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HBO-UFC Deal Falls Through, What's Next?

It has now been pretty well established that the long-awaited deal that would allow HBO to televise Ultimate Fighting Championship cards is simply not going to happen.

The bottom line is that UFC likes to have total control over everything it broadcasts -- UFC wants the announcers, cameramen, everybody to be hired by and supervised by UFC. HBO wants to have the same level of independence it has on its boxing broadcasts. It just wasn't a good fit.

So that probably means that HBO is going to stay in the boxing business and not get involved in the mixed martial arts business, at least not any time soon. But what about UFC? Will it find a higher-profile network than its current partner, Spike? Like, say, ESPN?

I still maintain that eventually, ESPN will be televising mixed martial arts on a regular basis. But I'm not sure if that means the Worldwide Leader will reach an agreement with UFC. I think it might be more likely that ESPN will become an investor in a rival mixed martial arts organization.

But in any event, there's just too much money to be made in mixed martial arts for ESPN not to have a hand in it.