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LAS VEGAS — The Nevada State Athletic Commission on Wednesday handed down a largely light punishment to retired UFC star Chael Sonnen.

Sonnen was suspended for two years with no fine. He is required to pay the costs of his drug testing program and for the costs (hotel, flight) of bringing in the NSAC laboratory expert. Sonnen also must work with the commission on educating other fighters under its jurisdiction. 

The commission meeting, which Bleacher Report attended in person, took place at the Grant Sawyer government building. Sonnen arrived early, clad in a dark gray suit and green shirt with no tie. He was accompanied by his lawyer, Jeff Meyer, who also serves as Sonnen's manager. Sonnen was the final item on the commission's agenda, which also included a license application for top UFC middleweight contender Vitor Belfort.

Belfort's license was approved on a conditional basis, provided he accepts random drug testing and does not fight before December. Belfort must also fight in Nevada. He is scheduled to face Chris Weidman for the UFC Middleweight Championship on December 6 at the Mandalay Bay Events Center.

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When the Ultimate Fighting Championship asked Anthony Johnson if he wanted to fight Antonio Rogerio Nogueira, he didn't do the obvious thing.

Johnson didn't question if Nogueira would show up come fight night. That may seem strange, given that Nogueira has withdrawn from four of his last six fights due to injury. He has competed just twice in the past three years. You'd think that kind of abysmal track record would lead Johnson to be skeptical about whom he would ultimately be fighting at UFC on Fox 12.

But Johnson told Bleacher Report that the law of averages gave him confidence Nogueira would be healthy come fight night.

"I know everyone was saying he's going to pull out. But my thinking was, this guy has been out of action for so long that he can't get injured," Johnson said from San Jose, where he'll face Nogueira on Saturday night. "I never once thought he was going to get injured here."

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Considering the ever-increasing demands of being an MMA fan, it can sometimes be difficult to savor the moment.

It's never been more expensive or more difficult to simply follow our sport. These days, we hurtle along at a breakneck pace—stuck in an eternal state of Fiiiiight Weeek!!!—seldom finding the opportunity to just stop and take a breath. We rarely appreciate the beauty of our surroundings because we're already rocketing on toward the next big thing.

So before we forget, before the experience fades into the next, this needs to be said:

July 2014 has been an awesome month to be a UFC fan.

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Two things were immediately apparent on Saturday, after Conor McGregor dusted Diego Brandao via first-round TKO at UFC Fight Night 46.

First, McGregor has it.

The 26-year-old Dublin native possesses charisma for days, all the potential in the world and very much looks the part of a major player in the UFC’s international expansion plans.

Second, he’s still got a long way to go to prove he’s as good a fighter as he says he is.

USA Today

Dana White's scrums are usually a source of fantastic information. The UFC president sits down on a chair, the media circle around him, and an informal chat begins. White will discuss the latest in UFC news and share his opinion on nearly any subject under the sun.

The scrums are so popular that the promotion recently began airing them on Fight Pass, the digital subscription service that will also air Saturday's UFC card from Dublin, Ireland. The scrums are no longer the sole domain of the media; now they belong to everybody, as long as the everybody in question is fine with shelling out $9.99 per month or $7.99 per month if you subscribe for a year.

This is a good thing, because it allows me to sit in the comfort of my own home and watch the proceedings on my television instead of traveling halfway around the world. I might wear pants, or I might not. I might not even get out of bed. In fact, that's what I did on Friday morning: I stayed in bed and watched White address the media in a building 4,943 miles from my front door.

The wonders of technology.

It also affords me other luxuries, such as shouting obscenities at the television and resisting strong urges to hurl my remote. These two things also happened on Friday morning, as I sat and listened to White say things that made no sense.

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If anything has changed for Johny Hendricks since he became the UFC welterweight champion in March, it's that dang UFC championship belt.

This seems obvious, so let's clarify: remembering the belt is the problem.

Hendricks is used to hopping in his massive Ford F-650 truck and driving places, whether it's to the gym or personal appearances or Rudy's, a gas station that doubles as a barbecue joint. Nowadays, though, people want to see the belt. They want a picture with the champ, and they want to hold the belt, and so Hendricks has to try to remember to take the belt everywhere he goes.

This is easier said than done. He has forgotten the belt at home. There are occasions when Hendricks will jump in the truck and drive halfway to his destination, only to realize he left the belt at home. So the UFC welterweight champion will turn the truck around (easier said than done with a truck of this size), drive back home and retrieve his precious hardware.

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The first half of 2014 has been an uneasy time in mixed martial arts.

The UFC’s unforgiving marathon schedule refused to yield, and in the face of a rough rash of injuries, compromises were made.

Over in Bellator? Things were typically atypical. America’s runner-up MMA promotion soared to new heights with its first pay-per-view event and then almost immediately fired its longtime powerbrokers.

What will the second half of the year bring? Glad you asked.

Bleacher Report

UFC welterweight Robbie Lawler will face Matt Brown in the main event of UFC on Fox 12 next week in San Jose.

It's one of the biggest fights of Lawler's career. If he scores a win over the surging Brown, he'll put himself back into a title rematch with welterweight champion Johny Hendricks. 

Needless to say, Lawler has a lot on the line in this fight. But over the past few months, he has spent his free time keeping the employees in Bleacher Report's San Francisco office in line. Lawler served as B/R's office enforcer; let's just say you don't want to act like a fool when "Ruthless" is around!

Check out the video above, and always remember: Get back to work!

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After polishing off Jim Miller via head-kick knockout on Wednesday in the main event of UFC Fight Night 45, Donald Cerrone stood in the Octagon and announced his future plans.

They sounded suspiciously like many of his past plans.

“I’m excited about drinking a bunch of Budweiser tonight and getting after it…,” he told UFC play-by-play announcer Jon Anik. “(I’ll fight) whoever wants to fight, I don’t care. As soon as possible, any '55ers or '70s out there who want to fight, come on.”

The whole performance was classic Cerrone—from the highlight reel second-round stoppage to the camouflage piping down the sides of his fight shorts and the celebratory beer at the post-fight press conference. The victory was his third win of 2014, built his ongoing win streak to four overall and kept him on what is arguably the biggest, best roll of his UFC career.

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Claudia Gadelha stood on one side of the Octagon, Tina Lahdemaki on the other. UFC play-by-play man Jon Anik welcomed viewers watching on Fight Pass to "beautiful Atlantic City,” which seemed like a joke on Anik by the folks in the production truck attempting to see if Anik, Ron Burgundy-style, would say whatever they threw up on a teleprompter.

Why the first women’s strawweight fight in UFC history was on Fight Pass is perhaps a debate for a different day. What was not debatable was that Gadelha and Lahdemaki kicked off an entire division—one that will not begin in earnest until the landmark 20th season of The Ultimate Fighter concludes with a bout to crown its first champion in December—in a style befitting a promotion whose biggest attraction is a woman.

We do not yet know who will become the Ronda Rousey of the strawweight division. Perhaps no one will, though it is a division long in talent and intrigue.

There is Carla Esparza, the former Invicta strawweight champion who is the odds-on favorite to wade through the competition in the house and earn a berth in the finals. There is Felice Herrig, who by all accounts has taken her very public act into the house where, if rumors are to be believed, she has quickly become the least popular woman in the division.