The mixed martial arts fan base in England took a collective gasp in June of 2009 when the UFC announced the end of its previous agreement with Setanta Sports to broadcast the events throughout the United Kingdom.
Setanta had aired the live events in the UK since January of 2008 before the two parties split ways just prior to the highly anticipated UFC 100 event.
According to UFC President Dana White during the UFC press conference held earlier this afternoon, the British and Irish communities may now feel free to breathe a collective sigh of relief as the UFC has inked a three year deal with ESPN to air the future events live in the UK.
“The UK fans were very upset because the Setanta deal fell apart right before UFC 100,” began White. “We tried everything we could. We were in a scramble trying to get this TV deal fixed. We did the best we could do for them, and now we’ve signed a deal with ESPN in the UK. It’s a three year deal, and ESPN is a brand-new network in the UK. It launches August 13, and it’s going to start with UFC 101. It’s going to be free in August for the English and Irish fans.”
However, Dana refused to give very many details in regards to recent reports that the UFC was close to finalizing a deal with ESPN for the events to be broadcast in the states, stating only, “We’ve always been talking to networks, we’re always talking to networks. I’m confident. I’m very confident that we’re going to get a network deal, and I’ve always said, once we get the right offer we will be on network television. We haven’t had the right offer yet.”