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UFC on FOX 1 Post-Fight News & Notes: 4.64 Million Viewers, Heavyweight Knee Injuries, Edgar vs. Henderson at UFC 144 in Japan

A rundown of post-fight news and notes coming out of UFC on FOX 1…

14,019 UFC fans filled the Honda Center for a $1.1 million live gate.

— Junior dos Santos earned an extra $65,000 for knocking out Cain Velasquez in the UFC’s network television debut. Ricardo Lama picked up the submission bonus for choking out Cub Swanson with an arm-triangle. Fight of the Night honors went to Ben Henderson and Clay Guida for their thrilling three-round war.

— The ratings are in… According to the fast national numbers (not the final numbers) TVbytheNumbers.com is reporting, the UFC on FOX 1 broadcast drew 4.64 million viewers and a 2.4/7 share in the adults 18-49 demo. For it’s timeslot, it placed second in the demo, one tenth behind the Stanford vs. Oregon football game and third in overall viewers. Both the game (7.11m) and a repeat of NCIS (5.5m) garnered more viewers. The episode of COPS that immediately preceded the UFC broadcast on FOX also drew more viewers (4.81).

EliteXC’s debut on CBS with Gina Carano and Kimbo Slice also edged it out in average viewers (4.81m), but the UFC did beat it’s 2.2/7 in the 18-49 demo by a couple tenths.

It’s also worth noting that the UFC’s 4.64 is not the final number and is expected to rise when the final ratings come out tomorrow, so there’s a good possibility it will end up beating EliteXC in average viewers. What it probably won’t beat it however is Kimbo Slice’s taped fight with Roy Nelson in the third episode of TUF 10 on Spike TV. That one-hour episode drew 5.3 million viewers and peaked at 6.1 million.

— I’m certainly no expert on ratings, but to me this seems like fairly decent results (though a little depressing that a TUF episode with Kimbo on a cable channel beat it). Not exactly bad, but not all that great either and probably not what FOX was hoping for. The belief is the UFC would have added more viewers throughout the fight if it had actually gone several rounds or they would have aired the Ben Henderson vs. Clay Guida fight, but it never built the audience because there was only one minute of fighting in the entire 60-minute broadcast. In hindsight, they definitely should have aired the Henderson-Guida fight, but don’t tell Dana White that.

“For anybody to bitch about this fight, and they didn’t get to see this fight…shut up,” White said following UFC on FOX, which took place at Honda Center in Anaheim, Calif.

“Our deal doesn’t start until January,” White said. “So this fight here, was what these guys wanted to kick this thing off as a welcome the UFC to FOX fight. This fight wasn’t part of the deal. The deal is for seven years, so many fights on FOX.

“After we signed the deal, FOX said, ‘Why don’t we do this? Why don’t we do a fight right away? Let’s put a great fight on TV and let everybody know about the partnership.”

“You should have bought tickets, then, if you want to see all the fights and you don’t want to watch it on Facebook,” he said. “Seriously, shut up. I don’t even want to hear it.”

It was believed that it was actually FOX’s call to only air the Velasquez-JDS fight, however Fox Sports head honcho David Hill made some interesting comments after the show that seem to suggest otherwise.

“It absolutely delivered everything I hoped it would,” Hill told ESPN.com. “I spoke to Dana and maybe, tactically, Dana didn’t play it the right way. But this is what you get in this sport. This is world heavyweight champion action.”

“I once bought a night of boxing from legendary promoter Don King,” Hill said. “There were three bouts on that card and do you know how much boxing I got? Forty-seven seconds. I’ve been covering fights forever. It comes with the territory.

“If it had gone five rounds tonight, people would have gone, ‘It went so long, it was boring.’ This is genuine. This is real. It’s this generation’s boxing.”

Lorenzo Fertitta was also expecting the decision to hurt the ratings, but still sees the show as a success.

“You always want a fight that’s going to be decisive and we certainly had that,” UFC co-owner Lorenzo Fertitta told ESPN.com.

“From a ratings perspective, it will probably affect it in a negative way. People tune in to watch the fight and once it’s over, you tend to leave the channel. But overall, I think it’s going to be a success.”

It could have been better, sure, but this event was more or less an experiment that the UFC and FOX can learn from. They mentioned on the conference call last week that they’re targeting 90-minute events for future FOX shows, which would give them time to air three fights. I expect they will get better results with that format assuming they book the right fights.

— As for the actual fight, holy smokes, JDS absolutely clobbered Velasquez with that overhand right. Junior explained after the fight that he wanted to end it early because he actually tore his meniscus in his knee 11 days before the fight.

“I was feeling a little in my knee,” dos Santos said. “I wouldn’t like to fight five rounds with Cain. It was a big advantage for him because he’s got really good stamina. So that was a different pressure on me. I think I felt good in the fight, but I was feeling a lot of pressure.”

It was serious enough that JDS nearly pulled out of the fight beforehand, but his team convinced him he could handle it. While that decision turned out to be the right one, the bad news is it’s going to require surgery.

“I got a very serious injury in my knee, my meniscus,” said the new champion. “You know, ten days ago I couldn’t walk very well. I stayed two days with [crutches], but I asked my doctor to help me because it’s the fight of my life and I can’t miss that fight.”

That doctor, Fabio Costa, told MMAFighting.com’s Ariel Helwani that dos Santos has a large lesion on his meniscus that will require surgery to fix, and which nearly forced him out of the bout entirely.

“Ten minutes before the fight he told us, ‘My knee, I have something in my knee.’ [We] said, ‘Calm down. You are a tough guy. You are our warrior. You can go.’ Now he’s the champion.”

It turns out JDS wasn’t the only one with a knee injury heading into the fight though. Velasquez downplayed rumors that he had also suffered a serious knee injury that nearly forced him out, however Joe Rogan told Ariel Helwani after the fight that he had to have his knee shot up with cortisone too. Transcription via Fight Opinion:

Joe Rogan: “The main event was really a perfect result for Junior dos Santos, exactly what he wanted to do — connect, land, hurt him bad, and finish him off. That’s what his game plan was, that’s what he did. I was surprised that Cain Velasquez didn’t try to either take him down or force him immediately into some sort of a grappling contest, force him to work hard and tire him out but… you know, who knows what the game plan was. There was a lot of rumblings about Cain Velasquez having a knee sprain, that he got shot with cortisone before the fight, so… who knows if that played a part in it, you know?”

Ariel Helwani: “Everyone in Cain’s camp was denying that but I’m wondering if you found out any more information, if that was in fact true.”

Joe Rogan: “Oh, it is true, yeah, it is true. Yeah, I mean, I’m sure they denied it before the fight but I know for a fact it was true.”

Dana White was critical of Velasquez’s decision to stand with JDS instead of immediately putting pressure on him with his wrestling, however as Rogan suggested, perhaps Velasquez wasn’t able to shoot like he normally does with a banged up knee.

Looking forward, Brock Lesnar and Alistair Overeem will fight on Dec. 30 to determine JDS’ first challenger. I’m not gonna lie, I really hope Overeem wins that one because I really want to see the two best strikers in the heavyweight division square off next year. Whoever wins, let’s just hope that JDS’ knee surgery doesn’t keep him out and delay the next heavyweight title fight for too long.

— As reported the other day, Frankie Edgar will defend his title next at UFC 144 in Japan and his opponent will be the winner of last night’s pivotal lightweight match-up — Ben Henderson. Dana White confirmed the news following the event.

Henderson told reporters that he plans on putting on as much weight as possible to get an advantage over the relatively small champion.

“I’m sure [Edgar] is used to it, but it’s definitely something I do want to take advantage of: my size. I want to get as big as possible, bulk up a little bit and do a good job of cutting weight, re-hydrating – do a very scientific job of that to be as big as possible, size-wise, shape-wise, to my advantage.”

It’s funny how things turn out. Think back to the WEC’s very last fight late last year. It was a WEC lightweight title fight between then champion Ben Henderson and rising star Anthony Pettis and a UFC lightweight title shot was on the line. Pettis pulled off the most amazing kick we’ve ever seen in the history of the sport in the final minutes of that fight, earned the decision and the title shot, but never got it because Edgar and Maynard fought to a draw and Pettis ended up losing to Clay Guida. Now here we are nearly a year later, and it’s Henderson who’s fighting for the title before Pettis. This sport is nothing if not crazy and unpredictable.

Image via Esther Lin for MMA Fighting

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