The UFC intends to welcome a capacity crowd at Las Vegas’ T-Mobile Arena on July 10 when Dustin Poirier and Conor McGregor fight for the third time.

UFC President Dana White announced his plan Wednesday for the promotion’s first sellout show in its hometown since the start of the coronavirus pandemic.

“I am so happy to finally be able to say Vegas is back,” White said.

The world’s biggest mixed martial arts organization hasn’t fought in front of more than a few dozen fans in Las Vegas since the start of the pandemic. For the past 11 months, the UFC has held its near-weekly shows in its empty gym on its corporate campus in Vegas or at Abu Dhabi’s Fight Island, where limited crowds were allowed in January.

Earlier this week, Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak said the state aims to lift the majority of its COVID-19 restrictions in the next few weeks with a goal of fully reopening by June 1.

White said the UFC wouldn’t fight again in front of fans until the promotion could have full-capacity crowds in the stands, and that move is happening soon. The UFC’s next two pay-per-view shows will be held in front of full arenas in Florida and Texas.


UFC 261 in Jacksonville on April 24 will be the promotion’s first show before a full crowd since March 2020. The card is headlined by three title fights, including welterweight champion Kamaru Usman’s rematch with Jorge Masvidal.


LPGA: Yuka Saso and Brittany Altomare got hot late to shoot 8-under 64s and share the early lead in the first round of the Lotte Championship.

So Yeon Ryu and Ally Ewing were a shot back among the early starters.


MONTE CARLO MASTERS: Returning back from a long break, both Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal opened their clay-court seasons with victories Wednesday at the Monte Carlo Masters.


Djokovic produced a clinical 6-4, 6-2 win over up-and-coming Jannik Sinner before Nadal – an 11-time champion at the Country Club – defeated Federico Delbonis 6-1, 6-2. Both Nadal and Djokovic took some time off after the Australian Open, where Djokovic claimed a record-extending ninth title in February.

Facing a stern test against Sinner, the top-ranked Djokovic eased into his clay-court routine to reach the third round and improve his unbeaten record this season to 10-0. After dropping his serve early, Djokovic won four straight games. Sinner, who arrived in Monte Carlo following a runner-up finish in Miami, saved two match points but was too often troubled by Djokovic’s mix of baseline attacks and subtle drop shots. The 19-year-old Sinner bowed out on a double-fault.

Djokovic will next face Daniel Evans, who beat Hubert Hurkacz 6-4, 6-1. Djokovic, who beat Nadal in the 2013 final and won the tournament again in 2015, could face the Spaniard in Sunday’s final.

The Monte Carlo Masters is back on the calendar with no fans after it was canceled last year because of the coronavirus pandemic. Defending champion Fabio Fognini also advanced to the third round, beating Jordan Thompson 6-3, 6-3. Fourth-seeded Stefanos Tsitsipas progressed with a 6-3, 6-4 win over Aslan Karatsev and Alexander Zverev defeated Lorenzo Sonego 6-3, 6-3. Also, Casper Ruud earned his second top-10 victory with a 6-3, 6-3 victory over ninth-seeded Diego Schwartzman.


NASCAR: NASCAR driver Bubba Wallace is partnering with Novant Health to address the hesitancy to get vaccinated for COVID-19. Wallace, the only Black driver in NASCAR, received his COVID vaccine on Tuesday at his race team’s shop in North Carolina. He says it’s important to learn about the vaccine and for him to do his part. He’s encouraging others to get their shot “and help get us all safely back to normal.”


There are significant hesitancy rates across communities, particularly among minority populations. Novant Health says its vaccination rate for Asian and Black patients at a community event is three times that of the general North Carolina vaccination rate.


UEFA SUSPENSION: Slavia Prague defender Ondřej Kúdela was banned for 10 games by UEFA on Wednesday for racially abusing a Black opponent in the Europa League.

UEFA said the ban would apply to “club and representative team competition matches.” Ten games is the minimum ban for racial abuse in UEFA’s disciplinary code.

Kúdela is set to miss the rest of Slavia’s Europa League campaign and the Czech Republic’s games at the European Championship. The Czechs begin their Euro 2020 program in June against Scotland in Glasgow, the city where Kúdela was found to have racially abused Rangers midfielder Glen Kamara on March 18. Kúdela, Slavia and likely the Czech soccer federation can appeal against the ban, first to UEFA and then the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

Kúdela covered his mouth with both hands when he spoke into Kamara’s ear during a Europa League game at Ibrox Stadium last month. He acknowledged swearing at Kamara but denied using racist language that another Rangers player also claimed to have heard. UEFA also banned Kamara for three European club competition games next season for assaulting Kúdela after the game. Slavia won 2-0 to advance to the quarterfinals.


Kamara’s ban will not stop him from playing for Finland at Euro 2020. His ban, which he could appeal, is set to be applied during the qualifying rounds of next season’s Champions League.

CHAMPIONS LEAGUE: Pep Guardiola shared an emotional moment with goalscorer Phil Foden as Manchester City ended its run of failure in the quarterfinals, beating host Borussia Dortmund 2-1 for a 4-2 aggregate win.

Guardiola reached the semifinals with City at the fifth attempt, matching the club’s best ever result under his predecessor Manuel Pellegrini in 2016. Guardiola said Tuesday he expected to be labeled “a failure” if Dortmund became the fourth club in a row to eliminate City in a Champions League quarterfinal.

• Real Madrid secured its return to the Champions League semifinals after a two-season absence by holding Liverpool to a 0-0 draw, protecting a 3-1 advantage from the first leg.

U.S. WOMEN: Players on the U.S. women’s national soccer team have asked a federal appeals court to overturn a lower court decision throwing out their lawsuit seeking equal pay to the men’s team.

Players led by Alex Morgan asked the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to reinstate the part of their suit that U.S. District Judge R. Gary Klausner threw out last May when he granted a partial summary judgment to the U.S. Soccer Federation.


“For each win, loss and tie that women players secure, they are paid less than men who play the same sport and who do the same work; that is gender discrimination,” players’ spokeswoman Molly Levinson said in a statement. “A pervasive atmosphere of sexism drove this pay discrimination.”

Appeals are assigned to three-judge panels. The 9th Circuit estimates that oral arguments in civil appeals will be scheduled 12-20 months from the notice of appeal and 9-12 months after written briefs have been completed.

The court asked players to submit their brief by July 23 and the USSF its brief by Aug. 23. The players’ optional reply brief is due 21 days after the USSF submission.

The U.S. has won the last two Women’s World Cups and is the favorite in this summer’s Olympic women’s soccer tournament.


COACH BANNED: Former Zimbabwe captain Heath Streak was banned for eight years Wednesday for breaching cricket’s anti-corruption code while he was coach of his country’s national team and an assistant coach in the Indian Premier League and other domestic competitions.

The ban relates to Streak’s communication for more than a year with an Indian man who sought inside information for the purposes of betting. The man, identified only as “Mr. X,” rewarded Streak with gifts like two Bitcoins, which Streak sold for $35,000, and a new iPhone for his wife, according to the disciplinary decision released by the International Cricket Council.

The 47-year-old Streak admitted to five charges, the ICC said. He disclosed inside information that might have been used for betting, failed to disclose gifts he received, facilitated the introduction of Mr. X to players, failed to report the approaches to the ICC’s anti-corruption unit, and obstructed an investigation into his conduct. Streak, a former fast bowler, was one of Zimbabwe’s greatest players and the first from his country to take 100 test wickets. He played 65 tests for Zimbabwe and also had successful spells in England with Hampshire and Warwickshire.

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