When the UFC makes its return to Fox this weekend, the card is literally going to be twice as big as ever before. Instead of the usual two- to three-hour block of UFC main-card fights Fox has broadcast over the first 11 shows on the network, UFC on Fox 12 will see some preliminary fights hit network television for the first time. It appears Fox may have picked the perfect time to decide to throw in a few extra hours of fights.

Saturday night’s television schedule is about as bare as can be. The competition is going to be next to nothing for the UFC, especially on the network stations. The 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. EST window that Fox gave the UFC is going up against network competition that consists of Dateline, reruns of Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and a show based off a bad Cameron Diaz movie. Any sports fans looking for their usual entertainment will be hard pressed to find anything as well. ESPN is airing the Crossfit Games the majority of the evening.

If there were ever a night for Fox to take a shot in the dark and see if the UFC could earn them a victory in the ratings, this would be it. However, a glance at the set of fights that will kick off the broadcast might leave you wondering if Fox gave the UFC any idea of what it was planning.

If there’s one thing UFC President Dana White and company do better than anything else, it’s make special occasions feel truly special. When the UFC kicked off its deal with Fox Sports 1 in Boston last year, the promotion pulled out all the stops and gave the fans a loaded card from top to bottom. Fans look forward to the end-of-year, Fourth of July weekend and Memorial Day fight cards like they’re the holidays themselves, and they do so because the UFC has done its best to load those cards in the past. Even by doing something as simple as throwing Conor McGregor into an arena full of screaming Irishmen last weekend, the UFC managed to take an otherwise ordinary card and make it feel like a can’t-miss event on a Saturday afternoon. Zuffa knows how to promote, and it knows how to do it well. That’s why it’s hard to believe that the UFC didn’t take the opportunity to make its extended Fox card feel like a bigger deal.

I’m not saying that this is the worst preliminary card in the world, but with two hours of television time to kill with the prelims alone, it’s a bit depressing that the UFC doesn’t have at least one well-known fighter on that portion of the card. As exciting as a match-up between Daron Cruickshank and Jorge Masvidal is to the normal UFC fan, the vast majority of people tuning in are going to have no idea who either one of those guys are. Truth be told, the UFC did a solid job under the circumstances and filled the bottom portion of the card with potential barnburners in order to try to keep people enthralled for the entire event. Still, it would have been a lot easier if the casual fan didn’t have to wait over two hours until they see Clay Guida’s head bouncing in and out of the frame.

The UFC and Fox may not have blown a golden opportunity here, but they definitely had a shot at producing four hours of must-see fights with practically no competition and didn’t execute as well as they normally do. In some respects, it doesn’t matter who the UFC throws on the screen, since Fox is going to bring more new eyes to the product than anything else the UFC can do. The additional time on network television is basically just a bonus, and the UFC is just hoping the fights it did throw on the prelims can capture the audience’s attention and make them stay until the main event.

It’s a viable plan and it may end up working to some extent, but there’s no denying that a brief appearance from even a veteran on the decline, like Josh Koscheck, could have at least sparked some recognition among the most casual of fight fans and piqued their interests a bit more. The appetizer doesn’t have to be equal to the entrée here, but when the entrée is Robbie Lawler and Matt Brown, two very exciting fighters that don’t exactly move the needle with the casual fan base, it’d be nice to kick things off with something that isn’t the equivalent of a chip basket.

About The Author

Vince Carey
Staff Writer

Vince Carey has been writing about the sport of mixed martial arts since 2010. Although he is just 21 years old, the Omaha-based writer is looking to provide readers with interesting content on all things related to MMA.