It was an historic night for the Ultimate Fighting Championship as they presented their first ever show on the Fox network in the States as Junior Dos Santos challenged Cain Velasquez for the Heavyweight title, a fight that was shown live in the early hours of this past Sunday morning on Premier Sports here in Britain.
The broadcast began with lightweight action as Clay Guida faced Benson Henderson.
This proved to be a great way to start the show, a tremendous back and forth encounter fought at a frantic place for the entire fifteen minutes.
Henderson had some success early when he rocked Guida, but a take down attempt gave Guida time to recover.
From there the fight seemed to go into overdrive, with both fighters going for submissions and Henderson putting in a great performance, especially with his take down defence.
Towards the end of the fight Guida took Henderson down and immediately went for a guillotine. Once again Henderson put on some great defensive work, eventually escaping and delivering a few shots as the fight came to an end.
Then it was down to the judges to decide as the unanimous decision went in favour of Henderson, who surely secured a title shot against Frankie Edgar with this performance.
The main event saw Junior Dos Santos challenging Cain Velasquez for the Heavyweight title.
Both men began by testing the waters with kicks and strikes, but as the fight neared the one minute mark Dos Santos connected with a big overhand right.
Velasquez went down like the proverbial sack of spuds, with JDS following him down for some ground and pound. Seconds later it was all over, with the referee stepping in to give Dos Santos the TKO win, crowning a new champion.
The show rounded out with welterweight action as Damarques Johnson took on Clay Harvison.
Another brief encounter saw more testing of the waters, with a Harvison kick straying into unwanted territory a little.
As both men looked to gain the upper hand Johnson connected with a big left that sent Harvison crashing. He then celebrated his punch before delivering a couple of ground and pound shots, the referee stepping in to give Johnson the TKO win.
In conclusion - I think you can say that the UFC’s debut on American network television was a success.
It needed a great fight to begin the show, to draw in those who had either never seen or had only a passing interest in MMA. Clay Guida and Benson Henderson certainly gave us that, while the Dos Santos and Johnson TKO wins were also great examples of an MMA fighter’s punching power.
But I do find myself asking the following question. Why were they only given an hour? Hopefully next time Fox will give the UFC a little more time to show what they can do.
So apart from that somewhat minor gripe this show gets the big thumbs up, as does Premier Sports for once again stepping in to give British fans their slice of regular UFC action when ESPN are reluctant to do so.