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USA Today

Five minutes flies by in a flash, at least in most contexts. It's the length of time it takes to heat a standard microwave dinner.

Five minutes is fleeting. Five minutes is transitory. What's five minutes?

But for UFC challenger Robbie Lawler, five minutes on March 15, 2014, were ultimately unforgettable.

For four rounds at UFC 171, Lawlerin the midst of an inexplicable and improbable comeback after seemingly falling right off the MMA mapbattled Johny Hendricks in thrilling even-Steven fashion. On two of three scorecards, the two were even going into the final frame.

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USA TODAY Sports

Fighters, as a rule, are an unusual bunch. You must be a little off-center in order to willingly participate in a sport where you are repeatedly punched, kicked and choked. They do not all come from the wrong side of the tracks; mixed martial arts has its fair share of normal athletes. But it also has its share of men and women who grew up enveloped on a haze of violence, whether in the home or on the streets or at school.

Abel Trujillo will tell you that he used to have an anger management problem. And you believe it when he tells you this, because he stares directly at you, unblinking, and you instantly recognize the truth in his words.

"I had anger problems. Mixed martial arts helped me conquer that, but I can still channel it. And come fight time, I have to channel it," Trujillo told Bleacher Report. "I'm not a nice fighter. I don't touch gloves. I don't hug. Even at weigh-ins, I'm up in his face. I'm going to be in a fight. "

Mixed martial arts helped him figure out how to control those emotions, but the emotions haven't totally vanished. He still needs the anger when he fights, because he is a violent fighter by nature. He eschews the notion of competition; he is not looking for the win, but rather for the kill.

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Matt Strasen/AP Images

The champions are finally healthy, and the challengers each ready to take their second shots at UFC gold.

Parallel storylines, you guys!

As Saturday night's UFC 181 kicks off perhaps the most important (and potentially awesome) stretch of live events in UFC history, welterweight champ Johny Hendricks and lightweight titlist Anthony Pettis both ease back into active duty after significant injury layoffs. Good timing, right?

Across the cage from them will be two legitimate top contenders (Robbie Lawler and Gilbert Melendez, respectively) each preparing to make maybe his final try at capturing a world title. Lawler gets a do-over after losing a tight one to Hendricks at UFC 171 in March, while Melendez gets his after suffering a razor-close defeat to Benson Henderson in his initial title shot at UFC in April 2013.

So this ought to be interesting. With a few other compelling attractions on the main card, including—wait, what's this?—a couple at heavyweight, UFC 181 demands that bold predictions be made.

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Getty Images

Over the past 24 hours, many words have been written about the UFC's new "athlete outfitting policy." Many words will be written in the future, as athletes, managers and the UFC figure out how to tread this rocky new ground.

I don't know what the UFC's move to a standard uniform means for the athletes who compete under its banner. When I first began reporting on the uniform story in February, I was conflicted. I remain so today.

On one hand, it makes the sport look more professional, and that is a good thing. I have every confidence that Reebok will design clean, inspired clothes for UFC fighters to wear in and out of the Octagon. The design nerd in me thinks that is a much better option than what we have currently, which is a mishmash of logos and brands splayed across the cage and television screen.

Instead of looking like NASCAR, the UFC will look more like the NFL, NBA or English Premier League.

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USA Today

If you’re Gilbert Melendez, you must be pretty happy with how it all worked out.

In quieter moments, perhaps you can even marvel at your own good fortune.

When Melendez takes on Anthony Pettis on Saturday at UFC 181, it will mark his second opportunity to win UFC gold in just three career fights inside the Octagon.

That would be a remarkable feat for anyone, but the fact it’s happening in the stacked lightweight division—where guys like Khabib Nurmagomedov and Myles Jury can run off a half-dozen straight UFC wins and still have to wait their turn—makes Melendez’s persistent contender status all the more impressive.

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Benny Sieu/USA Today

When Anthony Pettis steps into the cage for the first time in 15 long months on Saturday at UFC 181, he'll be facing down more than just opponent Gilbert Melendez, the former Strikeforce champion who is looking to write his own name in the UFC's record book. In Melendez's shadow, another man lurks—his spirit and reputation still engulfing the entire lightweight division. 

Pettis fights not just to secure his UFC Lightweight Championship but against the legend of future Hall of Famer B.J. Penn.

Slow down, I can hear you thinking. Pettis, after all, hasn't even defended his UFC title a single time. All-time great? Really?

The stakes, surprisingly, are just that high.

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David Manning/USA today

At last, the time is finally now.

After months of speculation and at least one high-profile delay, the UFC and Reebok held a joint press conference on Tuesday to announce a partnership deal to outfit the fight company's roster of fighters inside the cage and at UFC events for the next six years.

So as of this week, at least the organization's new hashtag isn't so ironic anymore.

The deal means the end of independent sponsorship deals in the UFC as we know them. UFC co-owners Dana White and Lorenzo Fertitta appeared alongside Reebok president Matt O'Toole at the event, proclaiming a new day for both companies.

The rest of the details are still a little bit foggy. As speculation continues to run rampant online, Bleacher Report lead writers Chad Dundas and Jonathan Snowden break down the pros and cons as they see them.

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Ethan Miller/Getty Images

If you thought Wanderlei Silva would go quietly into that good night after finishing his career with the human equivalent of a dumpster fire, well, you've got another thing coming.

To recap: Silva, one of the most beloved fighters in the history of the sport, ran from a random drug test last summer. That was enough for the Nevada Athletic Commission to issue Silva the equivalent of a lifetime ban, effectively ending Silva's career (at least when it comes to fighting for any reputable organization). Oh, and Silva retired a few days before the NAC tossed him out the door. 

And then Silva suddenly became an anti-UFC crusader, because perhaps he was under the mistaken impression that the UFC was the evil organization pulling the strings, scheduling random drug tests and banning him from the sport. He began publishing black-and-white videos talking about all sorts of issues ranging from fighter pay to the ability of those who compete to control their own likeness.

Silva is back with another video, and this time he's grown a mustache. He talks about being prevented from signing autographs at a recent Bellator fan event at Dave and Busters in San Diego. Silva claims that Bellator was going to pay him $10,000 for two hours of signing autographs. The UFC put the kibosh on that one since Silva is still under a UFC contract and can't make appearances for a competing organization.

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Gregory Payan/AP Images

It hasn't been the easiest year to be an MMA fan. Between the UFC's precipitous financial decline, decimated fight cards and what seemed to be a bizarre crime ring made up exclusively of fringe fighters, 2014 was far from a banner year.

But you know us—here at B/R MMA we look for the slightest glimmers of hope and hang on with both hands. Could this year have been better? Sure. Did we sometimes want to hang our heads in shame, mostly anytime we saw the two words "War" and "Machine" in close proximity? Yes, again.

That doesn't mean there weren't plenty of great moments too. For that we pause to give thanks. What follows are five things we're thankful for this year—the main course if you will.

Have one to add? That piece of pumpkin pie goes in the comments. Won't you join us?

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USA Today

Renan Barao wants to fight T.J. Dillashaw in Brazil.

You can't blame a fighter for seeking a home-court advantage, and Brazil offers just such a thing. Tune in to any of the multiple UFC cards held in various Brazilian towns, and you'll see local fighters experiencing plenty of success. I can't explain why they're so successful, and I don't have the metrics in front of me to prove it. But there's no doubt Brazilians get a boost when they're fighting in front of their countrymen.

Of course, this probably applies to other parts of the world too, including the United States. It's just more pronounced in Brazil.

So Barao would like to fight Dillashaw again, and he'd like to do it in Brazil. The first time Barao faced Dillashaw, it was in Las Vegas, and Dillashaw battered the then-champion Barao before finishing him in the final round and taking his belt.