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Author: Michael Zand


Diaz submits Miller at UFC on FOX

Nate Diaz used a guillotine choke to submit Jim Miller in the second round of the UFC on FOX main event at the IZOD Center in East Rutherford, N.J., on Saturday night.

Diaz, who had taunted Miller much of the lightweight bout, first applied the joke with about a minute left in the first round. Diaz further locked down the hold as Miller lost his mouth piece and appeared to be bite his tongue before tapping out with 52 seconds left in the second round of a fight scheduled for five rounds.

“He had my number,” Miller said. “Nate is a tough guy and I knew it was going to be a tough fight coming in. He just kept landing strikes and hurting me.”

Diaz used a straight left to drop Miller with 45 second left in the first round. Miller gathered himself quickly, however, and had Diaz in a choke hold for a few seconds, although Diaz escaped before the first round expired.

“I know he’s a great fighter.” Diaz said after the fight. “I have nothing bad to say about the guy.”

Miller’s seven-match winning streak came to an end with a loss via decision to Benson Henderson last August. Miller rebounded with a victory over Melvin Guillard on a first-round submission in the first UFC on FX in January.

Diaz, who won the fifth season of "The Ultimate Fighter," entered on a two-fight win streak after a lackluster venture into welterweight where he lost consecutive fights to Rory MacDonald and Dong Hyun Kim.

The winner of the main event appears to have a long wait before a chance at the title, although the victory didn't guaranteed a shot. FUEL TV's Ariel Helwani reported Friday that the Henderson vs. Frankie Edgar rematch won’t come until after August.

"He deserves that shot," Miller said. "There shouldn't be any (more) steps in his way to that title run."

In the co-main event, Johny Hendricks pulled out a split-decision win over Josh Koscheck in a close welterweight battle.

Koscheck seemed to have Hendricks hurt early in the first round, but couldn't take advantage. They traded some big shots in the second round, with Hendricks' powerful left hand doing serious damage to Koscheck's right eye. In the third round, Hendricks successfully took Koscheck to the ground for the fight's first takedown. But Hendricks was the more active fighter in moving to 8-1 (13-1 overall) in his UFC career. Koscheck fell to 15-6 (17-6 overall) in the Octagon, one of few to have more than 20 career UFC fights.

Alan Belcher survived the powerful ground attack of Rousimar Palhares in their middleweight bout and came away with a TKO win at 4:18 of the first round. Palhares, known for his leg-based submissions, had Belcher where he wanted him, but Belcher fouth his way out of danger and ended the bout by raining blows down on Palhares' face.

And in the first bout of the main card, heavyweight Lavar Johnson turned up the heat late in the first round and pummelled Pat Barry against the cage until he crumbled to the ground with 22 second left in the round. Johnson, who ended the career of Joey Beltran in this UFC debut this past January, improved to 17-5 with the TKO win over Barry.

The preliminary card on FUEL TV opened with Dennis Bermudez beating Pablo Garza by unanimous decision in their featherweight bout. Lightweight Danny Castillo followed that with a unanimous decision win of his own against John Cholish.

A catchweight bout at 127 pounds saw Louis Gaudinot rally in the second round to choke out John Lineker in the second. Gaudinot, hailing from nearby Hoboken, N.J., had trouble in the first round when his long dyed-green hair, which was tied back at the beginning of the fight, became loose and was getting in his eyes. After having it re-tied back in the second, Gaudinot was able to see better, and finished of Lineker in the second with a guillotine choke as the round was nearing an end.

Welterweight John Hathaway decisioned Pascal Krauss, winning the bout on all three scorecards (29-28, 30-27, 30-27). John Dodson beat fellow flyweight Tim Elliott by narrow decision in a close fight. And in the final bout of the preliminary card, Michael Johnson beat Tony Ferguson by unanimous decision in a lightweight bout.

In the non-televised preliminary bouts, Karlos Vemola opened the night's action by defeating Mike Massenzio by submission at 1:07 of Round 2 of their middleweight bout with a rear naked choke, and Roland Delorme submitted Nick Denis the same way with one second left in the first round of their bantamweight bout.

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UFC on FOX 3 post fight press conference

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UFC on FOX 3 results

Preliminary card (Facebook)

Middleweight bout: Mike Massenzio vs. Karlos Vemola
Vemola defeated Massenzio via submission (rear-naked choke) at 1:07 of round 2.

Bantamweight bout: Roland Delorme vs. Nick Denis
Delorme defeated Denis via submission (rear-naked choke) at 4:59 of round 1.


Preliminary card (Fuel TV)

Featherweight bout: Dennis Bermudez vs. Pablo Garza
Bermudez defeated Garza via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27).

Lightweight bout: Danny Castillo vs. John Cholish
Castillo defeated Cholish via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27).

Catchweight (127lb) bout: Louis Gaudinot vs. John Lineker
Gaudinot defeated Lineker via technical submission (guillotine choke) at 4:54 of round 2.

Welterweight bout: John Hathaway vs. Pascal Krauss
Hathaway defeated Krauss via unanimous decision (29-28, 30-27, 30-27).

Flyweight bout: John Dodson vs. Tim Elliott
Dodson defeated Elliot via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28).

Lightweight bout: Tony Ferguson vs. Michael Johnson
Johnson defeated Ferguson via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27).


Main Card

Heavyweight bout: Pat Barry vs. Lavar Johnson
Johnson defeated Barry via TKO (punches) at 4:38 of round 1.

Middleweight bout: Rousimar Palhares vs. Alan Belcher
Belcher defeated Palhares via TKO (elbows & punches) at 4:18 of round 1.

Welterweight bout: Josh Koscheck vs. Johny Hendricks
Hendricks defeated Koscheck via split decision (28-29, 29-28, 28-29).

Lightweight bout: Nate Diaz vs. Jim Miller

Diaz defeated Miller vua submission (guillotine choke) at 4:10 of round 2.

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I am disgusted by Greg Jackson's actions while cornering Ryan McGillivray


For the first time in years as a fan of mixed martial arts (MMA), I found myself disgusted while watching the main event of MFC 33 last night (Fri., May 4, 2012) between Nathan Coy and Ryan McGillivray. It had nothing to do with amount of blood, or the pounding that McGillivray was going through.

No, it had to do with the actions taken by McGillivray's head trainer, Greg Jackson, between the third and fourth rounds.

After three brutal rounds of punishment at the hands of Coy, a clearly dazed and blood drained McGillivray had to be assisted to his corner by his coaching staff. His head coach, Jackson began slapping his face and shoulder while telling the near unconscious 25-year-old to "wake up" and that "he can still win this fight."

Even veteran trainer and commentator Pat Militech, who was calling the fight for HDNet, couldn't believe what he was seeing and hearing out of the fighters corner, stating that Ryan's camp "should throw in the towel" for their unresponsive fighter.

Luckily for McGillivray and his family, the referee and ringside doctor had seen enough and decided to stop the fight before he took any more unnecessary damage.


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Video: Josh Koscheck has some choice words for Johny Hendricks post weigh-in

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Dana White: 'The feeling is mutual' on impending 'Rampage' departure

UFC president Dana White isn't going to fight with Quinton "Rampage" Jackson anymore.

If the former light heavyweight champ wants out of the UFC, then he can leave.

"'Rampage' is obviously not happy with the UFC – no big deal, brother," White said following Thursday's pre-UFC on FOX 3 press conference.

White hasn't gotten that impression when talking to Jackson one-on-one. But whatever understanding they shared in person apparently hasn't translated to the public domain.

"I'll have a conversation with 'Rampage' and think we're cool, and then I'll read other stuff," he said.

That "stuff" is several interviews Jackson has given to multiple media outlets in which he's complained about being under-promoted, underpaid, and under-appreciated in his time with the promotion. He's promised that his next fight inside the octagon – which remains unscheduled as he recovers from knee surgery – will be his last.

White said his relationships with fighters aren't always roses and daisies, but he defended his company's treatment of Jackson in the five years he's fought for the UFC.

"As far as money goes, everybody needs to make more money," he said. "You making enough money? Nobody here is, right? Everybody needs to make more money. That's human nature. What we do is we go and negotiate deals that work for everybody.

"We've been good to everybody we've ever dealt with. We've never screwed anybody over, including 'Rampage.' And you want to talk about a guy that we went to bat for – we've gone to bat for him many times. I feel like [expletive] (Derek) Jeter when it comes to 'Rampage.'"

But the time in which White is willing to go to bat for someone who doesn't want to work with him is coming to an end.

"If he's unhappy with us, doesn't like us and doesn't want to be with us anymore, then the feeling is mutual," he said.

In his most recent appearance, Jackson, who took the title from Chuck Liddell at UFC 71 before losing it to Forrest Griffin at UFC 86, dropped a second consecutive fight when Ryan Bader outpointed him at UFC 144 following a submission loss to current champ Jon Jones at UFC 135.

Before injury concerns set him back, Jackson was targeted for a rematch with former champ Mauricio "Shogun" Rua, who defeated him seven years ago in the now-defunct PRIDE.

Jackson courted controversy after UFC 144 when he gave an interview to "Fighters Only" in which he said the UFC had recommended an age-management doctor who prescribed testosterone to treat a knee injury he suffered in training for the event. He later amended his comments, stating his doctor had recommended the treatment.

Nevertheless, he said he was finished fighting for the promotion.

"I think the flavor is done," Jackson told HDNet's Bas Rutten. "If anybody thinks that I can't make my own career choices and stuff like that, then you're a bigot. I can do whatever the hell I want to do. I'm a grown man. I don't want to have to fight for somebody no more if they're not really appreciating me."

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UFC 148's Sonnen understands if 'fake Brazilian' Silva unhappy with venue change

For months, it seemed one of the most-anticiapted rematches in UFC history would take place in front of 80,000 screaming Brazilians.

Instead, when the UFC was unable to secure a suitable Brazilian venue for Anderson Silva vs. Chael Sonnen II, the company moved the fight to Las Vegas, where it now serves as the headlining bout for UFC 148, which takes place July 7 at MGM Grand Garden Arena.

While Sonnen (27-11-1 MMA, 6-4 UFC) will no longer find himself entering the proverbial lion's den, he admits he's a little disappointed he'll miss out on being a part of such a historic event. As for Silva (31-4 MMA, 14-0 UFC), Sonnen believes he has a right to be upset, even if he is a "fake Brazilian," just like his countrymen Wanderlei Silva and Vitor Belfort.

"I don't know that I fault him," Sonnen said. "He was told he would get a fight in Brazil. He, like Wanderlei and like Vitor, pretend to people they're from Brazil, even though they left over a decade ago. Vitor and Wanderlei live in gated communities in Las Vegas. Wanderlei drives an Aston Martin, OK? He lives in an American home and drives a $200,000 car made in England. That's how loyal he is to Brazil. He claims Brazil when it's convenient, kind of like Vitor. Vitor was born in Rio and goes on – quoting here – to vacation to Rio. A vacation to his hometown. That's how long he's been gone form there. These guys are Brazilian when it's convenient – when they go back and take Brazil's money back to America.

"It's just like Anderson. He pretends he's from Brazil. He pretends he can't even speak the language, at times. Of course, he bought a $2 million mansion in Beverly Hills out of money he made in North America. The point that I'm getting at, these fake Brazilians – that when it's convenient claim that country – he wants to fight there? Fine. I get it. He was told the fight was going to be there. So if he's upset it got moved back to the country that made him famous and rich, that's up to him. I get it."

Strong words from Sonnen, who rarely limits himself when addressing the man he nearly beat at UFC 117 in August 2010. Sonnen reinvented himself in the months leading up to the fight, channeling his inner pro wrestler and bringing trashtalk to a level rarely seen in MMA. He nearly delivered on all of his guarantees, grinding "The Spider" down for four-and-a-half rounds before succumbing to a triangle choke with less than two minutes left in the fight.

Sonnen has kept his sights on the champion since that time, defeating Brian Stann and Michael Bisping en route to earning a second shot at the belt. He's continued to take shots at Silva (and Brazilians) along the way. So intense has the rivalry become, many MMA observers began to even question whether the UFC could guarantee Sonnen's safety in Brazil. The company did so during a recent press conference in Rio de Janeiro, but UFC president Dana White today admitted it wasn't easy.

"It's not fun taking Chael to Brazil," White said. "I'm not a big fan of that. I was actually very confident (when) we did the big stadium – we'll pull this thing off. We'll bring Chael down there. I didn't think Chael was going to say the type of [expletive] he was going to say down there. It's one thing when you're sitting in your living room in America and you say crazy [expletive] like that, but I can tell you that was one of the most surreal press conferences I've ever been in.

"I joke about it, saying we would have to dig a hole under the octagon to get him out of there, but now I'm starting to believe it. It's crazy."

But all the questions will be answered on July 7. And while a recent bitter feud between Jon Jones and Rashad Evans seemed to dissipate a bit as the fight date approached, the Silva-Sonnen rivalry appears as strong as ever. Sonnen knows this may be his last chance to unseat the 37-year-old pound-for-pound kingpin, and he's guaranteeing success.

"He ducked me for six years," Sonnen said. "For six years I called him out. There's no way around that. There's no two ways around that. You can go on the Internet and find it with me poking my finger in his chest. If anybody poked their finger in my chest for a fight, they'd be fighting me right then.

"He ducked me for six years. He had other business. He had to fight a one-legged Canadian named Cote. He had to fight the amazing Thales Leites. He had to go to England to take on the undersized, dangerous Lee Murray. He was busy in Japan with Ryo Chonan. He didn't have any time for the gangster from West Linn, Oregon, Chael P. Sonnen. He still doesn't have time.

"He's not agreeing to this fight. He's fighting because Dana is making him fight. I am a volunteer army. I wasn't drafted for this position. I have volunteered for this position. I have begged for this position. I just know one thing: On July 7, Bruce Buffer will announce, 'And still undefeated and still undisputed and still named Chael P. Sonnen.'"

Sonnen's answers were part of a Wednesday night media session in Las Vegas, where he touched on a number of topics in relation to UFC 148. Additional excerpts from the conversation are below.

* * * * *

Q: What are your thoughts on the card moving to Las Vegas? Do you see it as any advantage at all in not having to fight in Brazil?

Chael Sonnen: I would prefer to not have to travel. But you never factor that stuff in because you can't control it. You try not to think of anything that's out of your control. And the bottom line is the octagon is the octagon. I don't want to travel. He doesn't want to travel. One of us have to. He did it the first time. It's only fair that I return the favor out of sportsmanship. They moved the fight to Las Vegas, now we both have to travel. We've both got to get on a plane and go to Vegas. That's just the way it goes.

Q: Is there any part of you that's disappointed that you don't get to travel to Anderson's home country, play the bad guy and take on that challenge?

Sonnen: The only thing I liked about the opportunity of Brazil was that it was an 80,000-seat venue. St-Pierre and Shields had set the record in Toronto with 55,000 seats. If you have a chance to be part of history, you don't want to miss those opportunities. So if we're going to do a stadium, and that's where the opportunity is, then let's do it there. That was disappointing. But geez, I'd hate to be a professional athlete and complain about anything. I'd hate for someone to see this and think we're sitting here complaining when we get to do what our childhood dreams are. That's not my intent.

Q: There were a lot of questions about whether or not you would be safe in Brazil. Did you ever feel it would be a risk to go down there?

Sonnen: Of course it's a risk to go to Brazil. It's a risk to go to Las Vegas, though. I was in Chicago for my last fight, and this guy asked me that about going to Brazil. I said, 'Yes, there's a threat to go to Brazil, but you might want to check your local paper. You guys aren't a haven for civility. You're in Chicago. I wouldn't let my mother or girlfriend just roam around.' I don't know that there's anything added because it's in Brazil. I don't do anything, anyway. I sit in my room, and I walk to the venue. But sure.

I feel like sometimes people want me to deny that or something, or that as a fighter you're supposed to be like, 'I'm never scared of anything.' I'm just a person. I have every human emotion from fear to sad to happy to excited. I experience them all. When a fighter comes out and pretends, yeah, he's not scared, that's playground talk. That's talk that you do when you're a little kid. Whoever talks the toughest is the toughest when you're a little kid. I don't care whether you're scared, happy or sad. When my music hits those speakers, I will make that walk.

Q: Do you think a lot about your first fight with Anderson? You were the first person that basically whipped his butt for four-and-a-half rounds, then you were submitted. Do you think a lot about that fight?

Sonnen: Unfortunately, that wasn't the first endeavor that I've set out to that I've failed at. I had matches from the time I was a kid in wrestling that I worked so hard for and were so important, and I blew it. So unfortunately, I've been through that before. I've dealt with not getting what you want and having to walk out with your head up anyway. That's just part of what we do. We have horrible odds in this sport. You have a 50 percent chance of failure in this business. That's very bad odds, but that's just the deal, and we've all got to face it, and we've all got to walk out there and do our best anyway. I do think about it.

Q: You have quickly become a part of one of those most heated rivalries in MMA history. What are your thought on the evolution of rivalries in this sport such as Dominick Cruz vs. Urijah Faber and Rashad Evans vs. Jon Jones?

Sonnen: I've got a lot of thoughts. I get faced with, 'How are you going to handle this? You lost your last fight. You've got to come back.' Dominick Cruz just did that. Urijah Faber choked him out. I was there for that fight live. Boom, he came back and won the second match. It was such a tight fight. … So when this trilogy got announced, as a fan, it was like, 'Oh, thank goodness. I didn't know we'd get to see this.' As far as Evans and Jones goes, that was a great fight, and I don't see who the loser was. You've got the two best guys. And for me going into that fight, if Jones get cleaned up, he's still a badass. If Evans gets cleaned up, he's still the man. For me, there wasn't going to be a loser. Let's find out who's ahead of the other one, but these are such good guys, and sometimes you'l;l have rankings and a the No. 2 gets beat by the No. 1 guy, and he falls to No. 9. How does that work? So for me, it's still Jones and Rashad. Then Dan Henderson makes his claim in there and some other guys.

I like it. At the end of the day, we don't have to get along. Everybody in every walk of life has somebody in the office they'd like to beat up. All of them. They talk about it. They go home, and they go, 'Oh, this guy's driving me crazy. I wish I could smack him. In our field, we can. Some of these guys come in there and talk about their respect and all this stuff. That's a bunch of crap. You hear about the history of the martial arts. Where did you get a history of the martial arts from? Hollywood? Besides the UFC, there is nothing to condition us or educate us on the martial arts besides what you saw in Hollywood. This is a fistfight in a steel cage. I'm not going to apologize to my opponent. And if I like him or I don't like him, we're still going to go out and compete hard to find out who's the best. It's a mutually exclusive term. Only one guy can be champion, period.

Q: Do you wish you could get more of an interaction with Anderson similar to how Dominick Cruz and Urijah Faber are able to interact during the buildup to their fight?

Sonnen: Maybe. Sometimes it's awkward when you're with a guy. Sometimes that's a little bit hard. Cruz and Faber have known each other for a long time, and people forget these guys have done work multiple times. A lot of fans lose sight of that because the WEC often gets forgot. But this is a trilogy. This is a tremendous fight. This is what history gets written about – when the two best guys meet up for the second and third time. I'm so envious of their spot. I think it's just awesome.

As far as Anderson, he's one of these guys. For me, he's very funny. He wants to come out. He wants to pretend certain things. He wants to pretend you're friends. He wants to talk about friendship to avoid fights. He does that to avoid fights. He's not in it for friendship or respect. He's in it for the money. That's it. You take the money out of it, you take Anderson Silva out of it. He's a fake. Some of these guys think it's respectful to bow to your face and put a knife in your back when you turn around. I will tell you to your face that when you turn around, I'm going to put a knife in your back.

Q: Have you considered brushing up on your Portuguese or getting a translator so you can find out exactly what Anderson Silva is saying? Usually when they get translated, there's always words getting thrown in or words getting taken out.

Sonnen: It happens. Ed Soares tries to get involved. Look, Ed Soares is not in the UFC. He's never been in the UFC. He's never been paid by the UFC. He never will be. Somehow, this guy has got himself in the UFC video game. That's what a great job Ed Saores has done. They ask a guy a question, Ed Soares gives an answer that never happened and continually works. God bless him. He's the dirtiest player in the game next to Monte Cox.

Q: So what is your mindset coming into this rematch? Since you did perform so well until the submission, do you approach it in the same way you did the first time, or because of the loss do you believe you have to retool and reinvent for the second meeting?

Sonnen: I will never stop trying to get better. I will never look at anything and say, 'OK, that's done. Let's move on.' Everything has to get better, bigger, stronger, faster, more technical, tougher – everything has to get better. But as far as the first fight, this is the truth: That was a misunderstanding of the rules. The way I thought it worked was if you tapped, you lost that round. So I thought what they would do is they would go to a judges' decision, they'd go four rounds to one, and we'd go home, and I'd be the new champion. And if anyone had explained to me that that stops the bout in its entirety, I would not have tapped.

Q: So then this training camp has really just been about better educating yourself on the rules?

Sonnen: It was a complete misunderstanding. Now I get it. I had never been in a five-round fight. I just didn't know.

Q: You talk about always getting better, but is the ultimate prize always the title?

Sonnen: Absolutely. I don't think there's any other reason you should be in this sport than to be champion. A lot of my aggravation or chip on my shoulder isn't towards Anderson. It's towards all the other guys in the UFC. When they stick a microphone in a guy's face and he calls out anybody other than the champion, they should fire him right then. They should just say, 'Look, man, you're not UFC material. You've got to go. This is for guys that want to be champion, not for guys that want to put on their little tough-guy T-shirts and cut in line at the local strip club.'

You get these fake tough guys all the time. I've got to see these fake tough guys when the camera comes on, puffing their chest up, and in the back they're asking Anderson for an autograph. It makes my stomach sick. I don't want his autograph. I want to spit on him. I want everything that he has. I'm jealous, and I'm envious, and I would never apologize for that.

There can only be one champion, and you have to fight it out. He's not going to give it up. I'm not going to give it up. We're going to have to fight this thing out and figure it out like men. It makes me angry when I see these guys be offered opportunities and say, 'No.' It makes me angry when guys sign to do a fight, and they pull out. My dad didn't feel good. He went to work everyday. He was a plumber. He got up when it was dark. He went to bed when it was dark. And I would never disrespect him by not showing up to an athletic event that's 25 minutes long because I don't feel good.

Q: Earlier tonight, Dominick Cruz said rivalries make you better as a fighter, and you shook your head in agreement. With that in mind, do you consider Anderson a rival, and has he made you better?

Sonnen: Anything that gives you motivation makes you better – anything that gives you purpose and gives you a drive. Our sport is so hard, and it's very unpleasant. I wake up certain mornings depressed because I know what I've got to do that day before I can be done. The training is so hard, and it's so miserable – not just physically but mentally. To get in the car to get to practice on time is hard, and if you can find something that helps to motivate you? You see guys all the time wearing headphones. They've got some song that just kind of gives them a little pep. You see a guy go through the coffee line and get a shot of coffee before practice. It's that hard just to change your clothes and be on the mat every single day on time. So if you can get a rival, if you can get some motivation, you know in your head somebody else is out there somewhere in the country – somewhere in the world – working, it will make you better.

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Win over Brian Stann = UFC title shot for Hector Lombard

Hector Lombard might put himself on the fast track to a title bout in the Ultimate Fighting Championship by winning his debut this summer.

Recently signed to mixed martial arts' largest promotion after steamrolling opponents in Bellator Fighting Championships for two years, Lombard could find himself challenging for a title belt if he beats Brian Stann, said Dana White, president of UFC parent Zuffa. That would give Lombard one of the fastest paths to a UFC title for any athlete since Brock Lesnar in 2008.

Middleweight champion Anderson Silva has a second fight scheduled with Chael Sonnen in July. Should Silva win again, a championship bout for Lombard would be a logical choice, White said.

"When you talk about cleaning out a division, there's always another guy who comes up, even for a guy like Anderson," White said Thursday while speaking to a group of several reporters. "We just brought in Lombard. (If) Lombard beats Stann. … that (title) fight makes sense."

UFC plans to hold Lombard-Stann in August.

Lesnar had a 2-1 professional record when he first fought for the heavyweight title, but his fame and proven status as a pay-per-view draw from pro wrestling gave UFC a compelling business reason for throwing him into a championship bout. Lombard's case for a rapid elevation lies entirely with his achievements as a fighter.

A Silva victory would raise his streaks for title defenses to 10 and consecutive wins in UFC to 15, both records for the promotion.

But Lombard has an impressive run of his own, in the form of a 25-fight unbeaten streak that goes back to the start of 2007. He was never seriously challenged during his time in Bellator, where he knocked out seven of eight opponents and became the organization's only 185-pound champion so far.

Should Lombard fight for a championship in his second fight, he would have the quickest run to a 185-pound title shot in UFC since Silva, who received one in 2006 after he made his debut for the organization by knocking out Chris Leben.

Lombard can't count on anything yet. Stann's punching power, movement and array of strikes suggest he will be a more formidable opponent than any of Lombard's previous foes. But Stann also has never faced anyone with Lombard's combination of knockout ability and grappling acumen -- before going into MMA, the ex-Bellator champ's judo skills won him several national titles in Cuba and a spot in the 2000 Olympics. In addition to his 17 knockouts as a pro fighter, Lombard has seven submission victories.

The USA TODAY/SB Nation consensus rankings list Stann and Lombard at Nos. 10 and 11 for middleweights. We got him ranked as No3 in the division.

A title run in UFC for Lombard would validate the claims of Bellator CEO Bjorn Rebney, who has said for years that he believed his middleweight champ could best Silva. After UFC signed Lombard, Rebney predicted he would win the that organization's title.

Lombard isn't the only Bellator star drawing UFC's scrutiny. White on Thursday reaffirmed his organization's interest in lightweight ex-champ Eddie Alvarez, whose Bellator contract expires later this year.

"We've always liked him," White said. "When he becomes a free agent, we'll see what happens."

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Dana White not optimistic on Nick Diaz's chances against NSAC

Nick Diaz's camp won't find a vote of confidence from UFC president Dana White in their recent challenge to the Nevada State Athletic Commission.

"I get the whole thing they're going for – the metabolites or whatever it is," White said following Thursday's pre-UFC on FOX 3 press conference. "Nick can't smoke marijuana leading up to a fight. You just can't do it."

While fans and pundits have debated the merits of the drug's legality and the state's case against Diaz, White said he respects the rule of the commission.

"My beef is with the reffing and the judging," he said. "They sanction me. They tell me what to do. They oversee me and the fighters."

And on May 14, the commission will go head-to-head with Diaz. Las Vegas-based attorney Ross Goodman filed suit on behalf on the fighter this past week, seeking to lift a temporary suspension issued to the fighter after he tested positive for marijuana metabolites in the wake of a decision loss to Carlos Condit at UFC 143.

Diaz's camp has attacked the merits of the NSAC's case from the beginning, suggesting that the marijuana metabolites that prompted his failed test aren't banned by the commission.

But White sees the issue in black and white.

"Listen, marijuana's illegal," he said. "You can't smoke it. There's a list of things you can't do. Here's the thing with the Nevada State Athletic Commission: If you're doing something, they ask you to tell them. Just be honest. Come up front and say you did something."

The act of disclosure has been front and center in Diaz's fight with the NSAC. Goodman said the fighter didn't need to note his doctor-recommended use of medical marijuana because it didn't apply to a pre-fight medical questionnaire he left blank.

The NSAC, on the other hand, believes Diaz mislead the commission in doing so, and amended its original complaint against the fighter when paperwork in support of his medical marijuana recommendation surfaced in Goodman's initial response to the suspension.

White said Diaz's situation reminded him of Alistair Overeem, whose failure of a pre-fight drug test at UFC 146 was at the center of a license denial from the NSAC. The former Strikeforce champion didn't disclose his use of a doctor-recommended anti-inflammatory that was later found to contain testosterone, a fact that came out when he was denied.

"I sit in the office with the guy, and he's like, 'I'm the most tested athlete in all of sports. I'll never test positive for anything,'" White said. "Then they tested him at the press conference, and he was 14-to-1 (testosterone-to-epitestosterone) ratio.

"He lied to me, and he lied to the Nevada State Athletic Commission."

Asked which situation frustrates him more – Diaz's suspension scratched a rematch with Condit while Overeem's failure scratched a headliner opposite heavyweight champ Junior Dos Santos at UFC 146 – White chose Overeem.

"Nick Diaz didn't tell me he wasn't smoking weed, believe me," he said. "It's one of those things that's a banned substance, you can't do it, and we'll see how this thing plays out. But I just don't see him winning."

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