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Spring training, NBA All-Star Game, UFC bouts pack weekend sports schedule

March 5 (UPI) — MLB spring training games, a trio of UFC title fights, the NBA All-Star Game, three NASCAR races and a PGA Tour golf tournament highlight this weekend’s sports schedule.

Spring training started Sunday and runs through March 30. Most of the games played so far have not been available for a national TV audience, but fans can tune in for several this weekend, including one on ESPN.


The Kansas City Royals host the world champion Los Angeles Dodgers at 3 p.m. EST Friday on ESPN. Three-time Cy Young Award winner Clayton Kershaw is scheduled to make his spring training debut for the Dodgers on Friday at Surprise Stadium in Surprise, Ariz.

Several more games will air on MLB.com and MLB Network, as well as on local TV networks.

The Minnesota Twins face the Boston Red Sox at 1 p.m. EST Saturday on MLB Network. Trevor Bauer, the 2020 National League Cy Young Award winner, is set to make his second start of spring training for the Dodgers at 3:05 p.m. EST Saturday.

The Philadelphia Phillies battle the New York Yankees at 1 p.m. EST Sunday on MLB Network.

Trio of UFC fights

Three UFC championships belts will be on the line as part of the main card for UFC 259 on Saturday in Las Vegas. The main card for UFC 259 is expected to start at 10 p.m. EST on ESPN+ pay-per-view.


Jan Blachowicz takes on Israel Adesanya in the main event of the card.

Adesanya (20-0) is the favorite to win the fight and retain the light heavyweight belt. Blachowicz (27-8) — the middleweight champion — has won his last four fights and is fighting up one weight class to challenge Blachowicz for the title.

Amanda Nunes (20-4) also battles Megan Anderson (11-4) in a co-main event. That bout is for the featherweight title. Nunes is a heavy favorite to retain the belt.

Nunes, arguably the best female UFC fighter in history, is listed at 5-foot-8 and 145 pounds. Anderson is 6 feet tall and 145 pounds, but Nunes doesn’t believe height will be a factor in the bout.

“She is very tall and long and that can give me a little trouble, but I also have a lot of experience of fighting girls taller than me,” Nunes told ESPN on Wednesday. “I just switched my training partner. … I feel like I’m ready.

“I feel like she’s not ready yet to be a champion.”

Petr Yan (15-1) takes on Aljamain Sterling (19-3) in the other title bout. Yan holds the bantamweight belt, but has even odds with Sterling to win Saturday’s fight.

The UFC 259 main card also features a lightweight bout between Islam Makhachev and Drew Dober and a light heavyweight fight between Thiago Santos and Aleksandar Rakic.

NBA and college basketball

The 2021 NBA All-Star Game tips off at 8 p.m. EST Sunday on TNT. Dozens of college basketball games, including conference tournaments, are scheduled Friday through Sunday.


Team LeBron, led by LeBron James, takes on Team Durant, led by Kevin Durant, on Sunday at State Farm Arena in Atlanta. NBA All-Star weekend festivities have been combined into one day this year due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The league’s best sharpshooters will participate in the annual 3-Point Contest at 6:30 p.m. EST Saturday on TNT. The 2021 Slam Dunk Contest will be at halftime of the All-Star Game.

This weekend’s college basketball schedule features several regular-season matchups and some conference tournament play.

Michigan, the No. 2 team in the coaches poll, battles in-state rival Michigan State at 4:30 p.m. EST Sunday on CBS. No. 3 Baylor also faces No. 18 Texas Tech at 4 p.m. EST Sunday on ESPN.

No. 4 Illinois, No. 5 West Virginia, No. 5 Alabama, No. 7 Houston, No. 8 Iowa, No. 9 Villanova and No. 10 Ohio State are among the other top teams in action this weekend.

Conference tournament play for the American East, Atlantic 10, Atlantic Sun, Big South, Colonial, MEAC, Missouri Valley, Northeast, Ohio Valley, Patriot, Southern, Summit, Sun Belt and West Coast conferences also airs this weekend on various networks.



Arnold Palmer Invitational: Second round from 2 to 6 p.m. EST on Golf Channel


Kansas City Royals vs. Los Angeles Dodgers at 3 p.m. EST on ESPN

NASCAR Truck Series

Bucked Up 200 at 9 p.m. EST on FS1


College basketball

Florida State at Notre Dame at noon EST on ESPN2

South Carolina at Kentucky at noon EST on ESPN


Georgetown at UConn at noon EST on CBS

Rutgers at Minnesota at noon EST on Fox

Alabama at Georgia at 2 p.m. EST on CBS

Villanova at Providence at 2:30 p.m. EST on Fox

Illinois at Ohio State at 4 p.m. EST on ESPN

Butler at Creighton at 4 p.m. EST on Fox

Virginia at Louisville at 4 p.m. EST on ESPN2

USC at UCLA at 4 p.m. EST on CBS

Texas A&M at Arkansas at 5 p.m. EST on SEC Network

Duke at North Carolina at 6 p.m. EST on ESPN


Minnesota Twins vs. Boston Red Sox at 1 p.m. EST on MLB Network


Arnold Palmer Invitational: Third round from 2:30 to 6 p.m. EST on NBC

NASCAR Xfinity Series

Alsco Uniforms 300 at 4:30 p.m. EST on FS1

UFC 259 main card on ESPN+ pay-per-view

Thiago Santos vs. Aleksandar Rakic at 10 p.m. EST

Islam Makhachev vs. Drew Dober after first fight

Petr Yan vs. Aljamain Sterling after second fight

Amanda Nunes vs. Megan Anderson after third fight

Jan Blachowicz vs. Israel Adesanya after fourth fight


College basketball

Houston at Memphis at noon EST on CBS

Wisconsin at Iowa at 12:30 p.m. EST on Fox

Texas Tech at Baylor at 4 p.m. EST on ESPN

Michigan at Michigan State at 4:30 p.m. EST on CBS

Texas at TCU at 7 p.m. EST at 7 p.m. EST on Big 12 Network


Sabres at Islanders at noon EST on NBC

Lightning at Blackhawks at 2:30 p.m. EST on NBCSN


Devils at Bruins at 5 p.m. EST on NBCSN

Rangers at Penguins at 7:30 p.m. EST on NBCSN


Philadelphia Phillies vs. New York Yankees at 1 p.m. EST on MLB Network


Arnold Palmer Invitational: Final round from 2:30 to 6 p.m. EST on NBC

NASCAR Cup Series

Pennzoil 400 at 3:30 p.m. EST on Fox


3-Point Contest at 6:30 p.m. EST on TNT

All-Star Game at 8 p.m. EST on TNT

Moments from LeBron James’ career

St. Vincent-St. Mary High School senior LeBron James (L) drives around a Zanesvuille defender in Akron, Ohio, on February 14, 2003. James is expected to be the No. 1 pick in the NBA draft. A couple months later, the Cleveland Cavaliers coach was suspended because James worked out with the team before he graduated from high school. Photo by Tom Cammett/UPI | License Photo

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