ANAHEIM, Calif. -- The UFC is going big for its debut on Fox.
UFC heavyweight champion Cain Velasquez will defend his title against Junior Dos Santos on Nov. 12 in the mixed martial arts league's first network broadcast, UFC President Dana White announced Friday.
Velasquez's five-round meeting with the Brazilian contender will be the only fight on a one-hour prime-time show from the Honda Center in Anaheim, Calif.
"We really want to kick it off with a bang, and what better way than with the heavyweight championship?" White asked. "(The heavyweight title) is the most prestigious championship in all of sports, and there's nothing more exciting than when you know it's going to be a great fight."
White and Fox executives believe the bout will be the most-watched MMA event in North American history. They're also hoping it's an action-packed introduction to the once-banned sport for millions of curious newcomers.
"There are going to be millions of people turning into the UFC that have never seen MMA before," White said. "We're going to have to educate people."
The UFC will incorporate elements of MMA 101 into the Fox broadcast, although the network and the UFC are still working on the particulars. They're also throwing a party, with tailgating and a Super Bowl-style red-carpet arrival ceremony in Anaheim for a full-scale UFC card, even if only the main event is on Fox.
"We're jumping on this, and we're making it as big a deal as we can," Fox Sports President Eric Shanks said. "There was no question that we were going to get a fight of this magnitude."
White has put enormous expectations on the UFC's Fox debut. He believes the fight could be even more important to the UFC than Forrest Griffin's victory over Stephan Bonnar on April 9, 2005, in the promotion's first fight on live television.
That bout was a spectacularly bloody, back-and-forth brawl still considered one of the best fights in UFC history. The UFC quickly landed a long-term contract with Spike TV, and its popularity soared beyond its pay-per-view niche.
Velasquez and Dos Santos certainly seem to be likely candidates for another barn-burner.
Velasquez (9-0), a hulking ex-college wrestler from Arizona State, has knocked out all but one of his opponents in his MMA career. He stopped Brock Lesnar in the first round of their meeting in Anaheim last October to win the heavyweight title, but hasn't fought since then while recovering from a torn rotator cuff in his right shoulder.
Dos Santos (13-1) also is a hard-hitting striker whose fights had all ended by stoppage until his last two victories, both by unanimous decision. After coaching against Lesnar on "The Ultimate Fighter," the UFC's popular reality show, Dos Santos beat Shane Carwin in June to earn the title shot against Velasquez.
"This is like us getting Ali-Foreman," Fox Sports Chairman David Hill said.
When the UFC formalized its deal with Fox last month, it committed to build another top-level show around the first Fox broadcast, cramming another event into an already-packed fall schedule. Velasquez's meeting with Dos Santos had long been expected to be the headliner of a pay-per-view event in San Jose, Calif., where Velasquez lives and trains, on Nov. 19, although White never formally announced it.
"It was the easiest conversation I've ever had in yanking guys off pay-per-view and getting them on live television," White said. "They know what this means to the sport and their careers personally. It's going to be a big night."
White said UFC 139 still will take place at the Shark Tank one week after the Fox show. All told, the UFC has scheduled five major shows in a six-week period starting Oct. 29 with welterweight champion Georges St. Pierre's next title defense in Las Vegas.
Shanks said his promotions and marketing departments had been "working through the night" to prepare the network to promote the Velasquez-Dos Santos matchup on its college football broadcasts this weekend -- no surprise after Fox aired promotions for the UFC on its NFL preseason broadcast just a few hours after announcing the deal.
If the main event in Anaheim ends in an early stoppage, Fox will either replay the fight or air highlights of earlier bouts.
"The fans won't notice a difference," White said. "It will be just like any other pay-per-view we do."