By Zach Arnold | November 13, 2011
Kevin Haggarty (MMA Mania): Why UFC was a big winner on Saturday night
As an organization, this was a HUGE night. The coverage was sensational. If you have Fuel TV, you were privileged to enjoy insightful and entertaining pre- and post-fight shows, which were unlike anything we’ve really ever seen before as fans. Anybody who is anybody in Hollywood was in attendance. Many new fans tuned in to see just what the UFC is all about and they were treated to a thrilling heavyweight knockout. By most methods of measurement, this was a massive success for an organization that has come a long way since its inaugural foray just a short 18 years ago.
Bruce Dowbiggin (The Globe and Mail): Saturday night showed that UFC proves it’s here to stay
Saturday night was the end-game made real for White as Fox, never a network to let questionable taste get in the way of a good time, brought mixed martial arts out of the fringes and into the network spotlight. Still, Fox Sports president Eric Shanks was taking no chances on making the sport too cool for the room when he told USA Today that “We have to make sure it’s being produced for Martians.”
Richard Sandomir (NY Times): Fox’s UFC broadcast a hit with viewers (5.7 million), especially in 18-34 demographic
Tom Jones (St. Petersburg Times): UFC’s Fox debut was decent on Saturday night
Fox had a decent night Saturday with its first prime-time broadcast of the Ultimate Fighting Championship. It seemed like a risk to have only one fight, and as it turned out, the heavyweight title bout lasted less than one round. But at least the fight ended in a knockout, which is better than watching two guys exchange boring holds for a half-hour.
In the end, however, I still think UFC is going to have a difficult time going mainstream, simply because too many folks think it’s just too violent.
Michael Nunez (IBT): UFC was never meant for network television
The flaws of the extreme nature of the sport are only compounded by the quick turnover of UFC champions. The most prominent fighters in the sport haven’t been able to defend their championships more than just a few times. Of course, there are a few exceptions to the rule, such as Anderson Silva or George St. Pierre, but for the most part, flash knockdowns and the unpredictable nature of mixed-martial arts make it hard for any fan to keep up. Look at Velasquez, who had won his UFC Heavyweight Championship just one fight before losing it to Dos Santos in 64 seconds.
Gary Poole (Esquire): At the Tropicana in Las Vegas, nobody paid attention to UFC on Fox
It should be said that when Dana White convinced Fox to pay him $100 million a year to put his badass jujitsu on national television for the next seven years, boxing people noticed. It should also be said that Manny Pacquiao did not knock anyone out in the first round on Saturday, nor did he look like the best pound-for-pound fighter in the world, or even the 10-to-1 favorite. No one dropped to the canvas, and the 38-year-old Juan Manuel Marquez was the one landing the heavy punches. But they were beautiful punches, and even the jabs looked years in the making. This was not Jon Jones, the UFC light-heavyweight who played his badass jujitsu for four months and then signed up for Dana White’s badass jujitsu parade and then became its youngest champion. This was not
Josh Gross (ESPN): After 18 years, MMA reaches adulthood
The notion that a 64-second knockout is somehow bad reeks of a mentality that for so long permeated thinking among this sport’s inner circles. It’s the kind of thought process that prompted workers to step in the Octagon and spray paint over bloodstains prior to the start of the network broadcast on Saturday. It’s this idea that while nothing will satisfy the detractors, every effort must be made to try. That the innumerable reasons so many people love the sport aren’t good enough for those who don’t yet.
So, wait a second — when PRIDE was drawing 20 million viewers on Fuji TV and getting paid a lot a money last decade, that didn’t qualify MMA reaching ‘adulthood’ status because it happened in Japan instead of America? Don’t get me wrong — I’m not someone who thinks that UFC ‘failed’ with the Fox showing on Saturday night. However, it really is incredible to see how major financial MMA benchmarks were accomplished long ago in Japan and it’s not even viewed on the same level as what we’re slowing starting to see develop now outside Asia.
TV By the Numbers: Biggest markets for UFC on Fox debut were Las Vegas, Dallas, Phoenix
Fascinating takeaway is that the biggest markets in support were not New York, Boston, Philadelphia, Miami, Tampa/Orlando, or Chicago. A heavy amount of UFC’s support remains on the West Coast and Midwest. It’s still “a West Coast sport” in the eyes of people in the Eastern part of the States.
Take note in that TBTN release about the impact of college football on TV ratings in America. I’ve been stating this year that college football is proving to be a formidable challenge for anyone trying to push a PPV or a show on TV against that sport, especially if it involves SEC football.