Rustam Khabilov was a good start.

Last we saw Benson Henderson, the former lightweight champion snapped his streak of eight consecutive decision victories at June’s UFC Fight Night 42, earning—wait for it—the first stoppage win of his UFC career via fourth-round submission over Khabilov.

This particular rear-naked choke—beautiful in its efficiency after Henderson stunned the Russian fighter with punches against the fence—mattered more than most.

Not only did it continue to distance him from a potentially career-defining second loss to Anthony Pettis at UFC 164, but it proved he can still be devastating. He can still be that guy who amassed an 83 percent finishing rate during the first dozen wins of his career. He can still dismantle, excite and win a bout without asking the judges to sift through 25 minutes of neck-and-neck action.

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The June appointment of Scott Coker as president of Bellator MMA left many wondering what was in store for the Viacom-owned mixed martial arts company. There was plenty of optimism.

Coker brought years of experience behind the wheel of a mixed martial arts company. He came to Bellator saying the right things: He wasn't enthused about the tournament format. He believed the company was probably running too many events. He wanted to spend more time building up fighters and fights and creating stars.

Coker immediately went about repairing the damage created by his predecessor, Bjorn Rebney, the man who created Bellator. Rebney's abrasive style rubbed many, including his own fighters, the wrong way. Muhammed "King Mo" Lawal, one of Rebney's biggest stars, famously launched into an expletive-ridden tirade against Rebney on Bellator's first pay-per-view.

Lawal was not alone in his problems with Rebney. Eddie Alvarez, who reigned as Bellator's best fighter and has perhaps been the best fighter not signed to the Ultimate Fighting Championship roster, became embroiled in a bitter dispute with Rebney that began in the court of public opinion and eventually spilled into a real courtroom.

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For Eddie Alvarez, nearly two years of frustration and heartache ended in an all-out sprint.

On Tuesday, Alvarez woke up the reigning Bellator lightweight champion. By early afternoon, he’d been granted his unconditional release from the company and just a couple of hours later was finally a UFC fighter, booked to take on Donald Cerrone five-and-a-half weeks from now at UFC 178 on September 27.

Without warning, hurry-up-and-wait had become hurry up.

"I'm talking 0 to 100,” Alvarez told Bleacher Report’s Duane Finley that evening, when the dust had barely settled. “This is exactly what I wanted. I don't think things could have been done any better.”

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Say this much for Michael Bisping: The man is a professional.

From the outside looking in, it’d be easy to greet Bisping’s latest assignment with one of the brash Brit’s trademark sneers. Cung Le? In China? As the headliner of an early-morning fight card airing only on the UFC’s Internet subscription service?

Surely Bisping deserves better than that.

Granted, he’s had a tough go of it recently, scuffling to a 2-3 record since the beginning of 2012. But after eight years and 20 fights as one of the UFC’s most polarizing figures, this seems decidedly beneath his station.

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If you were looking for a reason to wake up at 6:30 a.m. ET to watch the preliminary card for the UFC's latest return to Macau, China, on Saturday, well, I've got nothing for you.

That's a little early in the morning when all you have to look forward to is Danny Mitchell vs. Wang Sai in a preliminary "main event."

The idea of a main event for a preliminary card is one of the dumbest things the UFC has created in recent years, and it is even sillier when it features two men named Danny Mitchell and Wang Sai.

But if you are the obsessive type and are still riding a high from Saturday's mostly excellent fight card from Maineor perhaps Sunday's even better WWE SummerSlamthen perhaps it is worth waking up at 9 a.m. ET to see Michael Bisping and Cung Le invade The Venetian Macau.

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There were times when it seemed like nobody wanted to be there.

Ryan Bader succeeded only in spurts, Ovince Saint Preux finished looking lost and tired, and as the clock crept past 1 a.m. local time in Bangor, Maine, many spectators began to openly wonder if the UFC Fight Night 47 main event really needed five rounds.

In the end, the better-prepared, better-rounded Bader asserted a kind of dominance, winning a unanimous decision (48-47, 49-46, 49-46) over the overmatched Saint Preux. With it, he ran his win streak to three consecutive fights and will likely improve on his No. 8 standing in the UFC’s official light heavyweight rankings.

Whether any other spoils are in store for him remains unclear.

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Lauren Murphy hit Sara McMann a whopping 193 times Saturday night in Bangor, Maine, banging her about the head over and over again over the course of 15 minutes. McMann, in return, scored less than one-third as many blows, with a relatively paltry 64 punches landing cleanly on her opponent.

On paper, with just those stats in hand, you'd expect an easy decision win. The blitzkrieg from Murphy was never-ending—in fact, she landed a strike every 4.66 seconds. But when the decision was read, McMann's name was called twice and Murphy's oncea split-decision win for the heavily favored wrestler. When the decision was read, McMann's face lit up in an unabashed smile. Murphy's fell, if only momentarily, as she lost her composure, however briefly.

And me? I just shook my head. The wrestler's bias, once again, had reared its ugly head, and another fight was stolen from the hands of the rightful winner. New week, same story. 

It wasn't always like this. The early days of MMA, in fact, were spent re-educating the audience about what a fight would look like if athletes weren't confined by the artificial constraints of boxing. It turned outsurprising absolutely no one who had ever seen two lugs rolling around on the groundthat fights all too often hit the mat. 


Perhaps more than anything else, UFC Fight Night 47 has positioning going for it.

The Octagon makes its first trip to Maine on Saturday in the UFC's first fight card in 21 days. By the measure of 2014's jam-packed live event schedule, that's basically an eternity. With a week's worth of mostly bad news also clogging our timelines at the moment, it's easy to get the impression fight fans are just going to, you know, want to watch some fights this weekend.

To that end, Saturday night looks just right. Despite a head-scratcher of a main event, this event serves up a handful of other interesting attractions.

But what will happen? Exactly? Glad you asked. Here, Bleacher Report MMA lead writers Chad Dundas and Jonathan Snowden take their best, boldest guesses... 

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We constantly hear discussion of Ronda Rousey or Jon Jones being the UFC's biggest pay-per-view draw. But who really has the correct answer? With Brock Lesnar and Georges St-Pierre—easily the UFC's highest-selling stars of the past decade—out of the spotlight, a void has been left for Rousey, Jones and others to step in and stake their claim.

Is it Rousey, the UFC's brightest-shining starlet of the moment? Rousey has captured the attention of fight fans through sheer dominance, and she starts her attempted takeover of Hollywood with the release of The Expendables 3 this Friday. The future is unquestionably bright for Rousey, but does she attract more pay-per-view-buying fans than Jones, who may very well be the best fighter on the planet?

Or is it another champion? I decided I wanted to find out, so I delved into the numbers. Using Dave Meltzer's reported pay-per-view numbers (because, quite frankly, they are the most reliable thing we have available), I charted each current UFC champion.

For each of them, I gave them credit for the pay-per-view number if they were involved in a championship fight on the card. That means it doesn't have to be the main event to count; Ronda Rousey's two co-main event title defenses are absolutely worthy of inclusion for two reasons:

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It’s easy to feel sorry for a guy like Ryan Bader.

OK—scratch that—more accurately, I suspect it’s easy for fight fans to feel absolutely nothing for a guy like Bader.

As he approaches his Saturday showdown with Ovince Saint Preux at UFC Fight Night 47, the former The Ultimate Fighter winner is likely viewed by most as an athlete whose best days have come and gone without him ever reaching his full potential.

We’ve already seen Bader tested against the best in his division and come up wanting. At 31 years old and 15 fights into his UFC career, he’s a fully known commodity—eternally kicking around the outskirts of the 205-pound top 10, with a fleet of A-listers like Alexander Gustafsson, Daniel Cormier and Anthony Johnson between him and anything resembling top contender status.