One of the biggest issues that fans had with Fuel TV cards prior to UFC on Fuel TV 8 in Saitama, Japan was that many fans couldn’t even get the channel. That all came to an end in February 2013: Zuffa and Comcast came to an agreement to air Fuel TV to over 22 million Xfinity TV customers. As a result, Fox has clearly put pressure on the UFC to start putting significant cards on their Fuel TV channel.
Since last year, the UFC’s programming has played a big part in growing Fuel TV’s viewership by more than 100 percent. At the same time, there was almost no original programming on Fuel TV before the UFC, so the growth has to be taken in context. Either way, it seems to be clear that this weekend’s card is the best Fuel TV card ever and that is a direct result of Fox’s pressure on the UFC to produce even more ratings for Fuel TV.
Past cards have been dismal at best. Chan-Sung Jung and Dustin Poirier, two fighters with almost no name value to the casual fan, headlined a Fuel TV card in May of 2012. The co-headliner of this bout, Stefan Struve, was in the main event of a Fuel TV card with Stipe Miocic. Other than the first Fuel TV card that featured Diego Sanchez and Jake Ellenberger, it is clear that top to bottom, UFC on Fuel TV 8 is the most powerful Fuel TV card to date.
We have Wanderlei Silva: the aging legend who is trying to regain his past glory. We have Mark Hunt and Stefan Struve in a fight that can’t be boring. We have former contender Diego Sanchez taking on the surging veteran in Takanori Gomi. And finally, we have two contenders tying to work their way to a title shot with Siyar Bahadurzada and Dong Hyun-Kim.
Compare this card with UFC on Fuel 6 that featured Rich Franklin, Cung, Le, and Stanislav Nedkov in the two main bouts and you’ll see the difference. Fans wanted better fights on free TV. On March 2, that is exactly what that will get.
Is this the best Fuel TV card? Get at me @samgenovese on Twitter.