Wednesday, 17 July 2013

A Blockbuster End of the Year for the UFC

The UFC has finalized its schedule for the remainder of 2013 and, should the injury bug stay away, it promises to be an impressively prolific spell. 

From now until the end of the year, all nine of the UFC's active champions will defend their belts. This remarkable period of MMA will begin at UFC on Fox 8 on July 27 with Demetrious Johnson vs. John Moraga and climax at UFC 168 on Dec. 28 when Anderson Silva rematches Chris Weidman. Two of the events in this time, UFC 165 and UFC 168, will even feature two title fights, the only other event in UFC history to do so was UFC 100 in 2009. During this time, there will also be some very fine UFC on Fox Sports 1 events. Examples being, Chael Sonnen vs. Shogun Rua, Carlos Condit vs. Martin Kampmann and Michael Bisping vs. Mark Munoz.

Interestingly, Johnson vs. Moraga will be the only title bout to not headline a pay-per-view event, it will instead be shown on Fox. Johnson holds the reluctant honour of being the only champion in the UFC to have never headlined a pay-per-view event. It is, however, an understandable decision, the flyweight division is still relatively unknown and Johnson has little name recognition. At this point in his career he would struggle to carry a pay-per-view, appearances on Fox, with more viewers, should help boost his celebrity.

It has occurred purely by coincidence but as the year moves closer towards its end, the events ascend in both size and star power. Like a good opera, this period of events in the UFC appears to form a rising crescendo until it hits a peak and finishes with a big finale. 

Seven events from now until the end of the year will feature title fights. The first three of these will be headlined by title fights in three of the lighter weight classes, flyweight, featherweight and lightweight. First, it will be Demetrious Johnson vs. John Moraga at UFC on Fox 8 on July 27. Then, José Aldo vs. Jung Chan-Sung at UFC 163 on Aug. 3 and Benson Henderson vs. Anthony Pettis at UFC 164 on Aug. 31. 

The concluding four events will be headlined by light-heavyweight, heavyweight, welterweight and middleweight title bouts. In chronological order, these fights will be Jon Jones vs. Alexander Gustafsson and Renan Barao vs. Eddie Wineland at UFC 165 on Sept. 21, Cain Velasquez vs. Junior Dos Santos at UFC 166 on Oct. 19, Georges St-Pierre vs Johny Hendricks at UFC 167 on Nov. 16 and Chris Weidman vs. Anderson Silva and Ronda Rousey vs. Miesha Tate at UFC 168 on Dec. 28.

Historically, events headlined by the lighter fighters are not as financially and commercially successful as their heavier counterparts. So this crescendo begins with events headlined by three of the lighter champions, it then ascends onto the two heaviest and climaxes with events headlined by the two biggest pay-per-view stars in the sport. The final event of the year, UFC 168, the big finale, even has the possibility of being the biggest in UFC history. The rest of 2013 should be a blockbuster period for both the UFC and its fans.

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