Shortly after announcing a multi-year deal with FOX, believed to be seven or eight years worth at least $90 million per, the UFC announced that its first broadcast on the major network would be Nov. 12, and one fight will be shown — heavyweight champion Cain Velasquez (9-0) vs. No. 1 contender Junior Dos Santos (13-1).Why just one fight? Well, I’m glad you asked.
The hardcore UFC fans are going to watch whatever and whenever, and the UFC is trying to build a brand on its already massive fan base. UFC will be introducing MMA to viewers who have little or no knowledge of the sport, so expect to see a gigantic Super Bowl-like build up for this fight. UFC and FOX should do a tremendous job with this.
Plus, first timers want to see the main event. Why put some matches on there that could be described by the first-time viewer as boring? There is no risk with these two heavyweights unless one of them gets injured before the fight and has to postpone the match.
This won’t be the first time MMA will be shown live on one of the big networks. Remember in 2008, EliteXC signed a television deal with CBS and 7 million viewers watched Kimbo Slice defeat James Thompson, but I expect many more to watch this fight.
Currently, the UFC has a contract with Spike TV that expires at the end of 2011, so expect to see UFC shows and events on FOX, FX and Fuel.
Dana White dropped another bombshell by announcing the UFC has signed heavyweight Alistair Overeem, who was recently cut by Strikeforce for canceling his fight with Antonio Silva at Strikeforce’s heavyweight Grand Prix Tournament, which is scheduled for Sept. 10.
Overeem (35-11) will fight former UFC heavyweight champion Brock Lesnar (5-2) at UFC 141 on Dec. 30 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas. It will be a 5-round contest, and the winner will get a championship fight against the winner of Velasquez and Dos Santos.
A few UFC injury updates as Anderson Silva stated he had a bad shoulder when he fought Yushin Okami at UFC 134. Silva stated he injured it while training with Junior Cigano. All fighters carry some sort of injury, but for Silva to have a bum shoulder and easily defeat Okami is insane.
UFC 136 is set for Oct. 8 at the Toyota Center in Houston, and Matt Grice withdrew from his featherweight fight against Nam Phan (16-9) due to an undisclosed injury. As of press time, Phan is still waiting for a named opponent. Tickets for the Houston event are $350, $250, $150, $100, $75 or $50 and can be purchased online at houstontoyotacenter.com.
Diego Sanchez also had to withdraw from a fight with veteran Matt Hughes at UFC 135 on Sept. 24 in Denver because of a broken hand. Hughes (45-8) will now fight Josh Koscheck (15-5).
With UFC leaving Spike TV, what is Spike’s next move? The obvious choice would be to gobble up Bellator, but Bellator is currently being shown on MTV2. That could change soon. CEO Bjorn Rebney recently said they have no intention on leaving MTV2 but did sign a contract with Spike TV to have preliminary fights streamed live on Spike.com beginning with Bellator 49, which is scheduled for Sept. 10. The prelims will begin at 6 p.m. with the main card airing at 8 p.m. on MTV2.
The main card will be four fights as the welterweight tournament begins with Steve Carl (14-2) vs. Douglas Lima (16-4), Chris Lozano (8-1) vs. Brent Weedman (18-6), Ben “Killa B” Saunders (10-3-2) vs. Chris Cisneros (11-4), and my pick to win the tournament, Luis “Sapo” Santos (47-6) vs. Dan Hornbuckle (18-4).
The prelim bouts shown on Spike.com are Azunna Anyanwu (3-0) vs. J.A. Dudley (4-7), James “Binky” Jones (10-10) vs. Lester Caslow (6-5), Scott Heckman (8-2) vs. Alexandre Bezerra (10-1), Levon Maynard (10-7) vs. Giedrius Karavackas (5-1) and Joel Roberts (6-3) vs. Brylan Vanartsdalen (6-1).
Tickets are on sale for Bellator 52, which will be held at L’Auberge du Lac in Lake Charles on Saturday, Oct. 1, and aired live on MTV2. Tickets are $75-$50, but the event is for patrons 21 years and older.
Also scheduled for Saturday, Sept. 7, is Strikeforce Grand Prix Heavyweights plus a middleweight championship match scheduled for 9 p.m. on Showtime.
Live from the U.S. Bank Arena in Cincinnati, the two heavyweight semifinals matches are Josh Barnett (30-5) vs. Sergei Kharitonov (18-4); and Daniel Cormier (8-0), who replaced Overeem, vs. Antonio “Bigfoot” Silva (16-2). Strikeforce middleweight champion Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza (14-2) will defend his title against Luke Rockhold (7-1).Also airing on Showtime is Roger Gracie (4-0) vs. Muhammed “King Mo” Lawal (7-1) and Maximo Blanco (7-1) vs. Pat Healy (27-17).
If you subscribe to a satellite network, five fights will be shown live on HDNet including Mike Kyle (18-8-1) vs. Marcos Rogerio de Lima (8-0), Rafael “Feijao” Cavalcante (10-3) vs. Yoel Romero (4-0), Jordan Mein (22-7) vs. Evangelista “Cyborg” Santos (18-14), Alexis Davis (10-4) vs. Amanda Nunes (6-1) and Chris Mierzwiak (3-0) vs. Dominique Steele (3-1).
Don’t forget Beaumont’s only professional MMA fighter, Cody “Wolverine” Williams (1-0), will face Nate Garza (3-4) on Sept. 16 at Legacy Fighting Championships 8 at the Arena Theatre in Houston. Tickets can be purchased at American Top Team-Beaumont located at 7310 Highway 105. Ticket prices range from $65-$35. Call (409) 892-9352 for more details.