written by Devin Ashard @ wwww.statesmanjournal.com
The landscape is changing for UFC fans in 2012. As of January 1st, the deal with Fox Networks and Ultimate Fighting Championship begins to take effect, and with this new deal, fans can expect some very pleasant, albeit new, changes to how, where, and when UFC events are shown.
For most long-time fans of the UFC, Spike Television has been the home of the UFC. Since the unsurpassed success of the first season of The Ultimate Fighter, this channel has been a mainstay for many MMA fans. The finale to the first season of TUF, featured the classic war between Forrest Griffin and Stephan Bonnar and since that time, Spike TV has been the home for the best mixed martial arts action in the world, hosting a total of 14 seasons of The Ultimate Fighter, a number of Primetime Specials, and numerous events. Not to mention the countless hours of UFC Unleashed and Pride re-runs. Many of those things are changing now, as Spike will no longer be acruing any new content.
So where do you need to go to keep up with your favorite sport now that Spike is no longer the home for all your MMA needs? There are a few different channels to start paying attention to for starters, and below is all the details you need to stay up to date with your favorite sport.
FUEL TV – Will be the place to go for tons of UFC content. If you did not notice, FUEL TV opened up on January 1st with a 24 hour marathon of UFC fights to celebrate the official start of their relationship. This channel will be featuring UFC Primetime specials, and tonight at 7pm will mark the debut of ‘UFC Tonight’, a new weekly special, which will be looking at all the current and upcoming UFC details. This will also be the new home to UFC event prelims which were previously only available through the UFC Facebook live video stream, as well as The Ultimate Fighter – Brazil.
FOX – This seems like the most obvious channel to find your UFC events in lieu of the UFC on Fox deal, but the biggest sports broadcasting company in the country will now play host to four live events a year. Many people tuned into the initial UFC on Fox event in December which featured only one match, the Heavyweight Championship. To fans though, this single fight (lasting a whopping 64 seconds), did not quite fulfill their appetite for combat. Do not fear, the initial Fox debut will not be indicative to future shows. Less than a month away, on January 28th, UFC on Fox 2 will take place. Featuring 3 main event bouts and a full card. As the relationship with Fox and UFC gets more comfortable over their 7-Year deal, expect to see even more high profile events coming to Fox for Free.
FX – Another channel under the Fox broadcasting banner is FX, and they will hold a special place on this channel for the flagship fighting/reality show, The Ultimate Fighter. Season 15 is still on the way, featuring Bantamweight Champion, Dominick Cruz and former-WEC Featherweight Champion, Urijah Faber. The new season will debut on March 9th, and though there may be some familiar names and faces, the format of the show will be all new. featuring elimination matches taking place LIVE on FX. There will also be live events hosted on this channel, beginning with the UFC on FX 1 debut on January 21st.
SPIKE – You may be wondering what role Spike will play with all of these changes taking place for UFC fans. Well, Spike still has you fans in mind. Spike’s previous deal with UFC allows them to retain the right to air UFC Unleashed specials for the next year. Though there will be no new content, and no new events coming to the network, Spike has an extensive library of some of the best MMA action in the world, and will continue to share it with fans as long as possible.
As you can tell by this list of changes and additions to the UFC programming, the real winner here is the fans of MMA. Never before has there been so many options, networks, and promotions, to feed our need for this sport. Free events by the truckload are on the horizon, and the days of paying premium prices for pay-per-view events will begin to fade away or adapt to a much more open market. 2012 will begin another phase of crossing-over mixed martial arts into the world of mainstream attention, and personally I cannot wait to see what will happen over the next few years ahead.