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Reaching Free Agency is something deep down every athlete loves to reach. They get to see just how much “love” they can receive. By love, I mean dollars….. and lots of them. This is despite every single time the phrase “the money had nothing to do with my decision” comes out of their mouths. If money wasn’t a factor; but schooling for their children, shopping for their wives, the day to day living in their communities were truly the only factors, most would probably stay put. Once one leaves for more “green” and “love” a lot of the time recapturing what they had frankly is impossible. That leads to regrets after being able to look back.

The UFC, “the gold standard in MMA” (despite lots of internal issues) is now the biggest free agent to hit the open market recently; outside the four big sports (baseball, football, hockey, basketball) of course. From it’s fledgling days till 2011 its home was SPIKE TV. Then the network making the biggest waves in entertainment; FOX; came in and snatched them. The network was paying them roughly $90 million a year for all their coverage across all of its sister stations. That agreement is ending, and FOX’s exclusive time to negotiate has run out. 2017 is a much different world than 2011 was though. Networks are much more conservative with their dollars now with how volatile the market is. However; new ownership still has an exorbitant amount of debt from it’s $4.3 billion purchase. They’ll be looking to improve on what they were getting but with more lackluster cards than not causing a ratings slide; it’ll be a very tough sell for WME-IMG in negotiations with other networks. The fact that they have so many cards can also be looked at as a detriment. Like the old saying goes, less is more; another factor is, is there another network out there willing to give up program scheduling on Saturdays? Despite the very deep roster, the thought of less cards but stack them is something many have been asking for a lot. The likelihood they put all events on their own network (UFC Fight Pass), is slim to none, and an everything pay-per-view is out of the realm of possibility as well. But there has been that ala-carte type talk for other sports.

Should a network like say “a TBS/TNT”, for example come in with a bid; FOX can still match or raise. This ultimate game of heads up poker will without a doubt, make no mistakes about it; be felt in other sports as well. Especially since all of their tv deals are almost up. The NBA and NFL have warned their players to be ready for what will be tough negotiations and be prepared for what may happen. So not only did the UFC set a market on what a team/league is valued at, but now its going to do the same broadcast wise. Another thing that needs to be considered is does a new network want to bring in their own broadcasters. Which could open up a whole new hornets nest as well.



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