UFC fans have to be left scratching their heads as the promotion’s first year of partnership with Fox has created a number of storylines.
It all began with a huge fight for the UFC, a heavyweight title fight pitting Cain Velasquez against Junior dos Santos. It was brief, but ended with a shocking turn of events as dos Santos floored Velasquez with a single punch. The show itself was met with initial criticism due to the large amount of “talk time” leading up to a fight that lasted 64 seconds.
Perhaps it was a bit of foreshadowing as it seems UFC fans haven’t completely jumped on board the bandwagon to support the UFC-Fox partnership.
The promotion’s second event featured a handful of pivotal bouts as far as rankings go, but outside of Chael Sonnen and Michael Bisping, featured very little in the way of starpower or fan interest. Rashad Evans was a big enough name to carry the event, but has yet to put on a performance in recent memory that elicits a buzz of excitement from fans.
A pair of title-eliminator bouts headlined the UFC’s third venture onto the Fox network. Nate Diaz submitted talented lightweight Jim Miller to fully step out from his big brother’s shadow while Johny Hendricks emerged victorious against Josh Koscheck.
The event didn’t feature a lot of big names as far as casual MMA fans are concerned. However with guys like Alan Belcher, Rousimar Palhares and heavy hitters like Lavar Johnson and Pat Barry, the event was primed to be exciting despite a lack of drawing power.
That’s three events in the books with three fight cards that either failed to deliver on ratings or failed to deliver excitement. In some cases, the card failed on both counts.
With the addition of Mauricio “Shogun” Rua to a free Fox show, perhaps the UFC is learning from its mistakes. Rua is still a top-ranked fighter in the division and appeals to both hardcore and casual fans, as he’s an accomplished fighter who is also one of the most exciting to watch.
Rua will face off against Brandon Vera, who provides his own storyline that America could fall in love with. Vera is a cocky fighter who loves to talk trash, but also possesses a bit of an underdog/comeback story. Both are qualities American sports fans have been shown to love.
The main event alone would be good enough considering it’s on a free show, but when you toss in a bout between two top-10 competitors like Ryan Bader and Lyoto Machida, the show really begins to warrant any fan’s time. The card also features Joe Lauzon, the polarizing Jamie Varner, and the return of a former welterweight title contender in Mike Swick.
This is by far the most stacked card the UFC has put on Fox and let’s hope it’s a trend the promotion plans to continue. The first two main cards had important pieces, but could never quite put everything together.
An explanation I’d like to offer is for anyone who’s seen the TV show Chopped on the Food Network. On the show, chefs use a basket of mystery ingredients to create top of the line food dishes. Each component must be used in the dish and can often times result in a beautiful harmony of ingredients, or an absolute train wreck.
UFC on Fox 4 represents the prior. It’s bringing all the successful ingredients of the previous events and attempting to avoid all the negatives the UFC has encountered before. The event had a great preview piece, Road to the Octagon, that fans can view and also received a great deal of hype after UFC President Dana White let it be known that the next title challenger at 205 pounds will emerge Saturday night.
All that’s left is for the competitors to carry the momentum into the Octagon and put on a great performance.
Photo: Fox cameraman (James Law/Heavy MMA)