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ESPN.com MMA awards for August

lastname UFC. No deal is perfect, including the seven-year agreement between the UFC and Fox network that was reached last month, but it certainly seems the fight promotion got what it was looking for. Rumored to be in the $90 million to $100 million per year range, this is a lucrative deal that provides a big opportunity in terms of exposure while still leaving control of production largely in the UFC's hands. UFC president Dana White constantly talked about his desire to sign a deal only when it made sense. Time will tell how successful the final product is, but as it stands now, it's a major milestone.


lastname Dan Hardy. The British welterweight wasn't cut by the UFC for losing his fourth fight in a row, but let's face it, he probably should have been. Hardy is so popular it's no secret the UFC wouldn't mind seeing him succeed. But if he continues struggling against opponents who are hand-picked for his style, it's going to be tough to justify his roster spot. In a disappointing loss to Chris Lytle, Hardy was simply too easy to hit and too predictable in the later rounds.


lastname Pat Curran def. Marlon Sandro at Bellator 48. A crazy finish and an entertaining conclusion to the Bellator featherweight tournament. Having lost just two fights in his career, to Hatsu Hioki and Michihiro Omigawa, Sandro was starting to receive Ben Askren/Eddie Alvarez type of love -- in other words, he was considered one of the best fighters in the world not competing for Zuffa. Curran put a halt to that, catching Sandro with a devastating head kick to end a fight that Curran was likely trailing on the scorecards.


lastname Chris Lytle def. Dan Hardy at UFC on Versus 5. Nothing all too complex about this guillotine, but Lytle's finish of Hardy with just moments left in the fight wins submission of the month on the grounds of timing alone. What a way to finish a career. Pretty impossible to not be happy for one of the genuinely nicest guys in the sport.


lastname Edson Barboza vs. Ross Pearson at UFC 134. I was impressed so many fans agreed that Pearson won the fight. Typically, the sight of blood and swelling over an eye is enough to sway a judge, as we saw. Pearson looked worse for wear after the fight, but I thought he was more efficient in the first and third rounds. The fight was close, so the term "robbery" doesn't really apply, but I wouldn't mind seeing this one again sometime down the road.


lastname Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira def. Brendan Schaub at UFC 134. Maybe we should have seen this one coming, but Nogueira has just looked physically shot in recent years. He was downright slow in losses to Frank Mir and Cain Velasquez. Who would have thought he'd be any quicker coming off multiple surgeries and a 500-day layoff? Somehow, though, the time off did wonders for Big Nog. You could tell immediately his health was better than it had been in years. And that made all the difference in his upset of Schaub.


lastname UFC 134. Disappointed I didn't make the trip south for this. All the prefight events appeared to be in beautiful settings and amazingly attended. Brazilian fans obviously want the UFC to make Rio de Janeiro an annual stop, and I'd say they built a strong case for it. Looked like a crazy atmosphere during the event, which they captured fairly well on television. The fights definitely didn't disappoint. If anything, this served as a warning to all fighters -- think twice before taking a fight against a Brazilian in Brazil.


lastname Rashad Evans on rival Jon Jones: "He's so cocky. You think I'm cocky? He's 'for real' cocky. I'm 'joking around' cocky. He's like, 'go to sleep praising himself' cocky." It's a great quote and it also gets the discussion going on how well do we know Jon Jones? He's portrayed himself as this endearing kid who's still learning and studies YouTube martial arts videos during his time off. But is there any truth to what Evans is saying? Or is it just rivalry talk?


lastname UFC signs deal with FOX. For the first time on Nov. 12, the UFC will appear on network television. What will this do for the sport as a whole? Will the ratings meet expectations? If the numbers turn out Spike-esque, it's a major disappointment. Few expect that to happen, though. The sport has clearly won over executives in the network industry who weren't won over five years ago. UFC commercials will air during major sports events, including the NFL. It's a massive deal for the company and the sport as a whole.


lastname "Can the WEC lightweights hang with the UFC lightweights?" Answer: Yes. It was always strange that the UFC and WEC both featured a 155-pound weight class. It created a perception that the WEC lightweights weren't elite. Eight months after the merger of the two companies, it's safe to say that isn't the case. Ben Henderson's dominant win over Jim Miller was an eye-opener, and you can legitimately say a WEC guy has a strong chance to hold the UFC belt in 2012. Donald Cerrone has been fantastic, Anthony Pettis will rebound and Anthony Njokuani was darn close to knocking off Edson Barboza, one of the UFC's premier prospects. The WEC can hang.


lastname What's going on with Alistair Overeem?
This whole Overeem thing has been a little weird. He gets pulled out of a Strikeforce tournament he was, by all accounts, the face of. Soon after, Zuffa releases the entire Golden Glory team. Reports surface he's accepted an October fight overseas, but now ESPN.com has reported he's in an exclusive negotiating period with the UFC. Signs point to Overeem signing with the UFC, but answers to the questions of where he stands with Zuffa, what will happen to his Strikeforce heavyweight title and the status of his dismissed teammates would be nice.


lastname TUF, more. August was an enormous month for mixed martial arts based on the Fox deal alone. It should be interesting to see which fighters the UFC features to brand itself to a new audience. We've already seen a huge interest in what the main event will be at the Nov. 12 show, including a few jump-the-gun reports. Also, believe it or not, "The Ultimate Fighter" is still running and debuts this month. Before you dismiss it, remember that this is the first season to feature 135- and 145-pound fighters, which should amount to more compelling fights.