In the aftermath of yesterday’s massive announcement that the UFC have signed a major television deal with FOX one of the biggest questions everyone wants to know is who will be fighting on the first big ‘UFC On Fox’ event which is scheduled for November 12th?
At this stage the UFC are keeping their cards close to their chest, assuring fans that they will put on an event that fans want to see, but admitting that so far they don’t have any fights locked in.
The feeling is that they are somewhat flying by the seat of their pants here and have yet to sit down and really figure out how this is going to work.
At this stage what we do know is that it’s going to take place in Anaheim and that it falls right in the middle of an exceptionally busy period for the promotion which could pose some problems in sourcing available fighters to compete at yet another event during that time-frame.
Take a look and see for yourselves…
- October 29th: UFC 137: GSP Vs Diaz
- November 5th: UFC 138: Leben Vs Munoz
- November 12th: UFC On Fox
- November 19th: UFC 139: Velasquez Vs Dos Santos
So who is actually currently without a fight that could fit into the UFC’s plans for this event?
The first names that spring to mind in terms of star power are Rich Franklin and Lyoto Machida. Franklin was originally set to fight Antonio Rogerio Nogueira in the co-main event of UFC 133 earlier this month, but an injury to Lil Nog took them off the card.
Meanwhile Machida was recently rumored to be a potential opponent for Phil Davis who was also removed from the UFC 133 event due to an injury.
Between the four of the them you have some solid options, it just depends how they want to play it. They could go with the original plan and have Franklin Vs Noguiera and Machida Vs Davis for instance – producing a similar liine-up to that intended for UFC 133.
Personally though I really like the sound of Franklin Vs Machida as a main event.
What you have there is two former champions with significant star power, two fighters who carry themselves well and will reflect well on the sport, and, crucially I think given the UFC’s desire to make a good first impression on FOX, you also have a fight that has the potential to be an entertaining battle. The two have in fact faced once before outside of the UFC back in 2003 with Machida producing a second round TKO victory so it’s unlikely to turn into a stalemate second time around.
Beyond that the options thin out pretty quickly in terms of available ‘big name’ fighters. Brock Lesnar announced that he’s set to return to training soon, but Dana White has ruled him out of competing on FOX just yet as he’ll need until the end of the year to get back in shape. That should also rule out Frank Mir who is expected to be his opponent when he does finally return.
There are some fighters who could strengthen the card however, although are unlikely to qualify for main event status. For instance the recently victorious lightweight Ben Henderson always puts on exciting fights and is on course to be a future title contender so he’d be an excellent addition to the main card, as could his WEC counterpart Donald Cerrone who won at the same event. Unfortunately the two have met twice before with ‘Bendo’ coming out on top on both occasions so a third encounter between them is unlikely, but suitable opponents wouldn’t be too hard to find with Clay Guida, Melvin Guillard and Sean Sherk the front-runners.
Meanwhile the welterweight division also holds a couple of fighters who are returning from a lengthy absence due to injury and were expected to take part in November 19th’s UFC 139 fight card, namely Jon Fitch and Josh Koscheck.
OF course a Fitch Vs Koscheck fight is out of the question given that they are team-mates who have been vocal about their desire never to fight. One, or perhaps even both could fill a space on the main card however, with Koscheck the more likely pick as he’s proven to be a more consistently entertaining fighter than Fitch over the years.
Elsewhere other fighters that spring to mind would be Vitor Belfort at middleweight and Tito Ortiz at light-heavyweight, two veteran stars who can deliver both in and out of the Octagon for the promotion on a big occasion like this.
So between those currently available fighters you’ve got a pretty solid line-up to build around.
It should also be noted that it’s not beyond the realms of possibility that the UFC may look to switch fights from other nearby event around to strengthen the UFC On Fox line-up. I can’t see them switching out the main events on the pay-per-view cards though – GSP Vs Diaz and Velasquez Vs Dos Santos for instance are all but set in stone for their respective events.
The co-main events are possibilities however. For instance UFC 137’s BJ Penn Vs Carlos Condit scrap which is expected to establish a new No.1 contender at 170lbs, has all the makings of a rip-roaring battle and with Penn being one of the sport’s most recognisable fighters this could comfortably slot into either a prominent spot on the FOX show if neccessary. It would also only push back their respective fight camps a couple of weeks so wouldn’t be too much of an inconvenience.
If the call was mine to make though I’d be especially keen to get UFC 136’s main card scrap between Chael Sonnen and Brian Stann on the FOX card. It’s a potential No.1 contender bout at middleweight, but more importantly it has two of the most interesting characters in the sport who’s stories could generate real interest on a platform like FOX.
Stann’s ‘war hero’ background would make him an instant hit with FOX’s mainstream audience, while Sonnen’s colorful background and outspoken antics would be sure to generate headlines and get people talking.
The only catch is that they are currently set to fight on October 8th so the move would set their training camps back by over a month. Sonnen might appreciate the extra time to prepare however given that he’s been out for over a year, and the UFC 136 card could certainly survive the move given that it already has both a featherweight (Aldo Vs Florian) and lightweight (Edgar Vs Maynard) title fight booked up.
No doubt some fans will be calling for a true superstar like GSP, Lesnar or Anderson Silva to headline the show but given the current schedule and the UFC’s continued commitment to their PPV model that’s just not possible.
Personally I believe that under the circumstances there are enough good options available here to the promotion to produce a card that can deliver a mix of both star power and entertaining match-ups to ensure that they make a good first impression.