Columnist: Pat Nicoloff
Not many more hours until UFC hits prime time network TV. Will the sports finally step into the national consciousness in the realm of boxing? The quality of the fight and the style of the presentation may go a long way in answering that question. It is clearly the design of the UFC/FOX deal, as the UFC has decided to pass up pay-per-view dollars with sights set on more long term revenue. It’s a sensible approach. There are still questions though.
Did the UFC choose the right fight? Anderson Silva would be my choice as the headlining fighter I’d present to many first-time watchers. Velasquez is a sensible second choice. Heavyweights are always crowd friendly and they’re much less likely to put on a tactician’s fight that would bore a new audience. And Dos Santos isn’t there for dancing.
The problem I see coming is that this is the only fight. They’re on the air for one hour and they’ve got a fight that may last 45 seconds. Hell, the betting line would probably be inside of two rounds. I really don’t know why the UFC and FOX decided to ignore the rest of the fight card. Maybe they’ll at least use them as filler if the fight goes short. More likely, they’ll just hype the hell out of the fight like it’s the biggest the sport has seen, then just leave the fight 20 minutes or so.
Maybe that’s all the new fan needs: a spectacular, Mike Tyson-esque, pants duster. That may get them hooked. Then again, it may look two much like boxing to convert many newcomers. I think, ideally, Dana and company would hope for a little bit of everything with jiu-jitsu, muay thai, and wrestling all in the mix. There’s a good chance for none of it and something more closely resembling a street fight. I guess it’s a sensible risk. If you can’t have it all, you might as well have fireworks. That much is nearly guaranteed.