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USA Today

Newsflash: Georges St-Pierre is gone, you guys.

In stark opposition to one of professional fighting’s most clichéd rallying cries, the champ is not here. At least not at the moment.

As St-Pierre’s indefinite sabbatical nears the end of its second month, it’s starting to feel more and more like the greatest welterweight of all time might not be coming back.

Last week’s outburst about the UFC’s laissez-faire drug testing policies (and the company’s rote response) revealed the gulf between GSP and his former employers might be even wider than we first thought. He’s not just tired, hurt and sorting through personal issues, he’s angry.

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USA Today

Ask, and ye shall receive. 

After months of call-outs, tweets and public shaming, former Strikeforce star Tim Kennedy will finally get the one fight he's wanted for months when he faces veteran Michael Bisping at the TUF Nations Finale. It is planned as the main event, but Bisping will need clearance for his injured eye before he can officially accept the fight. 

Kennedy was granted the fight during a Thursday meeting with UFC president Dana White at Zuffa headquarters in Las Vegas. Kennedy confirmed with Bleacher Report immediately after that meeting.

The fight takes place April 16 in Quebec City, Quebec. It also features a fight between TUF Nations coaches Kyle Noke and Patrick Cote and the finale of the Canada vs. Australia Ultimate Fighter tournament. A bout between Tim Gorman and Mitch Gagnon is also targeted for the event.

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Getty Images

Ryan Bader may be on the mend, but his return to action is beginning to come into focus.

The light heavyweight powerhouse is coming off a three-round drubbing of Anthony Perosh back in December where he battered the "Aussie" for the entirety of the 15-minute affair. While he picked up his ninth win under the UFC banner, the victory had some bittersweet elements as he broke his right hand in the process.

In the immediate aftermath of the fight, the former Arizona State University wrestling standout had surgery to correct the issue, which included two metal rods being inserted into the hand to stabilize the break. Now, with his hand nearly healed, the 30-year-old Power MMA fighter is eager to get back into the gym and start his next stage of rehabilitation.

"I have these pins in my hand and I'm going a little crazy, but I'm doing what I can do," Bader told Bleacher Report. "They are coming out next Friday so that will be a good start. I can't sweat right now because I pretty much have an open wound right now. That could easily get infected and go right to the bone, which would be some bad stuff. I get them taken out next week and I can at least get back to doing some cardio to get things moving back toward my return. I'm excited for that.

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USA Today

Brad Tavares has been one of the best kept secrets in the middleweight division for the past two years.

The 26-year-old Ray Sefo protege has run under the proverbial radar as he's racked up victories and established himself as one the brightest young prospects on the UFC roster. With continued success, each time out has put him on a bigger stage against a higher level of competition, and the Hawaiian-born fighter has answered every challenge placed before him.

On the strength of a four-fight winning streak, the Las Vegas transplant drew his highest spot on the billing as he stepped in against Lorenz Larkin in the co-main event of UFC Fight Night 35 in Atlanta. Where Tavares' name had been relatively silent in the fight week lead-up to his previous bouts, for his scrap with Larkin, the surging middleweight received his fair share of the spotlight in the interim.

The attention and energy surrounding the fight is what The Ultimate Fighter alum had been building toward in his young career, and once again he stepped up to the plate with force. In a matchup between two of the middleweight division's most talented up-and-coming strikers, Tavares got the best of Larkin at every turn. Where "The Monsoon" has built a reputation off of his unpredictable style, Tavares was able to use his opponent's willingness to trade to his favor.

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Photo by Jeremy Botter
Photo by Jeremy Botter

LAS VEGAS — The Nevada Athletic Commission will seek to hire a permanent replacement to fill the role of executive director of the commission within the next two to three months.

Commissioners Pat Lundvall and Bill Brady—in addition to commission chairman Francisco Aguilar and commisioners T.J. Day and Skip Avansino, who dialed in via conference call—met in a small conference room at the Nevada Athletic Commission offices.

Also in attendance were Zuffa's Marc Ratner, who served in the executive director role prior to Keith Kizer's hiring. Bleacher Report also attended the meeting.

The commission opened the meeting by formally acknowleding the work Kizer had done in his thankless role over the years.

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USA Today

kook·y
1. strange or eccentric.

In a sport where masculinity is prized and the symbols and accoutrements of male pride are displayed, splashed and painted across various $100 T-shirts, custom headphones and the ugliest jeans you ever saw, it is not surprising that UFC president Dana White would tell former welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre to "be a man and pick up the phone."

Never you mind St-Pierre's long and historic stint as one of the UFC's most popular and marketable athletes. Ignore the mainstream respect he has garnered as a soft-spoken and intelligent man who helped change the idea that people who get in a cage and punch other men for a living are barbaric and bloodthirsty animals.

Overlook all of the millions of dollars he directly put in the company coffers through various and sundry blockbuster pay-per-view events.

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USA Today

Finding anything in Atlanta can be difficult, especially when the destination in question has the word "Peachtree" in the address. A different man might have given up. But I was looking for what was, to me at least, the holy grail—a magical place that could solve many of my problems, both financial and emotional.

After what felt like hours of wandering, finally there it was. In a non-descript building on Peachtree Industrial Boulevard, catty corner to a Chinese restaurant, I entered a strange new world.

For immigrants far from home, the Japanese grocery store must have been comforting. After all, if you were in search of seaweed-flavored chips or kiwi-flavored gummy candy, they certainly weren't available in bulk at Costco. The store, and others like it, might be your only connection to a homeland thousands of miles in the distance, literally a world away.

Of course the needs of others was the last thing on my mind at the time. I was purpose driven and not one to lose sight of my goal when it was so close at hand.

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Andre Penner/Associated Press

Gabriel Gonzaga is no stranger to the deeper waters of the UFC heavyweight division.

Over a span of the past eight years, "Napao" has experienced all facets of the fight game while competing under the most visible banner in mixed martial arts. The 34-year-old has seen the fruits of his success materialize into title contention and later a championship opportunity, but the Brazilian grappling ace has also experienced the rapid fall that comes with a nasty backslide.

After losing back-to-back fights against former champion Junior dos Santos and Brendan Schaub in 2010, Gonzaga was released from the organization. While he started his time inside the Octagon with a four-fight winning streak and earned a title fight against future Hall of Famer Randy Couture at UFC 74 in 2007, once he came out on the business end of his bout with "The Natural," things began to come apart at the seams.

While there was no doubting his versatile talents, elements of his game appeared to vanish against high-profile competition. He easily defeated relative unknowns like Josh Hendricks and Chris Tuchscherer but struggled to perform against Shane Carwin and Fabricio Werdum. 

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USA Today

Finally, here was the Luke Rockhold we’d all been waiting to see.

Nearly eight months after his UFC debut ended in disaster, Rockhold got back on message Wednesday night, blowing past Costas Philippou via first-round knockout before calling out two of the middleweight division’s biggest names.

It was exactly the sort of performance that fans expected from the former Strikeforce champion when the UFC absorbed the rival fight company at the beginning of 2013. Rockhold had won nine straight in the Strikeforce cage, and his combination of size, athleticism and natural charisma had him poised for breakout success.

Unfortunately, things started poorly for him in the Octagon. The UFC made Rockhold’s debut a cable TV main event on May 18, but Vitor Belfort summarily destroyed his momentum with a first-round head-kick knockout. Then a knee injury delayed his return.

By the time he re-entered the cage against Philippou this week, Rockhold’s fortunes seemed far less secure—at least for two minutes and 31 seconds.

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USA Today

The UFC returned to Georgia for the fifth time in the organization's history on Wednesday for UFC Fight Night 35.

While the card didn't receive a ton of push in the lead-up, the event was stacked with interesting tilts from all corners of the promotion's roster. The most prominent of the group came in the main event battle between Luke Rockhold and Costas Philippou, which featured a clash between fighters looking to remain in the hunt for the middleweight title.

With both men coming off losses in their most recent showings, there was no lack of hunger heading into their bout at UFC Fight Night 35. The AKA-trained fighter was eager to get his hand raised for the first time inside the Octagon, and the Cyprus-born fighter was looking to keep his spot in the divisional hierarchy.

Once the action got under way, it was all Rockhold.