Five years ago, the MMATorch staff addressed the first UFC broadcast on Fox network and what they would do to improve UFC’s presentation of the MMA product to its largest audience in the sport’s history.
What improvements from this event would you like to see made for the UFC’s second event on Fox in January?
SHAWN ENNIS, MMATORCH SENIOR COLUMNIST
I think there are some pretty simple things to improve upon for the next show, and they stood out like a sore thumb on the inaugural effort, so hopefully those in charge saw what needed to be fixed and will do so.
First of all, Dana White has no place as an analyst. It’s been said already and it’s true – White is a promoter. He can’t be objective, nor should he have to be. His post-fight comments on Saturday were completely embarrassing, and while that may be how he felt at the time, it came off as, “how come the guy I wanted to win didn’t just…win?” That’s got to go. There’s no problem bringing him in as a hype-man before the card starts, but he should have no place at the table after the show.
Secondly, the pace leading up to the fights has got to be picked up. You can’t blame Fox so much for this one on Saturday, but the lead-up to one fight was way too long. The positive is that it makes the fight feel like a big deal, but the drawback is that it doesn’t encourage people to stay tuned into the station when they know the fight isn’t starting until a half hour into the broadcast. The show should start, the talking heads briefly tell you what you’re about to see and what it means, and you’re on to the first fight within 10 minutes of the start of the program. The NFL has enough material (and interest) with the number of games they show each week to have a long pre-show before the games start. The UFC doesn’t have the material to keep people who are only marginally interested in the minutia tuned in.
Finally, you’ve got to show more fights, and you’ve got to leave yourself some wiggle-room in case the fights you show are quick. This is a hindsight-20/20 kind of thing. I think most of us wanted to see Henderson-Guida on Fox, and now that we saw a fight last just over a minute and be the only one included on the broadcast, the fight’s omission becomes inexcusable. It’s not fair, but it’s true. If you’ve got an hour and a half for the broadcast, you’ve got to have a firm plan of how it’s laid out: how much time do allow for buildup? (I say ten minutes) How much time do allow for action? How much do you allow for post-fight analysis? Even if you’ve got three fights scheduled to be shown on a two-hour broadcast, that leaves a lot of down time. Those in charge need to know how to keep the show moving, and when it’s appropriate to show earlier fights. The goal is to keep people tuned in, and stalling/commercials will not do that.
FRANK HYDEN, MMATORCH CONTRIBUTOR
For one, they absolutely need to create a graphic showing the faces and names of all current UFC champions. Including the next opponent for each champion would also be a smart move. They don’t need to spend a lot of time doing this, but scheduling 5 or 10 minutes discussing the champions makes them seem more important. A minute for each champion and his upcoming opponent would serve as a good introduction.
Dialing back the hyperbole would also help. Talking up a fighter as unstoppable only to see him get knocked out quickly is damaging to your credibility. You can counter that by talking about the unpredictable nature of MMA, but it still looks bad.
Talking about what makes MMA different should also be given an increased focus. The smaller gloves makes knockouts more frequent, as it’s easier to slip a punch past them. Also, being able to kick and knee make knockouts more common. Wrestling, Jiu-Jitsu, and other fighting forms should also be discussed, just not by the announcers. Bring in a current UFC fighter (preferably a current champion) and have him discuss a specific aspect of fighting like wrestling or submission offense/defense. This could be happening either during a fight or during pre-fight introductions. Have him cite specific examples of when these techniques can be applied as well. This is also a good way to give face time to a prominent UFC fighter. This stuff doesn’t need to take up a ton of time, it’s all about maximizing the time you do have.
ANWAR PEREZ, MMATORCH COLUMNIST
Honestly, the only improvement I would like to see would be for the UFC and Fox to broadcast more than just one fight. Out of the gate following the premier broadcast, Dana White has already addressed said criticism and says that this was just a preview to come. One can only hope that we will see regular Fight Night sized cards on Fox.
ALVIN CARTER, MMATORCH SPECIALIST
Possibly more fights, but the prelims were still accessible online, so it is not a big deal.
MATT PELKEY, MMATORCH COLUMNIST
More fights, for starters. Obviously this was billed as just a “bonus” event from Fox with the real deal kicking in January, but one fight in a one hour timeslot makes for a lot of filler. Especially if that one fight lasts one minute. That’s 59 minutes of commercials, hype videos, and other general non-fighting shenanigans. I assume the Fox events going forward will be two-hour timeslots with four fight cards. We’ll also be seeing the debut of Jon Anik as a UFC play-by-play announcer. I’m interested in seeing how the announcing improves when pairing Joe Rogan with an actual play-by-play man.
JAMIE PENICK, MMATORCH EDITOR-IN-CHIEF
If the next card is indeed getting a two and a half hour timeslot, what I’d like to see is for them to split it into a half-hour pre-show on Fox, with two full hours of fights. There’s something to be said for setting the stage for an event, and using the half hour lead in would allow for those to tune in that want to see the “pre-game”, and then having two hours of action take over from there would allow for a steadier audience. Also, with the two hour timeslot for fights, they need to be flexible on showing fights. If they don’t want to put on a full preliminary card bout, highlights of the night’s preliminary card action is a way they can go as well so that they don’t see the precipitous drop that followed the quick finish of last weekend’s main event. On the production front, Dana White’s role on the panel should be reduced, and he probably shouldn’t be the analyst immediately thrown to right after the main event after his overly-emotional response to the Heavyweight Title fight last weekend. He’s the promoter, his job is to promote the fights, and being an analyst immediately after means those emotional responses are more likely to come out. He can have a place prior to the fights, as selling the main event and what’s on the card is something he does best, but he should not be breaking down what was seen immediately afterward.
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