Will FOX Turn MMA into Sports Entertainment?

Matthew HemphillCorrespondent IIFebruary 14, 2012

In some ways MMA and the UFC already are a form of sports entertainment, but the more fights on FOX fans see, the more we will see entertainment rather than sport.

Even when the best fight the best, the UFC generally give title shots to more exciting fighters or incentive their employees to fight in an exciting manner. At the end of the day, the UFC is still MMA and a sport.

That could change with the new FOX deal.

That isn't to say it would change who fights for the title, unless it happens to be on network TV. Unless the fights are appearing on the station, the UFC won't change their approach in how they do things.

The people who watch the UFC on FOX include not only the fans who pay for the pay-per-views, but a different audience as well. They include casual fans and families who just happened to catch the sport on a Saturday and decided to watch.

They will include first-time viewers.

The last group is the most important.

The UFC may put great fights on FOX, but a part of that is marketing to expand its fan base. More fans equals more revenue which means the company can grow.

Dana White, the president of the UFC, knows this.

It is already apparent from the third program.

HOLLYWOOD, CA - SEPTEMBER 20:  UFC President Dana White speaks as UFC Fighters Junior dos Santos (R) and Cain Velasquez (L) during the UFC on Fox: Velasquez v Dos Santos - Press Conference at W Hollywood on September 20, 2011 in Hollywood, California.  (P
Victor Decolongon/Getty Images

The second card on FOX contained three impressive fights with Rashad Evans facing Phil Davis, Chael Sonnen facing Michael Bisping and Demian Maia facing Chris Weidman.

None of the fights shook the crowd, though all were great contests that showed mixed martial arts at its technical best. It didn't leave long-time fans of the sport disappointed.

Newcomers are a different story. They usually want to see action and their are precious few who understand MMA or martial arts when they first watch it.

The UFC has already adapted a more fight-friendly approach for those viewers.

Fans who watch the third card will be treated to a great fight between Jim Miller and Nate Diaz. Both men are top lightweights, but neither one is on the same level as the last two main events that appeared on FOX.

They are exciting though and will leave casual fans satisfied.

The rest of the card has the same feel to it.

Rousimar Palhares and Alan Belcher will also face each other with Josh Koscheck and Johny Hendricks fighting as well.

None of these fights give the feel that even if they go the distance they will be "boring." That is what the UFC is banking on.

Growing their brand and making new fans.

picture courtesy of Getty images
picture courtesy of Getty images

Even if that means affecting their image.

It doesn't mean that the UFC will fix fights. It just means that they will make the fights they put on more appealing to a wider demographic instead of lovers of technical precision.

And FOX is expediting that process.

For better or worse.

Matthew Hemphill writes for the MMA and professional wrestling portion of Bleacher Report.  He also hosts a blog elbaexiled.blogspot.com that focuses on books, music, comic books, video games, film and generally anything that could be related to the realms of nerdom.