The year-long back-and-forth negotiations between the UFC and premium cable channel HBO have broken down for good, according to comments from HBO Sports President Ross Greenburg in a NewsDay.com report today.
Here's the snip from Greenburg:
"After lots of discussion it became apparent that the business model doesn't make sense for either one of us. So, we agreed to go our separate ways. You never know what the future holds. We have enormous respect and admiration for the executives we dealt with at the UFC. We wish them well.''
Not an outright nail in the coffin, but the prospect of watching UFC fights on HBO are dashed once and for all at least for the near term.
UFC President Dana White has been adamant for months that a deal would ultimately be struck. He has also been quoted as saying the he "is the problem" for the deal not being forged sooner.
Control of the production of the shows on HBO seemed to be the major hang-up. Both parties wanted the authority to produce the events and in the process protect their valuable brands.
It seems now that a compromise could not be reached.
The UFC planned to feature the international events on HBO such as UFC 70, UFC 72 and UFC 75 -- all of which took place in Europe. In addition, the HBO cards would have showcased up-and-coming fighters who were headed to more prestigious pay-per-view (PPV) events.
In short, the talent would be better than UFC Fight Night cards but not quite ready for the PPV audience.
Don't forget that the arrest of former CEO Chris Albrecht -- who was later fired from his post -- more than likely also had an affect on the stalled negotiations. He was the man who championed bringing the UFC into the HBO fold.
For now EliteXC is the only mixed martial arts promotion that has a deal with a major premium cable channel (ShowTime).