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UFC 151: A top to bottom look at next week’s local pay-per-view card

Nike-clad Jon Jones looks to defend belt against Dan Henderson in main event

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ASSOCIATED PRESS

Jon Jones speaks to reporters ahead of his UFC 145 bout with Rashad Evans in Atlanta.

Jon Jones recently impersonated Santa Claus for his teammates at Greg Jackson’s mixed martial arts gym in Albuquerque, N.M.

Shortly after signing a monumental sponsorship deal with Nike, the UFC light heavyweight champion surprised all of his fellow fighters at a routine workout.

“I came into the room with boxes of Nike and handed it out to all the guys and that was it,” Jones said. “No more Nike conversation going on in the room or anything.”

Jones’ confidants may be done talking about the deal, but everyone else around the UFC is still buzzing about one of its most dominant champions picking up an unprecedented mainstream endorsement.

UFC President Dana White called the contract “huge” after a recent event. The 25-year-old becomes the first fighter to sign a global agreement with a company like Nike, which will launch a worldwide clothing line for the champion and provide him with all his gear.

Jones’ swoosh makes its octagon debut Sept. 1 at the Mandalay Bay Events Center when he fights Dan Henderson in the main event of UFC 151.

“There’s going to be like uniforms,” Jones described. “I think there will be a different outfit for the weigh-in. There’s going to be a shoe and hats and shirts and jumpsuits and all that for my corner and me. There will be an official, well put-together uniform.”

So much discussion has been devoted to what Jones’ sponsorship means for the future of MMA, it’s almost as if everyone has forgotten about Henderson.

The 41-year-old is on a four-fight winning tear — including a unanimous-decision victory over Mauricio “Shogun” Rua in arguably the best fight in UFC history — leading into the showdown with Jones.

Henderson’s name is thrown around in discussions as one of the greatest of all time as he’s captured a PRIDE championship, Strikeforce championship and UFC tournament championship. Holding a UFC belt literally marks the final accomplishment left for Henderson to conquer.

“I think Jon Jones has improved more than anyone I’ve seen in the last two or three years,” Henderson said. “And he’s going to continue to improve and get tougher to beat as he gets more experienced in the sport. He’s definitely going to be right up there with the top of the guys I’ve fought.”

Check below for the rest of the fights scheduled for UFC 151 next week.

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Jay Hieron trains Saturday, July 30, 2011.

Welterweight bout: Jake Ellenberger (27-6 MMA, 6-2 UFC) vs. Jay Hieron (23-5 MMA, 0-2 UFC) Hieron, a local who trains at Xtreme Couture, returns to the octagon for the first time in seven years after taking this bout on short notice. He holds a win over Ellenberger from 2006 at an International Fight League event.

Featherweight bout: Dennis Siver (20-8 MMA, 9-5 UFC) vs. Eddie Yagin (16-5-1 MMA, 1-1 UFC) Both of these 145-pound hopefuls pulled off decision upsets in their last fights. Yagin beat Mark Hominick by split decision at UFC 145, and Siver defeated Diego Nunes unanimously at UFC on FUEL TV 2.

Lightweight bout: Dennis Hallman (51-14-2 MMA, 4-5 UFC) vs. Thiago Tavares (21-4-1 MMA, 7-4-1 UFC) Two veterans of the sport meet here, as Hallman fights for the first time in 2012 to make it 16 straight years with at least one professional bout. Tavares, meanwhile, is approaching a decade as a mixed martial artist.

Flyweight bout: John Lineker (19-6 MMA, 0-1 UFC) vs. Yasuhiro Urushitani (19-5-6 MMA, 0-1 UFC) These speedy, exciting fighters represent two of MMA’s most prolific countries — Brazil and Japan.

Lightweight bout: Michael Johnson (11-6 MMA, 3-2 UFC) vs. Danny Castillo (13-4 MMA, 4-1 UFC) Johnson and Castillo extended winning streaks on the same night at UFC on FOX 3 in May, beating Tony Ferguson and John Cholish, respectively.

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Takeya Mizugaki enters the Pearl showroom for his bout against Urijah Faber at WEC 52 Thursday, November 11, 2010 at the Palms. Faber won by submission.

Bantamweight bout: Takeya Mizugaki (15-7-2 MMA, 2-2 UFC) vs. Jeff Hougland (10-5 MMA, 1-1 UFC) Mizugaki has alternated wins and losses in all nine fights since coming to America in 2009. He’s coming off of a loss to Chris Cariaso at UFC 144.

Lightweight bout: Tim Means (18-3-1 MMA, 2-0 UFC) vs. Abel Trujillo (9-4 MMA, 0-0 UFC) Means spent time in prison before dedicating himself to MMA and has now gone unbeaten in his last 11 fights.

Lightweight bout: Daron Cruickshank (11-2 MMA, 1-0 UFC) vs. Henry Martinez (9-2 MMA, 1-1 UFC) Martinez would prefer to grapple, while Cruickshank will look to strike.

Lightweight bout: Shane Roller (11-5 MMA, 2-3 UFC) vs. Jacob Volkmann (14-3 MMA, 5-3 UFC) Four of Volkmann’s last five fights have now taken place in Las Vegas. Roller, who like Volkmann is a wrestler, used to train here before moving back to Dallas.

Welterweight bout: Kyle Noke (19-6-1 MMA, 3-2 UFC) vs. Charlie Brenneman (15-3 MMA, 4-3 UFC) Former prospects look to get back on track, as Noke has dropped two straight fights and Brenneman has gotten stopped in two of his last three.

Case Keefer can be reached at 948-2790 or [email protected]. Follow Case on Twitter at twitter.com/casekeefer.

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