(CNN)Manchester City plays catch up to swaggering Liverpool... Bama prepares to meet Clemson (again)... Bones makes dream UFC comeback... Cameron Bancroft struggles in his return from the wilderness... Federer warms up for Australian Open with effortless Hopman Cup win. This is your weekend sporting roundup.
Weekend in sport: Manchester City secures crucial win in Liverpool chase; Crimson Tide to face Clemson again; Jon Jones retakes UFC belt
Manchester City downed Southampton 3-1 to break out of the slump that saw it lose two games in a row to unfancied opposition, a blip that gave Jürgen Klopp's Liverpool the Christmas gift of a seven-point lead.
We're just at the halfway point in the English Premier League -- which grinds on through the cold end-of-year weeks while most other leagues are taking a winter break -- but Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola says that, even at this stage, each game is crunch time.
Calling Liverpool one of the best teams in Europe, the Spaniard said that thanks to Klopp's side's swagger, "(if) we drop points, it's over, it's finished -- it would be almost impossible."
The top two face off at the Etihad Stadium Thursday in a match which looks key to the eventual destination of the title.
The imperious northeast side is setting a relentless pace, with Saturday's shuddering 5-1 win over Arsenal -- the fifth-best team in the league, according to the table -- just the latest sign that the momentum is with the Reds.
The stuttering North Londoners also need to start looking behind them, as Manchester United's new man Ole Gunnar Solskjær continued his perfect start to his stewardship with a 4-1 win over Bournemouth.
A joyous Paul Pogba, released from the negativity of a José Mourinho-managed dressing room, has found his scoring boots, and the Red Devils could easily make a late challenge for the top four -- at the Gunner's expense.
Alabama put Oklahoma to the sword 45-34 in Saturday's Orange Bowl to set up its fourth meeting with (now) old rivals Clemson in the College Football Playoff National Championship.
Crimson Tide's star quarterback -- and Heisman Trophy winner-apparent for much of the season -- Tua Tagovailoa shook off worries over his ankle to complete 24 of 27 passes for 318 yards, four touchdowns and no interceptions.
Given the intensity of their previous meetings, no one's taking anything for granted. "(Clemson coach Dabo Swinney) has done a great job there. I'm sure it will be a real challenge for us," Alabama coach Nick Saban said.
"I'm sure we'll need to play better then than we did today," he said, referencing an often spotty game against Oklahoma.
While there will be plenty of fans out there grumbling about seeing the most familiar matchup in college football at Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara, California, on January 7 -- Sooners fans and Notre Dame aficionados (whose team Clemson routed 30-3 in the other semifinal Saturday) among them -- the two finalists, between them, produce some of the most electrifying football of the CFP era.
"This is a great feeling," Jon Jones said after his fight Saturday night.