UFC 218 Mixed Martial Arts

Francis Ngannou, left, hits Alistair Overeem in the first round during a  heavyweight fight in Detroit.

Ngannou, Gane collide in UFC 270 heavyweight championship showdown

ANAHEIM, Calif. | Francis Ngannou’s path to his UFC heavyweight title was not straight, and it was not short.

The Cameroon-born Frenchman had detours and setbacks while traveling to a place where this vicious, versatile athlete finally developed the mental fortitude and physical precision to become what so many people always figured he would be — a champion.

By comparison, Ciryl Gane is on a rocket to the top.

A decorated Muay Thai fighter who made his mixed martial arts debut less than 3½ years ago, Gane has been much quicker to acquire both the elite MMA skills and the mental toughness necessary to beat the world’s best heavyweights.

Ngannou (16-3) defends his title for the first time when two of the most impressive heavyweights in MMA history meet in the main event of UFC 270, the promotion’s first pay-per-view show of 2022.

Morris, Weah, Dest and Zardes on U.S. roster for World Cup qualifiers

NEW YORK | Jordan Morris, Tim Weah, Sergiño Dest and Gyasi Zardes returned from injuries to make the U.S. roster ahead of the next three World Cup qualifiers.

Gio Reyna and Aaron Long were left off along with defenders John Brooks and Tim Ream, and forwards Daryl Dike, Jordan Pefok and Josh Sargent — who scored his first two Premier League goals as the 28-man roster was announced Friday.

Training starts Monday ahead of the Jan. 27 match against El Salvador in Columbus, Ohio. The Americans play Canada three days later on artificial turf at Hamilton, Ontario, and host Honduras on Feb. 2 at St. Paul, Minnesota.

Giants name Joe Schoen of Buffalo Bills as their new general manager

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. | Joe Schoen was at the top of the New York Giants’ list of candidates when they started their search for a new general manager, and the Buffalo Bills assistant GM never left that spot.

The Giants hired the 42-year-old Schoen as their general manager Friday. It ended a quick but extensive search in which they interviewed nine candidates in the first round and gave three a second interview in finding a replacement for Dave Gettleman.

Shaun White 1 of 4 United States snowboarders to defend Olympic titles

ASPEN, Colo. | Shaun White is one of four defending gold medalists named to the U.S. snowboarding team Friday, along with Chloe Kim, Jamie Anderson and Red Gerard.

Only White had to sweat out his spot on the team after a difficult month of qualifying that included a bout with COVID-19 and an injured ankle.

He finished third last week at a World Cup halfpipe contest in Switzerland to eliminate any doubt about his spot, and the U.S. Ski and Snowboard team made it official when they announced the 26-person team.

Number of early NFL draft entrants hits nine-year low at 73

The NFL announced Friday that 73 underclassmen have been granted special eligibility for the draft, the fewest in the last nine years.

All-American linebacker Nakobe Dean was one of four players from national champion Georgia on the list, along with receiver George Pickens, safety Lewis Cine and defensive lineman Travon Walker.

Mississippi’s Matt Corral is one of only two quarterbacks on the list, and a contender to be one of the first quarterbacks selected in the draft. The number of players granted special eligibility was down from 98 in 2021 and 99 in 2020. A record 106 juniors entered the draft without completing degrees in 2018.

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