UFC on Fox was anything but perfect. In fact, I believe it was a blown opportunity, but I think there are a few too many Chicken Littles running around proclaiming the sky is falling and Dana is holding the UFC back. Let's be clear on one thing; what happened on Saturday was really a blip on the radar of the casual fan. It didn't blow up the sport into an instant mainstream success, but it was anything but a disaster. Frankly, it's probably for the best that they didn't break Kimbo's numbers given the fact that there was only one minute of fighting broadcast on the entire show.
With all the criticisms we hardcores have been leveling at Dana, you'd think he personally punched every casual fan's girlfriend square in the uterus. Now, I'm not defending Dana as the perfect commentator; I think he got a little carried away with what was absolutely correct (if overstated) analysis. I think moving forward his role will be reduced or he will be replaced with a guy like Randy (as many have suggested). But let's not panic over him "confusing the casual fans." Casual fans barely noticed the commentary. I watched with four, and not one of them, even the ones who knew who Dana was, could tell me anything negative about what Dana said afterward.
As much as we'd like to believe that the Fox production is going to revolutionize MMA and single-handedly turn it into a mainstream sport, it's Fox's reach that's going to achieve that, not its fancy sports desks and commentators. People will judge the UFC based on what happens in the cage, and frankly, we're just going to have to wait until enough people are watching what the UFC is selling for the casual base to really grow.
I think the only error worth talking about of the inaugural UFC broadcast on the holy grail that is network TV was that they got so excited about what Fox was bringing to the table that they forgot the formula which had made them a success. A single fight is just never a good idea, especially in the heavyweight division of MMA. Nobody is going to feel good about what they saw when the one hour broadcast contains a 60 to 1 ratio of commercials and commentary to actual fighting. The UFC's brand has always been that as much as they sell fights based on the main event, there are always four more fights to deliver quantity if all the main event delivers is a sixty second sunburst of glorious quality. Imagine if both Guida/Henderson and Velasquez/dos Santos had been shown. It would've been considered a fantastic success because there's really nothing wrong with the outcome of Velasquez/dos Santos other than that it was the only thing on television over the course of a full hour show.
The UFC's mistakes on UFC on Fox 1 are nothing to worry about. Casuals didn't notice the ones hardcore fans are fretting most (in fact, the casuals who actually watched closely enough to listen to what Dana was saying seemed to think he did a pretty good job). This notion of worrying about what Dana says is a special brand of hand wringing completely unique to hardcores; casual fans almost exclusively see him as an interesting novelty (if they see him at all).
And the best thing about the UFC's biggest mistake on this card? It's not going to happen again. This was a bizarre one-time deal where they decided to put all their eggs in one (in retrospect very precarious) basket. It's a blip on the radar of what will be, in the future, a successful partnership. The kinks that turned this from a potential rousing success to an unimportant moment in the grand scheme of things are going to be worked out in the long run.
So let's take the chagrin down a notch. Saturday was fine. I'll have my four casual friends sitting next to me on the couch again next time, and it's statistically unthinkable that a full event will deliver so little action again.