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McGregor offered Poirier fight, only on Jan. 23

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The UFC has offered Conor McGregor a fight against Dustin Poirier on Jan. 23, 2021 — and according to UFC president Dana White, that’s the date. Take it or leave it.

The promotion formally offered McGregor the Jan. 23 fight against Poirier late last month, shortly after McGregor proposed a charity exhibition match against Poirier in December. Last week, McGregor announced on social media he had “accepted” the UFC’s offer, but said the fight must happen on one of the UFC’s Nov. 21 or Dec. 12 pay-per-views.

UFC 255 on Nov. 21 has two title fights booked, as does UFC 256 on Dec. 12. White said he is not willing to rearrange the schedule to accommodate McGregor’s request.

“We offered him a fight, we got him his own date,” White told ESPN. “We didn’t have a date this year. We have everything laid out for this year, with world champions fighting for titles. He wants to fight Dustin Poirier apparently, so we went to [broadcast partner] ESPN and got him his own date. He’s been offered Dustin Poirier on Jan. 23.

“It’s a yes or no answer.”

White said he does not know why McGregor is adamant he has to fight prior to Jan. 23. “I have no clue,” White said.

UFC 255 features a male flyweight title bout between Deiveison Figueiredo and Alex Perez, and a female flyweight title fight between Valentina Shevchenko and Jennifer Maia. UFC 256 will feature dual-weight champ Amanda Nunes defending her featherweight title against Megan Anderson, and bantamweight champ Petr Yan against Aljamain Sterling.

When asked if there was any chance the UFC could move some of those fights around to meet McGregor’s timeline, White said the company could not.

“That’s not how it works,” White said. “We laid out this year. He was retired. Would anybody disagree he was retired? Through this crazy pandemic year we’re going through, we faced a lot of challenges. There were a lot of things done to make this thing work. We made it happen. We have our schedule laid out. Fighters have committed to it. Fighters have started training for these fights. Conor came back and wants to fight Dustin, so we went out and got him his own date. It’s Jan. 23.”

One twist in all of this is McGregor has expressed interest in boxing Filipino legend Manny Pacquiao, and even confirmed on social media recently he’s interested in facing Poirier because Poirier is a southpaw (like Pacquiao), with good boxing skills.

For his part, White said he has no idea what is going on with a potential boxing match between McGregor and Pacquiao.

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States Changed Laws To Make It Easier To Vote In 2020. It’s Resulted In Hundreds Of Lawsuits.

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In this episode of the FiveThirtyEight Politics podcast, the crew discusses how voting laws and procedures have changed ahead of the 2020 election and how they’re being litigated right now.

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Liverpool’s win over Ajax steadied Klopp’s side after a rocky week

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It wasn’t pretty, but Liverpool will care not one bit. Their 1-0 win at Ajax Amsterdam can be marked down as job done for Jurgen Klopp’s side as they navigated a tricky opening Champions League tie and took a firm step forward in a season where they will be forever reminded of the players they have injured.

Stream LIVE games and replays on ESPN+ (U.S. only)

Klopp has grown increasingly exasperated this week at the narrative around Virgil van Dijk‘s potentially season-ending injury. He was tetchy in the pre-match news conference when asked about the sheer magnitude of Van Dijk’s absence; Liverpool have been, understandably, aggrieved at the manner in which it happened, but Klopp emphasised the need to focus on solutions rather than excuses.

And as the rain poured down in Amsterdam, Klopp’s Liverpool rode their luck at times and needed some heroic last-gasp defending from Fabinho but ground out a 1-0 win over Ajax that was as much about concentration and character as it was a tactical victory.

“It was not the most easy on the eye performance — both teams can play much better football,” Klopp said after the match. “We were pretty dominant. Ajax is usually a brilliant football team, but it was tricky tonight.”

With Van Dijk and Joel Matip absent — and an eyebrow raised at suggestions they should’ve or need to strengthen at the back — Klopp partnered Joe Gomez with midfielder-cum-centre back Fabinho in the middle of their defence.

“I don’t think they’ve [Gomez and Fabinho] played before together [at the back]. It was good, but even [Fabinho] can play better. They need to get used to each other — get used to the verbal demands of that position. It was a good performance, but there’s a lot to improve, that’s good! How high or low the last line in the moment — it was absolutely good,” added Klopp.

With Alisson also recovering from injury, Adrian deputised in goal and the trio stood resolute to Ajax’s trickery and attempts to pull them out of position, or exploit any space from Liverpool’s high press.

Liverpool actually sat deeper than we’re used to seeing, and Ajax’s lack of width, or use of overlapping fullbacks, meant they could largely cope with the elusive Dusan Tadic and the pace of David Neres and Quincy Promes. But fortune smiled on them. Adrian saved well from a close-range Promes effort — standing tall to block from five metres out — while Tadic managed to breach the high-press and lobbed a stranded Adrian only to see Fabinho acrobatically clear off the line.

“He’s a top player, so top players can adapt,” was James Milner‘s post-match assessment of Fabinho’s clearance.

Davy Klassen hit the inside of the post and had another effort well saved, while Ryan Gravenberch put a half-chance wide, but the clean sheet will come as a welcome fillip after Liverpool’s turbulent week. Liverpool were still publicly aggrieved at the rough justice they perceived to be subject to against Everton last Saturday whenwhen they arrived in Amsterdam. But privately you can picture Klopp ensuring his side were focused on what they could control, and not the absent personnel with six first-teamers unable to face Ajax (Alisson, Van Dijk, Matip, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Thiago Alcantara and Naby Keita).

“We are not dumb enough to think we did not need a bit of luck for the clean sheet. We could’ve done better. We don’t hang the clean sheet too high as there were two situations [Klassan’s attempt and Fabinho’s late clearance] where we were far from perfect,” Klopp said.

Klopp gave a Champions League debut to Curtis Jones in Liverpool’s midfield, as he started alongside Milner and Georgino Wijnaldum. But the ball was largely played over or around them, rather than through them. They looked dangerous on the counter attack and Mohamed Salah had an effort well blocked by Noussair Mazraoui, while Roberto Firmino again went without a goal as he looks to get off the mark this season.

But after a weekend where Liverpool went without any good fortune, they will have gladly accepted the gift offered to them for what proved to be their winning goal. Sadio Mane neatly cut inside Perr Schuurs and then hit turf-before-ball as he scuffed his shot into Nicolas Tagliafico, who failed to shift his position and diverted the ball past his goalkeeper Andre Onana.

It was a scrappy, ugly goal but Liverpool will take that gift. And in a week where Liverpool’s depth was questioned, Klopp’s trio of substitutions on the hour mark as he took off their high profile attacking line up of Salah, Firmino and Mane — who had his leg iced after coming off — was further proof of the trust the manager has in the options at his disposal.

Liverpool will face sterner tasks this season, and will need to play better against more adventurous opposition. Ajax were disappointing. Even after a summer where they their talent pool further plundered with Donny van de Beek, Sergino Dest and Hakim Ziyech all moving on, they lined up in an uncustomary 4-4-2 formation, rather than their usual 4-3-3. It’s in Ajax’s DNA they never fear the opposition, nor adjust for them.

Perhaps Erik Ten Heg took note of how Leeds United had managed to get under Liverpool’s skin earlier in the season with a similar outlook, but they looked like a side still familiarising themselves with their new signings and going through the post-transfer window evolutionary period.

“We did a fantastic job against a very good team. The plan and implementation were excellent, only the goal was missing,” Ten Heg said after the match. “We created opportunities, but we have to pull the trigger.”

The last time Ajax played Liverpool in Amsterdam was back in 1966. Ajax won 5-1 that evening in a game that signalled the European awakening to Total Football. It was played out in thick mist; reports state that those at the wrong end of the stadium missed most of the second half. But on Wednesday night, Liverpool got some clarity, the skies lightened a little and they got an indication of what life looks like without their star centre back.

Liverpool weren’t at their best, but they ground this out. Klopp will be delighted as they got off to the solid start after a rocky week.

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Politics Podcast: How Voting Is Going So Far In 2020

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Voting laws and procedures around the country have changed to accommodate mail voting and safe in-person voting during the coronavirus pandemic. As a result, Americans are voting early and by mail more than ever before. The changes have also been accompanied by hundreds of lawsuits on both the state and federal level. In this installment of the FiveThirtyEight Politics podcast, Amelia Thomson-DeVeaux and Nathaniel Rakich break down how the rules have changed, how it’s affecting Americans ability to vote and what kinds of arguments are still being hashed out in court.

You can listen to the episode by clicking the “play” button in the audio player above or by downloading it in iTunes, the ESPN App or your favorite podcast platform. If you are new to podcasts, learn how to listen.

The FiveThirtyEight Politics podcast is recorded Mondays and Thursdays. Help new listeners discover the show by leaving us a rating and review on iTunes. Have a comment, question or suggestion for “good polling vs. bad polling”? Get in touch by email, on Twitter or in the comments.

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