Let it ring true now that Fox provides the most solid home possible for the UFC’s lighter weight classes. How so? Recall that, in its past three outings on Fox, the UFC has featured its lightweight champion Benson Henderson (twice) and flyweight champion Demetrious Johnson in the main event.

Henderson first defended his title at UFC on Fox 5 against Nate Diaz, outworking the Cesar Gracie black belt en route to a unanimous decision win. Then, he retained his belt via a fiercely contested split decision opposite Gilbert Melendez at UFC on Fox 7 last month. Meanwhile, Johnson found himself in some trouble early against John Dodson, but would come back to earn a unanimous decision victory in a UFC on Fox 6 headliner that exceeded many expectations and took home “Fight of The Night” honors.

Now, Johnson awaits a title defense against top challenger John Moraga at UFC on Fox 8 this July in Seattle. Originally slated for The Ultimate Fighter 17 Finale, Johnson vs. Moraga instead marks the second instance of a flyweight title headliner on Fox.

Consider also that UFC on Fox 8 will mark the fourth straight card to feature a title fight on Fox, and it raises a very important question: If the UFC wants to create demand for the lighter weight classes, should it continue to showcase and develop stars this way?

To give a direct answer, yes, this method works perfectly for both the UFC and its lighter weight classes. Remember, the UFC garners its success because its product creates demand, meaning that the promotion gives its audience reasons to want to pay for the privilege of viewing its events.

The main question surrounding the lighter weight classes relates to whether or not fans would pay to see them on pay-per-view. While high-quality fights can come from the lighter weight classes, some still feel that the divisions cannot sell on a pay-per-view basis.

However, here lies the logic behind featuring the lighter weight classes on Fox. The UFC knows what the lighter weight classes provide in terms of exciting contests, but those divisions still need plenty of exposure. Fox, one of the premier broadcast television networks in the world, provides an outlet for hardcore fans and first-time viewers of MMA to receive that exposure to the lighter weight classes.

As more and more fans get exposed to these weight classes, their popularity will grow. It’s no secret that fights in the divisions between 125 pounds and 155 pounds tend to feature more fast-paced action than fights at heavier weights. What better way to convert new fans than to give them an opportunity to tune in, at no extra expense, to a fight that’s not only exciting, but important as well. And once more fans get on board, the talent depth will increase, and when that happens, everyone starts to pay attention.

Again, the UFC knows all of this because, at one time, a similar thing befell the lightweight division. Now, lightweight stands as not only the UFC’s most loaded division, but also the most loaded division (arguably) in all of MMA. It also serves as the anchor for the run of events on Fox, with Henderson’s two title defenses available for live, free viewing for millions of potential fans. The same result can happen gradually if the UFC continues to feature the champions of its other lighter weight classes on Fox cards.

After all, the UFC always shoots to bring a “go big or go home” atmosphere on every fight night, and once again, nothing says “go big or go home” like a title fight on free television, regardless of the weight class taking center stage.

Photo: Benson Henderson (Dave Mandel/Sherdog)

About The Author

Dale De Souza
Staff Writer

Dale De Souza is a 22-year-old kid straight out of Texas, who grew up around Professional Wrestling but embraced the beauty of Mixed Martial Arts and Combat Sports at a young age. Dale is a Featured Columnist at Bleacher Report MMA, a writer at The MMA Corner.