With another night of fistfights in the jungle heat of Brazil behind us, the UFC is rolling into the biggest stretch of events in years.
In September 2013, we saw Jon Jones and Alexander Gustafsson put on the Fight of the Year, but names like Cain Velasquez, Junior dos Santos, Georges St-Pierre, Ronda Rousey and Anderson Silva still have pay-per-view fights scheduled before the end of the year.
That's to say nothing of the bouts that are occurring on free television before year's end: Anthony Pettis, Carlos Condit, Vitor Belfort, Dan Henderson and Lyoto Machida are all fixing to get some exposure to the non-paying public.
It's definitely a good time to be a fan of mixed martial arts. There probably hasn't been a better time to be a fan, actually.
The UFC is getting it right.
But make no mistake: 2013 hasn't been the picture of stability and consistency that the final quarter would have you believe it was.
Before Velasquez and St-Pierre defend their belts on upcoming back-to-back pay-per-views, there was St-Pierre's predictably one-sided thrashing of Nick Diaz at UFC 158 in March, and Velasquez routed Antonio Silva in May because no one else was available.
Before the UFC 168 championship double bill in December, we had UFC 161 in June, which was ravaged by injuries and headlined by a middling light heavyweight matchup between Rashad Evans and Dan Henderson that left a stink in Winnipeg so bad it might still be lingering.
Before stars like Pettis and Condit show up on free television to give the world a pre-holiday December adrenaline fix, there was UFC 163, a $50 purchase on par with parachute pants in terms of regret.
2013 has looked better by comparison simply because it hasn't been as bad as 2012, which was by far the worst year in the modern history of the UFC. While injuries were the norm last year, they've largely been the exception this year. Matchmaking has held when fights have been scheduled, which has made a huge difference.
Then, when the promotion comes in hot with five straight pay-per-view events being headlined by marquee title fights (that is to say, 155 pounds and above) and the time in between is filled with intriguing free TV events, it stacks things that much more.
But it hasn't been perfect. There have been hiccups and nights that haven't been worth the money or the time. Nights that were outright avoided because a man can only find so much energy to devote to The Ultimate Fighter: Brazil 2 cast members on his own time.
That's not a criticism, either. Nothing is perfect, most certainly not a sport founded on the idea of experts in unarmed combat trying to separate each other from their senses as violently as possible.
It's more of an observation and maybe a cautionary note: Don't let the end of 2013 make you forget about the bad nights or think that you'll never have to go without an incredible title-fight main event again.
Things can change on a dime in this sport. It's how things got so bad last year, and it's the same principle that has allowed things to be so good right now.
The UFC has been feast or famine in 2013, and that may be indicative of a trend. We're eating well today, but understand that the gruel of irrelevant headliners and last-minute injury replacements is always bubbling on the stove, only a scoop away from our plates.
Eat up while you're getting the good stuff.
Like the new article format? Send us feedback!