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A new force has emerged in the UFC's light heavyweight division. The funny thing about Anthony Johnson, who brutally destroyed Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira to cement himself as one of the top contenders to the 205-pound champion, is that he got here in such a roundabout way.

Back in the old days, before he became a punchline for his inability to make 170 pounds, Johnson displayed brief glimpses of fearsome power and finishing ability. Who can forget the untimely ends met by Yoshiyuki Yoshida and Kevin Burns when they faced Johnson?

He was a gigantic welterweight, though the truth was that he was never really a welterweight at all. Right? He was a light heavyweight, though we wouldn't discover it for a few years.

Those years have come and gone now, and Johnson is back in the UFC. He is 35 pounds heavier, though to look at him Saturday, you would not be all that far off if you assumed he was a rock-solid heavyweight. Johnson stepped in the cage an imposing figure, dusted off his gloves, absolutely destroyed Nogueira at UFC on Fox 12 and then spoke true words to Fox commentator Joe Rogan after the fight.

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If there was ever any question that holding out can be good for the career of a mixed martial artist, look no further than the story of Nick Diaz for the answer.

Diaz, 30, signed a three-fight contract extension with the Ultimate Fighting Championship on Thursday. The signing was announced by UFC President Dana White on Twitter, and it was followed swiftly by a full-frontal media assault from the UFC headquarters:

Here is a photo of Nick with White and Lorenzo Fertitta! Here is a photo of Nick signing his new contract! Here is an interview with Nick in text form! Here is an interview with Nick in video form!

The UFC began pushing the news on social media and then trumpeted its own skill at using social media. When #nickdiaz began trending on Twitter, the UFC couldn't announce it quickly enough. It never stopped to mention that trending on Twitter is not actually a popularity gauge. Diaz, for example, was not being talked about by the entirety of the world's population. Trending happens when nobody is talking about a particular subject, and then the subject is suddenly the center of discussion for large swaths of people.

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Daniel Cormier has always been the elephant in the room.

Ever since the former Olympic wrestler announced in August 2013 that he'd shed the weight necessary to enter the UFC light heavyweight division, he's been considered the biggest, most interesting threat to champion Jon Jones.

This was the bout everybody wanted—a superfight so hotly anticipated that Cormier already had the T-shirts printed up.

It's just that nobody thought it would happen this fast, and nobody wanted it to come at the expense of another talented and well-liked fighter.

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Vitor Belfort may be down to his last strike, but the Nevada State Athletic Commission is still giving him good pitches to hit.

There were very few curveballs thrown Belfort’s way Wednesday, as Fox Sports' Marc Raimondi reported that the NSAC granted Belfort a conditional license to fight Chris Weidman for the UFC middleweight title in Las Vegas on Dec. 6. As a result, Belfort will serve a de facto nine-month suspension for failing a surprise drug test back in February and will face increased commission testing for the rest of his career.

Otherwise, he’s good to go and will suffer fairly minimal consequences.

For anyone who’d been reading between the lines leading up to this meeting, none of this was particularly shocking. The UFC had remained oddly confident that Belfort would clear the NSAC’s hurdles and be allowed back on active duty by the time Weidman is ready to meet him in the cage.

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LAS VEGAS — The Nevada State Athletic Commission on Wednesday handed down a largely light punishment to retired UFC star Chael Sonnen.

Sonnen was suspended for two years with no fine. He is required to pay the costs of his drug testing program and for the costs (hotel, flight) of bringing in the NSAC laboratory expert. Sonnen also must work with the commission on educating other fighters under its jurisdiction. 

The commission meeting, which Bleacher Report attended in person, took place at the Grant Sawyer government building. Sonnen arrived early, clad in a dark gray suit and green shirt with no tie. He was accompanied by his lawyer, Jeff Meyer, who also serves as Sonnen's manager. Sonnen was the final item on the commission's agenda, which also included a license application for top UFC middleweight contender Vitor Belfort.

Belfort's license was approved on a conditional basis, provided he accepts random drug testing and does not fight before December. Belfort must also fight in Nevada. He is scheduled to face Chris Weidman for the UFC Middleweight Championship on December 6 at the Mandalay Bay Events Center.

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When the Ultimate Fighting Championship asked Anthony Johnson if he wanted to fight Antonio Rogerio Nogueira, he didn't do the obvious thing.

Johnson didn't question if Nogueira would show up come fight night. That may seem strange, given that Nogueira has withdrawn from four of his last six fights due to injury. He has competed just twice in the past three years. You'd think that kind of abysmal track record would lead Johnson to be skeptical about whom he would ultimately be fighting at UFC on Fox 12.

But Johnson told Bleacher Report that the law of averages gave him confidence Nogueira would be healthy come fight night.

"I know everyone was saying he's going to pull out. But my thinking was, this guy has been out of action for so long that he can't get injured," Johnson said from San Jose, where he'll face Nogueira on Saturday night. "I never once thought he was going to get injured here."

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Considering the ever-increasing demands of being an MMA fan, it can sometimes be difficult to savor the moment.

It's never been more expensive or more difficult to simply follow our sport. These days, we hurtle along at a breakneck pace—stuck in an eternal state of Fiiiiight Weeek!!!—seldom finding the opportunity to just stop and take a breath. We rarely appreciate the beauty of our surroundings because we're already rocketing on toward the next big thing.

So before we forget, before the experience fades into the next, this needs to be said:

July 2014 has been an awesome month to be a UFC fan.

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Two things were immediately apparent on Saturday, after Conor McGregor dusted Diego Brandao via first-round TKO at UFC Fight Night 46.

First, McGregor has it.

The 26-year-old Dublin native possesses charisma for days, all the potential in the world and very much looks the part of a major player in the UFC’s international expansion plans.

Second, he’s still got a long way to go to prove he’s as good a fighter as he says he is.

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Dana White's scrums are usually a source of fantastic information. The UFC president sits down on a chair, the media circle around him, and an informal chat begins. White will discuss the latest in UFC news and share his opinion on nearly any subject under the sun.

The scrums are so popular that the promotion recently began airing them on Fight Pass, the digital subscription service that will also air Saturday's UFC card from Dublin, Ireland. The scrums are no longer the sole domain of the media; now they belong to everybody, as long as the everybody in question is fine with shelling out $9.99 per month or $7.99 per month if you subscribe for a year.

This is a good thing, because it allows me to sit in the comfort of my own home and watch the proceedings on my television instead of traveling halfway around the world. I might wear pants, or I might not. I might not even get out of bed. In fact, that's what I did on Friday morning: I stayed in bed and watched White address the media in a building 4,943 miles from my front door.

The wonders of technology.

It also affords me other luxuries, such as shouting obscenities at the television and resisting strong urges to hurl my remote. These two things also happened on Friday morning, as I sat and listened to White say things that made no sense.

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If anything has changed for Johny Hendricks since he became the UFC welterweight champion in March, it's that dang UFC championship belt.

This seems obvious, so let's clarify: remembering the belt is the problem.

Hendricks is used to hopping in his massive Ford F-650 truck and driving places, whether it's to the gym or personal appearances or Rudy's, a gas station that doubles as a barbecue joint. Nowadays, though, people want to see the belt. They want a picture with the champ, and they want to hold the belt, and so Hendricks has to try to remember to take the belt everywhere he goes.

This is easier said than done. He has forgotten the belt at home. There are occasions when Hendricks will jump in the truck and drive halfway to his destination, only to realize he left the belt at home. So the UFC welterweight champion will turn the truck around (easier said than done with a truck of this size), drive back home and retrieve his precious hardware.