When the UFC announced their seven year partnership with Fox, hardcore mixed martial arts fans rejoiced. Finally, the sport that they loved so much would be on display for the world to see.
The UFC and Fox started their partnership with a bang, as the UFC heavyweight championship featuring Cain Velasquez and Junior Dos Santos drew 8.8 million viewers.
This year brought mixed results for the UFC on network television. Their first show, in January, featured big names such as Rashad Evans, Michael Bisping and Chael Sonnen. However, all three matches featured went the distance and none were particularly entertaining.
In May of 2012, the UFC had exciting fights, but without any give names, the event only drew around 2.25 million viewers. Many fans wondered about the lack of star power on the Fox cards and whether the UFC had a vested intrest in network television.
With the UFC's third Fox show in 2012, fans got the best of both words, as they got big names (Lyoto Machinda, Shogun Rua, Ryan Bader) and they also got solid action.
The UFC has finally found a formula that works for matchmaking for their network shows. Not long after UFC lightweight champion Benson Henderson defeated Frankie Edgar for the second time, it was announced his next opponent would be Nate Diaz, on Fox.
It's a smart move to put Henderson vs. Diaz on Fox, the fight would not likely have produced a huge PPV number, both fighters will benefit from the exposure and Fox can advertise a title fight on its network. The UFC added two more intriguing match ups with Alexander Gustafsson facing Shogun Rua and BJ Penn coming out of retirement to face Rory aMcDonald.
Penn is one of the biggest names in the sport of MMA, Rua is a former champion who still has a big following. What the UFC has done right with this card is showcasing their young talent. Gustafsson and MacDonald are two of the biggest prospects in the UFC and both could be destined for UFC stardom.
A few weeks ago the UFC announced their first show in 2013. UFC flyweight champion Demetrious Johnson will make his first title defense against John Dodson. This is the perfect fight for network television, the flyweight division is not popular enough to carry a pay-per-view show, and the fight is almost certain to be fast-paced and exciting.
A lightweight contest between Donald "Cowboy" Cerrone and Anthony "Showtime" Pettis will serve as the co-main event, a fight that every hardcore MMA fan has been awaiting for. Also on the card is the final UFC fight for Quinton "Rampage" Jackson.
The formula is becoming simple for the UFC, give a fight that every hardcore fan wants to see, and then put a big name on the card that will draw the attention of the casual fan. This will get the attention of the casual MMA fans and intrigue the hardcore fans.
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