UFC: Today Spike TV, Tomorrow the World

Fast-Growing Sport Sets Sights on New Markets

Ultimate Fighting Championship President Dana White, long dissatisfied with life on the fringe, has now set his sights on the world.

What is perhaps the fastest-growing sports franchise in the country -- mixed martial arts knocked both boxing and World Wrestling Entertainment from atop the pay-per-view perches in 2006 -- will undergo a significant test of its popularity next month when the league makes its first foray into broadcast syndication with the debut of the series "UFC Wired." It will also finalize a deal with HBO for a series of fights, and counts among its projects the return of Spike TV's hit "The Ultimate Fighter" and two upcoming PPV-style fight cards, one in London Sept. 8 and the other in Anaheim, Calif., Sept. 22.

"Our strategy right now is global," Mr. White said. "We're at a place in the U.S. where it's going to keep getting bigger and bigger as our fan base grows. I think that will especially be true once our syndicated series launches. But we are now in 150 countries with a powerful product that everyone understands. What we want to do now is take our events to these markets and create the first global pay-per-view with people from all over the world buying the fight."

With "UFC 75: Champion vs. Champion" taking place in London Sept. 8, the company is opening doors to do that. In addition, Mr. White said plans are in the works to take the UFC series "Live Event" on a world tour, with four stops in the U.K. and additional stops in continental Europe, Australia, Japan, Korea, Mexico and Canada.

"We have only started to tap the Hispanic market," he said. "That's the group that has kept boxing alive these past few years because they love watching fights. So we have big plans to get South America involved over the next few years."

The UFC, a private company owned by U.S. sports promotion firm Zuffa, broke the 1 million PPV-buy mark last December for the first time ever, according to analysts, on the strength of a match featuring Chuck Liddell vs. Tito Ortiz. One report said the company had a total gross PPV take of nearly $223 million in 2006, more than boxing or the WWE has ever earned. Some estimates place the value of the privately held company around $1 billion, although others think it is closer to $750 million.

Set to boost company revenue in 2008 will be the launch of UFC's first videogame since the beginning of the decade, which is expected to be released in the early part of the year.

With the success of the UFC, a slew of other MMA leagues have hit the circuit, including the International Fight League, which airs on MyNetwork TV in prime time (and boosted the network's ratings, particularly among men 18 to 49, a demographic that grew from a 0.2 to a 0.8 Nielsen Media Research rating in its first month), and BoDog fights.

However, the UFC has become known as the staple of the sport, particularly after acquiring rival Pride Fighting Championships earlier in the year. That acquisition set up the London PPV bout, which pits UFC heavyweight champion Quinton Jackson against Pride champion Dan Henderson in a title unification match.

The Sept. 22 PPV event in Anaheim will be headlined by a bout between Mr. Liddell and Keith Jardine.

"They had really good timing," said Deana Myers, senior analyst at research firm Kagan. "I think not only was the public tired of the WWE, but the UFC has good product that was able to capture audiences."

Brand Evolution

She noted that a lot of work would have to be done before the UFC would be able to pull off worldwide PPV events, including pinning down international platforms.

One deal Mr. White says won't take long to complete is the UFC's programming agreement with HBO, noting, "It will happen." He said the HBO series of fights would be used to complement programming on Spike (which has exclusivity on the UFC on basic cable) and the PPV events.

"What we're doing is going to get guys started on 'The Ultimate Fighter,' where they can then progress to a show like 'UFC Fight Night' before landing on HBO. HBO would then give them the opportunity for a title shot on PPV," he said.

"The Ultimate Fighter" marked a milestone for both the UFC and Spike, with airings of the series beating both baseball and National Basketball Association games on a regular basis. In fact, the three-hour finale of the fifth season in June won the night among men 18 to 34 and men 18 to 49 on broadcast and cable.

"The power of television has been simply incredible for this brand," said Brian J. Diamond, senior VP of sports and specials at Spike TV. "When we debuted 'The Ultimate Fighter' in 2005, we were able to bring in not only hard-core fans but casual sports fans as well as fans of reality. The whole sport kind of took off from there, and it's been a fantastic relationship for both parties."

Mr. Diamond noted that the channel is in talks to extend its agreement with the UFC, which expires in 2008, and said there have been internal discussions to expand Spike's UFC programming -- which can vary from five to seven events depending on the month -- in new ways.

The launch of syndicated series "UFC Wired" from Trifecta Entertainment this fall marks the league's first foray into broadcast television. The series is currently cleared in more than 85 percent of the country, with many major-market stations carrying it in early access or prime time, according to Trifecta President Hank Cohen.

"Mixed martial arts are becoming such an important mainstream sport, not only to fans but to television, it makes sense the next evolution of the brand is to be seen in broadcast," Mr. Cohen said. "Right now they are putting the little things in the show that they really didn't have to do, and that speaks to the quality of the organization."

"UFC Wired" will feature the best bouts from the history of the UFC as a measure to introduce the sport and its fighters to the mainstream public. The series will be hosted by former "Fear Factor" host Joe Rogan, who emcees UFC fare on pay-per-view.

"These are going to be fights that millions of people have never seen before," Mr. White said. "By learning about the sport as well as about our fighters, people are going to be interested in the next fight. I like to think that that's one way we can reintroduce ourselves to the public, who will surely learn to love this sport as much as I do."

Comments (74)

Rex Fett:

This truly marks the return of PANKRATION: the most popular sport of the ancient Olympics. It's funny how things come full circle. Dana White is the man. The UFC is here to stay.

Hopefully Zuffa will keep pride going, it was an important piece of MMA's evolution
Mixed Martial Arts


It's about time that mma gets some more mainstream exposure. It's a great sport that is now at the top of the "combat" genre. Boxing is dead now, and Professional Wrestling is just a joke.

Ruffas the Stunt Bum:

BFK for life! Forever!


I Hope HBO doesn't do for UFC what it did for boxing. If showtime wants a part of the action I can see a potential title fight not happening due to contract negotiations never getting settled!


You can tell the writer of this piece is new to the sport. "UFC series "Live Event"
"heavyweight champion Quinton Jackson"
To point out a few.


24 you are a joke. MMA/UFC sucks!


It looks like the MMA vs. Boxing cat fight has now moved to TVweek. Somebody shoot me:(


Yea I guess people cannot accept that they are two different sports.


dana rules


I can't wait for the UFC and MMA to go on ESPN. I think that'll be the day when UFC/MMA has officially gone mainstream. And when UFC gets on either NBC or ABC, that'll be the day when UFC/MMA fans will stop worrying about the stupid MMA vs. Boxing debate. Instead, UFC will just have to worry about having to compete with the likes of the NFL, MLB, and NBA on a regular basis.

BTW, Brian why don't you do us all a favor and just shut up. I just enjoy it when people like you love to express their envious feelings towards the MMA's success. It's not the UFC's fault that WWE and Boxing are all lagging far, far behind. Expect that trend to continue, too.


Brian, you are retarded. Saying that MMA sucks, just shows how ignorant you are to the sport. It's one thing not to enjoy the sport, but to insult it and its athletes is a completely different story. If you had half the dedication and courage that these guys have, maybe you would be doing something more constructive with your time than sitting on the internet insulting them and their fans.


I wonder who does there video production for the PPV events, does anyone know?


Soon the UFC will establish three divisions of it's company. UFC: AMERICA (UFC A), UFC: EUROPE/AFRICA(UFC EA), and UFC: ASIA/AUSTRALIA(UFC AA). Each will hold PPV in their respective area of coverage once per month. And each will hold it's PPV on a different week, to allow for the free showing of the remaining two divisions of the UFC to not conflict with each other. Each division's top talent will fight the other division's top talent once a year in a five week grand prix(each week containing one particular divisions grand prix) at the end of the year. The fighters will not be divided up from their country of origin, but they will fight in the region that encompasses the area that they're fighting out of.


Yeah, Dana Whites doing it real big for the sport. Glad to see MMA getting the attention it deserves. I dream of the day when Mixed Martial Arts is as popular as football.

Rex Fett:

FMM, Where did you hear that? (3 UFC divisions) That sounds like a good format for UFC. I've been writing all my Grad School Papers (Sports Management) on MMA and I'd like to hear more about this format. Did you read it somewhere or is this your own concept?


Well, I thought that would be the most logical course of action for the UFC expansion. The time gap between different areas reduces the amount of PPV greatly. So the logical move is to divide the UFC into continents that encompass a reasonable range of time zones. And by dividing it into continent regions, rivalries can still be generated within each region. It further allows for champions to be closer to home.

Frankly put, if the UFC doesn't localize it's shows soon, the public will lose touch with it due to over saturation in the market. However, they should not be setting their figurative feet down when they still have powerful markets to tap.

Since the UFC has pushed the fact that they enjoy and are not stingy in giving free entertainment, then providing free viewings of the UFC's on the otherside of the world (pre-taped) for free would certainly boost the UFC's image with the hardcore to causal fan.

By not dividing the UFC into too many fragments, it will keep it's stability and still be the ultimate MMA driving force in the region under its grasp.


Regardless of what everyone thinks the WWE & UFC both rock. Yes WWE is getting a little soap operaish, but its always nice to have a bad day, come home, and watch as some midget kicks some average joes ass and keeps a championship belt. good for a few laughs i guess. UFC, I wish we had more fights on the air. But regardless, the fights we do have are awesome. So again both brands kick ass.......
Brian is a FAG FUCK


That division would help to strengthen the UFC's PPV numbers all over the world. That's why this seems like a logical move for the UFC if they still want global expansion to take place.

Rufus the Superstar Stunt Bum:

Skinny white punks like the UFC because they like to watch guys that know how to fight because they can't.

Another Bryan:

UFC is expanding greatly but boxing is far from dead. The article mentions the Ortiz v. Liddell fight and how it grossed over a mill for the fighters however the recent De La Hoya v. Mayweather fight put fifty mill in Oscar's pocket and twenty for Mayweather. MMA is a great sport but boxing is boxing, it's not going anywhere.

hey rufus:

rufus you are an idiot.


The Delahoya vs. Mayweather fight will never be duplicated in boxing again. The fight was ultimately a let down and so was the PPV price tag to watch. I get the impression that these guys know they are on a sinking ship.
Boxing is not dead. This skill is necessary to MMA fighters just like wrestling, Jujitsu, and other skills. What is happening is the interest in people that are just boxers will feign. Boxing will become just another avenue for people to finally make it into MMA, just like wrestlers, Judo, Muay thai, and Pancrease. MMA is the top of the sports and food chain.

lee downinguk:

mma is the most up and coming sport in england, we love ufc. the events are sold out and the ppv is high. this just goes to show that mma/ufc will not only keep going but will be the number one sport anywhere in the world.

eric :

attention dana white ,

pls bring fedor to the ufc . your heavyweight champion is nothing if he didn!t fight the no.1 mma heavyweight fighter in the world.

is that really rufus the stunt-bum?? what happened to bum fights? I'd pay money to see bums fight pros.. haha, waited they have that already isnt it call pros vs joes?

haha fags!


as a great fan of mma i have been watching and studying mma since i saw ufc 2. I have ever fight on dvd after 39 vendetta, to keep all those classic bouts, but i would like to have all the fights before 39 on dvd. when can we expect to get those great fights on dvd to add to collections? jermy horn and don frye, these guys started everything along with gracie and shamrock. it's just amazing to see the development of this sport and how much is has developed over a short period of time. it doesn't get more real then two guys getting it on and to see who is the top dog.

Aus UFC fan:

I rly hope they come to Australia for a PPV, dont think this will happen tho without a massive push to help grow the sport.

And if they were going to do it they better not fill the card with hacks!!

im pushing for hughes vs St.Pierre 3 at Melbourne Park, Australia. Hmmm wat are my chances??



I like what Dana is doing for the sport. This is the only combat sport that close to the street fight. We were all wrong before, whenever we used to think who is the best fighter the first name used to come in our mind was Muhammad Ali. but now the term is wrong for M.Ali and for Mike Tyson. Yes they can be called the greatest boxers but not the fighters.

One thing i would like to see from Dana is the rule. I think Pride FC had the best rules for MMA. Knees and Kicks on the grounded opponent are very important in MMA. I hope Dana is working on that.

Rex Fett:

My concern is the UFC fight purse. I've done some writing in this area, but have yet to get an opinion other than "wow I didn't know that" because anyone who's read my stuff hardly knew much about MMA to begin with. I'd appreciate some brutally honest feed back. Anyone interested in getting a copy of my most recent paper can e-mail me at

Rex Fett:

I know there's holes in my paper and I'd like some feed back so I can revise and re-write. real research in MMA is limited and I'm working on expanding the knowledge base on the sport.


Dana doesn't run pride, i'm not for sure who is right now considering it's in limbo but they should defently keep it going.

Mike Man:

I think its great what the UFC/Dana White has done for MMA. Boxing is dying and all these Steriod related deaths in WWE are giving that "sport" bad press; I heard Animal from Demoliton just died as well due to steriod use.

Lets hope HBO doesn't hurt MMA like it hurt boxing. Not sure that's the best decision Mr. White. Don't saturate the market.

And Rufus...suck it. I'd kick your a$$!


This is awesome news. I can't wait to see real fighting. That De La Hoya vs. Mayweather was a rip off. Mayweather is not a fighter, he work hard not to fight.

lee downinguk:

Ricky Hatton is going to end mayweathers unbeaten run. Could anyone tell me a good site for mma/ufc chat. In England people love the sport but a lot don't really understand it to its full technique and styles.


I think what Dana White has done not only for the UFC but for MMA in general is remarkable, the UFC is so well known now compared to five years ago. I think he should stay the course that hes on now and not go overboard by cramming the UFC done many peoples throats. I personally love watching two guys beat the hell out of each other and still have that respect for one another at the end, BUT, I don't want it to be on every other channel everynight, I think he should keep doing what hes doing now and that's expanding to other countries to build up a bigger fan base, still have just the one PPV per month, the Ultimate Fighter on once a week, that way there's not really any over exposure. I hope with the acquisition of PRIDE, the same thing doesn't happen to the UFC as it did with the WWF purchasing WCW. I think it should be the Ultimate Fighter on once a week, one PPV a month that way it keeps the fans wanting more. Keep up the good work Dana.

luke kelley:

The future is yet to come.... i cant wait for mma to be the new takeover in sports period... just wait until it becomes a household sport amongst younger youth and colleges across the u.s and beyond... thats the draft i'll be tuning into!!! And thats the college sports i'd be tivo'ing on my flat screen... whoever is opposed to the ufc is gonna get lost in the cloud of smoke.. i've been watching ufc when i accidentally came across it at some shanti of a rental place in st. paul mn, in like 98 and been hooked since.. contact me for a job i'd love to work with the ufc movement!!


Expanding into new countries, exceeding WWE and Boxing Pay-Per-Views, the takeover of PRIDE, almost a $1 Billion company, etc., etc.....Why are the fighters getting paid so poorly? This will be the demise of the UFC. They have a lot of talented fighters who simply can't improve because they need to hold down other jobs to pay the bills. If Don King can pay millions of dollars to a boxer, surely Dana White can pay his fighters more money so they can focus on their skills. Hermes Franca admitted to taking steroids because he was injured before his fight with Sean Sherk and still needed to fight in order to support his family. Do you think Evander Hollyfield would have said something like that?? No chance. This has done a few things....Brought steroids to a sport that already has its critics and shown that Zuffa is a greedy organization (who's keeping all that money?) I love watching the fights in the UFC but in reality, there are a handful of talented fighters who are making enough money to support themselves from this line of work alone. The others just suffer and will continue to be on "the losing end of the stick" and get their heads beaten in by those who are able to train 24-7.


I think the UFC is great showcase for the worlds top fighters, but I think on a whole there are so many fighters that haven't been discovered yet. Thats why the prospect of it reaching a worldwide audience would be, in my opinion, the best thing for it. If I recall corectly the first UFC was based on matching up every diffrent martial art against one another to see which was best. I think with the continued growth of the UFC we will start to see a whole new group of fighters that we have not previously had acess to. It is all very exciting.


Boxing is dead.... and if it's not, will you help me kill it?

Rex Fett:

Boxing and MMA are apples and oranges. It isn't a matter of one versus the other and people gotta stop thinking like that. They are 2 different activities that merit equal respect. It's like Marc Ratner said: "It's like having 2 children. The older one is boxing and the younger one is MMA, and I love them both." We gotta move beyond the insults of one over the other....if anything, let the boxing fans make those comments and let us in MMA show them the meaning of true respect, not loud ignorance. Let's live by example and not call out boxing as inferior...let the boxing fans seem like morons.

John M:

MMA is the newest and most popular combat sport of this generation and evidently people pay for it....boxing was in the limelight decades ago and they had their turn. Times change and critics should accept that.....

Ever since The Ultimate Fighter Season 1 came along it took me by storm and has dominoed through my friends and my real! Thank you Dana for REAL sports entertainment!!!


hey lee downinguk, probably the best site for MMA discussion is


Attn lee downinguk:

You asked about chat websites for MMA, I really like There are people on there that really know and love MMA as well as other combat sports. I find the other big site out there just too full of crap to even look through.


Does anyone think that after the UFC's new contract on Spike TV expires the UFC will move to ESPN and eventually segue into a mainstream network like FOX or NBC?

I know it sounds like somewhat of a pipe dream at this point, but here's something that I'd like to see once the UFC's contract w/ Spike expires:

1.) Spike can keep the rights to televise The Ultimate Fighter and ESPN can have the rights to broadcast UFC Fight Night and a network such as ABC can broadcast other live UFC events like UFC 70 and 75 for instance.

2.) Let HBO keep the rights to broadcast UFC PPV's as well as shows such as UFC Wired.



The way you spout off makes me think that you are either a disgruntled wanna be not gonna ever get paid always getting your ass whooped fighter(term used lightly) in one of the smaller crappy shows, or maybe a smaller crappier show executive.
The fact that you brought up Don Kings name proves that you are someone with little character.
Dana White has proven himself to be a man of vision , character and intelligence. While Mr.King has helped make a mockery of a once proud sport with greed being his legacy.


Abhi, ur a fuckin nerd, stfu. Who the fuck thinks of all that dumb shit u mentioned, watch the fights, enjoy it, and dont post here ever again.

Rex Fett:

you need to e-mail me. I've written on this subject and will gladly give you an explanation.

Rex Fett:

calm down, mate. Abhi is just thinking outside the box and discussing UFC from angle you obviously dont have concern about. That's cool, but his opinion is relavenat to the bigger picture. I respect your view too. We all wouldn't be posting here if we didn't love the FIGHT itself.

Joe McPherson:

This article is one of the most poorly written articles I've read on this topic. It mentions the Sept. 22nd UFC being free (along with the Sept. 8th show) on Spike, and then later in the piece, it calls it a PPV . Which is it? Up until this article, I was sure it was a PPV - even the UFC website calls it a PPV.

As someone earlier mentioned, it sounds like a novice writing it. It mentions that The Ultimate Fighter outperformed baseball and the NBA, and then it says not two sentences later, "In fact, the three-hour finale of the fifth season in June, won the night among men 18 to 34 and men 18 to 49 on broadcast and cable." Didn't the author just repeat himself? And of course the TUF finale (Ultimate Fight Night) would outperform other programming that night, as UFN is the biggest Zuffa live product outside of a UFC.


I too predict that MMA will someday compete with MLB,NBA,and NFL. Maybe even become something that EVERY person watches on a wednesday night. Reminisent of the movie "The Running Man"! I as an MMA fan have found YOUTUBE to be a great source for watching some of the other great venue's fights. Check out the "International Vale Tudo Championships".

hardcore ufc fan :

Who's this guy brian saying the ufc sucks no you suck mma/ufc rules and the ufc will continue to grow


While I'm happy that UFC will get on HBO, I wish Dana could have pulled off the deal that would have allowed him to determine who will announce the fights. Joe Rogan and Mike Goldberg are great on PPV and Spike TV. Hopefully Dana can get them on HBO somehow.


It's not that boxing is an old dying sport, but rather two people killing it like Don king and Bob Arum. These two guys only care about money and not the fighters or the sport. I grew up watching boxing with my father who is a big fan and I've always loved it until the last three or four years, but there are three or four championship belts for each wieght class and unless its a knock out you can't trust the judges and thats why I don't watch boxing anymore. Bring back one belt to each wieght class and go 15 rounds cause guys like mayweather can't run forever!! P.S in a street fight a MMA fighter will always beat a boxer....


Thanks the UFC for MMA in this country.
I known you're going to be big ever since I watched the first UFC. I'll turn 50 soon and I have waited over 30 years for UFC to come along. As a boy from Asia, I used to watched boxing in this country and wishing they're allow to kick, watched wrestling and wishing they're allow to punch, let fighter be real fighter. (boxer and wrestler are fighters too you know!)
UFC go global and I know you'll be bigger than'll never ever know, 'cause one day, when men lay down their weapons, when thre're no more
war to fight, they'll line up to join the UFC.


UFC is the "NFL" of MMA right now, its very important to keep that structure going. Buying Pride was a smart move for Zuffa, now there is one common goal for all the fighters in MMA around the world...that will be to get to the big show (which of course is UFC) If there ends up being 2 or more big powerhouse leagues then MMA could find itself in a little slump. They need to always keep the UFC orginazation on top, and keep working to pull all fighters from around the world that already belong in the "top" league in to FEDOR!!


i love the ufc and hope they will take over wwe and boxing but i think they should become a publicly trade company i invest in the stock market and i would love to invest in the ufc i think that would give fans the chance to support the company and a chance to own part of what they love


Gubby, there will never be a day when boxers learn their craft to go to MMA. It's not worth it. MMA fighters are paid far less on average. Even the best MMA guys are NOT paid what the top boxers make.
Boxing is not jujitsu, it already has a market. It's not wrestling either. As long as there are Hispanics, Filipinos and British there will be boxing. And not to mention the American black fight fans and White fans that love boxing. It will never die because it has history. It's like baseball. There is a long history.


In 5-7 years UFC will progress to where snowboarding & skateboarding have and are now. Not as far as the olympics but to the point of accepted mainstream viewing entertainment on not just ESPN but also NBC,ABC,CBS,etc.UFC will be by far the most watched combat sport out there. I just hope that the ohter groups that spawn off of the MMA dont dilute the talent pool.


Sorry Chpstkr, but the UFC has already surpassed both X-sports in popularity. More people watch the UFC and its TV and PPV shows than either board sports. =]


I noticed that some people were looking for a good site to discuss MMA. I have spent a while looking for the best, and about a year ago, I came across Don't worry though, its not just about the UFC, its about all of MMA. If you go there and happen to post, just say that ViolentMike sent you!

bob in texas:

I think White is doing to the ufc what don king did to Boxing.

Recent fights seem too convenient, its fixed. St.Pierre fights a month after he gets the welterweight title, but Serra gets 6 months to prepar for a defence?

Liddell's fight was fixed too. Its all about rematches and ratings, nothing to do with real talent.


No fights in the UFC are fixed. Bob in where ever the fuck he came from texas is a dumb ass. Do you know anything about don king?

The organization will keep on attracting fans as well as keeping them. I as well as most, would cheer for my favorite fighters (fedor emelianenko and Matt Huges) regardless if they are the champions or not. MMA is the only fighting venue to promote the fighters not only as fighters, but as stories of human experience.

People who talk about money?

People talk about boxing's big money fights as compared to the UFC.

Does the amount of money paid to the combatant equal a better fight. If thats the case pay me 200 million to fight anybody and it should be the fight of fucking the century.

Bench warmers of the NFL make over quarter of a mill per year to do nothing but sit on their asses and never play a game.

What was the purse ( I know that the douchbag from texas will think that im talking about an actual purse,sorry about that) for a championship boxing match was twenty years after it was recognized as a sport?

My only point is the UFC has taken the showmanship of professional wrestling and made it into a real combat sport. In this sport the sleeper will take your ass out for real!

The UFC is creating a good product . They spend time and money bringing up potential great fighters as well as bringing in the best of the best, the fighters that most of the american aduneces knows nothing of.

Big money, big dreams, big succese.

Paul Higgings:

i used to get beaten up at school when i was a skinny white guy, but when i left school i put on 10 lbs and now im more confident, i also took up tai kwan do which is the best martial art i think


how can i watch it for free


when does bill goldberg fight here in the ufc?
Can you give me an answer, please.


looks adulate giggling Sal Assyrianizes never


moonlight rebelliously tends idiom?burnish Frisbee:legislator


deplorable Siamese Ferguson Deanna,blur depended.tameness?Gobi sellers


Edenize:interruptible.nebular abated Balboa rewrites


knuckled Gris tips?sultans watery - Tons of interesdting stuff!!!


knuckled Gris tips?sultans watery - Tons of interesdting stuff!!!

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