If you ever wondered whether or not the UFC cares more about the growth of mixed martial arts or about themselves, here’s your answer.
July 19 could become a crowded night for mixed martial arts.
The UFC is currently planning an event that Saturday night to be televised live on Spike TV, Sherdog.com has learned from multiple industry sources.
The proposed event would take place the same evening that popular clothing line entrepreneurs Affliction will make their foray into the pay-per-view market with “Banned,” its first MMA event at the Honda Center in Anaheim, Calif. Zuffa’s impromptu event, which is being pulled together on five weeks’ notice, is tentatively scheduled to be held in Las Vegas.
Studied strikers Wanderlei Silva (Pictures) and Brandon Vera (Pictures) have been approached to clash in a light heavyweight main event, though other combinations of one or both of these fighters are also being considered.
The UFC pulled the same counter-programming stunt for EliteXC’s CBS debut on May 31, except they aired an old Chuck Liddell documentary and the previously recorded Liddell vs Silva fight from last December, not a live event. They put a small dent in EliteXC’s primetime network event by garnering a little over a million viewers, but the “special night” of UFC programming wasn’t enough to rain on EliteXC’s parade.
This is a different story however. Affliction was going to have a hard enough time getting a sufficient number of pay-per-view buys on their own considering most casual fans don’t even know about the event or know the fighters competing on it. With the UFC airing a live event on Spike TV, one can only imagine that the casual fan base that’s planning on spending July 19 watching MMA is going to watch the free UFC card.
The date of Affliction Entertainment’s debut event has been public for quite a while now, while Donald Trump’s involvement has not. Is the UFC feeling threatened by “The Donald?” I would say so. This news speaks volumes to the game changer that Trump is.
I, for one, will still be watching ‘Banned’ live. Whatever the UFC is trying to throw together in five short weeks can’t come close to the card that Affliction has scheduled.
Which one will you watch?
[UPDATE 6/16/2008 11:44PM] – It appears a decision on whether or not to move forward with the show will be made Tuesday. Dave Meltzer is reporting that UFC and Spike TV officials are denying that there is a show being planned. Wanderlei Silva, likely done with performing on short notice from his PRIDE days, has turned down the opportunity to fight in the event.
It was never an idea that was green-lighted by either UFC or Spike. A Sunday Sherdog.com report saying that Wanderlei Silva and Brandon Vera were approached about potentially fighting on the date was confirmed to Y! Sports. Silva turned the date down, feeling it didn’t give him adequate time to prepare.
While multiple sources at UFC, as well as Spike, were denying the likelihood of such a show earlier Monday, fighters, including Vera, were still being talked with about possible matches for such a show. Due to timing issues, with the show being so close, UFC president Dana White is expected to make a final decision by Tuesday.
We’ll keep you posted.