Morning Report: 'The Ultimate Fighter' and Bellator Collide

Donald Miralle, Getty Images

This week was kind of strange. And the next five weeks are probably going to be stranger. But we're spoiled as MMA fans now. A month-and-a-half between major events used to be nothing.

Besides, mixed martial arts has reached the point where even if the schedule looks empty, it isn't really. Case in point: between the newly revamped "The Ultimate Fighter" and a brand new season of the promotion that just brought us this and this and THIS (and this and this), Friday nights are about to become the new Saturday. So sit back and get ready for tonight's fights with the Morning Report.

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5 MUST-READ STORIES

The hurt business: a year in the life of an MMA fight team. Ben Fowlkes invades Grudge Training Center to examine the hidden lives of pro fighters and watch as fortunes rise and fall over the course of one calendar year in the first installment of this multi-part series.

Bellator 60: Joe Warren vs. Pat Curran dissection. Dallas Winston kicks the door down to Bellator's sixth season with a gif-tastic breakdown of tonight's featherweight championship.

For Bellator's Bjorn Rebney, eventual Spike move vindicates long-term vision. Bellator's CEO discusses his long journey to Spike, upcoming production changes, and the format that allows fighters "to be like Butler in the NCAA's March Madness."

Daniel Cormier would consider cutting weight for a 205-pound 'superfight.' Despite his past weight cutting struggles, Cormier would give it one more shot for a superfight against a top 205-pounder.

Marloes Coenen cast in Dutch version of ‘Survivor.' The former Strikeforce women's bantamweight champion joined twelve of the Netherlands' biggest celebrities in the survival reality show "De Schat van De Oranje."

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COUNTDOWN TO A SLIMMER ROY NELSON

Started (on March 4th): 32,000 likes.
Yesterday's mark: 97,282 likes.
As of this writing: 99,688 likes.
Goal (by March 18th): 132,000 likes.

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MEDIA STEW

A week after defeating Frankie Edgar to win the UFC lightweight strap, Ben Henderson was back home in Arizona relaxing. But by relaxing, we really mean competing in the Absolute division of the 7th Arizona Brazilian Jiu JItsu International Open, where he ultimately lost to Daniel Grippaudo via this slick straight armbar. (By the way, Bendo still won his weight class. Check out the full story.)

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Tim Sylvia wants in the UFC, regardless of what Dana White says. So he uploaded this video to YouTube. The description simply reads: "Beast Mode." (HT: MMA Mania)

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Last month, both Fedor and Aleksandr Emelianenko competed in the Russian Combat Sambo Championships, where they predictably met in the tournament finals. Though their match didn't exactly go how you'd expect. (HT: Cage Potato)

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Yesterday we brought you a look at Myles Jury. So today we'll give you a sampling of another early TUF 15 favorite, Brazilian submission wizard Cristiano Marcello, as he takes on Guido Canetti at Bitetti Combat 8.

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THE MUSCLE SHARK WANTS BACK IN

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MISADVENTURES IN MMA FACIAL HAIR

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FIGHT ANNOUNCEMENTS

Announced yesterday (Thursday, March 8, 2012):

N/A

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FANPOST OF THE DAY

Today's Fanpost of the Day goes to BE's Dangalvan: 10 Flyweights That the UFC Should Sign

Mamoru Yamaguchi (26-6-3)

Yamaguchi doesn't just make this list based on his awesome Afro, but I'd be lying if I said it didn't help. He is dripping with charisma that could garner him a cult-like audience. Coming off a loss to Jussier da Silva in August, Yamaguchi should be hungry for a win as he has never lost back-to-back fights in his career. Yamaguchi is a dangerous flyweight that prefers to strike where he is able to showcase his powerful looping hooks.

Dustin Ortiz (8-1)

Continuing the trend of fighters with fantastic hair, Dustin Ortiz has potential to really be a top fighter in the flyweight division. Still in the early part of his career, Ortiz has been impressive recently with a win over Josh Rave (18-9). Ortiz is one of the most fun fighters to watch as he is hyper-aggressive and is relentless with the pressure he forces on his opponents.

Found something perfect for the Morning Report? Just hit us on Twitter @shaunalshatti and we'll include it in Monday's post.

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