In case you watched an NFL game on Fox yesterday, you probably saw one of the 4,573 advertisements for the Fox broadcast debut of the Ultimate Fighting Championship this coming Saturday night. There has always been speculation on what exactly Fox would do with the UFC telecast. Would they bring in Gus Johnson with his (somewhat criticized) MMA experience at CBS to call the fight? Would they peg Joe Buck to announce the fight scene seeing as how Joe Buck announces everything else at Fox? (I think he hosts American Idol too… although I have such a hard time telling him and Seacrest apart.)
Instead, UFC’s resident announcers Mike Goldberg and Joe Rogan will be calling the Cain Velasquez vs Junior Dos Santos heavyweight title fight according to USA Today, but Fox will at least have one of their network stalwarts on the coverage…
UFC will do most of the introducing, since it maintains control of the fight coverage and will use announcers Mike Goldberg and Joe Rogan, who call its pay-per-view fights. But Fox will control the pre- and post-fight shows, where it will use Curt Menefee as host and fighter Brock Lesnar— who might eventually fight the Nov. 12 winner — and UFC President Dana White as analysts. Or, maybe, head cheerleader?
I really wish Fox would have gone with Chris Rose instead of Curt Menefee as the studio host just to see the awkward dynamic between himself, Brock Lesnar, and Dana White. That would have been worth watching alone. It’s also worth noting that Velasquez vs Dos Santos is the only scheduled fight to appear on Fox with the undercard being streamed on FoxSports.com. Here I was hoping we might see Floyd Mayweather vs Larry Merchant on the broadcast. Oh, well. Fox hasn’t had much success in recent years experimenting with new sports, and you know MMA purists will be paying very close attention to how Fox treats the telecast. (See the BCS on Fox and their intellectually insulting Champions League Final coverage. I wonder if Michael Strahan can explain for us the difference between boxing and MMA…)
Dana White as studio analyst will also bring an interesting dynamic. It’s like a cross between having Roger Goodell on The NFL Today and Vince McMahon doing commentary for the WWF back in the day. What Fox loses in any sense of objectivity they do gain in outspokenness and expertise. Normally, putting the UFC president on the pre/post shows would be scoffed at as a slap in the face of journalism on the Craig James Level. However, White is such a wild card that he has the potential to say anything, positively or negatively. Fox is obviously going to try to be selling the fight, Dana White, and UFC as a whole hard throughout the night to make their venture into MMA a success.
Will you be watching, and what are your hopes for Fox’s coverage?