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The evolution of UFC on Fox cards

Junior Dos Santos connects hard with Cain Velasquez

Junior Dos Santos connects hard with Cain Velasquez en route to the first-round TKO victory and winning the heavyweight title at UFC on Fox 1 at the Honda Center in Anaheim, Calif. (Nov. 12, 2011) Credit: MCT

Sure, it's easy now to giggle at the idea of dedicating one hour of live television on a major network to one MMA fight.

But, at the time, MMA fans were salivating at the idea of UFC heavyweight champion Cain Velasquez defending his title against Junior Dos Santos.

Dos Santos knocked him out in 64 seconds, leaving Fox to fill quite a bit of air time. Fox and the UFC have worked since to put together deeper cards for television purposes.

Looking at the evolution of the UFC on Fox cards, it's hard to complain about what is being offered on free television.

Below is a list of the UFC on Fox fight cards, including just the bouts that were scheduled in advance to air on the live broadcast. (It doesn't include prelim bouts that aired on Facebook, Fuel TV, FX or on Fox as filler in between main-card fights.)

It also helps to consider this evolution separate from the actual results of the fights. Remember the first Velasquez-Dos Santos bout, the one that lasted just 64 seconds? Well, the rematch on pay-per-view went the full five rounds and was among the best MMA fights of the past several years. There's no telling how a fight will play out, so try to avoid revisionist history for the next few minutes.

UFC on Fox 1: Nov. 12, 2011

Cain Velasquez vs. Junior Dos Santos (heavyweight championship)

The heavyweight champion defending his belt on free television? That was a throwback to when boxing was the sport of kings . . . and TV ratings.

UFC on Fox 2: Jan. 20, 2012

Rashad Evans vs. Phil Davis

Chael Sonnen vs. Michael Bisping

Chris Weidman vs. Demian Maia

Responding to complaints about a one-fight broadcast, Fox goes to two hours and three fights including a former light heavyweight champion (Evans) against an undefeated rising star (Davis). Sonnen and Bisping are marketable names, as was Maia. Weidman filled in on 11 days' notice.

UFC on Fox 3: May 5, 2012

Nate Diaz vs. Jim Miller

Josh Koscheck vs. Johny Hendricks

Rousimar Palhares vs. Alan Belcher

Pat Barry vs. Lavar Johnson

The first four-fight Fox broadcast was headlined by two of the toughest lightweights, plus the rising star of Hendricks. Not the strongest card on paper in terms of major names, but a good group of fighters to see for free.

UFC on Fox 4: Aug. 4, 2012

Mauricio "Shogun" Rua vs. Brandon Vera

Lyoto Machida vs. Ryan Bader

Joe Lauzon vs. Jamie Varner

Mike Swick vs. DaMarques Johnson

A pair of former light heavyweight champions on the same free card is somewhat impressive. It was also billed as whoever impressed the most in the Rua-Vera and Machida-Bader fights would get the next title shot. This card also featured fight bonus king Joe Lauzon, who can submit an opponent in a split-second, and the return of Swick after more than two years away.

UFC on Fox 5: Dec. 8, 2012

Ben Henderson vs. Nate Diaz (lightweight championship)

Mauricio "Shogun" Rua vs. Alexander Gustafsson

B.J. Penn vs. Rory MacDonald

Mike Swick vs. Matt Brown

Any time the belt is on the line on free television, that should be consider a win for your wallet. Diaz is the perfect antagonist for any card, let alone the main event against a champion some felt still needed to prove himself. Add in the rising name of Gustafsson, plus that of McDonald against the legendary Penn, and that's a strong night of MMA viewing.

UFC on Fox 6: Jan. 26, 2013

Demetrious Johnson vs. John Dodson (flyweight championship)

Quinton "Rampage" Jackson vs. Glover Teixeira

Anthony Pettis vs. Donald Cerrone

Erik Koch vs. Ricardo Lamas

Much ado about the little guys (flyweights are 125 pounds) headlining over the more established name of Jackson. But this was arguably the strongest card at that point. "Rampage" is "Rampage" and Teixeira is billed as the next beast at 205. Pettis was twice a lightweight title contender (but never got the shot) and Cerrone had been rolling over nearly everyone in his way. Koch vs. Lamas would help establish the next serious contender to Jose Aldo at 145.

UFC on Fox 7: April 20, 2013

Benson Henderson vs. Gilbert Melendez (lightweight championship)

Frank Mir vs. Daniel Cormier

Nate Diaz vs. Josh Thomson

Matt Brown vs. Jordan Mein

A title shot between the UFC lightweight champion and the former Strikeforce champion. For years, Melendez has been regarded as the best 155-pounder not already in the UFC. Mir is a two-time former UFC heavyweight champion and he faces the undefeated Cormier, a two-time former Olympic wrestler who many believe can be the next great heavyweight (if he doesn't drop down to 205). Thomson returns to the UFC and gets Diaz for his efforts.

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