Tomorrow night marks the beginning of a new era for Fox Sports, as the launch of the new 24/7 network Fox Sports 1 is supposed to provide us with the first real contender to the throne that ESPN has been sitting on for God knows how long. Is ESPN even slightly worried about what the “jockular” Fox Sports 1 brings to the table? Some would think the World Wide Leader is a little concerned, what with its decision to bring back Keith Olbermann (no thanks) and re-hire Fox Sports columnist and The Wire enthusiast Jason Whitlock (NOOOOOOO THANKS) after years of very bad blood.
But the truth is that we won’t be able to tell right away, as Fox Sports 1 is going to have its fair share of problems from the get go, including people punching their TVs every time a certain college football analyst appears and especially the casual sports fan accepting the UFC as a mainstream product. Some may argue that the UFC is what it is and does just fine with its core base of fans, but we all know that Dana White and Co. are desperate to win over the people who aren’t watching, and that mission continues tomorrow night with several hours of 13 free fights, starting with the Facebook prelims at 4 PM ET and continuing with the main show at 6 PM ET on Fox Sports 1, both of which you can join us for right here with another of our wonderful live discussions.
Other outlets that I won't mention have already branded this debut of the UFC on Fox Sports 1 as having a weak, unappealing card, to which I respond, “Honey, you gotta give the kids a taste of sugar before you sell ‘em the candy." For a free event and hours of fights, I think that this card has a lot of potential to entertain, regardless of how you feel about the main event of “The American Gangster” Chael Sonnen and Mauricio “Shogun” Rua.
Here’s why the main event will be fun: Because if you like Sonnen (like I do to an extent) and he wins, he’s going to turn the trash talk up to 12 now that he’s dropping back down to middleweight to chase Wanderlei Silva for that fight that they’ve never had. And he’ll turn up the trash talk beyond that, because he always talks beyond his own fights, and he’ll probably pry his way into the conversation of the Weidman-Silva II main event at UFC 168, because that’s what he’s great at and he's already doing that. And people will ask, “Why do people care what Sonnen has to say?” and we’ll respond, “Because he’s the only one with something to say. Seriously, nobody else, save for Ronda Rousey, is even remotely entertaining, and the UFC needs Sonnen yapping away.”
But if you don’t like Sonnen, and I know that’s a lot of you, here’s the best reason for you to watch this main event tonight – He’s probably going to lose. And that’s why I think that the casual sports fan can really start to appreciate the UFC, because there’s nothing more entertaining and hilarious than watching a hyped team or athlete and its fans run their mouths over and over, only to lose.
As for the rest of the card, check out our good friend, and smartest fight fan in all of these live discussions, Lobster Mobster’s handy dandy fight primer, and check out the cool new UFC fight card preview slides, complete with my very own predictions (for the first time ever, since I’m always afraid to look dumb) for tomorrow night’s UFC Fight Night on Fox Sports 1.
(GIF of Brittney Palmer kissing Arianny Celeste's butt via Guyism)
Prediction: One of my main rules for picking winners of fights (and sports events in general, as they can go either way and are rarely predictable unless the Astros are involved) is "When in doubt, go with the better nickname." Ramsey Nijem doesn't even have a nickname listed, but if he did it would still be hard to beat "The Texecutioner." My pick is James Vick.
Prediction: All of the numbers in this fight seem to favor Cody Donovan, so I’m not going to deny the numbers. At least not in a preliminary match. If I’m going to get one wrong, I’ll take it being in the Facebook fights. Although, Ovince Saint Preux would be a pretty awesome James Bond villain name.
Prediction: Is it just me or does Manny Gamburyan look twice Cole Miller’s size based on that fight card graphic? My gut’s telling me the Anvil takes this one by KO in the second or Decision. And I’ll go ahead and admit that I originally wrote, “Decision in the third” because it’s Friday and my brain is toast.
Prediction: I’m gonna go back to the nickname issue here, but this time I’m flipping it with my incredible scientific analysis. While “The Pit” is a good nickname, I’m giving this one to Diego Brandao, because I sympathize with a fellow lame nickname. I know the pain of being branded with a (last name)-y nickname by all of my friends for so many years, so I can only imagine how DB feels. Unless he likes it, in which case, cool bro. No beef, my bad.
Prediction: Is that the Motley Crue Dr. Feelgood album artwork on Mike Brown’s chest? Close enough. He gets my pick.
Prediction: Conor McGregor made a fan out of me when he won Knockout of the Night at UFC on Fuel back in April, so I’m gonna double down on him in this match, although coming off of his loss to Dennis Bermudez, Max Holloway is probably pissed and looking to prove himself. I’m still taking McGregor, but I wanted to set myself up so I could say, “See? I knew this one could go either way.” Peter Peter King, y’all.
Prediction: Not even a doubt in my mind, give this one to my boy, Michael McDonald and get him one step closer to that Bantamweight title that desperately needs a good champion. Oh, and a healthy one.
Prediction: Joe Lauzon’s last fight was the 2012 Fight of the Year at UFC 155, as he lost by unanimous decision to Jim Miller. Michael Johnson also lost that night, and he lost to Reza Madadi at UFC on Fuel in April, too. I think the Menace is cold, so I’m going with Lauzon.
Prediction: The last time “Doomsday” was in the UFC, he lost three in a row and found himself without a job. I think he should have to forfeit that awesome nickname until he can prove he deserves it in the big show again. 6-1 in his last 7 fights in CFA, CES and High Fight Rock is impressive, but he has to beat Uriah Hall before he’s Doomsday again. I’m still picking Hall.
Prediction: I usually wouldn’t bet against Mike Pyle, because he’s a fun guy to watch and has won 7 of his last 8, but Matt Brown beat my boy Jordan Mein so I’m picking him. It’s the transitive property or something like that.
Prediction: Urijah Faber is coming off two impressive submission wins and should be fighting Renan Barão in September for the interim bantamweight title instead of Eddie Wineland, in my humble opinion, so I’m giving him the edge over Iuri Alcantara.
Prediction: Honestly, I think Alistair Overeem comes out and wins this one convincingly, but I’m going to give this one to Travis Browne because I just don’t like Overeem.
Prediction: I'm terrible at predicting how long I expect matches to go, and unless you're talking about Bill Goldberg in his early WWC days, I think that anyone who really tries to pinpoint when a KO, TKO or submission is going to happen is full of doodies. But I hope this one is a long, entertaining fight, and I expect that Shogun is going to win and help cement usher in his key role of free fight co-main event.