Mon Jul 16 03:35pm EDT
The UFC continues to prove it "gets it," which is why the gulf between mixed martial arts and boxing continues to grow.
Spike TV and the UFC jointly announced on Monday that UFC 75 - arguably the most significant fight card in the UFC's history - will air free in the U.S. on Spike.
The main event on Sept. 8 in London pits Pride champion Dan Henderson against UFC champion Quinton "Rampage" Jackson in a battle for the 205-pound titles of each organization.
Because of the long-time rivalry between the two MMA companies, that fight has the potential to be the best-selling match in their PPV history.
But organizers instead chose to put it on basic cable television - albeit on tape delay - where it will be available in 90 million homes.
"It's part of my philosophy to always have good fights on free TV," said UFC president Dana White. "We ask out fans to buy 10 pay-per-views per year, and you can't give them s--- on free TV when you do that."
Boxing has long suffered since it routinely put its best fights on pay-per-view, where they were thus seen by the fewest number of people.
The UFC has been increasing the number of its pay-per-view shows as its success has increased, but president Dana White said he is committed to putting some of his best fights on free television.
Spike general manager Kevin Kay called it a "monumental bout," and was excited because it will be the first UFC title fight shown on Spike.
Contrary to what many who don't follow boxing or MMA closely believe, there is a large interest in combat sports not only in the U.S. but around the world.
But boxing has been suffering in the U.S. because of the veil of corruption that surrounds it and because of the greed of promoters and fighters.
A boxer like Sugar Ray Leonard became a pop cultural icon because he fought so much on free television. But the biggest stars in boxing do most of their big fights on either premium cable or on pay-per-view.
Spike and the UFC need to be commended for the foresight to put a high-caliber card on basic cable TV.
Also to be shown will be a heavyweight bout between Mirko Cro Cop and Cheick Kongo, as well as a light heavyweight grudge match between Michael Bisping and Matt Hamill.
Cro Cop was knocked out with a kick to the head by Gabriel Gonzaga - in April's UFC 70 on Spike, also from England - in what stands right now as the knockout of the year.
The bout will be showed on same-day tape at 9 p.m. Eastern and Pacific.
In other news, White also confirmed that Keith Jardine will be Chuck Liddell's opponent at UFC 76 on Sept. 22 in Anaheim.
Both light heavyweights are coming off losses at UFC 71 in May: Liddell lost his championship to Jackson, and Jardine was upset by Houston Alexander.
"Keith Jardine is a tough guy," said White. "He got caught. That can happen. But Chuck got caught too.
White bristled at the notion Liddell-Jardine is not a headline-caliber match. "It is definitely a main event, in my opinion," he said. "Jardine beat a lot of good guys, and he absolutely deserves to be fighting Chuck. He wouldn't if Chuck still had the title, but I don't think he needs to win a lot of fights just to get a fight with Chuck."