We understand that the UFC have agreed to a one-year extension to their current television deal with ESPN UK, ending months of speculation on the matter.
Prior to last night’s UFC 149 event a ESPN UK announcer declared that the channel was to be the home for the UFC for another year, though it should be noted that so far there’s been no official conformation from either party.
The UFC’s current deal with ESPN UK ends next month, and rumors had been circulating for some time that the UFC brass were looking to pastures new, with Sky Sports seen as their prime target.
However UFC president Dana White has made no bones about the fact that navigating the UK market had proven difficult, and that may be why they have opted to keep the status quo and bide there time for now while they continue to seek a longer term solution in the coming year.
The news will likely be well received by those currently subscribed to ESPN UK in order to watch UFC programming, and others who may have feared that a move to Sky Sports would have also brought about a switch to a pay-per-view model as the channel had done with boxing and pro-wrestling in the UK in the past.
Others may be disappointed that the UFC haven’t been able to secure a more high profile channel for their events.
However, the reality is that it’s difficult to secure such a deal here due to time-zone issues. The vast majority of the UFC’s major shows take place overseas which means that the main card fights don’t even start until 3am.
So, for now ESPN UK remains a decent solution, but the bigger, long term picture for the UFC in this region still remains unclear.