Spike and the UFC are getting close to the end of their six-year relationship. They're dividing up their stuff and haggling over the little things, like their shared DVD collection. Like any break-up after a long relationship, it's getting ugly. Spike wants to move in with its new girlfriend, Bellator, but it can't do it with videos from the old girlfriend hanging around:
While Spike TV no longer will air live UFC events after this year, its existing contract allows it to air the UFC library (including past events, former "TUF" seasons, "UFC Unleashed" episodes and specialty programming) in 2012. However, as long as Spike TV has the rights to the content, it can't air programming — including live events — from other organizations, such as Bellator, until 2013.
The UFC could make try to buy back the library, but it's unlikely that they will make an offer. The last thing they want to do is hand over the audience they have spent six years building over to Bellator. The tournament-based promotion has been little more than a thorn in the UFC's side, but it could pick up many fans with a Spike deal that would trump Bellator's current deal with MTV2.
But Spike has its own way of dealing with the break-up. Say, counter-programming every UFC card that airs on Fox, starting with the Nov. 12 bout:
On Nov. 12, Spike TV will air a "UFC Unleashed" marathon — dubbed "Dos Santos vs. Velasquez: Unleashed for the Heavyweight Title" — featuring past fights with UFC heavyweight champion Cain Velasquez and Junior Dos Santos.
This is likely a tactic that won't work out well for Spike in the ratings department, as fans would always prefer live MMA over taped, but it will help them work out their feelings about the break-up. It's OK, Spike. It takes time to heal. Just remember the good times, like the first "Ultimate Fighter" and the first time you had to bleep out a Dana White cuss word.