Preview: UFC on FOX: Velasquez vs. dos Santos
By Michael Sorenson
Oh my, look how far we’ve come.
On November 12th, 1993, a new sport was born. With UFC 1 came the emergence of mixed martial arts.People witnessed a skinny Brazilian kid in something called a gi take down and submit three straight larger opponents, and the landscape of combat sports was forever altered.
But at the time no one thought they were spawning a new sport, as the UFC was more akin to a spectacle in the early days. Over time, however, the UFC, and MMA in general, has grown and evolved to the brilliant athletic competition that we see today. Now, exactly eighteen years later, the UFC is set to make its network television debut.
UFC on FOX: Velasquez vs. dos Santos will officially kick down the door to the mainstream and open up the world of MMA to legions of potential new fans. Yes, Elite XC and, more recently, Strikeforce might have cracked the door open a bit with a handful of forays into network television broadcasting, but now the world’s premier mixed martial arts organization is finally getting its opportunity to shine on the biggest of stages – and they could not have picked a better fight to start with.
Nothing draws the interest of those who may not be intimately familiar with combat sports like a heavyweight title fight. Those three words alone grab more attention than the words “Anderson Silva” or “George St-Pierre” ever could with a new budding fanbase. And an attention grabber is exactly what this fight is.
With one fight in one hour, the first UFC on FOX show is essentially a giant commercial for the UFC. If it goes well, it sticks in the minds of those who see it and entices them to purchase the product later. If not, it is forgotten about easily and leaves the brand asking questions.
With Cain Velasquez and Junior dos Santos headlining, however, something tells me the only question Dana White and company will be asking is, “How awesome is this?”
In one corner you have the challenger. Junior dos Santos is the human equivalent of a wrecking ball. Holding a perfect 7-0 record in the UFC, with 5 wins coming via stoppage, has looked all but unstoppable thus far inside the octagon. Unfortunately for him, yet fortunately for fight fans, his opponent Saturday night just happens to be the immovable object.
Cain Velasquez also sports a 7-0 record under the UFC banner, with 6 of his wins coming via TKO. Both men have very well rounded games and it’s really hard to pick a winner in this one. Velasquez is a world class wrestler while dos Santos has possibly the most violent and effective hands in the heavyweight division. However, Velasquez’s hands are fantastic also, as evidenced in his recent fights with Minotauro Nogueira and his championship winning performance against Brock Lesnar, and dos Santos has shown off his wrestling chops, as well, most notably against Shane Carwin.
To cap it all off, both men hold the rank of brown belt in Jiu-jitsu, Velasquez under Greg Camarillo and dos Santos under the Nogueiras. Nothing is certain in this matchup aside from the fact that every MMA fan the world over cannot wait to see how it plays out.
The fact that only one fight is being shown on the FOX broadcast is not to say that there isn’t a great undercard to be watched, as well. The co-main event, being aired with the rest of the undercard on the UFC’s Facebook page and foxsports.com, is a high-octane matchup between Clay “The Carpenter” Guida and Ben “Smooth” Henderson to determine the next challenger for Frankie Edgar’s lightweight strap.
Also, Tim Credeur protégé Dustin Poirier takes on bonus bandit Pablo Garza in an exciting featherweight tilt, Cub Swanson makes his long-awaited UFC debut, and Norifumi “Kid” Yamamoto tries to right the ship in his sophomore effort in the bantamweight division.
The buzz around this weekend’s event is unlike anything I have ever experienced regarding the UFC. I have had multiple friends of mine ask me about Velasquez vs. dos Santos, friends who have never showed any interest in MMA or the UFC before. The marketing is working, people are excited, and the fighters are ready to go. All there is left to do now is watch – watch the UFC make history this Saturday night on FOX.