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UFC on FOX Debut a Rollercoaster Ride


, things did not get off to a particularly promising start. In introducing the night's action, play-by-play commentator Bill Wallace incorrectly referred to it as the "Ultimate Fighting Challenge" twice within 10 seconds.

Eighteen years to the day later, UFC on FOX marked the promotion's debut on network television, with a single fight broadcast around the nation. Like UFC 1, it was essentially an informercial, designed to pull in sports enthusiasts and channel surfers in hopes of creating new fans.

Cain VelasquezJunior dos Santos

went just 64 seconds, robbing the UFC of a chance to give new viewers a deeper look at a textured sport.

Overall, it was a bit of a mixed bag. Let's take a look at the broadcast and break it all down.

9 pm ET: FOX opens the show with a black and white card which reads, "The following might be the most exciting live sporting event in the history of television, and it's our duty to say: Viewer discretion advised." Cool.

9 pm: The FOX Sports theme music kicks off as host Curt Menefee announces the UFC is part of the FOX family. A nice touch, and for football fans especially, a clear signal that this is going to be a big deal.

9:01 pm: FOX shows a quick montage with a brief history of the promotion, and introduces Velasquez and dos Santos. A good idea, but not in-depth enough to offer any real insight into the UFC's wild ride.

9:03 pm: Menefee and UFC president Dana White are at the FOX Sports anchor desk inside the arena to discuss the significance of the fight and the event. I have no problem with White having a presence and speaking about the company's rise. But to have the company president as the fight analyst doesn't make for optimal presentation. It would be a much better idea to have a retired fighter giving unbiased analysis without a promoter's slant.

Brock Lesnar

joins White and Menefee to discuss the fight. Lesnar mentions he'll fight the winner of Velasquez-dos Santos, getting in a nice plug. Given Lesnar's status as perhaps the most well-known UFC fighter, his presence was practically mandatory. Lesnar wasted no time doing some verbal sparring with White, though he incorrectly predicted Velasquez would be able to take dos Santos down and keep him there. He wasn't the only one.

9:13 pm: FOX shows a segment on dos Santos that describes his early life, including an interview with his mother in which she tells a story of when as a youth, he refused to fight back against a bully because he didn't like to fight. This was a good, humanizing piece for those people who still insist fighters are thugs.

9:20 pm: A similar segment on Velasquez airs, detailing his father's sacrifices as a manual laborer to build a better life for his family, and how Cain learned his work ethic from him. Although this is a story many of us have heard before, it's important for the rest of the world tuning in to gain a little personal knowledge of the fighters.

9:25 pm: Menefee throws the fight to Mike Goldberg and Joe Rogan for more analysis. Rogan describes dos Santos as sort of a throwback to the early days of the UFC for his reliance on one art: boxing. It's not too far off, but it downplayed dos Santos' wrestling brilliance, the fact that he's a jiu-jitsu brown belt, and that he's extremely athletic.

9:29 pm: dos Santos makes his way to the cage to the "Rocky" theme song and a chorus of boos. A great walkout song, but have fighters forgotten he loses? Rogan presciently asks, "The big question for him in this fight is, can he land the big shot standing up?"

9:33 pm: Velasquez makes his walk to the cage. At this point we're over a half-hour in and haven't seen a punch, so most people are probably getting a bit edgy. I understand the need for a pre-fight show but this is on the longish side. Hopefully that's because it's the first one, and in the future we can cut it down.

9:36 pm: Bruce Buffer begins introductions. Now we're in business. dos Santos looks calm and composed. Velasquez's body language isn't great. His gaze is downward as he walks side to side.

9:39 pm: Ref John McCarthy gives the "Let's get it on" opener. Let's.

9:40 pm: It's over. What? Look, many mainstream media members and other sports fans took shots at the UFC after dos Santos needed just 64 seconds to beat Velasquez, but those numbskulls should know that sports are unpredictable. There were three big sports events last night. This was one. In the second, Juan Manuel Marquez was robbed by the ringside judges in a loss to Manny Pacquiao. In the third, No. 4 Stanford was blown out by Oregon by 23 points in college football. Sports are unpredictable. We can't control that. That said, it clearly would have been beneficial for UFC to have a longer, technical fight that showcased more of the "mixed" part of MMA. But that's life.

9:54 pm: After post-fight interviews and some Rogan/Goldberg banter, we're back at the FOX Sports desk. White immediately questions Velasquez's strategy, asking why he didn't go for the takedown. This is a good question. But the entire post-fight analysis between the two is spent criticizing Velasquez while no credit is given to dos Santos for executing his plan. In essence, White acted more like an analyst than a promoter here, because he probably should have spent the time pumping up his new champion. That's good and bad, and it's another example of why White shouldn't be in the role. He can't serve the audience and his company, and he shouldn't have to. Just to be clear, it wasn't his idea. FOX Sports requested him there, but the network would do better to bring in their own analyst for these situations.

UFC 1 didn't exactly get off to a great start and things worked out OK. UFC on FOX had its issues, from timing to analysis. The fact that we only got 64 seconds of action in 60 minutes probably left a few hungry for more, but hopefully that just means they'll be back for another bite. With a seven-year FOX deal, there will be plenty more shows to choose from.

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