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Khabib wins by second-round submission over Gaethje, improves to 29-0

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Alexander Volkov held serve as one of the top contenders in the UFC heavyweight division Saturday with an impressive performance against Walt Harris in a key UFC 254 bout on Fight Island in Abu Dhabi.

The 6-foot-11 Volkov, a kickboxer, whipped a front kick to Harris’ body, which abruptly ended the bout via TKO at 1:15 of the second round. Volkov kicked Harris’ midsection, underneath the ribs. Harris grabbed his solar plexus immediately and dropped to the mat. Referee Lukasz Bosacki was quick to step in and end it.

Volkov then called out some top names in the heavyweight divison, mentioning Alistair Overeem as well as Junior dos Santos and Jairzinho Rozenstruik. Coming in, ESPN had Volkov ranked No. 8 in the world at heavyweight.

“Anybody who can take me back to the belt run,” said Volkov, who improved to 32-8, including 6-2 in the UFC.

Volkov used his size and reach to great effect beginning in the first round. Near the end of that round, Volkov landed a hard combination that rocked Harris. While Harris landed some hard shots in both rounds, Volkov was more effective. And when that front kick landed clean to Harris’ body, the bout was a wrap.

“I expected to finish him in the second round, but I was close in the first round, too,” Volkov said. “Before this fight, they say that he is one of the best strikers in the heavyweight division, I showed that this is not true, he don’t touch me in this fight.

“We’ll keep striking, working on wrestling, everything too and we’ll show everyone that I am the best in the heavyweight division.”

Volkov, 31, has now won two of three following a loss to Curtis Blaydes in June. The Russia native has won eight of his last 10 fights overall.

Harris, a 37-year-old Alabama native, has dropped two straight following a four-fight unbeaten streak. He is now 13-9, including 7-7 in the UFC.

— Marc Raimondi

Watch this fight on ESPN+.


Lightweight title: Khabib Nurmagomedov (29-0, 13-0 UFC) defeats Justin Gaethje (23-2, 5-3 UFC) by second-round submission

Recap to come.


Middleweight: Robert Whittaker (23-5, 13-3 UFC) defeats Jared Cannonier (13-5, 6-5 UFC) by unanimous decision

Former UFC middleweight champion Robert Whittaker is right back at the top of the division — some would say, he never left.

Whittaker (22-5) defeated Jared Cannonier (13-5) via unanimous decision in the co-main event of UFC 254 on Saturday in Yas Island, Abu Dhabi. It is Whittaker’s second win in three months, as he out-pointed Darren Till in a close fight back in July in Abu Dhabi. Whittaker is now 2-0 since losing his title to Israel Adesanya in October 2019.

Read the entire story.

— Brett Okamoto


Middleweight: Phil Hawes (9-2, 1-0 UFC) defeats Jacob Malkoun (4-1, 0-1 UFC) by first-round KO

It might be time to reboard the Hawes hype train.

In his much-anticipated UFC debut, Hawes delivered a stunning 18-second knockout — the second-fastest finish in UFC history by a middleweight in his debut. Hawes, who fights out of Sanford MMA, staggered Malkoun with a right hand to the temple and then knocked him unconscious with a follow-up left hook.

“I’ve just got to take my time and wait to land, and I landed,” Hawes said.

In a way, Hawes’ debut was years in the making. The 31-year-old was considered one of the top prospects in MMA years ago, but he took the scenic route to the UFC. He was submitted in his fifth pro fight outside the UFC, and lost by knockout on the Dana White Contender Series in 2017. He has gone 5-0 since with five finishes.

The 185-pounder might be in line for a quick turnaround after this performance. He has already fought three times in 2020.

— Brett Okamoto

Watch this fight on ESPN+


Women’s flyweight: Lauren Murphy (14-4, 6-4 UFC) defeats Liliya Shakirova (8-2, 0-1 UFC) by second-round rear-naked choke

Murphy has been calling for a title shot. At UFC 254, she let her actions do the talking — and made quite the statement.

Murphy finished the debuting Shakirova via submission (rear-naked choke) at 3:31 of the second round. It was the first submission victory of Murphy’s career — and she stated her desire to get that Saturday.

“I’m one of the most well-rounded fighters, not just in the division, but in the UFC,” Murphy said in her postfight interview. “… I can do it all. I’m well-rounded, I’m tough, I’m mean.”

Murphy, ESPN’s No. 7-ranked flyweight, also made her case for a title shot afterward, saying she has only fought ranked opponents and this finish should be enough to get champion Valentina Shevchenko next.

“The next time I step in this cage, it will be to fight for the UFC belt,” Murphy said. “The next time I step out of [the cage], I’ll be wearing [the belt]. I promise.”

Murphy dictated the pace throughout the fight, backing Shakirova to the cage and landing combinations, particularly some solid knees to the body. Shakirova could never get her wrestling going. Instead, Murphy took her down in the second round, got her back and finished with the choke.

Murphy, 37, has won four straight. The Alaska native’s initial opponent was supposed to be fellow contender Cynthia Calvillo, but Calvillo tested positive for COVID-19 and was forced to withdraw. Murphy is 5-1 since moving down from bantamweight to flyweight in 2017.

Shakirova, a 29-year-old Uzbekistan native, had a three-fight winning streak snapped.

Raimondi

Watch this fight on ESPN+


Light heavyweight: Magomed Ankalaev (15-1, 6-1 UFC) defeats Ion Cuțelaba (15-6, 4-5 UFC) by first-round KO

It took the better part of 2020, but Ankalaev will finally get to move past the Cutelaba chapter of his career.

Ankalaev delivered a highlight-reel finish as he knocked Cutelaba out cold with strikes at the 4:19 mark of the opening round. The sequence began with a beautiful counter left hand on the feet that dropped Cutelaba to his back. Ankalaev immediately swarmed with shots on the ground to seal the deal.

The 205-pound matchup had been in the works since February, when Ankalaev beat Cutelaba via TKO in the opening minute of a fight in Virginia. The result was controversial, however, in that an officiating error led to the finish. Cutelaba was playing a bit of possum in the opening minute, and the referee mistakenly intervened when he wasn’t hurt.

The UFC immediately tried to book a rematch, but it fell through on three different occasions. Following this win, Ankalaev, who improved to 4-1 in the UFC, will finally move on to a different opponent. His only defeat in the Octagon came in the final second of a bout he was winning against Paul Craig in March 2018.

— Okamoto

Watch this fight on ESPN+


Heavyweight: Tai Tuivasa (11-3, 4-3 UFC) defeats Stefan Struve (33-13, 13-11 UFC) by first-round KO

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Tai Tuivasa unleashes a series of punches on Stefan Struve that forces the fight to be stopped late in the first round. The UFC 254 main card starts at 2 p.m. ET.

With his UFC contract potentially on the line, Tuivasa saved his job in emphatic fashion.

Tuivasa dropped Struve with a flurry against the fence, and the heavyweight bout was called via KO for Tuivasa at 4:59 of the first round. Referee Jason Herzog stepped in with Struve eating shots and just covering up right before the first-round bell.

“Good to win, man,” Tuivasa said. “I was trying to butter up his body along the cage. He’s huge, man.”

Tuivasa had some success with clinch strikes early in the first round against the 6-foot-11 Struve. As time was ticking off the clock in the first, Tuivasa got more aggressive. He got in close with Struve against the cage and let loose with a hard combination, including a right hand to the body and a right uppercut that put Struve down for good.

Tuivasa, 27, snapped a three-fight losing streak. The Australian slugger spent some time training with Daniel Cormier at American Kickboxing Academy in California earlier this year in an effort to improve his wrestling. Struve, a 32-year-old Dutchman, has lost five of his past six.

“It was awesome to get that feeling back,” Tuivasa said. “Like I said before, it’s addictive, it’s something you can’t get it anywhere else. It’s been awhile for me, so it’s good to be back, very good to be back. I felt pressure, but I trusted my team.”

— Raimondi

Watch this fight on ESPN+


Catchweight (140 pounds): Casey Kenney (16-2-1, 5-1 UFC) defeats Nathaniel Wood (17-5, 4-2 UFC) vs. by unanimous decision.

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Casey Kenney lands a strong left hook that stuns Nathaniel Wood in the third round. The UFC 254 main card starts at 2 p.m. ET.

Bantamweight Kenney had himself a month on Fight Island. He recorded a unanimous-decision win over Wood on Saturday — Kenney’s second win in three weeks.

Kenney (16-2-1) edged Wood (17-5) in a back-and-forth fight via judges’ scores of 30-27, 29-28 and 29-28. The fight took place at a catchweight of 140 pounds, as it was booked on short notice. Kenney also picked up a decision win over Alateng Heili on Oct. 10 in Abu Dhabi.

Both bantamweights came in with momentum, sporting a combined UFC record of 8-2. They set a furious pace from the opening round, and each landed more than 100 total strikes, according to UFC stats. Wood looked to score with leg kicks and body work, while Kenney mostly targeted the head. He found a home for the straight left, especially in the first round, and converted a key takedown in the third to secure the win.

Wood’s best round came in the second. Despite what appeared to be a difficult weight cut the day before, Wood looked fresh in the second frame and made Kenney pay on multiple occasions with counterstrikes. He did look fatigued in the third, however, and surrendered the costly takedown late.

Kenney has now won three in a row and is 5-1 in the UFC overall.

“Two W’s, two paychecks in a month, you can’t beat that,” Kenney said. “I knew it was going to be a war. I thought he would try to grapple a little bit more, and I thought I would myself, but I was having fun in there throwing down on the feet. Felt like I hit him with some big shots, I thought he was going to go away.

“I’m here to stay, I’m here to take out the best in the division and I definitely proved that in my last two fights..”

— Okamoto

Watch this fight on ESPN+


Welterweight: Shavkat Rakhmonov (13-0, 1-0 UFC) defeats Alex Oliveira (22-9-1 1 NC, 17-7 1 NC) by first-round guillotine

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Shavkat Rakhmonov forces Alex “Cowboy” Oliveira to tap with a guillotine choke in the first round. The UFC 254 main card starts at 2 p.m. ET.

The UFC has a legit, new prospect in the welterweight division.

Rakhmonov finished Oliveira via submission at 4:40 of the first round. This was Rakhmonov’s UFC debut against Oliveira, a grizzled veteran who has five years in the UFC fighting against tough competition.

After winning the stand-up battle early, including a nice knee to the body, Rakhmonov looked to clinch and take Oliveira down against the cage. That didn’t work out too well. Oliveira, who is excellent in the clinch, turned Rakhmonov down and put him against the fence. Oliveira tried to take Rakhmonov down, but Rakhmonov snatched a tight guillotine on the way to the mat. Oliveira had to tap out.

The undefeated Rakhmonov, 26, has finished every one of his pro victories. The Uzbekistan native, who trains out of Kazakhstan, is a former M-1 welterweight champion. Oliveira, 32, had a two-fight winning streak snapped. Oliveira missed weight by two pounds (173 pounds) on Friday and forfeited 20% of his purse.

“Just like I said before the fight, if he’s going to make a mistake, I’m going to capitalize on it,” Rakhmonov said. “I felt the move was there, I didn’t think much, I just went for it and got him. I’m very happy to get this win, everyone in Kazakhstan was watching closely, I’m proud to make them happy, I’m very emotional right now.

“I’ll take a rest first, get together with my team, think about what’s next. I beat a Brazilian cowboy, maybe an American cowboy is next. I’ll go home, celebrate with my family, my people, share the joy with them. I proved to myself and to my country that I’m the best and deserve to be here.”

— Raimondi

Watch this fight on ESPN+


Light heavyweight: Da Un Jung (13-2-1, 2-0-1 UFC) and Sam Alvey (33-14-1, 10-9-1 UFC) fight to a split-draw

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Sam Alvey lands a series of uppercuts on Da Un Jung, who responds with strong punches of his own in the third round. The UFC 254 main card starts at 2 p.m. ET.

Likely down two rounds, Jung tried his best to finish Alvey in the third. He landed two hard elbows that rocked Alvey. But the stoppage never came — Alvey survived.

The end result was a split-draw (29-28, 28-29, 28-28). Judge Ben Cartlidge gave Jung a 10-8 in the third round, leading to the draw. It was only the third draw in UFC light heavyweight history.

Jung was the aggressor throughout the fight, even though that didn’t mean he was winning. Alvey is a terrific counterpuncher and he was landing hard combinations — and really snapping Jung’s head back with a right uppercut — as Jung came forward. Alvey spent most of the fight with his back to the cage, yet he still landed the better strikes in the first and second rounds.

Looking at a potential decision loss, Jung definitely turned it on in the third and landed two hard elbows that put Alvey on rubber legs. Those were the two hardest shots of the bout for either man. In the end, though, neither one was a winner on the cards.

Jung, 26, is unbeaten in 13 straight fights, including his first three in the UFC. The South Korea native has not lost a fight in five years, to the day. Alvey, a 34-year-old California resident, snapped a four-fight losing streak but has not won in five straight fights. Alvey’s last win came against Gian Villante in June 2018.

Raimondi

Watch this fight on ESPN+


Women’s flyweight: Miranda Maverick (10-2, 1-0 UFC) defeats Liana Jojua (8-4, 1-2 UFC) by first-round TKO

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Miranda Maverick busts Liana Jojua’s nose open with an elbow to the face, which leads to Maverick being declared the winner by doctor’s stoppage. The UFC 254 main card starts at 2 p.m. ET.

The UFC’s flyweight division appears to have some exciting new talent in 23-year-old prospect Maverick.

Maverick (8-2) looked outstanding in her promotional debut as she earned a first-round finish over Jojua. Officials stopped the 125-pound bout after the first round after inspecting a nasty cut on the bridge of Jojua’s nose. The cut was caused by a standing elbow by Maverick late in the opening round. It marked the first knockout win of Maverick’s career.

“I wanted to show more. That was one round out of three,” Maverick said. “I’m here to be the next big thing. I’m a young person coming into this division that needs something new.”

The bout was relatively competitive early on, as Maverick and Jojua exchanged strikes on the feet. Maverick’s shots were clearly heavier, however, and she began to build momentum as the round played out. Maverick was actually supposed to make her UFC debut in June, but an eye injury delayed it until now.

— Okamoto

Watch this fight on ESPN+


Lightweight: Joel Álvarez (18-2, 3-1 UFC) defeats Alexander Yakovlev (24-10-1, 3-6 UFC) by first-round armbar

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Joel Alvarez locks in an armbar on Alexander Yakovlev and forces him to tap in the first round. The UFC 254 main card starts at 2 p.m. ET.

Alvarez stayed on a roll, and he did so in his world.

The 27-year-old from Spain quickly drew Yakovlev into a ground battle, then threatened with one submission before sinking in a second try, getting the tapout by armbar at 3:00 of Round 1.

For Alvarez, it was his third straight win, all by stoppage, and the 13th win in his past 14 fights. It was the 16th submission among his 18 career wins.

He opened the fight by landing two hard kicks to his opponent’s leg — one to the inside, the other to the outside — and Yakovlev immediately went for a takedown. That put him in the full guard of Alvarez, who clamped on a guillotine choke. It looked tight, and he squeezed for a good half minute before Yakovlev freed his head.

He wasn’t out of trouble. Within seconds, Alvarez had the armbar, and that was the end of the 36-year-old Russian.

Yakovlev has lost four of his past five in the UFC. This was his fifth career defeat by armbar.

“I’m a submission artist,” Alvarez said. “I felt like the arm wasn’t completely on his neck, so I didn’t want to get tired with that submission. I just played that into grabbing the arm, getting into the triangle and going for the armbar.

“I feel very good, this is my third win in the row. I feel very good getting all of those wins, but right now I need to take some time off and take care of some injuries and we’ll see what comes next. I’ll be back soon, more prepared, feeling better and getting a better win next time.”

— Wagenheim

Watch this fight on ESPN+

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Toronto FC hoping to make MLS Cup run having spent much of 2020 far from home

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On a recent Thursday in Hartford, Conn., Toronto FC goalkeeper Quentin Westberg pondered the dichotomy of wanting to reach MLS Cup on Dec. 12, but also desiring to see his family again. Meanwhile, Jim Liston, the team’s director of sports science, was planning a trip to Lowe’s to buy 15 garbage cans so players could have an ice bath after training. As for manager Greg Vanney, he was fretting about his team’s health and the lack of practice time their schedule was affording.

Such is the life of a team as it attempts to not only navigate its way through the COVID-19 pandemic, but has been forced to do it away from home.

Due to travel restrictions between the U.S. and Canada, TFC — like the league’s other two Canadian teams, Montreal Impact and Vancouver Whitecaps — set up a “home” base in the U.S. for the remainder of the season; Toronto were stationed in Hartford. (Vancouver Whitecaps took roost in Portland, ground-sharing with Timbers, while Montreal Impact split use of New York Red Bulls’ facilities in Harrison, N.J.) This was on top of nearly every team spending nearly a month inside a bubble back in July at the MLS is Back Tournament outside Orlando, Florida.

The Reds spent about seven weeks back in Toronto as they played a series of matches against Canadian teams. In mid-September, the remainder of the regular season — and the temporary move to Hartford — beckoned. The vagabond nature of the campaign is what led Liston to joke that he was willing to discuss “whatever five seasons” the team has been through so far. But for Vanney and the players, the campaign has required a special kind of focus.

“A lot of what we’ve done here, and what we try to preach here is just control the controllables, and don’t get too drawn into the things you can’t,” Vanney told ESPN. “Roll with it, and make the best out of whatever the situation is.”

Stream FC Daily on ESPN+
– 2020 MLS Playoffs: Who’s in, schedule and more
– MLS on ESPN+: Stream LIVE games and replays (U.S. only)

Toronto has largely succeeded in spite of its odyssey. While there was disappointment at missing out on the Supporters’ Shield to the Philadelphia Union, TFC went 7-3-2 during its Hartford sojourn and finished with the second-best record in the league. But the challenges have still been immense. Simply being out of one’s home environment is difficult enough, but the time spent away from family and loved ones weighs heavy on the psyche, even as Vanney has given players the occasional trip back to Toronto — under quarantine — to reconnect with loved ones.

“It’s just very different, very challenging and emotionally exhausting,” Westberg said of his experience while based in Hartford.

Westberg has arguably had it tougher than most. The TFC goalkeeper is married with four children, including a baby girl who was born in June. For that reason, Westberg and his wife, Ania, made the decision at the end of September that it would be better for her and their kids to head back to his native France so they could be surrounded by family. Westberg called it “the least bad decision,” but there are difficulties nonetheless.

“I’m a very even person, and this year has challenged me a lot,” he said. “I’m still pretty even, but I keep a lot to myself and for sure there’s some difficult days, seeing your family [struggle] from your absence.”

The inability to be home has affected the players and staff in other ways. In Toronto, there are ways of disengaging from the game. Being with friends, loved ones or even in familiar surroundings can be the best medicine in terms of forgetting a bad game or training session. But in Hartford, at the team’s hotel, that escape is nearly impossible even as players try to distract themselves by reading or taking online classes.

“You don’t really unplug,” Westberg said. “You FaceTime family, or this or that, but it’s too short. You’re 100 percent focused on your soccer, and your whole day basically relies on being ready for whatever soccer activity that you have next, whether it’s practice or game. It’s good for your physique, it’s optimal for the way you eat and the way you [train]. But mentally, you’re not as fresh as your body.”

That isn’t to say there are only negatives to the separation. There is also an us-against-the-world mentality that Toronto has adopted, given that their players and personnel are experiencing the season in a way that is vastly different than most other teams. The team staff has done what it can to make their surroundings a home away from home, whether it’s personalizing the locker rooms at Rentschler Field or having hotel staff brand the surroundings in TFC colors. The hotel went so far as to bring in a barista who could consistently give the players their coffee fix. Supporters groups have even sent down banners in a bid to convey the fact that the players are remembered.

The care that TFC takes for players has extended to families back home, with the club supplying meals to loved ones three times a week.

On the logistical side, Liston made sure that one of the gyms used at MLS is Back was brought to TFC’s hotel in Hartford, and he remarked that the food at the hotel is “arguably the best we’ve ever had on the road.”

There have also been efforts to create new routines. Assistant coach Jason Bent, aka DJ Soops, has been in charge of the pregame music selection for the past 18 months — no easy feat for a squad that has a considerable international presence. In Hartford, Bent has set aside Thursday nights to spin music in one area of the hotel. He’ll even go live on Instagram or Twitch for those who prefer to relax in their rooms.

“[We] opened it to players and staff and basically anyone that’s part of our bubble to come relax, listen to music and just enjoy each other’s company,” Bent said. “I enjoy making people happy so if it’s helping everyone even in the slightest, I have no problem arranging the set and spinning.”

For Vanney, the pandemic and operating outside of the team’s home market has meant any number of challenges. He said the team has used three different training facilities in Hartford, with varying field conditions. He recognizes that the trips home are vital for the mental health of his players and staff, but any breaks also mean less time spent on the practice field. The compressed schedule, which at times involved games every three or four days, has had an impact as well. Even the best-laid plans in terms of squad rotation were impacted as minor injuries began popping up.

“We end up with a lot of guys in different positions because they need special kinds of treatment or care to help them get fit and back to health,” Vanney said. “So it ends up being a lot of different things kind of going on all at once, and that’s been the challenge of it.”

Recovery from matches has been complicated by the fact that TFC doesn’t have access to the same level of facilities that it does at home — hence Liston’s emergency trip to Lowe’s to fashion impromptu ice baths for the players. Then there are the different ways the players occupy themselves on the road as compared to home, especially amid the pandemic.

“There’s really no life outside of the hotel,” Liston said. “[At home], you may go walk the dog in the afternoon or go for a walk with your wife or friend or girlfriend or family and you’re out and about. The recommendation [here] is to kind of stay put. So you’ve got a really active population and pro athletes, who we’re asking them to be sedentary the rest of the time, kind of stay in the hotel from a COVID and safety standpoint. That’s not optimal for recovery either.”

There are also the creature comforts of home that are no longer available on the road, which can impact sleep.

“Sleep is the number one tool for recovery, and that’s definitely been a challenge,” Liston said. “We do well-being questionnaires and the scores on quality of sleep, and hours of sleep, just drop.”

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Tom Barlow and Brian White seal Toronto’s fate in a 2-1 win for New York Red Bulls. Watch MLS on ESPN+.

Another change has been same-day travel, which has drawn mixed reactions from the TFC players and staff. Vanney and Westberg are generally in favor, saying it reminds them of when they each played in France. Flying back the same night also means a training day isn’t lost. Liston has a different perspective in that he prefers arriving the day before, and then leaving the same day.

“I think [same-day travel] makes for a really long day,” he said. “And there’s definitely a negative impact on performance, taking three bus rides and a plane ride before your game. You’re getting home — it can be 12:30, but it could also be 1:30 in the morning, and that’s where you know our well-being scores and sleep hours and quality just disappear. When you have so many games in succession, you can’t make up the sleep.”

With the playoffs set to begin for TFC on Nov. 24, the end is in sight, even as it makes for a complex — and even conflicting — set of emotions.

“This is the tricky part. I miss them a lot,” Westberg said of his family. “But in a way I want to see them as [late] as possible in December, because obviously, there’s this idea that we want to do well in the playoffs and we want to keep going. TFC has a history of setting high standards and high expectations. It’s a heavy load to carry but also an exciting one.”

Win or lose, it’s a season they’ll never forget.

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Bettman: NHL is mulling temporary realignment

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The NHL is considering a temporary realignment of its teams for the 2020-21 season due to COVID-19 travel restrictions, according to commissioner Gary Bettman.

Bettman said Tuesday that restrictions on travel across the Canadian border, as well as “limitations in terms of quarantining when you go from certain states to other states” within the United States, could mean the NHL creates a more regionalized alignment for its upcoming season.

“As it relates to the travel issue, which is obviously the great unknown, we may have to temporarily realign to deal with geography, because having some of our teams travel from Florida to California may not make sense. It may be that we’re better off — particularly if we’re playing a reduced schedule, which we’re contemplating — keeping it geographically centric and more divisional-based; and realigning, again on a temporary basis, to deal with the travel issues,” Bettman said during a 2020 Paley International Council Summit panel with fellow commissioners Adam Silver of the NBA and Rob Manfred of MLB.

The NHL board of governors has a meeting scheduled for Thursday which will provide a progress report and possible recommendations for a season format, based on talks between the league and the NHL Players’ Association. The target date for starting next season remains Jan. 1.

Bettman said the league is considering a few scheduling options for the 2020-21 season. Something that’s off the table: playing the entire season in the kind of bubbles the NHL had in Toronto and Edmonton, Alberta, to complete last season. But Bettman said teams opening in their own arenas is a possibility, along with a modified bubble.

“We are exploring the possibility of playing in our own buildings without fans [or] fans where you can, which is going to be an arena-by-arena issue. But we’re also exploring the possibility of a hub. You’ll come in. You’ll play for 10 to 12 days. You’ll play a bunch of games without traveling. You’ll go back, go home for a week, be with your family. We’ll have our testing protocols and all the other things you need,” he said.

Bettman also indicated that the NHL is exploring “a hybrid, where some teams are in a bubble, some teams play at home and you move in and out.”

The NBA’s board of governors unanimously approved a deal with the players’ union that sets the stage for a season that will open on Dec. 22 and with a reduced schedule of 72 games. Silver said that the commissioners are in communication on COVID-19-related issues, especially the NBA and the NHL, since the two leagues’ teams share arenas and, in some cases, team owners.

Silver said he senses that the NBA will have fans in many of its buildings this season.

“We’re probably going to start one way, where we’re maybe a little bit more conservative than many of the jurisdictions allow,” he said. “What we’ve said to our teams is that we’ll continue to work with public health authorities. Arena issues are different than outdoor stadium issues. There will be certain standards for air filtration and air circulation. There may be a different standard for a suite than there will be for fans spaced in seats.”

Silver said there will be standardized protocols that are consistent from arena to arena, such as proximity between players and fans: “In certain cases, for seats near the floor, we’re going to be putting in testing programs, where fans will certify that they’ve been tested — some within 48 hours, some within day of game.” While Silver supported a continued expansion of the NBA postseason through its play-in tournament, Bettman said that he’s not in favor of expanded playoffs or “playing with the fundamentals of the game.” The NHL had 24 teams in its postseason last summer.

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The Battleground States Where We’ve Seen Some Movement In The Polls

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With apologies to The Raconteurs, the presidential race continues to be “steady as she goes,” with little sign of tightening despite a plethora of new polls. FiveThirtyEight’s presidential forecast gives Joe Biden an 89 in 100 shot at winning the election, while President Trump has just an 11 in 100 chance. This makes Biden the favorite, but still leaves open a narrow path to victory for Trump, for whom a reelection win would be surprising — but not utterly shocking.

At the same time, we also have fewer polls from live-caller surveys, which have historically been more accurate and have shown slightly better numbers for Biden, than polls that use other methodologies, such as polls conducted primarily online or through automated telephone calls. Nevertheless, while the overall picture has shifted only a little in recent days, a few battleground states have seen at least some movement in their polls, which has slightly altered the odds Biden or Trump wins in each of those places.

What election stories need to get more coverage | FiveThirtyEight Politics Podcast

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