Morning Report: After opening as underdog, Anthony Pettis now slightly favored over Benson Henderson

Getty Images via Zuffa LLC

There's plenty to get to today, but first let's jump ahead to UFC 164, because frankly, I'm surprised by this.

Las Vegas oddsmakers initially marked UFC lightweight champion Benson Henderson as the betting favorite to defeat Anthony Pettis and retain his belt. No real shocker there, considering Henderson already tied the division's record for most consecutive title defenses.

Yet now that we're a little more than a month out from the event, public tide has apparently turned in favor of the Milwaukeean, and early wagers pouring in have allowed Pettis to creep into the pole position (by upwards of a -125 line at the time of this writing). Of course, a margin that small doesn't mean much in the grand scheme of things, but still, when's the last time you saw a record-tying champion roll into a title defense as an underdog?

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7 MUST-READ STORIES

Henderson vs. Pettis odds. Despite opening as an underdog, Anthony Pettis is now favored slightly (-125 at the time of this writing) to dethrone UFC lightweight champion Benson Henderson ahead the pair's UFC 164 rematch, according to the folks at BestFightOdds.

Ellenberger brings the fire. Jake Ellenberger unloaded this verbal gem when asked about his trash talk towards Rory MacDonald: "I haven't said anything that wasn't true. My message to Rory was pretty clear. ... This isn't a Tears for Fears lookalike contest. All I said to him is prepare for some horizontal television time and I meant it."

'Fight Night' bonuses to stay. After threatening to remove 'Fight Night' bonuses and restructure the UFC's pay structure, Dana White backpedaled from the idea on the advice of several fighters. "The fighters want the finish bonuses," White said. "They want the finish bonuses and they want the discretionary bonuses to stay the same, so, that's that."

UFC 161 drug tests. All UFC 161 post-fight drug tests came back clean according to the Manitoba Combative Sports Commission. More surprising, though, is that no fighters were granted therapeutic use exemptions for the event, including Dan Henderson, per a report from MMA Weekly. Henderson has been on TRT for upwards of six years.

Miller comeback? Retired fighter Jason "Mayhem" Miller hinted at a potential comeback while speaking to My FOX LA. "Have I thought about fighting? All the time," Miller said. "Every time anybody brings anything up. I'm an intense guy. Now I have to have two knee surgeries ... then, we'll talk about it."

Sefo temporarily out. Ray Sefo elected to temporarily step down from his role as WSOF president to prepare for his upcoming fight against Dave Huckaba at WSOF 4. Sefo is expected to resume his executive role following the event.

Rousey 'honored.' Despite being demoted to UFC 168's co-main event, Ronda Rousey told USA Today that she has no problem whatsoever with the switch. "I'm super stoked about being on the same card as Anderson Silva and Chris Weidman," Rousey said. "It'll alleviate some of the promotional stress and pressure because there'll be more of us working to promote this big card. ... Their fight may very well be the fight of the year, maybe even in the history of the company, and I think it's an honor to be a part of that."

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MEDIA STEW

"I tore my MCL about a week and a half, two weeks before this fight. I'd gone and talked to the doctor and he said it wasn't going to hurt anymore, it was just going to be pain. So I didn't bring it up to anyone. I didn't want to give him any chance to run his mouth anymore." -- Chuck Liddell on Liddell-Ortiz II.

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If 2013 is the year of the Spinning Wheel Kick, then perhaps 2014 will be all about this? Hey, we can always hope.

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December 10, 2008: Fanjin Son learns never to cheap shot a Zombie.

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Sorry, Rampage. MMA Fighting scores this round 10-9 for the squirrel.

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Chris Weidman: not a romantic and still has a little bit of the ol' Little Brother Syndrome in him. Good to know.

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IT BEGINS

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LESSONS FROM THE FIRST LOSS

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JUST ANOTHER DAY IN THE LIFE OF THE WARMASTER

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YOU CAN RUN, BUT YOU CAN'T HIDE

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WRATH OF A SCORNED WAR MACHINE

Props to @ryan211 for the find.

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ALWAYS TROLLIN'

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FIGHT ANNOUNCEMENTS

Announced yesterday (Tuesday, July 16, 2013):

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FANPOST OF THE DAY

Today's Fanpost of the Day comes from chrismcelwee, who wants to talk about: Regional MMA

Every fighter has to start somewhere. Most fighters spend a few years fighting on the local circuit, fighting for smaller promotions until they receive a call from the big leagues. With the sport growing exponentially, these local circuits are bursting with young talent and future stars.

Unfortunately, the people in the fight business know far more about fighting than they do about marketing themselves well, particularly online. Even in countries where MMA is very popular (U.S.A., Canada, U.K. etc), resources and information on the local circuit is difficult to come by. Just take a look at almost any martial arts gym's website and you'll see what I mean.

I began MMA training a few years back in Scotland and soon discovered that the local MMA scene was a vibrant one. My new connections led me to experience the same thing south of the border in England. Knowing that there were literally dozens upon dozens of practically undiscovered training locations, fight promotions and fighters, but that they had very little / no exposure was disturbing to me, so I did something about it.

Being a Web Designer, I was lucky enough to have the skill set to design and develop an online community for the Scottish fight scene. The purpose of the site is to provide breaking Scottish fight news, inform fight sports enthusiasts about upcoming events such as fight shows, seminars and signings, to provide information on training locations, and exposure for some of the fighters in Scotland. I now have four guys who volunteer for the website by writing articles, conducting interviews and taking photos at the fight shows.

Where you come in:

Firstly, if you would take a quick look at the site and give me any feedback you might have, I'd appreciate it, but more importantly, do you think that if something similar existed in other countries, aspiring fighters would be signed to bigger promotions more easily, and that smaller promotions and gyms would sell more tickets and memberships, respectively? Ultimately, what I'm asking here is that if you think this concept, if applied globally, would help regional MMA?

I live in Canada now, and the regional fight circuit here is extremely talent-rich. There are shows almost on a weekly basis, and some of which are very well put together. There are some fantastic coaches and training facilities, too. It would be an absolute shame if talent like this and efforts like these continued to go unnoticed. I can see many people becoming disheartened and leaving the game before their time.

Thanks guys,

Chris

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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