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Lindsey Vonn, Ronda Rousey among athletes featured on Shark Week

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Olympic medalists Lindsey Vonn and Ronda Rousey headline an athlete roster appearing on Discovery Channel’s Shark Week in two months.

They follow Michael Phelps‘ much talked about Shark Week shows last year.

Vonn will appear on a show called “Monster Tag.” Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers and New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski are also included.

They “will join forces with top shark scientists to learn crucial information about the ocean’s top predators,” according to Discovery Channel.

Rousey, a 2008 Olympic judo bronze medalist, will dive with a mako shark in “Uncaged: Shark vs. Ronda Rousey.” The title is similar to “Phelps vs. Shark: Great Gold vs. Great White” from last year.

“First, Rousey, in a cage, dives into the ring with several lightweight shark species in the waters off Fiji and then moves onto the main event in New Zealand where she’ll ‘free dive uncaged’ with the heavyweight mako shark,” according to Discovery Channel.

More on Shark Week from Discovery Channel is here.

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Kayla Harrison sets MMA debut fight after post-Olympic depression

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Double Olympic judo champion Kayla Harrison will make her MMA debut on June 21 at a Professional Fighters League (PFL) event in Chicago.

The fight, against an opponent Harrison chose not to publicly reveal Monday, will be 20 months since Harrison first announced she joined the promotion and would maybe fight.

“I’ve been waiting for a long time to fight,” Harrison, 27, said on the MMA Hour on Monday. “First, it was more me. I just wanted to get my feet wet, get in there, see if I liked getting punched in the face. Now that I’ve established that I do, we’ve sort of been waiting for the PFL to get their stuff together. So, their stuff is together.”

Harrison said her first two planned opponents for the 145-pound fight (27 pounds fewer than her Olympic weight) pulled out for reasons unknown to her.

“I don’t care who I fight,” said Harrison, the only U.S. Olympic judo champion, who hopes to fight three times this year. “It’s tough because I’m 0-0 in MMA. So it’s not like I’m going to fight someone who’s 10-0. But I think it’s difficult when you have two Olympic gold medals behind your name. Like people are kind of like, are you really an amateur?”

Harrison also said Monday that she was “very depressed” after the Rio Olympics, knowing she was done with judo, not setting a morning alarm or working out and “laying in bed all day” watching TV.

“I was a little bit lost in my life,” she said. “That high is so high that when you come off of that, it’s like your low. You don’t know what to do with yourself.”

Her coaches, Jimmy Pedro and Jim Pedro Sr., were against Harrison filling that void with MMA.

“Even if I was a millionaire or independently wealthy and I had no worries and I didn’t have to work, I would still be doing what I’m doing,” Harrison said. “I think at the beginning I was kind of like skittish about it. It’s tough, too, because everyone is always like, well look at Ronda [Rousey], you always have the comparisons. It’s so different from the judo world, but I’m kind of loving it. I’m kind of starting to become my own person in MMA, if that makes sense. In judo, I always had certain expectations. Everyone is sort of like, this is Kayla. This is the golden girl. This is the poster child, and so I always felt like that’s who I had to be. But in MMA, no one really knows me. Nobody cares about judo.”

In October 2016, Harrison announced she joined MMA promotion World Series of Fighting (now PFL) as a commentator, brand ambassador and potentially a fighter. But she wasn’t 100 percent committed to competing at the time.

“All signs point to a yes, but everything has to work out,” Harrison said then.

Then in June 2017, Harrison said she would fight starting in 2018. The debut was pushed from February to June.

Harrison had been asked time and again for years about her interest in pursuing MMA. That’s in part because of former training partner Rousey’s overwhelming success after she switched from Olympic judo to MMA.

Harrison took boxing and jiu-jitsu lessons as far back as 2013, which should boost her MMA potential. Since Rio, she’s trained in New Jersey, Las Vegas and now Florida.

Harrison previously said that to compete in MMA she will require a weight cut from her Olympic judo class of 172 pounds.

Rousey competed at 135 pounds, the heaviest women’s weight class in UFC at the time. UFC added a 145-pound division last year. Harrison said in 2016 that if she fought, it would probably be at 145 pounds.

PFL, which had no women’s weight class when Harrison signed up, planned to develop a women’s program as Harrison readied for a potential debut. Harrison said Sunday that PFL’s plan is to have a full women’s division in 2019.

“I want to be the best, undisputed,” Harrison said. “I want everyone to say, oh, who’s the best MMA fighter in the world? Oh, that’s Kayla Harrison.”

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Ronda Rousey: UFC return just as likely as Olympic return

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Ronda Rousey repeated that she doesn’t know if she will return to UFC in an interview with Ellen DeGeneres published Tuesday.

“It’s just as likely as me going to back to another Olympics for judo,” the 31-year-old Rousey said. “No one demanded a written resignation from me for judo, and I don’t really think the same thing is necessary for fighting. I’m just doing what I enjoy, and WWE is what I enjoy right now.”

Rousey, a 2008 Olympic judo bronze medalist, is now under contract with WWE. She is scheduled for a match debut at WrestleMania on April 8 in a mixed tag-team event with 1996 Olympic wrestling champion Kurt Angle as her partner.

“I’m nervous, but it’s not like Olympics nervous,” Rousey said. “The worst thing that’ll happen is I’ll look stupid.”

Rousey said in an ESPN interview published Jan. 28 that WWE has “first priority on my time the next several years.” Rousey shrugged off a question about retirement from mixed martial arts.

“That’s what everybody else seems to say,” Rousey said. “I mean, I never retired from judo. If that’s what you guys want to think, all I know is that I really want to devote 100 percent of my time to wrestling right now, and whatever people want to call that, they can call it.”

Previously, Rousey said she needed “to take some time to reflect and think about the future” on Dec. 31, 2016, one day after losing her second straight UFC fight via a brutal TKO at the pummeling hands of Amanda Nunes at UFC 207 in Las Vegas.

Rousey has been out of MMA ever since.

UFC president Dana White said in January 2017 that he believed Rousey would never fight in UFC again.

“I think she’s probably done,” White said then. “I think she’s going to ride off into the sunset and start living her life outside of fighting.”

White said he made those comments after speaking to Rousey earlier that same day.

“Her spirits are good. She’s doing her own thing,” he said. “In the conversation that I had with her, if I had to say right here, right now — and, again, I don’t like saying right here, right now because, you know, it’s up to her and her thing — but I wouldn’t say she fights again.”

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