When it comes to top secret negotiations, UFC president Dana White understands better than anybody that mum’s the word. However, it has been no secret the world’s premier mixed martial arts promotion has been pursuing a major television network to showcase their product on for years.
Just minutes before White took the podium for Tuesday’s UFC 136 press conference in Texas, the SportsBusinessJournal reported the UFC had struck a monumental TV distribution deal with FOX. When asked to comment on the possibility of Octagon action airing live on primetime television, White continued to play coy.
“I think it would be great [to be on one of the four major networks],” White flatly stated. “I’m sure you’re talking about the SBJ article that came out, [but] I didn’t comment when ‘The Wall Street Journal’ said we bought G4, either.
“When you’re in these negotiations, all these rumors start flying and everything else. [However], I think it’s time. I think we do fit into the sports world with the NFL, Major League Baseball, NBA, etc.”
Outside of planting an Octagon under Madison Square Garden’s famed spotlight in New York, scoring a television deal with either CBS, NBC, ABC or FOX is the next best thing to gaining mainstream acceptance in America. It’s a fact that White is fully aware of.
“I always said what would take [MMA] to the next level would be a broadcast deal, being on one of the major networks,” White expressed. “To do that you have to have the right deal.
“There have been other organizations out there that have popped up and jumped on the first network deal they can get, but if the deal doesn’t make sense you’re gonna go out of business real quick.”
According to the report, FOX would air four live UFC events per year starting in 2012 – over seven to eight years. FX would take over every show that Spike TV and Versus currently offer, including “The Ultimate Fighter” reality series.
“We have been very smart and we’ve taken our time,” White said of expansion. “We’ve built this thing really slowly, like you would do in any other business – no matter what carrots were dangling out in front of us. We are in this thing for the long haul.
“We got into this sport because we love it and we want to build the sport. When the right deal comes, we’ll take it.”
Speaking of accepting a respectable offer, FOX has scheduled a press conference in Los Angeles on Thursday where they will make “one of the biggest announcements in FOX Sports history.”
White, as well as UFC lightweight champion Frankie Edgar landed in LA Tuesday afternoon…