Following Wednesday’s UFC 135 press conference in Denver, AOL’s Ariel Helwani spoke with UFC President Dana White about the UFC’s current relationship with Spike and to get his thoughts on Bellator prelim fights airing live on Spike.com.
Bellator Fighting Championships’ fifth season currently airs each Saturday on MTV2. However, Spike, who is under the MTV Networks umbrella, began airing Bellator’s prelim cards on Spike.com a couple weeks ago.
In fact, last week they aired the Bellator 50 preliminary card on Spike.com the very same night UFC Fight Night 25 aired live on Spike TV.
And because this is the final season The Ultimate Fighter will air on Spike TV, most pundits believe it is just a question of when, and not if, Bellator will move their live main card programming from MTV2 to Spike TV.
According to Helwani though, Spike has said the UFC would have to buy back their fight library from them before they are contractually able to broadcast any other MMA programming on Spike TV, including Bellator, in 2012.
White said definitively, “UFC will be on Spike TV in 2012.” In other words, according to White, they will not be buying back their library and Bellator will not be broadcasting on Spike TV in 2012.
Of course, when White says the “UFC will be on Spike TV in 2012”, he is referring to pre-recorded events, not live events. Beginning in November, the UFC’s new home will be on FOX and FX, but legally Spike TV is still able and/or obligated to replay UFC programming throughout 2012.
White was asked if it bothers him Spike is airing Bellator fights on Spike.com the same night as the UFC is airing live on Spike TV. White said:
“If they have the rights to do that… If you really look at what I call ‘the spirit of the deal’, it’s the wrong thing to do. The thing is, you have to understand, in my opinion it’s Spike not being honorable. They’re not being honorable. And they know. Kevin knows, Brian, all the guys who have dealt with me at Spike TV, 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, and they’re running these things on Spike.com, that’s not the spirt of the deal and they are being 100% not honorable. “
Be sure to check out our exclusive in-depth interview with Bellator CEO Bjorn Rebney from this past weekend and hear what he had to say about Bellator airing on Spike.com and when and if they planned to move to Spike TV: Exclusive: Bellator CEO Bjorn Rebney talks UFC on Fox, Strikeforce and MMA on Spike *VIDEO*.