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ESPN, UFC Partnership Just a Matter of Time?

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From the average sports fan's perspective, the biggest difference between Saturday night's UFC 71 and the previous 70 Ultimate Fighting Championship events is that ESPN was all over UFC 71. Whether you were reading ESPN the Magazine or watching Pardon the Interruption, you couldn't miss the pre-fight Chuck Liddell coverage, and SportsCenter devoted about as much time to Rampage Jackson's upset victory as it's possible to devote to a sporting event that only has a few seconds of action.

ESPN likes to promote its own properties, which means there may have been an ulterior motive for all that coverage. The odds look good that UFC will be on ESPN some time in the not-too-distant future. UFC's contract with Spike expires next year, and UFC President Dana White has said he wants to get involved with ESPN, whether the Spike contract is renewed or not. ESPN.com has also joined forces with Sherdog.com, the most popular mixed martial arts site on the internet.

UFC will never give up the enormous revenues its biggest fights can generate from pay per view, but a partnership with ESPN would provide great exposure to UFC and would give the Worldwide Leader guaranteed ratings in the coveted young male demographic. This is a partnership that makes too much sense not to happen.

Thanks to FanHouse reader Trogdor for the tip that led to this post.