Spike television planned to televise just two of the three UFC events in June — UFC Fight Night 10 and The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) 5 Finale — and never had designs to host a third — UFC 72: "Victory" — according to Steve Seivert's Brawl Sports blog.
Conflicting reports swirled during the last two weeks that the cable network turned down the opportunity to air the show from Belfast, Ireland, via tape delay on free television. UFC 72, therefore, is now a pay-per-view (PPV) event that is set to air in the afternoon (3 p.m. EST) on Saturday, June 16 in North America.
Here's a snip from a Spike spokesman:
"We were never scheduled to air that (UFC 72). I've heard the rumors (that Spike backed out of televising the show due to lack of a compelling fight lineup), but we never committed to airing UFC 72. It's not as if we turned our backs on the UFC. Three big fights in two weeks would have been very tough."
Sounds like a mess — and no one really wants admit dropping the ball. With the ongoing negotiations with HBO and ESPN — as well as the pending purchase of PRIDE FC — perhaps UFC 72 fell through the cracks.
Whatever the case, UFC representatives indicated that the event would indeed be free on cable television. Now, viewers are going to have to cough up a $40 spot to check it out.
That might be a hard pill to swallow for many, especially since UFC 72 — with not one title fight on the card — isn't a compelling draw on the surface.
As the proprietor of a UFC-dedicated site, I'm going to order the event. But, I wouldn't be surprised if I'm the exception and not the rule.
I like one UFCmania reader's suggestion: Make it $19.95 and call it day.
In even more UFC news from the Houston Chronicle, UFC President Dana White has promised that there will be drug tests at UFC 72: "Victory."
Steve Seivert broke the story a few weeks ago that fighters on the UFC 69 and UFC 70 cards all got free passes, despite the smattering of positive tests that have come back lately.
Miscommunication in Texas and lack of preparation in England were the reasons provided by the promotion. For more background on that click here.
Here's a snip from White on the matter:
"That's the hard part about not having a commission (outside of the U.S.). I don't know exactly how we're going to figure that out yet, but there will be random drug testing at UFC 72. We can and we will (conduct drug testing), we just weren't prepared for it at the last event (UFC 70)."
Based on the comments in the article, it appears that the UFC is spinning both "oversights" as isolated cases.
Seems like the UFC is trying to do the right thing here — the promotion is under no obligation to test fighters on its own accord.
It's just too bad it happened on back-to-back occasions.