We’ve hardly heard a peep about UFC 96, 97 and 98 thus far, yet UFC 99 continues to keep popping up in headlines and stories across the internet. Why? Probably because two of the sport’s biggest stars—Chuck Liddell and Randy Couture—are rumored to be fighting for the fourth time in the main event, although both claim they haven’t even been approached about the fight yet.
Regardless, it’s getting quite a bit of buzz, and not only because of the rumored headliner, but also because of the location—Germany. Yep, the UFC’s quest for world domination is still in full swing as it will be first time the promotion is holding an event in Germany, which has surprisingly become a hot topic of debate recently. First, there were questions of whether the UFC was actually going to Germany. Then, once it appeared solid that they were, the debate quickly shifted to whether or not they could be successful. After all, MMA isn’t exactly the “it” sport over in Germany like it is in North America, plus the UFC had no way to broadcast the event or their programming in the country. Well, at least not until now.
According to the folks at Free Fight Videos, the UFC has finalized a TV deal with German broadcaster ProSieben.
The UFC has paved the way for its first ever event in mainland Europe by completing a long awaited German TV deal . After a almost 5 year wait since its last appearance on German TV, the Ultimate Fighting Champion has finalized a deal with one of Germany’s biggest broadcasters. According to a report by the Spiegel (via Baz Online) starting from 2009 the UFC will air its popular reality TV show “The Ultimate Fighter” on German broadcaster “Pro Sieben”.
ProSieben is the second biggest privately owned TV company in Germany and consistently of one the highest rating broadcasters on German TV. The channel is part of the ProSiebenSat.1 Media AG group one of Europe’s biggest media conglomerates.
It’s unclear at the moment whether or not UFC 99 would air free on the German station or if it would end up pay-per-view, although it’s been said the pay-per-view model has suffered there, so the latter appears unlikely. So, if you happen to be one of the few Germans who actually care about MMA, good news for you!
As for the rest of us, if Chuck Liddell and Randy Couture are headlining, yeah, be prepared to pay for it.
[UPDATE 11/28/08 2:04PM ET] – Free Fight Videos has more on the German TV deal. It appears the UFC will air the first season of TUF on Pro Sieban to garner interest in Liddell and Couture, who were the coaches that season, and the UFC for UFC 99.
The UFC will use the tested strategy of easing into a market by informing the audience of the reality of the sport. The UFC will air the first season of the Ultimate Fighter next year. Thereafter the UFC plans to hold its first event in Germany with its success greatly depended on the success of the TV show.
Rumours have been circulating that it will be another meeting between rivals Chuck Liddell and Randy Couture that will headline the show. Since both where coaches in the first season of the ultimate fighter, a fourth fight between the two could be huge success in Germany
[UPDATE 12/05/08 11:22AM ET] – Everything about this story is falling apart now. Liddell-Couture IV isn’t happening and now Sherdog is reporting that a deal has not been reached with Pro Sieban, although it appears there’s a good chance that will still happen.
In the eleven days since the official announcement was made by co-promoter MLK that the UFC will be coming to Germany next summer, the U.S. promotion has entered a “hot phase” in negotiations with ProSieben, one of the big three commercial TV stations in the country, to air live events.
Contrary to various reports that misquoted a Nov. 24 article in Der Spiegel, Europe’s largest weekly magazine, no broadcasting agreement has been reached with any of the TV channels that Zuffa LLC., the parent company of the UFC, is currently negotiating with.