I don’t always get to write with complete excitement regarding my “Top Reasons to Watch” column on FanRag Sports. Today, I enjoy what is almost always the impressive anomaly of the UFC’s event types: UFC on FOX.
Back for a 15th round, UFC on FOX always outperforms the cable network cards, and sometimes makes their pay-per-views look weak. This incarnation – UFC New Jersey – continues tradition. Lyoto Machida and Luke Rockhold are two of the best fighters on Earth in one of the premier divisions of present day. They are surrounded with a roster of capable veterans and young, energized martial artists. This is an event to have on at all costs. So, call up your girlfriends and boyfriends, cancel your date night, and start stocking the fridge with Saturday night snacks. Order in, invite your friends over, and tell them they don’t need to chip in; the action is free on FOX, starting at 6:00 PM EST.
Prelims – Too Good for FOX Sports 1
For the first time since it’s inception, FOX is hosting the UFC Fight Night Prelims. Typically, these are found on the dredges of the cable underworld, as far back as FOX Sports 2. When they’re good, they’re on FOX Sports 1. Tomorrow, they’re so good, they’ll be sharing the spotlight on FOX.
It’s hard to believe. With so much premium programming on the main FOX network, I’m surprised they went all in on UFC for their Saturday night broadcast. I remember watching live, November, 2011, when the “Main Card” of UFC on FOX I was one single fight long. Junior dos Santos knocked out Cain Velasquez to become UFC Heavyweight Champion, and that was the entire show.
Every other bout was on Facebook! Their next event was three fights long, and after it they were warmed up to a four fight show, which became the standard FOX Main Card length. Almost nobody viewed the prelims, then. They were back on Fuel TV (which became FOX Sports 2) and FX. Now, we’re getting an eight fight show. MMA is growing, my friends.
Takeya Mizugaki, the #6 Bantamweight in the world takes on undefeated Long Islander, 10-0 Aljamain Sterling.
The Ultimate Fighter Season 19 winner Corey Anderson only 5-0, fights out of New Jersey to take on New Yorker Gian Villante.
Ovince Saint Preux after smashing Shogun Rua in 34-seconds, goes after Pennsylvanian Patrick Cummins whose rallied since his crushing debut loss to Daniel Cormier.
Best of all, New Jersey’s own eighth ranked Lightweight, Jim Miller looks to beat rising prospect Berneil Dariush.
The Fame Factor
MMA fighters might not share the fame of their sports entertainment counter-parts, but for those in the know, certain combatants boast a star quality beyond those of their rivals. This is especially the case for some of the lot of our UFC New Jersey mixed martial artists.
Paige VanZant, for example, has a personalized Reebok sponsorship deal. She’s only the second woman to earn such a grand-scale advertising contract, following Rowdy Ronda Rousey. In a division lacking star-power, VanZant may be the best hope for strawweight celebrity. Her opponent, Felice Herrig, is socially savvy, as well. Today’s Knockout writer Stephen Rivers can tell you more about it.
There’s also Cub Swanson vs Max Holloway. Though Holloway is still a rising tide, I’ve long been surfing the Swanson tsunami. He’s an intelligent, well-spoken, mature man, but he fights as if on a diet of 93 octane and 5w-30. He’s a Top-5 veteran who’s taken little damage over his career and gotten better with time.
Jacare Souza is a former Strikeforce Middleweight Champion. Now, he’s in what’s being called an exhibition match against Chris Camozzi. But “Jacare” means Alligator. And alligators have sharp teeth, scales for skin, and don’t let go once they chomp down. He was originally scheduled to fight a now-injured Yoel Romero in an “anybody’s guess” match. Camozzi will look to spoil.
Finally, the main event: Lyoto “The Dragon” Machida vs Luke Rockhold, another former Strikeforce Middleweight Champion. He beat Jacare for it, and held it until the promotions dissolution. You know what’s better than being a former Strikeforce champ? Being the former UFC Light-Heavyweight Champion. Alongside of that claim to fame, Lyoto Machida has challenged Jon Jones and Chris Weidman for their coveted, well-protected titles. In both cases, he gave one of the strongest efforts mounted. For the latter, his most challenging opponent to date. Machida and Weidman fought to a Fight of the Night, where Machida won the championship rounds strongly. A win here would dot the i’s on his rematch contract.
Now that you’ve finished reading here, we hope you click all the main card hyperlinks to get the details down for each individual match on Today’s Knockout.