The UFC announced today during a media conference call that UFC heavyweight champion Cain Velasquez will defend his title against Junior dos Santos on the inaugural UFC on Fox card on November 12 at the Honda Center in Anaheim, California. The one-hour network special, contrary to what we've heard in the past, will only feature one fight, sparking some debate in the immediate reaction to the news whether the UFC will fill space with preliminary fights.
In any case, this should be considered an intelligent decision by the UFC. For weeks, fans and media alike have gone through countless scenarios regarding potential match-ups. The rumors swirling around Alistair Overeem's impending contract signing with the UFC were the basis for heavy rumors that he would headline the event against Frank Mir. Overeem's relatively unknown status among casual fans lessened that possibility.
Tito Ortiz vs. Rich Franklin was another popular choice. Their names are synonymous with the brand. But many fans were wary of seeing that fight headline such a large event due to their veteran status and the loss of interest in both fighters as they've aged. Most fans agreed that building stars should be a priority when considering match-ups.
Velasquez vs. dos Santos fulfills that requirement. Neither man is a pay-per-view draw. With the future of Brock Lesnar as a viewer magnet up in the air, the UFC is looking for the next big thing in a division that has the potential to draw eyes. This could serve as that platform.
Jonathan Snowden comments at MMA Nation:
The UFC doesn't do things halfway. For their first main event on Fox, the promotion pulled out all the stops, booking a heavyweight title bout between champion Cain Velasquez and challenger Junior dos Santos. It's a bold as brass move by the UFC, a company that has never been shy about putting its best foot forward.
The first event on Fox will be incredibly important. The rating will establish where the sport stands in the pecking order of mainstream athletics. A heavyweight title fight speaks volumes about how the UFC is viewing their new relationship with Fox. It's also incredibly smart business.