When it came to the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) landing a deal on network television, it was always a matter of "when" it would happen rather than "if."
The day finally came in Aug. 2011 when the world's top mixed martial arts (MMA) promotion announced a landmark deal with Fox, a seven-year partnership which kicked off three months later when Cain Velasquez defended his heavyweight title against the challenge of Junior dos Santos in a one-hour special.
A full fight card was put together that night in Anaheim, Calif., but the Fox broadcast was limited to the heavyweight tilt, a decision that would come back to bite both companies when the fight lasted all of one minute.
The Brazilian knocked out the champion in 64 seconds and became the sixteenth Heavyweight champion the UFC has crowned.
Tonight (May 26, 2012), he defends his title for the first time against Frank Mir in the main event of UFC 146. He was supposed to step inside the Octagon against Alistair Overeem but the man who retired Brock Lesnar was unable to secure a fight license thanks to a positive test for higher than normal testosterone levels.
Mir was removed from the co-main event -- a bout against Velasquez, likely to determine the next challenger -- and stepped in for "The Reem." The Dutch kickerboxer's loss suddenly became the Las Vegas-born Brazilian jiu-jitsu player's gain.
Before dos Santos tangles with the man who broke his mentor's arm, let's take a look at how "Cigano" became champion in the UFC's historic first bout on network television:
The challenger traditionally makes their way to the cage first and that night was no exception.
The Brazilian walks towards the Octagon as Bill Conti's "Gonna Fly Now," most famously known as The Theme from Rocky, blares throughout the Honda Center during the cool November night.
A classic Vicente Fernández song -- Los Mandados -- follows the iconic theme and the champion begins to make the trek from the backstage area to the cage. The strong Latino community makes their collective voice heard as Velasquez and his corner walk towards the Octagon.
As Bruce Buffer belts out the introductions, an energy never before felt begins to grow inside the building and somehow seep through millions of television screens across the nation.
After years of surviving on the fringes, after years of scrapping by, the UFC was on free to air TV with a Dodge logo in the center of the Octagon and over 10,000 screaming fans in attendance.
The energy builds and builds throughout the ending of the introductions and the pre-fight staredown. As each heavyweight makes their way back to their respective corners, the energy level has grown to a level where the only possible catharsis would be a swift and brutal knockout.
dos Santos was more than willing to accomodate.
The challenger begins the fight by pawing his jab out, attempting to find his range. The champion is more aggressive, throwing a quick combination early which doesn't connect but ending it with a leg kick which does, in fact, find its mark.
A second leg kick from the Mexican-American also connects but is countered by dos Santos who comes across with a right straight. A third leg kick from Velasquez sees his head get snapped back by a jab from the Brazilian. "Cigano" follows it up with a front kick which is partially blocked and caught by Velasquez, who unsuccessfully tries to parlay it into a takedown attempt.
Another leg kick and a combination from the champion connect, including a nice left hook which catches dos Santos flush but doesn't seem to stagger him one bit. He answers back with a body punch before hopping back out of his opponent's range.
A final leg kick from Velasquez lands and seconds later, a monster overhand right from the Brazilian barrels its way to the side of the champion's skull. He drops immediately and the energy level, which has been simmering, finally explodes.
Velasquez looks to defend himself but "Cigano" swarms and the champion is unable to keep the Brazilian at bay. He's finished off with some ground and pound and a new champion is crowned.
Will dos Santos replicate the result tonight in Las Vegas? Or will Frank Mir become the promotion's second three-time heavyweight champion?