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Hard To Say If UFC On Fox Was A Success

November 14, 2011 Leave a comment Go to comments

After the kids went down to bed on Saturday night, I tuned into Fox to catch the UFC Heavyweight title fight between Cain Velasquez and Junior Dos Santos.  This was intended to be the UFC’s first big foray into the mainstream.  For years, they’ve been pretty much limited to pay-per-view events and their weekly “The Ultimate Fighter” reality competition show currently airing on Spike TV.  On Saturday, UFC got presented to a national audience.

I’m sure they hoped it would last a little longer than 64 seconds.

UFC President Dana White was reportedly very nervous heading into this event because he probably knew what was at stake.  This was the UFC’s big chance to expand their audience – to present their product to potentially millions of new viewers (millions of viewers that could turn into pay-per-view buyers).  Would they get to see a hard fought 5 round struggle full of fight strategy and submission attempts?

Nope.  What viewers saw was a one punch knockout that followed about a minute of what was essentially dancing around the octagon.  I doubt this made Dana White feel much better.

Make no mistake about it though, the rantings for the event were gonzo.  An estimated 5.7 million tuned in to watch the fight.  Fox is probably elated with the number but did it do much to draw in new fans?  I’m not so sure.

I think secretly Dana White can’t be too happy.  He probably wanted a long hard-fought battle that got people rooting for either Velasquez or Dos Santos (and Fox did a great job of telling the stories of these two fighters before the fight).  What they ultimately got was a “blink or you’ll miss it” moment and I really don’t think that’s going to compel the casual viewer to want to tune in again.

For its part, Fox did a great job putting the event together.  Everything was set to give it a major pay-per-view feel.  White was on top of his game but Brock Lesnar on commentary was horribly out of place.  He wasn’t comfortable in the speaking role and only seemed interested in promoting himself.

It was a fun event.  No doubt about it but I don’t think this was the fight that White would’ve chosen to put in front of new viewers.  Perhaps this will translate to a whole new group of pay-per-view buyers for UFC.  I just don’t think the first UFC on Fox did as much as it could to move the needle.

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