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It’s been nearly two years since UFC fans last saw their heavyweight champion in action.

That would be a long time on the sideline for any professional athlete, but to gain real perspective on the curious career trajectory of Cain Velasquez, let the following fun fact sink in:

The last time Velasquez fought somebody besides Junior dos Santos or Antonio “Bigfoot” Silva it was 2010, and his opponent was Brock Lesnar.

When Velasquez takes the cage against Fabricio Werdum on Saturday at UFC 188, it’ll amount to more than just an opportunity to get proof of life on the 265-pound champ. It will also be a chance for the man we’ve considered the best heavyweight in the world for the past five years running to show he’s still who we all assume him to be.

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The average post-fight interview in the UFC is a dreadful bore. The announcer, in this case Jon Anik, asks the fighter to talk him through the fight. Then he'll ask who the fighter wants to step into the cage with next. 

Typically that question, asked after literally every fight, will be met with a blank stare.

If you're a fan of the sport, you know exactly what I'm talking about. Collectively we've wasted years of our lives listening to these meaningless question-and-answer sessions.

At UFC Fight Night 68, Ben Rothwell made it all worthwhile.

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You'll read a lot this week about 44-year-old Dan Henderson, a throwback to a simpler time in the sport of mixed martial arts. In the days before biological passports and year-round random drug testing, before, MMA fighting was even a full-time profession, Henderson carved out a legacy as one of MMA's most enduring legends.

Henderson's career is perhaps most remarkable for its longevity. After all, when he made his first UFC appearance way back in 1998, his 28th birthday was creeping up on him. His physical prime was spent only occasionally in the cage, the dream of Olympic glory dying hard.

By the time he really had things figured out, a period that culminated with a 2007 knockout of Wanderlei Silva, he was already in his late 30s. It had been a good run, but it had to be coming to an end. Athletes, after all, don't excel into their 40s.

That's just science.

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Just after 2 p.m. ET on Wednesday, the UFC rolled the Holy Grail of combat sports out onto a stage at the Red Rock Resort and Casino in Las Vegas.

In this case, the Holy Grail came in the form of Jeff Novitzky—the former federal agent the fight company has hired to spearhead its new drug testing program—and a budding partnership with the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency. Together, the UFC, Novitzky and USADA confirmed that in July they’ll institute the very thing concerned MMA fans have been asking of the promotion for years: comprehensive, year-round random drug testing for all 500-plus fighters on the UFC’s roster.

"Today is a huge win for the athletes in the UFC,” USADA CEO Travis Tygart said during a press conference that streamed live at UFC.com and elsewhere, “as they set a new standard for all professional sport in protecting the rights and health of clean athletes and the integrity of competition.”

Let’s pause a moment to hear the angels sing.

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With about a month left before a rigid new outfitting deal between Reebok and the UFC chases third-party sponsors out of the Octagon, opposing sides in MMA’s ongoing uniform debate no longer even seem to be having the same conversation.

Last week, the fight company announced what it called “a historic unveiling” on June 30 in New York City, where it is believed we’ll get our first look at the actual Reebok gear fighters will be required to wear during future UFC bouts. The announcement was styled as a “save the date” card, as if a wedding is in the offing and we’re all about to embark on a long, happy new marriage.

Still, the more we hear from fighters, the more we get the feeling this wedding may be one of the shotgun variety.

The latest wave of criticism of the new apparel policy has just now begun to filter down from the UFC’s highest level. Featherweight champion Jose Aldo joined the fray on Monday, telling Brazilian media outlet Combate—translation via Bloody Elbow’s Lucas Rezende—that the new arrangement "is great for the UFC, but not for the fighters."

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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.