LAS VEGAS – UFC president Dana White insists his company eventually will reach an agreement with HBO Sports to broadcast several mixed martial arts fight cards per year, even though HBO Sports president Ross Greenburg released a statement Friday saying the deal is dead in the water.
The UFC and HBO have been talking for more than a year and White publicly has said several times he believed a deal with HBO would be completed before long.
The UFC went as far as looking to stage a card in Portland, Ore., in December that would have served as a kickoff for the HBO series. White said a show in Montreal also was discussed.
But on Friday, Greenburg said the network had decided against going forward with the UFC.
The sides had been locked in a battle over control of the production of the telecasts. The UFC produces its broadcasts on Spike TV and on pay-per-view, and wanted to continue to do so on HBO. But HBO insisted on control of the broadcast.
"After lots of discussion, it became apparent that the business model doesn't make sense for either one of us," Greenburg said in his statement. "So, we've agreed to go our separate ways. You never know what the future holds. We have enormous respect and admiration for the executives we dealt with at the UFC. We wish them well."
White isn't bothered by Greenburg's statement and said he doesn't believe it ends the possibility of a deal.
"We'll come to a deal with HBO, I'm 100 percent confident of that," White said. "Ross is probably pretty happy now, but we'll get a deal done with them. Believe me, we will. They want the deal, I want the deal – and when two sides want the deal, it gets done.
"There's a lot of stuff to this and these things take time. Deals are never easy to get done. They take a lot longer than I'd like."
White said he expects the UFC to have a significantly larger television presence in 2008. The UFC is working on a long-term extension with Spike and is negotiating with another network White wouldn't name, though it is believed to be ESPN.
"We're going to make another big announcement about (TV) that is going to blow people away," he said. "You never know who that might be. You'll have to wait and see."