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ESPN Host’s Remark That UFC is Starting Its Own TV Network Fuels Speculation That Announcement is Imminent

It may have been a speculative remark fueled by an interview Dana White did with Broadcasting Cable this week in which the UFC president intimated that his promotion was considering starting its own television network, but to many MMA news sites, an eight-second conversation the hosts of ESPN’s Pardon The Interruption show had on the subject yesterday was enough to prompt speculation that this is the major announcement that will be made during today’s media conference call.

Here’s what White told BC’s Ben Grossman:

"A lot of people don’t realize we are in a half a billion homes around the world. You know all the things we’ve been through in the United States, but this sport travels well. Cricket will never be big here and the NFL will never be big around the world. But we are all human beings and fighting is in our DNA. We get it and we like it. So we are working on a couple moves now and should be in a billion homes around the world in the next couple months. Sports Business Journal just came out with a survey asking big names in the industry which sport could start its own network and 4 out of 5 said us. They are right. I agree. That will happen within the next couple years.You are starting to see now ESPN is starting to cover us more. I think this is one of those things ESPN will probably kick themselves in 10 years saying, ‘We could have fucking had that.’"

It is possible that if it is true that ESPN got wind of the news, considering they have a deal to broadcast UFC events and to produce satellite pre and post-event MMA Live programs, but it’s more likely that PTI is just throwing the scenario out there to create dialogue on the possibility.

“UFC is planning to start it’s own TV network,” the co-host of the rapid-fire debate show, Michael Wilbon ambiguously stated. "Is that a good idea?"

“I’ve got 75,000 networks on my cable system," his co-host, Tony Kornheiser replied, nonplussed by the prospect.

Soon after the program aired, MMA messageboards and news sites lit up with posts about how ESPN spoiled the UFC’s announcement, but considering the fact that White’s remarks could also mean that his organization has finally sealed a long-coveted deal with a cable network such as NBC, ABC or even Strikeforce’s possibly-former broadcast partner, CBS, there may be no substance to the speculative story.

If you think about the huge undertaking that starting a channel from scratch is and the fact that the UFC is tied into contracts with Spike TV and Versus to broadcast events for at least the next two years, it isn’t likely to happen any time soon.

We’ll soon have the answer.

The press conference is set for 1:00 pm ET today and we will be on the call to get the Potato Nation the 411 on the announcement ASAP.

Cagepotato Comments

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fatbellyfrank- October 28, 2010 at 3:58 pm
@ MRuss, 5:00pm American Eastern timezone?
Fried Taco- October 28, 2010 at 12:01 pm
@RwilsonR I don't believe you've never thought of a ring girl merger! I think of merging with ring girls all the time.
Grease Me up Woman- October 28, 2010 at 10:53 am
Its official. UFC/WEC merger. Cant believe you let yahoo's cagewriters beat you to the punch. For shame CP.
RwilsonR- October 28, 2010 at 10:51 am
@ omunto - I actually have another one scheduled from 1:00-2:30PM out here on pacific time, so I will be on one for the first part of Bum Rush. So I still get to waste a bit of company time. Now back to playing Angry Birds for the next few hours.
tnbp- October 28, 2010 at 10:42 am
I'm with Harry. I think this is awesome, provided that they do two events every month, one PPV and one free. They'll have enough flexibility to have a title contest every PPV and top (or top-half) contender fights every free event. I hope it happens along those lines.

Plus, its high time the wider MMA audience learns that WEC fights are the best fights. Adding those guys to the existing cards makes every card stronger.
Shifty-Eyed Dog- October 28, 2010 at 10:32 am
...Henderson/Pettis winner fights Edgar/Maynard winner.

So say it with me: Ben Henderson, UFC Lightweight Champion - no question

omunto- October 28, 2010 at 10:30 am
" Yes. I'll make a post about it after the conference call. We're thinking 5:00 will be more convenient to the guys who work real jobs."

Awww but RwilsonR and I enjoyed not being apart of our respective conference calls in order to bullshit with CP for 2 hours... Being lazy on my own time just isnt as fun!
Mike Russell- October 28, 2010 at 10:29 am
 The announcement is the merger.
Shifty-Eyed Dog- October 28, 2010 at 10:26 am
WEC ring girl Brittney to UFC? .... YES!!!!!!!!!!!!
google- October 28, 2010 at 10:23 am
Lets not get are pantys all in a bunch, last time there was a "major annoucement", it was that they opened up a office in Canada.
RwilsonR- October 28, 2010 at 10:22 am
@ 831 Father - I hadn't even considered the possibility of a ring girl merger. Send Chandella packing!

This will may actually be good for some of the smaller leagues. I doubt the UFC will dramatically increase its number of shows just to service these fighters. There are only so many PPV's they can put on before people stop buying, and free shows don't make them a ton of money. So you will probably see a greater rotation (read: firing) of guys who aren't consistently winning to the smaller shows, and only the guys that are on consistent win streaks and are extremely relevant to their division will be on he PPVs. Especially with the two added divisions.
831 Father- October 28, 2010 at 10:21 am
Crap Factory, people with large HD TVs who enjoy HD feeds and can afford it.
Crap Factory- October 28, 2010 at 10:21 am
@ Ballkick:

Who pays for PPV's anyway?
aarondramp- October 28, 2010 at 10:20 am
people upset about having to pay for WEC fights but think that the WEC guys deserve UFC money...funny.
DaltonSwayze- October 28, 2010 at 10:15 am
Aldo Vs Anderson MAKE IT HAPPEN
jiveturkey1986- October 28, 2010 at 10:14 am
Aldo fighting on Jan 1st card
jimbonics- October 28, 2010 at 10:11 am
I agree with everything 831 Fatherless Bastard said.
Ballkick- October 28, 2010 at 10:11 am
Ariel "Scoop" Helwani seems to have nailed this announcement before the UFC held it's press conference. I think it's a safe bet that the UFC/WEC merger is the "BIG" announcement.
Thanks MR
RwilsonR- October 28, 2010 at 10:08 am
@ MRuss - Damn! Maybe that works for the people on the East Coast that are working. I have another fucking conference call at that time. I should be able to at least listen into Bum Rush, though. This is where it would pay to be an unemployed stoner. Thanks for the info.
Harry Nips- October 28, 2010 at 10:08 am
I hope this merger means 2 UFC's/month then. 1 free & 1 ppv. This move gives them a huge roster & no reason they can't put on 2 shows a month.
cecils_pupils- October 28, 2010 at 10:05 am
So this major announcement comes via Exclusive Ariel Helwani interview for that other AOL-sponsored website? Aren't press conferences the usual way to make major announcements?

Ohhhhhh this is interesting, especially since the rumor floating around the interwebz is that the UFC provides Exclusive press coverage to a certain "top-MMA website" in exchange for positive press about UFC.

Ben, please call your ex-employee Fowlkes and get to the bottom of this.
knucklesamitch- October 28, 2010 at 10:05 am
Hooray...WEC merges with Versus and we get 4 UFC events on Versus. Last I checked there are more than 4 WEC events on Versus per year...So DW just effectively fucked us out of free MMA on tv...Good job fuck stick!
831 Father- October 28, 2010 at 10:04 am
@Fedor Penn: I think the WEC guys deserve to get a little more money...

Plus, it'll be a good time for Joe Silva to clean house on the roster.

Poor Reed Harris. Him and Nuggets-jersey wearing self is going to be out of a job.

Also, get rid of Chandella and bring in the WEC girls!
MorningwoodII- October 28, 2010 at 10:01 am
* We still (expletive) working out naked later?
Fedor Penn- October 28, 2010 at 9:58 am
The only thing the merger means is we now have to pay to see WEC fights!