Novemeber 12, 1993 in Denver, Colorado was the birthmark of the first Ultimate Fighting Championship event live on pay per view and the event was a one night tournament with Royce Gracie emerging victorious. On November 12, 2011 in Anaheim, California another historic moment for the UFC will be taking place.
It was announced today that the UFC and FOX have agreed on 7 year deal which is approxiamently worth $750 million and the first event will be the Novemeber 12th event and one match has already been announced as featherweights Dustin Poirer and Pablo Garza will be squaring off, with a main event bout yet to be announced.
The deal with Fox includes four yearly live events airing on the FOX network and then two seasons of every episode of The Ultimate Fighter, four to six live events a year on FX and additional programming like UFC Primetime and UFC Countdown Shows airing on FUEL TV and FOX Sports Regional Network channels throughout the country.
From the first show in Denver to this epic press conference that took place today in Los Angeles, it was a long winding road for a lot of fans and MMA fans around the world wondering if the UFC would ever get on network TV.
The UFC when it first started out as one night tournaments with a no holds barred style format won people over as all you would hear is people talking about this UFC and how it was anything goes. A few simple words from Senator John McCain changed all that when he deemed MMA, “Human Cockfighting”. A short later the UFC struggled and floundered. Lost there licenses in a lot of states and no longer had that PPV outlet. But in 2001, that all changed when Dana White, Frank and Lorenzo Fertitta purchased the UFC for $2 million from SEG.
With a lot of hard work and will, spearheaded by White, got the UFC regulated in the majority of the states and got back onto to PPV. But, they were still losing money in the excess of around $40 million and the UFC was on the verge being sold until White was able to strike a deal with Spike TV and came up with the concept of The Ultimate Fighter.
It was a risk that could have been a disaster but the success of the Forest Griffin-Stephan Bonner captured the people’s attention and the UFC took off from there.
From the purchase of the World Fighting Alliance, Pride and this year Strikeforce, the only obstacle remaining was when was the UFC going to be on network TV.
UFC President Dana White always said he would know when/what the right deal was. They had offers in the past from various networks like HBO, but it never fit what the UFC was looking for. It was going to be on there terms and White was confident that someday it would happen.
On August 18, 2011, that day finally happened for White and the UFC. Fox is there type of network, as it has that edgy, hip feel with the 18-34 demographic that is the main audience the UFC appeals too with shows like The Simpsons, Family Guy and American Dad and sports like the NFL, MLB and Nascar.
Those three sports are quite arguable the 3 biggest in the world and the UFC is on the same network as them. A lot of people still do not know what the UFC is and only thinks that it is 2 guys standing in the octagon knocking each other’s heads off.
The sport is a lot different than it was back in 1993 and it now entails using every discipline of martial arts and wrestling all mixed together, therefore why it is called Mixed Martial Arts.
This is a lot different than it was when Elite XC and Strikeforce were on CBS, as the UFC will have control over the production and Fox will pre and post fight shows.
The UFC did not get to be a billion dollar industry by making decisions that were not in the best interests of the fans and the fighters and that is why it will better than any organization that has tried to run on network television in the past. They have the right people running the day to day operations and will continue to grow and grow around the world.
White has always said that one day the UFC will be the biggest sport in the world and today they took the biggest step to achieve that goal. Is the UFC now mainstream with this move? Absolutely, with the fighters they have like a Brock Lesnar, Georges St. Pierre, Anderson Silva and Jon Jones, the matches that can take place and the right people running the ship, it is a no brainer.
With this move today, the UFC made a statement by saying: Ready or not, here we come.