What a week for the UFC! No I am not talking about UFC 138, which did have a couple of really good fights but was victim of the “shown on delay” curse that has hit every card from the UK. No, I am talking about the debut of “UFC on FOX” which will take place Saturday night at Honda Center in Anaheim, CA. It must be a big deal as Sirius/XM has asked me and Stephen Quadros to anchor a 3 hour countdown show from the venue. (We will be on from 5pm-8pm ET on Sirius 94/XM 208) OK, all kidding aside this is an amazing accomplishment for Dana White. It really wasn’t that long ago when people looked down their nose at MMA. You couldn’t find the fights on Pay-Per-View, much less network TV.
How wild was it to see promos during the NFL broadcast? I have to imagine White and his staff had to be pinching themselves as they heard NFL announcers promoting the fight between Junior Dos Santos and the current UFC heavyweight champ Cain Velasquez. When this fight was announced as the first fight on FOX, a lot of people (myself included) were surprised that a fight this big would be given away on free TV. In hindsight it was not only the right decision, it was a very smart decision.
You need a fight like this to catch the attention of people that have not yet become fans. There are plenty of fights that we die-hards would have watched happily, but I don’t know that casual fans would give up their Saturday night for anything less. The only thing keeping it from being a perfect promotion was the head-scratching decision to only televise the main event. Velasquez and Dos Santos has all the makings of a great fight, and will hopefully make the kind of impact FOX and the UFC are looking for.
There is no doubt in my mind that the co-main event between Clay Guida and Ben Henderson will be the kind of fight people are talking about two days later. Both guys have the crazy hair which would be talking points for first time fans, but they also have that reckless style that would keep fans on the edge of their seat for three rounds. I thought it was a great call to make this the co-main event, but to bury this fight on the Internet makes no sense.
Dana White said last week that even if the fight between Dos Santos and Velasquez ends in 10 seconds, it will still be the only fight shown on FOX. Why I have no idea, and as we have all learned of late what White says on Monday isn’t always the case on Friday. Still, a double bill of the lightweight elimination fight followed by the heavyweight fight is almost a perfect storm. How could new fans not become regular fans after seeing what these 4 guys at the top of their game deliver without spending a dollar? Maybe we will find out the reason why this week. It’s hard to get people to watch sporting events on their computer, especially events they are not sure if they are going to like. I feel bad for Henderson and Guida who had to have a bigger vision than Facebook when they agreed to the fight. How many people will see that fight? Like I said it makes you scratch your head but White and Silva’s have had a pretty good run going so I will give them the benefit of the doubt. Saturday night is going to be a huge night and I am really looking forward to being there, I just hope the fight matches the hype.