Back in 2008, Affliction Apparel company decided to get into the MMA promotion business, with Affliction: Banned. They signed some of the biggest names on the market to large contracts. Fedor, Arlovski, Sylvia, Barnett, Belfort and Babalu were among the fighters on the first card. Fighters like Arlovski, and Tim Sylvia jumped straight from the UFC to Affliction for big time pay days, that Zuffa was unwilling to match. This was right around the peak of UFC's PPV boom, and it was enough to if not threaten UFC, to really annoy them. The answer was to counter program the PPV with a free fight card on SPIKE TV.
In stepped UFC MW Champion Anderson Silva against middle of the pack LHW James Irvin. The card also had top prospects like Cain Velasquez, and Frankie Edgar to go with other established UFC fighters like Anthony Johnson, and Brandon Vera. Considering that the card was mostly put together and finalized on short notice, it was a solid free fight card.
Even with Fedor still near the height of his powers, UFC PPV buys going through the roof that year, and fighting a recent UFC HW Champion in Tim Sylvia the card garnered around 100K PPV buys. UFC was undoubtably happy with that result.
Now Bellator MMA is launching it's first foray into the world of PPV MMA, and using a couple of fading Stars to lead the way in Rampage Jackson, and Tito Ortiz. A few years ago, UFC would have not worried as much about this event, but with Bellator getting competitive on the bidding for top fighters such as Eddie Alvarez, Michael Chandler, and Pat Curran, UFC probably will want to act, but they will have some issues to resolve.
Can UFC even counter program this event if they want to? Fox Sports 1 almost certainly is booked for a College Football Game the evening of November 2nd. There are 25 games on the NCAA schedule for that day with a TBD next to the time of the game, with at least a few of them in the Mix to be broadcast on FS1 and FS2. Would UFC be able to get a show on Fox Sports 2, the station that Fuel will be rebranded to? Would they want to commit a show to that small of an audience, and pull their content off of Fox Sports 1, where they have branded that all live UFC events will happen?
What kind of card could UFC present? Despite some major PPV going down between now and the end of the year, UFC could still put on a very good fight card from a main event perspective if they choose.
Is it unreasonable to see a main and co-main that looks like
Aldo vs. Lamas, Lawler vs. Rory?
Demetrious Johnson vs. Joseph Benavidez, Swanson vs. Edgar?
Or possibly UFC is still laughing so hard at this PPV, that they are just going to sit back and watch from the sidelines as it does 50K PPV buys or less.