Rose Namajunas
Photo courtesy Fox Sports/UFC

It has been a long time since a season of The Ultimate Fighter felt like a big deal.

I am not telling you anything you don't know. This is not a revelation. The Ultimate Fighter has been stuck on "not interesting" for years. To tell you the truth, I long ago decided the show would continue sliding down into the pit where things that are no longer relevant go to die.

There, it would find itself in decent company, with the final two seasons of The Killing and every international variation of The Ultimate Fighter.

There are so many Ultimate Fighters that I can't even keep track any more. I understand they are talent development tools used only to build up new international stars. But as with the North American version in recent seasons, the actual talent level on the show has been marginal at best for a long time.

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What's next for Ronda Rousey?

There was a time when the answer to that question seemed clear. Back when Rousey was in Strikeforce, we all assumed she'd sign with the UFC, fight a couple of people and then take on Cris Cyborg in a long-awaited grudge match.

We're still waiting and don't know if the grudge match is ever going to happen. There are times when it feels like it's just over the horizon, but most of us have become immune to hope when it comes to Rousey vs. Cyborg.

It gives us the same feeling we used to get when folks started talking about Randy Couture taking on Fedor Emelianenko. The same feeling we got when all those rumors of Brock Lesnar taking on Emelianenko began.

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Clearly, getting kicked off Inside MMA was a win-win for Ben Askren.

If Askren had been wondering how to take his ongoing rift with UFC President Dana White to the next level, Kenny Rice and Bas Rutten were happy to squat down last Friday and give him a boost.

By prematurely pulling the plug on their interview with the outspoken OneFC welterweight champion, Rice and Rutten managed to let Askren say his peace while simultaneously propping him up as the exiled firebrand too hot for American TV.

And if you’re Askren, that’s exactly where you want to be.

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Ronaldo “JacareSouza rests his case.

Souza made his final push toward No. 1 contender status in the middleweight division on Friday, as he battered, fatigued and ultimately submitted Gegard Mousasi in the main event of UFC Fight Night 50.

Undefeated since Sept. 2011 and now the winner of four straight fights in the Octagon, there’s simply no denying he should be next up for the winner of Chris Weidman’s December title defense against Vitor Belfort.

I know it. You know it. Jacare knows it, too.

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I've seen a lot of MMA over the years. A lot. Putting together The MMA Encyclopedia, I watched footage from all over the world, from the despondently bad to the resplendently life-changing.

And I've never seen anything quite like the pull-apart brawl between Tito Ortiz and Stephan Bonnar at Bellator 123.

This segment was so bizarre, I didn't feel confident enough to discuss it alone. So, joining me round-table style, are Bleacher Report's lead MMA writer Jeremy Botter and MMA editor Brian Oswald. 

Snowden: The moment Spike TV cameras caught a glimpse of an overweight masked man sitting next to former UFC star Stephan Bonnar, I suspected something gloriously terrible was going to go down. And boy did it ever.

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I wrote earlier this week that Friday night's dueling UFC and Bellator cards were a throwback to the old Monday Night Wars in professional wrestling.

Some of you were angry with that assessment, because professional wrestling and mixed martial arts are two different things, and any mixture of the two is unthinkable.

But then Bellator 123 happened, and Stephan Bonnar and Tito Ortiz appeared in the cage with a masked man who ended up being Justin McCully. At that point, I'm positive many of you either loudly cheered or threw up on your coffee table.

It elicted strong reactions, either way. For some, it was the worst thing that ever happened. Me? I feel like it was actually pretty awesome but in the most terrible of ways. It was different. It wasn't good. And it sets up a fight between Bonnar and Ortiz that nobody wants to see.

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UFC President Dana White likes to win. His goal, publicly stated, isn't just to be a successful mixed martial arts promoter. It's becoming a global force in the sports. "World f*cking domination," as he puts it. Nothing more, nothing less.

That drive has helped White to demolish the competition over the years. He, famously, used to keep a faux tombstone in his office. Every time a rival promotion died, a name was added to the dearly departed. Those who didn't go out of business because of their own stupidity, the UFC gleefully purchased, adding toys to a toy box already brimming with great martial artists.

No rival has withstood the rigors of MMA promotion for long. Successful boxing promoters, comic book entrepreneurs and online gambling provocateurs have all attempted to run a Pepsi to UFC's Coke. All have failed dramatically. 

All but Bellator.


At long last, it appears Anthony Johnson and Alexander Gustafsson might be headed for a collision course.

By "at long last," of course, I am referring to the amount of time that has passed since Johnson went in the Octagon and crushed Antonio Rogerio Nogueira on July 26. Johnson's UFC light heavyweight debut win over Phil Davis back in April was special, and it set Johnson up as someone to watch in a division 35 pounds heavier than the one where he used to ply his trade in the UFC.

But it was Johnson's blitzkrieg of Nogueira that made us stand up and take notice. Nogueira is a man who, despite all jokes to the contrary about his ageless nature, is still a very capable fighter. You simply don't compile a 21-6 record against the kind of competition Nogueira has faced during his career without being capable of pulling out magic.

There was no magic on that night, however. Johnson crushed him, and crushed him quickly. And then we all thought to ourselves: Wouldn't it be interesting to see Johnson face Gustafsson? The lanky Swede was lined up for a title fight, but an injury put him on the shelf.

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Jacare Souza isn't the middleweight division's squeakiest wheel.

His is a weight class flush with noisemakers, and for much of the last few years, guys like Vitor Belfort, Chael Sonnen and Michael Bisping have gotten more than their share of the grease. With the rest of our attentions focused on protracted drama between Anderson Silva and Chris Weidman, there's been precious little room lately to celebrate quiet perfection.

Never mind that for nearly three years, all Souza has done is win. Never mind that at 35 years old and 24 fights into his MMA career, it's pretty easy to make the case he's quietly emerging as the biggest threat to Weidman's fledgling title reign.

Has he been popped for performance-enhancing drugs? Did he create a colorful character and use it to talk his way into big fights? Is he the division's most unfairly called-out longtime contender?

No? Then it's probably been hard to make a ton of headlines.

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In the late 1990's, when I was a wee lad (or, as the woman I love would so hilariously tell you, back when I was already an elderly man), I used to gather around the television on Monday nights.

I am sure you already know where I am going with this. The late 1990's were the prime years of what would eventually become known as the Monday Night Wars. The World Wrestling Federation and World Championship Wrestling had competing shows on different cable networks, and each took place on Monday nights. For several years, before WCW's incompetence caught up with them, the rival wrestling promotions looked to top each other in a weekly game of "let's see who can capture the most viewers and then keep them by doing crazy, unexpected things."

The WWF (now WWE) and WCW pushed each other to new heights and, in some cases, new lows. And it worked. The Monday Night Wars are remembered fondly by professional wrestling fans. They are immortalized in a new weekly show on the WWE Network.

And they are constantly referred to when discussing moments such as the one this Friday, when the Ultimate Fighting Championship and Bellator go head-to-head.