In the past decade, the Zuffa-owned Ultimate Fighting Championship has made considerable strides in pushing mixed martial arts further into the mainstream. And at 8 p.m. Saturday, the UFC makes its debut on Fox in a move that should serve to show even more people what MMA is all about.
When the UFC was shopping for TV deals, there was a lot of interest regarding who would take the brand to the next level. There were conversations with old broadcast partner Spike TV, and there were rumblings that the UFC simply would create its own network. Ultimately it signed a contract with Fox for seven years.
The only fight being shown live on Fox this weekend will be the heavyweight title bout between Cain Velasquez and Junior Dos Santos. Both fighters are undefeated in the UFC, and the extra motivation is there to put on a great performance and show how hard they have trained.
Meanwhile, another fighter on the Anaheim, Calif., card is Clay "The Carpenter" Guida, who is from Chicago. Being a former carpenter, Guida was training and fighting part time, and when he debuted in the UFC in 2007, he made MMA his life.
Fast-forward to now and Guida has a four-fight win streak. Three of those were submissions, and he's earned a spot in a lightweight contention bout against Benson Henderson. Henderson is no slouch in the Octagon as he had been a fixture in the other Zuffa-owned company, WEC, and finished with a 5-1 record.
Considering how much the UFC struggled in the beginning, Saturday is a watershed moment for the company and everyone who is die-hard fan of the sport. With owners Lorenzo and Frank Fertitta running the organization and president Dana White making the right moves so far, it looks as if the sport will continue to grow, with no immediate slowdown in the near future.
Ted Gruber blogs about mixed martial arts at chicagonow.com/mmadisputed.