There was a lot riding on the UFC’s debut on FOX last night with even Dana White admitting that the pressure was getting to him, and that may well have manifested itself during the post-fight analysis of the Dos Santos Vs Velasquez fight.
In the studio after the fight White struggled to hide his frustration at the 64 second finish, which was certainly not an ideal showcase for the sport, and it was Velasquez who he appeared to take his anger out on.
Read what he had to say about the former champion’s performance below.
“Listen, I’m no strategist and I’m nobody’s coach but I don’t understand why they didn’t go for the shot early. They should have shot in on Junior Dos Santos knowing that he has the power early in the fight and tries to knock you out. But the truth is that Junior Dos Santos gets tired at the end of fights, you know? Here he is standing right in front of him trying to trade and bang with Junior Dos Santos and gets hit with that big right hand right behind the ear and down he goes. Down goes his heavyweight championship. I’ll say it again, not saying that I’m some strategy coach but I don’t know why they wouldn’t take the shot on him and wrestle early.
It’s one thing to feel a fight out but when you’re standing right in front of a guy that you know his biggest weapons are his hands and he can knock you out and this thing is a five round fight. Get in there and start working him. Stay busy and put him against the fence. Rough him up and tire him out a little bit and bring it into the later rounds where Junior Dos Santos is well known for getting tired.”
While White had a point, and Velasquez himself admitted in the post-fight press conference that he had made a mistake by not following the gameplan set out for him, the UFC president misjudged the situation by focusing too heavily on the negatives while also failing to give Dos Santos credit where it was due.
This was a time to talk up the Brazilian’s heavy-handed style that can stop even a granite-chinned, undefeated competitor like Velasquez, yet instead White was pointing out his possible weaknesses in wrestling and cardio.
In all fairness it was a tough assignment for White to find the right balance between analyst and promoter on such an historic night, the fulfillment of a long-held dream to see the UFC on primetime television.
The UFC had also gone all in on this hour showcase, with some estimates suggesting they were losing as much as $15 million by putting the heavyweight title fight on FOX rather than a pay-per-view broadcast.
UFC CEO Lorenzo Fertitta had stated during the fight week build-up that they were looking long-term, with the hope that a major fight like this on free-TV watched by millions could generate 100,000 new PPV buyers going forward, but it’s questionable whether 64 seconds of fight-time will have been enough to achieve that goal.
Still, it’s not the end of the world, and as White rightly points out their deal with FOX doesn’t even officially start until January.
By then they will have had plenty more time to learn their lessons from this event, iron out the wrinkles and begin a new assault on primetime television.