UFC has just punched its ticket to FOX.
The MMA juggernaut has partnered with the broadcaster for a seven-year deal to showcase its stable of grapplers. While terms were not disclosed, estimates place the value of the deal at $90 million per year.
The deal entails four fights per year on FOX TV with 32 more on cable sibling FX, many of which will be part of the popular reality series “The Ultimate Fighter” — which will air a final season on Spike TV in the fall before moving to its new home next spring. Additional UFC-related programming will air on FUEL TV.
Of the partnership, Eric Shanks, president and co-COO of FOX Sports Media Group says, “Mixed martial arts is not only the fastest-growing sport in the world but also the world’s most exciting form of man-to-man competition, and the UFC is the world’s premier MMA organization.”
This is not the first time that broadcast networks have attempted to enter the world of MMA. In 2008, CBS partnered with EliteXC to periodically air fights on Saturday night. This partnership quickly fell apart after the much-hyped brawler Kimbo Slice was quickly knocked out by Seth Petruzelli, a last minute substitute. This was followed by comments from Petruzelli that seemed to indicate bonuses for employing techniques to help prolong the fight.
MyNetwork TV also attempted a foray into the MMA world during a partnership with International Fight League, but that ended in 2008.
UFC on FOX will debut at 9 p.m. ET Nov. 12, not so coincidentally the same night as the boxing match between Manny Pacquiao vs. Juan Manuel Marquez. The UFC fight card is yet to be announced.