On Aug. 18, 2011, we were told that UFC would deliver a special announcement, something huge that would change the landscape of mixed martial arts as we know it.
That day executives from both the UFC and FOX Sports announced a landmark multi-year deal to broadcast events across the mainstream television networks family of channels, including the big one on free TV.
We were then told the first show would air on Nov. 12, 2011, at 9 p.m. ET. A few details were given, such as potential changes to the presentation of the show, like the death of the Gladiator Man introduction, but not much else.
Just yesterday we were told another major announcement was coming. This time UFC President Dana White promised to deliver a major main event fight for the debut show and he delivered on that promise. Cain Velasquez will defend his heavyweight title against Junior dos Santos in one of the most highly anticipated bouts of the year.
As we get closer and closer to showtime, more and more pieces of the puzzle are falling into place. The who, what, when and the where have been determined and made aware to the viewing public in a timely manner.
But one big question remains and it's one that won't be answered, at least not in full, until the broadcast goes live at 9 p.m. ET on Nov. 12 from Anaheim, California -- just what exactly will that first show look like on TV?
Dana White was asked as much recently and he gave a few hints as to how things will look come fight night.
"Let me tell you this: The way that we've worked with FOX and the way this deal works out, David Hill is a legend in sports. This guy has revolutionized, you name it - NASCAR, the NFL, the Super Bowl, baseball. This guy's forgotten more about production than I will ever know. So one of the things that we're doing is, we like the style and feel of our show - we want input from FOX. We want the FOX look to this thing. We're open to suggestions. We want to work with them. This isn't one of these things where I come in and (say), 'This is our show' ... This isn't an unprecedented thing where we draw the line. We want their input. These guys are the No. 1 network in the country for a reason: because they're the best at what they do."
The world's largest fight promotion has long held a stringent policy that they must always retain control over the production and presentation of its product. After all, with the fight game still a budding sport to the mainstream masses, the UFC feels they know better than anyone else how to properly showcase its brand of entertainment.
Indeed, the promotion has been close to broadcast deals in the past, most notably with HBO back in 2007. Those talks fell through when the two sides couldn't agree on who would control the broadcast. In short, HBO wanted to do things its way while the UFC was understandably skeptical and, quite frankly, too afraid to give up control of how its product would be presented.
This doesn't appear to be the case with FOX.
That's likely because network executives have been incredibly open and flexible with the UFC and its unique demands. Cage-side commentators Mike Goldberg and Joe Rogan will remain in place and continue to do the job they've done for the past several years. They will be tasked with educating the masses on the intricacies of the fight game but both the UFC and FOX are confident both men are more than qualified for the job.
Where it gets interesting is how exactly the show will look in the literal sense. From on-screen graphics to scoring bugs to the camera angles and placement of the production crew during the fight, everything appears to be up in the air and unknown. Even the opening introduction and theme music will be different from typical UFC broadcasts but how much will they be like usual FOX Sports events?
They've promised a "Super Bowl" type of feel for the fight. It will be most interesting if they can make it just as aesthetically pleasing.
Any predictions on what we may or may not see on the debut broadcast?