When the UFC and FOX Sports announced a landmark seven year, $90 million deal to go into business together, executives on both sides knew they needed to kick off their new broadcasting agreement with a bang.
And that meant a big time fight for a big time audience.
UFC President Dana White claimed all along that he always targeted the bout that was eventually agreed upon for tonight's (Sat., Nov. 12, 2011) UFC on FOX 1 show, Cain Velasquez vs. Junior dos Santos heavyweight championship fight.
This despite reports that Middleweight Champion Anderson Silva was approached about fighting Dan Henderson as the showcase bout. As it turns out, he was but a shoulder injury has kept him out of action.
What we never knew, until now, was the very first man White approached about fighting tonight was the man he's promoted just as much as Velasquez and Dos Santos this week:
Dave Meltzer revealed on WrestlingObserver.com that Lesnar was asked to fight but, obviously, said no. Here's why:
We spoke backstage with Brock Lesnar yesterday. How this affects fighting we shall see, but he's the biggest and strongest he's been in years. A lot of people saw the WWE '12 video, which must have been done just as he got back to training, but he's 278 pounds and looks enormous up close, far more than Alistair Overeem who is a little taller and almost as heavy. Lesnar said that Dana White did ask him to fight on tonight's show when the deal was first made but he said that he wouldn't be ready, but says he's surprised because he's recovered faster than he expected and would have been ready.
It would seem White's first choice was most certainly not Velasquez vs. Dos Santos, but who can blame him for wanting the highest drawing fighter in the history of MMA to kick off the UFC's venture into network television?
Sure, there are those (Tom Myers, specifically) who might have cringed at the idea of a mainstream audience's first exposure to UFC coming by way of a former WWE star. But it's hard to argue with the numbers and Brock is a big, big draw.
That's probably why he's made his way out to Anaheim, California, anyway, to serve as an analyst for tonight's broadcast alongside White, Kenny Florian, Curt Menefee and Jay Glazer, among others.
In fact, some are arguing that he's stealing some of the attention away from the heavyweight title fight that actually is happening tonight. But, the winner of that bout will face the winner of Lesnar vs. Alistair Overeem on Dec. 30, so it all works out eventually.
Anyone surprised to hear this news? Or is this just downright expected?