Zuffa LLC, the owner of the Ultimate Fighting Championship, announced a seven-year deal with FOX Sports Media Group on Thursday to bring its brand of mixed martial arts to a variety of FOX networks.
The deal will allow FOX to broadcast four live events per year in prime time or late night, with the first slated for November 12 at 7 p.m. MST.
"We're working on the fight," UFC president Dana White said. "That's going to be the first fight on fight. We're looking to do that down in Anaheim (Calif.)."
Additional programming -- including live fights, pre and post shows, countdown shows, UFC Unleashed, UFC Primetime, the UFC Knockout series, Best of Pride, weigh-in specials and more original content -- will air on other FOX-owned networks beginning in January in 2012.
The Ultimate Fighter, the reality show featuring aspiring MMA fighters, will move from Spike TV to FX next spring. The format will experience a dramatic change. Formerly, the show was taped over a six-week period and broadcast over a three-month cycle. Now, the show will tape each week and culminate with a live fight every Friday. FX will also broadcast another four to six live cards per year.
"We're excited to be part of the FOX family," White said. "The UFC is finally where it belongs on the number one network in the country and aligned with the most prestigious sports properties in the world. I've always said that the UFC will be the biggest sport in the world and with this relationship it will become a reality."
-- Pat Curran and Marlon Sandro will meet in the featherweight tournament finale Saturday night to headline the Bellator Fighting Championships card. The event, which will take place in Uncasville, Connecticut, airs live on MTV2 at 9 p.m. EST.
Curran earned a first-round submission over Luis Palomino in the quarterfinals and earned a decision over Ronnie Mann in the semifinals to qualify for the finale. Curran, 15-4, is 5-1 in Bellator. Sandro (19-2) advanced to the final with decisions over Genair da Silva and Nazareno Melagarie in his only Bellator bouts.
"I think we've got an amazing, amazing final on our hands between Curran and Sandro," Rebney said. "I think you've got the making of what could be a very special, special final."
Curran will attempt to win his second tournament since joining Bellator. He won the lightweight tournament in Season Two.
"The maturation in his game in mixed martial arts over the last year-and-a-half to two years is nothing short of sensational," Rebney said. "... I think Pat Curran, and I've said it all along, has got unbelievable potential in this space. Realistically, he's got the potential to be one of the top 145 pounders in the world."
The Curran-Sandro winner will advance to fight for the featherweight championship in the future. Current champion Joe Warren entered Season Five's bantamweight tournament and still has to defend his featherweight title against Patricio Freire in the future. Freire was scheduled to fight Warren this summer, but the fight was postponed when Freire sustained an injury.
Two heavyweight fights -- Cole Konrad vs. Paul Buentello and Ricco Rodriguez vs. Seth Petruzelli -- highlight the televised card, which also includes lightweights Juan Barrantes vs. Rene Nazare.
The preliminaries include: featherweights Saul Almeida vs. Tateki Matsuda; welterweights Brett Oteri vs. Ryan Quinn; lightweights Andrew Calandrelli vs. Matt Nice; light heavyweights Nik Fekete vs. Mark Griffin; and middleweights Dan Cramer vs. John Clarke.
-- Chris Lytle ended his MMA career on a high note Sunday night with a third-round submission of Dan Hardy in the main event of UFC Live 5.
Lytle, who turns 37 later this month, announced his intent to retire a day before the fight. He cited the desire to spend more time with his family as the primary reason for the decision. He may also run for state Senate in his home state of Indiana.
-- Trainer Shawn Tompkins, who tutored several of today's MMA stars, passed away from unknown causes Sunday morning in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada.
Tompkins was 37.
-- Lion Fight Promotions, a WBC-sanctioned world championship Muay Thai series, will air Saturday night on Go Fight Live (www.gfl.tv).