Mixed martial arts fans have been waiting for an event like the first UFC on FOX broadcast for a long time. We've all been hoping for this sport to gain main-stream appeal and for the fan base to grow. But while the UFC on FOX event was historic, it was rather disappointing.
Ultimately, there were only 64 seconds of fighting in an hour-long broadcast. Fans were treated to an excellent main event, but the ratio of fights to filler was simply unreasonable.
Parts of it were understandable, however. The UFC wanted to give a history of the sport to welcome and educate new fans. In addition, the broadcast included an introduction to and background on both fighters to make it seem less like two blood-thirsty savages battling and more like two athletes competing.
Even though the commercials were excessive, it's a free fight, so that's to be expected. What didn't make sense was the excessive analysis. Brock Lesnar, Dana White, Mike Goldberg and Joe Rogan all essentially said the same thing over and over—Cain Velasquez is well-rounded, and Junior dos Santos has amazing hands.
Both the UFC and FOX squandered an amazing opportunity to gain new fans by not airing the Clay Guida and Benson Henderson bout. Everyone who knew anything about MMA was aware it was going to be an amazing fight. After all, both of them have earned Fight of the Year awards before.
And what a fight it was. The back-and-forth war would have pleased any individual with the slightest interest in combat sports.
What the UFC and FOX care about, though, is that, according to USA Today, the "one-hour broadcast averaged 5.7 million viewers, 16% higher than the 4.9 million average for CBS' live airing of EliteXC in May 2008, which culminated with a fight between Kevin 'Kimbo Slice' Ferguson and James Thompson." This is a record average for a mixed martial arts event in the United States.
So while the UFC on FOX event may have been a success in terms of viewership, it was clearly a failure in terms of content. The fact that a lightweight title eliminator featuring Clay Guida and Benson Henderson—the potential Fight of the Year—was only available online is maddening.