Ted Lasso: From head bumps to bad biscuits, 9 things to know

There was a real Ted Lasso? Kind of. As season 2 of the Emmy-nominated show approaches, let’s dig up some trivia about the Apple TV Plus pandemic hit.

Brendan Hunt (Coach Beard) and Jason Sudeikis (Ted Lasso) took inspiration for the show from hours of playing video-game soccer together.

Most fans likely know Ted Lasso began not as a TV show, but as oversized commercials for NBC’s coverage of the English Premier League. The popularity of the ads inspired the development of the series. Those ads are still online, and they’re hilarious.

In the first video, Ted begins coaching the (real) Tottenham Hotspur F.C., and quickly learns how much he has to learn. (“Ties, and no playoffs. Why do you even do this?” he says at one point.) By the end of the short film, he’s fired after about six and a half hours on the job. Whoops. But at least he tried to call the queen.

In 2014’s The Return of Ted Lasso, he moves from coaching to sports announcing, and guess what? He’s just as adorably confused, and has no idea he’s broadcasting live even though the word “LIVE” is displayed in huge letters behind his desk.

In one first-season scene, Ted Lasso makes a quick exit from Rebecca’s office and exuberantly jumps as he does it. Wham, he hits his head smack on the door frame. If the injury looks real, uh, it is.

“I really hit my head there,” Sudeikis confirmed to Drew Barrymore in an interview. “That was a complete accident.” It wasn’t until he got off stage that his head started gushing blood, the actor said. “They had to glue my head shut,” he told Barrymore.

Ted bribes team owner Rebecca with homemade shortbread served up in delightful pink boxes. Perfect with a nice cuppa. Apple TV Plus has teased at giving away the recipe. At the very end of a video hyping the streaming service’s new and upcoming programs, Apple rolled credits. Sharp-eyed viewers saw the words “Ted Lasso’s Secret Shortbread (makes about one box)” plus an image of a shortbread box, but then the credits stopped. Ha ha ha?

But numerous recipe sites have taken up the challenge and offered their versions of a shortbread recipe that fans could make and call Ted Lasso’s. People magazine has one that looks good, and pop-culture pro Binging With Babish offers both a classic rendition and a browned-butter recipe.

Hannah Waddingham, who plays Rebecca, says the shortbread she’s offered on the show, however, has been left around to dry out and tastes like “eating a bit of dried-out sponge.”

The velvet-toned announcer on Ted Lasso knows his stuff. That’s because he’s Arlo White, a native Brit who’s the lead play-by-play voice of NBC Sports’ US Premier League coverage. (In one of the ads that inspired the show, Ted makes him say “champions” again just to hear how it rolls like butter off White’s tongue.)

And while White is British, he was named after American folk singer Arlo Guthrie. As befits his name, he’s a true fan of all things American, including the Chicago Cubs and Chicago Bears, inspired by a trip he took to Chicago as a kid.

“That two weeks in Chicago changed my life,” he told the Derby (UK) Telegraph. “I became obsessed with America. I loved everything about it.” That star-spangled side makes him a perfect addition to a show that blends America and the UK.

Fans may be getting impatient waiting for season 2, but at least they can rest assured there’s still more Ted Lasso to come. In October 2020, months before work began on season two, Apple renewed the show for a third season.

What to expect in each season? Since Ted’s team, AFC Richmond, was relegated at the end of season 1, season 2 will show the team fighting its way back to the Premier League. It seems likely season 3 will show them clambering to the top of that league, though who knows if they’ll win it all? For that to happen, Ted might need to learn the definition of “offsides” first.

Hannah Waddingham, who plays team owner Rebecca, was on the huge HBO hit Game of Thrones. But you may not recognize her, because she was mostly hidden under the habit of her character, Septa Unella, the religious zealot who rang a bell and shouted “Shame!” while marching a naked Cersei through the streets.

Do you recognize Ted Lasso’s boss from her unnerving role in Game of Thrones?

But Cersei swore she’d get her revenge, and she did. Eventually, Waddingham’s character was waterboarded with wine, then left to die horribly at the hands of the undead Gregor Clegane. Waddingham’s spoken publicly about how gruesome and painful the waterboarding was — eating stale shortbread must seem like a picnic after that.

The plot of Ted Lasso might seem just a little too Hollywood — how could an American football coach end up hired to coach a sport he knows nothing about? But there’s some precedent.

American Terry Smith played football for the New England Patriots from 1982 to 1984. He coached in the US and then moved to Manchester, England, to become the player-head coach of the Manchester Spartans — though that’s an American football team, not a soccer/British football team.

However, in 1999, he moved out of American football and into the British kind when he bought Chester City FC, also deciding to coach them himself. And from then on, well, you can just see the Ted Lasso elements in the news stories. Smith apparently said that “all coaching is 90% the same, regardless of the sport” — can’t you just hear Ted bellowing that? He also tried such Lasso-esque tricks as having the team practice with an imaginary ball. The BBC called his coaching career “one of English football’s most bizarre soap operas.”

In the first episode, a clip is shown of Ted dancing in the locker room with his Wichita State Shockers football team. (Spoiler: The real Wichita State does not even have a football team these days, but Sudeikis, who was born in Virginia, moved to Kansas as a child and wanted a Kansas school for Ted.)

If Ted’s enthusiastic dancing looks familiar, you may have seen some of his moves on Saturday Night Live, when Sudeikis danced in the recurring “What Up With That?” sketches.

Brendan Hunt, the actor who plays Ted’s reserved right-hand man, Coach Beard, is a lot more active behind the scenes. He’s one of the show’s co-creators and also wrote or co-wrote several episodes.

To create the show, Hunt and Sudeikis drew on experiences from the years they spent working in Amsterdam, when they loved to play Man United vs Arsenal in the FIFA video game.

Jake Paul vs. Tyron Woodley: Start time, how to watch or stream online, everything to know

The Jake Paul vs. Tyron Woodley event is live! Here’s what you need to know…

We’re very close now to the fight between Paul and Woodley.

But now Paul faces the former UFC welterweight champion Woodley in a hotly anticipated boxing match. Who wins? It’s a difficult one to pick. Paul has more boxing experience on paper, but Woodley is an ex-champ and, unlike Paul’s previous opponent Ben Askren, Woodley has power in his hands. Most of his most famous wins have come via spectacular knockout.

Here’s everything you need to know…

Mark your calendars for Aug. 29 at 8 p.m ET/5 p.m. PT. The big event will be held in Paul’s hometown of Cleveland, at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse.

The fight will air on Showtime pay-per-view, meaning you don’t need to be a regular Showtime subscriber to pay for and watch the fight.

Showtime Sports President Stephen Espinoza told MMA Fighting on Aug. 2 that the fight will cost viewers $59.99. Not cheap.

“That reflects a couple of things,” Espinoza said of the price. “It’s in the ballpark of where similar fights have been. It is at a point below a lot of other higher priced PPVs, but in particular on this one, I think you’ve got a full boxing card of exciting young fighters. That was the key.”

Showtime’s fight page now is updated with how to buy the fight. Once you pay your $60, you can livestream the fight on a ton of supported devices. You can watch on your computer at Showtime.com, on your mobile phone or tablet, or on your TV and streaming devices, such as Roku, Amazon Fire TV, Apple TV (4th gen and up), Android TV and Xbox One.

You can also order the pay-per-view fight via such providers as Xfinity, Spectrum, Contour, Verizon Fios, Optimum, Vubiquity, DirecTV, U-Verse TV and Dish. Canadians can order it through Rogers, Bell, Shaw, SaskTel, and Telus. It also can be streamed via Sling, Sony’s PlayStation Store, and Fite TV in the U.S. and Canada.

A statement from event organizers says that an exclusive UK broadcast partner will be announced soon. Fox Sports will carry it in Australia and Sky Sports in New Zealand.

There also will be a live audience at the Cleveland arena. Tickets start at $10 and went on sale to the general public on July 22.

Fighters will weigh in at 190 pounds, which is what Paul weighed when he took down Ben Askren in April in a whopping two-minute-long fight. Woodley fought in the UFC at 170 pounds.

Paul stands at 6-foot-1, and Woodley at 5-foot-9. Paul is listed with a 76-inch reach to Woodley’s 74-inch reach.

The fighters will wear 10-ounce gloves and fight in a 20×20 ring, ESPN reports. The fight is scheduled for eight rounds.

Jake Paul and Tyron Woodley aren’t the only ones fighting on the card. Here are all the fights taking place…

The final press conference took place on Thursday and it devolved into a different type of chaos.

Scuffles and shoving matches are normal in boxing, particularly during press conferences, but today’s staredown brought controversy after a member of Jake Paul’s entourage appeared to get into an argument with Tyron Woodley’s mother Deborah Woodley. Tyron Woodley’s sister appeared to get upset and the situation escalated.

Tyron Woodley’s mother Deborah Woodley, affectionately referred to as “Mama Woodley” is a well known figure in the MMA community. She’s incredibly well regarded for congratulating and showing respect to her son’s opponents win or lose.

The fact a member of Paul’s entourage has verbally attacked one of the most loved figures in MMA has set a number of fighters off. Including Jake Paul’s last opponent Ben Askren.

Time will tell if this has an impact on the fight itself. Either way, it’s good promotion for the fight overall.

The two fighters have a creepy bet riding on the outcome. If Paul loses, he has to get “I love Tyron Woodley” tattooed on him somewhere, and if Woodley loses, he has to get “I love Jake Paul” as a tattoo. (Both fighters are already tattooed, so one more won’t exactly be a novel concept.)

And, breaking news, it looks as though a tattoo artist is being flown in to the fight to take care of the bet immediately after the fight. Jake Paul confirmed this plan during an interview this week.

Tatu Baby, who once starred in the show Ink Master, is being flown in. She’s already shared some potential designs for the tattoo.

Whoever gets the tattoo, you just know there’ll be plenty of publicity about the actual tattooing itself, not to mention photos of the final embarrassing product. (Smart tattoo artists in the Paul-Woodley circle are probably already thinking about how to eventually cover up or disguise the message.)

The Paul brothers, Logan and Jake, are both YouTubers turned boxers, which seems like an odd career path, but it is what it is. For one thing, they’re young. Jake Paul is 24, and Logan Paul is 26, so they’ve got youth on their side, plus their YouTube cash gives the option to do whatever they want with their free time. And what they want, apparently, is to beat people up and get beat up in return. These fights aren’t always for the record books, but for the bank books. (Logan Paul’s June bout with 44-year-old Mayweather was simply an exhibition.) While Jake Paul has fought three professional bouts, and won them all, his opponents weren’t professional boxers at their prime. Paul beat YouTuber AnEsonGib, former professional basketball player Nate Robinson and retired MMA fighter Ben Askren. (That last one was quick.) And all of the Paul brothers’ fights draw headlines and chatter, and add to their fame and bank balances.

Woodley talked some trash about Jake Paul at the Askren fight, and that led to the planned Paul-Woodley fight.

“Easiest fight of my career and biggest purse of my career all in one night,” Woodley said of the Paul match, according to ESPN. “Basically, they brought me in to take out the trash.”

Jake Paul is the younger of the two Paul brothers, and in addition to his internet videos, he’s known for playing Dirk Mann in the Disney Channel show Bizaardvark. He began his boxing career in 2018 and has won all three of his professional bouts.

Like his brother, he’s controversial. In July 2020, he made headlines for throwing a giant party in Calabasas, California, in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic. Asked about the party, he told a reporter for The Daily Beast that COVID-19 was a hoax, then later denied saying it, leading to the reporter posting audio proving Paul did make the hoax comments. In that same interview, Paul also claimed “98% of news is fake” and falsely claimed that “medical professionals” say masks do nothing to protect against the virus.

He doesn’t just make headlines at his own events. Jake Paul’s brother, Logan, fought Floyd Mayweather Jr. in June, and in May, at a promotional event for the fight, Jake Paul mouthed off at the fighter and snatched Mayweather’s hat. He then started selling black baseball caps with the words “gotcha hat” printed on them.

Woodley, 39, started in MMA back in 2009, became UFC welterweight champion in 2016 and defended his title four times, losing it in 2019.

Like Paul, he has an entertainment career as well. He’s appeared in numerous movies in small roles, and has hosted a podcast and a TMZ web show.

Woodley says this may be his first boxing match, but it won’t be his last.

“At the end of the day, I’m in boxing right now,” he said, according to ESPN. “(Paul’s) my first opponent. This is your first and everybody else’s first chance to watch me box.”

There’s one other big fight on Showtime’s card for the night, plus three smaller ones. Featherweight world champion Amanda Serrano (40-1-1) will take on super bantamweight world champion Yamileth Mercado, who’s 18-2-0.

“Not too many people want to fight me. It’s going to be a great fight,” Serrano said, according to World Boxing News.

Mercado said she began her career at featherweight before going down to bantamweight and is excited to fight in her old weight class again.

“We’re going to leave it all in the ring, and the ladies are going to be stealing the show,” she said, according to the World Boxing News report.

While the Serrano-Mercado fight is being billed as a “co-main event,” there are also three fights on the undercard. Ivan Barancyhk will fight Montana Love, Daniel Dubois will take on Juiseppe Cusumano, and Tommy Fury will fight Anthony Taylor.

Before the billionaires and oligarchs, the unlikely story of football’s first foreign owner

Way before international money flooded in, the first American owner in English soccer came to the rescue of a dying club.

Prenton Park, home of Tranmere Rovers.

This international spending spree started when Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich bought Chelsea FC in 2003, but the largely forgotten first step toward today’s globalized era occurred way back in 1984. Football clubs were traditionally owned by local businessmen until California lawyer Bruce Osterman bought Tranmere Rovers, a proud but impoverished team in the unemployment-lashed north of England. It was the beginning of a new era — but you wouldn’t have known it at the time.

“The game as a whole was at its nadir,” remembers Mark Palios, a former footballer turned businessman who played for Tranmere in those dark days of the 1980s. “Gates were low, there was hooliganism, there was a complete lack of investment. It was a sick industry.”

What followed is more than a quirky footnote in sporting history — it’s a story of conflict between passion and business that any fan of any team in any country will recognize. Palios played an unexpected secret role in the ensuing drama, only to face a horribly familiar crisis threatening the club three decades later.

Mark Palios played for Tranmere in the 1970s and 1980s, taking an unexpected role in the drama behind the scenes — before returning to the club 30 years later.

Former Tranmere player Ken Bracewell was coaching a professional team in San Francisco in the early 1980s when he was approached by attorney and keen amateur goalkeeper Bruce Osterman. The glamour had faded from The National American Soccer League’s 1970s heyday, so Bracewell was surprised when Osterman wanted more than a chat about soccer teams — he wanted to buy one.

Why would a Californian lawyer want to invest in an impoverished sports team on the far side of the Atlantic?

“I was young and it seemed like a good idea,” says Osterman, now in his late 70s. “I had some extra money as I’d done well in my law practice,” he remembers in his unhurried California drawl over the phone from his home near San Francisco. “Tranmere was in real trouble so it was a number to purchase the team that I could afford.”

Tranmere chairman Bruce Osterman filmed at Prenton Park for a TV documentary.

Tranmere’s stadium Prenton Park is only a brief ferry ride away from footballing titans Liverpool and Everton, but in 1984 it might as well have been on a different planet. Barely clinging to professional status at the wrong end of the English leagues, with no money and plummeting attendances, Tranmere had special permission to hold matches on Friday evenings instead of Saturday afternoons so locals wouldn’t disappear to watch the team’s more glamorous neighbors.

“Tranmere will never compete with Liverpool and Everton,” one of the club’s managers later said. “They’re big liners like the Queen Mary, but I see Tranmere as a deadly submarine.”

In 1984 Tranmere was about to emulate a submarine in the worst possible way: by going under.

Osterman took advantage of the strife and a disastrously weak pound to buy the club, installing Ken Bracewell in charge. “I relied on Kenny for the day-to-day things,” Osterman recalls, “because frankly what the hell did I know?”

Bruce Osterman (crouching third from left, wearing glasses), lines up with a team of sports journalists playing a friendly at Prenton Park in August 1986. Eagle-eyed fans might recognize the chap on the far left: popular TV and radio pundit Ray Stubbs, who played and worked at Tranmere.

Today’s game is full of players, managers and owners from other countries. In the 1980s it was more insular. English clubs were banned from European competition throughout the second half of the 1980s, foreign players like Tottenham’s Argentine duo Ossie Ardiles and Ricky Villa were still a novelty, and there wouldn’t be a foreign manager until Jozef Vengloš arrived from Czechoslovakia to join Aston Villa in 1990.

Having staved off the club’s short-term woes, Bruce Osterman showed up at Tranmere for a few weeks at a time, a few times a year. There was occasionally a language barrier with the distinctive Merseyside accent. “I used to go to sportsman’s dinners for people who had shares in the club, and I was usually the brunt of the after-dinner comedian,” Osterman remembers. “I know he was speaking English but I couldn’t understand a word!” Osterman’s family came too, although his wife found herself excluded from men-only areas such as the boardroom and team coach. “She tolerated my doing this, but it wasn’t a pleasant time for her,” Osterman admits.

Journalists were delighted by the sight of the bespectacled 43-year-old chairman diving around in the training field mud, while players mischievously blasted balls at him. This was all highly unusual, but still — Tranmere were saved.

In the days before television revenue, a lesser club’s main income was ticket sales. Larger-than-life characters attracted paying fans through the turnstiles, so Osterman made the unexpected choice to appoint Frank Worthington as the team’s player-manager.

Worthington, who died in March 2021, had two decades of experience on the field but had never managed a team. The mulleted Elvis fan was certainly an entertainer, a prodigious goalscorer and even more prodigious playboy. His autobiography, suggestively titled “One Hump Or Two,” lists more nightclubs than football clubs. Worthington joked that when he took charge at Tranmere the players thought they’d be in trouble if they got home before 2 a.m.

Larger-than-life character Frank Worthington playing for England.

In his first game before the Prenton Park faithful the dashing player-manager bagged three goals in a 6-2 victory, and he ended up scoring 20 that season. He also made shrewd use of Osterman’s limited budget — one of Worthington’s acquisitions, Ian Muir, remains the club’s all-time top goalscorer. But defence was poor and Tranmere couldn’t afford new blood.

“We didn’t have the players or the money,” Osterman admits. “I had no idea of the difficulty of handling a team even in the fourth division.”

One player understood the economics of Osterman’s situation more than most. Tenacious midfielder Mark Palios was a local lad in his second stint at Tranmere when Osterman arrived. Unlike most footballers, who typically spend their time between matches wasting money, Palios worked a unique parallel career managing money as he trained to be an accountant.

Mark Palios playing for Tranmere the night they beat Arsenal in 1973.

One day Tranmere’s directors walked into Palios’ office looking for advice. They wanted to push Osterman out. The surprised player found himself in the awkward situation of offering advice on the club’s financial future mere hours before pulling on his team shirt and running onto the pitch.

Tranmere’s cash flow crisis came to a head when the well-intentioned but overstretched Osterman tried to sell Prenton Park to make way for a supermarket. Fans, directors and local authorities turned against him.

The American dream had soured.

Thirty years later, in 2015, history repeated for Tranmere Rovers — and for Mark Palios. The club was again in dire straits on and off the field. And just like in the 1980s, a new owner stepped in. But this time, it was Palios who bought the club.

After combining his playing days with a successful accounting career, Palios had been CEO of the Football Association. A specialist in turning around failing businesses, he and his wife Nicola now tackled Tranmere’s turmoil.

Palios began a three-step process he’d applied to many dying companies: Find cash for breathing space. Use that breathing space to fix the business. And finally, bring in new investment.

Most important, the club had to break the cycle of lurching from savior to savior. Palios compares football clubs to gamblers gifted more chips who continue betting on the same old numbers. To really fix the ailing business, Mark and Nicola had to make new bets.

Tranmere chairman Mark Palios and vice chair Nicola Palios took charge in 2014.

Back in 1985, Palios quit Tranmere and distanced himself from the boardroom shenanigans to avoid a conflict of interest. Ultimately the directors exploited changes to insolvency legislation to get rid of Osterman, Bracewell and Worthington, earning Tranmere another dubious distinction as the first football club to go into administration under the new laws.

In 1987, a new buyer offered less than Osterman paid for the club. Luckily for the American, a strengthened pound took the sting out of the loss.

A new owner and manager took over, but Tranmere’s troubles weren’t over. To ensure survival they had to beat Exeter City on the last day of the season or be disastrously dumped out of the professional league.

Kickoff was delayed as 7,000 fans crammed into one of Prenton Park’s signature Friday night matches on May 8, 1987. Mark Palios was there, although in another bizarre twist he could have been on the field — for either side. Exeter previously tried to sign him, while injury-plagued Tranmere desperately searched for Palios to see if he could help out in the crucial match. “We didn’t have mobile phones in those days,” Palios jokes. “[Tranmere] should have asked the administrators — they knew where I was…”

As the sky darkened above the floodlights neither side could break the deadlock — until six minutes from time, when Ian Muir’s pinpoint cross was headed home by defender Gary Williams. At the final whistle, the delirious crowd poured onto the pitch.

After this fairytale escape, new manager John King — another former Tranmere player, who coined the “deadly submarine” nickname — kicked off a resurgence in the 1990s. The team went to multiple finals at Wembley, rising through the divisions and almost surfacing alongside Liverpool and Everton in the Premier League.

Ian Muir (right), signed by Frank Worthington and still Tranmere’s top scorer, celebrates the first of Tranmere’s many trips to the hallowed Wembley Stadium in the 1990s.

Sadly the golden era didn’t last, and in 2015 a run-down Tranmere sank out of the professional league entirely. Under different leadership that could have destroyed the club, but Mark and Nicola Palios had a plan to stay afloat. They developed new revenue streams which didn’t rely on a benefactor’s deep pockets, earned money from the stadium not just on matchdays, and built on the club’s standing in the community with training schemes for vulnerable youth. “The business model I’ve tried to produce is football-agnostic,” Palios explains. “So if I go, the business stays.”

The club is into phase three of the Palios plan: tempting investors. Palios contemplates leveraging the local area’s rich footballing heritage for projects such as a hotel, and perhaps even leaving Prenton Park (an idea that backfired for Osterman). Palios has his eye on building a new stadium at the £4.5 billion Wirral Waters dockland regeneration scheme, one of the largest development projects in Europe.

Tranmere returned to Wembley in 2017, 2018 and again in 2019, when Connor Jennings scored another last-gasp goal to secure Tranmere a second successive promotion.

Palios notes these long-term plans are “embryonic” and depend on factors like promotion to higher leagues, millions added to the bottom line, and major investors.

“It’s a way off,” Palios says of his potential vision for the future, “but if somebody comes in with serious money, you have to have a business plan. And the one thing I won’t do is limit ambition.”

To bring things full circle in terms of foreign backers, the Palios’ have shared photos of themselves courting international investment since this interview. This time Tranmere’s seeking funding from soccer-mad Indonesian businessman Simon Nainggolan, also known as Simon N.

The chaos at Bury and Bolton Wanderers in 2019 shows how precarious the football business can be even with TV money and global investment. At Tranmere, smart commercial decisions and dedicated supporters kept the club alive. To fans’ delight, under manager Micky Mellon — yet another former player — the team won promotion in 2018 and again in 2019 (only to be summarily relegated again when the Covid pandemic ended the next season early).

Devoted Tranmere Rovers fans celebrate.

Bruce Osterman still practices law, although he stopped playing soccer at 60. “If I had to do it all again I would,” he says of his experience with Tranmere. “No foreigner had ever done this before, and I met a lot of great people. It was an adventure for me.”

For today’s US-based investment consortiums, owning a sports team is all about profit. For Bruce Osterman, it was an adventure. And for Mark Palios, sport offers a unique combination of both business and passion. When fans tell him they’re proud of the club, he says, “that’s the reward.”

England vs. Italy at Euro 2020: How to watch, start time, prediction

It’s England vs. Italy for all the marbles. Here’s what you need to know…

Raheem Sterling has been England’s star performer during Euro 2020.

The Euro 2020 final featuring England vs. Italy takes place on July 11 at 3 p.m. ET (noon PT).

In the UK, that means 8 p.m. on July 11.

In Australia, it’ll be an early start at 5 a.m. on July 12.

In the US, ESPN and Univision have the rights to the UEFA European Championships. ESPN is televising 39 matches from the tournament and ESPN 2 is televising seven.

In the UK, you can watch for free on BBC and ITV, providing you have a TV license. Fans in the UK have become increasingly accustomed to having to pay Sky or BT Sport to watch soccer, not so with the UEFA European Championships.

In Australia, your best bet is to subscribe to Optus Sport. Personally, as a person living in Australia, I subscribe to Optus Sport. It not only gives you access to the UEFA European Championships, it gives you full access to the English Premier League, the Champions League and the Europa League. It’s a great, simple service. I love it.

It’s hard to call. Both teams have looked extremely solid all tournament. Italy are the most battle tested. They’ve had a rougher run to the final, having just beat Belgium and Spain — but England have looked extremely solid in defence. They’ve only conceded one goal in the tournament — a direct free kick against Denmark in the semi-final — and they’ve grown into the tournament in leaps and bounds.

According to the odds, England are very slight favourites, but it is razor close.

If you pushed me, I’m picking England, based on how strong their defence has looked. They have a lot of firepower and options on the bench as well, if things are tight. The ability to bring on a Jack Grealish, a Marcus Rashford or a Phil Foden has been a huge strength for England.

Just in case you missed the whole event and you’re coming in late!

The UEFA European Championships is similar to a World Cup, but only European teams can enter it. It’s a tournament where international teams — Italy, France, England, Spain and so forth — compete for a month in a competition that starts out in group stages, but progresses to a knockout phase and, ultimately, a final to decide the best team in Europe.

Like the World Cup it takes place every four years, so the stakes are high.

Climbing at the Tokyo Olympics: Start times, finals schedule, how to watch

Next up for climbing: Men’s finals.

Adam Ondra is probably the best climber in the world right now.

Traditional climbing takes place outside without a predetermined route.

All the qualifiers have taken place. All that’s left is the finals. First up is the men’s finals, which starts at 4.30 a.m. August 5 EDT (1.30 a.m. PDT).

Full schedule:

The women’s finals follow a similar schedule on August 6.

In the US, NBC will broadcast events, with the BBC securing rights in England and Channel Seven, 7Mate and 7Two in Australia. All events will take place at the Aomi Urban Sports Park in Tokyo.

The finalists for the men are…

Bassa Mawem is expected to withdraw as a result of bicep injury inflicted during qualification.

Finalists for the women are…

Sport climbing will be broken up into three separate disciplines: speed climbing, lead climbing and bouldering. Not every country will be represented; only 20 athletes per gender (40 climbers total) will be allowed to compete at the Games, and only 2 athletes per gender per country will compete in any given event.

FYI, the International Olympic Committee currently recognizes only two genders — female and male. There are currently stipulations for athletes that identify as transgender, both female and male, to compete. But there aren’t any guidelines or rulings for athletes who don’t identify as female or male — including those who are nonbinary, agender and genderqueer.

The combined nature of climbing at the Olympics has been somewhat controversial. Speed climbing requires a completely different skillset compared to bouldering and lead climbing. In the next Olympics speed climbing is being broken out as a separate event, leaving bouldering and lead climbing as a combined event.

Two climbers, one wall.

Speed climbing is relatively simple: there are two climbers with safety ropes and one 15-meter wall set at a 95-degree angle. The climbers race against each other to get to the top, with the fastest one winning. The speed route is the exact same at all times: the same holds in the same position at the exact same angle. The addition of speed climbing has been somewhat controversial in the climbing community, because it requires a completely different skillset compared to other climbing disciplines.

Athletes use physical and mental precision to climb to the top of a bouldering route.

Bouldering takes place on an shorter wall, where climbers take turns attempting to scale as many routes on a four-meter-tall wall in 4 minutes. Each route (also called a bouldering problem) is laid out with hand and foot holds in a specific color, and they vary in difficulty based on the size of the holds and the way they are spaced out. A climber completes a problem by grabbing the top hold with both hands.

Bouldering has traditionally been about power and finger strength, but recently competition route setters have been creating problems that require delicate co-ordination and explosive gymnastic movements. This one will be fun to watch.

In Lead climbing, participants secure themselves with a rope as they climb higher.

Lead climbing is arguably the most recognizable of the three events. The climber has six minutes to climb as high on a wall that is taller than 15 meters. They use safety ropes that attach to quickdraws on their way up, allowing the rope to run freely while they stay anchored to the wall. If two athletes reach the same point on the wall, the person who got there first is the winner.

In both bouldering and lead climbing, climbers are not allowed to practice climbing on the routes before they compete or watch each other scale the wall, and they only have a couple of minutes to study the routes and decide their strategy before the timer begins.

The Olympic and Paralympic medals are made from recycled electronics. The Olympics won’t change the year on the medals, by the way.

If you thought the qualifying system was a bit complicated, take a deep breath. There’s only one set of medals awarded per gender, so all three events will go into determining which country gets the gold, silver and bronze.

The speed climbing discipline will be done in a bracket format, with athletes competing head to head, while bouldering is in a leaderboard format. Lead climbing will have a point system in which each hold on the wall counts as one point and the athlete who climbs the highest will obtain the highest score.

Once all the athletes are ordered by placement per event, their placement numbers will be multiplied, and the climbers with the lowest scores will win medals. Because of the scoring format, each climber will compete in each event. For example, if an athlete gets second place in speed climbing, third in bouldering and first in lead climbing their overall score would be six (2 times 3 times 1 equals 6).

In the men’s event the favourite is almost certainly Tomoa Narasaki. Some of the other climbers like Adam Ondra and Alex Megos are considered stronger climbers in terms of their performance on real rock, but this is competition climbing and it’s very different beast. Narasaki was born in the darkness of comp climbing. He’s the Bane of bouldering and, of all the strong climbers, he’s evolved to the weirdness of speed climbing the best. This gives him a great shot at claiming gold.

In the women’s event you’d have to pick Janja Garnbret. She’s been literally unbeatable in the competition scene, particularly in bouldering. There are plenty of others worth watching. From Japan both Akiyo Noguchi and Miho Nonaka have a great shot. Noguchi is probably the most decorated female comp climber of all time and Nonaka is a great all-rounder who competes well in speed — the boogie event most top climbers are nervous about.  

Can’t wait to see how it all plays out.

Conor McGregor speaks after freak leg injury in loss to Dustin Poirier at UFC 264

“Feeling tremendous,” said McGregor, after emerging from a three hour surgery.

This will be the third contest between McGregor and Poirier.

“This is not over,” said McGregor, in a post fight interview with Joe Rogan. ‘If I have to take this outside with him, it’s on outside. I don’t give a bollocks.”

Dana White stated that McGregor would be going into surgery tomorrow on Sunday to deal with the leg injury. He said that a title fight with current UFC lightweight champion Charles Oliveira was most likely next for Poirier, but believes that a fourth fight between McGregor and Poirier will happen at some point in the future, when McGregor has recovered from the surgery.

Audie Attar, McGregor’s long time manager recently said McGregor underwent a successful three hour surgery, repairing fractures of the tibia and fibula.

“Both doctors are confident that with time he will make a full recovery,” he said in a statement. “We anticipate his return to the Octagon.”

McGregor himself posted a video message on social media soon afterwards.

“Feeling tremendous,” said McGregor. “Six weeks on crutches and we build back!”

Find our blow by blow account of each fight below.

The stakes are high for Conor McGregor in this trilogy fight against Dustin Poirier.

It’s here. The big one. The stakes for this fight seem incredibly high for McGregor, but they always do. Every single fight.

As I mentioned above, it’s almost impossible to call this fight. I’m picking McGregor because he appeared to be winning the last fight until he wasn’t. But honestly, it could go the exact same way as the last fight.

Got the butterflies for this one. Let’s go.

Round 1

Man this is intense. McGregor looks amped, the opposite of relaxed, which is when he does his best work. Let’s see how this plays out.

McGregor coming out leg kick heavy. The fight is being fought at a furious pace. Poirier somehow clips McGregor and takes it to the ground after McGregor attempts a guillotine choke. After a barrage of ground and pound the fight goes back to the feet and after an exchange McGregor rolls his ankle

And it looks as though he’s broken his ankle? The doctor calls it. The fight is over.

Wow. What a strange ending.

McGregor is furious. He’s screaming “Doctor’s stoppage”.

Regardless of the result, McGregor was losing this fight comprehensively. It was called a doctor’s stoppage in the end. Afterwards, Joe Rogan conducted an interview with McGregor as he was getting his leg attended to. He claimed this was “not over”. But realistically, it’s hard to tell when McGregor will be back — if he’ll be back. Poirier made reference to karma playing a part here, given how low McGregor stooped in the lead up.

There was a real poisonous atmosphere to this whole scene. Reminded me a lot of the Khabib vs. McGregor fight. Left a bad taste in my mouth.

Dustin Poirier wins via doctor’s stoppage

I’m really looking forward to this one. Stephen Thompson is maybe the best technical striker the UFC has even seen, Gilbert Burns is a jiu-jitsu specialist with hammers for hands. The winner of this fight will almost certainly get a title shot at some point in the future.

I’m picking Thompson here. He’s one of the most difficult, unique fighters on the roster and he’s outclassed almost everyone he’s faced in the Octagon.

Can’t wait.

Round 1

Can’t blog anymore did a drinking game where I take a shot every time Joe Rogan says “karate style” and I’m dead.

Burns appears to be trying to take this to the ground, which is smart, but Thompson has great takedown defence. A lot of the early part of this round is taking place on the fence. Not really great for either fighter.

And of course the crowd is booing.

But wow — surprise — Burns got it to the ground. This could steal him the round and make Thompson a little more hesitant to through his world class kicks.

Wonderboy eventually gets back to his feet, but a strong round for Burns here.

CNET scores it 10-9 for Burns

Round 2

A frantic 2nd round fought on a hair trigger. Really tough one to score. Thompson appeared to control the fight on the feet, but Burns snagged a takedown in the last thirty seconds, which could have stolen him the round. Hard to say. I think Thompson, but who knows.

CNET scores it 10-9 for Thompson

Round 3

Good start for Thompson, with a stinging straight over the top.

Whoa… Thompson clips him with a SWEET wheel kick that almost knocks Burns off his feet. Unreal. Thought we might get a finish, but Burns appears to recover. Now he’s got Thompson to the mat. Can Thompson get back to his feet? He’s running out of time here and Burns has got side control now. This looks bad for Thompson.

CNET scores it 10-9 for Burns and 29-28 for Burns overall.

Official decision: Gilbert Burns defeats Stephen Thompson by decision (29-28 on all three scorecards)

Oh man, nothing like a heavyweight slobberknocker. Tai Tuivasa, is famous for his victory shoeys (a shoey is when you drink beer out of a stranger’s shoe, after the stranger has spat in it — yes, I know, gross). Greg Hardy is notorious as an ex-NFL player with a tarnished history. Many are divided on whether he should be fighting in the UFC at all.

This fight should be absolute chaos. Tuivasa is explosive and loose and fun to watch, I’m picking him to get it done tonight.

Round 1

Holy shit, Tai Tuivasa comes out to the Spice Girls. This is the best entrance I’ve ever seen in my life. Please win Tai. I’m begging you.

Wow. What a wild minute of fighting. Tuivasa comes out chopping the legs. Hardy hits back with a thunderous shot and PROPERLY wobbles Tuivasa, but as Hardy comes in to finish he gets utterly melted by a counter left hook. Unbelievable scenes. Tuivasa climbs up to the cage and goes straight for the shoey babyyyyyyy! Amazing. What a fight as long as it lasted.

Tai Tuivasa wins va KO in the first round

Aldana came out victorious.

This is a big fight for the women’s bantamweight division, between two of its top contenders. Interestingly, Aldana is coming off a bad weight miss, hitting the scale at 139.5 pounds, when she needed to hit 136. Will that affect this fight? Historically fighters who miss weight have an advantage, but sometimes that weight cut struggle can have a massive impact on stamina. Let’s see what happens. I’m picking Kunitskaya.

Round 1

Kunitskaya is throwing heat from the outset, landing big leg kicks. She’s moving aggressively and really looks up for this. But once Aldana settled in she began landing big punches, including one to the body that appeared to really affect Kunitskaya.

And then all of a sudden Aldana absolutely cracks Kunitskaya coming in with a heavy counter check hook that lays Kunitskaya out. She tries to defend with upkicks, but eventually Aldana gets on top and lands bomb after bomb on Kunitskaya, who struggles to defend. This one is over.

Irene Aldana wins via TKO in the first round

Sean O’Malley won in a landslide victory.

If you’re new to “Suga” Sean O’Malley, brace yourself. He is one of the rising stars in the UFC and one of the most entertaining fighters on the roster. There’s a reason he’s opening this card.

Unfortunately, his original opponent, Louis Smolka, was removed from this fight thanks to a staph infection. The replacement fighter, Kris Moutinho, represents something of a mismatch. He’s a last minute replacement and not a strong one either. It would be a wild upset if O’Malley lost this fight, but stranger things have happened in the UFC.

Round 1

Moutinho absolutely marching forward trying to catch O’Malley with legs kicks. But O’Malley seems to be landing at will, probing front kicks, precision jabs, straights. Just incredible land percentage. At one point O’Malley had him hurt and was… pretending to play basketball? Incredible.

But Moutinho’s ability to absorb damage and walk forward does appear to be causing O’Malley some issues. That said, O’Malley absolutely sparked him in the last second of the round. One more minute and he’d have been out.

Incredibly, O’Malley broke the bantamweight record for most strikes landed in a round

CNET scores it 10-8 for O’Malley

Round 2

O’Malley can’t miss and Moutinho has one of the craziest chins I’ve seen in a fight. He is still walking forward is crazy. O’Malley’s shots seem to have lost their sting. This guy is fighting like it’s his last day on earth. It’s wild that’s he’s still here to take these shots.

O’Malley is landing at a 84% accuracy rate. Anderson Silva levels here. But Moutinho is STILL HERE.

CNET scores it 10-9 for O’Malley

Round 3

Another crazy round where Moutinho just marched through shots and O’Malley just landing at will with precise, clean hard shots. Again, I’ve never seen anything like this.

Eventually, Herb Dean waves it off. O’Malley had a few exchanges where he was really teeing off with every strike you can imagine — knees, punches, kicks. 

To be honest, I would have liked to see that continue. Regardless, a wild fight. O’Malley landed huge shots at an incredible rate and Moutinho just took it all.

Sean O’Malley wins via TKO in the third round

Fans take a swing at Cleveland Indians changing name to Cleveland Guardians

“Yup, we named our team after bridge statues,” said one Twitter user.

One of the Guardians of Traffic sculptures on the Hope Memorial Bridge near Progressive Field, where Cleveland’s baseball team plays.

There was some positive social media reaction to the new name, though some people had fun with it, and others didn’t like the choice.

“Yup, we named our team after bridge statues,” said one Twitter user.

The winged baseball logo earned some attention.

Other people also noted that “Guardians” and “Indians” end in the same five letters, and joked that the team’s owners, the Dolan family, could save some money as a result.

Stay tuned for more social media name-change commentary someday soon. The Washington Football Team, formerly the Redskins, has yet to announce its new name.

White House confirms diplomatic boycott of 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing

The move is in response to China’s human rights abuses. American athletes will still be allowed to compete in the Games.

The Biden administration says the diplomatic boycott is a response to China’s “genocide and crimes against humanity in Xinjiang.” Above, a Games-themed sculpture is featured at Beijing Winter Olympic Park.

Psaki said the US doesn’t intend to stage a full boycott, which would prevent American athletes from attending. The last time the US staged a full boycott was during the 1980 Summer Olympics in Moscow during the Cold War.

On Jan. 19, the US State Department under the Trump administration declared that the Chinese government is committing genocide against Uighur people and other predominantly Muslim ethnic minorities in the Xinjiang region. This is just the latest action the US has taken against the Chinese government, intensifying an already strained relationship due to years of tensions over human rights abuses and trade.

Monday’s announcement comes two months before the Games are set to begin. “We feel this sends a clear message,” Psaki said during the press briefing.

In response to the boycott, Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian on Monday said, “I want to stress that the Winter Olympic Games is not a stage for political posturing and manipulation. This wishful thinking and pure grandstanding is aimed at political manipulation. It is a grave travesty of the spirit of the Olympic Charter, a blatant political provocation and a serious affront to the 1.4 billion Chinese people.”

UFC 260 Miocic vs. Ngannou: Start time, how to watch or stream online, full fight card

UFC 260 is just about to start. Here’s everything you need to know…

UFC 260 will be the second time Stipe Miocic has faced off against Francis Ngannou.

Sadly the co-main event, a compelling contest between featherweight champ Alexander Volkanovski and jiu jitsu savant Brian Ortega has been cancelled after Volkanovski tested positive for COVID-19.

Here’s everything you need to know.

This year the UFC entered into a new partnership with ESPN. That’s great news for the UFC and the expansion of the sport of MMA, but bad news for consumer choice. Especially if you’re one of the UFC fans who want to watch UFC live in the US.

In the US, if you want to know how to watch UFC 260, you’ll only find the fight night on PPV through ESPN Plus. The cost structure is a bit confusing, but here are the options to watch UFC on ESPN, according to ESPN’s site:

You can do all of the above at the link below.

MMA fans in the UK can watch UFC 260 exclusively through BT Sport. There are more options if you live in Australia. You can watch UFC 260 through Main Event on Foxtel. You can also watch on the UFC website or using its app. You can even order using your PlayStation or using the UFC app on your Xbox.

Need more international viewing options? Try a VPN. See the best VPNs currently recommended by CNET editors.

Based on previous UFC times, this is the schedule we expect…

Given how volatile and fluid previous fight cards have been in the COVID-19 era, expect this one to chop and change. Here’s where we’re at right now…

Jake Paul announces he’ll fight former UFC champ Tyron Woodley

The two clashed at Jake Paul’s last fight. Now Woodley says he’ll “take out the trash.”

Jake Paul will fight Tyron Woodley on Aug. 28.

Woodley gave as good as he got, making fun of Jake Paul’s bragging about snatching Floyd Mayweather Jr.’s hat at a press event for the upcoming June 6 fight between Mayweather and Paul’s brother, Logan Paul.

“Dear Jake Paul, keep the hat,” Woodley wrote. “I’m taking your head clean off your neck!”

Jake and Logan Paul first became famous for their internet videos. Jake Paul also played Dirk Mann in the Disney Channel show Bizaardvark. Both Paul brothers have pursued boxing, with Jake Paul boasting a 3-0 professional boxing record. He has fought former NBA point guard Nate Robinson, social media influencer AnEsonGib and former MMA champion Ben Askren.

Tyron Woodley, a former UFC champion, was in Askren’s corner for Paul’s recent victory and clashed verbally with Paul before the fight.

“Easiest fight of my career and biggest purse of my career all in one night,” Woodley said of the Paul match, according to ESPN. “Basically, they brought me in to take out the trash. I can’t wait to shut this b—- up. This is getting done for the culture, the whole MMA community and boxing community, to rid this guy of combat sports.”

The fighters will fight at 190 pounds, wear 10-ounce gloves and fight in a 20×20 ring, ESPN reports. The fight will be distributed by Showtime and air on pay-per-view, with fans expected to be in attendance. No location has been announced.