UFC and FOX Sports 1 – The Relationship Coming to a TV Near You
By Christopher Jester
It was not so long ago when the Ultimate Fighting Championship debuted on FOX back on November 12, 2011. In less than a year, the UFC and FOX Sports 1 will debut on August 17. When the UFC on FOX debuted, it was meant to be such a big deal for the sports of mixed martial arts and perhaps it was. More casual television viewers know more about the UFC now and can even throw out some names here and there. UFC on FOX Sports 1 will increase this trend as even those with basic cable can now tune in to Fight Night type shows without having to subscribe to FUEL TV.
This is a big deal for both FOX and the UFC. FOX is aiming to become a sports network that will rival ESPN, whereas the UFC is looking for even more exposure on a popular national brand such as FOX. Just in August alone there are two events for the UFC. UFC Fight Night: Shogun vs. Sonnen which is headlined by Mauricio ‘Shogun’ Rua and Chael Sonnen, respectively. This, of course, will take place on the FOX Sports 1 debut August 17. The second event, UFC Fight Night: Condit vs. Kampmann 2, will feature the rematch between Carlos Condit and Martin Kampmann. And the third event takes place as soon as September 4th, with Glover Teixeira and Ryan Bader clashing in the main event.
To say the least, FOX is betting a lot on the UFC to pull in some impressive numbers in the first month of the channel’s debut. FOX Sports 1 will surely capture the audience for mixed martial arts, but how much will the UFC help their goal to compete with ESPN? From the outset, it is up in the air.
Recently, ESPN has begun to tempt mixed martial arts fans with more news. ESPN’s First Take made mention of Anderson Silva’s loss numerous times the week after the knockout loss to Chris Weidman. Weidman was also on video during First Take, with hosts Stephen A. Smith and Skip Bayless discussing his stunning victory. Additionally, Weidman was interviewed by Dan La Batard, Bomani Jones, and Le Batard’s father Ganzalo, on the show Highly Questionable on ESPN2.
This brings to question just how much of the UFC’s additional television exposure will be a reach out of the grasp of FOX. It almost goes without saying that FOX will gain the exclusive interviews with likely any other media related obligations playing second fiddle to what FOX scoops up first. Sure, the UFC wants as much exposure as they can get, but how much will FOX want their rivals to gain by showcasing more MMA?
The truth is, FOX Sports 1 is more about complete sports coverage than just the UFC. The UFC will be a major part in the inception of the channel because of the deal Zuffa and FOX made. Regardless, the motion to put the UFC as one of its major brands in sports front and center is a brave move by FOX. Just when ridiculous reports about the UFC being fixed and other nonsense, FOX is taking the sport and putting it on the national stage for all to see. They are standing side-by-side with the UFC in its bold venture into everyone’s home.
While, the UFC now has a home on FOX and FOX Sports 1, it is the supplemental material that will help showcase what the sport of mixed martial arts is about. Through the help of UFC Insider and UFC Tonight, this is where FOX Sports 1 will deliver the broadcasting on scope with what ESPN offers. The news that most people have to read about on the Internet will now be accessible in the comforts of their couch or bed. This is where the average fan begins to care more about the sport and the fighters who participate in them.
FOX has the notion to build up the sport that is mixed martial arts with the UFC at its head. With the debut of FOX Sports 1 on August 17, the UFC will have even more exposure and the television deal that UFC President Dana White always wanted becomes even more magnified. With the sport on television for all to see, only the future knows just how much more the sport can grow.
Follow Christopher “sLapDatSuCKa” Jester on Twitter @sLapDatSuCka
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