The UFC has held three full shows on FOX (as well as one introductory title-fight preceding the 2012 tilts). However, despite a few quality clashes and highlight-reel finishes the organization has yet to firmly establish itself as “must see TV” given the mediocre ratings turned in thus far.
Fortunately, that should change on December 8 when the promotion returns to the network with a stacked card featuring not only a bout between lightweight champion Benson Henderson and top contender Nate Diaz but two PPV-worthy pairings featuring B.J Penn-Rory MacDonald and Mauricio Rua-Alexander Gustafsson. Though injuries could always affect the lineup, as it stands currently UFC on FOX 5 should not only result in the series’ best numbers but also set the tone for a huge 2013.
For starters there are the athletes involved. Rua and Penn are both former UFC champions and also two of MMA’s legitimate legends, while the other quartet of highlighted competitors features four of the sport’s brightest rising stars. All six scrappers are also known for their entertaining efforts inside the Octagon. They have all been involved in memorable meetings and are more likely to go for the finish than eke out a decision win. Together they’ve combined to stop 75% of the total opponents beaten (80/107). That stat in itself indicates fans, whether longtime or new, should be in for a treat in December when the curtain drops.
It was also smart to feature Diaz and Rua on the card based on each having already fought in a FOX headliner, allowing the personal investment to carry over from casual followers who weren’t overly familiar with them prior to their previous bouts.
Secondly, the timing of the event is much better than it has been in general. UFC on FOX 3 was held on Cinco de Mayo and UFC on FOX 4 during the Summer Olympics. Both dates impacted the number of viewers interested or available to tune in. This time around the show will take place in the thick of the NFL season, undoubtedly drawing a number of eyes from the ever-important “18-34 year old male” demographic as a result.
Throw in the rumored rumble between the dynamic duo of Anthony Pettis-Donald Cerrone and you get as perfect of a card as the UFC could have hoped to book for FOX. Past shows have been solid but this time around the “prime” in “primetime” has an all new meaning because the handling of UFC on FOX 5 was first-class all the way.