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Are Events Like UFC Fight Night 32 Why the UFC’s Popularity is Suffering?


(It’s almost 2014. Dan Henderson and Vitor Belfort are still main-eventing UFC cards. / photo via Getty)

By Matt Saccaro

Cards like UFC Fight Night 32 are contributing to the death of MMA’s popularity in the US.

In case you haven’t noticed, the UFC’s numbers have been atrocious lately. UFC 165, a card headlined by the light heavyweight champion of the world and future of the company Jon Jones, drew a paltry 325,000 buys. Cain Velasquez vs. Junior Dos Santos III—the finale to the greatest trilogy in UFC heavyweight history—drew a slightly higher number at UFC 166.

The UFC has had woes on free television too. TUF is regularly breaking the wrong kinds of records. And the ratings on FOX Sports 1 have been inconsistent at best. They started strong with a tremendous 1.7 million (back to 2011 Spike TV levels) for UFC Fight Night 26, dropped 54% to 824,000 viewers for UFN 27, fell a further 35% to 539,000 for UFN 28, rose to 638,000 for 29, and stayed at that level for the next fight night card on FOX Sports 1, UFC Fight Night 31 (a.k.a. UFC Fight for the Troops 3).

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Michael Bisping and Mark Munoz to Headline UFC Event on FOX Sports 2, Which Is a Real Channel, Apparently


(…and be sure to stay tuned after the fights for the premiere of Bisping’s gritty new crime drama, Two Blokes and a Wanker. / Photo via @bisping)

The rumors were halfway true: Yes, UFC middleweights Michael Bisping and Mark Munoz will face off in the main event of the promotion’s return to Manchester, England, on October 26th. The UFC confirmed the booking on Saturday, although no other matchups have been officially announced for the card.

Here’s where things get a little strange. Contrary to initial reports, the event will not air on FOX Sports 1 (which is launching on August 17th to replace The Speed Channel), but instead on FOX Sports 2 (which will be replacing FUEL). It’s odd, because we thought the whole point of the UFC moving its cable events to FOX Sports 1 was to have all of those fight cards and prelim broadcasts in the same place. No longer would fans have to switch between FX and FUEL, in addition to keeping track of which fights are on FOX and pay-per-view. (And Facebook!) Fox Sports 2 was originally announced as a “general sports channel,” but now that channel is showing UFC fights too?

The UFC recently declared that its FOX Sports 1 events would henceforth be known as “Fight Night” events — just like their old Spike TV cards — which streamlines the naming process and prevents snot-nosed bloggers like us from making more jokes about it. (i.e., “UFC on FOX Sports 1 2: Condit vs. Kampmann 2: 2 Cute 2B 4Gotten.”) The problem is, calling an event “UFC Fight Night 30: Bisping vs. Munoz” doesn’t indicate which channel it’s on, which could be confusing if there are multiple destinations for UFC cable content.

At this point, we don’t know if the event’s placement on FOX Sports 2 is only a one-off decision, perhaps made because of the card’s impending garbage-ass-ness. We’ll update you when we know more.

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