Morning Report: Henderson, Cormier open as betting favorites; Healy wants Lauzon or Miller for UFC debut

Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

Sometimes stories are so bizarre, it's tough not to be left speechless after reading them. Luckily mixed martial arts hasn't experienced something like that in quite some time, but that doesn't mean yesterday was slow. Far from it, actually. We've got plenty to cover today, so let's stop messing around and jump straight into some headlines.

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7 MUST-READ STORIES

Healy calls his UFC shot. Former Strikeforce lightweight contender Pat Healy announced he would prefer to fight either Joe Lauzon or Jim Miller for his upcoming UFC debut.

White dubs surgery success. Following his surgery on Tuesday, UFC President Dana White said the procedure went "great" and he was "sore but that will go away in a few days." Regardless, White will not be traveling to this weekend's UFC on FX 7 event.

Early FOX 7 odds. UFC lightweight champion Benson Henderson and Strikeforce heavyweight grand prix champion Daniel Cormier opened as betting favorites ahead of their respective UFC on FOX 7 bouts against Gilbert Melendez and Frank Mir. Henderson is currently listed as a 2-to-1 favorite, while Cormier is a hefty 4-to-1 favorite.

Bellator weigh-in results. All fighters made weight at the official Bellator 85 weigh-ins ahead of Thursday night's debut on Spike TV, including featherweight title fighters Pat Curran and Patricio Freire, as well as lightweight title fighters Michael Chandler and Rick Hawn.

Rockhold calls out Philippou. Strikeforce middleweight champion Luke Rockhold called out Costa Philippou for his UFC debut, saying of the match: "[It] makes the most sense right now. He's coming off a win, and I think he's a good opponent. Let's get it on at [UFC on FOX 7]."

Strikefroce drug tests. Josh Barnett and Nate Marquardt were among five fighters to pass post-fight drug tests following Strikeforce's finale last weekend, along with Tarec Saffiedine, Tim Kennedy and Kurt Holobaugh, according to a report from MMA Weekly.

Newell to White: I've earned my shot. One-armed XFC lightweight champion Nick Newell responded to Dana White's assertion that Newell will likely never be employed by the UFC. Said Newell: "He wants to talk about how he wants to give people equal opportunity -- to women, to gay fighters and stuff like that. Well, I'd like my equal opportunity as well."

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MEDIA STEW

Okay, I'll admit. I got chills when I first watched this.

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The last time Pat Curran fought, this happened. And in case you'd forgotten, he's fighting tonight.

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Middle brother is a champion prize fighter. Oldest and youngest are playing each other in the AFC championship game. One word: Ridiculous.

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Tommy Toehold, you've outdone yourself this time, sir.

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There are several methods for female MMA fighters to market themselves. I guess this is one of them.

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Speaking of which...

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"Chael Sonnen, he's essentially talked himself into a fight with one of the best fighters in the sport, in a weight class that he hasn't competed in, in years, and yet people are still going to want to watch this fight. Why? Because Chael Sonnen knows how to talk some s--t." - Joe Rogan, keeping it real.

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I have no idea how this slipped by us, but since August, Masato Toys has been releasing a masterpiece comic entitled "Sonnen's War." Do yourself a favor and check out episode 1 and episode 2, then turn your gaze to part three below. (Click to enlarge.)

Sonnenswar3_medium

(HT: MiddleEasy)

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ROAD TO RECOVERY

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RESTLESS EDDIE

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NOT BAD

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UFC CALLOUTS, PT. 1

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UFC CALLOUTS, PT. 2

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VICTORY IN DEFEAT

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AN INTERESTING QUARTET

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WINNER

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FIGHT ANNOUNCEMENTS

Announced yesterday (Wednesday, January 16, 2013):

  • N/A

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FANPOST OF THE DAY

Today's Fanpost of the Day comes from MikeWellman88, who offers his: Bisping vs. Belfort Main Card Predictions

The UFC returns to Brazil this Saturday for UFC on FX 7, featuring a middleweight main event that should give us a new number-one contender for Anderson Silva's 185 lbs title. UFC President Dana White has already said several times that should Michael Bisping win, he will get his long-awaited title shot. The same hasn't been said for Belfort, who lost to Silva in February of 2010 by highlight-reel knock-out, one that we find hard to erase from our collective consciousness. Here are my predictions for the four-fight main card airing on FX:

Thiago Tavares vs. Khabib Nurmagomedov

Tavares has been fighting in the octagon since 2007, and has 12 UFC fights under his belt, with a total mma record of 17-4-1 draw (UFC.com has 21 wins, Sherdog.com shows 17 for Tavares). He is currently riding a two-fight win streak and his most recent loss came against Shane Roller by KO in March of 2011. Nurmagomedov is also on a two-fight win streak in the UFC, and is undefeated in 18 mma fights. 11 of Tavares wins have come by submission, and seven of Nurmagomedov's have as well. Tavares hasn't been in the cage in a year, where as Nurmagomedov fought twice in 2012. The odds on this fight put Khabib as just under a 2-1 favorite, and I'd agree with them. Tavares is no slouch either standing or on the mat, so it will be a close fight, but I am going to pick Nurmagomedov by decision.

My Prediction: Khabib Nurmagomedov

Gabriel Gonzaga vs. Ben Rothwell

The oddsmakers are somewhat scattered when it comes to the lines on this fight, but none are very far from each other. This can be attributed to the perceived evenness of the match-up. Nothing on paper jumps out and lends itself to either fighter winning here. One item of note would be that Rothwell's most recent outing was a KO victory over Brendan Schaub, whereas Gonzaga lost a decision to Schaub back in 2010. Rothwell has significantly more fights, and wins, but Gonzaga has three times as many fights inside the UFC octagon. Gonzaga easily takes the fight if it goes to the ground, but I have a feeling 'Big' Ben is going to be able to keep it standing until Gonzaga hits the mat.

My Prediction: Ben Rothwell

Co-main and main event predictions after the jump...

Found something you'd like to see in the Morning Report? Just hit me on Twitter @shaunalshatti and we'll include it in tomorrow's column.

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