The UFC was originally expected to put two fights on its Nov. 12 network television debut on Fox.
In the end, the promotion went with just one. And what a fight it is.
UFC president Dana White announced Friday that Cain Velasquez’ first heavyweight title defense against Junior dos Santos will headline the Anaheim, Calif., card. It’s expected to become the most-watched MMA event in history.
“Most of the people that know about the UFC know the rapid growth that we’ve had over the last 10 years,” White said on a conference call with reporters. “The big reason for that is, we deliver. We are going with the most prestigious championship in all of sports, the heavyweight title. For the first time ever [on network TV], we really want to kick it off with a bang.”
The UFC’s Fox debut will be one hour long, focused entirely on the five-round championship fight. If the bout ends quickly, a preliminary bout or highlight reel will be shown after.
Velasquez, 29, is 9-0 as a professional. He TKO’d the popular Brock Lesnar for the title last October in Anaheim.
Dos Santos, 26, is 13-1 as a pro, with his only loss coming to Joaquim Ferreira in 2007. He’s 7-0 in the UFC, having earned his title shot with a dominating decision against Shane Carwin at UFC 131 in June.
“This fight is going to be awesome,” White said. “I’m excited for it.”
The championship bout was expected to go down at UFC 139 the following week in San Jose, Calif. White cautioned yesterday that, though the Nov. 19 date had been rumored, it was never finalized — and that the San Jose card remains intact.
Moving Velasquez and dos Santos from a pay-per-view event to broadcast television apparently presented no problems.
“For these guys to take the fight, they’re being paid just fine,” White said. “They’re very happy with what they’re being paid. Both guys are so excited to be fighting on the first Fox card.”
White said the in-arena experience will be identical to any major pay-per-view event. All preliminary fights will be televised “somewhere.”
White also shot down rumors Lesnar is again ill and near retirement.
“That’s so far from the truth it’s not even funny,” White said.