UFC Scores with FOX

Spike TV has been the place to go for years as the UFC grew up and was a main reason for their ability to grow into what they are now. When Spike changed from TNT to Spike TV one of their biggest aspects to their programming was that they became the home for UFC. With fights broadcast on Spike as well as their reality show that changed the face of the UFC, The Ultimate Fighter (TUF). This relationship was a very beneficial one for both sides but as of Thursday August 18, 2011 the relationship is no more. On Thursday the UFC signed a 7-year contract with Fox Sports who will now take over for Spike. Fox Sports and UFC came to terms that will give Fox broadcasting rights to a number of major assets. This includes 4 fights that will be broadcast on Fox Sports every year. It also includes the rights to show The Ultimate Fighter on their media channel, FX. The next TUF will still be broadcast on Spike TV starting this fall but it will be the last of the reality show broadcast on the channel. With the move TUF will also make changes to their format as Fox will turn to audience voting in order to determine fights every week. Along with these moves FX will also show a number of live events. Finally another network in the Fox family will be the home a multiple programs including some new programs that they will create. According to Dana White Fuel TV will be the home of a number of new shows that will feature the UFC but nothing has been revealed yet. UFC has been one of the fastest growing sports in the world and with this move will now be shown to more people than ever before. Fox reaches close to 99 million homes in the U.S. and is the largest network in the U.S.A. With this move UFC has joined the ranks of the NHL, NFL, NBA, and MLB all using major networks to broadcast games. As for Canadian viewers there will be little change as Rogers Sportsnet will still show all things UFC. There will no longer be any UFC on Spike so Rogers Sportsnet will be the only place in Canada to get the UFC, unless you subscribe to the Fox networks. The new shows that will be developed by Fox/Fuel TV have not been revealed and therefore there is no word on whether they will be broadcast on Sportsnet.

As a sports fan with a history degree I have a special connection to the history of sports and this has especially been true with the UFC. I have been watching UFC for a long time and remember the Forrest Griffin and Stephen Bonnar fight. For those who don’t know that fight launched the UFC into the stratosphere and can be considered the turning point in the history of the UFC. This fight took place on Spike TV and was a result of a partnership between the UFC and Spike that saw the first MMA reality show on TV. This history makes me want to be angry that the UFC has abandoned them and moved on. Although this is what I would like to believe it is not exactly true. Sports are a business as much as people may not want to believe it and moving on to a huge network like Fox makes sense for the UFC. Spike has staked their reputation on the UFC but has begun to build on that with other shows and other aspects of their programming. Both sides will be fine with this move and the UFC can only stand to gain more popularity and a larger following. When Dana White took over the UFC his goal was always to become one of the best sports leagues in the world and moving to Fox puts them among the big four in the USA. The UFC may not be there quite yet but they are extremely close to it and making this move allows them to reach that crowd that they could not get to on Spike. With FX carrying their reality show and Fuel creating more content the UFC will continue their strong climb and make sure that they do not stay put. The worst thing you can do is to keep everything the same because it allows for very little growth and people will end up getting bored. So this is what the UFC has done and will continue to do. This joint venture will be a great move for the UFC and will allow the UFC and all of MMA to finally step out of that last bit of shadows and into the mainstream to compete with the big four.

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