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UFC 187, on paper, was one of the very best combat sports cards of the year. With two title fights on top and exciting fighters sprinkled throughout, I had every hope this event would deliver a solid night's entertainment.

Best card of the year, it turns out, was faint praise.

By the time Anthony Johnson tapped the mat and Daniel Cormier sent a succinct message to deposed UFC champion Jon Jones, we were no longer looking at one of the best cards of 2015—we were looking at one of the most entertaining UFC events of the decade.

Most UFC cards, even the best ones, end up having at least one match that ends up being a dull slog. This show, starting with the exciting flyweight bout between Joseph Benavidez and John Moraga and culminating with Cormier's coronation, was a roller coaster ride throughout. There was hardly a slow moment during the entire pay-per-view, something so rare it's hard to think of a comparable card in recent memory.

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During his final pre-fight interview at UFC 187, Chris Weidman said he was looking forward to putting what he called "the Vitor Belfort era" behind him once and for all.

It had taken more than 15 months to get him in the Octagon with Belfort, owing to the challenger's failed drug test and Weidman's injuries. When he finally got his chance, the middleweight champion wasted very little time bringing their long, simmering feud to a thudding end.

Weidman survived a brief—but heart-stopping—flurry from Belfort early in their co-main event bout Saturday before he was able to ground him with a takedown in the middle of the cage. From there it was academic, as Weidman worked quickly to a dominant position and pounded Belfort until the referee pushed him off.

Total time it took him to work out his frustrations: two minutes, 53 seconds.

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It occasionally seems like becoming UFC champion is the worst thing that could ever happen to a professional MMA fighter.

It may be the biggest prize in the sport, but there is mounting evidence that UFC gold is bad for your health. Take Saturday night’s UFC 187 for example, where Daniel Cormier and Anthony Johnson will vie to become light heavyweight champion only after the last light heavyweight champion’s life imploded.

If this were an isolated incident, you could just blame it on Jon Jones’ personal issues and move on. In truth, this weekend marks the third time since the beginning of 2014 that the UFC has had to crown a new champion under somewhat ugly circumstances.

It started with Georges St-Pierre’s public breakdown in the wake of his hard-fought UFC 167 victory over Johny Hendricks in November 2013. Seven years on top of the welterweight division had clearly taken its toll on the French Canadian phenom, and after he officially began an indefinite sabbatical from MMA in December of that year, it took three months to set Hendricks up with a bout against Robbie Lawler for the vacant title.

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Like a desert mirage, these big-time UFC pay-per-views have a way of looking different from up close.

Take UFC 187 for example. We once thought Jon Jones would be there, defending his light heavyweight championship for the ninth time. For a while, we even thought Khabib Nurmagomedov was coming to Las Vegas to claim the No. 1 contender spot at lightweight.

When the event actually happens on Saturday, however, the landscape will be much different.

Jones is suspended indefinitely, having been ordered to get his life together after he was allegedly involved in a hit-and-run accident in New Mexico. Nurmagomedov is injured again.

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There is perhaps no fighter in MMA who has undergone quite as many physical and emotional transformations as Vitor Belfort.

By the time he gets his shot at Chris Weidman’s middleweight championship on Saturday at UFC 187, I’m not sure anyone quite knows which version of Belfort is going to show up.

We know only that the 38-year-old Brazilian has waited a long time for this. There have been a year’s worth of false starts and unexpected detours leading up to this weekend’s co-main event. In the interim, Belfort has experienced enough turmoil and controversy to last a professional lifetime.

Conventional wisdom says he won’t be the same guy who terrorized the 185-pound division during 2013. We all remember that guy, right? The guy who strung together as impressive a series of headkick knockouts as the sport has ever seen? The guy who fought exclusively in Brazil? The guy who looked like a He Man action figure with Belfort’s head photoshopped on top of it?

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Frankie Edgar refuses to fade quietly into the background.

In fact, after all these years, the 33-year-old former lightweight champion refuses to go pretty much anywhere but straight back to the front of the line in any division where he chooses to compete.

Edgar proved that yet again Saturday at UFC Fight Night 66, turning back a game challenge from former WEC titlist Urijah Faber en route to a unanimous decision win (50-45 x 3) in their featherweight fight.

The victory was Edgar’s fourth in a row at 145 pounds and should put him in the catbird seat, as we all await the outcome of Jose Aldo’s title defense against Conor McGregor at UFC 189 in July. It was not a fact the Toms River, New Jersey, native wanted anyone—especially UFC President Dana White—to forget, as his clean sweep on the judges' scorecards was announced in Pasay, Philippines.

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The sweeping changes instituted by the Nevada Athletic Commission during a Friday meeting will forever alter the way it punishes users of performance-enhancing drugs.

It has been a long time coming. For years, the Nevada commission (and many others around the world) turned a deaf ear to the PED problem in combat sports. The punishments were barely a deterrent. Cheaters knew that they could cheat and, if caught, receive what amounted to less than a year on the sidelines.

That's no longer the case. On Friday (and in a very short period of time), the commission discussed and voted on new rules that will drop the proverbial hammer on offenders who use steroids, sedatives, marijuana and more.

A sampling of the new rules that will go into effect on September 1, as noted by MMA Fighting's Shaun Al-Shatti:

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It’s tough to imagine a main event fight that more completely embodies the current state of the UFC than Frankie Edgar vs. Urijah Faber.

When those two legends of the lighter weight classes collide on Saturday at UFC Fight Night 66, it’ll be from a place called Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay, Philippines. The 12-fight menu of events features mostly people you’ve never heard of before, and the main-card broadcast on Fox Sports 1 will kick off at 10 a.m. ET.

A few years ago—in 2011, maybe even 2013—Faber vs. Edgar might’ve been considered an honest-to-goodness superfight. Now, they’re both likely on the downslope of once-great careers after being driven out of their natural weight classes by champions they just couldn’t beat.

We’re still going to watch this fight. It’s still going to be good, but it doesn’t seem like the sort of appointment viewing it might’ve been a short time ago.

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If Sam Alvey landed in hot water last weekend at UFC Fight Night 65, at least it was in the most Sam Alvey way possible.

The happy-go-lucky middleweight starched Dan Kelly in just 49 seconds during an undercard bout on Saturday, before getting on the mic to challenge happy-go-lucky middleweight Elias Theodorou to—wait for it—a hair vs. hair match.

"I would love a chance to knock his hair plugs out…,” Alvey said later, sharing some rare cross words with Submission Radio. “I don't think he's going to take me up on it because I don't think he thinks he's going to win, but [if] he beats me, I shave my head, and I hope that when I beat him he shaves his head. It's a real bet. Take it."

The knockout of Kelly amounted to a kind of statement win for Alvey—not quite definitive proof he belongs here, but at least enough to convince us to take notice of this offbeat knockout artist from Waterford, Wisconsin. The Theodorou call-out was also pitch perfect, proving that, aside from having lightning in his fists, Alvey might be a decent matchmaker too.

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Ronda Rousey, the Ultimate Fighting Championship's biggest star, is once again leading headlines. And rightly so.

This time, it's twofold. She's on the cover of Sports Illustrated, which is still a big thing. Even as the digital revolution marches ever onward, being featured in the pages of Sports Illustrated represents a kind of cache that a million features on MMA-specific websites just cannot bring.

And the cover? It is obviously a big deal, because MMA has only been featured on the cover twice in the history of the magazine. The first time around, it was Roger Huerta in the role of poster boy, but he was mostly used as a stand-in for the promotion itself. That story was about the UFC and its rise to glory.

This story is about Rousey.

The magazine references Rousey as the most dominant athlete in the world. It's a familiar refrain and feels a whole lot like the promotional bluster the UFC churns out when it's time for Rousey to take center stage on one of its pay-per-view events.