(Marcus Davis and Ion: A match made in…convenience?)
Less than a week before UFC 125 goes down in Las Vegas, UFC president Dana White has revealed that there will be a "Prelims" broadcast before the pay-per-view card – good news, since it’s one of the most interesting undercards in recent memory. But it won’t be aired on Spike TV. For the first time, the UFC will put a broadcast on Ion Television, which is apparently cause for celebration, even though we only had a vague knowledge of the channel’s existence until this morning. Said Dana White: "These guys are considered a network. The FCC calls them a network. This is the first time we’ve ever been on network television, and the prelims are going to be aired. It’s a big deal. It’s in over 100 million homes."
Three fights will be scheduled for the broadcast – Marcus Davis vs. Jeremy Stephens, Josh Grispi vs. Dustin Poirier, and Phil Baroni vs. Brad Tavares – which is unprecedented in itself. "The prelims we do air, there’s only supposed to be two," White said. "Time-wise, it’s impossible to pull off three if they all go to the distance. I’m going to roll the dice on this thing. Not only are we going to bring the prelims to the fans, but everybody has been hammering me for the Phil Baroni-Brad Tavares fight, so I’m going to do three fights. I’m going to give them that fight, too."
Of course, White isn’t just putting this show together out of the goodness of his heart. He also hopes that the UFC 125 prelim broadcast will finally put an end to those "how are you going to repay us for UFC 112?" demands that have hounded him all year.
"I always try to give the fans as much as I can give them," White said. "I love being able to give them free fights. That’s always been my goal and my model with this thing since day one…the prelims were not supposed to be aired for this show, but I know the fans are always asking how I’m going to pay them back for some other shows. Well, here you go. If everything else I do isn’t enough, let this one be it." Got that, you ungrateful brats?
Ion launched in 1998 as PAX TV, rebranded itself as ’i’ in 2005, then changed its name again to Ion in 2007. Financial troubles have plagued the network in recent years, and it is absent in a number of major markets like Albuquerque, New Mexico; Reno, Nevada; and Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Still, Ion’s ratings are on an upswing. Dana White wouldn’t comment on the network potentially being the future destination of that rumored UFC channel, only saying that "this might be a regular thing."