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‘We were in a really bad place’: Dana White says he has mended fences with Conor McGregor after last year’s fractious fallout


Dana White and his number one cash cow, Conor McGregor, have reconciled after what the UFC boss described as a serious falling out between the two stemming from McGregor releasing private text messages between the pair last year.

White has often bitten his tongue when discussing the Irishman’s occasional outside-of-the-cage infractions and has famously given him a lot of rope in some of his more notorious episodes, but the UFC president issued a stark rebuttal of his biggest-ever star’s decision to tweet screen-grabs of a conversation the pair had last year when haggling over a potential fight booking.

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‘One of the DIRTIEST things you can do’: UFC boss Dana White fumes after Conor McGregor leaks message exchanges (VIDEO)

Soon after McGregor’s 40-second win against Donald Cerrone in January last year, attention quickly turned to McGregor’s next potential opponent as part of what he had described would be a three-fight ‘season’ in 2020. 

However, and before the onset of the coronavirus plunged a dagger into the heart of global sport, McGregor stated that he wanted to fight as soon as possible, with Justin Gaethje being among the figures to have the Dubliner’s crosshairs trained on him.

McGregor would eventually sit out the remainder of the year but faced waves of criticism from fans and fighters alike due to his perceived inaction once the UFC roadshow was underway in Abu Dhabi and elsewhere – prompting McGregor to release a series of private messages between he and White which detailed McGregor’s repeated requests for a fight.

One fighter noted by McGregor was Diego Sanchez, the longest-tenured athlete on the UFC roster. Even his most ardent supporters would say that Sanchez’s best days are behind him, while White also balked at the idea of what he saw as an easy fight for McGregor.

But more than that, White says he didn’t appreciate his dirty laundry being aired in public.

We were in a really bad place then,” White told ESPN of his relationship with McGregor last year.

I was really upset. It wasn’t because he put out private messages. But we were talking about another fighter and I like Diego Sanchez a lot and I have a lot of respect for Diego Sanchez. I care about Diego Sanchez. So I was very upset about that.

I talked to Diego face-to-face about it. Being the great human being that he is, [it’s] all good and then I was really, really upset with Conor. Conor, I fixed that, we talked and we got through it and we’re in a good place now.”

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Part of fight promotion, though, is doing business with people you don’t necessarily like, something which comes with the territory in prizefighting more so than in most other major global sports – and while White says that his relationship with McGregor never devolved into true acrimony, he says that business does come first.

Me and everybody are always in a good place as far as business goes,” he said. “Tito Ortiz fought here for years. We hated each other. He fought here for years. Business is always good but that doesn’t mean that we’re good.

We’re in a good business place and personally, Conor and I are in a good place right now.”

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‘Sexist, ageist and jealous’ CBS’s Leslie Stahl degraded online for asking if 80-year-old Nancy Pelosi had a successor in Congress


CBS ‘60 Minutes’ reporter Leslie Stahl found herself under fire online from the fans of Speaker Nancy Pelosi, after asking her if the octogenarian senior House Democrat was prepared to pass the baton to younger politicians.

During a Sunday interview, Stahl asked Pelosi about a potential future leadership change, in reference to Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez previously accusing Congressional Democrats of not training the next generation of party heads.

“You’re 80, your number two [House Majority Leader] Steny Hoyer is 81, your number three [House Majority Whip] Jim Clyburn is 80. Why haven’t you brought young people into the leadership?” Stahl asked.

Pelosi responded by saying that they had, adding that Stahl might not have known that.

“Why does AOC complain that you have not been grooming younger people for leadership?” the interviewer reiterated her question.

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“I don’t know,” the Speaker quickly replied, almost cutting Stahl off, “You’ll have to ask her… because we are.”

Stahl then remarked that Pelosi’s answer seemed “sharp” and “dismissive” of Ocasio-Cortez.

“I’m not dismissing her,” Pelosi responded, saying the party is “building support for what comes next” with regard to other House members “that the press doesn’t pay attention to.”

The seemingly innocuous exchange, however, sparked intense backlash online, with Pelosi supporters accusing Stahl of being “combative” and even “ageist,” despite the reporter herself being 79.

It is time to retire dinosaur Leslie Stahl,” one of Pelosi’s defenders tweeted, adding, “and no, I am not being ageist.”

Others attacked Stahl for supposedly being jealous of Pelosi’s political career, while other tweeters insisted the reporter was being sexist.

“Leslie Stahl’s hair looks like a cheesy wig. She’s probably bald and very jealous of Speaker Pelosi,” one person tweeted.

Back in December, Ocasio-Cortez asserted that the Democrats “need new leadership,” but have no one to replace the likes of Pelosi, and the 70-year-old Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer.

That comment itself was Ocasio-Cortez’s reaction to some progressive activists pushing her and other left-wing House members to withhold their vote for Pelosi as House Speaker unless she puts the Medicare For All universal healthcare plan up for a floor vote. Having disagreed with the idea from the onset, Ocasio-Cortez voted for Pelosi on January 3.

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Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez says Democrats should drop Pelosi as leader, right after defending her against the left

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‘Turn down the damn medal’: NFL fans in UPROAR as legendary New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick set to receive Trump honor


NFL fans have sounded their disapproval at plans for Donald Trump to award New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick the Presidential Medal of Freedom, citing last week’s Trump-inspired riots at the US Capitol as the reason.

Six-time Super Bowl-winning coach Belichick had an uncharacteristically below-par season this term as his team struggled to cope with the loss of their iconic quarterback Tom Brady who, much like many Americans in his age-group, opted to move to sunnier climes in Tampa Bay ahead of his retirement – if and when that day ever comes.

But as Belichick fields continuous press intrigue about the Patriots’ curious underperformance this term, he is now facing a whole new wave of criticism from the liberal Massachusetts public after reports emerged that he is in line to receive the Presidential Medal of Honor from Donald Trump this week – the highest civilian honor available to American citizens. 

The Bostonian brouhaha stems from Trump’s perceived role in instigating last week’s riots at the US Capitol which led to the deaths of several people, including a police officer, amid what is being seen by some as an armed insurrection with designs on toppling the United States’ electoral system, much of which, it is alleged, was guided by Trump’s hand.

Last week, Swedish women’s golf star Annika Sorenstam and South Africa’s Gary Player were subject to fierce criticism after accepting similar awards in the White House in the days after Wednesday’s DC fracas.

The relationship between Trump and Belichick, as well as Patriots’ owner Robert Kraft, goes a long way back. Belichick described himself as having “a friendship and loyalty to Donald” during the 2016 presidential campaign, while Kraft has also been spotted at several official Trump events and ceremonies during his administration. 

However, the situation of Belichick’s presidential honor is further complicated by Trump’s aggressive stance on the wave of protests which were popularized by former 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick.

Since then, Trump has been a vocal opponent of NFL players’ rights to protest on the sidelines during the playing of the US national anthem – criticism which many NFL fans are saying stands in harsh contrast to how the waves of protestors were treated in Washington DC last week. 

And the temperature appears to be rising in New England. Monday’s edition of the Boston Globe was adorned with a front-page op-ed titled simply: “Don’t go“, a sentiment which, according to Twitter at least, seems to have been overwhelmingly backed by the New England sporting public.

Whether or not this can be adequately described as “sports-washing” remains to be seen, but Trump has spoken on the record several times to state his admiration for Belichick.

You know, if I ever had a military battle, I’d call up Belichick and say, ‘What do you think? What do you think? Give me a couple of ideas,” Trump jokes of Belichick, who comes from a military background, on The Hugh Hewitt Show last year.

He’d be as good as any general out there.

I’ll tell you, Belichick is an incredible coach, and I think he’s going to do really well. This guy just knows how to win. And he’s a very good friend of mine. He’s a winner.”

Those of us prone to superstition might take Trump’s above comments as a curse, as Belichick finished the NFL season with a losing record of 7-9 – the first time since 2000 that the team, who had won 10 straight AFC East titles, had posted a negative record on the year. 

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Should Belichick bow to the pressure of the public, it wouldn’t be the first time that a scheduled event between Trump and figures within the NFL was cancelled at a moment’s notice – in 2018, Trump disinvited the Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles from a visit to the White House after several members of the team vocally criticized Trump’s anti-protest stance. 

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NY State Bar Association moves to expel Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani


The New York State Bar Association (NYSBA) has launched an investigation into disbarring President Trump’s attorney, Rudy Giuliani, after he addressed a crowd of Trump supporters who went on to storm the Capitol.

Having received “hundreds of complaints” about Giuliani’s “baseless efforts” to prove the 2020 election fraudulent, and in light of a speech he gave before pro-Trump rioters barged into the US Capitol last week, the New York State Bar Association has launched an “historic” inquiry into revoking the former New York City mayor’s law license, the association said in a statement on Monday.

Giuliani has stood by Trump’s claims that Joe Biden’s electoral victory was fraudulent, though his efforts to prove this fraud legally were denied by multiple courts. However, the latest batch of complaints to the NYSBA came after Giuliani addressed thousands of Trump supporters at a ‘Stop the Steal’ rally outside the White House last Wednesday.

“Over the next 10 days,” he promised the crowd, “we get to see the machines that are crooked, the ballots that are fraudulent. If we’re wrong, we will be made fools of. But if we’re right, a lot of them will go to jail. Let’s have trial by combat,” he said.

After speeches by Giuliani and Trump himself, a crowd of protesters descended on the Capitol and forced their way in, as lawmakers inside certified Biden’s win. The crowd vandalized the building, and five people died as a result of the fracas. Among them were an unarmed protester shot dead by police, and a police officer who died on Thursday, allegedly after being struck by a rioter armed with a fire extinguisher. Three other people suffered fatal “medical emergencies.”

Among those calling for Giuliani’s disbarment were Representatives Ted Lieu (D-Torrance) and Mondaire Jones (D-Nyack), who alleged that Giuliani’s use of the phrase “trial by combat” amounted to incitement and seditious conspiracy.

Giuliani’s potential disbarment could spell trouble for President Trump, if Congress votes on his impeachment. Rumors have it that Trump will enlist Giuliani to defend him in any impeachment trial, but, with a week left in office, the likelihood of that trial taking place before Biden’s inauguration is slim. Even if the House of Representatives votes on impeachment this week, the Senate doesn’t reconvene until January 19 – one day before the inauguration. 

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Melania Trump condemns Capitol Hill violence, but draws hate from liberals for sympathizing with dead rioter


First Lady Melania Trump has denounced the Capitol Hill riot, writing that “violence is never acceptable.” However, Mrs. Trump was blasted for offering sympathy for Ashli Babbitt, the Trump supporter shot dead by police.

With President Donald Trump banned from social media and otherwise silent, the first lady issued a statement on Monday condemning the riot on Capitol Hill last Wednesday, in which a pro-Trump mob forced its way inside the US Capitol to protest Congress’ certification of Joe Biden’s election victory.

“Make no mistake about it, I absolutely condemn the violence that has occurred on our Nation’s Capitol,” she wrote. “Violence is never acceptable.”

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In a letter riddled with spelling mistakes, Mrs. Trump offered her sympathies to the six people who died during or after the riots, including an off-duty officer who died by apparent suicide on Sunday.

However, liberals took issue with Mrs. Trump offering condolences to Ashli Babbitt, an Air Force veteran and Trump supporter who was shot dead by a Capitol police officer during the riot. The anti-Trump crowd called Babbitt a “domestic terrorist” and an “insurrectionist,” and hammered the first lady for listing Babbitt’s name before the two police officers in her statement.

Reaction to Babbitt’s death has been extreme, and split along familiar political fault lines. Seen by the most fervent Trump supporters as something of a martyr, the 14-year veteran was shown zero sympathy by liberals. Among some of the more extreme comments circulating on Twitter were one celebrating how Babbitt is now “feeding the worms,” while numerous parody accounts poking fun at her death are online.

Mrs. Trump’s show of respect to Babbitt wasn’t the only issue liberals found in her statement. Five paragraphs in, the first lady moved away from praying for victims’ families to condemning the “salacious gossip, unwarranted personal attacks, and false misleading accusations” made against her since the riot. What gossip and attacks Mrs. Trump was referring to is unclear, and her critics accused her of using the opportunity to paint “herself as the real victim.”

Though the left raged at Mrs. Trump for equating Babbitt’s death with those of two police officers, most liberals didn’t show the same reverence for the badge last summer. Amid wall-to-wall coverage of ‘Black Lives Matter’ riots, few pundits and commentators eulogized David Dorn, an African-American retired police captain shot dead by a rioter in St. Louis, Missouri.

With the fallout from Wednesday’s riot continuing, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has demanded that Vice President Mike Pence immediately invoke the 25th Amendment to remove President Trump from office. Should Pence decline, Pelosi has promised to bring articles of impeachment to a vote by Tuesday. Efforts to oust him notwithstanding, Trump will leave office on January 20, when Biden is inaugurated.

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What happened at the Capitol was bad. But the Democrats’ rhetoric of ‘sedition’ and ‘insurrection’ is paranoid and authoritarian

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‘Devastating blow to free speech’ or a laughing matter? Outrage & celebration over Parler’s shutdown light up Internet


Cries of censorship as well as gloating posts could be seen online after the conservative-targeting social media platform Parler went offline early Monday, following US tech companies’ moves to block the network.

Following Apple and Google’s ban of the conservative social network from their web stores over the weekend, Amazon suspended Parler from web hosting services, saying that the platform has experienced “a steady increase in this violent content” in the wake of the riot at the US Capitol.

The shutdown caused quite the controversy, as the app was from the start marketed as lighter moderated equivalent to Twitter, promising to better uphold the virtues of ‘free speech.’

US conservatives have reacted to Parler going offline with immediate hostility. FOX’ Brian Kilmeade said that the development was “scary,” and host Maria Bartiromo called it a “devastating blow to free speech.”

Twitter users have called the shutdown an act of “censorship,” with some claiming it was part of a larger media “purge” of right-wing politics online.

Some, however, cheered for Parler’s apparent demise, with one person joking that it forced “all the crazies back on Twitter.”

A few users went as far as to commemorate Parler’s shutdown by making memes about it. Some tweeters offered US conservatives a tin can telephone as the censorship-proof equivalent to the app. Another person referenced the infamous clip of vice president-elect Kamala Harris congratulating her running mate Joe Biden on their election victory, saying, “We did it, Joe, we did it.”

Despite the seeming finality of Parler going offline, its CEO, John Matze, previously said he was planning for the app to come back, noting, however, that the process would take “longer than expected,” as most of the platform’s vendors apparently decided to drop it, following the lead of Amazon, Apple and Google.

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Parler goes offline as Amazon pulls the plug on the conservative social network

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Justin Thomas apologizes after slur caught on broadcast


HAWAII: Justin Thomas apologized following Saturday’s third round of the Sentry Tournament for Champions in Hawaii after he was heard uttering a homophobic slur during the television broadcast.

A microphone picked up the slur, which Thomas directed at himself after missing a short par putt on No. 4.

He apologized in an interview with Golf Channel after his round.

“There’s just no excuse. I’m an adult. I’m a grown man,” said Thomas, ranked No. 3 in the world. “There’s absolutely no reason for me to say anything like that. It’s terrible. I’m extremely embarrassed. It’s not who I am. It’s not the kind of person that I am. But unfortunately I did it and I have to own up to it and I’m very apologetic.

“Like I said, it’s in excusable. I’m speechless. It’s bad. There’s no other way to put it. I need to do better. I need to be better. It’s definitely a learning experience. I deeply apologize to anyone and everybody who I offended and I’ll be better because of it.”

The PGA Tour also weighed in on the incident, saying, “As he expressed after his round, we agree that Justin’s comment was unacceptable.”

Thomas, who shot 5-under 68 on Saturday and is 17-under for the tournament, enters Sunday’s final round four shots off the lead in fifth place. Thomas won the title at this event last season in a playoff. – Field Level Media

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Football in brief


Leeds stunned by fourth-tier Crawley in FA Cup

CRAWLEY: Premier League Leeds United suffered a shock 3-0 defeat by fourth-tier Crawley Town in the FA Cup third round on Sunday.

Leeds’ Argentine manager Marcelo Bielsa fielded a strong line-up for the trip to West Sussex but League Two Crawley, a non-league club until nine years ago, produced the biggest upset of the round.

Nick Tsaroulla stunned the Yorkshire side in the 50th minute with a superb individual goal as he wriggled free of his marker and burst goalwards before drilling the ball into the far corner.

Three minutes later Ashley Nadesan doubled the advantage, breaking into the box on the right and driving a low shot which Leeds keeper Kiko Casilla failed to keep out at his near post.

The third came when Nadesan’s low drive was saved by Casilla at close-range but Jordan Tannicliffe pounced to smash the ball home.

Birthday boy Mount scores as Chelsea thrash Morecambe

LONDON: Chelsea midfielder Mason Mount scored on his 22nd birthday as Frank Lampard’s side eased to a 4-0 victory over fourth-tier Morecambe in their FA Cup third-round tie on Sunday.

Mount gave Chelsea an early lead at Stamford Bridge with a fierce shot from 25 yards, leaving Morecambe goalkeeper Mark Halstead with no chance.

Chelsea striker Timo Werner scored his first goal in two months with a simple tap-in from Kai Havertz’s knockdown shortly before halftime.

Callum Hudson-Odoi and Havertz also got their names on the scoresheet in the second half as Chelsea secured their first win in four games in all competitions.

Silva double earns Man City 3-0 FA Cup win over Birmingham

MANCHESTER: Bernardo Silva scored two goals and Phil Foden another as Manchester City strolled to a 3-0 win over second-tier Birmingham City in the third round of the FA Cup on Sunday.

Portuguese midfielder Silva scored his first goal at the Etihad Stadium in over a year when he fired the ball into the top corner in the eighth minute after Birmingham defender George Friend failed to clear.

Silva doubled City’s lead seven minutes later, finishing off a brilliant team move with a simple tap-in and Foden made it 3-0 before the break with a low strike from outside the box.

Riyad Mahrez thought he had added City’s fourth around the hour-mark when he slotted in at the back post, but the goal was disallowed after the Algerian was ruled to have been offside.


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England can cope with tough conditions in Sri Lanka: Silverwood


SRI LANKA: England are eager to extend their solid form in Test cricket but face a tough challenge in their two-match series in Sri Lanka, coach Chris Silverwood (pix) said on Sunday.

England won a three-test home series against West Indies in July last year after returning from the COVID-19-enforced break and followed it up with another series win over Pakistan.

Silverwood’s side are due to play two Tests in Galle, starting from Thursday, followed by four Tests in India. England have won two of their last five test series in Sri Lanka, most recently a 3-0 victory in 2018.

“It’s very exciting and not just me, the players are feeling it as well… But we have got to win the two Test matches here and go to India and continue the progression,” Silverwood told reporters.

“The important thing for me is the continuation of the progression that we have shown… our test team is getting better. If we continue doing that, we should be successful.

“It’s difficult to win here (in Sri Lanka). We have respect for Sri Lanka, (they) are a very good side in conditions. Do I believe we can win? I always believe our team can beat anyone but it’s about the process for me.

“The continual progression of the team, their skills, how they play together, building the side and continuing from where we got going.”

Spinner Moeen Ali will miss the first Test because he is self-isolating after testing positive for COVID-19. Fast bowler Chris Woakes, who had been in close contact with Moeen but tested negative, will undergo a late fitness test. – Reuters

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Atletico close to agreeing loan deal with Lyon’s Dembele


MADRID: Atletico Madrid are in talks with Olympique Lyonnais to sign French forward Moussa Dembele (pix) on loan until the end of the season, the Ligue 1 club’s sporting director Juninho has said.

Atletico are looking to sign a striker to boost their La Liga title charge and Champions League knockout hopes after Diego Costa left the club this month.

Dembele, 24, scored 31 Ligue 1 goals in his first two seasons with Lyon since switching from Celtic but has only made six league starts this campaign, scoring once.

Juninho told French television programme Telefoot that Dembele had asked him if he could move, adding that the forward had agreed personal terms with Atletico but the clubs were still negotiating.

“He told me that he has lost a bit of motivation. Moussa is a player that I like very much and that we were counting on. But keeping someone who doesn’t want to live a real and intense life for the next five months is not ideal,” Juninho said.

Atletico, who have a one-point lead at the top of La Liga with three games in hand, did not immediately respond to a request for comment. – Reuters

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