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The marriage between the UFC and its biggest stars has never been perfect.

Jon Jones took his turn proving that point (again) on Monday, after Dana White needlessly put the light heavyweight champion’s business in the streets during an “exclusive interview” with UFC.com.

Jones, White claimed, is balking at a rematch with Alexander Gustafsson, and the two parties are headed for a Thursday sit-down where we assume grievances will be aired and the bargaining begun.

White was clear about where he stands on Wednesday, telling the titlist’s home-away-from-hometown Albuquerque Journal that it’s Gustafsson or bust for Jones.

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Very few people seem to know for sure where things stand between the UFC and Jon Jones at the moment.

Those who do? They aren’t talking.

"You got to ask Jon Jones that," said UFC President Dana White during a media scrum over the weekend, when asked why the fight company’s most dominant champion still hadn’t signed for a rematch against Alexander Gustafsson. "I don't know. I don't like it, I don't like it at all."

In a sport where sometimes it seems like every bit of minutia commands its own story, and everybody who’s anybody has a video blog, this murkiness is notable. With White firing off nebulous quotes and Jones addressing the situation only with cheeky replies on his Twitter page, you know the rumor mill is going to jump at the chance to fire up its engines.

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Stipe Miocic gave UFC fans exactly what they wanted on Saturday against Fabio Maldonado.

Mostly, what they wanted was to go to bed.

It was after midnight on the east coast by the time Miocic and Maldonado took the cage following roughly 10 and a half hours of nearly continuous UFC programming. Worn down by the fight company’s strange decision to run two events back-to-back on a single day, the fondest wish of the worldwide viewing audience was palpable just prior to the night’s 22nd and final fight: Just get this over with.

To that end, Miocic delivered in spades, polishing off the game but overmatched Maldonado with two short-and-sweet punching combinations 35 seconds into the first round.

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Last week, I followed TJ Dillashaw as he prepared for his UFC 173 bout against Renan Barao. He was one of the biggest underdogs ever to participate in a championship bout, and few gave him a chance of making it out of the first round, much less pulling off the historic upset.

In my time spent with Dillashaw, I saw a man completely unfazed by the task ahead of him, as though he had no idea what the fans and oddsmakers were saying.

He was relaxed, loose and absolutely confident that he’d be taking the title back to Sacramento. He spoke of all the things he’d need to get used to as bantamweight champion, such as spending fight weeks in the nicest hotel suites available instead of standard rooms.

Where did his confidence come from? How was he able to overlook the long odds he faced?

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It is a familiar refrain: Chael Sonnen, coming off a loss, finds himself in position for a title shot.

It happened in 2013. Sonnen lost a middleweight title fight to Anderson Silva the previous July, only to find himself competing for the light heavyweight title in his first bout in the division since 2005. Chased from the middleweight division after two losses to the champion, Sonnen moved up and, with a calculated leap, skipped right over all the light heavyweights who were jockeying for their own opportunity to face Jon Jones.

Sonnen lost that fight, making him 0-3 in title fights in the UFC. He rebounded with a submission win over Mauricio “Shogun” Rua but was finished by Rashad Evans a few months later. Retirement talk began to swirl; a post-fighting career as a television personality felt closer than ever. Sonnen ultimately decided to continue fighting, but his days as a title contender were over.

Logically, it was tough for fans to imagine Sonnen going on the kind of run that would earn him a rematch with Jones or a shot against middleweight champion Chris Weidman.

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We know now that Vitor Belfort was being too modest back in September of 2012, when he unwittingly dubbed himself the “Young Dinosaur” during an interview with MMAFighting.com.

After all, dinosaurs eventually went extinct.

In retrospect, it would’ve been more accurate for Belfort to compare his longevity to death itself, taxes maybe, or—to borrow an expression from Henry Rollins—the tenacity of the cockroach.

Unlike the giant reptilian beasts of yore, there appears to be no end in sight for Belfort. Just when you think he’s down for the count, the guy photobombs UFC 175.

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There was a time when Wanderlei Silva was the most feared man in mixed martial arts.

He had a terrifying visage. Before every fight in PRIDE, Silva would stand across the ring and glare a hole through his opponent. He’d clasp his hands and roll his wrists, never breaking eye contact with his opponent’s soul. It felt a little like showmanship, but it was also menacing and threatening and scary.

And, more often than not, Silva would follow up that glare by utterly decimating his opponent in the minutes that followed. He was violence personified, and it made him one of the most popular fighters in the world.

Those days are gone. Silva is still a legendary figure in mixed martial arts, but he’s a fraction of the fighter he used to be. Since 2006, he’s 4-7 in both PRIDE and the UFC. He hasn’t strung together consecutive wins since defeating Kazuyuki Fujita and Ricardo Arona in 2005/2006. Four of his seven losses since 2006 have come by knockout; it’s safe to say his chin is not what it used to be. And he hasn’t competed in the Octagon since his March 2013 win over Brian Stann.

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It appears even Daniel Cormier knows his upcoming fight against light heavyweight champion Jon Jones is going to be something special.

That’s why on Saturday at UFC 173, the normally laidback Cormier couldn’t resist putting a little extra spin on the softball he tossed to Jones and the rest of the mixed martial arts world.

“Jon Jones,” he announced, holding up a finger to cut short Joe Rogan’s first post-fight question. “You can’t run away from me forever. I’m the kid at the wrestling tournament that is always in your bracket. No matter where you go, boy, I’m coming. You better hurry (and fight me), because I’m getting better.”

If the sudden outburst seemed a tad out of character, perhaps Cormier was still riding high on the emotion of roughhousing Dan Henderson for nearly 14 minutes in the evening’s co-main event. Their bout wasn’t close—on paper or in practice—but in the process of slamming, pounding and eventually choking Henderson into the Land of Nod, Cormier had erased the final doubts about his qualifications as No. 1 contender.

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T.J. Dillashaw’s championship win over Renan Barao at UFC 173 created all sorts of interesting subplots around the UFC bantamweight championship.

Dillashaw has no shortage of contenders for his shiny new belt, which he’ll take back to Sacramento on Monday when he leaves Las Vegas. The most prominent of these is Raphael Assuncao, who scored a razor-thin split decision over the new champion last October in Brazil. Assuncao was originally the man in line to face Barao, but an injury suffered in training prevented him from accepting the fight. Dillashaw got the nod, and the rest is history.

If Dillashaw had his way, Assuncao would be the next man standing across the Octagon. “I’d like to get my win back, yeah,” the new champion said at the UFC 173 post-fight press conference. The loss to Assuncao is one that eats away at the new champion, and likely will until he gets a chance to redeem himself.

If something happens to Assuncao, there are other options. Dominick Cruz is slowly working his way back from the longest injury hiatus in the history of mixed martial arts. The mere thought of Dillashaw and Cruz dancing around the Octagon, with all the angles and footwork and speed that would be on display, is enough to send shivers down the spine of any self-respecting fight fan. They are kindred spirits who have much in common, both in style and substance.

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TJ Dillashaw spent much of the last week brimming with a quiet confidence. The UFC bantamweight title challenger was a massive underdog to champion Renan Barao, but you’d never glimpse those long odds on his face. He was going into the Octagon at UFC 173 as an unknown to many fans, the lesser of Team Alpha Male’s roster of bantamweight fighters.

Saturday night, he leaves Las Vegas as the best of them.

Dillashaw beat and battered Barao, considered by many to be one of the best pound-for-pound fighters in the sport, for nearly five complete rounds before finishing him by TKO in the fifth.

It was a complete performance and one of the best championship performances in UFC history, and it started early.