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In the end, Carlos Condit came out looking exactly as we all remembered him—victorious, and spattered in his opponent’s blood.

Condit made short and gory work of Thiago Alves on Saturday at UFC Fight Night 67, forcing the ringside doctor to stop their main event fight after the second round due to Alves’ broken nose. It was victory No. 30 of Condit’s professional career, improved on his gaudy 93 percent finishing rate and reaffirmed his position as one of the welterweight division’s deadliest technicians.

So, pretty much the same-old, same-old for the Natural Born Killer.

Despite returning from 14 months off after suffering a serious knee injury in a fight against Tyron Woodley last March, Condit entered still clinging to the No. 4 spot in the UFC’s official 170-pound rankings. While that lofty standing didn’t offer much room for upward mobility, an impressive showing against Alves puts him very much back in the thick of a revamped title picture.

For a few uncertain moments there, Condit’s standing wasn’t quite so clear.

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Daniel Cormier's has been a career of "almosts." Starting in college, where he went 0-6 against his nemesis Cael Sanderson, he's spent years climbing the mountain top—only to fall short again and again when the summit was in view.

Fourth at the Olympic Games. Third at the World Championships. And, perhaps most germane to this discussion, a unanimous decision loss to Jon Jones for the UFC light heavyweight title in January.

Circumstances, however, have conspired in Cormier's favor. Thanks to Jones' legal problems and out-of-control lifestyle, Cormier got a second chance to write his name in the history books, beating Anthony Johnson with conviction to claim the vacated championships. Finally, though not in ideal circumstances, Cormier has achieved a life's dream.

Of course, as UFC Hall of Famer Matt Hughes famously declared, you aren't really the champion until you keep somebody from taking what's yours. For Cormier, that means a successful title defense is required before he can officially settle in as the top dog. And it's here where the problems start.

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It feels as though Carlos Condit has been gone for years.

In truth, it’s only been 14 months, but so much wholesale change has occurred in his absence that, when Condit returns Saturday to take on Thiago Alves at UFC Fight Night 67, it’ll be to a welterweight division where anything seems possible.

Last we saw The Natural Born Killer, he blew out his knee in the second round of a bout against Tyron Woodley at UFC 171. That was March 15 of last year, on the same fight card where Johny Hendricks edged Robbie Lawler to seize control of the 170-pound title recently vacated by Georges St-Pierre.

Remember that? Barely? Sounds like ancient history, right?

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Give credit to Daniel Cormier for saying what we all were thinking.

Cormier wasted little time winning the light heavyweight title on Saturday at UFC 187, snapping Anthony Johnson’s spirit like dry kindling en route to a third-round submission victory. Cormier had survived an early onslaught of punches from Johnson before his Olympic wrestling won the day, so it made for a nice moment when Johnson insisted on wrapping the UFC belt around his waist.

A few moments later, however, the new champ revealed he had someone else on his mind.

Jon Jones!” Cormier hollered as soon as color commentator Joe Rogan let him get near the microphone. “Get your s--t together! I’m waiting for you!”

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Reviews are in for UFC 187, and they are nearly unanimous.

This was the best night of fights MMA fans have seen in a long, long time.

From Daniel Cormier's winning the light heavyweight championship to Chris Weidman's holding serve against Vitor Belfort, the evening’s dueling main events put an exclamation point on that rare pay-per-view worth more than its $60 asking price. With stellar individual performances from supporting actors Donald Cerrone and Andrei Arlovski, the event’s three-hour main card rarely dragged.

To top it off, several of the bouts came preloaded with thought-provoking and relevant out-of-the-cage storylines.

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UFC 187, on paper, was one of the very best combat sports cards of the year. With two title fights on top and exciting fighters sprinkled throughout, I had every hope this event would deliver a solid night's entertainment.

Best card of the year, it turns out, was faint praise.

By the time Anthony Johnson tapped the mat and Daniel Cormier sent a succinct message to deposed UFC champion Jon Jones, we were no longer looking at one of the best cards of 2015—we were looking at one of the most entertaining UFC events of the decade.

Most UFC cards, even the best ones, end up having at least one match that ends up being a dull slog. This show, starting with the exciting flyweight bout between Joseph Benavidez and John Moraga and culminating with Cormier's coronation, was a roller coaster ride throughout. There was hardly a slow moment during the entire pay-per-view, something so rare it's hard to think of a comparable card in recent memory.

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During his final pre-fight interview at UFC 187, Chris Weidman said he was looking forward to putting what he called "the Vitor Belfort era" behind him once and for all.

It had taken more than 15 months to get him in the Octagon with Belfort, owing to the challenger's failed drug test and Weidman's injuries. When he finally got his chance, the middleweight champion wasted very little time bringing their long, simmering feud to a thudding end.

Weidman survived a brief—but heart-stopping—flurry from Belfort early in their co-main event bout Saturday before he was able to ground him with a takedown in the middle of the cage. From there it was academic, as Weidman worked quickly to a dominant position and pounded Belfort until the referee pushed him off.

Total time it took him to work out his frustrations: two minutes, 53 seconds.

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It occasionally seems like becoming UFC champion is the worst thing that could ever happen to a professional MMA fighter.

It may be the biggest prize in the sport, but there is mounting evidence that UFC gold is bad for your health. Take Saturday night’s UFC 187 for example, where Daniel Cormier and Anthony Johnson will vie to become light heavyweight champion only after the last light heavyweight champion’s life imploded.

If this were an isolated incident, you could just blame it on Jon Jones’ personal issues and move on. In truth, this weekend marks the third time since the beginning of 2014 that the UFC has had to crown a new champion under somewhat ugly circumstances.

It started with Georges St-Pierre’s public breakdown in the wake of his hard-fought UFC 167 victory over Johny Hendricks in November 2013. Seven years on top of the welterweight division had clearly taken its toll on the French Canadian phenom, and after he officially began an indefinite sabbatical from MMA in December of that year, it took three months to set Hendricks up with a bout against Robbie Lawler for the vacant title.

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Like a desert mirage, these big-time UFC pay-per-views have a way of looking different from up close.

Take UFC 187 for example. We once thought Jon Jones would be there, defending his light heavyweight championship for the ninth time. For a while, we even thought Khabib Nurmagomedov was coming to Las Vegas to claim the No. 1 contender spot at lightweight.

When the event actually happens on Saturday, however, the landscape will be much different.

Jones is suspended indefinitely, having been ordered to get his life together after he was allegedly involved in a hit-and-run accident in New Mexico. Nurmagomedov is injured again.

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There is perhaps no fighter in MMA who has undergone quite as many physical and emotional transformations as Vitor Belfort.

By the time he gets his shot at Chris Weidman’s middleweight championship on Saturday at UFC 187, I’m not sure anyone quite knows which version of Belfort is going to show up.

We know only that the 38-year-old Brazilian has waited a long time for this. There have been a year’s worth of false starts and unexpected detours leading up to this weekend’s co-main event. In the interim, Belfort has experienced enough turmoil and controversy to last a professional lifetime.

Conventional wisdom says he won’t be the same guy who terrorized the 185-pound division during 2013. We all remember that guy, right? The guy who strung together as impressive a series of headkick knockouts as the sport has ever seen? The guy who fought exclusively in Brazil? The guy who looked like a He Man action figure with Belfort’s head photoshopped on top of it?