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UFC and HBO (Finally) Ink a Deal


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From UFC Junkie...

After months of negotiations, the UFC and HBO have finally inked a deal that will result in a handful of UFC events airing on the subscription-cable giant. That’s the word from MMANews.com, which quoted a conference call today with UFC president Dana White.

The negotiations between the UFC and HBO began in early 2007, but little progress had been made since the initial talks. Reports surfaced early in the process that HBO Sports president Ross Greenburg didn’t want to air UFC events at all. Although he eventually warmed up to the idea (after the head of HBO stepped in), his predecessor (Seth Abraham) called the potential deal “ridiculous” and stated that it would tarnish HBO’s once-might boxing division.

The inability for the two sides to come to terms on items such as production crews and broadcast teams forced this weekend’s UFC 70 event to air on Spike TV, rather than HBO as was first planned.

From MMANews.com:

Dana just mentioned during the conference call with Mirko CroCop to the international media today that the UFC and HBO have officially inked a deal and the company will debut on the premium network this summer.

When asked about the details he skipped around for a while but finally said that HBO will be doing the production. But he also said that he would never have signed a deal that he wasn’t comfortable with.

Despite the deal reportedly being signed, it’s far too late in the process for this weekend’s UFC 70 event, which takes in England, to air on HBO rather than Spike TV. Additionally, it’s unknown if Ireland’s UFC 72 show (which the UFC recently announced would also air on Spike TV) could instead take place on HBO.

In addition to the HBO news, White also announced that PRIDE Fighting Championships would have a “huge TV deal” here in the U.S.

In Addition to this...

HBO — not the UFC — will get to choose the announcers who commentate the UFC broadcasts on the subscription-cable giant.

That’s the word out of today’s conference call with UFC president Dana White.

Earlier today, I mentioned that the two sides had finally inked a deal after months of stalled negotiations. The UFC, which currently broadcasts its events primarily on pay-per-view and Spike TV, began talks with HBO earlier this year. The new deal would apparently put a few UFC shows on HBO beginning this summer.

However, as part of the deal, HBO would be in charge of the production and would use HBO broadcasters. That means that the UFC’s official crew of Joe Rogan and Mike Goldberg (and Randy Couture) will be replaced — mostly like by HBO Boxing’s stable of broadcasters — during all HBO broadcasts.

However, when asked if HBO Boxing analyst Jim Lampley (one of the UFC’s most outspoken critics) would be one of the broadcasters, White gave a definitive “hell no.”

Just within the past month, White admitted that control of the production had been the primary point of disagreement and that it was holding up the deal. It appears he ceded that control to get the deal done.

Although HBO Sports was initially against airing UFC events, it’s hard to imagine the channel intentionally sabotaging the broadcasts. And as White stated today, he wouldn’t agree to such a deal if he didn’t feel completely comfortable that the events would be handled in a professional and suitable way.

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Personally I think the decision to replace the commentators for HBO events is a potential disaster. UFC has grown leaps and bounds in recent years and the one thing the viewing public see (or hear) the most is the commentary team of Rogan, Goldberg and Couture. I can't understand why HBO would want to break up what is essentially a winning combination.

Worse still, why is Dana White agreeing to it? Maybe he feels the commentators are the expendable ones in a lucrative deal with HBO.

Does this mean we won't be hearing them again at Octagon side?

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Personally I think the decision to replace the commentators for HBO events is a potential disaster. UFC has grown leaps and bounds in recent years and the one thing the viewing public see (or hear) the most is the commentary team of Rogan, Goldberg and Couture. I can't understand why HBO would want to break up what is essentially a winning combination.

Worse still, why is Dana White agreeing to it? Maybe he feels the commentators are the expendable ones in a lucrative deal with HBO.

Does this mean we won't be hearing them again at Octagon side?

Probably only if you are watching it on HBO....they will probably have their own commentators ringside...there has been alot of criticism handed to Rogan tho for his commentating lately thats maybe why HBO went elsewhere.

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Probably only if you are watching it on HBO....they will probably have their own commentators ringside...there has been alot of criticism handed to Rogan tho for his commentating lately thats maybe why HBO went elsewhere.

Looks like we Brits will get more of the same then. I've said it before though, I can't understand where all this Joe Rogan bashing comes from. I mean, he's better than some commentators and he shows charisma, entertaining commentary can make even the dullest fight look good.

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