Last night I did some catching up on my MMA as I watched the UFC on Versus card from Sunday. The event lacked star power, but ended up providing more than enough entertainment, in my opinion. It drew 766,000 viewers on Versus, and found its way on to my DVR. It was the wee hours of the morning when I watched the event Monday night. There wasn’t a whole lot else to distract me. Because of this, I was doing some thinking about the UFC’s growth going forward.
Later this month the UFC returns to Brazil for the first time in 13 years. Brazil, and many other non-North American countries, present a massive growth opportunity for the UFC. The UFC: Rio event on August 27th will pack over 15,000 people into the HSBC Arena in Rio de Janeiro, although I’m certain they could have filled an arena 3 or 4 times that size.
With the economy now seemingly in a constant state of turmoil, and major work-related issues in the NFL and NBA, the UFC’s growth potential looks even more enticing to prospective partners.
My main thought last night hinged on that notion. A UFC partnership with ESPN would create an unstoppable force. Forget those old rumored broadcast TV deals. ESPN is the trump card. Having ESPN’s bottom line directly linked on the UFC’s success would provide a huge boost to the sport’s air time. Getting in bed with ESPN would mean more segments dedicated to the UFC on SportsCenter and other major programs.
Not even 12 hours after these thoughts filled my head comes a report from the Sports Business Journal that the UFC and Fox will be announcing a deal in the coming days.
The rumors go like this; it will be a 7 or 8 year deal, with about 4 fights per year being broadcast by Fox. Additionally, all the current UFC programming on Spike and Versus will more to Fox’s FX Network.
Fox has declined commenting to the Sports Business Journal. The UFC has declined commenting to Bloody Elbow.
Fox isn’t the WorldWide Leader, but it should push the UFC a little closer to world domination.