So the UFC is finally, finally, finally on network television! The UFC will be fleeing Spike TV and likely Versus for the greener pastures of Fox, FX, and whatever other channels there are in the Fox family. This will certainly increase the number of people who would be able to view MMA fights and that’s nothing but a good thing as far as I’m concerned.
But what will this entail? How will the UFC’s overall presentation change now that they’re in bed with a much more substantial media partner? There are a number of possibilities for this arrangement, both good and bad, and I think it’s good that we explore these options. Let’s start with the bad news and move on to some of the more optimistic possibilities, while there’s one potentially terrifying possibility that remains unknown.
More Jay Glazer – Jay Glazer’s most important job on television is to tell you whether or not players from your fantasy football team are injured or not. When your most vital public function includes providing information better found on a search engine, there’s something wrong with what you do. Glazer has long been a proponent of MMA and has been a great supporter, but I would still love to hit him in the face with a board. He annoys me to no end and his heightened exposure due to this deal immediately filled me with dread.
Family Guy Tie-Ins - I really worry for people who consider Family Guy to be the pinnacle of animated humor. Family Guy is a cartoon that takes normal story lines and tries to make them humorous with asinine flashbacks and giant fighting chickens. Seriously, I just don’t get it. I’d rather have The Sheik throw fireballs at my eyes for 22 minutes than spend a minute watching family guy. It’s inevitable that there will be some kind of Family Guy/UFC crossover that will no doubt be unpleasant. Spike TV wasn’t much better with ridiculous programming like Manswers and 1,000 Ways to Die, but I hate few things more than Family Guy.
Big Time Fights for Free – Fox wouldn’t be getting into business with the UFC if they were expecting main events like Chris Leben vs. Mark Munoz. The UFC is going to put on some huge fights and they’re going to do it for free. We’ll see the first network show in November and the UFC will likely pull out all of the stop to make this a big time card. I wouldn’t be surprised to see some Strikeforce crossover for this event or even a free, live title fight. The timing might be strange, since a number of big fights are already booked for the fall, but that show will definitely be a good one.
More Top Fighters – If there are going to be more big fights, then the UFC is going to have to bring in some of the bigger names not in the UFC. They seem to have the heavier weight classes cornered, though we could see fighters like Hector Lombard or Mamed Khalidov to add depth, while bringing Alistair Overeem back into the fold could be a very lucrative move. The UFC could also stand to go after some of the lighter weights, while an increased television presence in 2012 could coincide with the creation of the flyweight division.
Gus Johnson - Gus has long had a relationship with CBS and Showtime, so there’s really no precedent for him on the Fox family of channels. Still, Fox could be looking for an established, mainsteam name to add to their broadcast crew and I worry that it will be Gus. This will severely impact the UFC’s overhead, as Gus’ proclivity for hyperbole and extreme make-up needs will require massive budget expansion. I’m hoping that Gus Johnson will stay very far away from the rebranded UFC on Fox, but only time will tell…