticello's application form asks would-be members to check one of three boxes indicating their net worth. There is no category below $5 million. This is clearly a club aimed at Wall Street types, executives and high-end professionals. Members are generally "north of $20 million," McMichael said.

Members include James Glickenhaus, an investment manager who made a splash a couple of years ago for spending an estimated $4 million on a custom Ferrari P4/5 by Pininfarina, and New York City businessman Harry Schessel. Both are fans of the squiggling turns and long straightaways.

"It's probably the most unique driving experience in the world right now," Schessel said.

There are other tracks in the nation that cater to people who want to drive fast, though often at cheaper rates. MotorSport Ranch near Dallas, for instance, was established in 1996 and advertises initiation fees of $3,400 and $12,000, depending on membership level.

A big selling point for Monticello is that it's 90 minutes from the stop-and-go streets of Manhattan. And it's for members only (except for corporate events on the southern section). That's a different business model from Lime Rock Park in neighboring Connecticut, which hosts racing events and rents out to car clubs.

McMichael said Monticello members are really buying access. Monticello plans to offer members up to 200 track days a year.

McMichael would not reveal how close Monticello is to the goal of 125 "founding" members, but club officials say demand has been steady and they expect to hit the goal within a few months. Monticello also keeps membership rolls private expect for a few exceptions, like Gordon and comedian Jerry Seinfeld.

It may sound like a recipe for disaster: middle-aged alpha males racing each other at 100 mph-plus. Not so, says McMichael. He said no one gets on the track until their ability is assessed and there are professional drivers ready to help. Club members are not going to act like 18 year olds, he said.

"Our members are pretty successful guys," he said, "they don't want to come out here and just tear it up."

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Falcons' Ryan throws 62-yard TD on first NFL pass

ATLANTA -- Falcons rookie quarterback Matt Ryan threw for a 62-yard touchdown with his first NFL pass Sunday.

Matt Ryan

AP Photo/John Bazemore

Matt Ryan started his NFL career with a 62-yard touchdown pass on his first attempt.

Ryan, the third overall pick out of Boston College, hooked up with Michael Jenkins on the third play of the game against the Detroit Lions.

After two runs by Michael Turner, Ryan hit Jenkins on a slant down the left side. The receiver beat cornerback Travis Fisher, hauled in the ball at the Detroit 45 and raced to the end zone without being touched. Jenkins also pulled away from safety Gerald Alexander, who got over too late to help.

Ryan took off down the field to celebrate, actually knocking over center Todd McClure as he raced toward Jenkins.

Ryan was the first quarterback to throw a TD pass on his initial NFL attempt since Michael Bishop for New England against Indianpolis on Oct. 8, 2000, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press

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Sources: Brady out with ACL tear

By Michael Silver, Yahoo! Sports

Photo Tom Brady has his leg buckled by Kansas City Chiefs safety Bernard Pollard, bottom, during the first quarter.

New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady is expected to miss the rest of the 2008 season with a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee, according to a source familiar with the injury.

While New England coach Bill Belichick said in his postgame press conference that he had no update on the status of Brady’s injury, two sources indicated it involved serious damage to the knee.

“It’s bad,” a team source said. “We’re going to have to play without him.”

Brady was hurt as he stepped up in the pocket to make a throw to wideout Randy Moss. Chiefs safety Bernard Pollard, who was on the ground, lunged forward and struck Brady’s leg, which buckled as he released the ball.

Brady was helped off the field and was later led down a staircase by team officials, presumably to undergo tests.

Fourth-year quarterback Matt Cassel, who had thrown just 39 passes in his career before Sunday, replaced Brady and completed 13 of 18 passes for 152 yards and a touchdown. Cassel, who backed up Carson Palmer and Matt Leinart at USC, hasn’t been a starting quarterback since high school. He won a competition with Matt Gutierrez during the preseason to retain the job as Brady’s primary backup.

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Second stunner: East Carolina trips up No. 8 West Virginia 24-3

East Carolina's Jonathan Williams is pulled down just shy of the end zone by West Virginia's John Holmes during the first half.
By Sara D. Davis, AP
East Carolina's Jonathan Williams is pulled down just shy of the end zone by West Virginia's John Holmes during the first half.

GREENVILLE, N.C. (AP) — East Carolina didn't need any final-moment heroics to seal its latest upset. This time, coach Skip Holtz's plucky Pirates all but had No. 8 West Virginia put away by halftime.

Jonathan Williams had two short touchdown runs, quarterback Patrick Pinkney was nearly perfect and East Carolina routed the Mountaineers 24-3 on Saturday for its third straight win over a ranked team.

"It feels like we won a championship today," defensive end C.J. Wilson said.

Pinkney was 22-of-28 for 236 yards with a touchdown for East Carolina (2-0), which was coming off an upset of then-No. 17 Virginia Tech in which the Pirates returned a blocked punt for the decisive touchdown in the closing minutes.

They didn't let West Virginia hang around nearly that long: They never trailed, kept Pat White in check, had 386 total yards to the Mountaineers' 251 and thoroughly outplayed them from start to finish on both sides of the ball. The result was a remarkably easy upset of a top-10 team, the school's first since Steve Logan led his Pirates past then-No. 9 Miami 27-23 on Sept. 23, 1999, in a game played 90 miles west in Raleigh because of Hurricane Floyd-related damage.

"I told them it wasn't going to take an out-of-body experience to beat West Virginia," Holtz said.

These Pirates may have done something even more remarkable. They followed last season's Hawaii Bowl victory over then-No. 22 Boise State by taking care of the two toughest teams on this year's schedule, a pair of high-profile programs that Holtz has used as measuring sticks for the East Carolina program he is in his fourth year of rebuilding.

His latest wins could propel the Pirates back into the Top 25 for the first time since '99 while keeping them in the conversation for an at-large BCS berth — not that they're looking that far ahead yet.

"We've come a long way," Holtz said. "There was a time when we couldn't win three in a row."

White rushed for 97 yards on 20 carries and finished 11-of-18 for 72 yards for the Mountaineers (1-1), who for the second time in four games as a top-10 team were stunned by an unranked opponent dating back to a loss to Pittsburgh last December that kept them out of the national championship game.

"They beat us up," White said.

Pat McAfee kicked a 26-yard field goal midway through the second quarter for West Virginia's only points. The Mountaineers were held without a touchdown for the first time since a 45-3 loss at Miami in 2001.

"(To) the naysayers out there that want to ruin a guy's season after the first or second game, I'm not going to get all down in the dumps," coach Bill Stewart said. "You can't just put the old gold and blue on. ... You've got to play in the old gold and blue."

East Carolina entered just 2-17 against West Virginia with seven straight losses in the series, though Holtz had contained the Mountaineers' run-first offense in each of the two previous meetings before last year's 48-7 romp in Morgantown. The 8-point underdogs claimed a surprisingly lopsided win by keeping the ball away from West Virginia's high-powered offense and wearing down an inexperienced defense that consistently missed tackles and allowed the Pirates to convert half of their 16 third downs.

"Our offense really controlled the line of scrimmage and chewed up the clock and converted on third downs," safety Van Eskridge said. "With the speed they have on offense, if one guy gets out of position, they can really burn you ... (but) we settled down and slowed them down."

The Pirates had three scoring drives of 11 or more plays and went longer than six minutes, and Williams capped two of them with scoring runs of 5 and 1 yards. His second score came on East Carolina's first possession of the second half, closed a 12-play drive that included three third-down conversions and sent the crowd into delirium.

Williams, one of the committee of running backs Holtz is counting on to replace Tennessee Titans first-round draft pick Chris Johnson, led East Carolina with 69 yards on 17 carries.

The game was played hours after Tropical Storm Hanna blew through eastern North Carolina, but the storm system had no effect on the game, with the grass field at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium holding firm throughout.

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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For now, Chad Johnson can’t wear Ocho Cinco

BALTIMORE (AP)—Chad Johnson has changed his name, but his jersey remained the same Sunday.

The Cincinnati Bengals receiver legally changed his name from Chad Johnson to Chad Ocho Cinco, but the NFL decided against allowing him to put his name on his jersey.

“While the NFL has recognized the legal name change of Chad Johnson to Chad Ocho Cinco, the league informed the Bengals today that certain issues remain to be resolved before Ocho Cinco will be permitted to wear his new surname on his jersey,” the league said in a statement.

“He will wear the name Johnson on his jersey today and will be referred to as Chad Johnson on the official play-by-play sheet,” the statement said. “Further questions should be directed to the league office.”

Contacted Sunday by The Associated Press, NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said, “He has a financial obligation to Reebok, which produces the jerseys available to fans. That has to be resolved before the on-field jersey can be changed.

“The same obligation exists for any player that changes his number or name.”

Before watching the Indianapolis Colts play their first regular-season game at Lucas Oil Stadium, commissioner Roger Goodell told reporters that the name change on the jersey would likely occur soon.

“He’s legally changed his name, so we’re willing to recognize that,” Goodell said. “There’s what I call a more administrative issue that has to be dealt with. There’s a large inventory of jerseys that are out there with 85 Johnson. Any player that changes a number or changes his name has to address that so that our licensing is not stuck with a large inventory. That’s just something we’re dealing with. As far as we’re concerned, if he changes his name legally, that’s fine with us.”

After the Bengals’ 17-10 loss to Baltimore, Ocho Cinco refused to address the NFL’s ruling.

“I ain’t worried about the name, man. We just lost the game,” he said. “I ain’t worried about that.”

AP Sports Writer Michael Marot in Indianapolis contributed to this report.

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Skate Shoes – What Makes Them For Skateboarding Anyway?

Well that is the golden question. Technically, no, you don’t need skate shoes. You could wear any shoes. But the point is, skate shoes are made to help you skate better. And it’s true - they do help. Skate shoes have flat, grippy, and usually extra wide soles to help you hold onto your board better. Some skate shoes have extra padding on the sides and the tongue to help protect your foot when doing technical tricks. On the other hand, more of the old school skaters prefer the thin classic style skateboarding shoes which allow you to feel the board while doing tricks. A lot of skate shoes now have reinforced side panels to help protec your shoes while doing ollies, or have extra padding around the heel collar to help hold onto your foot. There is a lot of research going into the skate shoe of today since they are rather expensive and the companies want to build them to last longer.

Picking The Correct Skate Shoe

Etnies has been making skateboard shoes for a long time and they are one of the most popular brands out their on the market today.

Is it really that complicated? Well yes it is. STI has done extensive research into what it takes to make a skateboarding shoe last. Introduced just a few years ago, System G2™ was the first technology ever developed by STI. Today, it is recognized as simply being the best shock-absorbing device for action sports shoes and snowboard boots. Inserted into the heel and combined with EVA or PU, System G2™ provides dual-cushioning comfort and protection that helps absorb a wide range of impacts–from the very soft to the most extreme–that riders put on their feet, to help reduce injuries and prevent heel bruises. The result is the ultimate skateboarding cushioning technology that absorbs up to 75% more force than conventional skate shoes and snowboard boots. It’s no wonder then that System G2™ is found in almost every pro model endorsed shoe Sole Technology manufactures.
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STI is constantly doing research on skateboarding shoes and they have a development team working on just that, making a better skate shoe for you.

DVS Skate Shoes Are Made to Hold up to Professional Level Skateboarding and Look Good
Here is a list of some of the new features that have been designed to help you shoes last longer and for your feet to last longer as well:-)
Vulcanized rubber soles
Air pockets in the heels
Shoelace protectors
DGT (DC Shoes)
Super Suede (DC Shoes)
System G2 Cushioning (etnies, Emerica, Es Footwear)
STI foam (etnies, Emerica, Es Footwear)
Lace Loops that “hide” shoelaces
Action Leather
Thermoplastic Toe Box Reinforcement(Vox)
EVA Mid Sole
Fusion Grip Rubber Outsole
Asymmetric stabilizer
Silicon Rubber makes shoes last longer(SiRC)

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Patrick Ewing Comes Up Short Again!