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UFC to partner with Victory Fighting Championship on Fight Pass

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Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

UFC Fight Pass announced on Thursday a new promotional partnership with the Omaha, Neb.-based Victory Fighting Championship promotion.

Fight Pass will acquire the rights to the tape library of the company, which dates back to 2002, and on Friday, Jan. 29, will be airing Victory 47, the company's next live event. The show will be headlined by Anthony Smith (23-11) vs. Elvis Mutapcic (15-3) for the company's vacant middleweight title, starting at 10 p.m. Eastern.

"I'd like to formally welcome Victory Fighting Championship to UFC Fight Pass," said Eric Winter, the Senior Vice President of the station. "In addition to streaming the live Victory Fighting Championship event on January 29th, and live events for the rest of the relationship, we'll be uploading the entire fight library effective the beginning of January."

The library includes early career fights of UFC fighters Benson Henderson, Travis Browne, Spencer Fisher and Jake Ellenberger.

"If you're dealing with a local network, you run into issues with times," said VFC owner Ryan Stoddard, who took over running the company in 2010. "You have to build the promotion and fan base. This is the best possible thing we can ask for."

"It's critical for us from a U.S. perspective, not just for our fans, but we want to work with the best organizations in the country," said Winter. "We have a 15-person committee that goes over every organization in the world, and it's a pretty arduous process before we even reach out to the Ryan Stoddard's of the world. We've found it critical to bring in more MMA organizations."

The promotion runs shows in the Midwest, with its home base being the Ralston Arena in Omaha. The company's biggest success came for a March 30 show that drew a sellout of 5,056 fans.

Stoddard noted not only local fans can access the shows, but in fact, the live streaming is accessible in most of the world. That means, Mutapcic, who originally came from Bosnia, will be able to have relatives and friends tune in from his original home.

Stoddard said that he couldn't announce the arena for the Jan. 29 show, but the venue announcement should take place at a press conference on Monday, and they will be announcing more fights shortly.

"I work very intently on all my fight cards," said Stoddard. "We've been in Omaha, we've been in Kansas, South Dakota and Iowa. Those are the states we're going to focus on. I have other places I'd like to go. I think with the partnership with UFC Fight Pass, we can go to more places. But we're a regional show."

The company is unusual among smaller promotions because they sell season tickets to their live events in Omaha, running shows in April, July and December. To accommodate the new deal with Fight Pass, the December show was moved to late January.

"It puts you in front of the people who really matter," said Smith, who has fought once in UFC, four times in Strikeforce and twice in Bellator during his career. "You're in front of the fight fans, and those are the people you want to get as fans. I started fighting in Victory as an amateur in 2008. When I was an amateur, I was scrambling to get on the undercard. Now I'm main eventing on Fight Pass. I feel like I'm part of the second half of the story on Victory, so it's great."

Smith is coming off a win over veteran Brock Jardine in his last fight, a first round knockout in Lincoln, Neb., on Sept. 30.

Mutapcic, 29, has wins over UFC fighters Zak Cummings, Cezar "Mutante" Ferriera and Sam Alvey.

Winter also said Fight Pass is working on more original programming, including a new episode of the show, "Looking for a Fight." The first episode of the show, which aired in October, showed UFC President Dana White scouting Sage Northcutt, who then debuted in UFC to far more fanfare than most fighters starting out. White is currently in Alaska working on a second episode. The idea of cross-branding on Fight Pass is that stars signed based on that show would debut on a UFC event in prelim matches on Fight Pass.