UFC comes to network TV

Cain Velasquez is the reigning UFC heavyweight champion.

The Ultimate Fighting Championship’s spectacular evolution into mainstream sport status will continue Saturday night when UFC Heavyweight champion Cain Velasquez meets No. 1 contender Junior Dos Santos in a fight that will air on FOX.

The fight marks UFC’s debut on network television.

“This is a throw-back to the old days of boxing. We are putting a big fight — a huge fight — on free TV to expose this thing to a new audience. Our goal has always been to bring big fights back to network television. We are thinking long-term for the future of this sport,” UFC president Dana White said in recent conference call with Velasquez and Dos Santos. “It is an investment in the future of the UFC. Fans that have never seen the UFC before will see this show and that’s why we decided to put Cain and Junior in this position.”

Despite it being a 10-fight card, the only fight that will be aired on the hour-long show will be for the heavyweight title. White explained that UFC will conduct locker room interviews with Velasquez and Dos Santos before the fight. Traditionally, UFC has cameras in the locker room as fighters prepare for their bouts, but the interview packages have been pre-recorded.

“This is going to be a different format than we’ve ever done before. Obviously this is a show featuring one fight so we’re doing a lot of things differently. We are going to be rehearsing for this from Thursday,” White said.

Velasquez, the reigning UFC heavyweight champion, is 9-0-0 in his MMA career. Eight of his nine wins have come by TKO, including a first-round devastation of then-champ Brock Lesnar at UFC 121. Velasquez’s lone non-TKO win was a unanimous decision over Cheick Kongo at UFC 99.  

Dos Santos has won 13 of his 14 professional fights. He has won three fights via submission, two unanimous decisions and eight TKOs. Dos Santos’ only loss was a first round submission to Joaquim Ferriera in the Mo Team League in San Paulo, Brazil, on Nov. 10, 2007.

“I don’t think this fight will go five rounds. I have trained for five rounds, but I don’t expect this to do the distance,” Dos Santos said.

“It was such a long wait for my title shot, but I am not sorry. This, right now, is the greatest opportunity I could have had, fighting for the world heavyweight title live on FOX for the very first time,” Dos Santos added. “I’m very happy in my life right now. I’m in such a good place mentally and physically. I’m proof that if you work hard, treat people right and don’t doubt yourself, you can achieve your dreams. I genuinely believe that Cain is the greatest heavyweight in the world and it is an honor to fight him.”

Dos Santos and Lesnar were scheduled to meet at UFC 131 at Vancouver’s Rogers Arena in June to determine the top contender for the heavyweight title. Both men had been coaches on 13th season of the Spike TV show The Ultimate Fighter. However, Lesnar suffered a re-occurrence of diverculitis and had to be replaced in the main event by former UFC interim Heavyweight Champion Shane Carwin. Dos Santos decisively won a three-round unanimous decision over Carwin.

Lesnar will fight Alistair Overeem at UFC 141 on Dec. 30 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena. The fight is Overeem’s UFC debut and will be Lesnar’s first fight since losing to Velasquez. 

Follow Denis Gorman on Twitter @DenisGorman.



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
International

PHOTO: Queen Elizabeth photobombs Australian hockey players trying…

The selfie / photobomb has gone viral.

Local

Astoria minivan crash kills 1, injures 6: NYPD

Anthony Boyd, 45, died soon after what investigators believe was some sort of medical emergency as he drove his family through Astoria on Sunday afternoon.

Local

NYC pension funds valued at $160b: Scott Stringer

The five NYC pension funds that thousands of city employees contribute to saw its fifth year in a row of increased returns, up $23 billion from last year.

International

Sierra Leone Ebola patient, recovered from family, dies…

An Ebola patient whose family sparked a nationwide hunt when they forcefully removed her from a treatment center and took her to a traditional healer has died.

Movies

The 'Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1' trailer is…

Watch 'The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1' trailer.

Music

Newport Folk Festival: Photo gallery of 35 moments…

As has been the tradition since Bob Dylan plugged in a bajillion years ago, the Newport Folk Festival embraces more musical genres than its name implies.

Music

MKTO: Behind the bromance

MKTO's Malcolm Kelley and Tony Oller talk about the American Dream tour, Demi Lovato and getting turned down by girls.

Arts

James Earl Jones and Rose Byrne head to…

Two-time Tony winner James Earl Jones returns to the New York stage next month as an eccentric grandfather in a revival of the 1930s comedy…

NFL

Computer to Jets: Start Michael Vick over Geno…

Jets general manager John Idzik says the choice of who starts between second-year quarterback Geno Smith and veteran Michael Vick will be a “Jets decision.”

MLB

Yankees looking to trade for Josh Willingham: Report

CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman reported Sunday the Yankees are interested in Twins outfielder Josh Willingham.

MLB

Joe Torre: I'm in Hall of Fame because…

Joe Torre spent 18 years putting together a near Hall of Fame career as a player. But it was the 12 years he spent as…

MLB

Yankees GM Brian Cashman breaks down art of…

The action frequently accelerates as the non-waiver trade deadline approaches, as it will on Thursday.

Tech

Amazon offers 3D printing to customize earrings, bobble…

By Deepa SeetharamanSAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Amazon.com Inc will offer 3D printing services that allow customers to customize and build earrings, bobble head toys and…

Wellbeing

This Week In Health: Friends share similar DNA,…

Friends share similar DNA, study finds Location: U.S. Study subjects: Nearly 2,000 people Results: When it comes to our social networks, it seems that birds of…

Education

Are liberal arts colleges turning away from the…

Bryn Mawr College, a small women's college located just outside of Philadelphia, announced last week that it would be making standardized tests like the SAT…

Education

Recent grads discover school superintendent plagiarized parts of…

  Two recent high school graduates made a surprising discovery about the commencement speech their school superintendent delivered at their graduation: portions of it was copied…