White: “We’re Putting Serious Fights on Network TV”

Written by Tom Ngo
August 3rd, 2009

Most thought the UFC was going to announce big news with the signing of Fedor Emelianenko. However, with that door closed again for the time being, it appears that UFC president Dana White has his sights set on something bigger. A major network deal could be in store, something that would revolutionize the sport.

“We’ve never had more interest than right now,” White said. “Obviously, I think all the hard work we’ve done over nine years and UFC 100 had a big part in it, too. I’m pretty confident we’re gonna have a deal very, very soon. I like what I’m hearing now more than I ever did before.”

This statement comes on the heels of Thursday’s announcement of the UFC’s new partnership with ESPN to broadcast Octagon action in the U.K. and Ireland starting on August 3rd. They will immediately follow that up by airing UFC 101 live on August 8th.

Once this bomb dropped, many started to speculate the UFC was close to coming to terms with ABC, ESPN’s parent company. It’s really a moot point whether that was true or not as it looks like the proposal wasn’t to White’s liking regardless.

“Once we get the right offer, we will be on network television,” said White. “We haven’t had the right offer, yet.”

When that day comes, and believe that it will, it’s truly going to be a watershed moment for the sport of mixed martial arts. And nobody knows that better than the brash president as he would parlay that opportunity by putting on sick fights for $Free.99 on prime time television.

“The thing about us is, if we get a network deal, we’re putting serious fights on network TV,” White emphatically stated. “That’s one of my big beefs with boxing … once everything went to the pay model they stopped putting good fights on free TV for the fans. I’m big into that.”

White isn’t kidding. Although he might take a slight hit financially by having his most popular guys not competing on pay-per-view events, the priceless exposure they will receive will more than make up for it in the long run, especially when the sport really takes off.

“Listen, we get a network television deal, it’s gonna be so awesome for the fans,” said White. “It’s going to be great for the network, great for the fans, and great for the UFC.”

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