White talks UFC on Versus
UFC president Dana White has long said he won’t do a network television deal just to get a deal done. It’s got to be “the right people and the right deal.”
Zuffa, LLC – the Ultimate Fighting Championship and World Extreme Cagefighting’s parent company – recently extended its contract with Versus to include UFC events on the sports network in 2010 in addition to WEC programming.
It is the beginning of a multi-year agreement that will develop over time according to Marc Fein, Versus Executive Vice President of Programming, Production and Business Development.
The initial plan calls for two UFC Fight Night-type events, though details of when the events will air on Versus, including what night of the week, have yet to be determined.
The UFC’s expansion onto Versus is the latest example of White’s television strategy. He’s going to team with partners that will work in concert.
He feels he’s got that in Versus and its parent company, Comcast.
“We’ve always had the ability to do fights on another network (aside from Spike TV) if we wanted to. We could do four per year,” said White on Wednesday.
“I’ve been talking to networks for a long time now and I’ve never come to a deal with the big ones, CBS, Fox, you name it, HBO, never come to deals with any of them. I didn’t like the deals and I didn’t really feel that they were into it,” he added.
“Versus has shown their commitment to mixed
martial arts, the UFC, the WEC, and we couldn’t be happier to be in business with guys like this.”
Airing UFC events on WEC’s home network immediately raises the obvious questions about longstanding rumors of merging the two brands or at least commingling talent.
White quickly shoots down the notion.
He has no immediate plans on trading fighters back-and-forth. The goal is concrete, “get the WEC on pay-per-view.”
An interesting element to the addition of UFC on Versus is
Comcast’s recent purchase of NBC Universal, which still awaits governmental approval. The New York Times says that Comcast will likely rebrand Versus as something akin to NBC Sports Cable in direct competition to ESPN.
It’s too soon for any definitive statements in that regard, but it is an attractive option for the UFC if it comes to fruition.
“You never know,” White responded when asked by MMAWeekly.com about the impact Comcast’s NBC purchase could have on his company.
“It’s obviously very, very interesting and Comcast and Versus have been great partners for us. They’ve got some interesting things going on.”
So now maybe the door is cracked open to the possibility of UFC on NBC? It’ll take time to find that out, but in the mean time, White is happy extending his relationship with the media juggernaut.
“These guys have been great partners to us, Comcast and Versus.”