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Khabib Nurmagomedov confirms he’s out of UFC 249 vs. Tony Ferguson

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For the fifth time, Khabib Nurmagomedov vs. Tony Ferguson is off.

Nurmagomedov, the UFC lightweight champion, won’t defend his title in the highly anticipated bout with Ferguson at UFC 249, which is supposed to take place on April 18 in a location yet to be determined.

On Wednesday, Nurmagomedov (28-0 MMA, 12-0 UFC) announced on Instagram that he won’t be competing since he’s stuck in Russia during the coronavirus pandemic.

“Staying home in quarantine and reading the reaction of people to the situation around my fight, it turns out that the whole world should be in quarantine,” Nurmagomedov wrote.

“Governments of all countries, famous people around the world urge people to follow all safety requirements in order to limit the spread of the disease, to save people, and (I am) the only one relieved of all obligations and must demonstrate free will and train flying around the world, for the sake of fight? I understand everything, and I’m definitely upset more than you to cancel the fight, probably like all others, I had many plans after the fight, but I can’t control it all.”

Nurmagomedov’s withdrawal comes as no surprise as the UFC has been scrambling for weeks to keep his title fight with Ferguson – and the pay-per-view as a whole – alive while the rest of the sports world is shut down.

Nurmagomedov, who is in Dagestan, was faced with travel restrictions as the Russian government banned travel to help contain the spread of COVID-19.

UFC 249 originally was scheduled to take place at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y., but due to public gathering restrictions and closing of all non-essential businesses by the state government, the UFC was forced to move the event. Since then, nearly 80 percent of the country is under some form of lockdown as COVID-19 has worsened. The UFC was looking into taking the event outside of the country or potentially Native American reservations.

It’s uncertain if the UFC will try to continue to keep UFC 249 for April 18 now that Nurmagomedov is unable to compete. UFC president Dana White has been defiant that the show must go on.

Many fighters offered to step in on short notice when it was first announced that Nurmagomedov was likely out of the fight.

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Staying home in quarantine and reading the reaction of people to the situation around my fight, it turns out that the whole world should be in quarantine, governments of all countries, famous people around the world urge people to follow all safety requirements in order to limit the spread of the disease, to save people, and Khabib is the only one relieved of all obligations and must demonstrate free will and train flying around the world, for the sake of fight? – I understand everything and I’m definitely upset more than you to cancel the fight, probably like all others, I had many plans after the fight, but I can’t control it all.
The greatest countries and the largest companies of our time are shocked by what is happening, every day the situation changes unpredictably.
But Khabib still has to fight, is that what you saying? –
Take care of yourself and put yourself in my shoes.



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Claret Jug from Greg Norman’s Open 1986 win up for auction

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It looks like Greg Norman’s Colorado home isn’t the only thing of value tied to the Shark that’s been put on the market of late.

After learning that Norman had listed his 11,900-acre Colorado ranch, called Seven Lakes, for $40 million, now comes word that a replica Claret Jug from Norman’s 1986 win at The Open Championship is also available for those willing to dig into their pocketbooks.

The jug, which was likely created for another member of Norman’s entourage since players are allowed to have more than one made, was selling for just over $61,000 as of Friday evening. The auction closes on Saturday night at 7 p.m. ET.

According to Bob Zafian of Golden Age Golf Auctions, these things do come through from time to time.

This specific Claret Jug was auctioned through Zafian’s group back in 2018 for over $76,000 and he expects the piece to get closer to $85,000 this time through.

“But you just don’t know,” Zafian said. “These things just don’t come up too often and sometimes, they take off.”

In terms of Norman’s home, the 13,907 square-foot home, located in Meeker, Colorado, sits next to the White River, one of the largest elk and deer migrations in the Rocky Mountains.



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Jerry Sloan, Jazz Great and Hall of Fame Coach, Dies at 78 – NBC Chicago

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Jerry Sloan, the Hall of Fame coach who was a fixture for decades in Utah and took the Jazz to the NBA Finals in 1997 and 1998, died Friday. He was 78.

The Jazz said he died from complications of Parkinson’s disease and Lewy body dementia. Sloan had been in failing health for many years.

Sloan spent 23 seasons coaching the Jazz. The team — with John Stockton and Karl Malone leading the way in many of those seasons — finished below .500 in only one of those years. Sloan won 1,221 games in his career, the fourth-highest total in NBA history. Only Lenny Wilkens, Don Nelson and Gregg Popovich have more victories.

“It was an honor and a privilege to have one of the greatest and most respected coaches in NBA history coaching our team,” the Miller family, who own the Jazz, said in a statement. “We have appreciated our relationship with Jerry and acknowledge his dedication to and passion for the Utah Jazz.

“He has left an enduring legacy with this franchise and our family. The far-reaching impact of his life has touched our city, state and the world as well as countless players, staff and fans.”

Utah went to the finals twice under Sloan, both times falling to Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls.

Sloan entered the Hall of Fame in 2009.

“I’m not into numbers and stuff like that,” Sloan said when he passed Pat Riley for No. 3 on the NBA’s all-time win list in 2010; Popovich has since surpassed him for that spot. “I never have been. I’ve got a great organization to work for that’s given me an opportunity to stay there for a long time. I’m very thankful for that and the coaches that I have with me. It’s not about me.”

He spent 34 years in the Jazz organization, as head coach, assistant, scout or senior basketball adviser. Sloan started as a scout, was promoted as an assistant under Frank Layden in 1984 and became the sixth coach in franchise history on Dec. 9, 1988, after Layden resigned.

“Like Stockton and Malone as players, Jerry Sloan epitomized the organization,” the Jazz said in a statement. “He will be greatly missed.”

Sloan’s longevity with the Jazz was remarkable. During his time in Utah, there were 245 coaching changes around the league and five teams — Charlotte, Memphis, Toronto, Orlando and Minnesota — did not even exist when he took the helm with the Jazz.

He also was the coach in Chicago for parts of three seasons, going 94-121. But his ties with the Bulls were much deeper. His No. 4 jersey was retired by the team after a playing career in which he averaged 14.0 points, 7.5 rebounds and 2.5 assists in 755 games over 11 NBA seasons.

They even called him “The Original Bull” because he was selected in the 1966 expansion draft and became a two-time All-Star known for his toughness and grit. He remains the only NBA player to average more than seven rebounds and more than two steals a game in his career.

“Jerry was the face of the Bulls organization from its inception through the mid-1970s, and very appropriately, his uniform No. 4 was the first jersey retired by the team,” Bulls chairman Jerry Reinsdorf said Friday. “A great player and a Hall of Fame NBA coach, most importantly, Jerry was a great person.”

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AP Sports Writer Andrew Seligman in Chicago contributed.

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More AP NBA: https://apnews.com/NBA and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports





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Gordon Monson: Are live sports still a price too high? We’re about to find out.

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People who love sports are stuck in a coronavirus vortex that will not leave them be. It just spins them helplessly up and around, in a way that just as much shakes them down.

They miss live games. They want live games. They need live games. All while shuttered leagues like the NBA, NHL, MLB find themselves in a state of perpetual hope and scramble, searching for ways to get started again while the public, sporting and otherwise, wonders if it really will happen.

If sports will be sports again.

The NFL, in its offseason, is looking forward, acknowledging COVID-19, but not fully acquiescing to it, recently issuing its full, fall schedule.

Governors from New York, Texas and California now have said they are looking forward to having live games in the weeks and months ahead inside of stadiums in their realms — without fans.

College football, if there is a collective voice to that scattered, jumbled entity, seems as determined as anyone or anything to go all … Damn the droplets, full speed ahead!

That scaled determination varies from region to region, further fracturing a game that has always been splintered, never completely capable of unifying its competitive balance, nor its philosophies regarding how to properly crown a champion or run its business.

Now CFB has school presidents in some leagues saying, dadgumit, there will be a season and there will be fans in the stands, acting as though a virus that has paid no respect to any human power, no matter how full of pomp or position those powers think themselves to be, will suddenly genuflect to them.

Nobody, nothing, gets in the way of SEC football, man. It puts the free in freedom. And the gold in the athletic departments’ vaults. If people die en route, that’s just the cost of doing business. Freedom ain’t free.

We all get it, at least to some extent.

On the whole, sports is and are good — culturally, economically, and, in some places, spiritually. The spin of a ball is like the orbit of the earth — essential for proper living.

But I’ve talked with enough experts in public health, people who know much more about the ins and outs of COVID-19 than most, who are afraid, who left alone from political pressure are damn-near frozen in their fear of what might come next. They worry if sports are opened up too carelessly that those sports will close down again — in a rush to relieve too much illness and death.

Those experts don’t know everything, but what they do know raises questions about how to proceed through this pandemic. Many of them believe crowding people into stadiums, even at a reduced capacity, is risky and irresponsible.

They have other concerns, too.

What happens if there’s a second wave of the virus? Will leagues be able or willing to shut down, again, mid-pour, after putting so much effort into filling up and powering up?

If stadiums and arenas remain empty, how, specifically, will athletes on the field or court or ice or diamond stay safe? And what about the support staffs necessary to manage the competitions?

How much testing will be necessary to maintain good health? The NBA, NFL and MLB can afford to buy as much testing as they need, estimated numbers that regularly used blow into the multiple-thousands per league. But how will that look when tests are not so available to sick people and their families who need them more urgently?

And, then, what happens if an athlete tests positive and he is quarantined? Will his teammates play on? Will his coaches coach on? Will his trainers train on? Will his family and/or others around him live on?

It’s understandable that sports society wants the ball to be tipped, the ball to be kicked, the ball to be played, the puck to be dropped. It wants paralyzed arms and legs and hearts to pump again. It wants life to go on.

But disease can be unbending, uncooperative, unrelenting.

While there are those who want to move forward, to flout their freedom, especially the young and the restless, the impervious and the foolish, there are also those who rely on decision-makers to make the best choices for everyone. Half of Americans have some underlying health issue and some 70 million are of extra-vulnerable age to the coronavirus.

This is the medical crisis of a lifetime. With continued careful study and steps over a gap that must be bridged until a vaccine is found, effective medicine is concocted, it is prudent to step cautiously.

If games can be played safely, then do it.

The financial conditions here are severe, the considerations important. Those all affect people’s lives, too. But who wants to prematurely watch or cover or espouse the re-start of live sports if masses of people will die from them?

Even for those who love sports, that’s a price too high.

GORDON MONSON hosts “The Big Show” with Jake Scott weekdays from 2-7 p.m. on 97.5 FM and 1280 AM The Zone.





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