Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) is looking to continue its global ascension after striking a new television deal with ESPN earlier this week worth $1.5 billion over the course of five years.
The agreed upon deal gets rid of FOX and essentially lands UFC $184 million more per year in television revenue alone. It’s a tremendous deal for the promotion, especially considering ESPN has been reluctant to fully cover the sport of mixed martial arts (MMA) in the past, due in part to the company’s deep ties in the boxing industry.
In case you are not impressed by UFC’s efforts to team up with ESPN, UFC president Dana White is here to remind you just how stupid you really are.
“That’s what the idiots are always going to do. ‘Is it good, is it bad?’” White told MMAjunkie. “Our last deal (with FOX) was $116 million a year. This one is $300 million. If you can’t figure out that that’s good, get outta here. I’ve been in Maine blowing my brains out for three days celebrating. That’s how good it is.”
Even this guy respects the move.
As for the events themselves, White confirmed that the deal will incorporate 42 shows per year, which includes cards on ESPN, ESPN+ streaming app, and pay-per-view (PPV). It’s a slight increase from previous years and will take effect in 2019.
“That’s exactly right: 42 shows,” White said. “I have the ability to make some original content for those guys too, and it’s going to be awesome. ESPN wouldn’t cover us; now we’re on ESPN. Anybody who doesn’t think this is a win, just shut up. Stop covering the sport if you think this isn’t a win.”
While the move is a tremendous business opportunity for UFC and should only bring in more revenue and worldwide followers, going from FOX to ESPN could cost the promotion some popular content, including “The Ultimate Fighter.”
“We don’t know yet,” White said of the reality show’s future. “We’re coming up on the latest season of ‘The Ultimate Fighter.’ We don’t know. It might be the last one. 13 years, ‘The Ultimate Fighter’ has gone. It’s incredible.”
Whether or not “Ultimate Fighter” survives the cut, the move to ESPN is only going to heighten UFC’s exposure and reach. How far the two companies can take their new partnership has yet to be seen.