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Jorge Masvidal, Kamaru Usman agree to UFC 251 fight

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July 5 (UPI) — Kamaru Usman will defend his welterweight title against Jorge Masvidal after both fighters agreed to terms Sunday to fight at UFC 251 this weekend at “Fight Island” in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.

Masvidal, who must pass a coronavirus test before the fight can take place, will step in as a late replacement for Gilbert Burns, according to ESPN and MMA Fighting. Burns — originally set to face off against Usman — was forced to withdraw from Saturday’s UFC 251 fight card due to a positive COVID-19 test result.

According to ESPN, Usman is traveling to Las Vegas on Sunday, while Masvidal — who took a private jet from South Florida to Las Vegas — landed earlier in the day. Once they are in Las Vegas, both fighters must check in to the host hotel, take a coronavirus test and then self-quarantine.

If the UFC stars pass the test, they will be cleared to travel to Abu Dhabi, according to ESPN. The fighters are expected to fly to the country Monday if the tests come back clean, but the fight won’t happen if there is a positive result.

The UFC and Masvidal were engaged in contract talks over the last two months to make the Masvidal-Usman fight happen. But the promotion opted to walk away from negotiations about a month ago and gave the title bout to Burns, who recently beat former champion Tyron Woodley.

Afterward, Masvidal criticized the UFC for its business practices and demanded his release from the promotion.

Once Burns was forced to withdraw from the fight late Friday night, momentum started to build for the initial plan. Masvidal was expected to fight Usman for the welterweight belt this month before negotiations between Masvidal and the UFC collapsed.

Masvidal — considered one of the most popular fighters in the UFC — picked up impressive wins over Ben Askren, Darren Till and Nate Diaz last year. Usman last fought at UFC 245 in December and successfully defended his welterweight title against Colby Covington.

In addition to the welterweight title fight, the UFC 251 card also features a rematch between Alexander Volkanovski and Max Holloway for the featherweight title and a fight between Petr Yan and Jose Aldo for the bantamweight belt.



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Watch: Atlanta Braves’ Ronald Acuna Jr. belts longest home run of 2020 season

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St. Louis Cardinals’ Dylan Carlson (3) is congratulated by teammate Tommy Edman after hitting a two-run homer against the Milwaukee Brewers in St. Louis on Thursday. The Cardinals defeated the Brewers 4-2. Photo by Bill Greenblatt/UPI | License Photo



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College football: Mountain West, Mid-American conferences vote to start seasons

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Sept. 25 (UPI) — The Mountain West Conference intends to play an eight-game college football schedule that starts Oct. 24 after altering initial plans to postpone the season until spring 2021 due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Mountain West board members met Thursday and approved the plan to resume football competitions. The conference issued an indefinite suspension for fall sports Aug. 10. The Mountain West’s plan before the pandemic struck was to start the season Aug. 29.

The conference announced in early August that it would postpone games until the weekend of Sept. 26, before its latest agreement for an October kickoff.

Nevada, Hawaii, San Jose State, San Diego State, UNLV and Fresno State comprise the Mountain West’s West Division. Boise State, Colorado State, Air Force, Wyoming, New Mexico and Utah State are in the Mountain Division.

The conference championship is planned for Dec. 19. All competitions are subject to state, county and local approvals, as well as COVID-19 testing and safety protocols.

“This is a great opportunity to get our student-athletes back on the field of competition in a cautious and regulated fashion,” Mountain West commissioner Craig Thompson said in a news release.

The conference said each member institution will determine stadium capacities based on state, county and local health ordinances. Individual football schedules will be announced later.

On Friday, the Mid-American Conference followed suit and announced it will begin its football season on Nov. 4 and play a six-game, conference-only schedule.

The MAC on Aug. 8 became the first FBS conference to postpone the fall football season due to the coronavirus. The league said its championship game will take place on Dec. 18 or 19.

The university presidents unanimously approved the decision based on the recommendation of the conference’s medical advisory panel.

“I am pleased to inform our student-athletes, coaches and fans that the Mid-American Conference will resume the fall football season,” MAC commissioner Jon Steinbrecher said in a statement Friday. “Our decisions, in August and again today, have been guided by an overriding concern for the well-being of the student-athletes, institutions and the community at large.

“Our medical advisory group, presidents, directors of athletics and others have worked hard to develop a plan that provides the opportunity for student-athletes to compete. We will be diligent in monitoring the dynamic health environment across the conference footprint and the country.”

The announcements from the MAC and MWC came after the Pac-12 announced Thursday it will play a seven-game, conference-only football schedule beginning in early November. No fans will be allowed to attend on-campus Pac-12 football games.

The Big Ten announced Sept. 16 it would resume football activities and start its 2020 football season Oct. 24, meaning all 10 FBS conferences will have fall football seasons this year.



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Boston Celtics’ Gordon Hayward, wife Robyn welcome fourth child

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Sept. 23 (UPI) — Boston Celtics forward Gordon Hayward and his wife, Robyn, welcomed their fourth child Wednesday.

Robyn Hayward announced the birth of their first son — Gordon Theodore Hayward — with a post on social media Wednesday. The announcement came only a few hours before the Celtics played the Miami Heat in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference finals.

“Our little man is finally here! This is Theo, Gordon Theodore Hayward,” she wrote on Instagram. “If you ask @gordonhayward his name is GT, but if you ask me and the girls his name is Theo. I miss you bunches @gordonhayward and can’t wait for you to meet him. We’re ready to watch you tonight!”

Gordon Hayward, 30, initially planned to leave the NBA bubble for the birth of their first son, but he decided to remain with the Celtics after discussions with his wife. If he had left the bubble, he would have been subject to another quarantine period — forcing him to miss at least two games.

The All-Star forward had some time off earlier in the Celtics’ playoff run because of a sprained ankle, and he spent some of that time with his family before returning to the league’s bubble near Orlando, Fla.

“I think his ankle’s fine right now,” Celtics head coach Brad Stevens said Wednesday after the birth was announced. “I don’t think he’s thought about it all afternoon. … Very, very happy to hear the news.”

The Heat hold a 2-1 series lead over the Celtics. In his return from an ankle injury that sidelined him for about five weeks, Gordon Hayward had six points, five rebounds, four assists and three steals in Game 3 of the best-of-seven series.



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