Ok, UFC has two types of fans, mma fans and ultimate fighting fans. These are the 600,000 or so that buy the ppvs or watch the shows monthly. Just a rounded off number, going off some of their more recent, successful cards.
EXC, the only promotion with a prime time network deal, has the hardcore mma fan and the casual/new fan that wants to see Kimbo and Gina Carrano, thus the 6 million or so viewers for the latter part of EXCBS 1. That is ten times the number of viewers watching the UFC (staying with the high end of buys to compensate some for the bar crowds). Of course, we have yet to see if they can remotely sustain that viewership.
Now, we all know that the hook of EXCBS 1, was Kimbo and Gina, so my question is, "who is the UFC's Kimbo?". Obviously, they don't have the curiosity draw for casual fans, that is women's mma, so who would they put on their cards to draw those new/casual fans? Who is their version of a "YouTube Fighting Sensation"? Are their most well known fighters, while superior skill wise, the big draw for these fans?
If the UFC were to garner even half of the EXCBS ratings, it would be considered a huge failure, imo, and could hurt their reputation some. They cannot put on shows like TUF 7 Finale or UFNs and expect to grab these valued viewers.
So, I am going to list who I think are the top draws, most compelling or most well known in each weight class. Feel free to agree or disagree, but more interestingly, put together a main card of 5 fights or so and let's see what we can come up with to draw in those more casual, less knowledgeable fans.
HW--Sorely lacking big names, obviously won't be the anchor weight class.
Brock Lesner--May be the biggest name in the UFC as far as new/casual fan is concerned.
Shane Carwin--America loves the huge, built guys and he may be able to grow into a top spot.
Cheick Kongo--Same here, big Physically imposing guy.
Antonio Nogueira--The Champ, maybe TUF exposure can get make him more recognizable?
LHW--Tito would have been perfect for a foray into network TV.
Rampage--Has had some TV/film exposure, very entertaining, plus he is the champ.
Chuck Liddell--Probably the highest profile fighter in the UFC that hasn't been in the WWE. Imo, he would be the headliner, without question.
Forrest Griffin--Has had some exposure and is a huge character. Don't discount his recognition from TUF 1.
Sokoudjou--Another physically imposing guy, great look about him and spectacular KO power.
Shogun--Top skills and a TV face, lol. The ladies love Shogun!
MW--Tough division to sell.
Anderson--Perhaps the best fighter around, but no exposure.
Michael Bisping--Seems like fans enjoy hating him more than anything, but that isn't always a bad thing.
WW--Could be a huge division on TV.
GSP--Great fighter, great accent, professionally dressed and well spoken. This guy should be one of the faces of MMA.
Hughes--Could be ending his career soon, should cash in on whatever recognition he may have.
Serra--Larger than life personality and has some exposure from TUF and beating GSP.
LW--Gotta sell action, and this is where it's at!
BJ--The champ, the prodigy, full of attitude and a great fighter.
Roger Huerta--Developing fighter, made for TV.
Clay Guida--looks like Animal from the Muppet Show, lol. His unique look and non-stop action style, make for a potential draw.
Obviously this isn't a list of the best fighters, but rather who is already somewhat known and who could be. Certainly not all-inclusive. So think it over and put your cards together and let's see if we think the UFC has what it takes to bring in the casual/new fans that may not be familiar with many of the world's best fighters.