The UFC's home-video-distribution deal with First Look Studios appears to be taking its final lap: The promotion announced Thursday that Anchor Bay Entertainment would be the funnel for all future disc releases beginning in September. (UFC 96, possibly the last of the First Look titles, is set for an Aug. 18 release.)
Anchor Bay plans to issue events 60 days from after pay-per-view date, which is a substantially more efficient time lapse than previous releases: UFC 95, set for a July 21 DVD date, was originally broadcast on Feb. 21. The company also is held in high regard among videophiles for its attention to more obscure catalog releases, particularly in the horror genre. (Hopefully, its zeal to double- and triple-dip into consumers' pockets -- it issued at least 20 different discs for the "Evil Dead" franchise -- won't infect its sports division.)
The UFC's back-catalog situation remains a natural disaster. Sports Entertainment Group sold video rights to Trimark, which eventually was absorbed by Lionsgate; that company sporadically issues pre-Zuffa titles under the "UFC Classics" banner, but unaired preliminary fights are never part of the package. Either someone hasn't looked into the warehouse hard enough, or SEG simply failed to preserve that footage. A shame: It's history that shouldn't have been neglected.
Still MIA from the Zuffa era: UFCs 30-38, including 37.5. UFC president Dana White has been quoted as saying that the paint-peeling stink of No. 33 will "never" get an official release, but that's not very fair to completists. Make it an online exclusive for the hard-cores to sniff out.