Fox Sports and mixed-martial arts league UFC have just finalized a multi-year deal that will put at least four primetime MMA cards on the Fox network each year and weekly programming on cable sibling FX. The Sports Business Journal says the deal could be worth as much as $90 million a year over seven or eight years; Fox Sports declined to comment. A broadcast deal is a big step up for UFC, which in addition to lucrative pay-per-view events has weekly shows on cable nets Versus and Spike TV — under the new agreement with Fox, that programming will move to FX beginning in January after those deals expire. (Spike TV still owns rights to a library of UFC programming, including episodes of UFC Unleashed, through 2012.) Fuel, another Fox-owned cable network, also will see some UFC programming, SBJ says. The deal also is a coup for Fox: In June, it was reported that Comcast’s NBCUniversal was in serious negotiations with UFC, with those talks centered on the league taking a controlling stake in NBCU’s G4 cable network, which sported the right young-male demo but has seen ratings challenges. NBCU-owned Versus also already had UFC programming. Instead, rival Fox has taken those demo eyeballs away.
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