Following is a summary of current sports news briefs.
McGregor set for UFC return in January
Former two-weight UFC champion Conor McGregor is set to return to the octagon on Jan. 18 where he will take on veteran American Donald "Cowboy" Cerrone in a welterweight bout at UFC 246, promotion boss Dana White has told ESPN. "Conor has signed and 'Cowboy' is ready to go," the UFC president said, giving the green light for the return of one of MMA's most bankable stars.
Russia readies for 2020 Olympics despite potential ban
The head of Russia's Olympic Committee said on Thursday it was carrying on with preparations for the Tokyo Olympics next year and criticized World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) recommendations to punish some Russian Olympic officials as excessive and wrong. A WADA committee recommended this week that Russia be banned from the Olympics and world championships in a wide range of sports for four years after Moscow was found to have provided the agency with doctored laboratory data.
MLB notebook: Pirates hire Shelton as manager
The Pittsburgh Pirates hired Derek Shelton as their new manager, general manager Ben Cherington announced on Wednesday. Shelton, 49, replaces Clint Hurdle, who was fired in September after nine seasons with the team. The new skipper will be introduced at PNC Park on Dec. 4.
Steelers-Browns first game since helmet hit brawl steeped in drama
The Pittsburgh Steelers and Cleveland Browns will meet on Sunday just two weeks after an ugly on-field melee in which Cleveland defensive end Myles Garrett struck Steelers quarterback Mason Rudolph in the head with his own helmet, an incident that stunned onlookers and led to a number of suspensions. Even with Garrett, who was suspended indefinitely, not taking part, Sunday's game is likely to have a different feel, as bad blood from the recent brawl on top of a decades-long rivalry steeps Sunday's showdown in drama.
Hockey world watching as NHL deals with fallout over racism scandals
The National Hockey League (NHL) has been rocked by two high-profile racism scandals in recent weeks, and while it has condemned both incidents, experts agree it needs to take a dynamic approach and tackle the issue head on. A head coach is under investigation by his team and the NHL over comments directed toward a black player 10 years ago, while a popular hockey commentator was fired for remarks that were widely viewed as a racist attack on the patriotism of Canadian immigrants.
NHL roundup: Penguins rally for wild win
Kris Letang's one-timer from the right circle with 3:06 left in regulation broke a tie for good Wednesday to give the Pittsburgh Penguins a wild 8-6 win over the visiting Vancouver Canucks. The Penguins erased a three-goal deficit in the third, a period that featured a total of eight goals, six by Pittsburgh. Matt Murray gave up four goals on 14 shots before being pulled. Tristan Jarry made six saves on eight shots.
Patriots defense returns to form ahead of facing Texans
With their stifling of the Cowboys last Sunday, the New England Patriots pushed their aberrant defensive performance against the Ravens deeper into the recesses of their collective memory. Prior to surrendering 37 points to Baltimore in their lone loss of the season in Week 9, the Patriots (10-1) had allowed a total of 34 points over the previous four games combined.
NBA roundup: Davis leads Lakers in New Orleans return
Anthony Davis scored 41 points in his return to New Orleans, and the Los Angeles Lakers won their ninth straight game, beating the Pelicans 114-110 on Wednesday night. Davis was roundly booed whenever he touched the basketball in the city where he played his first seven seasons before demanding a trade from New Orleans, which sent him to the Lakers in July.
Hamilton reflects on F1 toll as Bottas announces marital split
Lewis Hamilton reflected on the cost of chasing Formula One success and the high personal toll exacted by the sport after Mercedes team mate Valtteri Bottas announced on Thursday he was getting divorced. Bottas, 30, had earlier announced in a twitter post his split from wife Emilia, an Olympic swimmer, because of the challenges that came with his "career and life situation."
Golf: Besseling sets pace at scorching Leopard Creek
Wil Besseling carded a seven-under 65 to take a one-shot first- round lead at the Alfred Dunhill Championship on Thursday as the new European Tour season opened with special dispensation for players to wear shorts at a blazing hot Leopard Creek Country Club. The 33-year-old Dutchman, who usually competes on the Challenger Tour, set the pace as players battled with temperatures as high as 40 degrees at the course on the border of the Kruger Park in the east of South Africa.