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Over the past 24 hours, many words have been written about the UFC's new "athlete outfitting policy." Many words will be written in the future, as athletes, managers and the UFC figure out how to tread this rocky new ground.

I don't know what the UFC's move to a standard uniform means for the athletes who compete under its banner. When I first began reporting on the uniform story in February, I was conflicted. I remain so today.

On one hand, it makes the sport look more professional, and that is a good thing. I have every confidence that Reebok will design clean, inspired clothes for UFC fighters to wear in and out of the Octagon. The design nerd in me thinks that is a much better option than what we have currently, which is a mishmash of logos and brands splayed across the cage and television screen.

Instead of looking like NASCAR, the UFC will look more like the NFL, NBA or English Premier League.

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USA Today

If you’re Gilbert Melendez, you must be pretty happy with how it all worked out.

In quieter moments, perhaps you can even marvel at your own good fortune.

When Melendez takes on Anthony Pettis on Saturday at UFC 181, it will mark his second opportunity to win UFC gold in just three career fights inside the Octagon.

That would be a remarkable feat for anyone, but the fact it’s happening in the stacked lightweight division—where guys like Khabib Nurmagomedov and Myles Jury can run off a half-dozen straight UFC wins and still have to wait their turn—makes Melendez’s persistent contender status all the more impressive.

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Benny Sieu/USA Today

When Anthony Pettis steps into the cage for the first time in 15 long months on Saturday at UFC 181, he'll be facing down more than just opponent Gilbert Melendez, the former Strikeforce champion who is looking to write his own name in the UFC's record book. In Melendez's shadow, another man lurks—his spirit and reputation still engulfing the entire lightweight division. 

Pettis fights not just to secure his UFC Lightweight Championship but against the legend of future Hall of Famer B.J. Penn.

Slow down, I can hear you thinking. Pettis, after all, hasn't even defended his UFC title a single time. All-time great? Really?

The stakes, surprisingly, are just that high.

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David Manning/USA today

At last, the time is finally now.

After months of speculation and at least one high-profile delay, the UFC and Reebok held a joint press conference on Tuesday to announce a partnership deal to outfit the fight company's roster of fighters inside the cage and at UFC events for the next six years.

So as of this week, at least the organization's new hashtag isn't so ironic anymore.

The deal means the end of independent sponsorship deals in the UFC as we know them. UFC co-owners Dana White and Lorenzo Fertitta appeared alongside Reebok president Matt O'Toole at the event, proclaiming a new day for both companies.

The rest of the details are still a little bit foggy. As speculation continues to run rampant online, Bleacher Report lead writers Chad Dundas and Jonathan Snowden break down the pros and cons as they see them.

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Ethan Miller/Getty Images

If you thought Wanderlei Silva would go quietly into that good night after finishing his career with the human equivalent of a dumpster fire, well, you've got another thing coming.

To recap: Silva, one of the most beloved fighters in the history of the sport, ran from a random drug test last summer. That was enough for the Nevada Athletic Commission to issue Silva the equivalent of a lifetime ban, effectively ending Silva's career (at least when it comes to fighting for any reputable organization). Oh, and Silva retired a few days before the NAC tossed him out the door. 

And then Silva suddenly became an anti-UFC crusader, because perhaps he was under the mistaken impression that the UFC was the evil organization pulling the strings, scheduling random drug tests and banning him from the sport. He began publishing black-and-white videos talking about all sorts of issues ranging from fighter pay to the ability of those who compete to control their own likeness.

Silva is back with another video, and this time he's grown a mustache. He talks about being prevented from signing autographs at a recent Bellator fan event at Dave and Busters in San Diego. Silva claims that Bellator was going to pay him $10,000 for two hours of signing autographs. The UFC put the kibosh on that one since Silva is still under a UFC contract and can't make appearances for a competing organization.

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Gregory Payan/AP Images

It hasn't been the easiest year to be an MMA fan. Between the UFC's precipitous financial decline, decimated fight cards and what seemed to be a bizarre crime ring made up exclusively of fringe fighters, 2014 was far from a banner year.

But you know us—here at B/R MMA we look for the slightest glimmers of hope and hang on with both hands. Could this year have been better? Sure. Did we sometimes want to hang our heads in shame, mostly anytime we saw the two words "War" and "Machine" in close proximity? Yes, again.

That doesn't mean there weren't plenty of great moments too. For that we pause to give thanks. What follows are five things we're thankful for this year—the main course if you will.

Have one to add? That piece of pumpkin pie goes in the comments. Won't you join us?

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USA Today

Renan Barao wants to fight T.J. Dillashaw in Brazil.

You can't blame a fighter for seeking a home-court advantage, and Brazil offers just such a thing. Tune in to any of the multiple UFC cards held in various Brazilian towns, and you'll see local fighters experiencing plenty of success. I can't explain why they're so successful, and I don't have the metrics in front of me to prove it. But there's no doubt Brazilians get a boost when they're fighting in front of their countrymen.

Of course, this probably applies to other parts of the world too, including the United States. It's just more pronounced in Brazil.

So Barao would like to fight Dillashaw again, and he'd like to do it in Brazil. The first time Barao faced Dillashaw, it was in Las Vegas, and Dillashaw battered the then-champion Barao before finishing him in the final round and taking his belt.

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Credit: Jeremy Botter

SAN JOSE, Calif. — Daniel Cormier had been training hard for 23 minutes when the accident happened.

It was a sparring day, and Cormier was planning on 25 hard minutes in preparation for his January title fight against light heavyweight champion Jon Jones. He'd gone three rounds, and then four. He was tired. But by the middle of his fifth and final sparring round, Cormier was still fired up.

Sensing a lack of effort on the part of his training partner, Cormier urged him to come forward, softly at first and then by screaming at him. And so his training partner, Dwight, came forward, throwing a right hook. At the same time, Cormier leaned his head in. Dwight's elbow struck Cormier on the nose. Blood began to leak all over the American Kickboxing Academy mats.

Sparring was complete, albeit a little earlier than Cormier would've liked. He sat in a chair in the AKA lobby, his head tiled back. His cornerman stopped the bleeding with Q-tips. The nose swelled but was not broken. IPhones emerged, and photos were snapped.

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Gregory Payan/AP Images

The UFC's featherweight title picture just cleared up.

Cub Swanson, he of the six-fight winning streak heading into UFC Fight Night Austin, is vanquished. And he went out not with a bang but a whisper, the victim of yet another stifling Frankie Edgar performance.

Swanson strolled to the cage full of confidence, and his first-round performance showed glimpses of the fighter he has become since the first time he lost to Jose Aldo. But that confidence was mostly gone by the end of the second round after Swanson spent the better part of five minutes drowning underneath Edgar's relentless quicksand style.

With Edgar having dispatched the only legitimate contender to the featherweight championship, the way forward is clear.

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USA Today

The dense plot surrounding the UFC featherweight title got some clarifying edits last Saturday at UFC 180.

Prior to Ricardo Lamas’ quick and easy victory over Dennis Bermudez, you could make the case that as many as four men were in the hunt for the next shot at the 145-pound championship. With Bermudez now out, at least the herd has been thinned a bit.

If Cub Swanson takes care of business against Frankie Edgar this Saturday at UFC Fight Night 57 and extends his win streak to seven, he’ll be the obvious choice as No. 1 contender. If not, then all eyes will likely turn to Conor McGregor’s January showdown against Dennis Siver.

But with Swanson, McGregor and Edgar all theoretically still in the mix and a good five or six months between any of them and a potential fight against champ Jose Aldo, it’s not an entirely cut-and-dried situation either. Until we get Swanson and Edgar to further simplify things this weekend in Austin, Texas, the featherweight title picture retains as many potential twists and turns as your average choose-your-own-adventure novel.