by Ken Pishna – MMAWeekly.com
The Ultimate Fighting Championship being telecast on premium cable channel HBO has long been a hot topic of discussion amongst mixed martial arts fans. Several times the deal has been reported by inside sources to be all but signed, only to continue dragging on due to the complexities of the negotiations.
With the recent firing of HBO Chairman and CEO Chris Albrecht, who was pushing for the sport to be a part of the channel’s programming, speculation has run rampant as to the state of the negotiations between HBO and the sport’s premier organization, the UFC.
In comments to MMAWeekly, UFC President Dana White commented on the situation and how he felt Albrecht’s dismissal would affect the deal, “It’s unfortunate… [but] we haven’t come to a deal with HBO anyway. We’re still hitting that thing back and forth.”
There had been much resistance to program MMA from HBO Sports President Ross Greenburg. Albrecht went against the norm at HBO and reportedly vetoed Greenburg’s decision and basically instructed him to add MMA programming, leaving Greenburg only to negotiate the contract.
But at this point, with Albrecht out of the equation, it is anyone’s best guess as to what the fallout will be. Obviously, the shakeup at HBO goes far beyond their dealings with the UFC. As a result, despite how close to completion things seemed, it could be quite some time before the situation plays out.