UFC on FOX: ‘Pinnacle’ for the promotion

This is exactly what national television needs.
Mark Kolbe

For the next seven years, the UFC has a home on broadcast television.

Confirming a week’s worth of rumors, the mixed martial arts promotion and the FOX Sports Group today announced a seven-year, multiplatform deal worth a reported $90 million a year.

It was a wild day for the UFC, and especially president Dana White. He appeared — in a FOX T-shirt, naturally — at a 1 p.m. press conference announcing the contract, then made the media rounds by phone.

The latter, he told me, was pleasant. “I’ve had s—tier press tours,” he said.

The UFC on FOX deal stretches seven years, with four live UFC events a year on broadcast TV. A revamped version of “The Ultimate Fighter” reality show will appear on FX (more on that in another post), as will six “Fight Night” events. Pre- and post-fight shows, as well as other UFC programming, will be shown on FX and Fuel TV.

White promised the four FOX events will feature some top-name talent. He didn’t rule out using Brock Lesnar, who announced this week he’ll be back “sooner than later,” on one of them.

“We’re going to put together fights that make people want to stay home and watch,” White said.

The lack of pay-per-view points, a staple of main eventers’ compensation packages, won’t be a problem. White said the UFC has “worked that out,” and that he can’t imagine a scenario under which a fighter would turn down a spot on primetime broadcast television.

White said “everybody” was talking to the UFC about a TV deal. He confirmed that the promotion had been in negotiations with Comcast recently, as was widely reported. The FOX deal, while somewhat in the works for 10 years, ultimately “went quick.”

Fighters seemed pleased with the news.

“I think it’s great,” said middleweight Jorge Rivera, who said he doesn’t know when or who he’ll fight next. “It’s great for the UFC, that’s for sure. Hopefully for anyone involved, too; the fighters and all that.”

Rivera said he couldn’t choose between appearing on a generic PPV vs. a generic broadcast card.

“It all comes down to … what the event brings you personally,” he said. “I feel we’re already so well-known, with so many fans, the fans already tune in to watch. On FOX, pay-per-view or whatever, it’s going to be a huge fanbase.”

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