Social media outlets like Facebook and Twitter were buzzing last Saturday evening when mixed martial arts fans in Southeast Texas turned their televisions to KBTV FOX 4 to watch UFC’s debut on mainstream TV. But what they saw was the Lamar University Cardinals vs. Nicholls State Colonels football game.
Locals had to wait to watch the hour-long special, which ended with a 64-second knockout. FOX 4 aired UFC after the game ended.
FOX 4 general manager Darren Lehrmann answered a few questions via e-mail.
Did you receive e-mails and phone calls from upset viewers?
“Yes we received several phone calls, e-mails and comments on our Facebook page.”
If you had to do it all over again, would you choose to show UFC instead of Lamar?
“No. We have a contract with Lamar to air three football games, and our commitment to Lamar and the fans of Lamar athletics is very important to us. The UFC fight (the actual fight) was not supposed to start until after 8:30 p.m., so our plan was to join the UFC show before 8:15 p.m. However, the Lamar game ran long. FOX 4 is committed to giving our viewers the best in sports and this particular weekend was the perfect storm in that we attempted to reach our two objectives — first, to air the Lamar Game, and secondly, give the UFC fans the first fight on broadcast TV. The problem is that the Lamar game went long, so our backup plan was to record the UFC fight and air it in its entirety so that UFC fans could see all the action from beginning to end."
Will this affect future UFC programming, as in showing local programming instead of UFC?
"No. This past weekend was the one exception that we had no control over. Our attempt was to give both fans (UFC and Lamar) what they wanted and since the Lamar game was the last game in which we could honor our contract with Lamar, it left us no alternative. I want to assure all UFC fans that this will never happen again. We are very excited about the opportunity of having UFC on Fox and equally excited about being the home of live Lamar Cardinal athletics."
If you want to watch UFC 139 on Saturday, Nov. 19, you need to pony up $44.99. Live from the HP Pavilion in San Jose, Calif., fight fans are in for a treat because this PPV card is loaded. The main event pits two of the best light heavyweights to step into the octagon against each other as Mauricio “Shogun” Rua (20-5) battles Dan “Hendo” Henderson (28-8).
Rua, a 29-year-old Brazilian, is coming off a first-round knockout of Forrest Griffin at UFC 134 in his native country and has won eight of his last 11 fights. His Muay Thai and Jiu-Jitsu skills are excellent.
Henderson, 41, has seen his ups and downs and now returns to the UFC after defeating Fedor Emelianenko via a first round TKO in July. He’s a tough wrestler with good knockout power.
I now turn to my 17-year-old nephew Kasey Cooper, who trains at American Top Team-Beaumont and holds a brown belt in American Freestyle Karate. He also has a 12-6 UFC prediction record.
“Henderson, without a doubt, has the strength advantage,” he said. “He has notable KO wins over many veteran fighters, including Fedor. Despite the power, Shogun gets the edge in striking. His Muay Thai is superb, as demonstrated against Lyoto Machida. If this fight stays standing, all Shogun has to do is avoid the power punches. Hendo gets the advantage in takedowns due to his wrestling background, but Shogun is better at submissions. Rua holds a black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu,” said Kasey. “I don’t think he wants this to go to the ground, but he can hold his own if it does.”
Shogun also has a 5-inch reach advantage. “Look for him to utilize that with straight punches and kicks to the body, but he will have to avoid Hendo’s power hand (see the Michael Bisping fight),” said Kasey.
“The X-factor belongs to Shogun,” he added. “He is looking for another run at the title after losing to Jon Jones at UFC 128. Hendo is getting up there in age and isn’t as fast and agile as he once was. He’ll likely tire more than Shogun, which opens him up to counters.”
Kasey predicts Rua via TKO, and I agree. If Shogun is on his game, he will wipe out Hendo and make him think retirement.
The semi-main event should be super exciting as Cung Le makes his UFC debut against veteran and future Hall of Fame warrior Wanderlei “The Axe Murderer” Silva.
Silva (33-11-1) is hoping to redeem himself after getting embarrassed by Chris Leben in July. The fearless Brazilian is one of the most exciting strikers in all of MMA.
Le, 39, is just 7-1 as a MMA fighter. The Vietnamese- born Le is the former Strikeforce middleweight champion and is one of the world’s best kickboxers. He’s also starred in over a dozen movies and television shows.
“Le is one of my favorite fighters,” said Kasey. “He is a San Shou kickboxer that holds many highlight-reel moments in his MMA career. Being the younger and more agile of thetwo fighters, I’d say he has the definite stand-up advantage over Silva. The older, slower Silva is a great Muay Thai fighter who loves to brawl. However, as shown in his last fight with Leben, he just doesn’t have the speed, stamina or chin that he used to.” Kasey picks Le by decision.
“This is Le’s first fight in the UFC, so I don’t expect him to try anything stupid,” he said. “I predict that he will play it conservatively and be on the defensive most of the fight, landing counter techniques and coming away with a decision.”
Le is the slim betting favorite, but I’m going with Silva via knockout.
Regardless, this will be entertaining. The other three undercard fights are Urijah Faber (25-5) vs. Brian Bowles (10-1), Martin Kampmann (17-5) vs. Rick Story (13-4) and Stephan Bonnar (13-7) vs. Kyle Kingsbury (11-2).
Spike TV will show two preliminary bouts beginning at 7 p.m., which include Ryan Bader (12-2) vs. Jason Brilz (18-4-1) and Alex Soto (6-0-1) vs. Michael McDonald (13-1).
The remaining five fights will be shown on the UFC Facebook page at 3:45 p.m.