When asked earlier this week how long the ‘UFC On FOX’ showcase fight between Cain Velasquez and Junior Dos Santos would go Dana White quickly replied, “I just hope it doesn’t go 10 seconds.”
Well he got his wish, but only just, with the entire fight lasting just 64 seconds as Dos Santos dropped Velasquez with an overhand right and finished up with ground and pound to become the next heavyweight champion of the world.
In reality it wasn’t the worst case scenario, some action, however fleeting, is better than nothing, and it was certainly preferable to a 25 minute wrestling stalemate or an unfortunate injury bringing a premature end to the contest.
Nevertheless, the blink-and-you’ll-miss-it nature of the fight didn’t give a real chance for the millions of potential new fans tuning in to the UFC’s big FOX debut a chance to get a feel for the fighter’s, the sport’s many nuances or the overall UFC experience.
It could also affect the overall ratings the broadcast gets as many will have tuned out as soon as the fight ended, whereas a longer fight could have produced a higher peak rating as word of mouth spreads via social media and people stumble across the bout while channel hopping.
This was always the gamble that FOX took when they opted to make this ‘teaser’ event span just one fight over a one hour broadcast, a decision that left many, including this writer, questioning the wisdom of the decision.
On paper the co-main event between Ben Henderson and Clay Guida, two energetic, entertaining lightweights who always put on a great fight, looked like an obvious bout to air on the live broadcast, and in the cold light of day the powers at be will probably be kicking themselves as it did indeed prove to be an outstanding three round battle that showcased striking, wrestling and jiu-jitsu perfectly.
It’s not all bad though. The atmosphere for the main event was great, the opening presentation was slick, Mike Goldberg and Joe Rogan did well in the commentary booth and it was an exciting finish that sets Dos Santos up as the kind of heavy-handed killer that the UFC and FOX can build on going forward.
Overall, while there may have been a certain sense that after all the hype and months of build-up that this was a slightly anti-climatic finish, it should also be kept in mind that the UFC’s deal with FOX doesn’t even officially start until January 1st, so this really was just a taste of what’s to come.
No doubt lessons will be learned – in fact even before tonight’s event it had already been established that future UFC On FOX event would run for at least 90 minutes and include more fights – and if this was just a taster then I’m certainly hungry for what’s to come in 2012.