USA Today

It feels as though Carlos Condit has been gone for years.

In truth, it’s only been 14 months, but so much wholesale change has occurred in his absence that, when Condit returns Saturday to take on Thiago Alves at UFC Fight Night 67, it’ll be to a welterweight division where anything seems possible.

Last we saw The Natural Born Killer, he blew out his knee in the second round of a bout against Tyron Woodley at UFC 171. That was March 15 of last year, on the same fight card where Johny Hendricks edged Robbie Lawler to seize control of the 170-pound title recently vacated by Georges St-Pierre.

Remember that? Barely? Sounds like ancient history, right?

USA Today

Give credit to Daniel Cormier for saying what we all were thinking.

Cormier wasted little time winning the light heavyweight title on Saturday at UFC 187, snapping Anthony Johnson’s spirit like dry kindling en route to a third-round submission victory. Cormier had survived an early onslaught of punches from Johnson before his Olympic wrestling won the day, so it made for a nice moment when Johnson insisted on wrapping the UFC belt around his waist.

A few moments later, however, the new champ revealed he had someone else on his mind.

Jon Jones!” Cormier hollered as soon as color commentator Joe Rogan let him get near the microphone. “Get your s--t together! I’m waiting for you!”

USA Today

Reviews are in for UFC 187, and they are nearly unanimous.

This was the best night of fights MMA fans have seen in a long, long time.

From Daniel Cormier's winning the light heavyweight championship to Chris Weidman's holding serve against Vitor Belfort, the evening’s dueling main events put an exclamation point on that rare pay-per-view worth more than its $60 asking price. With stellar individual performances from supporting actors Donald Cerrone and Andrei Arlovski, the event’s three-hour main card rarely dragged.

To top it off, several of the bouts came preloaded with thought-provoking and relevant out-of-the-cage storylines.

USA Today

UFC 187, on paper, was one of the very best combat sports cards of the year. With two title fights on top and exciting fighters sprinkled throughout, I had every hope this event would deliver a solid night's entertainment.

Best card of the year, it turns out, was faint praise.

By the time Anthony Johnson tapped the mat and Daniel Cormier sent a succinct message to deposed UFC champion Jon Jones, we were no longer looking at one of the best cards of 2015—we were looking at one of the most entertaining UFC events of the decade.

Most UFC cards, even the best ones, end up having at least one match that ends up being a dull slog. This show, starting with the exciting flyweight bout between Joseph Benavidez and John Moraga and culminating with Cormier's coronation, was a roller coaster ride throughout. There was hardly a slow moment during the entire pay-per-view, something so rare it's hard to think of a comparable card in recent memory.

USA Today

During his final pre-fight interview at UFC 187, Chris Weidman said he was looking forward to putting what he called "the Vitor Belfort era" behind him once and for all.

It had taken more than 15 months to get him in the Octagon with Belfort, owing to the challenger's failed drug test and Weidman's injuries. When he finally got his chance, the middleweight champion wasted very little time bringing their long, simmering feud to a thudding end.

Weidman survived a brief—but heart-stopping—flurry from Belfort early in their co-main event bout Saturday before he was able to ground him with a takedown in the middle of the cage. From there it was academic, as Weidman worked quickly to a dominant position and pounded Belfort until the referee pushed him off.

Total time it took him to work out his frustrations: two minutes, 53 seconds.

USA Today

It occasionally seems like becoming UFC champion is the worst thing that could ever happen to a professional MMA fighter.

It may be the biggest prize in the sport, but there is mounting evidence that UFC gold is bad for your health. Take Saturday night’s UFC 187 for example, where Daniel Cormier and Anthony Johnson will vie to become light heavyweight champion only after the last light heavyweight champion’s life imploded.

If this were an isolated incident, you could just blame it on Jon Jones’ personal issues and move on. In truth, this weekend marks the third time since the beginning of 2014 that the UFC has had to crown a new champion under somewhat ugly circumstances.

It started with Georges St-Pierre’s public breakdown in the wake of his hard-fought UFC 167 victory over Johny Hendricks in November 2013. Seven years on top of the welterweight division had clearly taken its toll on the French Canadian phenom, and after he officially began an indefinite sabbatical from MMA in December of that year, it took three months to set Hendricks up with a bout against Robbie Lawler for the vacant title.

USA Today

Like a desert mirage, these big-time UFC pay-per-views have a way of looking different from up close.

Take UFC 187 for example. We once thought Jon Jones would be there, defending his light heavyweight championship for the ninth time. For a while, we even thought Khabib Nurmagomedov was coming to Las Vegas to claim the No. 1 contender spot at lightweight.

When the event actually happens on Saturday, however, the landscape will be much different.

Jones is suspended indefinitely, having been ordered to get his life together after he was allegedly involved in a hit-and-run accident in New Mexico. Nurmagomedov is injured again.

Getty Images

There is perhaps no fighter in MMA who has undergone quite as many physical and emotional transformations as Vitor Belfort.

By the time he gets his shot at Chris Weidman’s middleweight championship on Saturday at UFC 187, I’m not sure anyone quite knows which version of Belfort is going to show up.

We know only that the 38-year-old Brazilian has waited a long time for this. There have been a year’s worth of false starts and unexpected detours leading up to this weekend’s co-main event. In the interim, Belfort has experienced enough turmoil and controversy to last a professional lifetime.

Conventional wisdom says he won’t be the same guy who terrorized the 185-pound division during 2013. We all remember that guy, right? The guy who strung together as impressive a series of headkick knockouts as the sport has ever seen? The guy who fought exclusively in Brazil? The guy who looked like a He Man action figure with Belfort’s head photoshopped on top of it?

Getty Images

Frankie Edgar refuses to fade quietly into the background.

In fact, after all these years, the 33-year-old former lightweight champion refuses to go pretty much anywhere but straight back to the front of the line in any division where he chooses to compete.

Edgar proved that yet again Saturday at UFC Fight Night 66, turning back a game challenge from former WEC titlist Urijah Faber en route to a unanimous decision win (50-45 x 3) in their featherweight fight.

The victory was Edgar’s fourth in a row at 145 pounds and should put him in the catbird seat, as we all await the outcome of Jose Aldo’s title defense against Conor McGregor at UFC 189 in July. It was not a fact the Toms River, New Jersey, native wanted anyone—especially UFC President Dana White—to forget, as his clean sweep on the judges' scorecards was announced in Pasay, Philippines.

AP Images

The sweeping changes instituted by the Nevada Athletic Commission during a Friday meeting will forever alter the way it punishes users of performance-enhancing drugs.

It has been a long time coming. For years, the Nevada commission (and many others around the world) turned a deaf ear to the PED problem in combat sports. The punishments were barely a deterrent. Cheaters knew that they could cheat and, if caught, receive what amounted to less than a year on the sidelines.

That's no longer the case. On Friday (and in a very short period of time), the commission discussed and voted on new rules that will drop the proverbial hammer on offenders who use steroids, sedatives, marijuana and more.

A sampling of the new rules that will go into effect on September 1, as noted by MMA Fighting's Shaun Al-Shatti: