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Gregory Payan

One hopes Roy Nelson's second trip to Abu Dhabi is better than the first.

The last time Nelson visited the city that hosts tomorrow's UFC Fight Night card, he spent most of his time inside conference rooms, news studios and hotels. He was on a UFC-mandated public relations tour. He didn't get to see the Burj Dubai or the ridiculous mall with the indoor skiing slopes. He did not see Ferrari World, where a stadium has been built for the UFC's use on Friday, and where a stadium will vanish into thin air after they leave Saturday.

Nelson saw carpet and walls and cameras, and then he went back to America.

Twenty-five hours later, back in the United States, Nelson discovered the airline lost his luggage. It is easy to believe Nelson when he says he prefers fighting back home in Las Vegas.

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Getty Images

Perhaps the story of Roy Nelson vs. Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira is one of lowered expectations—about the fighters and the kind of fight we think of as a UFC main event.

Nelson and Nogueira both come into UFC Fight Night 39 on the heels of losses, bonded by nothing aside from their middling promotional records (6-5 for Nelson, 5-4 for Nogueira) and similarly precarious positions in the heavyweight landscape.

Their matchup smacks of randomness. We expect few surprises. To the extent there are any assessable stakes, this fight shapes up as one that would be disastrous for either to lose while not being overly meaningful to win. It’ll be held on a Friday afternoon in a temporary stadium in the United Arab Emirates at a time when most Americans will be at work.

In other words, it’s strange to think of a fight like "Big Country" vs. "Big Nog" as the marquee attraction on a show booked by the world’s largest MMA promotion.

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Photo by Ryan Loco

One could forgive most folks if they forget Gokhan Saki is not, in fact, Tyrone Spong's scheduled opponent for Glory 15.

Saki is the goal, of course. Saki has been the goal ever since he knocked Spong out back in Yokohoma in 2009. Those where the days before Glory, back when kickboxing was the sole domain of those who would stay up late to watch a stream from Japan. It was before Spike TV came along and introduced Glory and kickboxing to the masses.

And it was before Spong began earning his reputation as one of the world's scariest men. He is a great kickboxer with a nine-fight winning streak. This seems impressive on the surface, and I tell him so.

"That is nothing, though, because I once had a 60-fight winning streak," Spong tells Bleacher Report.

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Michael Nagle/Getty Images

Nate Diaz isn't happy about his treatment at the hands of the Ultimate Fighting Championship, and he's not going to take it anymore.

Diaz, who has not competed since a November win against Gray Maynard, had tweeted a request for his release from the company back in February.

Today, the mercurial lightweight went into more detail with MMAFighting's Ariel Helwani. Diaz said a lot of things, and I'm only going to share a few tidbits with you. But I highly encourage you to read the whole thing.

In the meantime, we'll break down a few of his statements. 

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Jason Silva/USA Today

I awoke on Monday morning to the strangest news: Former Strikeforce champion Jake Shields was released from the UFC, per Ariel Helwani of MMAFighting.com.

Jake Shields, who had defeated Yoshihiro Akiyama, Tyron Woodley and Demian Maia over the past two years. He also beat Ed Herman, though that one was overturned due to a failed drug test.

Jake Shields, who was nearing title contention heading into his UFC 171 bout with Hector Lombard. Sure, Shields lost that bout, and he wasn't excited to do so. But that doesn't mean he wasn't discussed as a potential title contender going into it. He loses the fight, and loses his job.

How does that make sense?

The answer: It does not make sense. Not at all.

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Eric Jamison

For a brief period of time on Thursday night, issues between Josh Burkman and his employers at World Series of Fighting seemed untenable.

Burkman expressed his disappointment with vague issues on Twitter, asking to be released from his contract. WSOF matchmaker Ali Abdelaziz responded to Burkman via Twitter, saying the promotion had been good to Burkman and had bent over backward for him.

On Friday, World Series of Fighting executive Shawn Lampman called Bleacher Report from the promotion's Las Vegas office. On the line with Lampman were both Burkman and Abdelaziz. Over the next 20 minutes, the trio shed some light on the roots of Burkman's frustration with the promotion.

Abdelaziz told Bleacher Report that his issues with Burkman had been resolved and that Burkman would face the winner of the title fight between Rousimar Palhares vs. Jon Fitch, which takes place this summer.

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AP Images

It's not really fair to say MMA standout Cris "Cyborg" Justino lost big at Lion Fight 14 Friday night in Las Vegas. After all, in just her third professional kickboxing match, Cyborg gave Jorina Baars, an undefeated Dutch standout, all she could handle in a thrilling all-action fight on AXS TV.

But life isn't fair. Anyone who says otherwise, to borrow from a great man, is selling something.

For five rounds Cyborg did what she always does—she charged forward with a startling recklessness, looking to end the fight quickly. When Cyborg managed to close the distance and get into the pocket, Baars found herself thrown to the mat or fending off haymakers, hanging on for dear life.

Cyborg was a vicious, snarling animal.

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Isaac Brekken/AP Images

Mixed martial arts, the velvet painting of the sports world, is coated with a sheen of the ridiculous. Like its artistic counterpart, it's something you're likely to see at a country fair. It's gaudy and awful and you can't look away.

But the colors pop like nothing else, and honestly, who doesn't love the athletic equivalent of dogs playing poker now and then?

Everything about it is lurid and over the top. Vladimir Putin, a cartoon of a man, is a fan for God's sake. The violence is absurd, eight limbs competing to bludgeon, choke and twist. The fighters are a cornucopia of tattooed glory, men with a decided lack of father figures and/or aptitude for more prestigious and lucrative sports. 

Even the authority figures, Dana White in the UFC and Bjorn Rebney in Bellator, are living caricatures of an aging bro and sleazy car salesman, respectively. In this sport, the company president can lie with a straight face and then turn around and direct an expletive-ridden tweet at a fan or reporter. And no one will blink.

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Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

One of the many, many things to like about Daniel Cormier is his simple desire to scrap.

We saw this inclination in February after Rashad Evans was forced out of their scheduled UFC 170 fight with an injury and Cormier publicly cajoled matchmakers into finding him someone, anyone else to put his fists on instead of scratching him from the card.

Eventually, they dredged up Patrick Cummins, but more on that in a minute.

Cormier’s fight-early, fight-often policy was on display again Wednesday, as Bleacher Report’s Jeremy Botter reported the fight company is targeting a bout for him against former Strikeforce champion Rafael “FeijaoCavalcante at UFC 175.

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USA Today

After 20 days of wild speculation and calculated innuendo, I honestly can’t decide if it’s more difficult to imagine a world where Ronda Rousey next defends her UFC women’s bantamweight title against Gina Carano or one where she doesn’t.

At this point, both seem equally preposterous.

And equally possible.

In their unwavering refusal to die, rumors of Carano vs. Rousey officially became the Rasputin of unconfirmed MMA stories this week. Carano herself fanned the flames Monday, telling Fox Sports’ Damon Martin she’d be “very open” to resuming her fighting career if the “circumstances” (read: money and workload) were to her liking.

"I feel like I can't say too much,” Carano teased. “I've got all this information that if I could just speak freely, this is actually what's going on. ... I think to sum it up in a nice, safe way for me is, if circumstances were right (I would come back) because my first love is MMA.”