UFC on Fox: What the Media Is Saying
Saturday night's mixed martial arts (MMA) fight between heavyweights Cain Velasquez and Brazilian Junior Dos Santos was the first Ultimate Fighting Championship bout ever to air on a broadcast network in primetime. The fight aired on Fox and took place at the Honda Center in Anaheim, Calif.
The bout lasted a little over a minute, with Dos Santos knocking Velasquez to the ground with a punch to the temple and a beat down that followed until the referee stopped the fight.
Reaction to the broadcast ranged from the humorous to the general consensus that Fox has a winner with the franchise.
Book of Basketball author Bill Simmons tweeted: "UFC loses its network virginity to Fox and it's over in under 90 seconds. Just like real life!"
Jonathan Snowden of the MMA Nation website wrote, "The sole fight of the night on Fox, it delivered a magical moment. Unfortunately, it was a singular one. The crowd was amped, ready to be part of history. Instead, they were part of a mere minute of fight action. Despite the paucity of in cage work, the promotion's network debut has to be considered a conditional success. There were no major gaffes. The fight failed to deliver a classic, but wasn't boring either. The pre-taped introductions of both fighters were the best in UFC history."
The San Francisco Chronicle's Peter Hartlaub mused, "No mercy, indeed. The heavyweight Junior Dos Santos/Cain Velasquez fight ends with Dos Santos knocking out Velasquez after just over a minute in the first round. I would say that was the second-worst case scenario with UFC’s historic first fight on network TV. (Worst case scenario by far was a gruesome injury.)
Hartlaub applauded Fox of keeping the proceedings lively and accessible to non-UFC fans: "The broadcast team did a good job of keeping things simple for new fans, and then airing two mini-documentaries that revealed Dos Santos and Velasquez as introspective, humble and intelligent people. My UFC-averse wife was riveted, and ended up watching the fight with me."
The Associated Press notes that the short fight was not what UFC president Dana White wanted in broadcast television debut: "The national television audience got a taste of M.M.A.’s violence but not much else in the unusually short fight. The UFC president, Dana White, chose the two fearsome fighters for his Fox debut because of the high potential for a stoppage victory -- Velasquez and Dos Santos had ended nearly all of their fights by early stoppage. But White was clearly not thrilled with just how quickly that end arrived, criticizing Velasquez’s decision to stand and fight with Dos Santos, one of the best boxers in M.M.A.
SB Nation's Eric Stephen said the quick decision will bring him back to the sport: "Yes, it would have been great for UFC if both Velasquez and Dos Santos battled each other for five grueling rounds with plenty of back-and-forth action. But a lightning-quick victory isn't necessarily bad. I think back to Mike Tyson stunning Michael Spinks in a minute and a half in 1988; that boxing match was a very hyped event, but the quickness of the victory didn't take away from the festivities. In fact, it was part of what made Tyson Tyson. After watching the events in Anaheim on Saturday night, I'm more inclined to watch UFC going forward. After all, you never know what might happen."
Saturday's fight serves as an appetizer for the $700 million Fox-UFC seven-year deal that kicks off in January and brings the often violent sport -- which features elements of boxing, wrestling, kickboxing, judo, etc. -- into the mainstream (at least the UFC hopes so).
Fox will broadcast four primetime fights a year, another six will air on sister cable network FX, and the reality show Ultimate Fighter moves from Spike to Fox cable as part of the deal.