The first UFC show on Fox on November 12 wasn’t the first mixed martial arts event on U.S. network TV, but it was the first time some of the sport’s best athletes have had that level of exposure. Even though Cain Velasquez and Junior Dos Santos aren’t as famous as Georges St. Pierre and a few other fighters, they are the top two heavyweights in the world and the fight had the biggest U.S. audience ever for MMA (5.7 million), surpassing YouTube sensation Kimbo Slice‘s CBS debut. It was the most watched fight in America since 2003 when an overweight Lennox Lewis won his last fight, stopping Vitali Klitschko with terrible cuts around his left eye, to retain the title.
Velasquez-Dos Santos wasn’t a memorable fight – Dos Santos winning with a fast knockout. The Globe and Mail’s resident MMA-hater Bruce Dowbiggin wrote:
the main card tanked with headliner Cain Velasquez succumbing in just 64 seconds to challenger Junior Dos Santos
He tried to explain the decline of boxing and growth of the UFC:
(UFC President Dana) White’s media strategy began modestly enough with fight cards on cable networks such as Spike, The Score and Sportsnet. Unlike boxing, he didn’t hide his top tier of fighters, such as Georges St. Pierre and Anderson Silva, out of reach on pay per view. Their exploits were easily accessible.
It would be more interesting if he got his facts straight. All of GSP’s UFC fights have been pay-per-view (PPV) events. Anderson Silva has had only two fights on cable, his first UFC fight, when he was practically unknown in North America and later, a non-title fight scheduled to torpedo a rival promotion’s PPV. Until this heavyweight title fight on Fox, the UFC’s biggest fights have been on pay-per-view.
Less significantly, the UFC never had fights on The Score.
Dowbiggin finished sniping at the sport with:
Right. Resistance is futile. UFC is here to stay. Or, as our mother used to say, until somebody loses an eye.
Check out Barrett Hooper’s Fighting Words for a less negative review of Velasquez vs. Dos Santos and the UFC on Fox.
The next UFC on Fox will be a full 2 1/2 hour fight card at the end of January.