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UFC on Fox 12 gets underway this Saturday with a big main event in the welterweight division.

No. 1-ranked contender Robbie Lawler takes on No. 5-ranked Matt Brown. The winner will likely receive the next title shot against champion Johny Hendricks.

The four-fight main card gets underway at 8 p.m. ET on Fox.

What value is there on the main card? That is what we will look at. We will supply you with information to help you make better decisions when it comes to what fights you should make a play on. After all, not every fight is worth it.

Let’s have a look at the odds for Saturday’s exciting bouts.

All odds provided by OddsShark.com.

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You're right Ray, it's not rugby… but MMA isn't an OTT sport
Herald.ie
"I found it very violent and very disturbing," said Ray, choosing to focus on the intense nature of the physical combat involved in MMA. And in the next few minutes, Ray displayed not only a naivety about the sport, but a suspiciously elitist attitude

and more »

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This weekend marks the UFC’s return to Fox on network TV, as UFC on Fox 12 will be live from San Jose. Headlined by Robbie Lawler and Matt Brown, the card boasts a deep lineup with lots of top talent.

Last week’s two-event marathon was mediocre for my picks. Overall, between UFC Fight Night 45 and 46, I went 6-5, as upsets and disappointments marred my picks.

That said, here are the prelim predictions for UFC on Fox 12.

 

2014 Riley’s Record: 100-68

Last Event: UFC Fight Night 46 (3-3)

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Each UFC division encompasses its own world of in-cage lunatics, obsessed practitioners and formidable title threats.

From January to December, these differing Octagon entities wage war on one another until they reach the bittersweet top.

But along the way we are reminded that certain fighters hold more appeal than others. Some have what it takes to not only dismantle the hungry wolves around them, but run the pack.

These are what we call top contenders. And for them, getting a shot at the championship is all that matters.

So in the celebration of open-mindedness and wishful thinking, here are fantasy top contender fights for each UFC weight class.

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Guardian Liberty Voice
UFC Fight Night Lawler vs. Brown Preview and Picks: MMA Spotlight [Video]
Guardian Liberty Voice
UFC might be in for a battle of epic proportions, as Robbie Lawler and Matt Brown will duke it out to see who will be challenging for the welterweight title next. There has been quite the jostling around in the division since Georges St. Pierre vacated
Robbie Lawler vs. Matt Brown, and a history of MMA slugfestsMMAjunkie.com
Will Lawler-Brown go down as great MMA slugfest?USA TODAY
UFC on FOX 12 Fight Card: Lawler vs. BrownMMA Fighting
MMA Corner -MMA News -MMAmania.com
all 129 news articles »

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The Nevada State Athletic Commission put together a star-studded hearing Wednesday. 

Serial woman abuser (who moonlights two or three times a year as a boxer) Floyd Mayweather, Jr. was the biggest name in attendance. “Money” showed up to ask for the Commission’s approval to move forward on starting his own boxing promotion: Mayweather Promotions. 

Logically, that should have resulted in serious questions regarding his history of out-of-the-ring violence (which most recently surfaced in May when his entourage destroyed a Fat Burger during a melee with rapper T.I.). Heck, it should have at least yielded a token level of inquiry regarding his ability to juggle the livelihoods of young fighters. Instead, the NSAC tripped over themselves fawning over the man who pays a sizable portion of their salary.

Former UFC light heavyweight champion Vitor Belfort was also in attendance. He was there to address the random drug test he failed in February due to elevated levels of testosterone. He had elevated levels of testosterone, of course, because he was undergoing testosterone replacement therapy (TRT), which he used (and, evidently, abused) while actively avoiding Nevada State Athletic Commission because they likely would have refused to grant a therapeutic use exemption.

Logically, this should have led to a lengthy inquiry regarding why he needed TRT in the first place, why he hadn’t fought in Nevada since 2011 or anywhere in North America since 2012. It should have led to intense discussion regarding how long a suspension and how hefty a fine he would receive.

Instead, the NSAC gave the UFC the go-ahead to award him an immediate title fight, levied no punishment for his failed drug test or years-long gaming of the system and joked around about how he will be facing an increased drug testing regimen, labeling him their “new best friend.”

Plenty of other boxers and fighters phoned in or appeared, and many had served prison sentences for charges ranging from possession of marijuana to driving their car through an airport. No biggy, though. The NSAC was making it rain licenses up in there!

Then came Chael Sonnen, the most despicable man to ever walk into that hall, apparently. Charged with taking legal substances he legally obtained from his licensed doctors, the NSAC had the media on the edge of their seats as they discussed whether they should ban him from competing for two years or life.

To say the NSAC was disproportionately harsh on Sonnen would be a profound understatement. Sonnen did not dispute the allegations against him, admitting to taking HGH, EPO, hCG, clomiphene and anastrozole and actively avoided opportunities to defend his actions. 

Considering there was basically no discussion between opening statements and the ayes and nays for any of the other business during the hearing, all involved parties should have been out in time for brunch.

Not so, however, as each individual commissioner and each individual expert witness stepped on top of Sonnen‘s Dogeza-ing back and took the opportunity to build their own brand. Each made sure to throw out words like “steroids,” “deceive” and “cheater,” and comparisons to disgraced athletes like Manny Ramirez and Lance Armstrong were made.

The NSAC wanted to send a message here, of course. They are cracking down on PEDs. Raking Sonnen over the coals during a broadcast hearing sends a big message.

That’s what they wanted to say. What they really said was they are going after users harder than ever…as long as it doesn’t cost them much money.

Sonnen retired from MMA in June. While he may or may not have been planning a comeback, his days as one of MMA’s biggest draws by a sizable margin are definitively a thing of the past. That isn’t the case with Mayweather or Belfort, though. 

The NSAC‘s preferential treatment of Floyd Mayweather, who brings the state tens of millions of dollars every time he fights, is well-established and was best demonstrated when he was licensed to face Miguel Cotto as he was also gearing up for a prison sentence for slapping around his girlfriend. They also gave Vitor Belfort a free pass after Belfort‘s lawyer floated out the UFC was prepared to offer him a lucrative title fight opposite Chris Weidman.

Sonnen, however, was an easy target. More importantly, he was a cheap target.

Make no mistake, Sonnen deserved to be raked over the coals. There shouldn’t be a place in this sport for fighters who use HGH and EPO, but the NSAC decided to both have and eat their proverbial cake on Wednesday.

They could have turned the boxing world upside-down by holding Mayweather to the same standards as any other fighter, but didn’t. They could have set a new standard for toughness on fighters by pulling a title shot away from somebody who actively gamed the system, but didn’t. Instead, they opted to take the man who had the weakest career footing and bury him alive.

Maybe I’m just naive in my belief in things like equal treatment and the integrity of the sport, but that doesn’t sit well with me.

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He’s the No. 1 Contender

All TRT discussions aside, Vitor Belfort has been on a colossal tear as of late—leaving his last three opponents with foggy memories of blitzing hand strikes and concussive head kicks. 

He first took out the UFC’s No. 8-ranked middleweight Michael Bisping in the second round of their fight. He then went after the division’s fifth-ranked fighter in Luke Rockhold before placing him on the bad end of a highlight-reel knockout. Next came a light heavyweight matchup with Dan Henderson—the sequel to their first bout in 2006. A solid shin to the head left Henderson on the wrong end of a knockout for the first time in his storied career.

Turns out 2013 was a good year for Belfort

This year was supposed to be a good year for him, too—he was set to take on UFC middleweight champion Chris Weidman. A positive test for elevated testosterone levels took away his title shot, but it didn’t take away his status as the division’s No. 1 contender. 

 

It Would Further Validate Weidman as the Man to Beat

Weidman‘s first victory over the reigning middleweight king left enough questions to warrant an immediate rematch. His second victory against Anderson Silva left them wanting even more. As far as we knew it, we would never know what have happened had Silva not clowned in his first outing or broken his leg in the second. 

Either way, he’d bested the greatest fighter of all time twice and we needed to move on.

In comes Lyoto Machida as the new champion’s second challenger. Akin to Silva, Machida was another elusive Brazilian counter-striker that was supposed to give Weidman fits in the standup department. But, akin to Silva, he didn’t. 

Weidman stalked Machida around the Octagon, effectively cutting off the cage and preventing The Dragon from ever really setting up his strikes enough to warrant a five-round nod. He was unafraid of striking with another striker and wrestled when he needed to.

Though he couldn’t find a way to finish the former UFC light heavyweight champion, he proved he was the better fighter.

Unlike his bouts with Silva, there were no questions here.

Sure, Machida could’ve gotten started a little earlier to give himself enough time to win a five-round decision, but that’s not how The Dragon rolls. 

Belfort, on the other hand, is literally the opposite. Consider him the antithetical Machida here—he wants to strike first and win fast. A win over Belfort would only prove Weidman capable of handling the best strikers that any division has to offer. 

 

Weidman Could Close the TRT Saga

Belfort wasn’t the only UFC fighter to use testosterone-replacement therapy to help prepare for a bout, but he was certainly the most scrutinized one. 

Unlike Chael Sonnen and Henderson—two other popular fighters who were synonymous with the controversial treatmentBelfort was succeeding. Sonnen lost three of his last four bouts by TKO before retiring from the sport, while Henderson has seen similar statistics—leaving many wishing he’d walk away from the sport as well. 

TRT couldn’t save Sonnen or Henderson.

It’d be tough to argue the same for Belfort, though. 

Without a doubt, this is the best version of Belfort that we have ever seen. He’s running through top-tier opponents in dramatic fashion. But he’s doing it as a muscular 37-year-old man, and that has to raise some questions.

He’s got the wisdom of a seasoned fighter and the physical capabilities of a younger version of himself. It shouldn’t matter now, though, because Belfort won’t be on the controversial substance anymore.

Meanwhile, Weidman is moving full steam ahead to prove that Belfort is not the same fighter and the Nevada State Athletic Commission and the UFC made the right call by banning TRT

From a purely competitive standpoint, this is a fight that most of us are dying to see. Taking all of the context into consideration should make most of us think twice, though.

 

He Could Fool Us Again

Most MMA fans want to remember Belfort as the man who was able to run Wanderlei Silva across the cage with a blurry barrage of punches before leaving him with nobody but John McCarthy to keep him company.

Few want to remember him as the man who tested positive for anabolic steroids after his loss to Henderson at Pride 32: The Real Deal (Yes, the irony kills me as well). 

Whether you chose to forgive or forget Belfort‘s mistake is up to you. Chances are you probably don’t care as much about his first positive test anymore because you were too busy watching him demolish pretty much everybody not named Anderson Silva or Jon Jones in his latest stint with the UFC. 

Belfort‘s a mere eight years removed and all but recovered from his first positive test. He’s only two months removed from his second and still has a ways to go. 

We wanted to believe that old Vitor was merely using TRT to supplement the hormonal gaps that young Vitor‘s mistakes created. We wanted to believe that whatever possible advantages TRT could create for any fighter were irrelevant because Belfort wasn’t abusing the treatment to reach such peaks. We wanted to believe that he’d learned his lesson. 

We were wrong. 

Yet, here we are—just five months away from watching Belfort challenge for his third UFC title in four years.

With TRT now banned in the UFC and the eyes of the NSAC constantly upon him, it’s unlikely Belfort gets a third opportunity to further damage his already fragile reputation. 

Be that as it may, it’s probably best to proceed with caution. 

 

Kristian Ibarra is a Featured Columnist at Bleacher Report. He also serves as the sports editor at San Diego State University’s student-run newspaper, The Daily Aztec. Follow him on Twitter at @Kristian_Ibarra for all things MMA.

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UFC women’s bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey continues to dominant her opponents, looking more unstoppable in each of her Octagon appearances. Her 16-second destruction of Alexis Davis was yet another example of the distance between the champion and the rest of the division.

Just when it seemed she had cleared out most of the top contenders at 135 pounds, the UFC made moves to line up her next crop of opponents. It has finally come to terms with Holly Holm (subscription required), who is undefeated at 7-0 and has a professional boxing record of 33-2-3, and she will be debuting in the Octagon sometime this fall.

UFC President Dana White has also said recently that a Gina Carano signing is imminent and that Ronda will defend the title against Carano in December, should the deal get done. Cristiane “Cyborg” Justino is going to make her first cut to bantamweight in December, and a successful weight cut and performance in the Invicta cage would seemingly signal her movement to the UFC and a potential superfight with Rousey.

Add in the fact that the rightful No. 1 contender for the title, Cat Zingano, is making her return to action against Amanda Nunes at UFC 178 on September 27, and Rousey’s dance card starts to fill up pretty quickly.

 

Gina Carano

Most likely, Rousey’s next fight will be against Gina Carano. The fight keeps getting mentioned for December, but according to Newsdays Mark La Monica, Chris Weidman vs. Vitor Belfort will be headlining UFC 181 on December 6. UFC lightweight champion Anthony Pettis said on The MMA Hour this week that his title defense against Gilbert Melendez would also take place on December 6 in Las Vegas, so a third title fight at UFC 181 is unlikely.

Whether Rousey faces Carano at UFC 181 or UFC 182, she will be heavily favored to beat the former Strikeforce champion, who hasn’t fought since her 2009 loss to Cyborg.

 

Cat Zingano

It’s easy to forget that Zingano is undefeated in this sport at 8-0 and was originally supposed to be the person absorbing all of Rousey’s hate as her opposing coach on the 18th season of The Ultimate Fighter.

She was also supposed to get a title shot after her April 2013 TKO over Miesha Tate. If Zingano can defeat Amanda Nunes, she will have established herself again as the No. 1 contender and should face Rousey sometime in the first half of 2015, barring any injuries to either party in their next fights.

 

Cyborg

So if Ronda dispatches Gina, she would most likely have the next contender lined up for an early-to-mid 2015 defense. Cyborg’s first opponent at 135 pounds hasn’t been determined yet, and it is possible that even if she walks through the poor soul who agrees to face her, she may need one fight in the UFC before she gets to face Rousey.

It’s also possible that she gets a championship fight for her UFC debut, which seems likely. We may very well see the much sought-after fight between the two best female mixed martial artists of all time, if Rousey and Cyborg both continue their winning ways until this time next year.

The reason why we watch fights to begin with is because they are intriguing. Rousey facing the current group of bantamweights on the UFC roster isn’t intriguing, as she’s vanquished them all with near impunity thus far. A fight with Cyborg has the intrigue that is lacking from the other potential matchups for Rousey.

It’s no safe bet that Rousey would be able to dominate Cyborg the way she has her opponents up until this point, and we truly won’t know what will happen until we see it. These two may even fight to a trilogy, if one doesn’t thoroughly dominate the other in one or two fights.

 

Holly Holm

The Preacher’s Daughter has perhaps the best striking acumen on the women’s side of the sport. She’s a former professional boxer and has kickboxed as well. She has lite up her opposition with an impressive arsenal of punches and kicks that would send even the most bricked-up female bantamweights to the mat.

I think Holm is going to run roughshod over the division in a similar way that Rousey has with her Olympic-level judo and improving striking game. It’s a matter of when, not if, Holm fights for the title, and she will most likely have strung together enough wins to secure a title shot against Rousey or her usurper sometime toward the end of 2015.

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MMA welterweight fighter excited for match near Laurinburg home
Laurinburg Exchange
LAURINBURG — Growing up, mixed martial arts fighter Blaine Thomas bounced from place to place, constantly moving because his father worked in the military. Despite living in countless locations and houses, he has always called Laurinburg home.

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The SAP Center in San Jose, California, will play host to UFC on Fox 12 this Saturday night with an exciting fight card.

The headlining fight is set for Matt Brown to square off against Robbie Lawler in a five-round match, with the winner getting a shot at Johny Hendricks for the welterweight championship belt, as well as many other exciting fights. This is a stacked card that is not to be missed.

Check out our preview and predictions of the event right here.

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