Tonight’s UFC On FOX 3 event wasn’t so much about delivering the sport’s biggest stars to the millions watching primetime on FOX, but rather to ensure that at the third attempt they finally delivered a night of entertaining fights, and that’s just what they achieved.
The main card fights looked good on paper, and they worked out just as well on television screens across the country tonight with three exciting finishes out of four fights, and some close, competitive action along the way.
Things started off on the right track with the heavyweights as Lavar Johnson produced a devastating display of striking to put away Pat Barry by TKO inside a round.
It wasn’t the most technical fight and Barry ended up looking more like a punching back than a seasoned kickboxer, but nevertheless it was fun to watch and left everyone watching eager for more.
Luckily the next fight between Alan Belcher and Rousimar Palhares matched that early energy and momentum while showcasing how tense and technical MMA action can get on the ground.
Color commentator Joe Rogan did a good job of describing a complicated series of transitions and sub attempts to the casual observer as Belcher and Palhares went through their BJJ reportoires. Meanwhile regular fans will have gotten a kick out of Belcher taking on Palhares at his own game and not only keeping him at bay, but then turning the tables and producing a big TKO finish by ground and pound.
So far so good for the card with two quick finishes and so we were already moving swiftly into the co-main event between Josh Koscheck and Johny Hendricks.
These two welterweight’s weren’t able to keep up quite the same level of thrills and spills as the previous two fights, but it was still fairly competitive and hopefully was engaging enough to keep people watching through the full 15 minutes to get to the main event.
Pretty good stuff over three fights then, but for the card to really be a home run for both the UFC and FOX it needed to end on a high note with a good main event, and thankfully that’s what we got.
The first round was solid, but it really picked up in the second as Diaz settled into his fighting rhythm and began to do his trademark taunting of Miller which those watching him for the first time on FOX will no doubt have lead to mixed reactions – but most importantly it will have helped give viewers a reason to route for one man or the other.
The submission that followed from Diaz was finely crafted and a fitting end to the night, though Joe Rogan could have done with being a little more mindful of the mainstream audience watching and not made quite such a big deal out of the fact that Miller had bizarrely got his tongue stuck between his teeth before tapping to the guillotine choke.
Overall this was pretty much everything that Dana White, Joe Silva and Co. would have been hoping for when they crafted this fight card and hopefully they’ll continue to place emphasis on exciting match-up for future FOX shows.
What we still have to wait and see is how all this is going to translate into TV ratings. The irony is that despite putting on a great show this is probably going to be the least watched of the three FOX events they’ve aired so far given the relative lack of star-power and pre-fight hype this time around.
Pre-fight my hunch was that they’d average around the 4 to 4.5 million viewers mark, but while it may be wishful thinking it would be nice if those numbers rose throughout the course of the evening (something that didn’t happen last time out) due to the performances put in by the fighters.
Whether they did or they didn’t the key thing is that those who watched will have been happy with what they saw and you’d imagine would be happy to sit down and watch the next show when it comes around in August.
Also, even if it does prove to be just a few million viewers, that’s still a much bigger audience than they’ve been used to in the past on the likes of Spike TV and on pay-per-view, and that’s a terrific platform to help build new stars like Nate Diaz, Johny Hendricks and Alan Belcher who could all be future title contenders in their respective divisions, while also help introduce the likes of Lavar Johnson.
We’ll get an early indication of the ratings tomorrow, but however it goes we can say that tonight was a success and a good foundation to build from in future shows this year.