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Conflict of Interest: UFC vs. Spike/Bellator

This Saturday night SpikeTV once again provides a lead in to a UFC PPV by putting on two preliminary fights live on their network.

With a UFC 139 prelim card that includes the charismatic Tom Lawlor vs. an up and coming Chris Weidman, a battle between rising lightweights Gleison Tibau vs. Rafael dos Anjos, and a bantamweight fight between former champion Miguel Torres and Nick Pace; it’s a little surprising that Spike TV has chosen to air fights between Ryan Bader vs. Jason Brilz and Michael McDonald vs. Alex Soto.

And then you look at the Bellator 58 line up including champion Hector Lombard taking on Trevor Prangley in a non-title fight and champion Eddie Alvarez, easily the biggest draw in Bellator, defending his title against an undefeated Mike Chandler and it makes sense why Spike  chose a lackluster preliminary card.

The Spike TV prelims kick off at 8PM EST, which is about the same time Lombard and Prangley will be in the cage thanks to the 7PM EST Bellator start time. That means Alvarez and Chandler will be starting during the UFC broadcast on Spike.

As a MMA fan, I’m much more intrigued by the Bellator lightweight title fight than fights between bantamweight prospects and mid-level light heavyweights.

Even though Bellator won’t be on Spike until 2013, SpikeTV is already doing their best to help out the #2 MMA promotion in the country. They’re airing commercials, they’re giving CEO Bjorn Rebney and certain fighters time on TNA Impact and other Spike original shows, and now they’re putting on uninteresting prelim fights so MMA fans will be more likely to tune in to MTV2.

We knew things would get dirty between UFC and Spike TV when UFC signed a deal with FOX. Now Spike is intentionally sabotaging the UFC preliminary broadcast in order to help out the promotion that they have ownership in.

It’s not like this is the first thing Spike TV has done to try and screw over the UFC either. They barely promoted UFC 138 (although UFC should be given blame there as well) and they ran a UFC Unleashed marathon head-to-head with UFC on FOX this past Saturday, promoting it like the Cain Velasquez vs. Junior dos Santos fight was on Spike and not on FOX.

UFC should cut ties with Spike. They have nothing to gain by remaining on the network, especially when that network doesn’t have their best interest in mind. In fact, I’m not sure that Spike TV should even be allowed to promote UFC programming when they own a stake of a competing company. To me, that just seems like a conflict of interest.

What’s the harm in UFC buying back their library and officially ending their contract with SpikeTV? Sure it might cost them money, but it will also save them a ton of headaches if Spike is going to continue to handle things the way they’re handling them.

UFC can’t afford to fight unnecessary battles. Dana White has enough pressure on him with the FOX deal, trying to expand the market, running an event every week, and all the other things he has going on. Dana is an extremely busy man who probably gets about 3 hours of sleep. He shouldn’t be losing even more sleep over a network that he no longer has a true affiliation with.

It’s clear that SpikeTV is going to play dirty. Despite all they’ve done for UFC and all the UFC has done for them, they feel abandoned now that UFC is moving to FOX and instead of keeping it quiet and getting ready to move on with Bellator, they’re throwing a tantrum.

The sad part about this is that SpikeTV is damaging Bellator by putting them in the middle of their firefight fight with UFC.

If Dana really wants to bury Bellator and Spike, and you know he does, he’ll let them have their marriage and then put them down together. He’ll bury them just like he’s buried every other MMA promotion that didn’t just sit by and watch the throne while UFC reigned.

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