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Dana White says UFC “not close” to a network deal

UFC President Dana White offered an update pertaining to where the company is at currently when it comes to striking a deal with a major network during Saturday’s post-UFC 91 press conference.

To make a long story short, the UFC isn’t close to a deal.

“(We are) not very close now with (the) market like this,” White responded when asked by a reporter for an update. “The economy is bad. I don’t know if anybody else in this room feels it as bad as some of the other people in this country feel it, but the economy is really bad right now. There’s no money out there. Sponsors aren’t spending as much money as they used to. Some sponsors are going out of business. It’s really scary times right now.”

Despite the state of the economy, White doesn’t believe the lack of a network television deal is going to hurt the promotion’s growth. In fact, he even believes that a network deal could hurt.

“Network deals are what’s helping put these other companies out of business,” White said, making a veiled reference to both the IFL and EliteXC. “Just because you get a network deal doesn’t mean it’s a good deal. When we get a good network deal, we’ll be on network television.”

With strong ratings on Spike TV and a stranglehold on the coveted male 18-34 demopgraphic, many are left wondering why the UFC can’t strike a deal that it’s comfortable with.

“The networks are so strong, they pretty much tell you the deal that they’re going to give you whether you like it or not,” White said. “We don’t need it. We built this company without the help of anybody. It was us and the fighters. That’s it. There was no sponsors. Nobody was running around trying to give us money. We did it on our own.”

For now, White is satisfied with the progress that the UFC has made and is secure in moving forward with the company’s current partners.

“We don’t need help from anybody at the end of the day,” said White. “If somebody wants to do the right deal with us, we’ll do it with them. Spike did. So we’re on Spike TV. Believe me, I’m happy as hell to be on Spike TV. We can stay there forever. I (couldn’t) care less.”

  • Muta says:

    For the UFC to get bigger, they’ll need the major TV deal. There isn’t a spectator sport worth anything that doesn’t have a quality TV deal.

  • Robert says:

    Dana saying “if someone wants to do the right deal with us, we’ll do it with them.Spike did.” sounds really stupid. You can’t compare being on CBS or NBC with being on a cable channel that has Manswers, the Scream Awards, and World’s Wildest Car Chases.

  • Davey D says:

    Muta: so the UFC needs a network television deal in order to succeed…not a cable deal, but a network deal. So how did they get this far? They will fail should they continue with Spike and PPV? I think not.

    Zuffa can dictate when, who and what kind of business they want to do with anyone. Just accept it and unless you’re employed buy them directly…how do you know they NEED a network television deal? It’d nice but to say they’ll fail otherwise is completely ludicrous.

  • Mike Wolfe says:

    Maybe he’s just talking off the cuff, or maybe he’s sending a message to a specific network. With Dana you can’t tell.

  • Andrew Hincks says:

    Everyone on here always talks like they are 100% sure with the info they are talking about. Its all speculation. My thoughts are that Dana is waiting for a Network that will let the UFC have production rights. Currently CBS, NBC, and Fox will not give them production rights. I agree with Dana. Look at the UFC broadcasts, although not the best work on TV, they were produced a hell of alot better than what CBS/Showtime (ProElite) and NBC (Strikeforce) has done for MMA broadcasts. Dana white should hold off until he gets production rights, then do something on network tv, with Frank Mir and Joe Rogan commentating. Hell Yeah

  • Jester says:

    Andrew, I feel that you are giving the commentating of Mike Goldberg short shrift. While he is not the most knowledgeable, he does deliver a clean, clear call and provides a little sanity to counterpoint Joe Rogan.

  • Rick Conroy says:

    Dana White has done a great job with getting the sport recognition and promoting the UFC organization. But like the Raiders Al Davis or WWE’s Vince McMahon, has become too influential in the fights that his organization is willing promote while legally tying the hands of fighters with contractual obligations.

    This sport will sustain itself with or without Mr. White. Affliction is a more fighter friendly organization that will shift the paradigm of this power struggle from management to the back fighters.

    The people who are throwing money at the UFC are the fans. Fans who will throw the same money at another organization that will pay great fighters well, without limiting their careers with litigation.

  • Mike says:

    Rick, I think Dana is running a strong business model. The fighters are not making the type of money top tier boxers are, but MMA is only really 12 years old and its popularity is only in its infancy. Affliction may throw big money at its fighters, but will it have staying power? Dana and Zuffa have to look at the long term. I hope that when sons are watching MMA in their 20’s and 30’s they will see fighters making the kind of money the Floyd’s and Oscar’s are making in boxing. That cannot happen now, there is not enough money behind the sport. The UFC is looking decades ahead and want to be around for a while. Affliction is hoping that by throwing big money at fighters they will be able to compete with UFC now, but will they be able to do that long term? I don’t think so. As Dana said, “These companies are bleeding money.” And lets not forget, the money paid to the fighters that is reported is not the only money they are earning: bonuses, PPV percentages, endorsements, advertisements for their gyms, etc. I do realize that fighters need to be paid more, but not so much that the company folds such as IFL and Elite XC.


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