When the UFC president Dana White announced the UFC would make its network debut on FOX in the USA on November 12th, 2011, many insiders in the sport said it was a pivotal point in the sports history. It marks the UFC’s debut on American network television, opening the sports biggest promotion up to a whole host of potential new fans. White is taking no chances with what could launch the UFC into the hearts of millions of new fans, and on the 2nd September, he announced that the show would be headlined by the UFC Heavyweight Title fight between Junior Dos Santos and the reigning Champion, Cain Velasquez.
Velasquez is one of the sports rising new stars, and won the title in October 2010 by destroying Brock Lesnar. He holds an undefeated record of 9-0-0, and has blasted his way to the top of the division in spectacular fashion. He is truly one of MMA’s new breed; young, exciting and extremely talented. His opponent on the 12th November is Brazilian fighter, Junior Dos Santos. The 6’4″ heavyweight is undefeated in his seven UFC fights and holds an equally impressive record of 13-1-0. He has also blasted his way through his opponents in the UFC, and the fight between these two powerhouses promises to be anything but boring. Expect fireworks, expect punches, expect kicks, and I really wouldn’t expect this to go the full five rounds.
All this is a massive reason why White chose this fight to headline the Fox event in the first place. MMA fans love striking battles, and this fight has the potential to be seriously explosive. If the UFC want to attract new faces to the sport, possibly fans of Boxing or Wrestling, then a five round grapple-fest might not be the best way to do it. Seeing two 6 foot plus fighters slugging it out is a nailed on way to sway the partial fan into maybe parting with some pay-per-view dollars in the future. Lets not mince words here, the main reason the UFC is giving away the UFC Heavyweight title fight for free is for one reason, attracting future PPV buys. That’s why the mainstream TV deal is so important for the sport. The chance to expand the fan base even more than before, and launch the sport into the realms of other major league sports leagues in the USA.
Whoever wins the fight on the 12th November, and my money is on Junior Dos Santos, they will not only become the UFC’s Heavyweight Champion, they will also become one of the sports biggest stars. That’s what the Fox deal is all about. Making stars of the fighters, making the mainstream public care about these fighters as much as your Le Bron James, your Floyd Mayweather or your Tom Brady. That’s the way the sport will grow, by getting their faces on commercials, advertisements and sponsor deals. Speaking of commercials, the UFC announced during their press conference on the 20th September that all the commercials during the event on Fox had been sold, yet another massive pointer that the sport has gained more credibility due to this deal.
So the pressure is on. It’s on the UFC to produce a stellar event in the first event of its seven-year deal with Fox; It’s on the undercard fighters to produce career performances which could possibly give them a massive step up the UFC ladder; And it’s certainly on the two main event fighters, taking part in the UFC’s most important fight ever. Being a UFC fan for around five years, I have no doubt that the sport will take its place amongst the other major sports leagues. I even believe it will replace Boxing as the biggest combat sport, but whether this event will be the one to launch it into the stratosphere, only time will tell. But all signs certainly point towards blast off for the UFC and the sport of Mixed Martial Arts.