The UFC may be embarking on a dream seven year television deal with FOX in the U.S in 2012, but that’s just one piece of the global puzzle for the promotion as they continue their rapid expansion.
According to the UFC’s Marshall Zelaznik who today fronted the UFC 142 pre-fight presser in Rio, a new television deal in UK is now a priority.
“The thing that’s happening in the U.K. is that our ESPN rights expire in August, so we’re in deep negotiations with television networks, and depending on where those go, there might be a real interest in the new partner to say, ‘Bring another event,'” Zelaznik told MMAJunkie earlier today. “We’re committed to making that mark bigger and bigger (in the U.K.).”
The fact that Zelaznik mentions a “new partner” would appear to indicate that they aren’t going to renew with ESPN which is not too surprising given that there have been reports of behind-the-scenes issues with the network which have lead to UK fans being unable to watch the Spike TV prelim fights and other shows such as ‘UFC On FOX 1’ live.
At the same time Dana White had stated in the closing months of last year that the next TV deal for the UK was crucial, and hinting that they were looking to become more closely affiliated with FOX’s channels around the world.
In the UK’s case that means either Sky Sports and / or FX UK are likely to be the front-runners in the negotiations at this stage.
As Zelaznik alluded to in the quote above, if they can seal a strong television deal in the UK market that could lead to an extra event being held in the region in 2012, but regardless of that there is at least one event planned for the United Kingdom in the third or fourth quarter of the year.