Wednesday, February 10, 2010

UFC the Golden Standard

The Ultimate Fighting Championship was founded by Art Davie and Rorion Gracie in 1993 and was purchased in 2001 to be owned and operated by Zuffa LLC. UFC President Dana White and Spike TV have been able to increase the international exposure and popularity of this revolutionary sport through cable television.

Brian Diamond, Senior VP of Sports and Specials at Spike TV has worked diligently for the past five years to exceed the expectations of the UFC. “Our relationship is great, and it’s growing in strength more and more every day.” The success between Spike and the UFC is a direct result of their open communication which started with the making of the Ultimate Fighter in 2005, later evolving into such projects as the UFC Fight Night, Unleashed, Ultimate Fighter and UFC Prime Time.

Spike isn’t worried about their ratings as the UFC airs on Versus on March 21st (Vera v. Jones) because they have a higher distribution than Versus. This will be an opportunity for more UFC exposure and for the sport. Spike’s main focus is to solidify their joint venture with the UFC. Diamond says “even with the saturation of UFC programs there are always new things coming up. That’s the beauty of working with the UFC, if someone gets inspired, they pick up the phone. That’s how the 100 Greatest Fights of all time came about.”

UFC fans anticipate the next season of the Ultimate Fighter which kicks off on March 31st. Spike’s challenge is to surpass what they have already done with Ultimate Fighter. Since day one, Spike has used the same production crew for the making of the Ultimate Fighter Series. Diamond comments “production did a fantastic job with the last Ultimate Fighter which featured Kimbo Slice and UFC Fighters Rashad Evans and Rampage Jackson as the coaches. Last season brought amazing ratings, and that will be a tough nut to crack with Season 11 of the Ultimate Fighter.”

Season 11 of the Ultimate Fighter should be interesting with long time rivals Chuck Liddell and Tito Ortiz who are both passionate about the sport and what they do. “This coming season everyone will dig, because on March 31st there is going to be a big surprise” says Diamond.

Spike plans to air ten preliminary shows this year. Selections for the preliminary fights are based on the last two fights prior to the PPV going live. Diamond explains “this is a great asset to the network and to the UFC. By showing the preliminary fights, it lets people know that this will be a great PPV to watch and also introduces the up and coming fighters.”

Aside from the Ultimate Fighter series and showing the preliminary fights, Spike uses other vehicles to attract and educate fans. Even though UFC All Access has been put on the back burner, the UFC podcast, UFC Countdown and UFC Prime Time have been greatly received by the fans. With the success of the Prime Time featuring BJ Penn and Georges St. Pierre, Spike wants to replicate that same high quality production for the upcoming fight between Georges St. Pierre and Dan Hardy. UFC Prime Time gives fans a 360 degree view of UFC and what it is like to be a fighter. Through fresh and innovative coverage, Spike will continue to be the home of the UFC.

For more analysis of Brian's comments, download the latest show.

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