Earlier this year UFC President Dana White announced that the UFC had signed a deal to be broadcast by the FOX Network, and hailed it as the most important moment in UFC history. Now as the UFC closes out 2011 with three events in December and as they roll out their ambitious calendar for the first quarter of 2012, the impact of the signing can be seen a little more clearly to the layman.
The UFC schedule looks to be done through March of 2012, it appears that the UFC will continue running roughly three events a month. The calendar appears below.
January 14th, 2012 – UFC 142: ‘Aldo vs Mendes’
January 20th, 2012 – UFC on FX 1: ‘Guillard vs Miller’
January 28th, 2012 – UFC on FOX 2
February 4th, 2012 – UFC 143: ‘St-Pierre vs Diaz’
February 15th, 2012 – UFC on FUEL TV 1: ‘Ellenberger vs Sanchez’
February 25th, 2012 – UFC 144: ‘Edgar vs. Henderson’
March 4th, 2012th – UFC 145 in Sydney
March 18th, 2012 – (on a FOX network) ‘The Ultimate Fighter 15′
The UFC is planning PPV shows in Vegas, Tokyo, Rio de Janeiro and Sydney, Australia. Another season of the reality series ‘The Ultimate Fighter’ is planned with what is hoped is a new, innovative format.
In the past, the UFC has aired some of their events on SPIKETV, such as the FIGHT NIGHT events.
Where the true impact of the FOX deal is starting to show itself is that several of the FOX channels (FUEL and FX) will be showing UFC events, not just one.
Leading off is the first show on FX scheduled for January 20th. The headliner bout is Melvin Guillard taking on Jim Miller.
The following week, the UFC returns for their second event on FOX. This lineup is being kept under raps and is likely still under development, but expect something big. The first appearance on FOX featured the Cain Velasquez-Junior Dos Santos Heavyweight Title bout and ran for an hour. The show scheduled for January 28th is the equivalent of that series, however it remains to set in stone that this and future broadcasts will be 2 hours.
On February 15th, the UFC broadcasts their first event on FOX network channel FUEL TV. The main event features Welterweights Diego Sanchez an d Jake Ellenberger battling it out.
So the most immediate and visible impact is that the number of fight events that UFC must run is going up. And with main events like Guillard-Miller and Ellenberger-Diaz, the UFC shows that the roster is in good shape for this expansion. Both are intriguing fights, and indeed both are meaningful in terms of the title picture, so they are offering quality.
This should save the UFC management some of those calls they surely get from fighters about wanting to fight on the next show. If the UFC continues in the same direction with success, we are likely less than two years away from weekly UFC fight events running, and perhaps more than that.