White: UFC Expanding TV Reach, Schedule in 2011


Dana White file photo: Sherdog.com

As the Ultimate Fighting Championship and World Extreme Cagefighting prepare to merge in January, parent company Zuffa is making plans to expand the visibility of the world’s largest mixed martial arts promotion in the New Year.

Following Saturday’s UFC 123 in Auburn Hills, Mich., UFC president Dana White made mention of a pair of pending television agreements which he says would double the UFC’s current reach.

“We’re working on two deals right now, in the next few months, that I’m very confident we’ll get done. We’ll be in over a billion homes worldwide on television,” White offered during the post-fight news conference when asked if he felt the UFC’s popularity could rival that of World Wrestling Entertainment in its prime. “What does that mean for the sport in the next three years, let alone five or ten?”

“A lot of people don’t realize, right now, we’re in a half a billion homes worldwide. We’re in 175 different countries. We’re pretty big right now. I envision it being much bigger,” said White. “I think we’re gonna be bigger than everything.”

The countries and companies involved in the potential deals were not specified. However, in an October interview with television trade magazine Broadcasting & Cable, White hinted at the possibility of the UFC finally making its way to an American network such as NBC or Fox. He also reiterated plans for Zuffa to launch an all-UFC network “within the next couple years.”

Zuffa’s broadcast deal with current partner Spike TV is set to expire in 2011, though White said last month that UFC programming would remain on the male-oriented cable channel. The UFC will also continue to produce live shows for WEC’s home of Versus -- four are planned for 2011 -- which happens to be a property of the Comcast-owned NBC Universal.

The UFC should have plenty of product to offer its potential new partner, as White said that the company will increase its number of events in the coming year to accommodate the influx of WEC fighters and the introduction of two new weight classes.

“We’ll probably do around 30, 31 fights next year,” said White.

The number is just shy of the combined amount of shows put on by the UFC and WEC in 2010, with the UFC holding 24 -- including “numbered” events, UFC Fight Nights and a pair of Versus specials -- and WEC eight.

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