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USA Today

The weather outside of the United Center may have been blistering cold, but the action inside was anything but as the Octagon returned to Chicago for UFC on Fox 10.

The fighting faithful battled subzero temperatures throughout the week as the anticipation for the event steadily built. On Saturday night, the time for waiting was over, and the "Windy City" hosted the UFC's first major event of its 2014 campaign. 

A high-profile tilt in the lightweight division headlined the card as former champion Benson Henderson locked up with former Strikeforce title holder Josh Thomson. Henderson, who was coming off his first loss in three years when he dropped the 155-pound strap to Anthony Pettis at UFC 164 back in August, had the opportunity to take a huge step back toward title contention against Thomson on Saturday.

It was a similar situation—if not more so—in regard to a future championship opportunity for Thomson. The AKA staple was originally slated to face the current reigning title holder at UFC on Fox 9 in December until an injury forced Pettis to withdraw. Rather than sit around and wait for Pettis to heal, "The Punk" decided to roll the dice and agreed to step in against Henderson at UFC on Fox 10.

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Photo courtesy of MMA Fighting

CHICAGO—Fight week is a unique scenario for the competitors involved on a UFC card. 

As the clocks ticks down closer to show time, the anticipation for the work to be done builds. Fighters deal with the final few pounds they need to shed in order to hit their required weight limits and the card's biggest names tackle a steady stream of media obligations. Balancing those various elements can be tricky business, and every fighter has their own way of handling the process.

Much the same way as time inside the cage provides crucial and valuable experience, the more a fighter goes through the pre-fight wringer, the better equipped they will be when the situation arises again. That said, there are some who seem to operate with a natural ease, and of this variety, Adriano Martins is certainly a member.

The 31-year-old Brazilian was on hand at "Ultimate Media Day" to field questions from the media in the build up to his bout against Donald Cerrone at UFC on Fox 10. The bout with "Cowboy" is undoubtedly the most high profile affair of his career and has the potential to launch Martins into an entirely different realm of recognition with a victory.

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AP Images

For a long time, the UFC lightweight division was beyond reproach.

Just as light heavyweight was once regarded as the fight company’s glamour division, the 155-pound class was for years universally heralded as the Octagon’s most competitive. In a sport where chaos was often the default setting, lightweight was so dependably great for so long, perhaps its supremacy was something we all started to take for granted.

Note the past tense in that paragraph.

As Benson Henderson and Josh Thomson prepare to fight over fairly inexplicable stakes on Saturday night, the 155-pound division finds itself in a precarious position. Not to play Chicken Little here, but it’s starting to feel as though MMA’s best weight class just ain’t what it used to be.

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If there's one thing you know about Quinton "Rampage" Jackson, it's that you never really know anything at all.

Jackson, 35, has now changed his tune on an infamous 2008 car chase that ended with Jackson lying face down in the street, legs splayed and his arms behind his head as police officers arrested him. He was charged with multiple felonies, but Ultimate Fighting Championship officials—including president Dana White—bailed Jackson out of jail. In fact, White immediately flew from Las Vegas to Orange County and put down the $25,000 bail, then helped him with the legal trouble stemming from the wild police chase.

Of course, that's all forgotten about these days. Jackson has moved on to Bellator, where he continues to take shots at White and the UFC for being cheap. He is also spending his days taking potshots at Reebok, yet another company joining a long list of people who have allegedly harmed Jackson in some way.

It's safe to assume that—given Jackson's history with anyone who goes into business with him—Bellator and Bjorn Rebney will eventually find themselves the target of his ire. It is only a matter of time.

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USA TODAY

The injury bug loves the taste of UFC lightweights.

First, it took a bite out of T.J. Grant last August, waylaying him with a concussion prior to a scheduled title fight with Benson Henderson. In his stead, Anthony Pettis won the 155-pound championship, only to suffer a knee injury before his first defense against Josh Thomson.

Both Grant and Pettis are still on the mend, and so it has fallen to this: Henderson and Thomson meet on Saturday at UFC on Fox 10 in what might as well be billed as a sort of bizarre last-man-standing match.

The stakes are uncertain, as Henderson just lost to Pettis at UFC 164 and Thomson’s claim to No. 1 contender status likely depends on the future health of Grant. Honestly, it might be enough if this bout can deliver a clear-cut winner who doesn’t need some sort of surgery and months of rehab.

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USA Today

The UFC returns to Fox on Saturday night with a familiar name: former lightweight champion Benson Henderson, who has made three appearances on the network fight cards since they began in 2011. Of course, his first was an untelevised bout against Clay Guida, but that was an important one all the same; it's the fight that secured his title shot against Frankie Edgar.

You know the rest of the story. Henderson would beat Edgar, then beat him again, then beat Nathan Diaz and Gilbert Melendez and still never receive the respect he deserved. This is likely because, with the exception of beating the brakes off Diaz, Henderson's bouts were all close. And then, when the title reign came to an end, it came at the hands of the man who ended his World Extreme Cagefighting run in glorious fashion: Anthony Pettis.

So this is Henderson's rebound fight, and it's a tough out. But we're getting ahead of ourselves.

As always, any numbers you find in my betting preview are generously provided by Reed Kuhn from Fightnomics.

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Andrew Richardson/USA Today

The team of analysts for the UFC on Fox Sports 1 and Fox broadcasts has been providing the most in-depth coverage that mixed martial arts has seen in its 20 years of existence.

With a collection of seasoned fight veterans and a handful of well-versed hosts at the helm, the people working the pre- and post-fight shows for the UFC have consistently raised the bar.

For the next installment of the series, former heavyweight-turned-light-heavyweight title contender Daniel Cormier dropped in to share his thoughts on Saturday's card for UFC on Fox 10 in Chicago. The former Olympian has proved to be one of the UFC's brightest new stars, as he's made a seamless transition from the Strikeforce cage to the Octagon.

The Louisiana native defeated former two-time champion Frank Mir and one-punch knockout artist Roy Nelson, respectively, before making the decision to drop down into 205-pound waters to chase his first UFC title.

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USA Today

If you’ve read almost anything about Josh Thomson leading up to Saturday’s bout against Benson Henderson at UFC on Fox 10, you already know he doesn’t have time for games.

Maybe he feels like he’s too old for that stuff. Though he still carries the moniker of a much younger man—"The Punk"—he’s 35 years old now and more than a decade into a 31-fight MMA career.

At this stage, he’s more elder statesman than defiant kid, so you’ll have to forgive him if he refuses to blow smoke about how great he feels or how amazing his training camp has been.

Even if that stuff has become the industry standard, Thomson says he’d rather stick with the truth.

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USA Today

LAS VEGAS — Tim Kennedy greets me in the lobby of the massive Sands Expo Convention Center at The Venetian casino resort. He is wearing a gray suit and white shirt. He is not wearing a tie, but there is a chance he took it off after finishing an early afternoon meeting with UFC president Dana White.

Kennedy strolled into White's palatial office on Sahara Avenue. He had 30 minutes of White's time blocked out for what White assumed was a contract negotiation session. Instead, Kennedy walked into the office and immediately agreed to the UFC's offer. No negotiating. No offers and counteroffers and no demands. No wasting time.

Kennedy had spent the morning preparing for the meeting. He had things he wanted to discuss with White, and he wanted to maximize his time with his boss, who is at all times famously busy. He walked into the office prepared and ready, and after his new contract was verbally agreed to, Kennedy used the rest of his scheduled time (and roughly 60 minutes more) to pitch his other ideas to White.

"I had eight things I wanted," Kennedy says. "I got all eight of them."

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USA Today

The moment Ricardo Lamas has been waiting for will finally materialize at UFC 169.

The surging powerhouse will get his opportunity to face reigning featherweight king and pound-for-pound great Jose Aldo when the two square off in the co-main event at the Prudential Center on Feb. 1 in Newark, N.J.

The title shot comes on the strength of an impressive four-fight winning streak "The Bully" has built since dropping down from the lightweight division in 2011—a run where he has knocked off a list of potential contenders in Cub Swanson, Hatsu Hioki and Erik Koch.

Following his destruction of Koch at UFC on Fox 6 last year in Chicago, a title shot appeared to be his for the taking. Yet in a surprise move, then-newly minted No. 1 lightweight contender Anthony Pettis decided he wanted to drop down to featherweight to face the longstanding divisional king, Aldo.