Oh, it was only a few months back that the Writer’s strike had everyone in the MMA world abuzz that this could be the catalyst for getting mixed martial arts onto network television. Much was written, many meetings were apparently had. Rumors went back and forth, and numerous promotions lined up for a chance to scab out Hollywood writers.
But now it looks like the writer’s strike is pretty much over, and with that the best opportunity the UFC has ever gotten to truly make this sport mainstream. This doesn’t just apply to the UFC … all promotions lost out on this chance. Anyone landing a network deal would have instantly changed the face of MMA forever. But I’m going to focus on the UFC being unable to seal the deal because they were the ones that were in the best position to pull it off, and they fucking failed.
It really shouldn’t be surprising that they didn’t manage to pull things off. Word is a deal with CBS stalled out on who gets creative control of the program (again) … in other words Dana White said “The gladiator stays, or you can fuck off.” They then moved on to NBC, who were inches from a deal with EliteXC. I guess Gary Shaw told them nasty things about Dana because they barely gave the UFC the time of day before saying no.
And now the strike is over. While network deals are still possible in theory, MMA companies are now back to having very little clout or bargaining power at all. The UFC had a golden opportunity to land their product on a network that pulls higher ratings on random reruns of Touched by an Angel than the UFC has ever gotten with Spike. And now that opportunity is all but gone.