During commercial ad spots that aired during Wednesday night’s live telecast of UFC Fight Night 15 from Omaha, Nebraska, the UFC and Spike TV announced an ambitious month of MMA programing for Saturday nights in October
On Saturday, Oct. 4, UFC 86 will make its basic cable television premiere. The show, which originally aired on pay-per-view on July 5, was headlined by Forrest Griffin’s dramatic decision upset over Quinton “Rampage” Jackson for the UFC light heavyweight title.
The following week on Oct. 11, UFC 87 will also premiere on Spike. The show, which originally aired Aug. 9 on PPV, featured Georges St. Pierre successfully defending his UFC welterweight title in a five round unanimous decision against Jon Fitch. UFC 87 also saw heavyweight Brock Lesnar record a unanimous decision victory over Heath Herring.
Then, on Saturday, Oct. 18, UFC 89 will air on a same day tape-delay basis from the National Indoor Arena in Birmingham, England. The card will feature Michael Bisping taking on Chris Leben in the night’s main event and will also see light heavyweights Keith Jardine and Brandon Vera square off.
The airing of UFC 86 will go head-to-head with EliteXC and CBS’ third-ever telecast of “Saturday Night Fights.” This will be the second time in which the UFC and Spike have counter-programmed a live EliteXC event on CBS.
During “Saturday Night Fights II” on July 26, the UFC and Spike aired a replay May’s UFC 84 event that featured UFC lightweight champion B.J. Penn recording a third round TKO against Sean Sherk.
While EliteXC’s show on CBS attracted more total viewers, the UFC 84 replay still beat SNF II in the coveted male 18-34 demographic. According to a press release issued by Spike TV, UFC 84 outdrew SNF in the male 18-34 demo by 27% with Spike totaling 433,00 men compared to CBS’ 341,000.
The Oct. 4 telecast of “Saturday Night Fights” is considered to be a key show for the future of EliteXC on CBS after the July 26 show only drew a 1.7 rating. While EliteXC officials have attempted to downplay the disappointing ratings claiming that the show was affected by the summer airing and a shorter turnaround time to promote the event, the show still attracted fewer viewers than what CBS normally drew in the Saturday primetime slot.
One major benefit that EliteXC and CBS will have this time around when they go head-to-head with the UFC and Spike TV is that they will be featuring their two biggest attractions in Kevin “Kimbo Slice” Ferguson and Gina Carano on the show. The July 26 show had been headlined by a EliteXC middleweight title rematch between Robbie Lawler and Scott Smith.
However, while the returns of Slice and Carano will no doubt help, UFC 86 will not be the only programming competing with “Saturday Night Fights” for male viewers between the ages of 18 and 34. ABC will be televising a college football game between Ohio State and Wisconsin that same night with FOX also expected to air a Major League Baseball wildcard playoff game in the opposing timeslot.