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UFC, Spike TV Reach New Deal to Show Preliminary Fights

The one-hour preliminary shows before UFC pay-per-views are returning to Spike TV in 2011.

Although the UFC's first pay-per-view of 2011 saw its preliminary card appear on Ion TV, whose demographics are not a good fit with the UFC, Spike has now announced that it has re-upped with the UFC to show 12 prelims, which represents almost all of them for the rest of the year.

The first UFC prelims will air on February 5 prior to UFC 126, featuring Paul Kelly vs. Donald Cerrone and Chad Mendes vs. Michihiro Omigawa. The UFC and Spike haven't announced which other cards will be involved in this new 12-card deal, but it will likely cover every North American pay-per-view card that the UFC has in 2011.

For the UFC, it just makes sense to televise the prelims: They're paying to put the fights on anyway, so they might as well give those fights as much exposure as they can. And for MMA fans, more free fights is always a good thing.

But the UFC has struggled to find the right place for the prelims. Ion reaches close to 100 million households, but the fan reaction to putting the UFC 125 prelims on Ion was lukewarm at best, with many fans not knowing whether they had Ion, or what channel it was on if they did. The UFC has also streamed prelims on its own web site and on Facebook.

Spike has always been the best fit for the UFC, however, and the deal announced Monday is a deal that should have all involved pleased.

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