The UFC’s recent deal with FOX to broadcast several events on the cable giant, along with FX and Fuel TV, will give some of the undercard fighters more of a chance to be seen by the MMA masses.
Charlie Brenneman, a UFC welterweight, is one of many fighters that has fought his entire career in the Octagon on undercards of pay-per-views and free events on Spike TV and Versus.
“Let’s just say I hope I can get on a main card FOX event,” said Brenneman, who is 14-2 and set to meet Anthony Johnson at UFC Live: Cruz vs. Johnson on Saturday, October 1 – a card set for Versus. “This is just one more giant step in the evolution of the sport. I really hope this helps to legitimize our place as professional athletes.”
Johny Hendricks, who made a name for himself while wrestling at Oklahoma State University, echoed Brenneman’s thoughts.
“The UFC has so many fighters now who are trying to do everything they can to get on pay-per-view. Me and Mike Brown were both on the (UFC 133) undercard – on Facebook,” said Hendricks, who is 11-1 and has won his last two fights, “but now, instead of having up-and-comers always being on undercard, (the UFC) can throw them on Fight night fights (on FX).”
The upgrade from Spike TV and Versus to FOX and its channels will provide a boost in terms of viewership and programming strength, as well.
“There are a lot of great shows on FOX already, so now the UFC has tapped into that mainstream,” Hendricks said. “What is on FOX all the time? Football and baseball. The only (sport) on Spike TV was the UFC. Now, (the UFC) can broaden who they’re reaching out to. It’s pretty sweet. I’m super ecstatic about it. I might be fighting on free TV, but, now it (will mean) huge exposure.”
Brown, a former WEC champion, saw his popularity grow – but not due to just the live broadcasts on Versus but the constant replays that attracted viewers who heard about what happened.
“On Versus, after a fight, a bunch of people might recognize you. But with the replay (schedule) on Versus, they would replay the event like five times, and so many more people pay attention (during replays),” said Brown, who rebounded from back-to-back losses to improve to 25-8 with a win over Nam Phan recently. “Maybe (fans) didn’t see the fight the first or second time around, but they might catch it the third time and really become (hooked).
“I know the UFC has everything to compete (with the other major sports league). If the UFC can tap into couple more fans, they might steal some from watching football or baseball. If that happens, the next thing you know, (MMA) is going to explode.”
UFC on FOX is set to be broadcast live on November 12. The only fight made official for the show is a featherweight bout between Dustin Poirier and Pablo Garza, but several rumors have started to float around about a possible UFC middleweight title bout between Anderson Silva and a returning Dan Henderson.
Two fights total will be shown on the live FOX broadcast, but a complete preliminary card is going to be put together.