UFC on Fox: 10 Changes UFC Might Need To Make for Broadcast TV
On Nov. 12, the UFC will premiere on Fox and introduce MMA to a brand new audience. This is a monumental step for the sport, one that will forever alter how the casual viewer perceives mixed martial arts.
As is, the UFC could air the same programming it gives for its pay-per-views and Fight Nights. The format is solid and exciting, and the average fan wouldn't know the difference.
Fox is a completely different animal than Spike or FX, however. The demographic is larger than the standard 18-35 year-old male range the UFC usually caters to, and Zuffa has a big opportunity in its hands to expand the UFC's audience.
In the midst of this event, here are 10 changes the UFC might have to make as it broadcasts over network television.
Better Doctor Stoppages
Although MMA has shed much of its “bloodsport” image of the '90s, UFC on Fox will have to make sure the audience is not, in fact, watching a bloodsport.
Fox has far more viewers than Spike or FX, so the likelihood is that there will be more people who will find a problem with this image than usual.
In the photo, Stefan Struve was allowed to continue fighting even though he was bleeding profusely. To his credit, he won the match, but the sight of blood literally dripping from his head will not win over detractors of the sport.
The doctor could have stopped the fight and nobody would have complained about it, save for Struve himself.
Until most of the audience can get educated on the limits of the human body, earlier doctor stoppages could be a good change for broadcast television.
Better Referee Stoppages
Many times, a fighter will complain that a fight was stopped too early by the referee, even though the referee (and the audience) could clearly see that the stoppage was warranted.
UFC on Fox will need more of that.
It’s far better for a fight to be stopped too early than too late. Kim Couture’s last fight against Sheila Bird is just one example of an occasion where better refereeing would have been useful.
The video is actually quite frightening, as the wide-eyed Couture goes limp for several seconds before the referee actually stops the fight.
On broadcast television, an MMA fight should not even approach this level of refereeing incompetence, let alone at any time.
Better Fighter Restraint
How many times have we seen an unconscious fighter taking unnecessary shots?
Think of the extra punch Dan Henderson landed on Michael Bisping, or the brutal image of Rampage Jackson continuously striking the face of the unconscious Wanderlei Silva.
Needless to say, that shouldn't happen, and not just on broadcast television.
Fighters need to find a little extra restraint when finishing off opponents. Of course, it’s the referee’s job to stop the fight, but there has to be a level of consciousness within the fighter that realizes he no longer needs to hurt his opponent.
Take, for example, Matt Mitrione’s last fight against Christian Morecraft. After knocking Morecraft down for the last time in the second round, he walked away, knowing Morecraft was done.
Perhaps a bonus for the fighters who don’t continue delivering unnecessary shots?
Create an Exciting Card for UFC on FOX 1
Historically, the UFC doesn’t always place it’s biggest superstars on free television, and understandably so: if people are willing to pay to watch Brock Lesnar fight, then common sense dictates to make them pay.
The UFC can, however, stack the upcoming UFC on Fox 1 with a series of exciting matchups that will guarantee fireworks and thus create new fans. Dan Hardy vs. Chris Lytle is a great example of a stylistic matchup that fans loved.
A Clay Guida vs. Ben Henderson fight would not fail to entertain, while the heavyweight striking of Pat Barry is sure to wow newcomers to the sport.
Whatever the UFC does for its Fox show on Nov. 12, it needs to keep Jon Fitch as far away from the card as possible.
Slightly Censored Joe and Mike
Joe Rogan and Mike Goldberg are a solid team of commentators who know the sport inside and out, but they’ve been prone to say a few things on the pay-per-view events that raise a few eyebrows.
While speaking of a large gash on a fighter’s head looking like a goat’s vagina may seem like playful banter among men, such a comment should probably not be said on broadcast television.
Let’s keep the sexual organ comparisons in check for just four times a year, boys.
Considerably Censored Dana White
If he’s to appear on national television, he’ll definitely have to watch what he says.
White isn’t foolish enough to curse on live TV, but he’ll definitely have to become a little less vocal about whatever certain topic irks him at the moment and say it in a more tactful manner.
You could beep out all the curse words Dana says on a video, but the audience at home will know what was omitted.
Ensure Post-Fight Interviews Don’t Get Ugly
MMA is unquestionably a violent sport.
The type of dedication needed to succeed is unfathomable to the average person. So when a fighter fully realizes his goal and wins a fight, he may get a little overzealous in the post-fight interview.
It might not be a good idea to broadcast that on television.
Brock Lesnar’s UFC 100 post-fight interview is a classic example of what not to say once you’ve won a fight, even though you really want to say it.
The crowd loves it, but the audience at home might not. The UFC would be wise to warn against post-fight rants.
Co-Advertise with Boxing
UFC on Fox isn’t the only combat sporting event happening on Nov. 12.
On the same day, boxing sensation Manny Pacquiao will be concluding his epic trilogy against Juan Manuel Marquez on pay-per-view.
Thankfully, the UFC has chosen not to go head-to-head for ratings against a Pacquiao fight, so fight fans will be getting several hours of consecutive combative entertainment.
White has had problem’s with Top Rank’s owner, Bob Arum, in the past, but the two should set aside their differences and help advertise each other’s respective sport to their audiences.
If UFC on Fox were to advertise the Pacquiao fight that happens later in the evening, it could also receive a guest plug on the pay-per-view.
MMA on network television is a big step forward, so endearing itself to boxing fans would also help MMA’s acceptance into the mainstream.
Introduce Women's MMA
As it stands, the UFC is a business, and the main reason why women’s MMA isn’t in the UFC is because it wouldn’t generate enough profit for the pay-per-views.
A place where women’s MMA could earn its keep? UFC on Fox.
Naturally, Fox would have more female viewers than either Spike or FX. To introduce fighters that have more in common with the fairer sex would only bolster female support for the UFC.
With most of the world’s best female fighters either in Strikeforce or competing in Japan, it would be difficult to create deep enough weight divisions in the UFC, but the payoff would be tremendously beneficial to the sport of mixed martial arts.
Include a Comprehensive Introduction
A lot of people will be tuning into UFC on Fox to watch MMA for the first time in their lives. If they aren’t eased into it, they might not like what they see.
The video displays the typical UFC introduction. Within one minute, we have already heard six men talking about how much they want to hurt another person. This is followed by highlights of them hurting other people.
All this is set to the joyous soundtrack of heavy, screaming metal.
A simple “Parental Advisory” before the video will not do. Perhaps a segment dedicated to MMA’s history and culture would better introduce new viewers to what they’re about to watch.
Then we can get to the heavy, screaming metal.