UFC Making Network TV Debut on Saturday

Velasquez and Dos Santos will have the eyes of the mainstream world upon them (Photo courtesy of Dave Mandel, Sherdog.com).
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Cain Velasquez Defending UFC Heavyweight Title Against Heavy-Handed Junior Dos Santos

The most important night in UFC history will take place this Saturday, with the worldwide leader in mixed martial arts hosting its first-ever show on national broadcast television. The players on that debut, which will air live on FOX, could not be any bigger either, with undefeated UFC Heavyweight Champion Cain Velasquez (9-0) putting his title on the line against top contender Junior Dos Santos (13-1).

“This is without a doubt the biggest fight in UFC history,” UFC President Dana White stated. “This thing started as a small fringe sport and has grown to what it is today. This Saturday night as we step out onto FOX, millions of people will see UFC who’ve never watched before. As we take this step forward into what we call ‘mainstream,’ we were much more fortunate in that we were able to hand pick a fight that we wanted to put on FOX. If I had to do it all over again, this is still the fight I’d pick to put on network television.”

The UFC announced that it had reached a television deal with FOX Networks this past August, marking what was possibly the biggest achievement in MMA history. While heavy pressure rests on the shoulders of all who are involved, White says that expectations will be reached this Saturday.

“No matter what, you know we’re going to deliver,” he confirmed. “We’re on FOX – the biggest, baddest network on the planet. We couldn’t ask for anything more. This is a dream come true.” FOX Sports Media Group Chairman David Hill also shared his excitement.

“We’re obviously stoked (to have this event on FOX),” he remarked. “We’re all huge boxing fans, and I think with the death of Joe Frazier, it made people realize that everyone remembers what a great boxer and competitor he was, and the will to win Joe Frazier had. Everyone started talking about the golden days of boxing and what happened to it. To be coming back on primetime with a fight like this, it’s kinda of like the dawn of a new era. It’s like a phoenix coming from the ashes.”

This heavyweight pairing has the makeup of being one of the best matches in UFC history, with two relentless fighters holding the weight of the promotion on their backs. Velasquez became the UFC Heavyweight Champion in October of 2010 when he absolutely dismantled Brock Lesnar in a first round TKO win. A defined wrestler with very heavy hands, Velasquez pounded Lesnar until he curled up to defend the onslaught of punches that his Mexican-American counterpart was unloading onto his head. Unfortunately, the newly crowned champion has been shelved ever since that impressive performance in Anaheim due a torn rotator cuff he suffered during the fight. After undergoing a grueling amount of physical therapy, Velasquez says he is now back to full health and prepared for his first title defense.

“From both of us, we have exciting fighting styles,” Velsquez commented. “We don’t go out there and put on boring fights. We’re both going to go forward. That’s what fans are going to see. That’s what people who haven’t seen this before are going to see on Saturday.”

On the other side of the Octagon will be the highly dangerous Junior Dos Santos, who has more than earned this opportunity for a crack at the belt. Currently riding an eight-match winning streak, the Brazilian native chose to continue fighting in wake of the injury to Velasquez, knowing that a loss would kill his confirmed shot at the heavyweight championship. He was originally supposed to battle Lesnar after a dominating defeat of veteran Roy Nelson, but a return of diverticulitis struck Lesnar and forced him off a signed pairing. Dos Santos then agreed to face heavy handed Shane Carwin in a replacement bout, and he easily knocked him off in an impressive unanimous decision win.

“I think in this case, Cain Velasquez is the number one heavyweight now,” Dos Santos stated. “I want to change this on Saturday. It’s going to be a great fight and a war. I think a lot of people are going to be rooting for him on Saturday night, but I know I’ll have a lot of people rooting for me around the world. I’ll use that energy on Saturday night.”

As part of the new agreement with FOX Networks, the UFC will broadcast the weigh-ins on Friday for the first time on live television, beginning at 7:00 p.m. EST on Fuel TV. The UFC on FOX will hit the airways at 9:00 p.m. EST on Saturday night.

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