There was a rather important note I missed from Dana White’s interview with Ariel Helwani yesterday.
Remember how the UFC was caught in a pickle with Spike TV over the rights to its library in 2012? Basically, the UFC could either buy the rights back from Spike and risk Bellator gaining traction on Spike TV in 2012 or they could do nothing and risk Spike counter-programming them with their own content for the next year.
Well in the interview yesterday, Dana White made it crystal clear that they’re going with the latter.
AH: Spike says you need to buy back the UFC rights library that they own for 2012 for them to broadcast other events. If not, they can’t broadcast the Bellators of the world. Will you do that or will UFC programming be on Spike in 2012?
DW: UFC programming will be on Spike in 2012. It will continue to air, yeah.
Ariel then asked Dana if it bothered him that Spike is streaming Bellator undercards on Spike.com. As expected, Dana isn’t happy about it. He repeatedly stated that it’s not the “honorable” thing to do.
If you look at what I call ‘the spirit of the deal’, it’s the wrong thing to do. In my opinion, it’s Spike not being honorable. They’re not being honorable. And they know. Kevin knows. Brian and all the guys I’ve dealt with at Spike TV know I’ve been nothing but honorable with them. Everything that I did was to build the UFC and Spike TV. I’ve been a fantastic partner. Whatever they’ve needed from me, I’ve done for them and helped them get to where they are today just like they’ve helped us get to where we are today. And what they’re doing if that’s the case, running these things on Spike.com, that is not the spirit of the deal and they’re being 100% not honorable.
So basically, Spike is stuck with airing UFC content for the next 15 months. That’s not really a bad thing in of itself, but it doesn’t let them consummate a relationship with Bellator either. Both Spike and the UFC suffer as a result, but funny enough, the real loser in this bitter divorce is Bellator.