It hasn't been a memorable couple of years for the UFC.
Since the Fox Era started and there's been a card every other week, pay-per-view numbers have levelled off, quality of shows has often suffered, injuries have been more frequent and fans have grown frustrated with the product.
Sure, if you bring it up with Dana White you're going to be the nail to his verbal hammer pretty quick. It's real talk but not the type he's interested in hearing when his whole livelihood is trying to sell fight cards.
But the end of 2013 might very well stand as the turning point for the promotion, the end of a dark age that started well over a year ago.
Coming off a Fox main event that many are lauding as a breakthrough for flyweight champion Demetrious Johnson and the Chris Weidman upset only a few weeks earlier, the promotion is primed to ride some good vibes through the end of the year.
UFC 163 happens this weekend and pits Jose Aldo against Chan Sung Jung, a fighter tailor made to make Aldo look good with his plodding style and willingness to absorb punishment.
UFC 164 comes less than a month later, headlined by Benson Henderson defending against nemesis Anthony Pettis just up the road from Pettis' house. The last time they met was for the WEC lightweight title, and it ended with this little bad boy. Yes, the rematch should be good.
From there, events headlined by Jon Jones, Cain Velasquez and Georges St-Pierre see the promotion roll through a stretch that hasn't existed for them on paper since 2011.
Those are three big draws defending their title on consecutive cards, something the UFC just cannot offer anymore with its product so severely watered down. Velasquez and St-Pierre in particular could do big numbers, as Velasquez completes his trilogy with Junior dos Santos on a deep card, and GSP's fight will headline the promotion's 20th Anniversary show.
After all that, the year will end with Weidman defending his recently poached middleweight title against Anderson Silva in the rematch to end all rematches. Whether or not it truly is the biggest rematch in UFC history (it's not) is irrelevant, because it's the biggest one of the year, and it will be supported by the star power of Ronda Rousey in her own rematch with Miesha Tate. If there's ever going to be a 1,000,000-buy pay-per-view again for the UFC, that one could be it.
And all of this is to say nothing of the Fox influence on things.
The UFC will be on the big network one more time before the calendar changes and will also be on Fox Sports 1 several times. Names like Sonnen, Shogun, Overeem, Condit, Kampmann, Cerrone, Teixeira and Bader have all been booked for those bi-weekly events already, so it looks like a pretty consistent level of talent will be showcased there.
The bottom line is that the UFC has a chance to get on a run here, a run the likes of which fans haven't seen in a very long time. People want to see proven names in big fights, and that's basically all that you'll see on the UFC calendar for the next five months.
It's been too long since that's been the case, and now that it finally is again, it's clear how big it could be for them.
Like the new article format? Send us feedback!