By Dexter Reyes
UFC President Dana White announced the very first UFC fight to appear on FOX network TV, and the first free televised UFC event on national TV is a heavyweight championship fight between the two most exciting heavyweights in MMA, undefeated Champion Cain Velasquez vs. Junior dos Santos!
As a young boxing fan, I have shown my disgust with the way boxing has gone down hill. I’ve found it more difficult to converse with people my age about the sweet science and most of my friends watch the UFC and don’t even know boxers other than Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Manny Pacquiao. I could tell them about Tim Bradley, Amir Khan, Victor Ortiz, Nonito Donaire, Sergio Martinez, and they will all reply to me with a dumbfounded look and answer with a simple, “WHO?” That should tell you how many young people watch boxing. The sad reality is the sport is dying and being engulfed by MMA, I will always watch boxing, but it’s not covered like it used to be mainly because greedy promoters like Bob Arum and Don King raped the sport.
What this Fox deal with the Ultimate Fighting Championship is going to do is pretty much crush boxing as we know it, and take over as the premier combative sport in the United States. November 12, 2011 is the debut for the UFC on FOX and it wasn’t some random date, it was a calculated move by Dana White just like his decision to air the huge mega-fight between Cain Velasquez and Junior dos Santos on free TV rather than pay-per-view.
The move will show the UFC’s dominance over boxing, this is because they are on the same night as Manny Pacquiao vs. Juan Manuel Marquez on HBO pay-per-view. If you are a casual fan, and you don’t have HBO, and, you see heavy advertising on FOX for a UFC bout for free, which event will you watch? Most people who don’t follow combat sports closely will be drawn into the hype and promotion of a free event on FOX rather than a pay-per-view event on HBO with little promotion on free TV.
FOX is going to go all out with this event, they will roll out a red carpet, invite all the big name Hollywood stars, and use their FOX sports award winning production style to give a more credible feel to the UFC and making mixed martial arts look more like a sport than an X-games event with punk music. The UFC event on FOX will crush the Pacquiao vs. Marquez III event, because people will be tuning into the Cain Velasquez vs. Junior dos Santos fight and see a fight that could end within a few seconds of the first round for free, and they will leave satisfied. They won’t even bother to spend $60 dollars for the Pacquiao vs. Marquez fight after being treated to an all out action heavyweight MMA fight that will probably end in a knock-out. After both events are over, on Monday morning, the majority of people will be talking about the winner of the exciting Velasquez vs. dos Santos fight at work.
I honestly believe that the UFC debut on FOX could do a high viewership of over 10 million viewers, and the Pacquiao vs. Marquez pay-per-view will do around 600,000-700,000 pay-per-view buys. You have to remember that both events are going to be hyped up heavily the month before, and more people will see UFC commercials on free TV, while Pacquiao vs. Marquez commercials will mainly be on CNN and HBO 24/7 on premium cable. UFC is reaching a broader audience, so it’s only natural more people will be anticipating the event on FOX. Also the young Mexican-American crowd will be supporting Cain Velasquez over Juan Manuel Marquez, that is another reason why the UFC put Cain up against Pacquiao, because they know the main audience of Pacquiao vs. Marquez and boxing in general are Latinos.
Bob Arum was bragging about getting a deal with CBS for the Pacquiao vs. Mosley fight, he was making it out to be this big deal that they were going to show Fight Camp 360 on CBS and it would bring more fans to boxing. That failed because if you want to do something big and really take a chance you do what Dana White is doing with the UFC and you are investing tons of money into the sport so you are rewarded later on. But guys like Bob Arum are only about the quick buck, they never cared about the long term health of boxing. If he wanted to do something big he should have put Pacquiao vs. Mosley for free on CBS, the fight was horrible anyway and shouldn’t have been on pay-per-view in the first place, that was the least Arum could have done to try to get boxing back on TV.
How can you get more fans to your sport if you are trying to charge them $60 for a pay-per-view event all the time? The only way to bring more fans to boxing is by doing what UFC President Dana White is doing, and that is through sacrifice and investment. You have to give in order to get. This is why the UFC is where it’s at and why boxing struggles to attract young fans.
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