In 2005, the UFC was struggling to find a foothold in the greater global consciousness when Dana White and the Fertitta brothers had an idea: build a reality television program - The Ultimate Fighter - around the sport and the fighters to Trojan Horse the UFC into the mainstream. It worked and the TUF Finale fight between Forrest Griffin and Stephan Bonnar is now widely credited as the single-most pivotal moment in MMA history. But now, the UFC’s flagship program may be on its final voyage.
Speaking with MMAJunkie over the weekend, Dana White discussed the UFC’s new ESPN deal and what it would mean for the UFC going forward, saying that he didn’t know what would happen but that The Ultimate Fighter could be finished after its next season.
“We don’t know yet,” White said. “We’re coming up on the latest season of The Ultimate Fighter. We don’t know. It might be the last one. 13 years, The Ultimate Fighter has gone. It’s incredible.”
For 13 years, The Ultimate Fighter has aired on the UFC’s television provider, Spike TV originally and then FOX Sports 1 later. But last week, ESPN brokered a deal to purchase the UFC broadcast rights currently owned by Fox, making ESPN and their digital streaming service, ESPN+, the new home of the UFC, all for the substantial price of $300 million per year for five years. But though the UFC’s marquee series may be going the way of the dodo, White says there will be plenty of other content for the avid fight fan to keep up with.
“That’s exactly right, 42 shows [a year],” White said. “I have the ability to make some original content for those guys too, and it’s going to be awesome. ESPN wouldn’t cover us; now we’re on ESPN. Anybody who doesn’t think this is a win, just shut up. Stop covering the sport if you think this isn’t a win.”
Among those 42 shows will be 20 Fight Night events per year as well as all future seasons of Dana White’s Tuesday Night Contender Series which will move over to ESPN’s digital platform. As for the UFC’s own digital streaming service, White says Fight Pass isn’t going anywhere.
“Fight Pass is gonna be the destination where the entire library sits and you can go in and watch whatever fight you want too or whatever other content we have on there,” White said. “So that’ll be the same. And this ESPN deal is [only for the] U.S. So, Fight Pass is the rest of the world.”
It’s a new era for the UFC.
Till entrance yesterday was amazing.
Layla McCarter (boxing champ) responding to Cyborg’s call out.
The classiest sport of all.
The best remix.
6th Round. Immediate post-fight reaction to UFC Liverpool.
SOCIAL MEDIA BOUILLABAISSE
This was the best thing that happened all weekend.
Gaethje furious about the main event.
I guess people forgot what they did to @danhendo over there. What did you expect. When nobody gets punished for blatantly breaking the rules it will happen again. Too easy.— Justin Gaethje (@Justin_Gaethje) May 27, 2018
That fight sucked.— Justin Gaethje (@Justin_Gaethje) May 27, 2018
That’s cool. You think he should get a title shot for missing weigh and a piss poor performance?— Justin Gaethje (@Justin_Gaethje) May 27, 2018
— Rafael dos Anjos (@RdosAnjosMMA) May 27, 2018
I fell asleep. How’d that Till Thompson fight go?— Lando Vannata (@GroovyLando) May 27, 2018
Sissy calling out sissy am here am ready murk either fool n make them relevant finally excuseman n fagnagy both of you— Jorge Masvidal UFC (@GamebredFighter) May 27, 2018
.I don't like excuses but something strange happened when ref stopped me defending the choke telling me I was grabbing his glove the I froze for a second and Silva took advantage ,, complete miss judgment the ref !! I'm so mad!— Nordine Taleb (@TNT83MMA) May 27, 2018
Gegard Mousasi is a bad man.
When you see him, tell him: Conor the game has changed, now you have to play like a grown up man, there will no longer be locked buses with security inside and outside, now you have to solve these problems alone, and if you do not want it, just say so, everybody will understand. Когда увидишь его скажи ему: Конор игра поменялась, теперь тебе надо играть по взрослому, там больше не будет запертых автобусов с охранниками внутри и снаружи, теперь придётся тебе самому решать эти проблемы один на один, а если не хочешь так и скажи, тебя все поймут. #ufc #lightweightchampion #mma #sendmelocation
Max is great.
@AKA_HQ is an extension of the old Lions Den. @frankshamrock brought @CrazyBobCook to @AKA_HQ Right @akajav ? Stockton/Lodi is where Diaz & Shamrocks came from.Steve Heath started at the den. Lodi Stockton #history @bjpenndotcom fought in Stockton— phil baroni (@philbaroni) May 26, 2018
I taught them all @ShamrockMMA. Lions den techniques got old. This was my study— Frank Shamrock (@frankshamrock) May 26, 2018
Lmao! Says the man I beat with one leg. Love you bro, never give up— Frank Shamrock (@frankshamrock) May 26, 2018
Lmao, come by anytime tough guy. I can beat ur Ass and then stay for dinner. #warriorscode— Frank Shamrock (@frankshamrock) May 26, 2018
Yeah ok Listen everyone knows the only reason you beat me was because you were on steroids. You were 2Xs my size https://t.co/J4N1sKYvP4— phil baroni (@philbaroni) May 26, 2018
Boy I did hit you hard!! That was you remember? I have never done them, no need, martial artist = Chi— Frank Shamrock (@frankshamrock) May 26, 2018
Heheh, @ShamrockKen was all day. I never did. Seemed stupid to mess with the mind. Made the mind weak. Ala....ur success level— Frank Shamrock (@frankshamrock) May 26, 2018
TODAY IN MMA HISTORY
Happy Memorial Day to all those celebrating and to those readers who active duty or have served, thank you for your service. See y’all tomorrow.
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