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Volume 24 No. 159
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UFC, Fox Looking For Audience Growth On Fifth Telecast With Several Marquee Fights

Watching how UFC has “handled its Fox cards since signing with the network last year resembles spying on a chemist tinkering with a variety of substances in a lab,” and this Saturday’s UFC on Fox 5 “sure seems like UFC President Dana White has concocted the perfect mix of elements,” according to Case Keefer of the LAS VEGAS SUN. The UFC started “aggressively on network television, staging a heavyweight championship bout between Cain Velasquez and Junior dos Santos in its inaugural event on Fox.” But UFC “can’t regularly give away its biggest fights on free television.” So it adjusted for UFC on Fox 2, which “featured important fights, with mainstays like eventual winners Rashad Evans and Chael Sonnen, but none of the championship variety.” The UFC for the next two Fox cards “booked a handful of slugfests that promised the back-and-forth swings that made the sport popular in the first place.” The fights “drew rave reviews, but the ratings plummeted.” This Saturday there is a “title fight in the main event -- between Benson Henderson and Nate Diaz for the lightweight belt -- which would headline a lesser pay-per-view card.” The two other top matchups -- a light heavyweight showdown with Shogun Rua-Alexander Gustafsson and a welterweight match with B.J. Penn-Rory MacDonald -- would “make for strong co-main events on any pay-per-view.” White last week said, “It’s a strategic idea to put the best fights we can possibly put on Fox.” Keefer writes Saturday night's telecast should see a “bounce back in viewership.” It took a “few failed experiments, but UFC on Fox 5 looks like a prototype worth following for the network television cards in the future” (LAS VEGAS SUN, 12/7).