Kevin Iole said in his Yahoo! Mailbag column that it was a "must" for the UFC to "use" former heavyweight champ Brock Lesnar on their network TV debut with Fox on November 12. Iole believes the UFC has to be "big out of the box" for the network and that with so many fighters already committed to other events, Lesnar is the only man for the job.
Before last weekend's UFC 134, rumors were flying that the UFC wanted to book Anderson Silva against Strikeforce light heavyweight champ Dan Henderson. But if Dave Meltzer's early estimates of the UFC 134 pay-per-view buy numbers are correct they'll want to do something different.
Dana White has already dismissed both possibilities. But there's nothing less likely to stop rumors of a possible big fight than the denials of a fight promoter, so let's speculate a bit.
Does the UFC absolutely need Brock Lesnar for a "big" show on Fox on November 12? Here are three possible answers:
- Yes, they can't do it without their biggest star.
MMA Payout did a fairly exhaustive study of the UFC's biggest draws last year and Lesnar came out on top by a wide margin. Despite his serious health issues and, even worse to fight fans, back-to-back fights that together stripped the aura of invincibility off Lesnar, Lesnar remains the biggest draw the promotion has. To put their best foot forward on Fox TV, it's imperative they fire off their biggest gun.
- No, they won't use him because they can't.
To try to understand the UFC's options here, keep in mind that "serious health issues" is a nice way ofsaying they had to cut a foot out of his colon due to diverticulitis. Lesnar's been recovering for most of this year but he just won't be ready to fight in time.
- No, they can't afford to use their top pay-per-view draw on free TV
As lucrative and high profile as the UFC's Fox TV deal is, the brutal economic fact remains that the UFC will make considerably more money by reserving Brock for pay-per-view. When Brock Lesnar fights, the UFC can expect to sell in the neighborhood of 700,000 to 1,000,000 buys at around $55 a pop. Giving away the kind of scratch that earns just doesn't make business sense.