Ronda Rousey looks to take back UFC title

For the first time since Ronda Rousey’s unbeaten record was brutally ended by Holly Holm 13 months ago, the former champion will climb back into the octagon Friday at UFC 207. As the first-ever women’s UFC champion, Rousey has never occupied the role of challenger. This week, the previously media-friendly Rousey has shunned all press duties, leading some to question her mental readiness to take on current champ Amanda Nunes. Despite all the hype focusing on her rival, Brazilian Nunes’ impressive rise and superb form over the past two years has given her huge confidence — and she is not letting anyone forget who holds the belt. “I am the champion. Nobody can change this.”

Blizzard slams New England

The blizzard that pounded New England overnight should be ending during the day Friday after dumping more than a foot of heavy, wet snow across the region. Hazardous driving conditions due to snow-covered and slippery roads, along with poor visibility, will continue to be a concern, the National Weather Service said. Howling winds will persist throughout the day even after the snow ends, potentially leading to power outages.

Wayne Twombley chases after a hockey puck while skating at Deering Oaks Park on Dec. 28, 2016, in Portland, Maine. Weather more favorable to skiers will move in on Thursday as a winter storm is expected to dump about six inches of snow in Portland. (Photo: Robert F. Bukaty, AP)

Last chance for Dow to top 20K in 2016

The clock is ticking on Wall Street’s hope for Dow 20,000 happening in 2016. The Dow Jones industrial average’s late-year flirtation with the elusive 20,000 milestone – the blue chip stock gauge came within 13 points of the science-fiction-like milestone on Dec. 20 – comes down to the year’s final day of trading Friday. The Dow kicks off trading at 19,819.78, or 180.22 points shy of making history. The good news? Pumped up by the “Trump Rally,” the Dow is up 14% in 2016. Here are some reasons why the 20,000-mark matters, and a look at the stocks that have led the way for the Dow.

Tourists take a picture with the market bull near the New York Stock Exchange in December in New York City. (Photo: Spencer Platt, Getty Images)

‘Fragile’ cease-fire deal takes effect in Syria

Activists said a cease-fire deal between the warring sides in Syria was holding despite minor violations Friday, possibly beginning a new phase in the nearly 6-year-old conflict. Russian President Vladimir Putin said the Syrian government and rebel fighters reached a cease-fire deal Thursday to allow peace talks to begin, according to state media. Putin said Russia and Turkey will guarantee the truce, although he acknowledged the deal was “fragile.” The cease-fire was set to begin at midnight Thursday. If it holds, peace talks will take place in Kazakhstan’s capital, Astana. The talks would not include the United States and would be separate to United Nations-brokered negotiations.

Looking for more deals? Amazon is having another big sale Friday

Need new movies, TV shows, music, video games or digital comics for your brand new devices? You’re in luck. Amazon is having a big one-day digital-only sale Friday . Described as a “deal event for your devices,” the online retail giant will offer up some potentially hefty discounts including up to 80% off video games and up to 50% off “on top movies and TV shows.” The “Digital Day” sales event started at 12 a.m. PT/ 3 a.m. ET Friday and runs for 24 hours , so better head over quickly.

The Kindle Fire HD 6 is one of the most affordable tablets you can buy. (Photo: Amazon)

And the essentials:

Weather: Friday’s forecast calls for snow across the New England region, while Southern California gets more rain.

Stocks: Global stock markets were mixed Friday with little economic news to move the final trading day of 2016.

If you missed Thursday’s news, we’ve got you covered.

As 2016 winds down, remember the year that was with one photo from every day.

Most popular: See our top stories in one nightly digest on Facebook Messenger.

Need a break? Try playing some of our games.

You can subscribe to get the day’s top news each weekday in your inbox.

Read or Share this story: http://usat.ly/2iLnBlX