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AP Images

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.

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USA Today

The first half of 2014 has been an uneasy time in mixed martial arts.

The UFC’s unforgiving marathon schedule refused to yield, and in the face of a rough rash of injuries, compromises were made.

Over in Bellator? Things were typically atypical. America’s runner-up MMA promotion soared to new heights with its first pay-per-view event and then almost immediately fired its longtime powerbrokers.

What will the second half of the year bring? Glad you asked.

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Bleacher Report

UFC welterweight Robbie Lawler will face Matt Brown in the main event of UFC on Fox 12 next week in San Jose.

It's one of the biggest fights of Lawler's career. If he scores a win over the surging Brown, he'll put himself back into a title rematch with welterweight champion Johny Hendricks. 

Needless to say, Lawler has a lot on the line in this fight. But over the past few months, he has spent his free time keeping the employees in Bleacher Report's San Francisco office in line. Lawler served as B/R's office enforcer; let's just say you don't want to act like a fool when "Ruthless" is around!

Check out the video above, and always remember: Get back to work!

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USA Today

After polishing off Jim Miller via head-kick knockout on Wednesday in the main event of UFC Fight Night 45, Donald Cerrone stood in the Octagon and announced his future plans.

They sounded suspiciously like many of his past plans.

“I’m excited about drinking a bunch of Budweiser tonight and getting after it…,” he told UFC play-by-play announcer Jon Anik. “(I’ll fight) whoever wants to fight, I don’t care. As soon as possible, any '55ers or '70s out there who want to fight, come on.”

The whole performance was classic Cerrone—from the highlight reel second-round stoppage to the camouflage piping down the sides of his fight shorts and the celebratory beer at the post-fight press conference. The victory was his third win of 2014, built his ongoing win streak to four overall and kept him on what is arguably the biggest, best roll of his UFC career.

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USA Today

Claudia Gadelha stood on one side of the Octagon, Tina Lahdemaki on the other. UFC play-by-play man Jon Anik welcomed viewers watching on Fight Pass to "beautiful Atlantic City,” which seemed like a joke on Anik by the folks in the production truck attempting to see if Anik, Ron Burgundy-style, would say whatever they threw up on a teleprompter.

Why the first women’s strawweight fight in UFC history was on Fight Pass is perhaps a debate for a different day. What was not debatable was that Gadelha and Lahdemaki kicked off an entire division—one that will not begin in earnest until the landmark 20th season of The Ultimate Fighter concludes with a bout to crown its first champion in December—in a style befitting a promotion whose biggest attraction is a woman.

We do not yet know who will become the Ronda Rousey of the strawweight division. Perhaps no one will, though it is a division long in talent and intrigue.

There is Carla Esparza, the former Invicta strawweight champion who is the odds-on favorite to wade through the competition in the house and earn a berth in the finals. There is Felice Herrig, who by all accounts has taken her very public act into the house where, if rumors are to be believed, she has quickly become the least popular woman in the division.

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AP Images

Neither Donald Cerrone nor Jim Miller has ever headlined a UFC pay-per-view.

Neither guy has ever been champion (or even fought for UFC gold).

Both are eternally kicking around the bottom half of the lightweight Top 10, and though they each come into Wednesday's UFC Fight Night 45 main event riding a modest win streak, they've lost their most recent bouts against top-flight competition.

Still, this fight, man. This fight.

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USA Today

UFC fans have grown spoiled over the years.

This is not debatable. It is fact. Diehard fans of any sport will find a way to argue anything, and I am being quite literal in my usage of the term "literal."

You have a personal list of your own favorite fighters? You can be certain that someone is waiting around the bend, salivating for a chance to tell you why you are a wrong-headed idiot. There is no such thing as personal preference in fandom, because your preference might be different than the guy sitting next to you, and he knows more than you, anyway, because he trains full contact five days a week, bro.

Anything you can think of can be argued, no matter how mundane. You think that, with some proper seasoning, the newly signed Holly Holm is a potential threat to Ronda Rousey's championship reign? No. You're wrong, because this other guy says so. You think Anderson Silva was better than Fedor Emelianenko? You're an idiot, because this other guy says so.

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USA Today

We've taken a look at the state of the UFC's heavyweight, light heavyweight, welterweight and lightweight divisions. Today, there is no better time than to move one step down from 205 pounds to the middleweight land of reigning king Chris Weidman and those who seek to usurp the throne.

Middleweight is perhaps the UFC's most interesting division in 2014. It has a new-ish champion atop the division who just proved that his two wins over the greatest fighter of all time may have not been a fluke after all. We also have a bevy of challengers making their way to the top of the division, and most of them bring fresh and interesting stylistic matchups.

Without any further fuss, let's take a look at the UFC middleweight landscape.


The Title Picture

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Stephen R. Sylvanie/USA Today

A third fight between Frankie Edgar and BJ Penn never made much sense.

Less and less so every second they actually spent together in the cage.

Edgar was declared the winner on Sunday after three miserable rounds of lopsided action, but even he didn’t feel much like celebrating. He’d battered and humiliated fan favorite Penn en route to a TKO in the main event of The Ultimate Fighter 19 live finale, and he understood it brought a melancholy end to a weekend of UFC events on back-to-back nights.

“It’s a bittersweet victory,” Edgar told play-by-play announcer Jon Anik after it was finally over. “I said I wanted to finish him because he’s never been finished and (because of) how tough he was, but I almost feel bad about it.”

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John Locher/AP Images

After each of his fights against Anderson Silva during 2013, Chris Weidman was rightfully announced as the undisputed UFC middleweight champion.

Maybe now people will finally stop disputing it.

Weidman answered his many critics Saturday at UFC 175, earning his stripes as 185-pound kingpin with a unanimous-decision victory over Lyoto Machida in a bout that will no doubt wind up on many Fight of the Year ballots.

In the process, Weidman proved that his previous two victories over Silva were no flukes, that he deserves his place among the very best fighters at any weight and—perhaps most importantly—that he can take a hard shot and keep his torrid pace over five full rounds.