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The end was beautiful, a startling bit of violence that made even the most hardened fight fan wake up, shake off the ennui and feel. In one fell swoop, Dong Hyun Kim, the Korean grappler once best known for his stifling top control, spun right to avoid a John Hathaway elbow and clocked his opponent with an elbow of his own. 

It was arguably the most deadly pirouette in fight history, a moment worthy of Anderson Silva, as elegant as it was brutal.

But the means? 

They were ugly, a succession of spinning drivel, missed haymakers and footwork so bad it left him stumbling.

Kim is no born striker. A striker, however, he's become. In a business that sees even the icons opening up juice stands and worrying about making ends meet after a career, Kim had little choice. The clock on his career is ticking, and the 32-year-old fighter has a very short window of time to make any money.

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The testosterone replacement therapy era ended swiftly and unexpectedly on Thursday, with all the fireworks of a subdued but unanimous vote by the Nevada State Athletic Commission.

As the first state regulatory body to ban TRT outright for combat sports, the NSAC reaffirmed its position as the nation’s most influential and forward-thinking athletic commission. Minutes later, the UFC joined the party by announcing it will follow Nevada’s lead and disallow TRT at shows where it does its own oversight and drug testing.

And thus, the decisive blow was finally struck in what for years has been MMA’s most high-profile performance-enhancing-drugs crisis.

As former baseball play-by-play man Jack Buck might say: Go crazy, folks, go crazy.

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USA Today

Excellence. Fundamentally, it's why we watch sports, to see human beings reach their ultimate potential, to see the body and mind pushed to their absolute limits.

Everyone in athletics searches for it, for those few moments that remind us of everything we can be. Finding it, sometimes in unexpected places, justifies the endless hours we spend watching other people engage in mostly meaningless competitions and pursuits.

In the UFC, true excellence emerges only rarely—that intersection of heart, spirit and athletic ability. It's the flick of an Anderson Silva front kick. It's the economy of motion in Georges St-Pierre's Superman punch. It's Matt Hughes running across the Octagon, Frank Trigg on his shoulder like a sack of oats, looking for the hardest spot he can find to drop him.

It's Ronda Rousey.

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USA Today

When the final scorecards were revealed on Sunday in Gilbert Melendez’s arduous contract negotiation with the UFC, the results were a clear-cut unanimous-decision victory for the former Strikeforce lightweight champion.

It was a monumental upset that will arguably go down as the biggest win of Melendez’s MMA career.

It’s not every day that a lowly fighter takes up his slingshot against the world’s largest and most litigious MMA company and comes out on top. Perhaps we must now begin to regard Melendez not only as one of the 155-pound division’s best scrappers but one of its most accomplished negotiators as well.

When the smokescreen of his threat to decamp for Bellator finally cleared, Melendez appeared to get everything he wanted from the UFC, including what we can only assume were a boatload of concessions.

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USA Today

If social media is to be believed, Ronda Rousey celebrated Saturday’s win over Sara McMann at UFC 170 by going out for chicken wings.

Following back-to-back training camps, dueling promotional efforts and a pair of championship fights within 56 days of each other, it looks like she wanted to get that vacation started as soon as possible.

Current estimates say we won’t see her in the Octagon again for six or seven months, though she hints she could be ready to go back to work before that.

While she’s away, Rousey’s promoters and the division she rules without mirth or mercy will have some work to do.

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Perhaps the worst thing about the controversial ending to UFC 170 is there will be no easy fix.

After back-to-back fight camps and a 56-day turnaround between defenses of her UFC women’s bantamweight title, Ronda Rousey already had a vacation scheduled following Saturday’s bout against Sara McMann.

That means regardless of what you thought of referee Herb Dean’s stoppage of the main event after one minute and six seconds, it’ll be a while before we see Rousey in the Octagon again.

She’s got a couple of movies that need filming, and even though she says she’s targeting late summer for a possible return, this wasn’t quite the triumphant note she hoped to strike with her exit.

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USA Today

Imagine this unlikely scenario—a week before the Super Bowl the entire roster of the Seattle Seahawks comes down with Legionnaires' diseaseThe NFC champions, without a doubt, will be medically unable to perform. In short, it's a national emergency.

What would NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell do? Would he ask the San Francisco 49ers to step into the breach, replacing their archrivals in the most important game of the season?

Would he delay the game several months, waiting for the Seahawks to regain their bearings?

Or, in a brilliant fit of inspiration, would he ask the Seahawks franchise to bring in a random collection of Arena League players, misfits and Vince Young to take it to the AFC champion Denver Broncos? 

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USA Today

Ronda Rousey is getting a massage.

It’s Wednesday afternoon in Glendale, Calif., 11 days before she’ll defend her UFC women’s bantamweight championship against Sara McMann at UFC 170, and Rousey is due for a short break.

All week, reporters and camera crews have been in her gym just outside Los Angeles, peppering her with questions about her future as the face of mixed martial arts, about her budding movie career and, most notably, about McMann.

This physical therapy session at the end of the day is supposed to be her time to relax, but instead she is using it to finish up a few final phone interviews. If the squeals coming from her end of the line are any indication, the massage is also its own special kind of torture.

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AP Images

Add Nate Quarry to the growing chorus of former UFC fighters who are taking aim at the company on a number of fronts.

Quarry has been out in force with criticisms of his former employer recently, authoring a post on the UG and giving wide-ranging interviews to Bloody Elbow and MMA Junkie on the topics of UFC fighter pay, contracts and the potential of the organization adopting “uniforms” for its athletes.

As former welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre continues to speak openly about drug testing in MMA, Quarry’s most recent comments give some added momentum to a few of the sport’s most vexing issues.

It’s always interesting to hear from former fighters, once they feel they have nothing to fear by speaking out about their careers. Too often in professional sports, the active participants fall back on platitudes and clichés to avoid saying anything of substance in public. Once they’ve made a clean break from the industry, they often find they can express themselves more clearly.

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One of the great strengths of the UFC has always been its ability to make sharp turns.

Because it operates largely without concern for modern burdens like corporate policy, decorum or—really—any internal rules, the world’s largest MMA organization is a sleek and supple machine. Even as it trundles out of adolescence and into its early 20s, the UFC power structure remains agile, mobile and occasionally hostile.

Sometimes that’s a good thing, because when—as UFC president Dana White so often puts it—“bad (stuff) happens” the company is able to react quickly to fix the problem, keep its fans happy and keep the train on its tracks.

When you do 46 (or is it 46,000?) shows per year, that flexibility is a priceless luxury.