With big risk comes even bigger rewards
Ten years of hard work and dedication has never come down to so little and yet so much.
When UFC Heavyweight Champion Cain Velasquez does battle with undisputed No. 1 contender Junior Dos Santos Saturday night in the Honda Center, there isn't just 12 pounds of gold on the line, but the entire sporting landscape as we know it will be in the balance.
UFC President Dana White said it best: UFC on FOX has made him nervous for the first time in nearly a decade, as well it should. This is the UFC's chance, after 10 years of hard work and progress, to finally make it mainstream and expand into a sport as globally known as soccer and the World Cup.
Millions of people around the world will have their first chance to view the fastest growing sport in the world, mixed martial arts, thanks to the UFC's new, national broadcasting deal with FOX television. One important question is will it be accepted by the public considering that our ever-changing culture feel about violence and its portrayal in society.
Just 10 short years ago, the UFC was a sport being legislated against and proclaimed by prestigious elected officials as "human cockfighting." Now after much regulation, hard work, lucky breaks and amazing fights, they are on the cusp of becoming a mainstream sport despite being in a time when violence is being more closely monitored.
The public is more sensitive than ever when it comes to combat, even though the youth today are playing games and viewing videos infinitely more graphic than mixed martial arts. For the UFC and MMA to stand just hours away from being shown and promoted on national television is astounding, and those involved in the rise of MMA have done what was once seen as impossible.
Some could argue that this isn't the first time MMA has been seen on the national landscape after CBS and EliteXC partnered together a few years ago. However, that was not a portrayal of MMA as much as it was a freak show meant to gather ratings from a younger demographic.
This is the UFC, the NFL and premiere organization in the sport and one of the best run business in the world. These are the two best heavyweight fighters in the world, a fight that could be the beginning of an epic trilogy then equivalent of boxing's Ali-Frazier.
That is one of the reasons so much is riding on the fight, because the UFC has always been great at maximizing its assets and getting the most out of every deal it makes.
What are your expectations for UFC on Fox?
Imagine if the fight goes five epic rounds, think the level of Griffin-Bonnar or Silva-Sonnen or even the "Thrilla in Manilla." That will most certainly elevate the UFC to a new level in the world's sporting landscape, making everyone associated with the organization even more in demand.
It would be a movement similar to when Apple released its first iPod. Could Apple have lived on and thrived without the iPod? Certainly, but they exploded in value and power once they released the revolutionary product and are now considered a computer powerhouse despite having such a small amount of the marketplace.
Velasquez and JDS would become household names with the UFC reaping the rewards from hundreds of thousands of more PPV buys for next week's UFC 139 card. The UFC will not squander the opportunity to become larger if it is presented to them, unlike boxing and EliteXC.
This fight, the heavyweight championship of the world, needs to deliver for the UFC to take the next step toward becoming as popular as soccer globally, a stated goal of Dana White. Without a great first impression, one that leave the viewing public wanting more and more, the UFC will continue to be just on the cusp of mainstream, much like hockey and soccer are here in the US.
The UFC is taking a huge, calculated risk by presenting just one fight, no matter how prestigious, to the consumer. Heavyweights bring the name and the fame, but not always the game because with big risk comes even bigger rewards.
There are no second impressions. When they lock the gate to the Octagon this Saturday night, the whole world will pause and watch, whether we feel it or not.