Overeem stops Sakai on UFC card impacted by COVID-19 tests

Alexander Overeem earned a fifth-round technical knockout win over Augusto Sakai in a heavyweight main event at the UFC APEX in Las Vegas over the weekend.

It was one of just seven fights on the card after several bouts were cancelled due to several positive COVID-19 tests.

Heavyweight Marcos Rogerio De Lima and lightweight Thiago Moises, teammates at American Top Team in Florida, both reportedly tested positive for COVID-19 so they were pulled from the event. De Lima was supposed to fight Alexander Romanov, while Moises was set to face Jalin Turner.

Also, featherweight Kevin Natividad was removed from a clash with Brian Kelleher “as a precaution,” according to a UFC statement and Kelleher fought Ray Rodriguez on short notice instead. Originally, Kelleher was supposed to fight Ricky Simon but it was cancelled last week after one of Simon’s cornermen tested positive for COVID-19.

At least one bout has been scrapped from each of the UFC’s past three cards due to COVID-19-related problems.

Here are the complete results from the event.

— Alistair Overeem def. Augusto Sakai by TKO (elbows and punches)
— Ovince Saint Preux def. Alonzo Menifield by knockout (punch)
— Michel Pereira def. Zelim Imadaev by submission (rear-naked choke)
— André Muniz def. Bartosz Fabiński by submission (armbar)
— Brian Kelleher def. Ray Rodriguez by submission (guillotine choke)
— Viviane Araújo def. Montana De La Rosa by unanimous decision
Hunter Azure def. Cole Smith by unanimous decision

With files from The Associated Press

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Messi returns to Barcelona training ground

This video grab from AFPTV shows Barcelona’s Argentine forward Lionel Messi arriving by car at the Joan Gamper Ciutat Esportiva in Sant Joan Despi near Barcelona for a training session on September 7, 2020. – Lionel Messi arrived at Barcelona’s training ground today as he begins to reintegrate with the team following his failed attempt to leave the club this summer. (Photo by Adrian ADDISON / AFPTV / AFP)

Lionel Messi arrived at Barcelona’s training ground on Monday as he begins to reintegrate with the team following his failed attempt to leave the club this summer.

Messi was seen driving into the Ciutat Esportiva in Sant Joan Despi at just after 4:00 pm (1400 GMT) on Monday, where he is expected to take part in training for the first time under new coach Ronald Koeman.

The Argentinian superstar said on Friday in his explosive interview with Goal that he would continue to give his best for Barca, despite admitting defeat in his bid to depart for free.

The 33-year-old maintained he tried to go because he “wanted to live his last years of football happily” while also blaming the club’s president Josep Maria Bartomeu for “breaking his word” and forcing him to stay.

The return of Barcelona’s embittered captain and greatest player ever may not be an easy one, particularly given some of his closest teammates are likely to be absent.

Luis Suarez, Messi’s best friend and neighbor, as well as Arturo Vidal are expected to join Juventus and Inter Milan respectively.

It will also be the first time Messi has trained under Koeman, who was appointed Barca’s new coach last month.

Messi’s decision to notify the club via burofax that he intended to leave came the day after he had met with Koeman, talks that reportedly involved Dutchman taking

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Vladan Milojevic at breaking point for Al Ahli and tight relegation battle feature in SPL must-watch matches

A 2019/20 Saudi Professional League-season defined by unique circumstance is set to end on Wednesday after 384 days of protracted action.

Al Hilal’s ascension to the title was already sewn up before match-week 30. But fiendishly tight battles will reach frantic conclusions for 2021 AFC Champions League-qualification and to avoid earning the final relegation spot.

Here are three must-watch games:

AL AHLI JEDDAH V AL RAED (WEDNESDAY, 21:35)

Al Ahli in action against Al Shabab (EPA).

Turmoil has defined Vladan Milojevic’s Ahli reign.

The coveted ex-Red Star Belgrade tactician oversaw only two matches, before coronavirus’ evil influence forced a five-month pause. A contract dispute with Cape Verde forward Djaniny, emergency surgery for Brazil defensive midfielder Josef De Souza, regrettably timed back injury for – reportedly – want-away talisman Omar Al Somah and this week’s withdrawn resignation are just some of the myriad issues suffered.

Yet, somehow, Milojevic has steered Ahli into a position whereby they are in control of their Asian fate, despite winning just one of the last five fixtures. Their defining test now awaits against a rampaging Al Raed, who’ve taken 14 points from the last available 21 and have legitimate hope of gatecrashing the Asian spots from fifth.

Ahli’s current third place puts them through to the ACL, via play-off or automatically, no matter what happens in the King’s Cup. They sit one point ahead of fourth-placed Al Wehda and Raed, plus two in front of sixth-placed Al Faisaly.

These slim margins mean Milojevic’s men cannot, simply, avoid defeat and hope for the best. Never mind their wretched recent form.

This is in stark contrast to Raed, who appear propelled by a sense of destiny. This status was underlined in last week’s critical clash with Faisaly, Cameroon midfielder Arnaud Djoum finding a 91st-minute clincher

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