We are just a matter of days from the launch of Fox Sports 1, and despite Fox not having carriage deals with DirecTV, Dish, or Time Warner yet, the only fans that will be adversely impacted on day one are UFC fans. The UFC is taking center stage on launch day, and the company is going all-out with an entertaining night of fights that should do a pretty solid job bringing in the casual fans in addition to the diehards.
The UFC's night on FS1 starts at 4:30 with an airing of Ultimate Insider, and continues at 5 PM with the preshow for the evening's Fight Night card. Two hours of prelims start at 6 PM before the main card begins at 8 PM on FS1. All in all, in the five hour fight block, the UFC will air ten live fights, with three other prelims airing live online that could find their way to broadcast on FS1.
Looking at the card itself, there are plenty of exciting fighters, even if the fights themselves aren't exactly laden with impications on the title pictures. The main event features former light heavyweight champion Mauricio Rua taking on the outspoken Chael Sonnen. Rua has alternated wins and losses over the last four years, but he's got casual fan appeal after being featured on consecutive Fox cards in 2012. As for Sonnen, he's lost his last two fights, though both were title fights.
The rest of the main card is also solid. Heavily-hyped heavyweight Alistair Overeem, who suffered his first loss since 2007 in February, takes on Travis Browne, a knockout artist that's lost just once in his career. Superstar bantamweight Urijah Faber takes on Iuri Alcantara, who has lost just once in the last four years. Matt Brown has won five in a row (four of which with knockout finishes) and he'll face off with Mike Pyle, who has won four in a row and finished three of them. Uriah Hall, the horrifying striker from the last season of The Ultimate Fighter, will face John Howard, who has dynamite in his hands. The first fight of the main card will pit Michael Johnson of TUF fame against long-time UFC fighter Joe Lauzon, who takes home post-fight bonuses like they're going out of style.
This is a huge night for the UFC, and should be a good barometer of the reach of FS1 going forward. You could make the argument that this show, the first of three live UFC fight cards on FS1 over the next month, is the most loaded card on a Fox network in the past year, despite the lack of a title fight. The UFC and Fox are slamming their collective foot on the gas with this show, and its success will tell us a lot about the future of Fox Sports 1.