If the Spike TV vs. UFC feud was a thread on The Underground, it would ultimately escalate above eighty-pages and eventually end with one party threatening to fight the other in the middle of the street somewhere in Queens, New York. Thousands of people would spend their evening endlessly refreshing their browser only to find out that no one showed up. We were all trolled. Steven Seagal was behind everything.
Here’s the background of the Spike TV and UFC relationship from the beginning all the way to its imminent bitter end. It’s important to note that Spike Lee tried suing the company, claiming the name ‘Spike TV’ was copyright infringement. They settled for some undisclosed amount and Spike Lee went on to create absolutely nothing at the box office. He’ll probably sue me for saying that too, but it’s the truth.
UFC fostered its relationship with Spike TV with The Ultimate Fighter back in 2005. The show reached a core demographic that was endemic to the Spike TV audience. TUF received decent ratings and, more importantly, it forced the entire country to talk about this new ‘cage fighting reality show.’ The partnership expanded when the UFC provided Spike TV with ‘UFC Unleashed’ and ‘UFC Primetime,’ packaged shows that continued to provide the Spike TV audience with UFC’s product. Above all else, it enabled the UFC to ultimately transition the Spike TV viewers to UFC’s PPV model. Things went well for both parties. A lot of money was made, people were happy, TUF episodes were leaked, but overall it seemed like a rather stable relationship. Well, that is until the UFC partnered up with that gargantuan entity known as FOX.
Along with the UFC on FOX card that we’re all anticipating, the promotion struck a deal with FOX to air TUF on the FX Network, along with several of those ‘packaged’ shows on Fuel TV. Somehow Spike TV got the word and on August 18th, just minutes before the UFC on FOX announcement, Spike TV counterprogrammed the event by press releasing that their contract with UFC ends in 2011.
Now strange stuff started to happen.
Bellator began to slowly emerge on Spike TV, via their new television partner: MTV 2 and Epix HD. See, MTV Networks owns all of it, including Spike TV. The MTV networks is ultimately owned by Viacom and above that giant, corporate hill sits Sumner M. Redstone, CEO of Viacom. That guy lives on a spaceship that is orbiting somewhere in Alpha Centauri. It’s powered by the energy of dying nebulas and failed cable television networks.
One would believe that both companies would go their separate ways; FOX gets the UFC and Spike TV gets Bellator. But see, stuff like that only works in an utopian society. We live in a society where cancer drugs get halted in the UK because their too successful. Nothing makes sense anymore after James Brown died. Reality is free game.
Spike TV has the rights to air UFC content (aside from live events) on their channel up until the end of 2012. While this may seem like a clear advantage for Spike, it also prevents the channel from airing live Bellator events until 2013. Spike TV has somewhat weaved their way around this by live streaming Bellator prelims on Spike.com. However, the blade is double-edged — or some equally lame cliche. The contract also prevents UFC’s newly acquired partners from airing any prepackage UFC material on the FX Network or Fuel TV. Everything aired in 2012 must be newly created material. In other words, we won’t be seeing ‘The Top 100 UFC Fights of All Time’ on Fuel TV. This prevents FOX from stealing the Spike TV audience, essentially their key demographic.
Dana White has recently said that Spike TV is not honoring the ‘spirit of the deal’ or the ‘budo of TV’ by using UFC programming to promote Bellator, Spike TV’s future fight partners. Now it appears that Spike TV has officially retaliated and will now counterprogram FOX’s first endeavour into the MMA world, UFC on Fox: Velasquez vs. Dos Santos, with a UFC unleashed marathon titled ‘Dos Santos vs. Velasquez: Unleashed for the Heavyweight Title.’ It’s easy to see how the casual fan may be a little confused from the title — but we all know that’s the entire point. The show will feature virtually all of Cain Velasquez and Junior Dos Santos’ fights within the UFC and it will air the same time as UFC on FOX. In the media world, they call a maneuver like that a ‘playful jab.’ However, the great Notorious B.I.G would deem it a ‘Raw Power Move.’
It’s going to be interesting to see how this impending drama will play out, and if Biggie Smalls has anything to do with it, we should see Dana White rock a Tec-9 by the end of the week.