When thinking about the fighters that brought the UFC to the point it’s at now, a few names come to mind. Randy Couture, Tito Ortiz, and even Ken Shamrock are a few that helped propel the promotion’s popularity and land it in spotlight that it currently enjoys.
With the UFC’s recent broadcast deal with network powerhouse Fox, mixed martial arts is now getting a chance to share the mainstream stage with other major sports leagues, such as the National Football League, Major League Baseball, and the National Basketball Association.
For UFC president Dana White, recognizing the fighters that helped him and the rest of the organization get to the next level has his attention focused on one man…
White, in an interview with Fox Sports’ Petros and Money radio show in Los Angeles, explained why he feels “the Iceman” sticks out to him as the fighter who helped carry the UFC into the limelight.
“I would have to say Chuck Liddell.” White said when advising which fighter he feels helped the UFC grow. “Chuck Liddell was the guy who really carried this thing on his back for the early years when we were getting this thing off the ground. We had some guys who were big stars, but Chuck was really the man. Chuck was the guy with that look and everything else. When people saw him, you knew that was the ‘Ultimate Fighting’ guy.'”
Fox, which began showcasing live sporting events with the NFL in 1994, has grown to become a major player in the broadcast game, reaching millions of homes and rivaling other networks, such as NBC, ABC, and CBS. By adding the UFC to the line of sports it broadcasts, which includes the NFL, MLB, and NASCAR, Fox has strengthened its place among the other networks.
Having sealed a lucrative deal with such a network juggernaut, the UFC puts themselves in a position to reach millions of people that might not have been familiar with it or had just heard about it in passing. There will now be the opportunity to expose the casual fan to one of the world’s fastest growing sports, while spending a minimal amount of money, unlike a few years ago, where the only destination for UFC entertainment was was on pay-per-view.
White feels the deal with Fox sets the stage for what he calls the UFC’s coming out party.
“What’s really happening now is, as big as this sport has become, this is our new launching,” he said. “When this thing goes on Fox in November, millions of people who have never seen the UFC before will see it that night on Fox. Some people are going to tune in who have heard of it. ‘Yeah, I have heard of this thing, but I have never seen it.’ That’s gonna be our big coming out party in November.”
The first UFC on Fox broadcast will be on Nov. 12 with a headliner still to be determined. MMAWeekly.com will continue to follow up on the event’s headliner and update as more information becomes available.