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USA Today

This isn’t about Vitor Belfort.

This is a story about Luke Rockhold, who on Wednesday night returns to the cage for the first time since May of last year, when Belfort spoiled his UFC debut via the sort of stunning first-round knockout that will haunt highlight reels as long as they both shall live.

Because this is Rockhold’s story, not Belfort’s, we needn’t spend too much time rehashing the obvious. The KO of Rockhold was the one that really turned people’s heads during 2013, the one that cemented Belfort’s career resurgence and the one that spiked talk about his testosterone replacement therapy.

Nearly eight months later, we’re still not sure how much of that performance to credit to Belfort and how much to credit the doctors who rebuilt him in the image of an action figure.

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Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Spor

Bjorn Rebney to Ariel Helwani (h/t MMA Fighting), March 26, 2012:

Patricio "Pitbull" Freire to MMA Junkie, January 14, 2014:

Don't look now, but Bellator has a tournament-sized problem on its hands.

The promotion that bills itself "the toughest tournament in sports" is apparently ready and willing to bypass the whole tournament thing when it suits its needs. And that's fine. Bellator has some excellent fighters on the roster, but the tournament and season formats are holding it back from reaching its true potential.

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USA Today

LAS VEGAS — Keith Kizer, who has served as the executive director of the Nevada State Athletic Commission from the time of his appointment in 2006, has resigned his position and is moving into a role with the Nevada Attorney General's office.

The news was announced via an email received by Bleacher Report on Friday evening. Kizer will continue in his role until January 27. NSAC chairman Francisco Aguilar said that a search for Kizer's replacement was already under way. Aguilar also noted that Kizer's decision was not a forced one. 

Kizer began working in the Attorney General's office in 1997, where he served as a backup to the senior attorneys in the office. In May 1998, he became a co-counsel for the office and was then promoted to lead counsel in 2001. He continued in that role until 2006, when then-executive director Marc Ratner left the role for a position with the Ultimate Fighting Championship. Kizer assumed the position shortly after.

During his time in office, he often found himself the face of controversies in both mixed martial arts and boxing. He dealt with issues surrounding referees and poor judging but also oversaw the installation of more stringent drug-testing programs, including out-of-competition testing for combat-sports athletes in both sports who held current Nevada licenses.

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USA Today

LAS VEGAS — A week ago, Daniel Cormier weighed 225 pounds. Friday, he weighs 223 pounds. By next Friday, he'll be 219 pounds. In just more than a month, he'll weigh 215 pounds, where he'll begin his actual weight cut. And when he steps in the cage to face Rashad Evans at UFC 170, Cormier hopes to weigh 223 pounds or more.

Of course, he'll need to weigh 205 pounds in there at a very specific point—on Feb. 21, around 4:25 p.m. local time—and that's the thing that has everyone concerned for Cormier's well-being. Right now, the former Olympian is fine. He's comfortable. He's visibly smaller, leading fellow Fox Sports analyst Kenny Florian to make jokes about Cormier wearing skinny jeans. He is not wearing skinny jeans on this day in Las Vegas. But he looks well on his way to light heavyweight, and has arrived at his current weight solely through a changed diet. The hard part will come during fight week, when he's cutting from 215 to 205. 

Specifically, the hard part will arrive once Cormier nears 211 pounds. That's the number that got Cormier in trouble the last time he was this small, in 2008 when his kidneys failed during an attempt to cut for the Olympic Games, and it's a number Cormier acknowledges will play mental games with him. 

"I think once I get to 213 pounds, that's when I'm going to be like, 'Oh, here we go. I'm doing this again,'" Cormier says. "Mentally, I'm going to have to get past that 211 mark."

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USA Today

Prognostication is typically a precision art.

When trying to peer into the future, it’s better to do it through a sniper’s scope than a wide-angle lens. Sometimes, though—particularly around the holidays—we soothsayers start feeling a little squirrely.

Why be content with boldly predicting what is going to happen at a single MMA show (like we normally do) when we could make a from-the-hip shotgun-blast at the entire next year?

2013 was wild, so what the devil are we to expect from 2014, anyway? Glad you asked. Here are our best guesses, as Bleacher Report MMA lead writers Chad Dundas (that’s me) and Jonathan Snowden make some bold predictions for the calendar year 2014.

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USA Today

LAS VEGAS — Sara McMann would like to make one thing perfectly clear: She is grateful to Ronda Rousey for helping usher women's mixed martial arts into the Ultimate Fighting Championship.

"I am literally the first person to say that. Whether you like her or not, I absolutely agree," McMann says. "Dana White was adamant about not adding women to the UFC, even though women had been doing it for over 10 years. These women you see fighting now? They didn't just see Ronda Rousey and go, 'Oh, I think I'll start doing that.' They had been fighting for a long time. Cyborg, Gina Carano and tons of others.

"But we needed a catalyst. We needed someone to catch the UFC's eye, to let us do it on that stage. And she was it, and we do owe her a thank you," she continues. "Even if she was doing it for herself, all of our boats float a little higher when the water is raised."

McMann, who faces Rousey in the main event of UFC 170 on February 22 at the Mandalay Bay Events Center, is confident in her chances to dethrone the best female fighter in the sport.

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Jared Wickerham/Getty Images

Hi there. Hope you had a great holiday season, full of presents and family and merriment. But now that we're past all that nonsense, it's time to get down to the very serious business of mixed martial arts.

You love making bold statements. We sure do. That's what Twitter is for, after all: bold statements that we aren't required to back up with facts or logic. With each installment of the Tweet-O-Rama, we ask you to provide us with a bold statement, and then we take turns debating said bold statement. It's a big ball of fun, and it's time to get started with the latest edition.

In this edition: our first celebrity Tweeter, Chad goes deep into his fantasy booking playbook and the boys debate steroids. All in a day's work. 

Remember, to get involved in the world-spanning party that is Tweet-O-Rama, you'll need to follow Jonathan, Jeremy and Chad.

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It must needle Dominick Cruz to know the latest episode in his seemingly endless, excruciating series of injury setbacks opened another door for Urijah Faber.

Anyone who has followed MMA’s lightest weight classes long enough to have seen either of their past meetings (in the WEC in 2007 and UFC in 2011) knows that Cruz and Faber don’t like each other.

By default, their feud stands as the most acrimonious in the short and otherwise fairly cordial history of the UFC bantamweight division. Even after Cruz avenged his earlier loss by thoroughly outpointing Faber at UFC 132, their business felt unfinished. We’ve always assumed their rivalry would be renewed one day, so long as Cruz wasn’t forced into early retirement by his own body.

Now, the two rivals are unexpectedly back in the news together, as both of them face different uphill climbs.

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Getty Images

The past few weeks, I'd been planning a trip to San Diego to spend a few days with the now-former UFC bantamweight champion Dominick Cruz.

I wanted to do a longer story on the final days of Cruz's training camp as he prepared to return from a very long layoff against Renan Barao, the man many already considered to be the best 135-pound fighter in the world despite holding an interim version of the UFC belt. Where Cruz was once considered a puzzle without a plausible solution, Barao is now a truly feared and well-rounded fighter who would be installed as a heavy favorite against any competition Sean Shelby threw at him. 

I wanted to delve into Cruz's mindset. Were there any nerves? Was there any doubt in his mind that he'd be the same fighter he was when he first went on the shelf back in 2011? Was he dismayed that Barao was installed as a sizable favorite despite holding an inferior version of his own championship? 

As I went about the process of preparing to report on the story, I had a nagging thought in the back of my brain: What if Cruz was injured again and had to pull out of the fight?

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USA Today

It’s not really even an insult to call Ronda Rousey one-dimensional anymore.

Like any self-respecting fighter, she would likely bristle at that notion, but the truth is, she’s easy to figure out. There’s nothing wrong with being one-dimensional as long as that single dimension is so terrifyingly good that the rest of her division can’t decide if they hate or fear her.

Spoiler alert: She’s going to take you down and try to break your arm.

So far, it's been a recipe for unmatched success in the UFC women's bantamweight division. But let’s also be realistic here: Rousey is not as unbeatable as some pundits would have us believe. All it's going to take for her to get a true test is someone who can stay away from her Olympic-level judo game long enough to do damage on the feet.