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Heavyweight championship bout slated for inaugural UFC on FOX card

Cain Velasquez vs. Junior dos Santos moved up a week from UFC 139

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Jae C. Hong / AP

Cain Velasquez, top, punches Brock Lesnar during UFC 121 in Anaheim, Calif., on Saturday. Velasquez won by TKO in the first round.

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  • Cain Velasquez -140 vs. Junior dos Santos +110
  • Heavyweight fights have long fascinated casual sports fans.

    That’s a thought the UFC plans to make the most of with its debut on network television. UFC President Dana White announced on a Friday morning conference call that the first bout aired as part of the organization’s new television deal with FOX will be a heavyweight title fight between Cain Velasquez and Junior dos Santos.

    Velasquez (9-0 MMA, 7-0 UFC) and dos Santos (13-1 MMA, 7-0 UFC) will meet on Nov. 12 in Anaheim, Calif., at the Honda Center.

    “It’s more than a heavyweight title, it’s two guys who I know are going to go after it and put on a great fight,” White said. “Tell me the last time you saw Junior dos Santos or Cain Velasquez in a boring fight. I’m literally betting everything that it’s not going to happen.”

    It’s a matchup that’s long overdue, as the UFC crowned dos Santos as Velasquez’s first challenger after he knocked out Brock Lesnar to win the belt in October 2010.

    But a shoulder surgery for Velasquez ruined those plans and led dos Santos to take a fight in the interim. Dos Santos destroyed Shane Carwin at UFC 131 earlier this summer to retain his status as the division’s top contender.

    Velasquez vs. dos Santos was tentatively slotted for UFC 139 on Nov. 19 in San Jose, Calif., but White decided to ditch those plans to improve the FOX show.

    “It was the easiest conversation I’ve ever had yanking guys off of a pay-per-view and putting them on television,” White said. “It literally took three-and-a-half minutes to get a deal done. They couldn’t be more excited. They know how big this is and know what this means to the sport and the UFC and to their careers personally.”

    White has already trumpeted the bout as “the biggest in UFC history,” because it will attract millions of new viewers on FOX.

    Because it’s a five-round title fight, Velasquez vs. dos Santos will be the only bout shown on television. The UFC will book a complete preliminary card and air it somewhere — likely facebook.com — for fans to watch.

    White confirmed rumors that middleweight champion Anderson Silva was considered for the event. But the UFC decided not to force Silva into a quick turnaround after his UFC 134 victory and thought the heavyweight fight was the “no-brainer” anyway.

    “We’re getting the opportunity from FOX to become mainstream,” White said. “Like I said when we made this deal, we aren’t sitting around patting ourselves on the back and saying, ‘we made it.’ Now is the time to work. Now is the time to deliver. Everything we’ve done in the last 10 years, we now need to do it bigger and better.”

    No one involved with the event is concerned with making expectations exponentially high. David Hill, chairman of FOX Sports, said the bout was the network’s version of Muhammad Ali vs. George Foreman.

    White went with another boxing comparison.

    “It’s not going to be like a Klitschko fight where everyone tunes in for the first time and falls asleep,” White said. “We’re going with a heavyweight fight that’s going to be a barnburner.”

    Case Keefer can be reached at 948-2790 or [email protected]. Follow Case on Twitter at twitter.com/casekeefer.

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