As Eric reported Monday, news has come out slowly over the weekend that the first UFC on FOX card will feature only two fights in a one-hour broadcast. I’m still not sure that this is the greatest of ideas by the UFC and by FOX, but it does say something about the new broadcast partners. The UFC has competed directly with boxing on a number of occasions, but this time however, the UFC will not go head to head with the Manny Pacquaio vs. Juan Manuel Marquez fight. I won’t talk too much about the pros and cons of this idea, instead, let’s focus on the fun stuff, playing fantasy match maker.
There has already been one bout announced for the contest. A featherweight bout pitting rising stars of the division against one another as Dustin “The Diamond” Poirier takes Pablo Garza. This fight is surely to be an intriguing, exciting contest, but is also sure to wind up on the preliminary card. With only one hour to fill on FOX, the UFC is surely going to be looking for big fights, with big name value and high potential for fireworks. With that in mind, let’s play fantasy match maker and take a look at some of the potential fights that could wind up on the card. I’ll examine the possibilities for both the opening contest and the main event, looking at the most realistic possibilities and moving into the most unlikely but fan friendly of scenarios.
[adinserter block=”2″]Let’s take a look at the opening contest first. The UFC has already said that this first show is going to be very quickly paced, moving quickly from fight-to-fight, without a lot of pre-fight and post-fight analysis. What that also means is that they will be expecting the fights to draw the viewers in and keep their attention throughout the whole hour. So let’s take a look at three possibilities for the opening bout of the main card.
Option #1: The opening bout needs to be exciting and fan-friendly, it should also provide a sense of intrigue for what’s on the line and should also add some name value to the card. What possible fight could the UFC make right now that provides all of those things? “Smooth” Ben Henderson vs. Clay “The Carpenter” Guida. Both men are known for their high-paced fighting styles. Guida is known for his crazy hair, high-pressure offense and unstoppable cardio. Guida is also currently riding a four-fight winning streak and has emerged as a top contender at 155-Pounds after his win over Anthony “Showtime” Pettis. Ben Henderson is coming off of a signature win with his three round domination of Jim Miller. Neither fighter is injured and neither has an upcoming fight booked. Both men have a claim as the number one contender, so let’s go ahead and let them scrap it out to decide. A number one contender’s bout provides a lot of intrigue to casual fans as it proves that there is something on the line.
One of the best parts about this fight is that it wouldn’t hurt any of their upcoming fight cards. This fight currently isn’t scheduled and neither are either of the fighters. Both are in need of fights and at least one, Guida, already has a legion of loyal fans who love him and who would flock to his fights, especially on free television.
Update: After this blog was published, MMAJunkie.com reports that both fighter’s managers have said that their fighters would be interested in fighting each other on the Fox special.
Option #2: Should the UFC decide to go a different direction, they could decide to postpone a fight from another card and move it into this slot. The November 12 date, means that there is likely three surrounding UFC events that they could pull from. UFC 137 on October 29, 138 on November 5 and 139 on November 19. One of their most intriguing options and one that is sure to provide a lot of name value to the FOX card is Carlos Condit vs. BJ Penn. Again this is a fight with serious title implications as a win by Condit would likely mean a title shot against Georges St. Pierre. With BJ Penn involved it obviously provides a lot of name value to both hardcore and casual fans. They would also benefit from the BJ Penn hype train, as BJ has shown the ability to sell fights in the past. Especially his series of fights with GSP and Frankie Edgar.
The potential problem for this fight is that it would be removing a solid co-main event fight from the UFC 137 PPV. 137 is already sure to be a ratings hit with a large number of PPV buys. GSP is one of the biggest draws in the sport and a Pay Per View fight against Nick Diaz, who can do a great job of selling fights himself, and is currently on a 10-Fight winning streak and will be trying to avenge the loss of his teammate Jake Shields. That fight is sure to do huge PPV numbers, the card is also anchored by a number of Heavyweight sluggers, who are likely to stand and bang for several rounds, providing enough intrigue to keep fans appeased.
Option #3: This final option might not provide the most intrigue among casual fans. However, it might hold a great deal of interest for the more hardcore fans of the sport. It would also be a rematch, which would give the UFC Marketing Machine an interesting angle to spin. Neither man currently has any bouts on the horizon and although they are in somewhat different places in this stage of their careers, they have both publicly stated their ambitions to fight only top contenders and big name fighters.
I’m talking about a potential Light Heavyweight bout between Rich “Ace” Franklin and Lyoto “The Dragon” Machida. The style match up is definitely what makes this bout appeal to fans, as both fighters are known for their stand up skills, and neither would likely be ready to take the fight to the mat. However, both are known counter-punchers, so with the potential of stalemates and lack of offensive action the UFC might be reluctant to book this one on a night that has to be a success.
Again this fight is not currently booked, nor is either fighter currently booked for an upcoming bout. The bout has very little impact on the immediate Light Heavyweight title picture, but nonetheless it is an intriguing rematch that several fans would be willing to get behind.
With the possibilities of an opening bout already discussed, let’s move along to the Main Event. Unfortunately I don’t think that the UFC has a whole lot of options for this one. I see only one true option for their first appearance on network television. That fight is a Heavyweight Title fight between Cain Velasquez and Junior dos Santos. That is the only real main event that makes sense. If there is one thing that casual fight fans love it is Heavyweights and it is title fights. Since the beginning of television, fans of combat sports have loved the big men, be it inside the squared-circle or inside the octagon, have loved to see the biggest men in sports go toe-to-toe. It also has the potential to be the Fight of the Night. Both men are known for the striking prowess, as well as their knockout power. Velasquez is known as the man who destroyed Brock Lesnar and took his title, while dos Santos is coming off of a destruction of Shane Carwin.
With the UFC 139 PPV only one week later, it wouldn’t really do much to either man’s training camps to move them up one week. However, this also opens up one more potential problem and that is what to do about UFC 139’s Main Event. The current co-main event is a Featherweight Number One Contender’s bout between Brian Bowles and Urijah Faber. That leaves a card with a Co-Main Event featuring a number one contender’s bout in a division that has not fared well in the ratings department. So what could the UFC fill that void with?
There are probably a lot of options for this kind of fight, but I’m going to suggest a fight that would probably actually do more PPV Buys than the current dos Santos/Velasquez fight. This is likely to be a bit more fantasy match-maker than anything, but hey we can dream right? How about Brock Lesnar vs. Alistair Overeem?
[adinserter block=”1″]The Zuffa vs. Overeem saga has taken a number of twists and turns, but with the most recent turn of events in their negotiation saga, it sounds like the UFC may be close to striking a deal with the former Strikeforce Heavyweight Champion. Overeem has already said that he wants to fight in the UFC and he wants an immediate title shot. I don’t think he should get an immediate title shot, but a win over Lesnar would give him legitimate claim to a UFC title shot. As for Lesnar, he just last week released a video that said he was back and cleared to resume training and wanted to get back to fighting. Dana White said that he anticipated a New Year’s Day return for Lesnar, but Lesnar is a company man and is a very big draw. If White and the UFC came calling to Lesnar to possibly speed up his return I believe that he would do so.
So what do you think? Would you like to see Lesnar take on Overeem? Do you want to see dos Santos vs. Velasquez for the Heavyweight title on free television? What would you do if you were the UFC?
Lee McGregor is a fan of all combat sports including both Boxing and Mixed Martial Arts. When not catching fights or watching hockey, he can be found as an Author and Editor at his own website MyManCave.ca
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