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Prelims Return to Facebook, Ion Network for UFC 127 in Australia

On the eve of the Academy Awards, the UFC is showing "The Social Network" some love.

For UFC 127 in Sydney, which airs live on pay-per-view at 10 p.m. Eastern Saturday in the States with the time difference, the promotion is returning to Facebook, as well as the Ion Network, for a total of five preliminary card fights. The formation of Facebook is the crux of "The Social Network," one of the most critically acclaimed films of 2010 – and nominated for eight Oscars on Sunday.

The UFC announced on its Facebook fan page Monday that bouts between Jason Reinhardt and Tiequan Zhang and Tom Blackledge and Anthony Perosh will stream live at Facebook. Fans must "like" the UFC on Facebook to gain access to the prelims at the site. The UFC currently has nearly 4.8 million fans at the social networking giant.

The UFC first began its Facebook streaming experiment at its Fight for the Troops 2 show last month at Fort Hood, Texas, streaming two fights. It continued earlier this month at UFC 126 in Las Vegas with a live stream of Kid Yamamoto's promotional debut against Demetrious Johnson.

UFC president Dana White has said for years he believes broadcasting's future will be in the Internet, and by utilizing Facebook for the third straight event, the promotion appears to have found a regular home for fights that normally would only be seen as fillers on the main card.

In addition to the pair of Facebook fights, the UFC will return to the Ion Network for three prelims immediately leading into the pay-per-view broadcast. An Ion Network spokesperson confirmed the news to MMA Fighting on Tuesday morning, and the UFC made its official announcement on Tuesday afternoon. .

Ion will feature the light heavyweight bout between Aussie James Te-Huna and Alexander Gustafsson, a fight between Ross Pearson, the Season 9 lightweight winner of "The Ultimate Fighter," and Spencer Fisher and a middleweight bout between Nick Ring and Ricki Fukuda.

Fans will now be able to see 10 of UFC 127's 12 bouts in a broadcast of some kind – Facebook streaming, Ion and the pay-per-view. Depending on the quality of the card's first two preliminary fights – the only two not currently scheduled for a broadcast – and the speed of the fights on the pay-per-view, it becomes theoretically possible for fans to see all 12 fights on the card.

The UFC previously aired prelims on Ion for UFC 125 in January, the first time outside of that it had veered from the tradition of putting free fights on its Spike TV partner. White said pairing with Ion was a simple matter of Spike not being able to air prelims for each UFC pay-per-view – and had nothing to do with ongoing negotiations between the promotion and cable station.

UFC 127, the promotion's return to Sydney after the successful UFC 110 a year ago, takes place at Acer Arena and features a main event welterweight bout between Jon Fitch and former welterweight and lightweight champion BJ Penn. White said last week the fight will determine the next No. 1 contender for the 170-pound title.

In addition, Michael Bisping and Jorge Rivera fight in the co-main event; Australia's George Sotiropoulos looks to extend his UFC record to 8-0 against Dennis Siver; Chris Lytle fights 60-fight veteran and UFC newcomer Brian Ebersole, who lives in Australia and took the fight on short notice for an injured Carlos Condit; and Australia's Kyle Noke takes on Chris Camozzi in a middleweight bout.

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