Counter-programming alert: Spike TV uses Diego Sanchez to challenge UFC on FUEL TV

Photo of Diego Sanchez via UFC.com.

Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) is bringing welterweight veteran and Ultimate Fighter (TUF) champion Diego Sanchez to cable television on Weds., Feb. 15, 2012, at 8 p.m. ET.

So too, is Spike TV.

While "Sanchez vs. Ellenberger" goes down live on FUEL TV, from the CenturyLink Center in Omaha, Nebraska, Spike will counter-program with a UFC: "Unleashed" marathon featuring none other than "The Nightmare Dream."

From today's release:

Diego Sanchez gained prominence in the mixed martial arts world as the middleweight champ in the first season of "The Ultimate Fighter" on Spike TV in 2005. In seven years, Sanchez has emerged as one of the most exciting fighters in the world and Spike TV will honor "The Dream" with a special evening featuring many of his best bouts on Wednesday, February 15 (7:00pm ET-12:00 Midnight/ 4:00pm-9:00pm PT).

The UFC: "Unleashed" Diego Sanchez marathon will include fights against Clay Guida (as well as the entire TUF 9 Finale), Paulo Thiago and David Bielkheden.

The UFC opted for greener pastures on the FOX network (including FX and FUEL TV) after Spike TV balked at Zuffa's increased licensing fees during contract negotiations back in 2011.

With the end of the Spike TV "Prelims" specials and various other MMA-related programming, the network had a pretty sizable gap to fill in its efforts to retain the 18-34 demographic that tuned in for televised fisticuffs.

Enter Bellator.

While Bjorn Rebney and Co. won't be able to make their Spike TV debut until 2013, the network will try and keep fight fans satiated with a constant stream of UFC fights, which they still have at their disposal, thanks to a library licensing agreement that extends through the remainder of this year.

Anyone think this will put a dent in the ratings for the debut of UFC on FUEL TV?

More on the "Sanchez vs. Ellenberger" event right here.

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