A UFC on FOX 1 media conference call and pre-fight press conference was held earlier today in anticipation of the UFC’s big network television debut this Saturday on FOX. There was plenty of news and notes coming out of the press events. We got a rundown below along with Ariel Helwani’s interview with Dana White.
— First and foremost, Dana White revealed today that he has been such a nervous wreck over this show he hasn’t slept in four days.
“I’m a mess over this thing; I’m a mess,” White said. “I’m telling you guys. I’m not trying to play it cool or whatever. But I’m a [expletive] wreck. I’m a wreck. I haven’t slept in four days. I feel weird.
“I can’t wait for Saturday to be over with. I just want to get it over with. I want to nail this thing, I want to do it right, and I want to move forward. I just want to get this first one under my belt.”
“The only thing that I care about right now is this fight,” he said. “Seriously, when I tell you guys this I couldn’t be more serious or more literal – I am not thinking of anything, nothing. I don’t care about anything with my business – anything on this planet, anything right now – except the fight getting pulled off.”
There’s no doubt Cain Velasquez is a big fight, but Dana White even went as far to say it’s “the biggest fight in UFC history.”
— The UFC of course has a lot riding on the success of this event. They claim they’re losing money on the show — Lorenzo Fertitta estimates as much as $16 million — but if it pulls good ratings, it would be a great start to what UFC brass sees as a long-term investment in the future growth of their business. If not, who knows what would happen, but it definitely wouldn’t be a good sign.
If you ask Dana White what a good rating would be, you won’t get much of an answer.
“On network television, I’m not an expert,” he said. “I don’t know what they consider bad. Saturday nights aren’t traditionally a big night for television, either network or cable. … (FOX Sports chairman and CEO) David Hill today told me it’s a jinx to talk about it. So I’m not going to talk about it. I just want to put up a good number. That’s the answer I’m supposed to give.”
Dana White may be playing dumb, but word is they’re hoping to best EliteXC’s CBS record with Kimbo Slice and James Thompson which averaged 4.3 million and peaked with 6.5 million viewers.
— The UFC confirmed today that all live fights will air on TV in one way, shape or form starting next year.
“When this deal starts in January, every live fight, no matter what it is, all goes to Fox,” said White. “Some are going to FX and some are going to Fuel. It’s going to depend, but every live fight will be on a Fox platform.”
The early prelims that we’ve grown accustomed to seeing on Facebook will air on FUEL TV while the Spike TV prelim specials will air on FX. FUEL TV is also expected to broadcast the preliminary cards for FX and FOX shows.
Additionally, FUEL TV will broadcast 2,000 hours of UFC programming which will include overseas events not on pay-per-view, weigh-in specials, international versions of TUF, “Countdown” and “Primetime” specials and other shoulder programming in 2012.
“Twenty-five percent of our programming will be devoted to the UFC. We’re going to have north of 2,000 hours,” said Greenberg. “At the end of the day, this is an introduction to a new sport that has absolutely been put on the map in the last 10 years.”
Unfortunately, only 26 million people currently get FUEL TV. FOX is surely banking on the UFC to help build that network like they did with Spike considering they’re devoting 25% of their programming schedule to the UFC.
— The UFC plans to heavily promote the upcoming Brock Lesnar vs. Alistair Overeem heavyweight number one contender’s bout this weekend. Instead of hosting a Q&A session like they usually do, they’re holding a special pre-fight press conference with Lesnar and Overeem before the weigh-ins. Both fighters will also be in attendance and Lesnar will even serve as an analyst on the FOX broadcast.
“This is focused on the heavyweights and the heavyweight championship fight on Saturday night between Cain Velasquez and Junior dos Santos,” said White. “We’re going to be talking about Alistair Overeem and Brock Lesnar. Overeem will be there, and Brock Lesnar is actually going to be one of the analysts on the show, breaking down the fight. He [defended the title] against Cain Velasquez, and he was supposed to fight Junior dos Santos, so his opinion is interesting.”
Dana White and Lorenzo Fertitta have called this show a big UFC commercial from the very start. It looks like they’re going to take full advantage of that.
— Conference call audio below via MMA Weekly