Dana White and the UFC have been in serious negotiations over the past year with everyone from HBO to ESPN about a possible network deal. Talks heated up again in late April with FOX emerging as the front runner to land the UFC’s broadcast rights with White claiming that a deal would be done within six months.
That gap has now closed to a three month time span according to our friends over atFiveouncesofpain.com .
“We’re real close to a network,” said Dana White, “I’m going to say in three months.”
White also admitted that CBS is not the network in question, for obvious reasons. The network recently cut a deal with EliteXC in April.
NBC has also struck a deal, with UFC rival Strikeforce, and is likely out as well.
That leaves ABC and FOX, both of which are shaky propositions.
ABC/ESPN, who have negotiated with the UFC in the past, have been slow to embrace MMA and even critical of the sport at times. Coverage was noticeably sparse this weekend during UFC 86 featuring Forrest Griffin and Quinton “Rampage” Jackson, which may be an indication of their displeasure with the UFC or the sport in general.
FOX/FSN, who are also rumored to have participated in negotiations with the UFC, have a deal lined up with Affliction in which the network will air at least two high profile preliminary fights on FSN. This could indicate that talks between the UFC and Fox have gone nowhere or it could be a power play on the part of FOX to gain further leverage in negotiations by essentially showing the UFC that they have other options.
Whether White and the UFC really are close to a network deal is difficult to say, White has made these kind of claims in the past, notably with HBO. But, if they are close to a deal expect it to be with either ABC or FOX. One thing’s for sure; if the past is any indication, I wouldn’t hold White to his three month proclamation.