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ESPN Executive: UFC 100 Was Great, But No Deal Is Imminent

BRISTOL, Conn. -- ESPN Executive Vice President John Skipper says he loved attending UFC 100 last month and would be interested in finding ways to work with the UFC, but he said nothing is in the works to have ESPN televise live UFC fights.

"I was quite impressed," Skipper said of attending UFC 100 in Las Vegas. "From the organization of the event to the production, the music, the way they engaged the 12,000 screaming fans. The fans really enjoy the sport and these guys who run the UFC have done a good job."

Skipper also said he's proud of ESPN's coverage of the UFC, including assigning journalists to cover mixed martial arts for and ESPN the Magazine, occasional SportsCenter highlights of UFC fights and's weekly MMA Live show.

But what about televising live fights? Skipper said it's not likely to happen any time soon. ESPN already has a fairly full plate of sports programming, Skipper said, meaning ESPN would only want the absolute best UFC fights. And it's hard to see how ESPN would benefit from taking its best fights off pay-per-view, where fights can generate upwards of $25 million in revenue.

Skipper also didn't sound particularly interested in having MMA outside the UFC, saying, "We've talked to other MMA leagues, but UFC is by far the best."

Ultimately, Skipper says he liked what he saw at UFC 100 but that MMA fans who thought Skipper's presence at UFC 100 signaled a future deal between ESPN and the UFC shouldn't get too excited.

"Nothing is imminent," Skipper said. "I came away with a good impression, but don't get your hopes up."

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