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UFC fans have grown spoiled over the years.

This is not debatable. It is fact. Diehard fans of any sport will find a way to argue anything, and I am being quite literal in my usage of the term "literal."

You have a personal list of your own favorite fighters? You can be certain that someone is waiting around the bend, salivating for a chance to tell you why you are a wrong-headed idiot. There is no such thing as personal preference in fandom, because your preference might be different than the guy sitting next to you, and he knows more than you, anyway, because he trains full contact five days a week, bro.

Anything you can think of can be argued, no matter how mundane. You think that, with some proper seasoning, the newly-signed Holly Holm is a potential threat to Ronda Rousey's championship reign? No. You're wrong, because this other guy says so. You think Anderson Silva was better than Fedor Emelianenko? You're an idiot, because this other guy says so.

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USA Today

We've taken a look at the state of the UFC's heavyweight, light heavyweight, welterweight and lightweight divisions. Today, there is no better time than to move one step down from 205 pounds to the middleweight land of reigning king Chris Weidman and those who seek to usurp the throne.

Middleweight is perhaps the UFC's most interesting division in 2014. It has a new-ish champion atop the division who just proved that his two wins over the greatest fighter of all time may have not been a fluke after all. We also have a bevy of challengers making their way to the top of the division, and most of them bring fresh and interesting stylistic matchups.

Without any further fuss, let's take a look at the UFC middleweight landscape.


The Title Picture

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A third fight between Frankie Edgar and BJ Penn never made much sense.

Less and less so every second they actually spent together in the cage.

Edgar was declared the winner on Sunday after three miserable rounds of lopsided action, but even he didn’t feel much like celebrating. He’d battered and humiliated fan favorite Penn en route to a TKO in the main event of The Ultimate Fighter 19 live finale, and he understood it brought a melancholy end to a weekend of UFC events on back-to-back nights.

“It’s a bittersweet victory,” Edgar told play-by-play announcer Jon Anik after it was finally over. “I said I wanted to finish him because he’s never been finished and (because of) how tough he was, but I almost feel bad about it.”

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After each of his fights against Anderson Silva during 2013, Chris Weidman was rightfully announced as the undisputed UFC middleweight champion.

Maybe now people will finally stop disputing it.

Weidman answered his many critics Saturday at UFC 175, earning his stripes as 185-pound kingpin with a unanimous-decision victory over Lyoto Machida in a bout that will no doubt wind up on many Fight of the Year ballots.

In the process, Weidman proved that his previous two victories over Silva were no flukes, that he deserves his place among the very best fighters at any weight and—perhaps most importantly—that he can take a hard shot and keep his torrid pace over five full rounds.

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Ronda Rousey, the Ultimate Fighting Championship's biggest star, sent her fame soaring to unprecedented heights with a 16-second knockout win over Alexis Davis at UFC 175.

It wasn't just the speed, though there was plenty of that. It was Rousey's efficiency, the way she effortlessly transitioned from striking to grappling.

The champion stormed out of the gate with strikes, catching one punch to the face during the first exchange. From there, everything happened far too quickly for Davis to comprehend; Rousey landed a left hook that staggered Davis and then a knee to the body.

And then, in a move Rousey has executed countless times during her career as a judoka, she grabbed Davis in a headlock and sent her soaring, flipping her with a picture-perfect throw. Rousey landed on top of Davis and immediately began punching her in the face. Davis, who had never recovered from the first left hook and the shock of being tossed on her head, went limp. The fight was stopped.

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Just in case anyone was wondering, UFC President Dana White wants us all to know the state of his company is strong, thank you very much.

"Business has never been better for us,” White told Yahoo’s Kevin Iole this week, bolstered by healthy live-gate figures from the UFC’s recent shows in New Zealand and San Antonio, as well as his estimation that paid attendance for UFC 175 could top $5 million.

Iole wrote White “angrily scoffed” at recent criticisms that the world’s largest MMA organization is spreading itself too thin, quoting the bombastic UFC boss saying he was “just sick of listening to it, because it's so (expletive) stupid and wrong. People are (expletive) without any facts.”

Not that he’d tell us if anything was wrong, mind you. The UFC guards most of its financials as state secrets, so any effort to gauge the promotion’s health necessarily includes a lot of conjecture. It would be easier on everyone if the company opened its books, but so long as it won’t, we all have to make do with the information that is available.

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Ronda Rousey is the biggest star in the known universe.

This may not be the most truthful statement ever written. But it feels that way, here in one of the many rooms that make up the Mandalay Bay Events Center. Rousey, clad in a gray Marilyn Monroe shirt, black leather jacket, designer Chuck Taylors and a gold Octagon necklace, is holding court on a small stage constructed specifically for her.

To Rousey’s left is UFC middleweight champion Chris Weidman. He is discussing his title defense against Lyoto Machida in the main event of UFC 175 on Saturday night. He has twice beaten the best fighter in the history of MMA. He is young, athletic and good-looking. He is a fight promoter's dream.

There are five reporters standing in front of Weidman's stage; Rousey is surrounded by so many journalists and cameras that it's difficult to see her.

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Jayne Kamin-Oncea/USA Today

Here’s what we know for sure about Ronda Rousey’s future in the Octagon: On Saturday she’ll take on Alexis Davis at UFC 175, she’ll win, and then she’ll go on a vacation.

Given that she opened as an eye-popping 20-1 favorite over Davis, we’d be fools to think anything else about how their fight will go. Rousey will come out of her corner, tinker with a few of the new toys she’s been refining in her striking game and then find a way to finish things, probably on the ground, probably during the first five minutes.

As for every other single thing in her professional life? Well, that’s all a lot more difficult to predict.

Rousey has been going pretty hard since coming to the UFC in February 2013. She’s grown into an industry unto herself, spearheading women’s MMA in a company and mainstream sporting landscape that had historically been dismissive of it. This will be her fourth title defense in 17 months and it’s not as though she’s lacking in other opportunities.

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USA Today

The UFC has a lot riding on this Saturday's pay-per-view event.

With Chris Weidman set to defend his middleweight title against Lyoto Machida and Ronda Rousey putting her women's bantamweight championship on the line against Alexis Davis, UFC 175 figures to be the fight company's biggest PPV of the year, at least so far.

Questions abound regarding this card. Does Weidman really deserve to be the 185-pound champion? Has Rousey given this training camp enough attention, as she's been off making movies? Do either Machida or Davis stand a chance of taking the straps off two of the UFC's next-generation stars?

Ordinarily, you'd have to wait for the event itself to find the answers. Not this time. Bleacher Report MMA lead writers Chad Dundas and Jonathan Snowden are here, they brought their far-eyes and they're ready to look into the future.

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USA Today

As far as main events go, you're not going to find many better than Chris Weidman vs. Lyoto Machida.

The middleweight title fight headlines this Saturday's UFC 175 event in Las Vegas. It is a sublime stylistic matchup featuring two of the best fighters in the world, both of whom have drastically different approaches to combat in the Octagon. Weidman's game is centered around his wrestling and grappling; Machida relies on distance and counter-striking, and both men are capable of pulling a finish out of nowhere.

It's the kind of fight true mixed martial arts fans crave. But it's flying under the radar, and I can't quite explain why.

The lack of attention focused on the main event is probably due, at least in part, to the presence of Ronda Rousey in the co-main event. She is likely MMA's biggest star, and she draws the lion's share of attention. During Monday's media call to promote the event, most of the questions were pointed at Rousey and opponent Alexis Davis. Weidman, the middleweight champion who twice defeated the legendary Anderson Silva, was relegated to the sidelines, fielding just one question during the 35-minute call.