The UFC is coming back to Fox this winter. The network-television event would be the perfect opportunity for the UFC to promote its growing female divisions and make new stars on its biggest platform.
The stars are aligning for the UFC to make UFC on Fox 13 its biggest network card yet, and as the ratings stay at the low end—despite winning key demographics—there is a chance to regain a large audience with an all-female card.
|UFC on Fox Ratings History|
|Event||Overnight Viewers||18-49 Rating|
|Velasquez vs. Dos Santos||5.7 million||3.1|
|Evans vs. Davis||4.57 million||2.2|
|Diaz vs. Miller||2.25 million||1.0|
|Shogun vs. Vera||2.36 million||0.9|
|Henderson vs. Diaz||3.41 million||1.6|
|Johnson vs. Dodson||3.77 million||1.7|
|Henderson vs. Melendez||3.3 million||1.6|
|Johnson vs. Moraga||2.08 million||0.9|
|Johnson vs. Benavidez||2.41 million||1.0|
|Henderson vs. Thomson||2.55 million||1.1|
|Werdum vs. Browne||1.99 million||0.8|
|Lawler vs. Brown||2.02 million||0.8|
The main cards of the Fox events have settled into a routine of having four fights per event. We will keep with this trend for this hypothetical all-female event.
First and foremost, The Ultimate Fighter Season 20 will be debuting this fall. The reality show features the newly minted 115-pound division, and the two finalists will meet for the inaugural strawweight championship.
Why waste this historic bout on Fox Sports 1? Give it co-main event billing on Fox.
The UFC will also need to quickly establish the next contender to the title. Strawweights Claudia Gadelha and Joanna Jedrzejczyk both looked fantastic in their wins during the first two 115-pound bouts in the UFC. It makes sense that this fight would be for the No. 1 contender fight. Make it the main card opener, and the UFC will have established its next title contender before the title fight has happened.
What would make for a great third main card fight?
How about the debut of Holly Holm or a No. 1 contender's fight for the 135-pound championship?
If Cat Zingano defeats Amanda Nunes at UFC 178, she will be the next title contender, but if she loses that, it opens the door for a title eliminator. The winner of Sara McMann vs. Lauren Murphy could take on Nunes or Sarah Kaufman for that honor.
The debut of Holm could headline the preliminary card if that happens, or she can debut on national network television should Zingano win and lay claim to the next title shot.
This only leaves one fight to fill—the main event.
Who could headline UFC on Fox 13 to generate enough interest to make it the biggest televised card ever? What fight is out there that would draw enough mainstream interest to make this a card that no casual fan would miss? You already know the answer.
Ronda Rousey vs. Gina Carano.
|Proposed UFC on Fox 13 Main Card|
|Ronda Rousey vs. Gina Carano||5||UFC Women's Bantamweight Championship|
|TUF 20 Finale||5||UFC Strawweight Championship|
|Holly Holm vs. Jessica Eye||3|
|Claudia Gadelha vs. Joanna Jedrzejczyk||3||No. 1 Contender for 115 Title|
When Carano fought on national television for EliteXC, it captivated the nation. Rousey has done the same, but has not been placed on free TV. Rousey vs. Carano would do great business on pay-per-view—there is little doubt about that. However, it would do everyone a greater service if it was in prime time.
There will not be competition from college football on December 13. It comes a week after the conference championship games conclude. That will put the spotlight on this event, and having Carano and Rousey headline it would be monstrous.
Advertisers would clamor for the TV spots for this all-women's card. It would feature two premier title fights and potentially two No. 1 contender fights.
Truthfully, the UFC has already seemingly torpedoed this idea by placing the event in Phoenix. No disrespect toward the lovely people of Arizona, but cities matter when you are booking top-tier cards. The UFC should look into moving the card to Las Vegas or Los Angeles for UFC on Fox 13.
The TUF finale is scheduled for December but has no set date. There is no TUF finale card booked yet. It would be simple enough to make UFC on Fox 13 the finale card with prelims airing on Fox Sports 1 and UFC Fight Pass so that the growing network does not lose all the value it will have built with TUF 20.
There are 16 fighters in the house, and most, if not all, of those athletes will be signed to the UFC to fill out the division. If that is the case and they all remain healthy, that would make seven bouts available for the Fight Pass and Fox Sports 1 preliminary action.
Making UFC on Fox 13 an all-women's fight card with both titles on the line would emphasize the UFC's commitment to its women's divisions. It puts all of the talent on the biggest platform so the UFC can catapult them in future events.
It would be a landmark event for the UFC and the sport in general. It would do great numbers and be one of the few absolute must-see events. The UFC needs to explore this option and start making the necessary calls.