A blagger’s guide to UFC 249

With lockdown gripping the planet, one thing in seriously short supply has been live sport.

Now, we are not questioning the gravity of the current Coronavirus pandemic, but while people around the world are holed up at home, one of the things many are missing is their fix of sporting action.

Against all odds, this weekend UFC 249 takes place as pretty much the only show in town.

With that will come the obvious regular following, but we can also expect an influx of new armchair fans just wanting to get their eyes on some live sport.

Not ones to sit by without an opinion, sports fans always need to be able to spout ‘knowledge’ about what’s going on in front of them – however ill-advised that might be.

So for those in that category, here is the blagger’s guide to UFC 249’s main card.

Tony Ferguson v Justin Gaethje (Interim UFC Lightweight title fight)

First of all, this is not the fight that should be taking place. The 25-3 Ferguson, who is on a 12-fight win streak should have been taking on the current lightweight king Khabib Nurmagomedov, but with flight bans and the champ back home in Dagestan, that isn’t happening.

It’s a shame because if anyone deserves a tilt at the gold it is El Cucuy. His last seven opponents have been left in a meme-worthy bloody mess thanks to his unpredictable offence that come at you from all angles. Equally well versed with his hands, feet, elbows, and on the ground Ferguson is an absolute weapon of a human being.

Gaethje is something of an enigma. Arriving in the UFC in 2017 with a big reputation and an undefeated record, two losses in his first three bouts quickly derailed the standout brawler.

He still only has

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Coronavirus could wipe 10 billion euros off football player values—report

(FILES) In this file photo taken on February 01, 2020 Paris Saint-Germain’s French forward Kylian Mbappe (R) is congratulated by Paris Saint-Germain’s Brazilian forward Neymar after scoring a goal during the French L1 football match between Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) and Montpellier Herault SC at the Parc des Princes stadium in Paris. (Photo by MARTIN BUREAU / AFP)

The transfer value of players in 10 of Europe’s top leagues could plummet by up to 10 billion euros due to the economic crash caused by coronavirus, a study from accounting firm KPMG said on Wednesday.

Transfer spending is expected to fall dramatically, with clubs across the continent facing huge losses as a result of football’s shutdown.

The top divisions in England, Germany, Italy and Spain remain committed to trying to finish the 2019/20 seasons so they can honor huge TV contracts and minimize the financial hit.

KPMG estimates that Europe’s top five leagues, including France, where the season has ended, could lose four billion euros ($4.3 billion) if the campaigns cannot be completed.

Those leagues are also the main drivers of the European transfer market. The study also looked at the top leagues in Belgium, the Netherlands, Portugal and Turkey and England’s second-tier Championship.

With little money to spend, values could fall by nearly 10 billion if there is no more football this season — the “worst-case” scenario.

They could still plummet by 6.6 billion euros if leagues were completed behind closed doors. That modeling was based on all 10 leagues being completed, even though seasons in France and the Netherlands have been ended.

“Our recent analysis reveals that the aggregate value of all the 4,183 players in the 10 European leagues under consideration decreased by a total of almost EUR 10 billion, a 26.5 percent drop since February for Scenario 1,”

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Daniel Radcliffe, David Beckham and more narrate ‘Harry Potter’ book streaming for free

British actor Daniel Radcliffe. AFP PHOTO / CHARLY TRIBALLEAU

Spotify and author JK Rowling on Tuesday announced the release of free weekly recordings narrated by celebrities of the first book in the wildly popular “Harry Potter” series.

To help children — and perhaps adults — cope with confinement measures, Daniel Radcliffe, the actor who played the beloved wizard character in the books’ cinematic renditions, voiced the first chapter of the series’ premiere novel, “Harry Potter and the Sorcerers’ Stone”.

He will be joined by a coterie of stars including soccer legend David Beckham along with actors Stephen Fry and Dakota Fanning, who will lend their voices to the book’s subsequent chapters.

All 17 chapters will be out by mid-summer, Spotify said, and the recordings will be available cost-free on the music platform, which recently began making strides in the audio book and podcast realms.

Videos of the celebrity recordings will stream on the website Harry Potter At Home.

“Parents, teachers and carers working to keep children amused and interested while we’re on lockdown might need a bit of magic,” said Rowling in launching that site last month.

Rowling’s seven-part “Harry Potter” series is the best-selling book collection ever, with more than 500 million copies sold to date.

The first novel, published in 1997, is the series’ best-seller, with more than 120 million editions purchased.

A version of the book is already available for free streaming on Amazon’s Audible, narrated entirely by Fry.

The novel is also available on that platform in Spanish, French, Italian, German and Japanese.

The series’ publishers have also temporarily relaxed licensing restrictions, which allows teachers to read the “Harry Potter” books to their students during remote classes. NVG

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