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Alex Trautwig/Getty Images

After just five fights in almost four years, Anthony Pettis knew something had to change.

Injury after injury piled up, stealing important years from his prime.

He did not enjoy being known as a frail champion, as someone who constantly pulled out of scheduled fights.

He did not enjoy being the butt of jokes. Not when all he wanted was to defend his belt on a consistent basis and to make a lot of money. He wanted to be the UFC's king of pay-per-view, a must-see attraction. But he couldn't be the king of pay-per-view if he couldn't stop pulling out of pay-per-views.

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Mark J. Rebilas/USA Today

There’s nothing wrong with Rafael dos Anjos.

On the contrary, dos Anjos has been outstanding through more than six years in the UFC. He’s gone 8-1 dating back to May 2012 and no matter what happens during his lightweight title shot at UFC 185, he can boast a resume few 155-pound fighters can match.

So, why does it seem so hard to picture UFC President Dana White strapping the title around dos Anjos’ waist at the end of Saturday night? 

Maybe it’s a confluence of things.

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USA Today

LAS VEGAS — The first thing you notice about Joanna Jedrzejczyk is her name, of course, because you have to figure out how to spell it. She is a writer's worst nightmare. She is the reason copy and paste was invented.

But you also have to figure out how to say it, and, well, that's even more difficult.

"Young. Jay. Chick," she says, slowly.

I blink at her. My brain has absolutely no idea what sound she is making.

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Gregory Payan/AP Images

A minute or two into last week’s Bellator 134, a guy strolled out from behind a retractable 20-foot video monitor and began noodling a version of "The Star-Spangled Banner" on electric guitar.

On stage behind him stood a lineup of the night’s fighters, some of them taking his performance very seriously, some of them absolutely not. The monitors streamed pure Americana—shots of the Statue of Liberty, Mount Rushmore, a clip of wheat stalks swaying gently in a breeze.

Just as the guitarist wailed past the line about the perilous fight, cameras cut to a statuesque blonde woman in the front row wearing a black evening gown, one hand tucked somberly over her heart. At her right elbow, a guy with a full sleeve of tattoos slurped a cocktail out of a plastic cup and gleefully nodded along to the music.

Ninety seconds later, a bunch of fireworks went off indoors.

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Jonathan Bachman/Associated Press

Brock Lesnar's run in World Wrestling Entertainment might be coming to an end. Or, at least his contract is expiring after WrestleMania in a few weeks, making him the hottest free agent in combat sports. WWE, the UFC and Bellator have all expressed interest in securing Lesnar's services, according to Sporting News.

Where should Lesnar go? Should he stick around the relatively safer confines of a WWE schedule that allows him to work limited dates each year for a massive amount of money? Lesnar's friend, Paul Heyman, told Fox Sports The Beast is healed from the diverticulitis that caused him so much grief during his run as UFC heavyweight champion.

Should Lesnar, if he's actually healed, go back and try to prove to himself and to the world that he's better than the way his days in the UFC ended?

To discuss this hot topic, Bleacher Report lead writers Jonathan Snowden and Jeremy Botter teamed up, like a prettier version of The Bushwackers, to discuss where Lesnar should stick with professional wrestling or go back to the Octagon.

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AP Images

It's strange to think that 11 fights and nearly four years into her amazing MMA career, we still have no idea how to talk about Ronda Rousey.

Through five appearances in the Octagon—capped by Saturday’s 14-second destruction of Cat Zingano at UFC 184—the women’s bantamweight champion has been so dominant that all our normal buzzwords fall pathetically short.

The lasting impression is that Rousey is so far ahead of her time—not to mention her best competition—that her own peers and her own employer don’t know exactly what to make of her. She’s obviously incomparable, but we can’t stop comparing her to her male counterparts. She’s obviously unique, but so far, we’re dead set on cramming her into some mold, some prefabricated cliche.

To that end, UFC President Dana White was happy to make Mike Tyson allusions at Saturday’s post-fight press conference. In keeping with MMA’s steadfastly oblivious relationship with the troubled former boxer, White didn’t appear to reckon that this might not be a wholly positive comparison or an awkward one to make about his first women’s champion.

"She is—without a doubt—that female version of him," White said, via MMAFighting.com’s Luke Thomas. “That's exactly what she reminds me of.”

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Harry How/Getty Images

In her last two UFC title defenses, bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey has beaten opponents Alexis Davis and Cat Zingano in a combined 30 seconds.

That is not a misprint.

Matched up with the very best women in world, Rousey has barely managed to break a sweat. It took her longer to explain her armbar win over Zingano than it took her to execute it. She is, without question, a force of nature.

Imagining her against other female athletes, frankly, is becoming a little bit difficult to pull off. What is the best-case scenario for a title challenger at this point? Someone pushes her into a second round? Actually wins a round? Wins a fight?

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USA Today

Saturday night's UFC 184 event offered more of that patented Ronda Rousey magic: the anticipation, the atmosphere and the quick destruction of an opponent that leaves us all breathless and wondering who can possibly step up and give Rousey a run for her money.

Today, we take a look back at Saturday night and figure out what we learned, loved and hated. Leave your own thoughts in the comments below.

 

WHAT WE LEARNED

Rousey's dominance is something of a controversial subject. At least that's what social media would have you believe. The more times Rousey goes out there and beats people in mere seconds, the less inclined folks at home will be to either buy pay-per-views with her headlining or to go out to a bar, pay a healthy cover charge and make an evening out of watching her defend her championship.

On Saturday night, I was afforded the opportunity to go out and watch UFC 184 at a sports bar. It was the first time in many years I've been able to do so. I am glad I did, because it was a learning experience.

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USA Today

Things didn’t totally go Holly Holm’s way at UFC 184.

Maybe that will turn out to be the best thing for her.

Holm made her Octagon debut amid a boatload of hype on Saturday, after establishing herself as one of women’s MMA’s hottest free agents with three undefeated years on the independent circuit. Before her arrival—once delayed in 2014 by injury—there were even whispers she might be the one to finally give Ronda Rousey a real run for her money.

After Holm eked out a split-decision win over the outsized Raquel Pennington and Rousey doused Cat Zingano in just 14 seconds, however, those murmurs no longer apply. It’s clear now that Holm will need more seasoning at the sport’s highest level if she ever means to challenge the UFC women’s bantamweight champion.

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Jayne Kamin-Oncea/USA Today

Cat Zingano came charging out of the corner, launching herself at UFC bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey with a fierce determination, murder in her eyes and weeks of muscle memory twitching in every fiber. 

That didn't end up being the best decision she's ever made.

Fourteen seconds after the bell rang to signal the commencement of the fight, Zingano was tapping desperately, her arm contorted at a horrible angle, her title dreams dashed. She had no hope of beating Ronda Rousey. 

Perhaps no woman in the UFC does.

Last week, Jeremy Botter and I discussed Rousey's place among the most dominant female athletes of all time. But no matter who you pick out of a crowded field of greats, all of them have met defeat. Martina Navratilova, for example, crushed the competition for more than a decade—but she also lost 13 of every 100 matches.