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Jeff Chiu/Associated Press

On Wednesday, the UFC announced what may be potentially sweeping changes to its performance-enhancing-drug policy. UFC CEO Lorenzo Fertitta, President Dana White and head legal counsel Lawrence Epstein addressed the media from a ballroom at the Red Rock Casino Resort to announce the changes, which follow a string of high-profile test debacles, including the surprising failure of the legendary Anderson Silva.

What does it all mean? Does it indicate substantive change? Or is it just for show? Bleacher Report's version of Sancho Panza and Don Quixote, lead writers Jonathan Snowden and Jeremy Botter, weigh in with their initial thoughts on what may end up being one of the most important decisions in recent MMA history.

 

Jonathan: Well Jeremy, the UFC held a press conference Wednesday to announce that it is, indeed, serious about eliminating the scourge of performance-enhancing drugs. Good cop Lorenzo Fertitta, calm, collected and professional, set forth what seems likely to be a sweeping program that will change the lives of his fighters forever. Bad cop Dana White yelled at the media and announced a title fight. 

It certainly wasn't boring.

It also wasn't, once the smoke cleared and the mirrors were put back in storage, super informative. There were scant details provided. The future, though potentially quite bright, can be viewed only through the murky haze of doubt.

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Frank Mir and Antonio “Bigfoot” Silva have been talking a lot about the ground game.

Leading up to their UFC Fight Night 61 main event, each declining heavyweight has independently agreed that his opponent won’t submit him. The end result is that we could have a good, old-fashioned jiu-jitsu challenge match on our hands come Sunday in Porto Alegre, Brazil.

“I'm very much of a scientist,” Mir said to Heidi Fang on The Fight Corner Radio recently. “If I was to put money on it, I wouldn't bet a dollar that he could submit me.”

Silva has said almost the exact same thing except, naturally, in reverse.

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Damned if they don't, damned if they do.

That's the feeling I had at the conclusion of Wednesday's Ultimate Fighting Championship news conference on performance-enhancing drugs.

For years, observers of mixed martial arts have scoffed at the UFC's seemingly lackadaisical efforts to control PEDs. Rightly so. While it was never an official stance, it felt like the promotion didn't care so much about PEDs in mixed martial arts unless it affected their bottom line.

Even then, Dana White famously trumpeted they were regulated by the government, as though those were the magic words that eliminated all of the tough questions about drugs and testing for drugs and whether or not a good portion of the UFC roster took PEDs.

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After a well-publicized false start to begin the year, the UFC finally showed the teeth of its proposed performance-enhancing drug-testing program on Wednesday—though it remains to be seen how much bite will follow the bark.

Spurred by a recent string of high-profile test failures, company executives held a press conference televised on Fox Sports 1 to announce plans to partner with independent third-party regulators in launching year-round out-of-competition testing for all its athletes by July 1.

UFC President Dana White, CEO Lorenzo Fertitta and general counsel Lawrence Epstein also said the UFC will continue to work with state athletic commissions to advocate for stiffer penalties and to fund increased testing across the board.

“Honestly? It’s probably going to get worse before it gets better,” said Fertitta of PEDs scandals that ensnared UFC fighters like Anderson Silva and Hector Lombard so far in 2015. “But we have to put these procedures in place to eventually make it better. It’s going to be a bumpy road, but we’re committed to making this happen.”

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A funny thing happened to Benson Henderson during the 19 minutes he spent in the cage Saturday with Brandon Thatch.

People started rooting for him.

Somewhere en route to his submission victory in the main event of UFC Fight Night 60, the 5,800 fans on hand in Broomfield, Colorado—who’d ostensibly turned out to see the local boy, Thatch—began to cheer Henderson instead.

Support built on social media, too, and by the time Henderson cemented his improbable comeback with a rear-naked choke down the stretch in the fourth round, it elicited in an uncharacteristic outpouring of love for the 31-year-old former lightweight champion.

Coupled with victory itself, this palpable shift in public opinion made Henderson’s 170-pound debut all the more magical. It was as though he’d been instantly transformed from malcontent to lovable underdog, from a guy nearly out of options to a man with a lot of moves still left on the board.

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USA TODAY Sports

At UFC Fight Night 60, welterweight Brandon Thatch discovered something the world’s best lightweights have known for years.

Benson Henderson will suck the life out of you.

Thatch was supposed to have his launch party Saturday in his home state of Colorado, beginning his ascension to contender status with a short-notice bout over the former 155-pound champion. Instead, Henderson gave him a crash course in what it takes to be one of the UFC’s best.

Obviously outsized and surely outgunned, Henderson weathered an early push from Thatch in their main event fight, eventually taking control and scoring a come-from-behind submission victory with just over a minute left in the fourth round.

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USA Today

At 38, Melvin Manhoef (29-13-1) is a finished product. You know exactly what to expect when he fights. There will be violence. It will be furious. And someone will end up looking at the ceiling.

Fifty-four times, in a career spanning almost 20 years, it's been his opponent who has been unable to finish the fight—the victim of powerful winging punches that are truly frightening to behold.

"I'm a junkie for the knockout," he said on the Bellator 133 broadcast, moments before walking to the cage. That's not subtle—but it's self-evidently true.

In recent years, as he's slowed and grapplers have improved their games, he's been the victim of his own success, chasing glory too often for his own good. When Manhoef smells blood, all science fades. There is only violence.

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USA Today

No matter what happens when Benson Henderson takes on Brandon Thatch in the main event of UFC Fight Night 60 on Saturday, we’re probably going to need an asterisk or two.

Henderson vs. Thatch isn’t a fight that figures into anyone’s long-term plans, nor one we even could’ve anticipated as recently as a month ago. Make no mistake, there are clear stakes here for each guy, as Bendo moves up from lightweight to make a short-notice appearance at 170 pounds.

It’s just that putting it all in perspective will likely take some footnotes.

Obviously, this wasn’t the original blueprint. When UFC brass first marked it up on the whiteboard at Zuffa LLC headquarters, a stunningly relevant 170-pound contender bout between Matt Brown and Tarec Saffiedine* was meant to headline the Valentine's Day spectacular in Broomfield, Colorado.

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USA Today

On Tuesday evening, the mixed martial arts Internet exploded with the news that Frankie Edgar and Urijah Faber would potentially, possibly, probably headline the UFC's first foray into the Philippines.

On Wednesday, the promotion made it official (via Thomas Gerbasi of UFC.com): The former UFC lightweight champ and the former WEC featherweight champ will do the five-round thing (at 145 pounds) against each other on May 16 in Manila.

But even before the fight was made official, the debate began raging (because MMA fans love nothing more than a debate): Should Edgar vs. Faber be considered a superfight? Arguments were made. People were right. The other people they were arguing with were wrong. On the Internet, there is no gray area: You're either correct, or you are an idiot.

Today, Jonathan Snowden and Jeremy Botter—MMA's version of Batman and Robin—get back together for another episode of "The Question." This time, they discuss whether Edgar vs. Faber can truly be considered a superfight.

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Alex Trautwig/Getty Images

Over the past seven days, I have gone in hard on the UFC and its drug testing issues. I've said I believe they have a problem with performance enhancing drugs. I expressed my disappointment in their decision to cancel a planned comprehensive testing program that would randomly test every fighter on the UFC roster.

And I spoke of my belief that, if things did not change, it could lead the UFC and mixed martial arts in the wrong direction.

Today, we got our first glimpse that change might be on the horizon and that the UFC understands that changes must be made.

During Wednesday's broadcast of UFC Tonight, the hosts—Karyn Bryant, Daniel Cormier, Michael Bisping and guest Demetrious Johnson—discussed the issues surrounding PEDs in the UFC. The program noted that 13 UFC fighters have failed drug tests in the last 12 months. It was a moment of brutal honesty from a UFC-controlled show that could have easily avoided the subject altogether.