Morning Report: Countdown to UFC 144, Fedor Emelianenko Plots His Return

James Law, MMA Fighting

With the clock ticking and the year's biggest card right around the corner, a floodgate of news has seemingly busted wide open.

Needless to say, there's plenty to see today, from UFC 144 interviews and predictions, to Nick Diaz's suspension and the return of Fedor Emelianenko. So catch up with all the MMA you may have missed on the Morning Report.

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5 MUST-READ STORIES TO START YOUR DAY

UFC 144 pre-fight interviews. Ariel Helwani caught up with all of UFC 144's big names, including headliners Ben Henderson and Frankie Edgar, and co-headliners Rampage Jackson and Ryan Bader.

Nevada temporarily suspends Nick Diaz's license. At the request of Nevada deputy attorney general Christopher Eccles, Diaz received a temporary suspension for his post-UFC 143 positive drug test.

UFC 144 predictions. Michael David Smith answered Saturday night's pressing questions while running down his picks for UFC Japan.

M-1: June targeted for return of Fedor Emelianenko. According his management, Emelianenko is tentatively scheduled to return to action sometime around mid-June in Monaco.

Dan Hardy vs. Duane Ludwig booked for UFC 146. "The Outlaw" hopes to avoid a five-fight losing streak as he hits the mat for the first time since last August.

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MEDIA STEW

UFC lightweight champ Frankie Edgar is absolutely relentless in his second professional fight. (click the image to watch)

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Will Ferrell plays the role of Bruce Buffer in this fanmade UFC 144 trailer.

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UFC title challenger Ben Henderson takes on Ricardo Tirloni in one of his last fights before the WEC scooped him up.

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With that out of the way, here's the first part of Countdown to UFC 144. Catch parts two through four here.

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One more violent knockout, you say? Well, okay.

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Gotta admit, the resemblance is uncanny.

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Congrats to K-Sos for the new gig.

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Don't know about you, but seeing little kid Overeem hurts my brain.

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FIGHT ANNOUNCEMENTS

Announced yesterday (Wednesday, Feb. 22, 2012):

- UFC 146: Dan Hardy (23-10) vs. Duane Ludwig (21-12)

- UFC 146: Shane del Rosario (11-0) vs. Gabriel Gonzaga (13-6)

- UFC 146: Glover Teixeira (17-2) vs. Kyle Kingsbury (11-3, 1 NC)

- UFC 146: Diego Brandao (14-7) vs. Darren Elkins (13-2)

- Strikeforce: Tate vs. Rousey: Bristol Marunde (15-6) in against Ronaldo Souza (14-3)

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FANPOST OF THE DAY

Today's Fanpost of the Day goes to BE reader Jack Slack: Out-Striking Frankie Edgar.

Frankie Edgar is always entertaining to watch, but he is never going to be a big draw such as Anderson Silva or his predecessor, BJ Penn were - he is neither a submission finisher or a knockout artist. What is unique about Edgar, however, is his method of taking apart lightweights - exploiting the same lack of striking confidence and experience in the lightweight division that Bantamweight champion, Dominick Cruz does in his own weightclass: a lack of ability to deal with lateral movement. Is it possible for Benson Henderson to out-strike Edgar? Of course. Will he actually out-strike Edgar? That remains to be seen, but the opportunities do exist to pick Edgar apart, it is whether Henderson's coaches have noticed this and whether he can focus when he is face to face with Edgar's perpetual motion style.

Found something entertaining, brutal, or bizarre you'd like to see in the Morning Report? Just send it to @shaunalshatti and we'll include it in tomorrow's post.

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