The UFC and FOX officially announced their partnership today. The two companies will work together for the next 7 years for a reported (but unconfirmed) $90 million a year. The UFC will air four cards per year on FOX and 6 cards on FX. In addition, there will be pre-and-post-fight shows for Pay Per View cards on Fuel.
The Ultimate Fighter will move to FX next spring after the UFC finishes their 14 season run on SpikeTV this fall. The format of TUF will change as the fights throughout the season will be shown live on FX every Friday night. Instead of shooting the entire season and putting it on the shelf for a couple months, episodes will comprise of footage from the previous 4-5 days. No one really cares about that though. The important thing is that the preliminary fights will be shown live. Getting peope to tune into FX after happy hour is over on a Friday night for 12 straight weeks could prove difficult, but the DVR numbers and fan interest might see an initial spike.
The first UFC on FOX card will be held November 12 in Anaheim. About that… October 29 is a PPV show headlined by Georges St. Pierre. November 5 is UFC 138 and the first 5-round non-title main event fight in UFC history on SpikeTV. November 19 is UFC 139 with a title fight between Cain Velasquez and Junior dos Santos on PPV.
Oh, did I mention that Pacquiao – Marquez III is November 12? I’m really not sure what planting a fourth fight in 4 weeks against the most popular boxer alive is going to accomplish, but hey, go big or go the fuck home as Dana White has been known to say.
To review – There are roughly 52 weekends a year. There will be 6 FX shows, 4 FOX shows and the regular 15 or so PPVs a year. That’s 25 UFC weekends a year. Plus Zuffa has to deal with a little thing called Strikeforce who are currently up to 7 Challengers cards a year and 8 regular shows a year… That’s 40 Zuffa-produced MMA events a year and I’m not even counting the 24 random TUF fights.
We might need to take a step back and breathe. Zuffa has to absorb Strikeforce when their contract with Showtime is up because we may have reached the saturation point. It’s an expensive proposition to ask people to pay $55 a fight 15 times a year when there’s already so much for free. That being said, I bet the UFC still makes a pretty penny between the live-gate and a shitty 200K-buy PPV.
So for now, get ready for a lot of UFC. With the first card on FOX in November, the NFL audience will likely be hearing a lot about the inaugural UFC on FOX show. It will be just like Showtime on CBS, but this time the network might actually back the MMA product. You’ve seen what they do with horrible sitcoms, just wait to see the dancing robot get excited about the UFC.