The UFC has flirted with the idea of moving to a national television network for years, and now it's official: the UFC is now partnered with the FOX network.
Today, UFC and FOX jointly announced that they had reached a seven-year deal to distribute UFC programming over their multiple networks beginning in January 2011.
As a result, the longtime romance between the UFC and Spike TV has come to an end.
UFC first joined Spike TV in January 2005 and both have helped one another to build their platforms since then with Spike helping launch “The Ultimate Fighter”, and we all know what that did for the company.
Almost six years later, Spike will air the final season of TUF featuring middleweight standouts Jason “Mayhem” Miller and Michael Bisping, as well as a group of bantamweight and featherweight talent.
With the UFC leaving Spike, it has caused a bit of a stir between fight fans as to whether Bellator FC will fill the void left by the MMA juggernaut.
Bellator have been in the fight game since 2008 and made a name for themselves by putting on high level, exciting action in a tournament format that has helped produce highly-ranked talent including Eddie Alvarez, Hector Lombard and Joe Warren.
Bellator CEO Bjorn Rebney has scratched and clawed to get his organization onto a quality network in MTV2 after jumping between stations for the first three seasons.
MTV2 is a division of the MTV Network who additionally owns Spike TV, which leaves plenty of individuals guessing as to whether Spike would look to pick up the number one MMA organization outside of Zuffa, LLC.
Spike has released a statement indicating that their six-year deal with the UFC is over and that they are dedicated to airing distinctive original series such as “Auction Hunters” and “Bar Rescue”.
However, in 2011 we live in a world where television series’ programming doesn’t score as high of ratings as it did in the past.
The main reason being that most households have a DVD-Recorder and with our busy lifestyles, it’s often easier to DVR your favorite television shows and watch them when you have a spare moment.
But this isn’t as much the case with live sport. Being fight fans, you will understand that there’s nothing worse than not being able to see the event live and someone gives away the outcome of the main event.
Most people prefer to watch their sports live, which adds advertising dollars to live sports and an importance to sporting action being on any network.
But at this time, Spike is looking to re-brand their network and cater towards both males and females instead of just the guys.
I think at this stage, with them looking to go in another direction, it lessens the chance of Bellator finding a home there.
If Bjorn Rebney and everyone involved in Bellator were able to pull off a deal with them, it would be a great boost in the right direction for their company.
Not only is Spike a more viewed network than MTV2, but for six-years fans have associated Spike and fighting together so bringing Bellator there would be a great fit.
For now, I’m just throwing gasoline onto the fire of discussion, but don’t be surprised if Bellator decides to set up shop on Spike TV in 2012.