Would it be the UFC return of Dan Henderson? How about the UFC debut of Alistair Overeem? Maybe the best fighter in the world Anderson Silva could headline the card. I know, it’ll be the return of Brock Lesnar from his recent battle with diverticulitis.
Correct answer: None of the above.
It’s a fight that many figured would headline the UFC 139 event in San Jose, home of American Kickboxing Academy, where Velasquez trains at, but it’s the perfect fight to kick off the partnership between UFC and FOX.
The general public loves the heavyweights. People remember the days of Muhammad Ali, George Foreman, and Mike Tyson and they want those days to come back. Fans have been clamoring for a superstar heavyweight in boxing for years now, but it’s not happening because Wladimir Klitschko and Vitali Klitschko are boring heavyweights who don’t get to show their personality. Not even walking hand in hand with Hayden Panettiere could help endear Wladimir to the masses. It also doesn’t help them that the heavyweight division in boxing is weak and so they’re beating up mediocre competition.
Velasquez and dos Santos are exciting and the two best heavyweights in the world. They’re evenly matched and the winner will be the undisputed best heavyweight in the sport. The fans who want a heavyweight hero, will get one when Velasquez and dos Santos square off in November. Now, is this fight Ali vs. Foreman like one FOX executive claims? No, because Ali and Foreman were well-established fighters while Velasquez and dos Santos are still young in a young sport.
Don’t worry about Cain and Junior not being well known to the public, like say, Tito Ortiz and Rich Franklin. That won’t matter come November 12. UFC will be running a one hour primetime special a few weeks before the event, which will help established the name of both men and show just how hard they’re training for this fight. Not only that, but FOX is going to advertise the hell out of this event during the NFL season and the MLB playoffs. Finally, it’s the first UFC on FOX event. People are going to tune in out of intrigue, especially with the heavyweight title on the line.
This fight builds towards the future, which is really the big thing. Velasquez and dos Santos are going to be players in the UFC heavyweight division for years to come. More eyeballs than ever are going to be on these two men and their names are going to be etched into the minds of fans for as long as they’re competing. Of course, that could be a bad thing if the fight doesn’t deliver, but I have very little doubt that these two won’t deliver a very entertaining fight.
Now people are going to complain about only getting one fight, but I believe this was another smart move by UFC. Lets just say that this fight goes 25-minutes. With a pre-fight video package and the walk ins, which I hope they show because that helps build the moment of the fight, the introductions, and the post-fight interviews, this whole thing does have the potential to go one hour. UFC doesn’t want to go over that one-hour limit. They’re not like Strikeforce, a company that put three title fights on a two hour CBS show, knowing that if all three went 25-minutes, they would go over their time allotted. UFC knows how to manage their time and plan for the worst. UFC wants to be off the air at the top of the hour in order to keep affiliates happy given that this is their first show on the network. Plus, UFC actually shows preliminary fights if they have time left over, so if the heavyweight title fight only goes two minutes, fans won’t be cheated out of more action.
One issue with this fight being on FOX though, is that it leaves the UFC 139 event in San Jose without a main event. That’s kind of a big deal, considering that UFC should be using the FOX event to build the UFC 139 PPV, which takes place the next week. If UFC can get a big fight on that PPV, they can add some extra buys from the FOX audience.
UFC could have left Velasquez vs. dos Santos on the San Jose show and used FOX to promote the event, but they wanted more eyeballs on that fight. Again, that’s a fight that builds the future of the promotion. Even though UFC is still a PPV company, they also recognize how big of an opportunity it is to be on FOX and how it’s smarter to use two guys who will be in the company, and in title contention, for years to come, instead of two guys at the end of their career who may never challenge for a title again.
If you’re complaining about a title fight on network television between the two best heavyweights in the world and the present and future of the division, you are wrong, correct yourself.