Does B.J. Penn vs Diego Sanchez at UFC 107 Mean Dana White Walked Away From Another Network Deal?


Dana White announced today that lightweight champ B.J. Penn will defend his belt on December 12 in Memphis at UFC 107.

Zak Woods raises the obvious question:

Sanchez and Penn were initially rumored to fight on the UFC 105 card but then it was rumored that they would headline a third UFC card in November, which would possibly be on network T.V.

The addition of the lightweight title fight to UFC 107 may indicate that the rumored UFC-network television deal has fallen through (again).

This is also significant news for UFC 105, which is still without a main event. Middleweight champion, Anderson Silva, made his intentions to take time off known and with the lightweight title fight at UFC 107 the U.K. fight card is still without a main event.

Too soon to tell, but all signs point to no network deal. The UFC thought they were very close. They also thought they would sign Fedor.

A couple of days back I wrote:

It's pretty thrilling to watch Dana White swing from success to success and still keep going for more. The guy knows that this is no time to get complacent and sit on his lead. Dana and the Fertittas came very close to permanently locking up all five of the marquee divisions in MMA when they went balls out trying to sign Fedor Emeliananko earlier this month. ...

But even with that final victory snatched from his grasp, Dana only pushes even harder for world domination. In the aftermath of Strikeforce's very solid ratings performance with Carano vs Cyborg, the specter of Fedor on CBS has to be keeping Dana White up at night.

I'm rooting for Dana to land a network deal -- the right network deal -- but the drama of the situation is irresistibly fascinating: the brash young man at the top of his game, experiencing success that would have astounded all observers just five years ago still driven to attain ever more dizzying heights while his competitors nip at his heels.

Looks like Dana has once again chosen to look before he leapt into a network deal. Or maybe he didn't get an offer. Let's not forget only two years ago White was promising that the UFC would be on HBO. There are reasons the networks might still be leery of the UFC and MMA, from Sports Business Journal:

It’s difficult to tell whether the UFC slowly is moving to the mainstream, or whether it will remain a niche player on the sporting landscape.

It’s an important question, because if the UFC is viewed as mainstream, more sponsorship and ad dollars will flow to it. But it’s a question that is still being asked, despite massive pay-per-view numbers and considerable buzz from “UFC 100” in Las Vegas this month.

Speculation was that the event would log about 1.5 million PPV buys at between $45 and $55. Even with those numbers, to some of the country’s most influential ad buyers, the risks associated with getting involved with UFC still far outweigh the benefits.

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