Dana White file photo: Sherdog.com
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
“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.