He’s Back! Chael Sonnen Returns to Face Brian Stann at UFC 136 in Houston

Chael Sonnen will return to the cage after more than a year away from the sport when MMA’s resident bad boy will face Top 10 fighter and Marine veteran Brian Stann at UFC 136 in Houston.

Sources close to the match-up confirmed the bout to MMAWeekly.com on Wednesday. Heavy.com first reported the booking.

Chael Sonnen (25-11-1) makes his return to action for the first time since his loss to UFC middleweight champion Anderson Silva last August. Sonnen controlled the fight for virtually every second up until Silva pulled out a Hail Mary triangle choke to get the win.

Since that time, Sonnen has been embroiled in controversy including a suspension from the California State Athletic Commission and being sentenced on Federal money laundering charges in Oregon.

Now the UFC’s professed “most interesting man in the world” will get back to his real business, and that’s in the cage.

Welcoming Sonnen back to the UFC will be Marine veteran Brian Stann (11-3) who has rocketed into the top ten of the middleweight division with back-to-back wins over Chris Leben and Jorge Santiago.

The former WEC light heavyweight champion dropped down to 185 pounds after a loss to Phil Davis in the UFC, and since that time has gone undefeated at middleweight.

The winner of the fight between Sonnen and Stann will likely be a prime candidate to fight for the UFC middleweight title at some point down the road.


Woman Claims NFL Star Terrell Owens Fumbling on Child Support

ATLANTA -- The mother of Terrell Owens' child says the NFL star has refused to pay the full $5,000 a month in child support he owes.
Melanie Paige Smith filed court papers June 20 in an Atlanta court seeking to hold the player in contempt.
Owens "has failed and refused to pay the full amount of child support for June 2011," Atlanta attorney Randall Kessler wrote in court records. Owens' financial advisers have informed Smith that he's decided to no longer pay the full amount, Kessler added.
Kessler said Wednesday that Smith doesn't have any ill will toward Owens.
"She simply asks that he follow the order to which he agreed," he said. "Rather than discussing his situation with her or her lawyers first, he simply cut his child support."
Owens' agent, Drew Rosenhaus, did not immediately return messages Wednesday seeking comment.
Owens, a free agent, is recovering from knee surgery and can't sign with a team until the NFL lockout is resolved.
The athlete is a resident of Fulton County, which encompasses most of Atlanta and several suburbs, Smith's attorneys say. The case was filed in Fulton County Superior Court.
Smith says she's had to pay attorney fees and costs to enforce the court's May 2007 child support order, and she's asking for a judge to order Owens to pay those, as well.
Kessler said he's looking forward to hearing from Owens or his representatives and working out an agreement quickly.


Owens reportedly has ACL surgery

BRISTOL, CONN. - Wide receiver Terrell Owens has undergone surgery to repair a torn anterior cruciate ligament in one of his knees, according to a report by ESPN.

It is not known how the 37-year-old veteran injured his knee, but it is reported that the surgery was performed within the past month by renowned surgeon Dr. James Andrews.

Owens last played for the Cincinnati Bengals in 2010, where he caught 72 passes for 983 yards and nine touchdowns in 14 games -- 11 starts.

He has said he intends on returning for his 16th NFL season, but a torn ACL would require around six months of rehabilitation. That would be towards the end of the season, so it is unlikely a team will sign him at that point. He's due to become a free agent when the NFL lockout ends.
It conceivably could be a career-ending injury.

Owens' 15,934 receiving yards and 153 receiving touchdowns ranks him second all-time in yardage behind Jerry Rice (22,895) and tied for second all-time in touchdowns with Moss, and in back of Rice (197).


Toddlers among 9 killed in ‘NATO raid' on Tripoli

Libyan officials showed reporters five bodies, including two toddlers, they said were among nine civilians killed in a “barbaric” NATO air raid on Sunday, as pressure mounted on the alliance to allow a political solution.

Government spokesman Mussa Ibrahim accused the Western alliance of “deliberately targeting civilians,” insisting there were no military targets anywhere near the residential neighbourhood of Tripoli that was hit.

“NATO is looking into this matter,” said alliance spokesman Wing Commander Mike Bracken in Brussels. “NATO was operating in Tripoli last night, conducting air strikes against a legitimate military target.”

“NATO deeply regrets any civilian loss of life during this operation and would be very sorry if the review of this incident concluded it to be a NATO weapon,” he added.

If it is confirmed the civilian deaths were caused by NATO, it would be an embarrassment for the alliance which has led the bombing campaign under a U.N. mandate to protect civilians.

Mr. Ibrahim demanded that the alliance end its “aggression” to pave the way for dialogue, speaking just hours after organisations including the Arab League, the European Union and the United Nations highlighted the importance of “accelerating the launch of a political process” to end the conflict.

Journalists were taken to the Al-Arada district of Tripoli before 1 a.m. (2300 GMT Saturday) to see rescue teams and bystanders desperately searching for survivors among the debris of a two-storey block of flats.

An AFP correspondent saw two bodies pulled from the rubble.

Journalists were then taken to a Tripoli hospital where they were shown the bodies of a woman and two toddlers who officials said were members of the same family and had died in the raid.

Mr. Ibrahim said four passers-by were also killed, bringing the death toll to nine, and that 18 people were wounded.

“It is another night of massacre, terror and horror at the hands of NATO,” Mr. Ibrahim charged.

Western leaders “are morally and legally responsible for these murders,” he said. “This is not propaganda. It is not something that we can stage.” Libyan officials have been on the defensive over their credibility after showing journalists a little girl in hospital two weeks ago they said was wounded in a NATO air strike. One of the medical staff said she had been injured in a traffic accident.


Mr. Ibrahim called on NATO to halt its “aggression” to pave the way for dialogue to end a conflict now in its fifth month. “NATO is very good at attacking and killing people but it is very bad at starting dialogue,” he said.

The alliance has acknowledged mis-hits in the past, mostly involving rebel fighters wrongly identified as loyalist troops. On Saturday, NATO acknowledged that aircraft had hit a rebel column near Brega on the frontline between the rebel-held east and the mainly government-held west on Thursday. In the Berber mountains, an AFP correspondent reported pro-Qadhafi forces in pick-ups arriving outside the rebel-held town of Kikla. Residents there feared renewed clashes if the loyalist troops tried to reopen the rebel-held road, which leads to the garrison town of Bir al-Ghanem on the road to Tripoli.


LeBron James Choking? Numbers Say Yes, Miami Heat Star Says No

If you read the box score, you could get the idea that Miami Heat forward Lebron James is choking in the NBA Finals, but who are you going to believe, the numbers or the superstar?

The numbers are pretty damning: Worse than the fact that he is shooting just 25 percent in the fourth quarter for the series, he has scored a total of just 11 points in the final periods of the first five games against the Dallas Mavericks.

Critics eager to slam James after his nationally broadcast "decision" to leave the Cleveland Cavaliers and join fellow superstar Dwayne Wade in Miami have pounced on those numbers to blame James for the Heat falling behind three games to two in the seven-game series.

But James himself says the numbers don't necessarily tell the whole story.

Basketball is a team game, and he has been contributing on defense, rebounding and getting the ball to his teammates so they can score, he says.

The numbers there back him up: In the series against the Mavericks, James is averaging 7.8 rebounds and 7.0 assists per game.

In the Heat's loss on Thursday, James may have scored just 17 points -- nearly 10 points below his season average -- but he grabbed 10 rebounds and dished out 10 assists.
"I had a bad game in a lot of people's eyes," James said. "I understand that."

When James joined his best friend Wade and fellow all-star free agent Chris Bosch in Miami, many people said the Heat looked like a lock to win the NBA championship.

"I'm going to do everything in my power to lead that Miami franchise to a second [championship]," James said last summer.

Despite all the hoopla, it took a while for the team to gel, but in the playoffs, the Heat got hot, advancing to finals by taking out the Boston Celtics and Chicago Bulls.

But with the title now on the line against Dallas, suddenly "King James" has looked more like a pretender to the throne.

In Miami's 86-83 loss on Tuesday, James scored a career-playoff low 8 points, and worse, he often looks disengaged on the court.

In the final quarter, with the game on the line, the man many consider one of the greatest basketball players ever, has wilted.

"He is only shooting 25 percent from the field during the fourth quarter," former NBA player and Golden State Warriers general manager Chris Mullin said. "He needs to get his efficiency up."

"He is a two time MVP, he made a decision to join the Miami Heat this season and now media wants to know what is going on if that championship doesn't take place right now," former NBA player and ABC analyst Bruce Bowen said.

James has denied that the long minutes he's been playing in the postseason are taking a toll on him.

"I wouldn't say it's too much. I don't think so," James said, when asked about playying 44 minutes a game. "I don't feel like I'm hurting my team for the time I'm out there. I don't feel like it's too much."

He also said that he's not feeling any more pressure because the Heat is in the finals.

"I think the game of basketball can be pressure," James said. "It doesn't matter if it's the finals or the conference finals or first round. Playoff basketball is all about pressure, how you can handle it."

But how he is handling it is just what is being questioned. Fair or not, James will likely take the blame if the Heat don't win the championship that has eluded him his entire career.



Finally! After a long season of games and wonderful playoff action, we're here at the Finals. Bring it on!

Here are my three keys for victory for both teams and my pick.    

Dallas Keys:

1. Perimeter Defence: Must do a good job keeping LeBron and D-Wade out of the lane and off the free-throw line. The matchups on those two will be crucial. Shawn Marion, DeShawn Stevenson and Jason Kidd will be very important in this series. Have to defend the 3-point shot and close out and contest shooters like Mike Miller, Mike Bibby, Eddie House, James Jones, etc.            

2. Offensive Efficiency: First and foremost, take care of the ball. Don't allow a great transition team like the Heat to get out on the fast break. Take good, high percentage shots because bad shots lead to run outs and easy scores for Miami. Spread the floor and use your draw-and-kick game to get quality 3-point shots. Get enough movement and spacing to allow Dirk Nowitzki to get locked in on his matchup and go to work in the middle of the floor. Keep Miami from loading up defensively on Dirk.              

3. Bench Play: Jason Terry, Jose Barea, Brendan Haywood and Peja Stojakovic must play lights out and overwhelm Miami's bench production and give the Mavs that needed sustained jolt that allowed them to knock off the Lakers. With healthy players like Mike Miller and Udonis Haslem, Miami is much improved with their depth but Dallas has to be decidedly better here to swing this series.                              

Miami Keys:  

1. Deal With Dirk: Do we see lots of LeBron covering him? He's done a wonderful job in the playoffs when he's had to play against the best. Do we see lots of Haslem vs. Dirk like we did in the 2006 Finals? Haslem was effective in that matchup. Either way, they have to control Dirk to the point where he's not going crazy for 40+ points and living on the free-throw line. In addition, the better the job they do guarding the 3-point line, which allows Dirk to see more single coverage, the better they'll be. He'll get his, just don't allow him to go nuts and be sound/solid on others.                    

2. Create Tempo: Miami's defence has been excellent in the playoffs and I love how they've made the supreme commitment to it. I'm sure Pat Riley is proud of what he's seen so far. They have the quickness, athleticism, length and grit to frustrate Dallas and create some running chances for their offence if they continue to pay the price. The better the D, the better the shooting percentage will be and the flow style of play will get them going the way they'd like. Wade and LeBron are tough to stop in that style.                      

3. Chris Bosh: He played very well in the Chicago series and he seems to have calmed down and is playing with great confidence. He's been the best big man in both the Chicago and Boston Series leading up to this and they need to make sure they utilize him as they have of late. He needs to be aggressive on the glass and demand that they keep him involved. As much as Dirk can be a problem for the Heat, I think Dallas will be strongly tested if Bosh can continue to play at a high level.                      

My Pick: (Miami in Six): Let me say this, I'm rooting for the Mavs but Miami is better. When I look at this series, I see the Heat's defensive ability, the improving healthy of Mike Miller and Udonis Haslem adding to their depth and the awesome perimeter play of LeBron and D-Wade as being too much for the Mavs. Think it will be a highly entertaining series and if the Mavs second unit can play off the charts, I could see an upset but I doubt it. Let's hope it goes to a Game 7 and we have a classic on our hands. Doubt we'll see the Mavs in this place next June so it's now or never while the Heat will be a force for years to come if they stay healthy and engaged. I go round and round on lots of topics with this series but I still come back to this; I just think and feel that Miami is better and when you have the two perimeter difference makers in this series (Wade and James) in the 21st century NBA game, you've got the edge.


Michigan Basketball is building in more ways than one

The Michigan Wolverines will be moving on without the services of star point guard Darius Morris as he heads to the NBA. Meanwhile the foundation of the program has been poured over the last few years by John Beilein and a multi-faceted construction project is underway that includes; recruiting, brand-exposure through scheduling, player development, and facilities renovations.

With Morris gone, the biggest and most immediate question surrounding the 2011-12 team is who will run the point for John Beilein? The prevailing thought is that incoming frosh Trey Burke will have every opportunity to win the job. He is a natural point guard and a tremendous shooter. Stu Douglass will be ready to fill in if needed and Carlton Brundidge, another incoming freshman, could also see action at the point.

Schedule Info

The pairings for the 2011 Big Ten/ACC Challenge were recently released and Michigan drew a road trip to Virginia. The Wolverines were due for a home game this year after having trekked to Clemson as part of the 2010 Challenge. However, the addition of Nebraska to the Big Ten caused a reshuffling of the match ups. It also means all 12 Big Ten and ACC teams will compete in the Challenge every year.

U-M will also compete in a loaded 2011 Maui Classic. That field includes the perennial tournament host school Chaminade University of Honolulu, Duke, Georgetown, Kansas, Memphis, Tennessee and UCLA.


Rivals.com recently updated their Class of 2012 rankings and Michigan’s early commits, Glenn Robinson III and Nick Stauskus, both moved up the list. Robinson III checks in at # 50 and Stauskus at # 89.

Basketball Facilities

Michigan’s basketball player development center is scheduled to be completed later this year. Additionally the regents also approved the schematic design for a second phase of renovations to Crisler Arena. Those renovations will add approximately 63,000 gross square feet for new fan entrances, additional retail spaces and ticketing areas, as well as a private club space. These much needed upgrades will be a great recruiting tool and allow Michigan’s hardwood heroes to practice and train in state-of-the-art facilities.