UFC signs new TV deal in UK, with increase of local events likely to follow

Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

The UFC has signed a three-year broadcast contract with BT Group, in hopes that the new strategic partnership will reignite the mixed martial arts boom in the UK.

The deal, which was announced on Tuesday morning, will offer comprehensive coverage of the UFC, including programming specifically produced for UK and Irish audiences, on the soon-to-be-launched BT Sport, according to The Daily Mirror. The aim is to produce coverage similar to the shoulder programming that FUEL TV has developed in the U.S.

Previous deals with ESPN and Setanta Sport provided only live events.

The launch of BT Sport, which will be officially announced on Thursday, is set for an August debut with three channels: two BT Sport channels as well as an ESPN channel. In addition to the UFC deal, they have also signed content deals with Premier League soccer and Premiership Rugby.

Earlier this year, UFC president Dana White hinted that a new television deal in the UK would result in the promotion scheduling regular live events in local markets. Since the start of 2010, the UFC has only visited the UK once each year, and they haven't taken the show to Ireland since 2009.

"Here’s what we are working on: dates in London, Manchester, Dublin and several other places in the UK," he said in February. "We do them every year, the same date every year, and with the right television deal we bring big fights over here."

The UFC's first event that will air on the channel is UFC 163 on August 3, according to multiple reports.

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