USA Today

Lauren Murphy hit Sara McMann a whopping 193 times Saturday night in Bangor, Maine, banging her about the head over and over again over the course of 15 minutes. McMann, in return, scored less than one-third as many blows, with a relatively paltry 64 punches landing cleanly on her opponent.

On paper, with just those stats in hand, you'd expect an easy decision win. The blitzkrieg from Murphy was never-ending—in fact, she landed a strike every 4.66 seconds. But when the decision was read, McMann's name was called twice and Murphy's oncea split-decision win for the heavily favored wrestler. When the decision was read, McMann's face lit up in an unabashed smile. Murphy's fell, if only momentarily, as she lost her composure, however briefly.

And me? I just shook my head. The wrestler's bias, once again, had reared its ugly head, and another fight was stolen from the hands of the rightful winner. New week, same story. 

It wasn't always like this. The early days of MMA, in fact, were spent re-educating the audience about what a fight would look like if athletes weren't confined by the artificial constraints of boxing. It turned outsurprising absolutely no one who had ever seen two lugs rolling around on the groundthat fights all too often hit the mat. 


Perhaps more than anything else, UFC Fight Night 47 has positioning going for it.

The Octagon makes its first trip to Maine on Saturday in the UFC's first fight card in 21 days. By the measure of 2014's jam-packed live event schedule, that's basically an eternity. With a week's worth of mostly bad news also clogging our timelines at the moment, it's easy to get the impression fight fans are just going to, you know, want to watch some fights this weekend.

To that end, Saturday night looks just right. Despite a head-scratcher of a main event, this event serves up a handful of other interesting attractions.

But what will happen? Exactly? Glad you asked. Here, Bleacher Report MMA lead writers Chad Dundas and Jonathan Snowden take their best, boldest guesses... 

USA Today

We constantly hear discussion of Ronda Rousey or Jon Jones being the UFC's biggest pay-per-view draw. But who really has the correct answer? With Brock Lesnar and Georges St-Pierre—easily the UFC's highest-selling stars of the past decade—out of the spotlight, a void has been left for Rousey, Jones and others to step in and stake their claim.

Is it Rousey, the UFC's brightest-shining starlet of the moment? Rousey has captured the attention of fight fans through sheer dominance, and she starts her attempted takeover of Hollywood with the release of The Expendables 3 this Friday. The future is unquestionably bright for Rousey, but does she attract more pay-per-view-buying fans than Jones, who may very well be the best fighter on the planet?

Or is it another champion? I decided I wanted to find out, so I delved into the numbers. Using Dave Meltzer's reported pay-per-view numbers (because, quite frankly, they are the most reliable thing we have available), I charted each current UFC champion.

For each of them, I gave them credit for the pay-per-view number if they were involved in a championship fight on the card. That means it doesn't have to be the main event to count; Ronda Rousey's two co-main event title defenses are absolutely worthy of inclusion for two reasons:

USA Today

It’s easy to feel sorry for a guy like Ryan Bader.

OK—scratch that—more accurately, I suspect it’s easy for fight fans to feel absolutely nothing for a guy like Bader.

As he approaches his Saturday showdown with Ovince Saint Preux at UFC Fight Night 47, the former The Ultimate Fighter winner is likely viewed by most as an athlete whose best days have come and gone without him ever reaching his full potential.

We’ve already seen Bader tested against the best in his division and come up wanting. At 31 years old and 15 fights into his UFC career, he’s a fully known commodity—eternally kicking around the outskirts of the 205-pound top 10, with a fleet of A-listers like Alexander Gustafsson, Daniel Cormier and Anthony Johnson between him and anything resembling top contender status.

Tom Szczerbowski/USA Today

Being an MMA fan isn't always easy. Nice things are few and far between. For every truly compelling fight such as like light heavyweight champion Jon Jones vs. Olympian Daniel Cormier, we get our share of random and pointless dreck, a culture informed by the grossest misogyny imaginable and a dark cloud of steroid abuse that continues to linger over the entire sport.  

The fights keep us coming back for more, making the rest of it manageable. At its best MMA is about the triumph of the human will—about science and tactics combining with strength and courage in the most beautiful ways.

Top-level MMA contests between the most gifted and stubborn fighters on the planet represent competition in its purest form. It's primal, ugly and magnificently regal, often in the span of just seconds. Nothing else comes close.

That's why the announcement that an injured Jones has pulled out of his bout with Cormier hurt so much. There are a lot of MMA fights on television. Most of them are random displays of violence between anonymous competitors that either end spectacularly or drone on for a seemingly endless 15 minutes.

Getty Images

LAS VEGAS — Michelle Waterson, the Invicta Fighting Championships 105-pound champion, is already reaping the benefits of Invicta's recent broadcast deal with the Ultimate Fighting Championship.

Beginning September 6, Invicta events will stream live on Fight Pass, the UFC's digital subscription service. Previous Invicta events aired mostly via Internet pay-per-view, with mixed results; purchasing problems with their pay-per-view partner forced Invicta founder Shannon Knapp to give away her last two events for free. So Knapp signed a deal with the UFC that gives the promotion access to her complete library and allows any subscriber to the Fight Pass service to view Invicta's live events.

Waterson will headline the inaugural Fight Pass event when she defends her championship against Yasuko Tamada at InvictaFC 8. She has been out of action since beating Jessica Penne in April 2013 to capture the Invicta belt, and so the UFC public-relations team has flown Waterson to Las Vegas to begin promotional efforts. She visited the UFC's headquarters on Sahara Avenue, where a makeup artist gave her a once-over before she began a series of video interviews designed to promote her fight.

"They're pampering me," Waterson says with a laugh.

AP Images

For my money, the best part of last week’s instantly infamous off-air SportsCenter squabble between Jon Jones and Daniel Cormier comes before either of them even utters a word.

The death threats and trash talk are fine—to borrow a phrase from Nick Diaz, it’s whatever—but the truly golden moment of this exchange emerges the instant Jones decides he’s going to go in on Cormier. You can see it as he fiddles his earpiece into place, a little grin creeping across his face before he opens his mouth and says: “Hey p---y, are you still there?”

And for a moment even Cormier has to laugh.

Whether Jones knew this recording would eventually become public or not, that one mischievous half smile tells us everything we need to know about how the light heavyweight champion is approaching this fight. With their mega-bout looming at UFC 178 on Sept. 27, it’s no accident the notoriously aloof Jones is picking this moment to abruptly lose his cool.

USA Today

If there were any lingering doubts in your mind that Jon Jones and Daniel Cormier might be putting on a show for the sole purpose of filling their pockets with your hard-earned cash, well, those fears should be firmly put to rest.

It was difficult to imagine the heat between the pair elevating any more after their Monday lobby brawl at the MGM Grand. But there were those who believed that Jones and Cormier staged the entire thing, possibly with the help of the UFC, in order to boost sales for September's UFC 178 even further through the roof.

It's not out of the realm of possibility; we've seen countless "feuds'' between fighters end with both parties hugging in the Octagon and discussing their need to sell the fight.

Fool me once? Shame on you. Fool me 100 times? Just call me a fan of mixed martial arts.

USA Today

LAS VEGAS—A lawyer for Chael Sonnen has twice responded to an official letter from the Nevada State Athletic Commission that attempted to prevent Sonnen from competing on Saturday's Metamoris event in Los Angeles. As of Wednesday morning, the commission has yet to reply.

UPDATE: Wednesday, 1:16 a.m. ET

On Wednesday afternoon, Sonnen lawyer Ross Goodman sent what he described as "one final shot across the bow" to Francisco Aguilar, the chairman of the Nevada State Athletic Commission. The letter marks one final attempt to get some sort of official comment from the commission regarding Sonnen's participation in Metamoris 4 on Saturday.

Despite the commission's threats, Sonnen has elected to compete at Metamoris and will be traveling to Los Angeles on Thursday morning. 

USA Today

LAS VEGAS — On Monday morning, Daniel Cormier denied that he and Jones had any intentions of staging mock conflicts in order to sell their September 27 fight.

"I don't talk to Jon. The fight sells itself. We don't have to say anything," Cormier told Bleacher Report. "You have two of the best fighters in the world fighting each other. I think it sells itself. But no, I have not spoken to him."

While it may be true that Cormier and Jones have no current agreement to work in concert in an effort to boost the buyrate for UFC 178, it is a certainty that it will do astronomical numbers. Anticipation for the fight was sent skyrocketing on Monday after a heated staredown between Jones and Cormier escalated into a wild brawl that collapsed a temporary stage and sent fans in attendance into raptures.

When the staredown began, Jones marched up to Cormier and got directly in his face. It was a little too close for comfort for Cormier, who responded by pushing Jones backward. Jones then lunged at Cormier in an attempt to punch him. The pair fell off the back of the stage and continued fighting while UFC officials and MGM Grand security attempted to restore order.