Da1718b4c8fb70a8885a1ee6b5c3adf9_crop_north
Getty Images

Nobody thinks Bethe Correia is going to beat Ronda Rousey on Saturday at UFC 190.

That includes oddsmakers, who’ve made her an underdog of historic proportions; the UFC, which has already gone as far as to book Rousey’s next fight; and even Brazilian MMA fans, who are shown here vocally supporting Rousey on Wednesday during open workouts in what ought to be Correia’s home turf.

In short, nobody is buying this matchup. It’s expected to be a complete wash. A cakewalk. A gimme.

Weirdly, therein lies much of the intrigue for this event. Without much else to write home about on its super-sized main card, the job of convincing UFC fans to part with the $60 pay-per-view cost largely falls to Rousey and Correia.

2b2fca4829f8d4576aa58ca6ffe4806b_crop_north
Getty Images

Ronda Rousey is mad at Bethe Correia.

You might not have noticed right away, since Rousey seems to be mad at everyone all the time, but the women’s bantamweight champion has said UFC 190 is personal for her. She insists she’ll teach Correia a lesson when the two fighters meet Saturday in the main event of an otherwise lackluster pay-per-view card. 

“I'm not going to be nice to this chick,” Rousey said earlier this month, per MailOnline's Justin Feck. “She is going to have a very long painful lesson that night. I've never looked forward to beating up someone more in my entire life. This is the only time I will say I will purposely drag a fight out to punish someone.”

So, yeah, that’s disquieting.

97f012c8979dc4193f4a0550a934c92d_crop_north
Getty Images

After 14 months as champion, TJ Dillashaw conclusively proved his case as the best men’s bantamweight fighter in the world on Saturday at UFC on Fox 16.

His fourth-round TKO of former champ Renan Barao made his argument airtight, reaffirming the dominant performance he used to take the title last May. It took more than a year and two previous false starts to put together this rematch, but Dillashaw used the opportunity to emphatically close the door on Barao for good.

This was one of those fights we simply needed to see again. Barao had just been too dominant and Dillashaw too unproven prior to their initial meeting at UFC 173. Despite the fact that he took the gold from Barao last spring with an equally dominant performance, this weekend’s victory was essential for Dillashaw to truly cement the changing of the guard.

Now the really hard part begins.

The bantamweight landscape Dillashaw inherits isn’t exactly brimming with exciting, big-money opportunities. One of the likely reasons matchmakers were so adamant about rematching him with Barao was that there simply weren’t many other immediate options.

7685b362c9a3c4a4b30db33c8605507d_crop_north
USA Today

T.J. Dillashaw and Renan Barao will finally rematch on Saturday at UFC on Fox 16.

It's a repeat pairing the fight company has been trying to put together for more than a year, ever since Dillashaw shocked the world by taking the men's bantamweight title from Barao last May at UFC 173.

In the aftermath, their second meeting has been put off by a weight-cutting snafu (by Barao) and an injury (to Dillashaw). The former resulted in what stands as Dillashaw's only successful title defense to date, a win over newcomer and short-notice replacement Joe Soto at UFC 177.

Suffice to say, there's still a lot we stand to learn by watching Dillashaw and Barao go at it again. This fight should conclusively prove if what we witnessed last year was a true changing of the guard, or if it was just a dominant champion having one bad night.

B964aeb8556412cfca5b23c7652fc960_crop_north
USa Today

In trying to determine who is the UFC's most outspoken featherweight, it might take a while to consider Jose Aldo.

Conor McGregor's Gaelic gift of gab garners most of the headlines at 145 pounds. These days, you might even think of Frankie Edgar first after the former lightweight champion jumped on the lip of the Octagon to challenge McGregor at UFC 189 two weeks ago and then took to Twitter to compare the new interim champion to a cow the UFC must milk before Edgar leads him to slaughter.

But Aldo also talks—and when he does, there's no need to ask him how he really feels.

In fact, it's starting to seem like the one true king of the featherweight division is having a hard time not keeping it 100. Take Aldo's press conference last week in Brazil and the resulting video posted by MMA Fighting's Guilherme Cruz, which is pretty much 16 uninterrupted minutes of Aldo spitting hot fire on the major issues of the day (NSFW language in video and below):

5789a4f8bb9b3fe44101ad4cf20d9771_crop_north
USA Today

The UFC heavyweight division is a pretty weird place right now.

Weirder than normal, even.

It was hard to shake that strangeness on Wednesday night, watching 36-year-old UFC lifer Frank Mir fell 29-year-old powerhouse Todd Duffee like a stick of lumber in the main event of Fight Night 71.

The 265-pound class has long been one of the oldest, shallowest wells on the roster. This year, however, it’s starting to seem like—to borrow a phrase from new interim featherweight champ Conor McGregor—the distinguished elders of the heavyweight division aren’t just here to take part.

They’re here to take over.

Mir’s victory over Duffee was his second first-round stoppage in a row and his second this year, extending an improbable turnaround after he went 0-4 from 2012 to 2014. Even Mir seemed a bit surprised about how it all went down once he had a few minutes to reflect on it.

1fb03c2ae109350274ca54bae68d8d29_crop_north
Getty Images

Last weekend, Conor McGregor cemented himself as the biggest star in the UFC with his knockout win over Chad Mendes at UFC 189.

It was one for the history books, capping off a thrilling fight card that ranks among the best main cards in UFC history. The atmosphere, the crowd, the entrances: All of it set McGregor up to make a statement, and that's exactly what he did.

But then on Sunday, the UFC announced that McGregor would coach the next season of The Ultimate Fighter against Urijah Faber. Social media groaned; why were the UFC so intent on overexposing McGregor? Wouldn't it be better to just put him on the sidelines for a few months, to make the fans desperate to see him?

To discuss the UFC's decision to name McGregor as a TUF coach, Jeremy Botter and Jonathan Snowden got together to answer the question: Is too much Conor McGregor a bad thing?

B4209df5b852e2de3fa11c2e69eb9793_crop_north
AP Images

Nobody makes a clean break.

If any knowledge can be gained from Tuesday’s announcement that 38-year-old Fedor Emelianenko is plotting a return to the cage, perhaps that’s it. It doesn’t seem to matter who you are or where you’re from, once MMA gets its hooks in you, it’s awfully hard to get free.

This is even true, it appears, for Emelianenko—the man who marched through a 12-year, 39-fight career during the sport’s golden age without ever showing us much more than a stoic gaze and a murderous right hand. It’s true for the guy who was already regarded as the greatest heavyweight of all time. It’s true for the guy who never gave any indication that he wanted anything other than to live simply in his obscure Russian hometown, surrounded by his family, friends and his religion.

If that guy can’t walk away? Man, it must be damn near impossible.

B735b6967f55925451de814774988ce5_crop_north
USA Today

Aside from questionable taste in chest tattoos, perhaps there are no obvious similarities between the UFC’s newest male superstar and its last one.

Yet, the further Conor McGregor stomps into the forefront of the MMA world, the more his meteoric journey is reminiscent of Brock Lesnar’s rise to power in the UFC six years ago—and maybe sniffs of Lesnar’s eventual fall, too.

Sound crazy? On the surface, these two men seem like complete opposites.

Lesnar was an enormous man from the upper Midwest, for starters. He was a brooding, disagreeable fighter who always seemed more at ease lugging a deer carcass through the underbrush than allowing mere mortals to ask him questions or take his picture. An NCAA champion at 23 and superstar pro wrestler by age 25, Lesnars lucrative athletic future was never really in doubt.

31868ae2d6237df07ee1e997ec01bcc3_crop_north
USA Today

On a UFC 189 fight card that at times felt like a flying leap into MMA’s future, Robbie Lawler served up an old-school slugfest in the evening’s co-main event.

It turns out you can drape Lawler in his brand-new Reebok “champion’s kit,” overhaul the pay-per-view broadcast with fancy retooled graphics and summon some technological wizardry to project hype videos on the actual floor of the Octagon, but the UFC welterweight champion is still going to do what he’s been doing since he was 19 years old.

Now 33, he just does it better than ever.

Lawler shifted through a number of familiar gears during the 21 minutes he spent in the cage with Rory MacDonald on Saturday night. He went from laid back to deadly serious and back again as the two put on a brawl that lifted an already stellar PPV.