D238255cc8ce0fffed01d1ae41166dd9_crop_north
AP Images

In and of itself, it was not especially remarkable this week when Fabio Maldonado agreed to step up in weight to fight Stipe Miocic on 25 days' notice.

Desperate times, and all that.

Maldonado has long been regarded as a light heavyweight too tough for his own good, so his willingness to put a three-fight win streak on the line for an impromptu bout against the potential heavyweight No. 1 contender is not a shock.

Nor is it a huge surprise that, in their desperation, UFC matchmakers would tab him as an emergency opponent for Miocic at the The Ultimate Fighter: Brazil 3 finale.

Maldonado is from Sao Paulowhere the event will be held on May 31and each of his last four Octagon appearances have been in the motherland. Also, his punch-first-ask-questions-later style will make him a fitting, if surely doomed, replacement for Junior dos Santos.

3fc5bdf0a03de67dfb27094780506720_crop_north
Buda Mendes/Getty Images

If it’s merely a formality, it feels like an important one.

We’ve known all along Anderson Silva was working his way back to the cage—we had the grainy, Loch Ness Monster-style videos to prove it—but on Monday the former middleweight champion’s Los Angeles-based doctors made it official, clearing him to resume full MMA training, according to a report by MMA Junkie’s Steven Marrocco.

Even for the most cynical fight fans, this is terrific news. It casts Silva a world away from the ugly scene at UFC 168 last December, when it seemed his career might be over after he broke his leg throwing a low kick at Chris Weidman.

It should come as no shock that the consensus greatest mixed martial artist of all time is ahead of our original recovery prognoses, that the UFC is targeting his return for the end of 2014 or early 2015 and that 22 days after turning 39 years old he remains fully focused on a comeback.

4a2f5e4dfa93829054b704830312dd5d_crop_north
USA Today

You couldn’t blame World Series of Fighting if it felt a little beat up right now.

Frustrations appeared to be on the rise at the upstart MMA promotion last week, after welterweight champion Rousimar Palhares pulled out of a scheduled title defense against Jon Fitch in order to take care of his ailing mother.

Jake Shields replaced Palhares—a move that allowed WSOF to maintain a respectable co-main event for its July 5 show—but the 34-year-old Brazilian wild man will be missed.

Even if his excuse was a good one, Palhares’ withdrawal scuttled plans for what was shaping up as the company’s first must-see bout. It also came amid a three-month stretch where the organization lost both Anthony Johnson and Andrei Arlovski to UFC returns and squabbled with Josh Burkman after the 170-pound contender took to Twitter to ask for his release.

Hi-res-81bc4e757189187cfd28e9f43171861f_crop_north
Eric Jamison/Associated Press

The idea of Gina Carano returning from Hollywood to take on Ronda Rousey for the UFC women’s bantamweight championship is no longer in the realm of fantasy.

Instead, it is reality in progress. UFC President Dana White has made no secret of his desire to bring Carano into the UFC for a big-money fight against his golden goose. Carano has not competed since a 2009 loss to Cristiane “Cyborg” Justino. After that loss, she turned her attention to Hollywood and the film industry.

Her inactivity doesn’t matter, however. Not when there is money to be made. And even though Carano is undoubtedly undeserving of a title shot from a pure sports perspective, the allure of raking in cash will be too much for White and the Zuffa brass to ignore. White is somehow selling the idea of Carano deserving a title shot because of all she did for women’s MMA, but that is a ludicrous claim.

Rousey vs. Carano, if it comes to fruition, is a fight made for money and nothing else.

Beabde2396e9ab316e5e563ddd80fda0_crop_north
USA Today

Even if you don’t consider Jon Jones the greatest light heavyweight of all time, you must admit he’s getting close.

Since winning the championship from Mauricio Rua in 2011, Jones has defended the championship seven times. He smashed the previous record of five, held by Tito Ortiz, and has become the UFC’s all-time light heavyweight wins leader.

The next record Jones is pursuing belongs to Anderson Silva, the man many consider to be the greatest pound-for-pound fighter of all time. Silva won the UFC middleweight championship from Rich Franklin on October 14, 2006. Over the next seven years, Silva would defend the title 10 times before losing it to Chris Weidman in July 2013.

Jones needs three more title defenses to tie Silva’s record. He needs four to claim the record as his own. Today, we’ll take a look at his potential path to tying and then breaking Silva’s record. If he does so, he will likely be unanimously considered the greatest fighter of all time.

4b4daacf8ad7012b276235f6ec44e338_crop_north
USA Today

For approximately the 1 millionth time during his run as MMA’s most scrutinized fighter, Vitor Belfort wants us all to know everything is cool with him.

Belfort—who withdrew suddenly from a scheduled title shot at UFC 173 after the Nevada Athletic Commission banned testosterone replacement therapy back in February—says he's ready to return.

"I did all the tests that Nevada requires," Belfort told MMAFighting.com’s Guilherme Cruz over the weekend, with all the panache of a man who refuses to comprehend the nature of his own position. "I did it on my own, and I passed them all. There is nothing in my system anymore. God has blessed me. I’m ready now, and I’m waiting."

Except, not so fast.

NAC chairman Francisco Aguilar told Fox Sports' Mike Chiappetta on Wednesday that his office hasn’t heard from Belfort, and that there are still some significant regulatory hurdles that need to be cleared before the embattled former UFC champ is allowed back in the cage.

A8e9a474efd1e0c344ae53a57ee849fa_crop_north
USA Today

Conor McGregor is nearing a return to the Octagon. It is a tangible thing; even though McGregor won’t yet step in the cage for over two months, we can already feel the tremors emanating from Dublin, where McGregor resides and where he’ll face Cole Miller in the main event of a UFC event in July.

We can feel it because McGregor has started talking again. Not that he ever stopped to begin with, of course. If there is one thing McGregor never stops doing, it’s talking. The Irishman hasn’t competed in the UFC since last August, but you’d never know it by the amount of screen time he gets.

Like Chael Sonnen, McGregor is a man known for just saying whatever comes to his mind. The difference is that with Sonnen, we all feel like we’re part of the joke. Sonnen isn’t winking at us specifically, but there’s a playfulness to his antics. He knows he is playing a game. We know he is playing a game. He knows we know he is playing a game. And so everyone plays along and has a grand old time.

McGregor is different. He’s got all of the obnoxiousness of the best Sonnen material but none of the charm. There are no winks, no sly smiles. McGregor is convinced that rich rewards come to those who talk the loudest.

720011622c11dd2e210d5553a396c41a_crop_north
John Amis/AP Images

It’s strange to think there’s a fight Jon Jones can’t win.

Because of his transcendent talent, we have a tendency to talk about Jones only in superlatives.

On Saturday at UFC 172, he ended Glover Teixeira’s nine-year, 20-fight win streak with the ease of a man checking items off his grocery list. If he emerges unscathed from 2014—potentially adding victories over Alexander Gustafsson and Daniel Cormier—it’ll be time to seriously consider whether he’s the greatest MMA fighter of all time.

But that’s only half the story. The fact that some fans gagged a little bit when they read that last paragraph? Yeah, that’s the other half.

Chasing Down a Strawweight Dream

By on April 29, 2014

10,012 reads

15Icon_comment

1c380076584519188330d7671cfa6d52_crop_north
Jeremy Botter

LAS VEGAS — "When we call your name, come out to the center of the mat. If you catch a submission, let go. You know you got it, they know you got it, we know you got it. So just let it go and move on.”

Dana White, president of the Ultimate Fighting Championship, stands in front of a group of tiny women. He is clad in a black T-shirt, a baseball cap adorned with the UFC logo and a few days' worth of gray and black stubble on his chin. They are unanimously dressed in spandex of all types: short and black, long and colorful.

White is laying down the ground rules. He wants to see aggression. He does not want to see stupidity.

"Please do not try to hurt anybody. We just want to see you roll. Don't go crazy. You women are so f*****g aggressive all the time,” White says. “Just relax. Relax. It's all good. We know your record. We know who you are. Just get in here and roll.

Hi-res-efc8f1dc76701348cb1b013b8d866a67_crop_north
Andre Penner

Here’s a question for you: Does anybody know what is happening with Vitor Belfort?

It has been two months since the Nevada Athletic Commission voted to ban exemptions for testosterone replacement therapy. A day later, Belfort pulled out of his planned UFC 173 title fight against Chris Weidman. According to a report by Matt Erickson on MMAJunkie.com, Belfort released a statement saying that he didn’t have time to acclimate his body to a world without TRT:

Since that day, Belfort has been mostly quiet. He was replaced in the fight by Lyoto Machida. The fight was then moved to UFC 175 in July after Weidman suffered an injury. UFC President Dana White curiously blamed the media for Belfort’s withdrawal from the fight during a media session prior to UFC 171, as reported by Trent Reinsmith for Bloody Elbow:

This is silly, of course. Yes, TRT was a hot-button topic with the media. But White himself railed against TRT and said he was happy with the NAC’s decision to ban it. His finger-pointing at the media is complete nonsense. The media did not force the NAC to make their decision. It was made because TRT is essentially legalized cheating. It was a controversy that continued to grow, and it wasn’t going away.