Cleanup on aisle UFC

Because I don’t want to roll this up into a much longer NFL post…

I posed the question as to who would control the UFC’s broadcasts on Fox as “Gus Johnson or Mike Goldberg?” The answer might be both: because of the sheer volume of UFC programming on Fox and FX, the UFC is thinking about bringing in more commentators to take some of the load off of Goldberg and Joe Rogan, which Johnson’s existing relationships with Strikeforce and Fox would make him a natural fit for. Similarly, while UFC will still be controlling the presentation, they will work closely with Fox to make it as good as it can be.

As for the quality of fights to expect on free TV, the UFC’s rights fee is substantially smaller than that of other sports, so pay-per-view will remain the backbone of the business, implying you won’t see Brock Lesnar v. Fedor Emelianenko on Fox anytime soon. That article makes it feel more like a stepping-stone, putting the product on broadcast TV to increase exposure and respect to the point where the company can afford a real TV deal. However, the UFC will be cutting back on PPVs slightly, all parties made clear that this deal is “just the beginning” and a foundation for future growth, and Dana White told Entertainment Weekly‘s TV blog that “the broadcast fights will be significant matchups, rather than saving all the important bouts for Pay Per View. ‘We want to pull ratings, we want to pull the big numbers,’ White said.” So the Fox fights will be PPV caliber, but will they be top-notch caliber? Rumors that featherweights will be among those featured on the first one-hour Fox show in November have me doubtful about that, at least for the short term, and I don’t know how top-notch the UFC will be able to go in the next seven years on Fox given the rights fee probably isn’t changing.

Still, one thing was already clear: UFC just changed the game in MMA, and may have made themselves completely invulnerable, to the extent they weren’t already, to any attempt to challenge their supremacy.

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