The last time the UFC
was in Brazil, there was no such thing as Spike TV
But for Saturday's UFC 134
, the promotion's first trip to the South American cradle of MMA
since 1998, fans can watch all 12 fights on a combination of Facebook, Spike and pay-per-view.
This will be the 15th consecutive event that the UFC has utilized Facebook to air preliminary card fights, dating back to January. And for the ninth straight event, each fight on the card will be broadcast in some form. The first five UFC 134 prelims will stream live on Facebook, followed by a pair of fights on Spike leading into the pay-per-view broadcast.
A pair of fights between Brazilians and Americans leads the Spike broadcast. A middleweight bout between Rousimar Palhares
and Dan Miller
kicks things off, followed by a lightweight bout between Thiago Tavares
and Spencer Fisher
Palhares (12-3, 5-2 UFC) fought exclusively in his native Brazil until signing with the UFC in 2008. His last three wins have been by submission. Miller (13-5, 1 NC, 5-4 UFC) has struggled since starting his UFC career 3-0. He suffered a three-fight skid with decision losses to Chael Sonnen
, Demian Maia
and Michael Bisping
, but rebounded with back-to-back wins over John Salter and Joe Doerksen. But in March, he lost a unanimous decision to Nate Marquardt in his native New Jersey.
Tavares (15-4-1, 5-4-1 UFC) started his career 12-0 but has gone just 3-4-1 in his last eight fights. In March, he was knocked out by Shane Roller at UFC on Versus 3. Fisher (24-7, 9-6 UFC) is also coming off a loss. Ross Pearson took a unanimous decision from him at UFC 127 in Sydney in February, giving the Iowa-based fighter three losses in four fights.
On the UFC's Facebook page, fans will get a Brazilian-heavy lineup. An opening bantamweight bout between Canada's Yves Jabouin and American Ian Loveland is the only fight on the card to not feature a Brazilian. Three fights on the Facebook prelims feature Brazilians debuting in the UFC against fellow Brazilians. And Paulo Thiago (13-3, 3-3 UFC) looks to end a two-fight skid against David Mitchell (11-1, 0-1 UFC).
To gain access to the Facebook fights, which will begin at 6 p.m. Eastern, viewers must "like" the UFC on Facebook. As of Wednesday afternoon, the UFC had more than 6.2 million fans at the site. When the UFC first started streaming prelims fights on Facebook in January, it had approximately 4.5 million fans at the social networking site.
The UFC began streaming preliminary fights in January with its Fight for the Troops 2 show at Fort Hood, Texas. Since then, the promotion has included free Facebook fights for each event, regardless of the main card's platform – be it on pay-per-view, Spike or Versus. For the historic UFC 129 card in Toronto in April, five prelims were aired on Facebook, followed by a pair on Spike leading into the pay-per-view – meaning for the first time, fans were guaranteed the opportunity to see each fight on the card. That has continued for each of the eight events since then, including Saturday's card in Rio.
UFC 134 features a main event middleweight title fight between champion Anderson Silva and Yushin Okami, the last man to beat him – albeit by disqualification when Silva delivered an illegal upkick and Okami couldn't continue. The co-main event features a rematch between former light heavyweight champions Mauricio "Shogun" Rua and Forrest Griffin. And also on the main card, heavyweight Brendan Schaub looks for his fifth straight win in a matchup against Brazilian legend Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira.