Manny Pacquiao | Next Fight on Same Night as Free UFC CardWritten by Mark Weber
December 8th - Is the date just a coincidence or is Top Rank's Bob Arum sending a message to the sports world by showcasing arguably the world's most popular fighter, Manny Pacquiao, on the same night as UFC's free, nationally-televised FOX event?
The UFC event, which will take place in Seattle, WA, will be broadcast in the United States.
UFC lightweight champion Benson Henderson will defend his title against Stockton's bad boy Nate Diaz. Also on the card are MMA legends BJ Penn, who is fighting young Canadian star Rory MacDonald, and Maurico "Shogun" Rua who will face young, up-and-comer Alexander Gufftason.
The December 8th event will be UFC's fourth with the FOX network and will arguably be the organization's most stacked card of the year.
While it may seem like Top Rank is trying to go head-to-head with UFC and spoil its party, that's not the case nor is it a mere coincidence. In fact, its happened before and is seemingly one of the rare scenarios that benifits both sports.
Last fall, when UFC announced its landmark FOX deal, they scheduled their first event with the network on November 12th. The card was headlined by then-UFC Heavyweight Champion Cain Velasquez vs Junior Dos Santos. And coincidentally, it fell on the same night as Manny Pacquiao's third fight against Juan Manuel Marquez.
And while some thought the two sports would collide, or at least contrast, UFC President Dana White saw things different:
Pictured: UFC President Dana White
Courtesy of Daniel Henderson, Sherdog
"I'm a huge boxing fan just like many of you. This will not affect you watching the Pacquiao fight. It actually works out perfect for fight fans. Big fight weekend! At 6 o'clock or 9 o'clock on the east coast, you can watch the UFC heavyweight championship--it'll be over at 7 o'clock or 10 o'clock and then an hour later, you can watch the Pacquiao fight. So you can watch both."
Dana was right. Not only did Pacquiao's PPV sell extremely well, but the ratings for the UFC's event on Fox were the highest they have ever been. Although the main event only lasted a disappointing 60 seconds, the numbers were solid at 8 million viewers.
So, it should come at no surprise Top Rank and UFC will dance together again with boxing being the greater beneficiary.
1: The UFC and FOX will market its event to the moon: The last few events for the UFC have been duds and the FOX events' numbers have not been as solid as anticipated, given the success of the first event. So, FOX will likely use the NFL and NCAAF to market the event as well as any resources that were not available for previous events.
What does Top Rank see in this? The more UFC viewers the better. For Manny Pacquiao's fight, the buzz will be just as high if not greater in the sports world. More importantly, Top Rank might be able to attract UFC fans and other casual boxing fans by piggy-backing off the UFC card which will end fairly early. People gathering at a house party for the UFC event might be more willing to purchase the Manny Pacquiao fight to culminate what promises to be a big night of fighting.
Pictured: Manny Pacquiao, right, unleashes a right jab on Juan Manuel Marquez in November 2011. Pacquiao vs Marquez III on November 12, 2011 drew over 1.4 million PPV buys .
Courtesy of Chris Farina, Top Rank
#2: The events will not overlap: UFC's show will likely start at 8:00 PM EST and end around 10:00 PM EST. To any fight fan, it's common knowledge that a PPV main event usually starts between 11:30 PM EST and 12:30 PM EST. So, the only thing sufficed is a couple of undercard boxing fights.
#3: Three big events in one night!: Does this really have to be explained? Any other big boxing or UFC PPV is likely to have only one big event scheduled. However, December 8th will be different as fans will get to see three marque fights (Henderson vs Diaz Rua, Rua vs Gufftason and Manny Pacquiao vs TBD) in one night. If you're only into boxing, it might be a normal fight night for you - But it will be a 'fight paradise' for those who follow both sports.
So there's no competition here. Top Rank is just being smart and using the UFC to its benefit.
Hopefully we see the best of both worlds (Hannah Montana pun intended) on this action-packed night of fighting.
Born and raised in Philadelphia, I currently reside in South Jersey which is about 20 minutes away from Philly.
I'm a Communications major at Gloucester County College and lifelong fan of several sports, including Boxing, Mixed Martial Arts and Kickboxing.
I fell in love with Boxing during the era of the little giants... Erik Morales, Marco Antonio Barrera, Manny Pacquiao, and Juan Manuel Marquez.