“You see what these two fight like and you can pretty guarantee the way this fight is going to go. I can tell you what’s not going to happen. It’s not going to be boring, there’s not going to be any stalemating, and this fight’s going to be an absolute war… Give me my entire roster of guys, make every one of them healthy, and this is still the fight I’d pick. This is the fight that I picked to put on network television, and it is important, and I picked this fight for a reason.”
— Dana White, via MMA Fighting, hyping UFC on FOX 1’s main event between Cain Velasquez and Junior dos Santos
From the get go, I thought this fight was a rather interesting choice to kick off the UFC’s big FOX deal. On one hand, Dana’s probably right about the fight being an “absolute war.” Cain Velasquez and Junior dos Santos rarely turn in a dull performance, if ever, and likely won’t in the most important fight of their respective careers. On the other, neither of them have the same kind of star power that say Kimbo Slice and Gina Carano had when they made their network television debuts. The UFC is surely hoping this fight will propel their drawing power to new heights, so it makes a lot of sense for them. But for FOX, they’re looking for ratings and I’m honestly concerned about Cain and JDS’ ability to deliver that. Furthermore, the fact that pay-per-view numbers and ratings are down quite a bit this year — neither UFC 136 or UFC 137 broke 300,000 — makes me wonder if the UFC’s brand power isn’t as strong as it’s been in recent years. I’m hoping they’ll be able to match or even beat Kimbo’s numbers on CBS (4.3m avg, 6.5m peak) and nail the demos, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they didn’t either. If it tanks, no, I don’t think FOX would bail, but I imagine they would ask for bigger names that move the needle when the real seven-year contract kicks off next year.
Image via CombatLifestyle.com