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LAS VEGAS—Ben Askren, once and perhaps future free-agent welterweight, sits near a waterfall in the massive Venetian casino.

He is here, in the sin capital of the world, for the World Mixed Martial Arts Awards, a sort of Academy Awards for the face-punching set that takes place Friday night at the Venetian Theater. For now, he is making the most of his time in Nevada by making the media rounds to promote his debut for the Singapore-based promotion One FC. He has done several radio appearances this morning already, and he will do several more this afternoon.

But for now, he is talking to me, and he is talking about being a heel.

A heel, in professional wrestling parlance, is a bad guy. He irks you. If he is good at his job, you will pay money to see someone else beat the stuffing out of him, repeatedly, as he dances all the way to the bank.

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We’ve known for years that Alistair Overeem marches to the beat of his own electronic dance music.

For a dozen fights immediately preceding his arrival in the UFC, he walked a relatively solitary path, absconding with the Strikeforce heavyweight title to flit between promotions in Europe and Asia.

At times he appeared aloof—as if he could take or leave his MMA career—mixing in the occasional kickboxing tourney and always being more concerned with the bottom line than his place in the sport.

Even now that he’s an Octagon mainstay, Overeem doesn’t seem to get it.

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Despite missing weight for two of his last three bouts—and needing an extra hour to make weight in the third—UFC flyweight John Lineker has no plans to move back up to bantamweight.

That's according to his manager Alex Davis, who spoke to MMAFighting.com's Guilherme Cruz on Tuesday.

Lineker initially came in at 127 pounds for last week's UFC 169 bout against Ali Bagautinov. He hit 126 pounds after being granted an extra hour, but the damage was already done. Lineker's reputation as a fighter who can't make weight was cemented even further.

But despite the repeated weight failures, Davis said it makes no sense for Lineker to jump up a weight class. 

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Here is Anthony Johnson’s chance to make an impact.

The fighter whose name was once synonymous with failed weigh-ins is back as of Tuesday morning, and he's booked into an instant light heavyweight contender bout against Phil Davis at UFC 172.

Johnson was last seen in the Octagon a bit more than two years ago, when he missed the middleweight limit by a whopping 11 pounds for a fight against Vitor Belfort after doctors advised him to abandon his cut. The fight was ultimately contested at a 197-pound catchweight, and Belfort won by first-round submission.

Like many of Belfort’s most recent appearances, that win came in Brazil, and he used it to springboard into a light heavyweight title shot against champion Jon Jones after Lyoto Machida turned down the chance.

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It took UFC President Dana White all of about four minutes on Saturday to negotiate terms for a superfight between featherweight champion Jose Aldo and lightweight champ Anthony Pettis.

With the Octagon still warm from his shellacking of Ricardo Lamas at UFC 169, Aldo told the first reporter to question him at the post-fight press conference that he wanted a bout with Pettis.

Aldo checked with White, White checked with Aldo—the process only slowed because the two men were working through Aldo’s interpreter—and it was done. There was no need to ask Pettis, who had confirmed his interest earlier in the evening on social media.

“Sounds like we’ve got a fight,” White said during the official press conference feed on UFC's YouTube account. “There you go. That was easy.”

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There was a moment, roughly halfway through Jose Aldo's thoroughly brilliant and yet somehow uninspiring victory over Ricardo Lamas at UFC 169, when the longtime featherweight kingpin's murky future suddenly became quite clear.

It has been years since Aldo was properly challenged. Against Lamas, as it has been against so many others, Aldo was effortless. He was facing one of the best fighters his division had to offer, and he barely needed to break a sweat.

He kept perfect distance. He feinted. He checked leg kicks, and then unleashed thudding, groan-inducing leg kicks of his own. He left Lamas flailing with roundhouse kicks that never had any chance of landing.

Aldo is perfection in the cage. There is no more technical and precise fighter, no fighter more capable of making very good challengers appear as rank amateurs. He is always just out of reach, and his reactionary timing is sublime. Go back to Saturday night and watch him dodge repeated jab and leg-kick attempts from Lamas. It is a subtle and natural thing of beauty.

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This was not one to tell your grandkids about.

I mean, unless your grandkids want to grow up to be ringside officials.

UFC 169 made a bit of fairly inauspicious history on Saturday night, setting a record for most decisions during a single UFC event. Ten of 12 fights went the distance, as Jose Aldo and Renan Barao both retained their titles and Alistair Overeem staved off Frank Mir.

“We broke a record tonight that I’m not very proud of,” said UFC president Dana White at the postfight news conference, via MMA Fighting. “Most decisions ever in UFC history; that’s not one you’re going to hear me bragging about at press conferences.”

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The numbers are beginning to pile up for featherweight champion Jose Aldo.

The reigning 145-pound king has defeated the last 16 men who have stood across from him inside the cage, and the majority of them have been disposed of in brutal fashion. The 27-year-old is notorious for making highlight-reel material out of his competition and has used a complex blend of speed, power and accuracy to get the job done.

Surging contender Cub Swanson met his end via double flying knee.

Team Alpha Male standout Chad Mendes made the slightest of mistakes as he shot in for a takedown and woke up to see Aldo crowd surfing through the frenzied masses in Rio de Janeiro.

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To fully appreciate Jose Aldo, you had to see him in the WEC.

As he prepares to meet heavy underdog Ricardo Lamas on Saturday at UFC 169, while rumors of a summer superfight with Anthony Pettis swirl, it’s impossible to assess his time as the UFC featherweight kingpin without a little historical perspective.

Make no mistake: Aldo has been great in the Octagon, but to know him at his full potential, you had to witness his eight-fight rise through the UFC’s kid brother organization from 2008-2010.

You had to watch him gnaw through the legs of guys like Alexandre Franca Nogueira, Jonathan Brookins and Urijah Faber with his lashing kicks. You had to see him counter Rolando Perez’s jab with a crushing knee at WEC 38, flurry on Chris Mickle at WEC 39 or suspend the laws of gravity to score his double flying-knee knockout of Cub Swanson at WEC 41.

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Saturday night originally presented an opportunity that Renan Barao had been waiting over a year to see come to light.

After winning and then defending the interim bantamweight title on two occasions, the Brazilian phenom was finally going to get the chance to square off with longtime titleholder Dominick Cruz to determine who would be the true champion of the 135-pound division. 

Their fight was figured to be a wild affair filled with high-paced action until one of them broke, but the way things actually turned out is far from the chaotic five-round battle originally envisioned. In the weeks leading up to the fight, Cruz suffered yet another injury and was officially stripped of his title, which made Barao the official undisputed champion of the division.

"On one hand I was very happy because I became the official bantamweight champion," Barao told Bleacher Report. "But on the other hand it was sad because I never want to see someone's career halted because of an injury. As for this fight I have coming up with Faber, it doesn't bother me. I always stay in shape, and I'm prepared to fight anyone that comes my way. Now it is going to be Faber, and I'm ready for that fight."