Boxing fans saw this classic fight back in the day, but it wasn't live. Photo via www.n24.de
Filters are used for countless reasons. They're used to purify tap water, they're inside pools to help keep out all the gunk you wouldn't want to deal with during a morning swim. A filter is also in place with hardcore mixed martial arts (MMA) fans who have developed one when it comes to UFC President Dana White.
The UFC head honcho spins better than any politician and almost every statement he makes has an ulterior motive and is a combination of both truth and misinformation. He can't be faulted for it, he's a businessman and in his line on work, the bottom line is all that matters.
That also isn't to say White only cares about money. A big part of the bottom line for the UFC also includes making the fans -- supporters old and new who have helped pushed the sport to the brink of mainstream -- happy.
It's that reasoning that brought us UFC on FOX 1 and a free heavyweight title fight. In the promotional push leading up to the event, White likened the event to the glory days of boxing where the biggest fights were broadcast on network television. The claim -- as per usual with White -- was partly true, but was also a bit of a tall tale.
Last night's fight between Cain Velasquez vs. Junior dos Santos wasn't like boxing in the 1960s and 1970s, at least not exactly. It was better.
Believe or not, there was a time before pay-per-view (PPV). The format didn't start to gain steam until the 1980s when it began to strengthen its stranglehold on combat sports. Now every major event -- be it boxing, MMA, or pro wrestling -- can usually only be seen by ordering it from your cable or dish company. Before then, fans either had to be inside the arena to see the fight live or watch it via closed-circuit television.
But, bouts like Muhammad Ali's iconic showdowns with Joe Frazier and Leon Spinks were available on network television ... albeit a few months after the fact.
While the statements White made were technically true, taken at face value would lead the listener to believe that people 40 or 50 years ago would turn on ABC and check out heavyweight titans in the squared circle live as it happened. Fellow SBNation writer Brent Brookhouse, himself a longtime boxing fan, has been debunking this talking point for the past week. The fights were shown on programs like ABC's "Wide World of Sports," but after a lengthy, often months long, delay.
Last night's UFC on FOX 1 event wasn't a return for combat sports to the format that made it popular in the first place because technically, it was never a part of that format to begin with. Yes, boxing heavyweight title fights were sometimes -- but not often -- aired live on free TV but nothing comparable to the bout between Cain Velasquez and Junior Dos Santos.
Aside from having Brock Lesnar standing inside the Octagon, last night's main event was the biggest heavyweight bout the UFC could put together. On one side, is the champion, Cain Velasquez. He walked into the Honda Center last night with an unblemished record to complement the title around his waist. On the other side of the cage was challenger Junior dos Santos. The Brazilian had performed flawlessly during his UFC stint taking out the likes of Fabricio Werdum, Roy Nelson and Shane Carwin.
These were the two best heavyweights in the sport fighting for the biggest title in the game. And it aired on Fox for free. This wasn't a throwback to the glory days of boxing, it was exponentially better.
Perhaps decades from now there will be another fight promoter making the media rounds in the week leading up to the biggest fight of his company's history. And maybe if the fight will be airing on a free-to-air network, the promoter will reference last night's bout as a comparison.
In that instance, he will be correct. Last night, the UFC didn't bring back the era of momentous heavyweight fights on free TV because that era never existed. It didn't piggyback onto boxing's history, it created a bit of its own.
Last night was a watershed moment for the Las Vegas fight promotion, a gamechanger. And it wasn't because of anything boxing did or didn't do in the past.
It was because of what the UFC is doing now.
For UFC on FOX results and live play-by-play for "Velasquez vs. Dos Santos" click here.