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The honeymoon is over.

When the UFC revealed the particulars of its new in-house drug-testing program at a press conference in June, the fight company enjoyed nearly unanimous approval.

It was an impressive show of force—a lineup of UFC executives flanked on stage by their new partners at the United States Anti-Doping Agency. Jeff Novitzky, the former government agent hired to be the fight company's drug czar, was there. USADA CEO Travis Tygart (pictured above) was there. Even American Olympic track and field legend Edwin Moses was there.

Together they laid out a hard-nosed array of policy reforms they said would turn up the heat on drug cheats.

“Our goal is to have the best anti-doping program in all of professional sport,” Novitzky said.

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We haven’t heard the last of John Dodson.

That was the message from Dodson and his camp last weekend in the immediate wake of his unanimous-decision loss to flyweight champion Demetrious Johnson at UFC 191. The 30-year-old Albuquerque, New Mexico, native known for his boundless energy and mammoth grin wasn’t about to hang his head.

"I'm going to make sure I can come back and come back stronger," Dodson said at the post-fight press conference. "If [UFC president Dana White] gives me the opportunity to beat up a whole bunch of people who seem worthy to fight Demetrious, I will do it. I will make sure that I can make another title run."

Dodson’s determination is admirable—especially since his second loss to Johnson left him in a most unenviable position for the top-ranked 125-pound contender.

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It’s way too early to start dreaming about how Conor McGregor might fare in the UFC lightweight division.

Not that anyone needs a reminder, but McGregor still has unfinished business in his natural weight class. His featherweight title unification bout against Jose Aldo remains on the books for UFC 194. After that, Frankie Edgar wants a piece, and Chad Mendes intends to show what he can do with a full training camp under his belt.

But a curious thing happened last Friday, as McGregor single-handedly seized control of the UFC’s gala “Go Big” press conference. (NSFW Language in video)

OK, fine, two curious things.

For starters—and for the first time since he showed up in the Octagon more than two years ago—the Conor McGregor Show started to feel a little played out.

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Even Andrei Arlovski knew there was no cause for celebration.

Moments after the judges confirmed his unanimous-decision win over Frank Mir on Saturday in the co-main event of UFC 191, Arlovski stood in the middle of the cage, shaking his head and apologizing.

“The crowd is right to boo me,” the 36-year-old Pit Bull told UFC color commentator Joe Rogan during his postfight interview. “I’m disappointed because I underestimated him. ... To be honest with you, I thought it was going to be an easy fight, but it wasn’t.”

Arlovski got that right.

This wasn’t an easy fight for anyone, including fans who sat through a mostly underwhelming pay-per-view card and hoped the two former heavyweight champions could provide the night’s only fireworks. Instead, Mir and Arlovski slogged to a tepid 15-minute decision that only squandered the momentum each had built up during recent career turnarounds.

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This one is for you, MMA hardcores.

In contrast to a few of its more ballyhooed recent efforts—UFC 189 and UFC 190, for example—Saturday night's UFC 191 isn't going to land anybody on Good Morning America. This will be a more intimate affair, featuring two small men fighting for an audience made up of the sport's most strident supporters.

Depending on how you look at it, you can call that glorious or you can call it the primary problem with Demetrious Johnson's near-three-year reign as flyweight champion. Johnson is great at fighting—maybe the pound-for-pound best in the world—but so far, much of MMA's fanbase has responded with a resounding yawn.

Challenger John Dodson has said he'll change all that. During the run-up to this fight—a rematch—he's promised he'll take the title from Johnson and put the 125-pound weight class on the map as destination viewing for everyone.

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"I am going to kick him repeatedly. He’s going to try to shoot, and when he shoots I’m going to stop his takedown, and I’m going to hit him more and more and more until somebody pulls me off of his lifeless corpse. I’m going to dribble his head off the canvas like it’s a basketball and I’m playing in the NBA Finals. I will walk through him and destroy his whole life, his whole meaning and purpose. I’ll be the man that he wishes he was. Everybody’s wondering what I’m going to do? It’s going to be murder, death, kill. I’m going to murder Demetrious Johnson inside the Octagon, kill the hope he once had and [it’ll be] the death of his title reign. That’s what it’s going to be when our fight comes up on September 5."

This is John Dodson talking.

This is what he says when I ask him how his fight with Demetrious Johnson at UFC 191 on Saturday will look if everything goes according to plan.

This is his idea of a best-case scenario.

It’s eight days before he’ll rematch Johnson for the UFC flyweight title, and at almost 5 p.m. on Friday afternoon Dodson says he’s “just out driving around” Las Vegas.

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There’s an interesting little subplot brewing around UFC 195.

The primary plot point of the UFC’s first event of 2016, of course, is one of betrayal.

We were originally told the fight card scheduled for Jan. 2 would host Ronda Rousey’s third meeting with Miesha Tate. Last week, however, the fight company decided to go back on that decision and book Rousey against undefeated former boxing champion Holly Holm instead.

It was the right move, but that didn’t soften the blow for Team Tate, which reportedly found out she'd been dropped at the same moment the rest of us did—when Rousey announced it to the world during an appearance on Good Morning America.

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Frankie Edgar has been trying to hustle himself a fight for a while now.

But Chad Mendes? Not sure anybody totally saw that one coming.

Sure, the UFC’s announcement on Tuesday that Edgar and Mendes will headline The Ultimate Fighter Season 22 finale on December 11 makes sense on a lot of levels.

Taking place just a day before Conor McGregor and Jose Aldo are scheduled to finally settle their featherweight title feud at UFC 194, this fight could act as a cable TV main event, a title eliminator and a backup plan all in one.

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Things are looking up.

After we spent much of 2014 worrying for the future of the UFC—or, at least, for its future on pay-per-view—business has been unexpectedly bullish so far this year.

With nine PPV events in the books and four left to go in 2015, estimates from MMA Fighting.com’s Dave Meltzer—compiled in one handy spot at MMA Payout—show the fight company has already surpassed its entire sales total for last year and could be on pace for its best calendar turn since 2010.

Credit the big buy-rate numbers posted by Ronda Rousey and Conor McGregor during three combined headlining appearances for much of the turnaround. More amazingly, the organization has managed to right the ship with arguably its best fighter on the shelf since January.

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So now we know.

December 12 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas. That will be the time and place for Conor McGregor and Jose Aldo to finally—knock on wood— settle the championship blood feud that has dominated the featherweight landscape and captivated fans since the UFC announced it in January.

This time, everybody just needs to stay healthy.

Did we already say “knock on wood”?