When the guys at the UFC say they’re going big, they mean it. Last month the promotion announced a seven-year deal with the FOX network, which will see UFC fights and related programming aired on FOX, FuelTV and FX.
The UFC wasted no time in putting together its debut fight for network TV, today announcing that UFC heavyweight champion Cain Velasquez will attempt to defend his title for the first time against heavy-handed Brazilian Junior dos Santos this November 12 on FOX. The fight will be seen in an unprecedented amount of homes and White has likened it to the Forrest Griffin-Stephan Bonnar match up from the finale of the first season of The Ultimate Fighter, which is widely acknowledged to have kicked off this current period of prosperity for MMA by drawing in millions of new viewers.
The only obstacle that the UFC may meet in its FOX debut is the fact that it falls on the same date as Manny Pacquiao’s next fight against Juan Manuel Marquez. As far as combat sports go, Pacquiao is right there with Floyd Mayweather as one of the world’s biggest draws, but UFC president Dana White believes that having their fights on the same night will actually boost the UFC’s numbers.
“I think it’s gonna affect our number big — IT’S FREE. You don’t have to pay sixty-five dollars for it. I think it’s gonna be big for us,” said White on today’s UFC on FOX conference call. “Plus, if I’m not mistaken, I think this fight gets over before the Pacquiao fight goes on. So, the great thing for fight fans is, you can watch this fight for free and then you can watch that fight too. I hate Bob Arum, I hope he only does one buy on this fight, but I love Manny Pacquiao and I’d love to see him do three million buys and make a ton of money. So, it’s a catch-22 for me.”