The UFC may not return to Spike TV in 2012, but the cable station may have a back-up plan to stay in the MMA business.
Reports from the New York Times and The Wall Street Journal have indicated that the UFC is currently engaged in talks to purchase a controlling interest in cable station G4, leaving their current deal with Spike TV on uncertain ground.
Sherdog.com learned on Thursday from multiple sources close to the situation that if the world's largest fight promotion opts not to renew its contract with Spike that Bellator Fighting Championships will likely serve as a replacement for the network's MMA-related content.
According to Sherdog.com's sources, much of the ongoing contract negotiations between the UFC and Spike is centered around money, though programming has also played a role in the talks.
The New York Times reported that Spike TV's current deal with the UFC earns the network $170 million per year for rights to broadcast the weekly “The Ultimate Fighter” reality show, as well as a number of live Fight Night events. The UFC's new offer to extend the contract -- which expires in six months -- was reportedly $325 million.
While a source told Sherdog that there is no animosity between Spike and the UFC, it is no secret that the promotion has been looking to acquire its own channel for some time, a fact not lost on Spike TV. As part of MTV Networks, Spike is a sister channel of MTV2 -- the current home of Bellator Fighting Championships.
As the networks fall under the same corporate umbrella, and Bellator's multi-year contract is with MTV Networks and not exclusive to MTV2, it is believed that in the event that Spike cannot come to terms with the UFC that Bellator would likely be transplanted to Spike in 2012. A source close to the situation noted that the promotion's weekly live events could present a viable alternative for the channel moving forward.
However, though alternatives are being discussed, sources informed Sherdog that by no means is the door shut between Spike and the UFC. The parties will likely continue to negotiate their contract depending on what comes of the UFC's talks with Comcast to acquire G4.