UFC on FOX 2 Preview: Why Rashad Evans vs. Phil Davis Has Huge Significance

Darren WongSenior Analyst IJanuary 26, 2012

For some hardcore MMA fans, UFC on FOX 2 is just another UFC event.

Yes, it's the most stacked MMA card ever on network television, but other than that I don't think most hardcore fans truly understand the magnitude of the situation and what it could mean for the immediate future of the UFC.

When I look back on the history of MMA, I see a sport where the ultimate success or failure of a promotion has hinged upon far more specific instances and lightning-in-a-bottle moments.

Take the following examples: Would the UFC have ever exploded like it did had Forrest Griffin and Stephan Bonnar not fought like they did on The Ultimate Fighter?

Would Strikeforce have sold to the UFC had it not have been for the upset losses of Fedor Emelianenko and that disastrous card on CBS?

In both cases, I think the answer is a resounding and unequivocal no.

Had Bonnar and Griffin not fought like they did, the UFC might never have seen that huge boost in popularity that allowed it to climb out of a $48 million financial pit.

The terrible ratings for that April 17, 2010, Strikeforce event, combined with boring fights and a post-fight brawl, eliminated the possibility of a quick return to CBS, while the losses of Emelianenko destroyed the possibility of an immediate entry into the pay-per-view market.  Those things combined, Strikeforce's investors had little choice but to abandon ship.

In a personal anecdote, I've talked to lots of people who ordered their first pay-per-view for UFC 129, who say they won't do it again because Georges St-Pierrer vs. Jake Shields was a dud of a main event. First-time watchers don't remember the Lyoto Machida knockout or the classic that was Jose Aldo vs. Mark Hominick.

Main event aside, I think UFC 129 was one of the greatest UFC shows ever, but all people remember was the way it ended. Many won't buy again as a result.

Looking forward at this weekend's FOX card, what are the stakes?

Wins by Rashad Evans and Chael Sonnen and an impressive main event will set up $2 million pay-per-view events and earn the UFC possibly millions of new fans.

Both the Jon Jones/Evans rivalry and the Anderson Silva/Sonnen rivalries have the kind of storylines, buzz and excitement that could really create a ton of momentum. Not to mention that Evans and Sonnen are also probably the two best self-promoters currently in the UFC since the exit of Brock Lesnar.

Wins by Davis and Michael Bisping combined with a lackluster main event could kill two huge events, never mind the potential new fan interest lost.

That's probably a loss of well over a million pay-per-view buys, in addition to lost potential ticket sales and future potential earnings on new fans

Am I wrong, or is a $30 million revenue swing based on this one event a very conservative estimate? It could be $100 million.

This seems especially critical considering the potential for Evans vs. Davis to become a stalemate wrestling match.

I know most people think Sonnen is going to beat Bisping, but then again, few people thought Jake Shields was going to sit on Dan Henderson's chest for for rounds, but it happened.