Steve Cofield does some speculating:
It's a good sign to see ESPN writer/personality Franklin McNeil on hand here in Atlanta to cover UFC 88. That's three straight shows that ESPN has allowed McNeil to staff in person. It's part of some increased coverage this week. The fighters and Dana White appeared on ESPN and ESPNNews plus ESPNRadio on Wednesday. Overall, ESPN's coverage of MMA is still sporadic. It's making progress with the new MMALive show. But that is still relegated the net exclusively. It's to hard to imagine that ESPN can't sell the show. So what's the problem?
Better yet, who is blocking MMA from getting real coverage? You can argue that the potential Chuck Liddell-Forrest Griffin and B.J. Penn-Georges St. Pierre fights are as big or bigger than the UFC 91 main event. Is there any shot those fighters are on the set at ESPN during football season for extended conversations? Maybe that'll happen and this is truly a breakthrough for UFC.
The last time ESPN gave serious coverage to the UFC was in the build up to the Chuck Liddell/Rampage Jackson fight in May 2007. Call me a cynic but I am of the opinion that unless the UFC cuts a deal with ESPN/ABC that gives ESPN a financial stake in the organization, they won't be getting serious coverage.
That is until they are routinely getting more than 1 million PPV buys. And who knows, with the murderer's row of events the UFC has in the chamber for the winter of 08/09, maybe we'll get there.