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In the end, there was just too much working against Eddie Alvarez and Gilbert Melendez for them to really do their yearslong rivalry justice.

It might have been foolish for us to ever expect they could.

Alvarez and Melendez had many battles to fight on Saturday at UFC 188. They had to overcome not only the weight of a beef dating back to their days as rival champions of smaller organizations, but the stamina-sucking altitude of Mexico City and—for Alvarez, at least—a badly swollen left eye, which plagued him through nearly the entire bout.

If their long-awaited grudge match gave us anything, however, it was a close-up lens on the former Bellator MMA 155-pound champ’s toughness.

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Eddie Alvarez and Gilbert Melendez both took the scenic route to the UFC.

For better or worse, Alvarez and Melendez both spent the heart of their careers toiling in smaller organizations, where they became lightweight champions and gained reputations as fearsome, all-action fighters.

Had their UFC 188 co-main event gone down a few years ago—say, anytime from 2009-11, the approximate span when Alvarez’s reign in Bellator MMA and Melendez’s dominance over Strikeforce overlapped—it might have been considered a bona fide dream fight.

As it stands, their scrap will still likely be worth the price of admission and is the odds-on favorite to scoop up Fight of the Night honors.

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In October 2013, UFC heavyweight Cain Velasquez dispatched his greatest rival with disturbing ease. Junior dos Santos, the second-best heavyweight in the world, didn't even come close to giving the champ a fight.

With contemporary challengers looking both helpless and hapless, attention turned to Velasquez's place in the sport's history. It was clear he stood alone among his peers and was starting to shoulder up with established all-time greats in Fedor Emelianenko and Randy Couture.

While the aforementioned was fun to ponder, a funny thing happened on the way to the UFC Hall of Fame.

Since that fateful night in Houston, Velasquez hasn't stepped into the cage once, slowed by a rotator cuff injury and knee surgery. His bout against Fabricio Werdum on Saturday at UFC 188 in Mexico City will be his first in nearly 20 months.

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Calling a "do-over" never felt so good.

Cain Velasquez and Fabricio Werdum will finally meet to unify the heavyweight title on Saturday at UFC 188 in Mexico City. When they do, they'll make good on the fight company's longstanding plan to try to storm into Mexico's coveted fight market with Velasquez as its vanguard.

You may recall, this tandem was supposed to meet last November (at UFC 180, in Mexico City). Unfortunately, like seemingly all things involving Velasquez, those plans were scuttled by injury and Werdum won the interim title by beating Mark Hunt instead. The UFC, however, remained determined to put Velasquez in this spot, so here we are again—same city, same venue, same intended main event.

Even though we had to take a roundabout path to get here, Velasquez vs. Werdum is still the best heavyweight fight to make right now. As always, predictions are required. Here, Bleacher Report Lead Writers Chad Dundas (that's me) and Jonathan Snowden tell you how it's all going to go down. 

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It’s been nearly two years since UFC fans last saw their heavyweight champion in action.

That would be a long time on the sideline for any professional athlete, but to gain real perspective on the curious career trajectory of Cain Velasquez, let the following fun fact sink in:

The last time Velasquez fought somebody besides Junior dos Santos or Antonio “Bigfoot” Silva it was 2010, and his opponent was Brock Lesnar.

When Velasquez takes the cage against Fabricio Werdum on Saturday at UFC 188, it’ll amount to more than just an opportunity to get proof of life on the 265-pound champ. It will also be a chance for the man we’ve considered the best heavyweight in the world for the past five years running to show he’s still who we all assume him to be.

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The average post-fight interview in the UFC is a dreadful bore. The announcer, in this case Jon Anik, asks the fighter to talk him through the fight. Then he'll ask who the fighter wants to step into the cage with next. 

Typically that question, asked after literally every fight, will be met with a blank stare.

If you're a fan of the sport, you know exactly what I'm talking about. Collectively we've wasted years of our lives listening to these meaningless question-and-answer sessions.

At UFC Fight Night 68, Ben Rothwell made it all worthwhile.

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You'll read a lot this week about 44-year-old Dan Henderson, a throwback to a simpler time in the sport of mixed martial arts. In the days before biological passports and year-round random drug testing, before, MMA fighting was even a full-time profession, Henderson carved out a legacy as one of MMA's most enduring legends.

Henderson's career is perhaps most remarkable for its longevity. After all, when he made his first UFC appearance way back in 1998, his 28th birthday was creeping up on him. His physical prime was spent only occasionally in the cage, the dream of Olympic glory dying hard.

By the time he really had things figured out, a period that culminated with a 2007 knockout of Wanderlei Silva, he was already in his late 30s. It had been a good run, but it had to be coming to an end. Athletes, after all, don't excel into their 40s.

That's just science.

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Just after 2 p.m. ET on Wednesday, the UFC rolled the Holy Grail of combat sports out onto a stage at the Red Rock Resort and Casino in Las Vegas.

In this case, the Holy Grail came in the form of Jeff Novitzky—the former federal agent the fight company has hired to spearhead its new drug testing program—and a budding partnership with the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency. Together, the UFC, Novitzky and USADA confirmed that in July they’ll institute the very thing concerned MMA fans have been asking of the promotion for years: comprehensive, year-round random drug testing for all 500-plus fighters on the UFC’s roster.

"Today is a huge win for the athletes in the UFC,” USADA CEO Travis Tygart said during a press conference that streamed live at UFC.com and elsewhere, “as they set a new standard for all professional sport in protecting the rights and health of clean athletes and the integrity of competition.”

Let’s pause a moment to hear the angels sing.

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With about a month left before a rigid new outfitting deal between Reebok and the UFC chases third-party sponsors out of the Octagon, opposing sides in MMA’s ongoing uniform debate no longer even seem to be having the same conversation.

Last week, the fight company announced what it called “a historic unveiling” on June 30 in New York City, where it is believed we’ll get our first look at the actual Reebok gear fighters will be required to wear during future UFC bouts. The announcement was styled as a “save the date” card, as if a wedding is in the offing and we’re all about to embark on a long, happy new marriage.

Still, the more we hear from fighters, the more we get the feeling this wedding may be one of the shotgun variety.

The latest wave of criticism of the new apparel policy has just now begun to filter down from the UFC’s highest level. Featherweight champion Jose Aldo joined the fray on Monday, telling Brazilian media outlet Combate—translation via Bloody Elbow’s Lucas Rezende—that the new arrangement "is great for the UFC, but not for the fighters."

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In the end, Carlos Condit came out looking exactly as we all remembered him—victorious, and spattered in his opponent’s blood.

Condit made short and gory work of Thiago Alves on Saturday at UFC Fight Night 67, forcing the ringside doctor to stop their main event fight after the second round due to Alves’ broken nose. It was victory No. 30 of Condit’s professional career, improved on his gaudy 93 percent finishing rate and reaffirmed his position as one of the welterweight division’s deadliest technicians.

So, pretty much the same-old, same-old for the Natural Born Killer.

Despite returning from 14 months off after suffering a serious knee injury in a fight against Tyron Woodley last March, Condit entered still clinging to the No. 4 spot in the UFC’s official 170-pound rankings. While that lofty standing didn’t offer much room for upward mobility, an impressive showing against Alves puts him very much back in the thick of a revamped title picture.

For a few uncertain moments there, Condit’s standing wasn’t quite so clear.