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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

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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)

Penny Oleksiak edges Simone Manuel, Regan Smith sizzles again in Knoxville

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Penny Oleksiak and Simone Manuel nearly duplicated their Olympic gold-medal tie. The Canadian Oleksiak edged Manuel by .03 in the 100m freestyle at a Tyr Pro Series stop in Knoxville, Tenn., on Sunday night.

Oleksiak clocked 53.41 seconds, coming back from .37 behind Manuel at the 50-meter mark. The two tied for the Rio Olympic title in an Olympic record 52.70 seconds four years ago. Oleksiak was the surprise, a 16-year-old who came into the Games ranked eighth in the world for the year.

Since, Manuel swept the 2017 and 2019 World titles. Oleksiak was sixth at 2017 Worlds and withdrew before the 100m free at 2019 Worlds. She ranked 21st in the world last year. Oleksiak’s time Sunday was her fastest since 2017.

Full Knoxville meet results are here. The Pro Series’ next stop is Des Moines from March 4-7.

In other events Sunday, world-record holder Regan Smith won the 200m backstroke in 2:05.94, the fastest time ever outside of a national championships or major international meet. Smith, 17, achieved the same feat on Saturday in the 100m back, where she also broke the world record at last summer’s worlds.

Madisyn Cox won a matchup of the three fastest U.S. women in the 200m individual medley in 2019. She clocked 2:09.88, beating Alex Walsh by a half-second and Melanie Margalis by .54.

It was Cox’s fastest time since she took bronze at the 2017 World Championships. She missed the 2019 Worlds after failing a 2018 drug test over what she said was a contaminated multivitamin.

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Mikaela Shiffrin among favorites eliminated early in parallel giant slalom

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Mikaela Shiffrin was upset in the round of 16 of the first World Cup parallel giant slalom by unheralded Frenchwoman Clara Direz, who went on to earn her first win on Sunday.

Shiffrin had the fastest qualifying time but was bounced in the second round of head-to-head racing in Sestriere by Direz. Direz, 24, came into the day with a best career finish of seventh.

Direz was 16th-fastest in qualifying, 1.02 seconds behind Shiffrin combining times from two runs. Direz edged Shiffrin by .13 in their head-to-head run. Shiffrin appeared to be at a disadvantage being put on the red course, which produced just three winners among 20 one-run matchups.

“It is fun; I think I like the parallel GS actually more than the parallel slalom, but it’s a little bit difficult,” Shiffrin said. “I think there’s still a lot of work we have to do, and FIS [the International Ski Federation] has to do to really make the race as even as it can be because for sure you can see, there’s always a faster course. But today it’s like they’re not even the same course at all. Especially in the last four, five gates on the blue course, you can even see just looking up the hill that it’s straighter than the red course.

“Today I would say it’s a day where the luck [of which course you draw randomly] really plays a role.”

Direz eventually beat Austrian Elisa Moerzinger in the final. Direz was on the blue course for three of her four one-run rounds. Full results are here.

Higher-ranked racers used to be have their choice of courses in the parallel format.

“Maybe that wasn’t fair, either, but I think there must be a way to make it something that is more even, but at the same time, yeah, I don’t really have the answers on how to do that, either,” Shiffrin said. “It’s still in its infancy, this event.”

Shiffrin has a track record of success in parallel slaloms and similar city events, winning five of her last six starts. But the parallel GS proved problematic for the world’s best in slalom.

Swiss Wendy Holdener and Slovakian Petra Vlhova were also eliminated before the quarterfinals after being second- and third-fastest in qualifying. Holdener was also on the red course. Vlhova lost in the round of 32, when skiers were taking runs on both the blue and red courses.

Sestriere marked the last weekend of technical races (slaloms/giant slaloms) until mid-February. The next three weekends feature downhills and super-Gs. Shiffrin is expected to travel to Bansko, Bulgaria, for the first set on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

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