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Tom Szczerbowski/USA Today

UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones is one of the most controversial fighters in mixed martial arts.

He is a study in contrasts. He often appears humble and respectful. I spent a day with him in Albuquerque, New Mexico, last month as he prepared to defend his title against Glover Teixeira, and he continually called me “sir.” When I pointed out that such manners were a rare thing these days, Jones told me it was a product of the way his parents raised him and his two brothers, Chandler and Arthur.

“My mom and dad taught us to never express ourselves negatively to adults. And now, even though I’m 26, if you are older than me, you get a please and thank you,” he said. “It’s something that I take seriously.”

On the other hand, there is the version of Jones that is reviled by the fans. The one that is embroiled in various social media controversies and mocks fans for claiming he’s a dirty fighter. The one that took the blame for the cancellation of UFC 151 when he refused to fight Chael Sonnen on short notice.

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USA Today

Urijah Faber is one of the UFC’s more popular fighters. He’s a pioneer in the lower weight divisions.

In fact, fighters competing at 145 pounds and below in the Octagon these days owe him a debt of thanks; he was a large reason for Zuffa purchasing World Extreme Cagefighting in December 2006. Without that move, it may have taken quite a bit of time for the national spotlight to be focused on the lighter weight classes.

He had the best year of his career in 2013, winning four fights and earning a title shot against interim champion Renan Barao. He lost to Barao, but he’s still ranked No. 1 in the division behind the champ. He has beaten most of the Top 10, and despite going years without any success in title fights, he still seems primed for yet another run at a championship bout.

I expected him to return to the Octagon against Dominick Cruz, the former bantamweight champion who has been sidelined with various injuries since 2011. It just felt right. Sure, Faber is coming off a loss, and the UFC likes to match winners with winners and losers against losers. But with Cruz out of competition for three years, that booking philosophy goes out the window. They’ve split two previous bouts.

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Jayne Kamin-Oncea/USA Today

After two hearty swings, Bellator MMA will finally split the pay-per-view pinata on Saturday night, though most observers predict only sorrow and red ink will tumble out.

Lightweight champion Eddie Alvarez is concussed and out of his third meeting with Michael Chandler, effectively stripping the show of its crown jewel. In its place, Quinton "Rampage" Jackson vs. Muhammed Lawal will serve as the makeshift main event, while Chandler will meet Will Brooks for an interim title and Tito Ortiz will fight up-jumped middleweight Alexander Shlemenko in bout that obviously shouldn’t exist but somehow does.

Even in an industry that is conditioned to expect absurd flame-outs, the crumbling of Bellator 120 has been notable, especially considering what happened last time the fight company tried to move its circus from Spike TV to PPV.

This time the organization will stay the course, likely because rolling the dice on a depleted for-pay event seems preferable to angering providers by again pulling out on them at the last minute. Or, as Spike TV President Kevin Kay told MMA Fighting.com's Luke Thomas back on May 6: "Look, I think there's a point that comes in any promotion where you want to play with the big boys, right? Pay-per-view is the big boys and you want to put on premium fights."

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Jeff Chiu/AP Images

The Diaz brothers, long a thorn in UFC president Dana White’s side, may finally be riding off into the sunsetfor good this time.

And if you ask me, that’s OK.

It’s not that I don’t want to see them fight. I do. Much like every other mixed martial arts fan on the planet, I think there’s just something about the Diaz brothers that reaches down deep into our collective souls. They are exhilarating to watch in the Octagon, but they are also can’t miss outside of it.

UFC press conferences always go off without a hitch. When a Diaz is involved, a foreboding feeling circulates around the room. You aren’t quite sure what will happen. You aren’t quite sure if anything will happen at all. You only know that there is a chance something will happen, and you want to be there in case it does.

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USA Today

Here’s a fun fact, or perhaps a sobering one:

If the estimated numbers are to be believed, Georges St-Pierre and Anderson Silva accounted for more than half of the UFC’s total pay-per-view buys during 2013.

Financially speaking, it was a good year to be the two greatest mixed martial artists of all time. In March at UFC 158, St-Pierre tangled with Nick Diaz and accumulated an estimated 950,000 pay-per-view buys, the most ever for an event with GSP headlining. Silva’s December rematch with Chris Weidman at UFC 168 resulted in 1.03 million pay-per-view purchases, making it the second-best-selling UFC pay-per-view event of all time not featuring that guy who broke the Undertaker’s streak at this year’s Wrestlemania.

All told, the four events boasting St-Pierre and Silva combined to sell 3.16 million pay-per-views last year. The rest of the UFC’s 2013 offerings? All nine of them? They combined for 2.92 million.

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Joseph Maiorana /USA Today Sports

Matt Brown played the underdog to the end.

In the immediate aftermath of his epic third-round technical knockout victory over Erick Silva on Saturday, Brown stood in the cage in a ball cap and black T-shirt, looking not too much worse for wear.

The Internet was going bananas over what he’d just done and the Cincinnati crowd roared its approval, but Brown acted pretty Matt Brown about the whole thing.

When play-by-play announcer Jon Anik put a mic in his face and suggested that he’d just turned in one of the greatest performances in UFC history, Brown looked at him as if to say, "Dude, you must be crazy."

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.