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It took Anthony Johnson all of two minutes, 15 seconds on Saturday to change the trajectory of the UFC light heavyweight division.

Johnson’s unexpected first-round TKO victory over Alexander Gustafsson at UFC on Fox 14 effectively took a sledgehammer to the 205-pound status quo. It scuttled best-laid plans and sent the fight company’s marquee weight class streaking off in an exciting new direction.

Scariest part is, the former welterweight and one-time UFC washout might just be getting started.

Provided champion Jon Jones can free himself from his current drug-related scandal, Johnson should get the chance to alter everything we think we know about this sport when the two meet in a suddenly hotly anticipated title bout later this year. Jones commented on the bout via Twitter:

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Twenty-four hours ago, my colleague Jonathan Snowden and I put together the latest edition of our new series, The Question.

In it, we tried to answer two questions:

1: Did the UFC miss the boat by not forcing an immediate rematch between Jon Jones and Alexander Gustafsson after their classic bout in September 2013?

2: Did Anthony Johnson have a chance to delay that rematch even further by beating Gustafsson in the UFC on Fox 14 main event?


This Saturday, the UFC heads to a massive indoor arena in Sweden for UFC on Fox 14. The main event features the ultra-smooth Alexander Gustafsson taking on Anthony Johnson, who used to be a welterweight but is now one of the most terrifying men in mixed martial arts.

To the layman, this might feel like a setup for Gustafsson. Win the fight, get a rematch with Jon Jones.

They faced off back in September 2013, and Gustafsson took Jones to the limit in the best fight of the year before losing a unanimous decision. It was close enough that many observers actually gave Gustafsson the fight. MMA fans, not known for embracing shades of gray, immediately proclaimed it a robbery of the highest order and demanded a rematch.

But the immediate rematch never happened. Jones allegedly turned down a second fight with the Swede. Gustafsson had to face Jimi Manuwa before earning his rematch, but he then got injured and saw Daniel Cormier step in to take his place. And now Gustafsson must win another fight—this time in front of his fellow countrymen—before punching his ticket back to Jones.

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Even as the UFC light heavyweight champion finds himself mired in the flat spin of a drug scandal, the division rolls on around him.

Saturday's UFC on Fox 14 features two potentially meaningful 205-pound scraps. Alexander Gustafsson and Anthony Johnson battle for likely No. 1 contender status, while perennial contenders Ryan Bader and Phil Davis continue to search for the signature win that will put them on the fast track.

In addition, all-time great Dan Henderson returns to the middleweight division, looking to break out of a 1-4 slump dating back to Feb. 2013.

The fact that it all goes down inside a stadium-sized arena in Stockholm, Sweden and will air live on network television in the U.S. only adds to the grandeur.


Bleacher Report lead mixed martial arts writers Jonathan Snowden and Jeremy Botter have banded together—much like a modern-day version of the Justice Leagueto take on the most important questions facing the MMA world. Welcome to The Question

Now that Conor McGregor has proven he's got legitimate star power, setting ratings records on Fox Sports 1, a new question comes to the fore. Will he prove to be equally as devastating in the cage as he is at the box office? He's established himself as a legitimate contender—but can McGregor beat featherweight world champion Jose Aldo?

Jonathan: Well, Jeremy, it's official. Although a few naysayers will continue to lurk in comments sections everywhere, it's clear to everyone with a functional cortex that Conor McGregor is the real thing. He didn't just beat a tough fringe contender in Dennis Siver—he demolished him. 

We've always suspected McGregor had the potential to be a box office sensation. His record-breaking performance on Fox Sports 1 proves there is fire alongside that smoke. And that success came before he had established himself as a legitimate contender. Now that he's officially the top contender, and looks like he'll be competitive against Aldo at the very least, I'm hopeful MMA, at long last, has a new star on its hands.


Anthony Johnson is a night owl these days.

The UFC’s No. 3-ranked light heavyweight arrived in Stockholm, Sweden, late last week to prepare for Saturday’s title eliminator against Alexander Gustafsson. At least some of that prep work involves keeping late hours.

To stay acclimated for an event scheduled to kick off at 2 a.m. local time, Johnson told Bleacher Report he’s keeping his body clock on Florida time. That means he’s staying up all night, starting his hotel training sessions at 2:30-3:00 a.m. and getting what little sleep he can—he says he doesn’t need more than a few hours each day—during normal business hours.

Oh yeah, and for a native of Georgia who now makes his professional home with the Boca Raton-based Blackzilian fight teamStockholm in January? Not necessarily his choice for the best weather.

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Our enduring memory from UFC Fight Night 59 will be Conor McGregor, moments removed from his easy destruction of Dennis Siver, leaping over the Octagon in search of his next foe.

McGregor found him. Jose Aldo, located in the second row—next to McGregor's stunning girlfriend, no less—stood with a smile on his face. McGregor, held back by a security detail that included Dana White's massive personal bodyguard, Kea (no last name needed), screamed at Aldo. In return, the UFC featherweight champion simply smiled. Aldo's daughter, standing in front of him, beamed at McGregor as well. Aldo continued smiling as McGregor climbed back on the cage and made the classic pro-wrestling "I'm taking the belt" motion with his hands.

It was an interesting moment. In McGregor, Aldo must see a chance to finally make the kind of big money he has watched other famous Brazilians bring home but has never quite obtained himself. The loudmouthed Irishman has been selling a fight with Aldo for what seems like ages now. He has constantly ensured that his current opponent was not overlooked but continually reminded fans of the ultimate goal: a championship fight with Aldo.

And now that moment is here—or at least it will be in a few months—and I wonder if Aldo will hold up his end of the deal. He has complained about his pay on a regular basis for quite some time. And there are signs that Aldo understands that he needs to be a little more vocal when it comes to McGregor; he took a photo of himself wearing a robe, crown and scepter while holding a drawing of McGregor as a court jester. 

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The narrative on Donald Cerrone is that there is no narrative.

Honestly, it’s getting to the point where there just isn’t a lot left to say about the guy.

Cerrone did his “Cowboy” thing again on Sunday at UFC Fight Night 59, showing up on impossibly short notice to eke out a close but unanimous-decision win over his friend and frequent foe, Benson Henderson.

"Ben is one hell of a guy," the ever-honest, ever-plainspoken Cerrone told UFC color commentator Joe Rogan in the cage when it was over. "Fighting him on short notice, he's a stud man. My hat's off to him."

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It was a night designed for one thing, and for one thing only: To cement Conor McGregor as a superstar and to set up the biggest featherweight championship fight in the history of the Ultimate Fighting Championship.

McGregor received unprecedented promotional hype leading up to the fight. His visage dominated UFC airwaves, with very little mention of opponent Dennis Siver. He was all over Sunday's NFC Championship game on Fox, which is pretty much the kind of advertising you cannot buy. His face plastered billboards all over Boston.

UFC events are, on occasion, known as one-fight cards. UFC 182 earlier in January was the perfect example: People purchased the pay-per-view to see Jon Jones vs. Daniel Cormier, and that is the only reason they tuned in.

UFC Fight Night 59 felt more like a one-man show, and for good reason. McGregor has taken the UFC by storm since his debut just under two years ago. He has talked a very big game, but has backed it up in the cage. He is one of the most marketable fighters to hit the UFC in recent years. And after his destruction of Dennis Siver in the UFC Fight Night 59 main event, it's probably time to start asking a big question: Is McGregor the UFC's biggest current star?

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O'Connell Street in Dublin, Ireland, is one of the world's iconic thruways. Reborn in the late 1990s, it's a beautiful testament to Ireland itself, celebrating the past while also looking forward to a promising future.

Lining the street are statues representing great Irishmen from years gone by. Most people look at these great men and reminisce, recalling the Eire's many contributions to the world.

But Conor McGregor is not "most people." The budding UFC star, who headlines the UFC's card on Fox Sports 1 Sunday against Dennis Siver, walks O'Connell Street, the signature pedestrian area of his hometown, and sees not just forgotten icons and the dust of history—he sees opportunity.

"I look at that and now I want a statue," he told Bleacher Report in an exclusive interview. "Now I can't wait to get my own statue up there...we will bring Jose Aldo over to Dublin, we will fill out a 90,000-seat football stadium in Croke Park.