Scott Olmos-USA TODAY Sports

When Luke Rockhold stepped in the cage for his UFC debut against Vitor Belfort, he carried the virtual weight of Strikeforce on his shoulders.

One month earlier, former Strikeforce lightweight kingpin Gilbert Melendez had already competed, and lost, in his own UFC debut. Rockhold was the last of the Strikeforce champions trying to prove they belonged with their counterparts in the UFC. 

One highlight-reel head kick, and Rockhold was sent crashing back to the drawing board. Knocked down a few pegs, he'd have to earn his way back to championship gold the same way everyone else does.

He's still a ways off, but after his one-hitter-quitter knockout body shot to the gut of Costas Philippou in the main event of UFC Fight Night 35, he's well on his way. Rockhold is back to square one. Where he goes from here is totally up to him and the whims of UFC matchmakers. 

AP Images

If there’s one word that best describes the MMA career of Georges St-Pierre, it might well be "steady."

Throughout his historic decade-long run in the UFC, St-Pierre was so dominant that he was routinely lambasted for being boring. During interviews, his composure bordered on contrivance. In a sport where professionalism is often the exception to the rule, he was the picture of etiquette.

In short, St-Pierre the MMA fighter was the last guy you’d expect to publicly air his grievances with the UFC—not without consulting his public-relations team first. If this week’s headlines are any indication, however, St-Pierre the recent retiree might be an altogether different kind of cat.

During an outburst that would seem totally out of character for the buttoned-up, company man we once knew, St-Pierre on Tuesday criticized the UFC for failing to back his push for expanded drug testing before his bout at UFC 167. He told the French-speaking media that the organization’s apathy on the subject “bothered (him) enormously,” and that it contributed to his decision to walk away from MMA.

Kenny Florian on the set of "UFC Tonight".
Photo courtesy of Fox Sports 1

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 "Dropping Knowledge," the man with the best hair in the fight business made time in his hectic schedule of saving models and senior citizens as Kenny Florian jumped in the passenger's seat. The retired Boston native built a storied career during his time in the UFC. He notched memorable wins and became a title contender in several weight classes.

In the time since I hung up the gloves for good, "Ken Flo" has been rocking the mic at UFC on Fox broadcast in addition to his hosting duties on UFC Tonight. The man is a humanist, a crusader for natural food products and has a wicked awesome shoe game.

USA Today

This isn’t about Vitor Belfort.

This is a story about Luke Rockhold, who on Wednesday night returns to the cage for the first time since May of last year, when Belfort spoiled his UFC debut via the sort of stunning first-round knockout that will haunt highlight reels as long as they both shall live.

Because this is Rockhold’s story, not Belfort’s, we needn’t spend too much time rehashing the obvious. The KO of Rockhold was the one that really turned people’s heads during 2013, the one that cemented Belfort’s career resurgence and the one that spiked talk about his testosterone replacement therapy.

Nearly eight months later, we’re still not sure how much of that performance to credit to Belfort and how much to credit the doctors who rebuilt him in the image of an action figure.

Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Spor

Bjorn Rebney to Ariel Helwani (h/t MMA Fighting), March 26, 2012:

Patricio "Pitbull" Freire to MMA Junkie, January 14, 2014:

Don't look now, but Bellator has a tournament-sized problem on its hands.

The promotion that bills itself "the toughest tournament in sports" is apparently ready and willing to bypass the whole tournament thing when it suits its needs. And that's fine. Bellator has some excellent fighters on the roster, but the tournament and season formats are holding it back from reaching its true potential.

USA Today

LAS VEGAS — Keith Kizer, who has served as the executive director of the Nevada State Athletic Commission from the time of his appointment in 2006, has resigned his position and is moving into a role with the Nevada Attorney General's office.

The news was announced via an email received by Bleacher Report on Friday evening. Kizer will continue in his role until January 27. NSAC chairman Francisco Aguilar said that a search for Kizer's replacement was already under way. Aguilar also noted that Kizer's decision was not a forced one. 

Kizer began working in the Attorney General's office in 1997, where he served as a backup to the senior attorneys in the office. In May 1998, he became a co-counsel for the office and was then promoted to lead counsel in 2001. He continued in that role until 2006, when then-executive director Marc Ratner left the role for a position with the Ultimate Fighting Championship. Kizer assumed the position shortly after.

During his time in office, he often found himself the face of controversies in both mixed martial arts and boxing. He dealt with issues surrounding referees and poor judging but also oversaw the installation of more stringent drug-testing programs, including out-of-competition testing for combat-sports athletes in both sports who held current Nevada licenses.

USA Today

LAS VEGAS — A week ago, Daniel Cormier weighed 225 pounds. Friday, he weighs 223 pounds. By next Friday, he'll be 219 pounds. In just more than a month, he'll weigh 215 pounds, where he'll begin his actual weight cut. And when he steps in the cage to face Rashad Evans at UFC 170, Cormier hopes to weigh 223 pounds or more.

Of course, he'll need to weigh 205 pounds in there at a very specific point—on Feb. 21, around 4:25 p.m. local time—and that's the thing that has everyone concerned for Cormier's well-being. Right now, the former Olympian is fine. He's comfortable. He's visibly smaller, leading fellow Fox Sports analyst Kenny Florian to make jokes about Cormier wearing skinny jeans. He is not wearing skinny jeans on this day in Las Vegas. But he looks well on his way to light heavyweight, and has arrived at his current weight solely through a changed diet. The hard part will come during fight week, when he's cutting from 215 to 205. 

Specifically, the hard part will arrive once Cormier nears 211 pounds. That's the number that got Cormier in trouble the last time he was this small, in 2008 when his kidneys failed during an attempt to cut for the Olympic Games, and it's a number Cormier acknowledges will play mental games with him. 

"I think once I get to 213 pounds, that's when I'm going to be like, 'Oh, here we go. I'm doing this again,'" Cormier says. "Mentally, I'm going to have to get past that 211 mark."

USA Today

Prognostication is typically a precision art.

When trying to peer into the future, it’s better to do it through a sniper’s scope than a wide-angle lens. Sometimes, though—particularly around the holidays—we soothsayers start feeling a little squirrely.

Why be content with boldly predicting what is going to happen at a single MMA show (like we normally do) when we could make a from-the-hip shotgun-blast at the entire next year?

2013 was wild, so what the devil are we to expect from 2014, anyway? Glad you asked. Here are our best guesses, as Bleacher Report MMA lead writers Chad Dundas (that’s me) and Jonathan Snowden make some bold predictions for the calendar year 2014.

USA Today

LAS VEGAS — Sara McMann would like to make one thing perfectly clear: She is grateful to Ronda Rousey for helping usher women's mixed martial arts into the Ultimate Fighting Championship.

"I am literally the first person to say that. Whether you like her or not, I absolutely agree," McMann says. "Dana White was adamant about not adding women to the UFC, even though women had been doing it for over 10 years. These women you see fighting now? They didn't just see Ronda Rousey and go, 'Oh, I think I'll start doing that.' They had been fighting for a long time. Cyborg, Gina Carano and tons of others.

"But we needed a catalyst. We needed someone to catch the UFC's eye, to let us do it on that stage. And she was it, and we do owe her a thank you," she continues. "Even if she was doing it for herself, all of our boats float a little higher when the water is raised."

McMann, who faces Rousey in the main event of UFC 170 on February 22 at the Mandalay Bay Events Center, is confident in her chances to dethrone the best female fighter in the sport.

Jared Wickerham/Getty Images

Hi there. Hope you had a great holiday season, full of presents and family and merriment. But now that we're past all that nonsense, it's time to get down to the very serious business of mixed martial arts.

You love making bold statements. We sure do. That's what Twitter is for, after all: bold statements that we aren't required to back up with facts or logic. With each installment of the Tweet-O-Rama, we ask you to provide us with a bold statement, and then we take turns debating said bold statement. It's a big ball of fun, and it's time to get started with the latest edition.

In this edition: our first celebrity Tweeter, Chad goes deep into his fantasy booking playbook and the boys debate steroids. All in a day's work. 

Remember, to get involved in the world-spanning party that is Tweet-O-Rama, you'll need to follow Jonathan, Jeremy and Chad.