As of right now no official announcement has been made whether UFC 103 will be a PPV or on Spike TV. UFC 95 was held on Spike TV (February 21, in England). UFC 103 is scheduled for September 19th which represents roughly a 6 month time period. I'm going to come out and say that this will be a free card based on a couple different things.
Rich Franklin is widely believed to be a candidate for UFC 103's Main Event. His most likely opponent I've heard is Luis Cane. Luis is coming off 3 straight wins and will need a true test to see if he belongs with the elite at 205. However, Luis Cane is hardly a mainstream figure. Even though he is surely talented, any PPV with him in the main event may not draw well with the non hardcore audience. Rich Franklin also is a notoriously low PPV figurehead.
Enter Exhibit A:
One of the weakest draws in recent UFC history, Franklin and the often injured Okami only registered approximately 200,000 buys. UFC 93 (Franklin/Henderson) also held In Ireland also only registered a meager 350,000 buys. UFC 103 will have an advantage in that it is in Dallas, and not overseas in Ireland or the U.K.
Cro Cop is also rumored to be fighting at UFC 103 against Junior Dos Santos. If you don't know who Dos Santos is (/eyeroll) then behold his uppercut from hell.
Dos Santos though very talented, is also another obscure fighter compared to other HWs (Anyone remember some WWE guy?, I forget his name) who the UFC seems to be slow tracking (was scheduled to fight McCully @ 102 initially). Hardcore MMA fans all remember the glorious and fearsome LHK of Cro Cop from Pride, but can a 2-2 UFC fighter really draw in the buys even with Zuffa's amazing marketing machine.
Ugh. I hate to even talk about him but Tito has always been a big seller. Tito vs. Franklin, or Cane vs. Franklin? Honestly, I think Cane is the much better fighter but everyone loves to hate Tito (and therefore will want to see him get his ass kicked, $$) If Tito does fight at 103 the chances of it being a PPV soar. However, I've left out one CRUCIAL detail in this thought process. What also is scheduled on 9-19? Think...Think...
UFC 103 will take place Sept. 19 at the American Airlines Center in Dallas, Texas (headlining fight still to be determined). The show comes just three days after a Spike television "UFC Fight Night" (and the premiere of the Kimbo Slice-spearheaded "Ultimate Fighter" season) is set to air, but that congested schedule isn't as interesting as what is being thrown up against it. The UFC event will compete head-to-head with a major boxing pay-per-view that same night featuring returning braggart Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Juan Manuel Marquez.
Even though Dana dismisses the Marquez-Mayweather fight in his usual pro-MMA rhetoric in the ESPN article above, there aren't many potential bigger fights in boxing. I admit that I'm not a big boxing fan (I'm a casual /GASP) but even I know the big names: Pac, Hatton, Mayweather, Cotto, Marquez, and throw in the Klitscho Brothers for fun. Boxing is also a very powerful sport in terms of ethnic heritage. Mexicans love to route for and see their fighters in the ring. Guess what also is around 9-18? Mexican Independence Day. All in all I think this card will do a decent buy which brings me back to the original point of the article about UFC 103.
Would Dana do 2 free shows in 3 days? Talk about the ultimate free rush. What happens if a potential Franklin-Cane draws badly against a solid M-M fight. Will Dana have to eat crow as boxing promoters smile and laugh and say their sport isn't dead. Or will he fire back with his UFC 100' numbers. My gut tells me this should air free but I also don't like paying extra money.
UFC 101: Penn-Florian & Griffin/A.Silva
UFC 102: Nog-Couture & Jardine/ T.Silva
UFC 103: Franklin-Cane & Dos Santos/ Cro Cop
UFC 104: Machida-Shogun & Carwin/Cain
Even though UFC 103 is a stacked card it just doesn't have the hook. Hardcore fans will like the card's depth but there just seems to be a drop off in the top 2 fights . And this is all assuming Franklin-Cane is the main event. What happens if Franklin gets hurt? Cro Cop isn't OFFICIALLY signed either or perhaps he is being forcibly locked in a Las Vegas basement so he can't run away to DREAM. Lastly, here's a preview of the poster for UFN 19.