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Ronda Rousey pummeled by Amanda Nunes in UFC return

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Amanda Nunes pummeled Ronda Rousey in 48 seconds, then spent two minutes declaring Rousey’s MMA career done.

“She had her time. She did a lot for the sport. Thank you, Ronda Rousey, but right now I’m the champion, and I’m here to stay,” the Brazilian Nunes said after her UFC 207 beatdown. “People, let’s stop this Ronda Rousey nonsense. I’m the champion!”

The referee stopped the fight after 48 seconds following a series of punches to Rousey’s head in Las Vegas on Friday night. Rousey looked lean and intense before the bell, then slow and frightened once Nunes attacked.

“I knew I would beat the s— out of Ronda Rousey,” said Nunes, who after the TKO held an index finger to her lips and stalked around the Octagon. “Now she’s going to retire and go do movies. She already has a lot of money. … Forget about Ronda Rousey.”

Rousey (12-2) lost her second straight bout after a shocking upset at the hands of Holly Holm on Nov. 15, 2015, her first defeat since switching from judo to MMA in 2010.

The 2008 Olympic bronze medalist lasted 5 minutes, 59 seconds against Holm after beating her previous four opponents all in 66 seconds or less.

Holm took the bantamweight title from Rousey on Nov. 15, 2015, then lost it to Miesha Tate at her next fight March 5. Tate then lost the belt to the Brazilian Nunes (14-4) on July 9.

Rousey’s break between the Holm and Nunes matchups was an extended one, given she fought at least twice every year from 2010 through 2015.

“It was never really about a psychological problem with Ronda,” UFC president Dana White said in October. “The thing with Ronda was, she wanted time off. She said, I want to go away, and I want to relax. But this girl worked hard for us for three years, non-stop, fight after fight, promotion after promotion.”

Rousey, 29, has said she’s nearing the end of her MMA career and that Nunes would be “one of my last fights.”

VIDEO: Rousey discusses suicidal thoughts after Holm loss

Photos via Getty and AP:

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LAS VEGAS, NV - DECEMBER 30: (R-L) Amanda Nunes of Brazil punches Ronda Rousey in their UFC women's bantamweight championship bout during the UFC 207 event on December 30, 2016 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

Chinese lead, star pairs struggle in world championships short program

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China’s Sui Wenjing and Han Cong recorded the highest pairs short program score in the world since the 2014 Olympics, topping the world championships field in Helsinki on Wednesday.

Two-time defending world champions Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford of Canada and Olympic silver medalists Ksenia Stolbova and Fedor Klimov are well behind in seventh and 13th place, respectively.

Sui and Han, in just their second event this season, tallied a personal-best 81.23 points.

They lead by 1.39 over Germans Aliona Savchenko and Bruno Massot going into the free skate Thursday (1 p.m. ET, NBCSN, NBCSports.com/live and the NBC Sports app).

Russians Yevgenia Tarasova and Vladimir Morozov are in third.

The Chinese will go for their first world title after giving up a short-program lead last year and taking silver for a second straight time.

Full worlds short program results are here.

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Sui and Han missed the fall season after Sui underwent right ankle and left foot surgeries last spring. They returned at the Four Continents Championships in February and posted personal-best free skate and total scores, ranking only behind Tarasova and Morozov for the season.

Duhamel and Radford, looking to become the first pair to three-peat in 40 years, came in slowed by Radford’s hip injury suffered in the last week. Radford was off-balance on his triple toe loop landing Wednesday. Duhamel’s hand touched the ice on her throw triple Lutz landing.

They scored 72.67 points, which is 8.56 behind Sui and Han.

Stolbova and Klimov both suffered falls in their short program and scored 65.59, qualifying for the 16-pair free skate by four points. The Russian champions missed the autumn season due to Stolbova’s left leg injury.

The top U.S. pair was Alexa Scimeca Knierim and Christopher Knierim, who posted a personal-best 72.17 points for eighth place. The husband-and-wife pair are competing for the second time this season after Scimeca Knierim’s serious abdominal injury.

U.S. champions Haven Denney and Brandon Frazier suffered two falls and placed 20th, matching the worst U.S. pairs finish in worlds history. They did not qualify for the 16-pair free skate.

Therefore, the Knierims must finish 10th or better after the free skate to ensure the U.S. earns two pairs places at the 2018 Olympics.

Pairs is the U.S.’ weakest discipline. The last U.S. medal in pairs at worlds came in 2002. The last Olympic medal was in 1988.

North Korean pair Ryom Tae Ok and Kim Ju Sik placed 14th in the short program, the highest of any pair expected to compete for one of four final Olympic quota spots in September.

North Korea sent no athletes to the Sochi Olympics, and it’s not a guarantee it will qualify any athletes for PyeongChang, or if it will send athletes to South Korea in February. But Ryom and Kim’s personal best by nearly 11 points on Wednesday was very encouraging.

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MORE: U.S. pairs skater back from life-threatening condition

Pairs Short Program
1. Sui Wenjing/Han Cong (CHN) — 81.23
2. Aliona Savchenko/Bruno Massot (GER) — 79.84
3. Yevgenia Tarasova/Vladimir Morozov (RUS) — 79.37
8. Alexa Scimeca Knierim/Christopher Knierim (USA) — 72.17
20. Haven Denney/Brandon Frazier (USA) — 56.23

Missy Franklin out due to shoulder surgeries

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Missy Franklin is sidelined from swimming competition for an undisclosed period of time to recover from surgeries on both of her shoulders due to bursitis, according to her social media.

“This is what’s best for me to come stronger than ever,” was posted on Franklin’s Instagram. “I’m so far from being done with this sport.”

The five-time Olympic champion was diagnosed in early January following an MRI, underwent surgeries that month and has returned to limited training.

Franklin, who has not raced since the Rio Olympics, will not compete in the next USA Swimming Pro Series meet in Mesa, Ariz., in two weeks.

Her return date is not set.

The U.S. Championships are in June in Indianapolis and serve as a qualifying meet for the world championships in Budapest in July.

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