After UFC struck a deal with FOX Sports to air its programming on network TV, a few difficult decisions needed to be made and with the announcement that they would air the first event on Nov. 12, they needed to be made quickly.
The most important of which was exactly what fight would main event the debut show. After all, executives with both UFC and FOX want to make a big splash. You never get a second chance to make a good first impression and all that.
That's where it gets a bit tricky.
On top of dealing with an almost completely booked slate for the rest of the calendar year, Dana White and company had to find a fight that would both deliver inside the Octagon and be easy for his network partners to promote outside of it.
But instead of going the route of say, Chael Sonnen, the powers that be called upon the upcoming Cain Velasquez vs. Junior dos Santos heavyweight title fight. They're counting on the two to deliver a barn burner inside the cage and hoping the fact that the heavyweight championship is on the line will be enough to draw fans in.
But do the fighters themselves feel pressure to help promote the fight before it hits the cage at the Honda Center in Anaheim, California? Not the number one contender, dos Santos, who tells USA Today great fights sell themselves and he and Velasquez are going to put on a show fans won't want to miss.
"I think the best way to promote the fight; the best way to promote the UFC; the best way to promote the sport of MMA is what we're going to be able to show inside that Octagon, both Cain and myself. What we do inside that Octagon, and what we're able to show fans, is the best promotion the UFC could have. It's far better than any sort of disrespectful trash talking to drive up artificial conflict. Ultimately, great fights sell themselves, and Cain and I are both great fighters. Putting us against one another is going to be a fantastic fight. That doesn't really need all of the ancillary, peripheral issues to try to sell. It'll sell itself and will in itself be the best promotion that the UFC could have."
Dos Santos has been cracking skulls (literally) and taking names since his Octagon debut back in 2008. He's rattled off seven consecutive wins since that time, finishing five of those fine folks before the final bell.
"Cigano" most recently blasted past Shane Carwin via unanimous decision at UFC 131 to punch his title ticket. He emphatically put his stamp on his status as the second best heavyweight in the division with yet another convincing win over the best the division has to offer.
And now it's time for the Brazilian knockout king to test his mettle against the very best in the world. But is that enough to sell casual viewers on the fight? Do these two heavy-hitters need to do a little extra to convince a few remaining dissenters? Or will future converts find out just what the hype is come Nov. 12 and stick around no matter what?