UFC on Fox 3: Why This Could Be the Breakthrough Event for the UFC and Fox
This weekend's UFC event on Fox could become the launching point for a big run of success for both the UFC and Fox Sports.
The previous UFC on Fox event, while possessing star power to MMA fans, did very little to excite the new breed of fans crossing into the sport. The lackluster main event that saw Rashad Evans grind out a decision victory in particular did little to ignite any fan interest.
While the UFC on Fox event from January was stale minus a few bright spots, the UFC on Fox 3 event could become the breakthrough event in the UFC and Fox Sports relationship.
Pat Barry and Lavar Johnson Know How to Entertain
The heavyweight tilt between Lavar Johnson and Pat Barry promises to be an exciting heavyweight bout. Both men love to bang, and both die-hard and new MMA fans can always appreciate a slugfest.
Along with possessing some serious stand-up skills, both men have colorful personalities that endear them to MMA fans across the land. Barry in particular has become one of the most popular fighters in the sport today.
It may be a short contest with the power shots being swung by both men, but it will be an entertaining way to start off the night.
Alan Belcher Brings Fighting Skills and a Story
Alan Belcher is competing in just his second fight after recovering from a career-threatening eye injury. In his return bout, he ran through the durable veteran Jason MacDonald last year. Now Belcher faces a huge test and upgrade in opponent when he takes on Rousimar Palhares.
The fight itself will likely be entertaining enough to win fans over for either man but it is Belcher's story that could make him a hit with new fans. Sports fans in particular can relate to and enjoy the heartwarming stories of personal tragedy and the way people have overcome them.
Belcher's story of nearly losing his eyesight and returning to continue his MMA career is a story that the UFC would be wise to present to new MMA fans in an effort to build Belcher's status.
Rousimar Palhares and the Home Run
Alan Belcher's opponent, Rousimar Palhares also has a story the UFC would be wise to tell fans about. The Brazilian has come into the UFC and has left a path of damaged ligaments and tendons in his wake.
Palhares' jiu-jitsu game is the equivalent to a home-run hitter in baseball. Like a power hitter swinging for the fences, Palhares looks to grab a limb and goes all out in his attempt to grab one.
Recently, Palhares has displayed some improvements in his striking ability and could shock everyone with a KO of Belcher. Either way, fans will be glued to their TV sets in anticipation of Palhares hitting the home run.
The Interesting Dynamics in the Josh Koscheck-Johny Hendricks Bout
Josh Koscheck can see a lot of similarity in his opponent Johny Hendricks. Hendricks is taking a path that Koscheck himself took years before.
Kos entered the UFC as a one-dimensional wrestler who transformed himself into a decent striker who showed some power in his hands. Likewise, Hendricks entered MMA as an accomplished collegiate wrestler and has displayed some serious power with his latest KO victory over Jon Fitch.
The similarities end when discussing the two personalities, as Koscheck has embodied the role of villain to perfection throughout his UFC career. Hendricks doesn't make waves with his mouth and has been fairly soft-spoken thus far in his MMA career.
If Hendricks can pick up a victory over Koscheck (like many people are predicting), he will not only be on the cusp of a title shot, but he will also receive a great amount of fans for defeating their hated villain.
Nate Diaz vs. Jim Miller Will Be an Exciting Main Event
Initially, the bout between Nate Diaz and Jim Miller was criticized by MMA fans, as they felt it wasn't main event-worthy. But there's no doubt it will provide an entertaining battle to say the least.
Miller is always tenacious and doesn't stop trying to bring the fight to his opponent. Diaz, meanwhile, has the swagger of his older brother and skills to back it up.
Diaz won't shy away from taunting his opponent and will look to keep constant pressure on his opponent, while Miller will keep moving forward to negate the reach of his much taller opponent.
In the end the fight will be an exciting lightweight affair due to the nature of the two men's fighting styles. That is something the UFC should've kept in mind when making Rashad Evans and Phil Davis the main event of its last Fox show.
Nate Diaz the Superstar?
The final point I'll make in saying this could be the breakthrough event for the UFC and Fox is simple: Nate Diaz. The younger brother of talented welterweight star Nick Diaz, Nate brings all the qualities of his brother to the 155-pound division.
If Diaz wins, he'll be very close to receiving a title shot, and he has shown an increase in his skills since dropping back down to lightweight. I won't give him much credit for defeating an over-the-hill Takanori Gomi, but Diaz does need props for defeating Donald Cerrone with the ease that he did.
The UFC could have its next superstar in the lightweight division, as Nate isn't afraid to say what's on his mind and could become the perfect villain to battle fan favorites like Benson Henderson, Frankie Edgar and Anthony Pettis.
Even if Diaz loses, we are likely to at least get a few interesting sound bytes from Nate in the post-fight interviews and press conferences.