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Conor McGregor ‘harassing’ UFC for Dustin Poirier rematch, might ‘drift off into boxing’ instead – MMA Mania

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Conor McGregor, much like he did after losing to Nate Diaz at UFC 196, is harassing the promotion for an immediate rematch, hoping to avenge his loss to Dustin Poirier in the UFC 257 main event last weekend on “Fight Island” in Abu Dhabi.

After all, the score is tied one apiece.

McGregor stopped Poirier when they first went to war at UFC 178 more than six years back, but “The Diamond” fought a smarter, more technical fight the second time around, leading to a convincing technical knockout finish in the second stanza.

“He’s already harassing everybody to get the rematch,” coach John Kavanagh told ESPN reporter Ariel Helwani (transcribed by TheScore). “We would love the rematch. I don’t think Dustin is against that. If we could get the rematch before the summer, that’d be amazing. If it’s not to be, I guess I don’t really know. Maybe he drifts off into boxing.”

McGregor is 0-1 as a professional boxer, losing to Floyd Mayweather after nearly 10 rounds of action back in summer 2017. There was talk of a Manny Pacquiao showdown at some point later this year; however, the loss to Poirier has likely spoiled those plans.

Poirier is the frontrunner to challenge top contender Charles Oliveira for the UFC lightweight title assuming Khabib Nurmagomedov vacates the 155-pound strap. Michael Chandler is also in the conversation after laying waste to Dan Hooker in the UFC 257 co-main event.

The next few weeks are going to be very, very interesting.

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NBA All-Star Takeways: Curry, Lillard cook competition with long threes – Sportsnet.ca

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The 2021 NBA All-Star game has come to a close and despite playing in the midst of a global pandemic, the event went ahead mostly without complication.

Cramming the usual weekend’s worth of events into one Sunday extravaganza made for a longer day than usual, but it was still as entertaining as a generally uncompetitive basketball game with the world’s best players is going to get.

Given the fact this was an All-Star Game played while COVID-19 is still very much a large part of all of our lives, here’s a look at 19 things that we felt were pretty cool from the NBA’s truncated all-star celebration.

No Embiid and Simmons

As mentioned off the top, the All-Star Game went by mostly without complication, meaning that there was still some complication.

Case in point, just hours before the festivities were set to begin on Sunday it was revealed that Philadelphia 76ers all-stars Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons weren’t going to be able to participate anymore because contact tracing revealed they had been in contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19 — reportedly their barber.

So, with there being so little time the NBA did the responsible thing and held the two out of the game. A grim reminder before the all-star festivities started that this was still an event that, perhaps, shouldn’t even have played in the first place.

Zion makes some history

There was some good to come about the two Sixers stars missing the event, however.

New Orleans Pelicans super sophomore Zion Williamson got to start in his first-ever All-Star Game, taking Embiid’s place, becoming the fourth-youngest player to do so behind such names as Kobe Bryant, LeBron James and Magic Johnson. Not bad company.

Williamson finished in the game with 10 points and threw down a few nice slams in the game, but will likely be remembered for his unfortunate blown dunk attempts.

What was James Harden wearing?

Seriously, what is this? An indoor raincoat?

Covington’s all-star moment

A big part of the all-star proceedings was the celebration of Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), which is why Portland Trail Blazers forward Robert Covington’s inclusion in the all-star events was so cool.

Covington is a proud alumnus of HBCU Tennessee State University and got to show some of his Tiger pride, representing his alma mater in the Skills Challenge.

He was eliminated in the first round, but that’s unimportant compared to the great surprise he gave to two current Tennessee State students before the event started.

Why can’t guards win the Skills Challenge anymore?

Indiana Pacers all-star Domantas Sabonis won the Skills Challenge, beating out fellow big man Nikola Vucevic of the Orlando Magic.

With his victory, Sabonis became the fifth forward to win this particular event in six years. The last guard to win it was Spencer Dinwiddie in 2018.

Sure, bigs are more skilled than ever before, but surely a competition about dribbling fast, passing and shooting should favour the guards, no?

Mike Conley is an NBA All-Star… and a damn good shooter, too

Though it came after unfortunate circumstances forced Phoenix Suns guard Devin Booker to miss the All-Star Game with a knee injury, Mike Conley — his injury replacement — was finally named to the team in his 14th NBA season.

Conley was quiet in the game proper, but that doesn’t matter because his impact was felt beforehand in the three-point contest.

Brought in as Booker’s replacement in that event too, Conley more than held his own as he pushed eventual winner Steph Curry in both rounds.

Chef Curry cooked the competition in the three-point contest

Stephen Curry is an inhuman shooter.

It’s a privilege to watch him do what he does.

Needed more Common

The HBCU marching bands in the player introductions were cool, but the meme-worthy intros from Common from a year ago were missed, particularly because he was still part of the presentation anyway.

The anthems were both fantastic

Shoutouts to Mississauga, Ont.’s Alessia Cara and the incomparable Gladys Knight for two tremendous renditions of O Canada and the Star-Spangled Banner.

Chef Curry cooked in the actual game itself

Curry had his fingerprints all over the game as he finished with 28 points, going 8-for-16 from deep, including a couple of truly outrageous triples that helped set the tone of the game for Team LeBron in the first quarter.

Schoolyard tip-off

Moments like seeing Conley and Chris Paul tip-off the second quarter is what makes All-Star Games great.

More Curry? More Curry!

In case you hadn’t noticed, there was a bit of a trend with this year’s game and Curry being involved in a lot of the game’s best moments like this ridiculous shot he hit in the second quarter.

Bet you forgot these guys could dunk, huh?

A reminder for you that all NBA players are freakishly athletic compared to any other normal human being: Seeing Curry and Paul get up for alley-oops.

Steph vs. Dame, Part 1

The two best long-range shooters in NBA history on the same team deciding to go shot for shot at the end of the first half was truly a sight to behold.

Cassius Stanley was robbed!

Halftime of the All-Star Game saw a shorter dunk contest with Indiana Pacers G-Leaguer Cassius Stanley, New York Knicks rookie Obi Toppin and Portland Trail Blazers youngster Anfernee Simons making up the three-man field.

The dunk contest was actually pretty good as all these guys have serious bounce, but Stanley was robbed blind with his opening dunk only getting a 44 as it was probably the best dunk of the night.

In the end, though, Simons won thanks to his consistency and his gravity-defying bounce that notably saw him nearly kiss the rim on his final attempt, in addition to paying homage to the great Tracy McGrady.

And just one last note on the dunk contest, this dunk from Toppin — doing a windmill over his teammate Julius Randle and his dad — was cool as hell!

Giannis takes over in the third quarter

Because of Curry’s fireworks in the first half the outrageous performance from his Team LeBron teammate Giannis Antetokounmpo sort of went under the radar.

Antetokounmpo finished the first half with 24 points on perfect 9-for-9 shooting, firmly putting himself in the MVP discussion.

Then the third quarter hit and he won the award for himself right then and there as he went 5-for-5 from the field for 11 more points, including this insane heat-check three.

Antetokounmpo finished a perfect 16-for-16 in the game for 35 points and was able to easily add an All-Star Game MVP trophy to the two league MVP awards that he has in his trophy case.

Steph vs. Dame, Part 2

Unlike last year’s Elam Ending in the fourth, the lead Team LeBron built was simply too much, leaving a lot of wiggle room for those guys to try to close it out.

Case in point with Team LeBron just three points away from hitting the target score of 170, Curry tried to end it from half court, but missed, setting the stage for some patented Damian Lillard Dame Time.

Team LeBron completely dominant

Though there were some bright spots to be seen from Team Durant, Sunday’s game was all about Team LeBron, who won every single quarter and ended up raising $750,000 for the Thurgood Marshall College Fund from their play on the court in the game, alone.

As Antetokounmpo said before the game, “It’s over guys. Me, LeBron, Luka, Jokic and Steph? Man, that’s a good starting five.”

LeBron is a really good all-star GM

LeBron James has had the honour of being a captain every year since the All-Star Game went to a captain pick-em format and he’s made the most of it.

Team LeBron is now 4-0 in All-Star Games.

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Monday Finish: Bryson DeChambeau wins with two legends on his mind – pgatour.com

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The crowd loved it as Bryson DeChambeau ascended to pole position in the FedExCup with his eighth PGA TOUR victory at the Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by Mastercard.

DeChambeau’s soaring drives at the sixth hole maxed out at 377 yards Sunday and brought howls of delight as he turned the par 5 into a par 4 at most. And after he’d made a testy five-footer to secure a final-round 71, edging Lee Westwood (73) by one, he flexed and screamed.

Not lost amid all the fireworks, though, was that DeChambeau also won in large part due to his work on the greens, namely by making his two longest putts of the week. First came his birdie from just over 37 feet at the fourth hole, which seemed tame by comparison to the nearly 50-foot bomb he would make to save par at the 11th hole. He joins just four other players to make multiple putts from over 35 feet in the final round en route to victory in the ShotLink era:

• Vijay Singh (three such putts), 2008 Dell Technologies Championship
• Ben Crane (two), 2010 Farmers Insurance Open
• Tiger Woods (two), 2008 Farmers Insurance Open
• Craig Stadler (two), 2003 B.C. Open

After his U.S. Open victory last fall, DeChambeau – the first American winner at Bay Hill since Matt Every in 2015 – becomes the first multiple winner of the 2020-21 TOUR season.

Here are five other stories you may have missed:

1. DeChambeau remembers those who paved the way.

The champion had some legends in his corner on Sunday.

For one, he always has revered the tournament’s namesake, who was kind enough to extend an invitation to DeChambeau to compete at Bay Hill when DeChambeau was still an amateur. As the 2015 U.S. Amateur champion (Palmer was a U.S. Amateur champion 61 years earlier), DeChambeau played the Arnold Palmer Invitational and tied for 27th, his week highlighted by a closing 66. For a young kid dreaming of one day playing the TOUR, it was a significant week.

If the first player who comes to mind at Bay Hill is Palmer, then the second would be Tiger Woods, an eight-time winner there. Sunday before his round, DeChambeau received a text from Woods, who was injured in a single-car accident in Los Angeles on Feb. 23. 

“Well, it was obviously personal, I would say, for the most part, but pretty much to sum it up … he texted me this morning out of the blue and I wasn’t expecting anything,” DeChambeau said. “When I got that text, I’m like, ‘Wow, that’s pretty amazing that he is thinking of me when he’s in his tough times that he’s going through right now.’ So I just texted him. I said, ‘Keep moving forward, keep going forward. You’re going to get through it. You’re the hardest working person I’ve ever met and you’ll persevere through this pretty much.’

“One of the things that we talked about was, it’s not about how many times you get kicked to the curb or knocked down. It’s about how many times you can get back up and keep moving forward. And I think this (champion’s) red cardigan is not only for Mr. Palmer, but I would say it’s a little bit for Tiger as well, knowing what place he’s in right now.”

Read more about Dechambeau’s meaningful victory here.

2. Westwood hangs tough.

Although he didn’t win, ultimately collecting his seventh runner-up finish on TOUR, Lee Westwood made hard-working pars on 17 and 18 to at least make DeChambeau earn it. That included Westwood’s gritty 4 from a divot in the middle of the fairway at the last.

The only hiccup: His failure to birdie the short, par-5 16th hole after splitting the fairway.

“Yeah, I mean I’m not short myself,” Westwood said. “I think I hit it about 350 yards down 16. I only went in with wedge into that par-5.” Yet with DeChambeau up against the lip of a fairway bunker, Westwood missed the green and couldn’t get up and down, walking off with a par.

Still, the veteran from England wasn’t hanging his head at the end of a very, very hard day.  

“You can’t want for more than that,” he said. “I thought we had a really good battle, we were never, it was never really more than one in it all day and there were tough conditions out there and it wasn’t going to be a day where – I don’t think anybody was going to shoot 68 or 67.

“It was a day for playing sensible and hanging on and grinding out the pars.”

3. Spieth pleased with T4 finish.

Although he didn’t make anything on the greens Sunday, Jordan Spieth (75, T4, five back) had a great first start at the Arnold Palmer Invitational. It started with a tour of Palmer’s office and ended with his third top-five finish in his last four starts. This one, Spieth said, was his best effort yet in his comeback (T3/AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am; T4/Waste Management Phoenix Open).

“I thought I played better today than I did any of those Sundays,” said Spieth, whose streak of 389 holes without a double bogey or worse marks his longest on TOUR. “At the beginning of the day if you told me I was going to be even through 10 and be in – hit driver in the middle of the fairway on 11 and on 12 – I would have thought I was going to win the golf tournament.”

Spieth has climbed from 92nd to 52nd in the world this year, and his finish at Bay Hill pushed him up to 43rd (from 59th) in the FedExCup standings. The 2015 FedExCup champion continues to inch ever closer to the form that saw him reach No. 1 in the world.  

“Again, I put the ball exactly where I wanted to on just about every single shot and putt,” he said, “and it came out to 75 somehow. But that’s not going to happen every time; if I do, if I play the way I did today. It’s going to be really good going forward.”

Learn more about Spieth’s memorable first trip to Bay Hill here.

4. McIlroy buoyed by fans’ return.

Rory McIlroy, who will be defending his 2019 title at THE PLAYERS Championship this week, went into the final round just four back but struggled with a 4-over 76 (T10). Although he was one of many who struggled, he had trouble accepting the lackluster final result.

“I don’t know,” McIlroy said. “I need something, I need a spark, I need something, and I just don’t seem to have it. Some days it’s good, some days it’s not.”

One thing he did feel optimistic about: The return of on-site fans.

“I’ve missed this a lot,” he said. “Even though it’s only, whatever, 25 percent capacity this week, it feels so much more than that and it’s great to play in front of that. I’m looking forward to doing it again next week. I think that it is, I think we’re all sort of now seeing a light at the end of the tunnel where things can at least get back to some sort of normality pretty soon.

“I can’t believe it’s been a year,” he continued. “It’s going to be surreal looking back in 20 years’ time and sort of seeing what we lived through.”

5. Corey Conners’ wild finish.

The good news for Canada’s Corey Conners was that he eagled the par-5 16th hole to get within one of the lead. The bad news is he bogeyed 17 and 18 to shoot 74 and finish 8 under, three back.

Still, the solo third was his best result of the season.

“Yeah, it was a challenge,” Conners said of a day in which the field averaged 75.486. “Definitely a battle out there. I made some nice saves at the start of the round, just didn’t get the putts to fall today, the greens were rolling really fast, ball seemed to never stop.

“So it was very challenging,” Conners continued. “Gave myself a shot, made a really great eagle on 16 that felt pretty good, and bogeyed the last two holes, wasn’t great. But really challenging golf holes. I’m sure I wasn’t the only one.” (There were no bogey-free rounds.)

TOUR TOP 10

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Flames plagued by inconsistent play again in loss to Senators – Sportsnet.ca

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You could see it in Mark Giordano’s strides as he successfully chased down a player 15 years younger on an overtime breakaway.

You could see it in the diving leg save made by Juuso Valimaki late in a 3-3 game.

Unmistakable signs of desperation.

Finally, after two periods.

It was almost as if players started hearing reports that a combine driven by an infuriated farmer was spotted racing south on Hwy 2.

Darryl Sutter’s actual arrival at the Dome is slated for Tuesday’s practice, at which time nothing can be done about the Flames’ 4-3 shootout loss to the Ottawa Senators on Sunday night.

However, you can bet the latest in a season of inconsistent outings will be brought up by the 62-year-old holding the straight-bladed Sher-Wood.

“That’s the tough part – you want to see that all the time,” acting coach Ryan Huska said of the team’s inspiring third period play, which erased a 3-1 deficit.

“There were a lot of good showings from a lot of different players (in the third), but at this time of year you can’t just be talking about one good period.”

But we are. Again.

And that’s why Geoff Ward was fired Thursday, to be replaced by Sutter on Tuesday, following two more losses and an odd handful of days without him courtesy of COVID-19 protocol.

As Calgary’s third loss to last-place Ottawa illustrated, the Jolly Rancher can’t get here quick enough to try saving a season rapidly getting away from the Flames.

“Obviously it’s a unique situation when you have a coach who’s not there, but we’re trying to control what we can,” said Noah Hanifin, whose second goal in as many games completed an emotional comeback with eight minutes left in a final frame in which the Flames enjoyed a 16-3 shot advantage.

“Obviously he demands success and everywhere he’s went he’s won. That’s something we’re looking forward to having in our locker room. I’m excited to see what he brings and what he expects from us. It’s going to be good for our team.”

As part of the team’s precipitous drop in emotion and intensity from Saturday’s 3-2 loss in Edmonton, the Flames failed on three first-period power plays in a game led 2-0 by Ottawa after one.

Zac Rinaldo’s fight with Austin Watson injected some life into the Flames, who scored soon thereafter when Giordano’s point blast tipped off a defender’s skate and found its way through traffic.

Jacob Markstrom made several big saves in the second but surrendered a goal to Colin White, setting up a third in which Johnny Gaudreau’s power play goal (the only conversion in eight tries) kick-started the comeback completed by Hanifin.

“Marky stops two breakaways in the second that help us get the point, but we’ve got to find a way to get two,’ said Giordano, who tracked down Drake Batherson in overtime to help send the game into a shootout eventually won by the 22-year-old Senators sensation.

“It stings right now — we know how important every point is. In the third we had a great push, but we’ve got to find a way to come out with two points. The effort is there and guys’ hearts are in the right place. But the desperation really has to be from the drop of the puck.”

Valimaki helped preserve the lone point late in the third after Markstrom misplayed a puck behind the net that squirted out to a wide-open Connor Brown, whose shot at the empty net was stopped by the diving defenceman, earning a hug from his netminder.

However, after Matthew Tkachuk and Tim Stutzle traded goals in the shootout, Batherson cast another pall over the Flames’ season with the winner as Ottawa’s fourth shooter.

We’ll start to find out Thursday, when Montreal comes to town, if Sutter’s arrival has come too late.

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